Another Eden

A seed, some as large as a coconut, others as small as a mustard seed. They grow into plants much larger than the seeds themselves. A mustard seed doesn't grow into a coconut. It all works out as planned. The most important thing in life is the world that God made us. I don't understand how he made it work, but I'm so glad he did.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mother Nature is Mad!

Well, today I decided a rant was in order. I haven't had a good spleen venting in years, ok, since yesterday. What am I so upset about? People who aren't thinking about what they are doing to the environment! I'm not going to complain about the everyday homeowner (who by the way uses an average of 25 times the fertilizer used on the most successful farms. Face it people, if the bag says covers 5000 sq ft, don't put it all on a 1000 sq ft yard.) No, today I'm going to rant about those of us who should know better.

A few years ago there was a movie called the Orchid Thief. People thought it was a great movie but they thought that the author was exaggerating when he wrote the scene about the orchid hunter burning off several thousand acres of wetlands so no one else could find the rare orchid that he had discovered. It really happens! Most of the North American wild flowers that are on the endangered species list (yes, they have one for plants too) were harvested in the wild because they are hard to grow from seed, or someone found one that no one had ever seen before, or it is just easier to dig up a mature plant and get it to market than to take the trouble to cultivate it. Several varieties of trillium, woads, toad lilies, and native sumacs are completely lost because of harvesters that steal from the wild. No big deal, right? These are plants that your children will never see because they are no longer around. These are plants that species of butterflies, newts, frogs and beetles depend on and these species may not be able to make the switch to another food plant. The ripple effect can be much farther reaching than we can even imagine. There are cacti from the Mojave and Sonoran deserts that have been completely wiped out because they don't handle cultivation well. If you take them from their native habitats they die plain and simple.

Ok, so maybe you don't know anybody that harvests plants from the wild. Have you ever met anybody that had water lilies in their garden pond and when they threw them out they just pitched 'em out in a bar ditch somewhere? There is a group of plants that are being known as "noxious aliens". Several water plant species are on this list, there are some garden plants that have escaped the confines of home gardens that have made it, there are even some plants that were imported by our "benevolent" government that have kinda slipped their leash. No big deal, Right? Well, ask the state governments of Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana how much they are enjoying the kudzu. The last figures I heard, each of those states are spending several billions of dollars per year, each and every year, to try and eliminate kudzu. The joke going around the chemical industry is that if you can find a cure for kudzu, several governors will give you their daughters in marriage and make polygamy legal in their state just for you!

There are several "holy grail" plants that are being searched for. Some are being searched for in the wild, some are being crossbred for in the greenhouses. The greenhouses are our best hope. Please, please, if you see a beautiful flower or plant by the side of the road, don't dig it up, take a picture and take it to your local garden center or state extension office and see if it is in cultivation. If you know anybody who harvests for the trade or even for their own gardens, explain to them what they are doing and then turn them in if you have to. Even if you don't stop my next rant (let's face it, I'm fickle, I'll be on something else by tomorrow) you might at least save something for your grandchildren to see.

Please be good to yourself today. And give someone else a smile. Even if you don't make them smile, at least they'll be worried about what you have planned.

God bless you all,


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Landscaping Design for Vintage Homes, Formal Styles

This is an article that I wrote for Susan's Vintage Homes newsletter. I haven't gotten any feedback from her so I don't know if this is going to be fairly heavily edited or go out as written.

Landscaping Design for Vintage Homes, Formal Styles
Landscaping for historic and vintage homes can take several forms, but there are two broad classifications that should be selected from before you start to choose your landscape. These are formal and informal. These two classifications may be mixed but only with great care, otherwise the landscape looks messy instead of planned.
Part of the decision between formal and informal can be made on the style of your home. Georgian and Federalist style homes look natural with a formal landscape style.
After you decide on formal or informal, then you can choose on what style of landscaping that you want. The most used formal styles are French, Italianate or Mediterranean. All the formal styles are known for long axial views with a symmetrical layout using straight lines and severe angles. Formal water features and evergreen hedges are also hallmarks for these styles. Box or yew hedges are slow growing and can be kept clipped in the formal styles easily. Focal points are usually formal urns or statuary. The formal styles convey power and control over nature.
In French gardens the only freedom of expression is usually a water feature and even it is kept fairly under control. Roses are kept in discrete beds and are kept clipped and under control. Knot gardens were invented in French gardens and are still used today. Very tight, intricate patterns are fundamental for French knot gardens.
In Italianate gardens, framing is the rule. Long straight walks with tall columnar cypress lining the paths. Italianate gardens are where statuary comes into its own. Formal statuary, especially those which invoke the history of Italy and Rome. Gods and goddesses, heroes and beasts are all used as focal points in Italianate gardens.
Mediterranean gardens are the least formal of the formal styles. Using sun-loving, drought-tolerant plants these can also be the most successful for Oklahoma. Incorporate a lot of sand and fine gravel in the beds to help drainage. Rosemary and lavender are the choice for hedges. Vines over pergolas and lattices are used extensively.
As with any style of garden, create a sense of unity. Repeating plants and colors also help to create your theme.

