Sunday, July 29, 2012

Central Gardens, Clear Lake, Iowa

(The photo above was taken last summer)

On July 17, 2012
I visited Mom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

These are some photo highlights I took while visiting Central Gardens.
They began these gardens "from scratch" several years ago 
with advice from Reiman Gardens (Ames, IA) staff.

Central Gardens, from what I understand, is run by a huge staff of volunteers.


These are some plantings inside the front gate.  I believe the hydrangea, behind the hostas, 
is the one planted last year in memory of my dad.

The garden fairy below was created two years ago from bicycle parts.
There were creations all over town made from bicycle parts,
in honor of RAGBRAI*
(Des Moines Register's-Annual-Great-Bike-Ride-Across-Iowa...

Did you finish your piano lessons?  Here's an opportunity to play in public!  :-)

Enjoy the next few photos!

See the "circle" in the background below?  It's a great space for public gatherings...
You can see people in the right corner - just for perspective on the distance.

 I love these sunny-looking daylilies!  
Do you know what they are??

 Ever been to Clear Lake, Iowa?  It's worth a trip!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We Received 3/4" Rain Last Night!

It makes a person SOOOOO happy!

The * rain barrels * are again full!

I hope it happens again soon.

Thanks for the prayers.

Thank you  LORD!!



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears? No Way!

It's HEAT (106 or 109 degrees F today, depending on who you talk to), and DROUGHT, and STRESS - Yes, Way!

And it's not pretty.  Beginning with August 2011, we received Very little rain - true drought conditions in this little part of SE Iowa.  With our mild winter and lack of precipitation (3 light snowfalls), we entered into Spring 2012 severely behind in ground moisture.

We haven't had more than 3/8" of rain during the past 4 weeks!  And very little before that.  We've been watering, and watering, and watering.  I'm happy that I have 3 rain barrels.  Three times they've been full and I've been able to use the 150 gallons nicely.  But when it doesn't rain, I water a LOT... and I'm not sure I can continue.  It's still only July.

Traditionally, the heat index waits to hit the high 90's to an occasional 100 degrees F (1-3 times at most?) during August.  Whew!!  We've been in an oven and I'm about ready to try that egg on the sidewalk soon!!  (I cannot begin the count the number of times we've been in the high 90's and 100's during June and July!  We even had a week of 90 degree F weather in March!!)

Everything has taken a hit, but the Raised Beds began Spring 2012 minus a few special plants...

July 26, 2009
Left forefront: Obedient Plant; behind: Rudbeckia; behind: Phlox;
right center: 'Jacob Cline' Monarda; behind:  white platycondon (balloon flower)

July 21, 2011
before last year's drought...

July 25, 2012
Here's the hardest hit area of my gardens...
but believe me, everything is suffering!
Phlox bed in the background with the rudbeckia bed on the left.
The forefront, left to right, shows a sad daylily, the balloon flower, the chelone (turtle head).

A person can only haul, sprinkle and hose water over only so long a period of time
before some choices must be made...

If it would only rain.

And here's where the guilt sets in:  Yes, I need rain.  But the farmers... oh, those farmers that produce so much food... need it so very much  more!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cultivating Friends, Making Memories

Cultivating Friends, Making Memories
  July 12, 2012
Gloriosa Lily -  Gloriosa supurba
If you were to ask me to name a few favorite plants in my gardens, I would say without reservation that many of the “Number-One-Top-Favorites” are those received from special people in my life. Gardening lends itself to the creation of memories: memories of “plant forays” to nurseries, trips to interesting and/or notable places, and most especially, cultivating relationships with friends and relatives.

For example, my parents have shared many plants (what about that large-flowered, pale yellow daylily my dad and I purchased in Mason City many years ago? Upon returning home, we divided the plant so we could share it!) Not only did I receive daylilies, phlox, Virginia Bluebells and several other herbaceous perennials over the years, but also raspberries, asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb.

My Aunt MEA also has shared many plants over the years including: two varieties of phlox, several hostas, lily bulbs, a fern leaf peony, two varieties of Ginger, Blood Root and Geum triflorum (commonly called Purple Smoke).

Following a quick walk around the yard last night, I found I’ve received daylilies from Joan, Clustered Bellflower from Marty, Ostrich fern from Chris, Bleeding Heart and Glory Lily Gloriosa supurba from Kris, Hosta from Neil, Gooseneck Loosestrife from the church, and Heuchera from Connie. I hope I haven’t left anyone out!

