Tag Archive | flowers

Sweet Bags & Sachets

Dutch_Friends_Lavender_SachetsSweet bags & sachets are a lovely way to perpetuate aromatic treasures from the garden. Place the scented sacks throughout the house — selecting fabrics, trims, and fragrances to complement each room. In the dining room, velvet and organza sweet bags exude the scents of lavender, rose, and rosemary — an antique bouquet reminiscent of an English high tea. In the bedroom, an ivory linen pouch filled with calendula and lemon verbena enhances the romantic ambiance. Or, perhaps, eucalyptus, lobelia, or peppermint to help promote free breathing. A sachet of lavender, tucked into a lingerie drawer, has long been a personal favorite.

Place sweet bags and sachets anywhere you would like to savor the preserved perfume Red_&_White_Buttoned_&_Ribboned_Cherry_Lavender_Sachetsof a garden.

Preparation

Choose a predominating fragrance or create distinctive mixtures for each room. Sew tiny bags using a combination of lovely fabrics and fun trims. (Note: if you don’t sew, as the fabric store to recommend a local seamstress). Or, alternatively, fill beautiful cut glass bowls to sit in the various rooms to hold the mixture.

  • 4-6 cups dries mixed botanicals, such as fruit, flowers, herbs, or spices, and fillers such as evergreen twigs and needles, small pine cones, and wood shavings.
  • 1 tablespoon fixative (orrisroot powder or cellulose)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, or allspice (or a blend)
  • 5 to 10 drops of pleasing essential oils, such as bergamot, jasmine, tuberose, or ylang-ylang
  • Combine the ingredients in a covered glass jar. Shake well to blend and place in a cool, dark place to mellow for about 10 days before filling the sachets.
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Powdery Mildew

by Diana Alfuth, horticulture educator for Pierce and St. Croix counties UW-Extension

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Powdery mildew on Begonias

Around midsummer, we start to see a whitish coating on leaves of many plants, caused by powdery mildew, a fungal disease. In the vegetable gardens, we see it on vine crops, including squash, pumpkins (Cucurbita) and cucumbers (Cucumis sativus). Landscape plants affected include bee balm (Monarda spp.), perennial Phlox and lilacs (Syringa spp.).  [Editor’s note: this year I also had in on my peonies.] Although the exact fungal disease organism that affects each plant is distinct, the fungi are closely related and appear in response to similar environmental conditions.

Most fungi like rainy, wet conditions, but powdery mildew prefers dry, humid conditions, exactly what we see in mid-summer! Luckily, on most landscape plants, powdery mildew is mostly a cosmetic issue. On vining vegetable plants, however, it can result in significant leaf loss and possibly plant death.

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Powdery mildew on squash vine

Vine crops should be treated as soon as symptoms appear to reduce spread. If you have a landscape plant that gets powdery mildew every year, you should preempt it in future years by using a fungicide before symptoms appear. Many commercial fungicides are labeled for use against powdery mildew. Caution is required when using fungicides because of the damage they can do to bees. Always read and follow label directions of the product you use.

You can also make a solution using baking soda. Spray the plants every seven to 14 days, beginning when they start leafing out. As always, its a good idea to pretest a small area to be sure your solution does not damage the plant.

  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons lightweight horticultural oil
  • 1 gallon water

To reduce problems with powdery mildew, choose resistant varieties of plants and space them far enough apart to encourage air movement, which results in lower humidity. Also, since spores can overwinter on plant debris, be sure to remove the destroy any material that falls to the ground at the end of the season.

Old-fashioned but never out of style: Peonies

by OCMGA Master Gardener Vicki Schilleman

Whenever I see peonies in bloom, I think of my Grandpa. In his garden, he had the most beautiful deep red peonies and, in my garden, I now have two huge, healthy plants that are glorious each year. I’ve also added pink and yellow peonies to my garden and I’m so thrilled that this lovely bloomer continues to be popular.

Common name: Peony

Botanical name: Paeonia; there are more than 30 species, including P. officinalis, P. lactiflora, and P. mollis, and many hubrids and cultivars

Height: up to about 3 feet tall, 3 feet wide

Hardiness: Zones 3-8

Bloom time: Mid- to late spring, into early summer

Conditions: Plant peonies in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. The pointed eyes (where shoots emerge) should only be about 2 inches below soil level, with the eyes facing up.