Ranting and raving

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate job interviews? I had my second interview this morning with Kristie at Satterlee's. We went through my drawings and talked about plant knowledge and the plants that I use and went on and on forever. At the end she said, "This has been very helpful, I'll let you know when I make my decision." Helpful how? Helpful to knock me out? Helpful to assure me the job? AAARRRRGGGGG! Sometimes I think that I wish that interviewers weren't so inscrutable. I would rather know right off that someone hates me than to spend time wondering what the heck happened in the interview.

Ok, so let me apologize that I have been so lax in my blog. Friday I was just lazy, Saturday we had Abby and D'art and the kids come over and help me in the garden and eat dinner, and Sunday we went to church, went out to dinner with some old friends and went over to their house for coffee and came home and had a Sunday afternoon nap, and then Monday, well, let's face it, I was just lazy again. No, no, I remember, Kathy was doing taxes on the computer. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday was fun. We worked out in the front beds. Tried to get the lilac out and did, tried to get the holly stumps out and gave up. Those things are in there! I'm just going to drill holes in the stumps and let them rot. I planted one of the black lace elderberries in front of the stumps so hopefully they'll be hidden soon. The kids were here so that makes everything more fun. Natasha and Ethan are a joy to be around. And they let everyone know it too. Sometimes when Ethan smiles at me I just melt. Everytime Natasha smiles at me I melt. And they both know it too. Let's face it, their peepaw is putty in their hands.

Everything is coming up in the flower beds. I love the Spring. Things just peek out their heads and look around and decide to start growing. Wonderful! I cleaned up the peonies Saturday, they were just starting to put out new growth and they have grown a good two or three inches today. The clematis are to the second line on the trellis, two weeks ago they were barely out of the ground. Then, of course, are things like the jasmine and the hibiscus. Kathy asks me twenty or thirty times a year whether they're dead because they are late coming out, and every year you can't see the street from the porch because they cover up the view.

Tonight is CADD class again. I love this program! It will even measure your drawings for you. And you can change your drawings all over by changing one measurement. So much fun. I think that I have decided this is the way to draw, but then I pick up a pencil and fall in love with paper again. I'm so confused.

It's hard to believe it is almost April. Maybe I am getting old. The year seems to be going by so fast. When we were at church Sunday the pastor reminded people that the second was time change Sunday and for a while I was trying to figure out why he was mentioning it so early. Then I remembered that it is next Sunday! Oh well, time flies when you're having fun, or if you're not having fun for that matter. Let's face it, time flies, so be nice to yourself and someone else today.

God bless you all,


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Well, I'm not sure what the heck that white stuff is out there but it is thick and sticky. We managed to get about two or three inches of snow here in uptown. And of course this morning there were wrecks everywhere. Why is it that Oklahomans try to drive in wet conditions the same way they do in dry conditions? I was going to an appointment this morning and everybody in town was passing me. I didn't think I was going that slow, but then I never do. Apparently the speed limit signs (and line markings, and stop signs and lights and the rest of the road rules) are just a suggestion nowadays. My poor plants are so confused. I have a couple of clematis that were about to start climbing on the trellis that are now covered with snow, my plum tree had just finished blooming and was putting on leaves, it has probably changed its mind now. Of course, the temps are going to be in the 40's today and the 50's tomorrow so the snow will be gone by this afternoon.

I was out this morning driving to a job interview at Satterlee's nursery. They need a designer and I need a job. So all of you keep the prayers going and if you're on my reference list (Susan!) answer your phone and tell them how wonderful I am. Lie if you have to. Actually it was kind of funny. Out of the 13 people on my reference list they knew about half of them. Hopefully Saterlee's and I will make a good fit. I know I would like to work somewhere that has the kind of reputation that they have. Plus they are small enough that I can really get to know the people that I would be working with and they have a reputation of being fair and loyal to their employees, something you don't find everywhere these days.

In case you haven't heard the brou-ha-ha, or if you have but haven't seen what it's all about this is the link to the new ad for the Australian Board of Tourism. England tried to keep it off their tv stations (because "bloody" is risque in Great Britain, the same people that gave us Benny Hill and Monty Python) and now Canada is trying to keep it off the airwaves because it promotes drinking (one of the scenes is in a bar talking about beer). I can't quite figure that out. I have known a few Canadians and none of them had a problem with drinking. I personally think the commercial is a hoot. Anyway, the link to the commercial is Makes me want to go there, of course, I've always wanted to go there.