A few very special items have been received from fellow Garden Bloggers. Because I’ve maintained a garden blog for over five years, I’ve “met,” through our posts and communications, gardeners not only from many states, but also several countries. We share information, inspiration, seeds and plants (we trade!). I’ve received seeds for Tennessee Coneflowers from Gail (Tennessee resident), Ligularia seeds from Jim (Ohio), Queen-of-the-Prairie from Kathleen (Colorado), Monarda plants from IVG of Des Moines, and several unusual plants from Iowa Boy of Iowa City.

“Landmark memories” might include nurturing the love of gardening in a child, the year of hardscape and landscape improvements, memories may involve such things as weather conditions or a battle with “critters.” What about garden parties, birthdays, graduation and wedding celebrations?

Whatever your interests or activities, take a walk around your yard. Perhaps you’ll find you’ve already created some pleasant, long-lasting memories. Gather some friends, share some plants, and make a few more special memories.

Happy gardening!
(Article written for and published in local newspaper)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Speaking of Umbrellas...

... here are the beginnings of the "Great Artists of the Garden series!"

And the lengths to which we go to aid and abet our gardens in the extreme heat and dry weather!  ;-)

Perhaps I'll be able to provide photos of each of the finished products!

Perhaps a little "shady!"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July "Jumped the Gun!"

These blossoms aren't used to 100+ degrees Farenheit for over a week in early July!!
So something else has "popped up" in the garden!
In Iowa, if we ever HAVE 100 degrees days, they happen in August.

Guess you might say this is a "shady" subject! 

Monday, July 9, 2012



Oh, I'm sorry.  You were talking about coral bells?  :-)

This is an article I wrote in a local "Dear Iris" gardening column lately.


 By KATHY TOLLENAERE, Master Gardener | Jun 21, 2012

The genus Heuchera (pronounced hoo-ker-a) of the family Saxifragacea contains at least 50 native species. These are an herbaceous perennial native to North America commonly called coral bells or alumroot. Plants you find in nurseries will most predictably be modern cultivars. Depending upon the individual variety, coral bells will thrive in zones 3 through 9.
Since the mid-1990s an “explosion” of sorts has occurred with regard to the development of new hybrid varieties. You can find hybrids with varying leaf size, shape, and color as well as flower stems varying in heights (up to 2.5 inches) and blossom color of white, pink, salmon, coral, or red bell-shaped flowers. You might enjoy a trip to an area nursery as well as a search on-line to view the variety of hybrids available. Most plants would be best suited to either the front of the garden or just behind it.

Generally, coral bells do best in light shade or dappled shade, at least during the hottest part of the day. Planting in full sun runs the risk that the foliage may discolor by scorching or die back during very hot spells in the summer. Most of my coral bells receive direct sunlight for up to four hours in the afternoon with dappled shade at other times. I have placed other plants in conditions receiving only dappled shade with very little direct sunlight. As a contrast, however, I’ve given “Green Spice” an especially large challenge, as once the deciduous oak tree leaves appear, it never sees sunlight. It doesn’t flourish as it would under better conditions, but it has continued to do fairly well during the past eight years, and it offers a nice contrast in foliage to the surrounding plants.
"Green Spice"

For the most part, Heuchera desire well-drained, neutral to rich soil. They do, however, tolerate many soil types. Plants in rich soil will be quite different looking – taller, and lusher, than they would in leaner soil. Under ideal and/or good conditions, these plants have few disease or pest problems. A problem I have experienced is “frost heave,” resulting in a plant that has been forced out of the soil when spring arrives. My answer to that problem seems to have been resolved by either of two solutions: 1) Adding additional soil and leaf mulch in the autumn, or 2) Adding additional soil and replanting in early spring.
Remove the old, unattractive leaves in the spring to encourage new growth. Deadheading (removing) spent flowers and their stalks encourages re-blooming over the course of the summer. Re-blooming is always a pleasant bonus!
Heuchera are truly quite complimentary plants. I do recommend your research and purchase. They don’t take much room! For “richness” in appearance, a gardening approach might be to plant several plants together. I would also suggest not only planting several of one variety, but also to plant different varieties together as a contrast in both leaf and flower. If planted as an “edger,” that is, a row of them at the front edge of your flowerbed, they are quite effective.
Heuchera is not the sound of a sneeze, but I’d accept your “Gesundheit!” any day!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gloriosa Supurba (Glory Lily)

  I posted, in 2010, about the Glory Lily tubers 
a sweet friend gave me.

I took the photos below on August 11, 2011
and obviously did not create a post!

You might note that I placed them in a shady-with-bright-light-spot.  They grew tall and only bore one flower.

 Notice the leaf tips.  :-)

On June 24 I took the following couple of photos...
 Look at that.... a PINK one!  :-)

And yesterday... a good variety!  :-)

I hope you enjoy the 4th of July - with a few "Sparklers" of your own!!  :-)
Nothing "shady" here!  lol

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