Best features: Peonies are among the easiest perennial plants to grow. They are long-lived, are not much bothered by pests, and tolerate drought. Established peonies can be relied upon to produce dozens of flowers every spring. There are thousands of hybrids and many different flower types, but semidouble and double peonies are the classic blooms. The flowers can be pale or bright pink, magenta, deep red, pure white, rich coral, soft yellow, or bicolored. A good selection of early-, mid-, and late-blooming varieties will provide flowers for six weeks. Flowers can be cut on stems up to 24 inches long. Peony foliage is pretty, too, and the plants are a substantial presence in any garden.

Peonies coming up in the spring

Peonies are easy to share: Propagate plants by division. Dig them up in fall, and divide the crown carefully with a sharp knife; each division should have at least one eye, preferably more. You should be able to separate an established plant into at least three divisions. A divided plant will be more vigorous than one that you simply dig and move without dividing.

Be sure to fertilize with aged compost or manure. Peonies are particularly sensitive to fresh

manure — it will severely damage the plant. Peonies like slightly alkaline soil conditions.

I can’t recommend strongly enough these old-fashioned plants for your garden. The blooms are lovely, with a marvelous aroma, and the foliage is beautiful. The plants require almost no care — and don’t knock those ants off the blooms! As explained in a previous post, those little warriors are helping the plant!

In My Backyard: The Sauk County Gardener

One thing you’ll learn about gardeners: we love to share our knowledge and our experiences with other gardeners. Here is a reprint of an article from a fellow gardener in Sauk County that appeared in our State newsletter The Volunteer Vibe.

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Phyllis Both, Sauk County UW-Extension Horticulture Educator

When I was a child many, many, many years ago I loved watching insects.  I would catch and study them under a microscope.  We had a neighborhood with a lot of kids.  We used our imaginations and made up old fashioned games.  My forte was bugs.  I’d catch them, put them in jars and charge a penny to view them.  It was so much fun for a little kid! Now days my interest is a little more extensive and I attend any entomology presentation I can.

Reedsburg-Pioneer-Village-Museum-SignWhen my Master Gardeners adopted a neglected historical site called the Reedsburg Area Pioneer Log Village we each adopted a cabin to beautify. We planted old-fashioned flowers and cared for the cabins to help attract more visitors and school children.  Black-eyed Susan’s, hollyhocks, daisies, and numerous hardy native plants were planted in the very poor soil the pioneers had to deal with.

These improvements helped but it was still not a village. Two victory gardens were planted.  It’s amazing how many people don’t know why the victory garden were planted during WWI and WWII.  It is a great teaching tool.  We loved the gardens but it was still not enough.  We started wondering what the pioneer doctors would have used since a drugstore or apothecary was not available.  An herb garden was built and medicinal herbs were planted.  This garden is another great teaching tool for both kids and adults.

What was still missing?  A prairie!  A natural habitat for bees, butterflies and wildlife was just what the village needed.  After a few summers went by, bluebird houses went up, bat houses went up, and native bee houses went up.

Still something was missing.  My love of the insect world must have pointed me in the right direction.  We decided to create a butterfly trail and add bee hives.  They work well together.  Fortunately three of my Master Gardeners were bee keepers and volunteered to get us started.

Top-bar_brood_comb_from_a_warre_hiveWe built three hives and ordered three colonies with three queens all from California. Our California girls were doing a great job this past summer but only in two of the hives. One of the hives was a bit lazy.  We still got fifty-one pounds of honey from the two productive hives.  We were amazed when the poor producing hive re-queened itself with a Wisconsin lady.  All three hives are buzzing with activity this spring.

I have learned so much about the wonderful community of bees; their leaders, their workers, their gate keepers.  The hives are wonderful teaching and learning tools for out busloads of visitors who have a love of nature.

Hummingbirds in Spring

by OCMGA Master Gardener Holly Boettcher

The arrival of hummingbirds in spring is one of the most anticipated pleasures of the garden! I don’t know about you, but I go out of my way to be ready for these little gems. There is nothing more disappointing than to see them begging at your window for a clean feeder with fresh nectar, but you weren’t prepared. My grandmother always said they arrive on, or near May 15th (and depart around September 15th.) Of course there are some who show up earlier each year, as well as the stragglers in late fall. I often hear people comment how they wish they were able to attract and keep the hummingbirds coming to their feeders all season long, so here are some of my tips.

Feeders:

This is the perfect time of year to inspect your feeders from the previous year. There is nothing more important than starting with a clean feeder. Use ¼ C bleach to 1 gallon of water and soak them at least once a month. Be sure to use a brush to get any leftover mold or residue. Rinse, rinse, rinse with hot tap water when done. I’ve found a dishwasher safe feeder from Dr JB’s Clean Feeder that is easy to keep clean. Another helpful tip is to have an extra set of feeders. One that is clean and ready, and the other hanging outside for them.

Fresh Nectar: NEVER use red food coloring. Studies have shown red dye can sicken the little beauties. They will find your feeder without the red coloring.   I like to make my own nectar and you can make a double or triple batch which can be stored in a glass jar, and ready to use in your refrigerator. Start with 1 C boiling or very hot tap water, ¼ C sugar. Mix well and cool before pouring into your sparkling clean feeder.

Frequency: It is so important to change your nectar every several days and especially in hot weather when the nectar spoils quickly. If you don’t have time to keep up, then it may be best that you don’t start feeding at all. Nectar that is not changed every couple days can develop mold and fungus which can cause hummingbirds to get sick. If your nectar is cloudy, it is SPOILED!

Additional Attractions: If you have a shady area to hang a Fushia, this will help attract Hummingbirds. They also love plants like Honeysuckle, Bee Balm, Red Hot Poker, Beardtongue, & Sage, to name a few, and of course these are all common names.

I hope you make time to get ready to welcome the Hummingbirds this spring. And remember to keep the feeders clean, the nectar fresh, and above all be PATIENT. Enjoy the show!

 

Holly is a regular contributor to Appleton Monthly magazine

Exotic Garden Trip Notes

presented by Don Brill, WIMGA member, February 16, 2017

Barbados Trip Notes

Orchid World: A unique sun garden

Andromeda Botanic Garden: The oldest botanical garden

Sunbury Plantation: A bit overrated with green monkeys! Worth stopping if it’s on route.

Flower Forest: Great Scottish Highlands garden

Petrea Gardens: an older private garden.  Current construction plans to add sunny gardens and more water.

George Washington’s House & Garden

Hunte’s Garden: I rate this #1.  Built in a sink hole below reused buildings

Welshman’s Hall Gully: more green monkeys

St Nicholas Abby: A must see first class plantation

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Miami Garden Trip Notes

Fairchild Tropical Garden:  A Large Tropical US Botanical garden with zone 10 & 11 plants.  Limited photos allowed

Viscaya: An historic Italianate House and garden restoration.  Very impressive hardscaping. No photos allowed from the house.

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Disbudding

Ever wonder how florists get those big, beautiful flowers? A little trick called disbudding might be the answer. Many plants will make unusually large flowers if they’re forced to make fewer of them. The technique is called disbudding because it’s most commonly applied to peonies, chrysanthemums, and roses, all of which have clusters of serially developing buds on each stem. But disbudding is really just a form of pruning, and it can be used on almost any flowering annual or perennial.

The lead bud is usually the largest, even if you do nothing. Removing the flowers that would have come after it enhances the effect by permitting the plant to put more energy into fewer blooms.

ht109-38Disbudding is especially popular among exhibition growers, who are usually after that one perfect cut flower, rather than well-balanced plants or full-looking borders. As they have discovered, even spire-formers like delphiniums will make bigger leading spires if all the secondary blooms are removed from the stem. If you want the blooms to be really gigantic, limit the number of stems in each clump and be sure you have those stakes ready.

Limiting the number of stems as well as the number of flowers will also work with summer phlox (Phlox paniculata) and Astilbe, but it won’t help with globe thistle, Joe Pye weed, or hardy asters. When in doubt, experiment. Assuming you don’t go hog wild with stem removal, this kind of extreme disbudding will have no lasting ill-effects on the plant.