I have my CADD class tonight. This is the most amazing program. Sometimes I wish I understood what I was doing. Of course, I wish that about most of the things in my life.

Speaking of understanding, this blog thing is rather bazaar. So far besides the nice comments I get from Susan and Shelly and the helpful comments on my computer illiteracy that I get from Kay and Shelly and Jim, and of course Susan, I've gotten comments from people in Singapore and Germany. I'm not sure why anybody reads this. I do give good plant advice, you just have to sift through so much other stuff to get it. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy my ramblings and if you do have any plant questions, ask them and I'll try to give a coherent answer.

Speaking of trying to help with plant problems, here is the maintenance schedule for April.

Control cedar-apple rust. When the orange jelly galls are
visible on juniper (cedar), begin treating apple and
crabapple trees with a fungicide. Treat hawthorns accordingly.
Fire blight bacterial disease can be controlled at this time.
Plant disease-resistant varieties to avoid diseases.
Diplodia tip blight fungicide applications at bud break.
Control of powdery mildew disease can be done with
early detection and regular treatment. Many new plant
cultivars are resistant.
Most bedding plants, summer flowering bulbs, and annual
flower seeds can be planted after danger of frost.
This happens around mid-April in most of Oklahoma.
Let spring flowering bulb (daffodil, tulip, etc.) foliage
remain as long as possible before removing it.
Fungicides for leaf spot diseases can be applied.
Warm-season grass lawns can be established beginning
in late April from sprigs, plugs, or sod.
Warm-season grasses can be fertilized three to five times
per season using one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000
sq. ft. in each application. Apply one pound in April, May,
June, August and September for a high quality lawn.
Water in nitrate fertilizers.
Mowing of warm-season lawns can begin now. Cutting
height for bermuda and zoysia should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches
high. Mow buffalo at 3 inches high.
Damage from Spring Dead Spot Disease (SDS) becomes
visible in bermudagrass. Perform practices that
promote grass recovery. Do not spray fungicides at this
time for SDS control.
Be alert for both insect pests and predators. Some pests
can be hand picked without using a pesticide. Do not
spray if predators such as lady beetles are present. Spray
only when there are too few predators to be effective.
Remove any winter-damaged branches or plants that
have not begun to grow by late April.
Clean out water garden and prepare for season. Divide
and repot water garden plants.
Begin feeding fish when water temperatures are over
50 degreeso F.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I'm still exhausted!

Have you ever noticed that a small child can wreak havoc on a household? I have figured out why God gave me my children when I was too young to know better. Last Friday I spent the whole day cleaning house (yes, I know I'm slow, but in my defense I did a good job) because Maddox was coming over on Saturday, and he spends all his time on the floor trying to find something to get into. So I swept and mopped and dusted and vacuumed and then we thought that Maddox might not come because it was raining and cold and the only reason we were going to get him is because his parents were going out and we figured that they would decide not to go. But hurrah and hurray, they went out anyway, so we got him. Well, the house now looks like a hurricane went through it. A ten-month-old can get into more stuff that you would never think he'd be interested in! You can't have wine glasses on the rack below the island with a crawler around. Put the heavy glass bowls on a higher shelf because he's going to pull them down on his foot. Don't worry about the electric plugs, he won't bother them (unless, of course, you pull those little plastic things out) but watch the cord going to the floor lamp. Man, I'm too old to chase this kid around. He is fun though. But stubborn! My new game with him is to pull him back from where he wants to go and then watch him head for it again. He never gets mad, but he never gives up either. Sunday afternoon when we took him home and after his mother fed us (really good chili, hey we have to get something out of watching him or his mother will think we're just doing it because it's fun) he wanted to climb up on the dishwasher door while Jill was loading it. So I'd pick him up and take him into the living room and put him on the floor and he'd start crawling to the kitchen and when he got to the dishwasher I'd pick him up and take him into the living room and put him on the floor and off he'd go again, zoom! It never bothered him that he didn't get into the dishwasher but he didn't give up until his mom shut the dishwasher door either.

Well, according to the UPS website my black lace elderberries are supposed to arrive today. But is the ground ready for them? Nooooooo. About the time I got everything else ready so I could pull out the lilac and the holly roots it turned cold and rainy so I still haven't gotten the spaces ready. Hopefully I'll get to it on Thursday or Friday. I'd really rather have them in the ground than in the shipping pots, but on the other hand, if the weathermen are correct (that'll be a first) I don't want to put them in the ground just to have it freeze the next night.

And besides the elderberries, I still want to put the tropical plants out because Kathy keeps noticing that they're still in the house. And my daughter, Alison gave me some seeds from Hawaii last Father's day that I want to put in pots. Especially the Kona coffee. I don't know if it will really do anything in a pot in Oklahoma but I really want to find out. Alison is now in Ft. Worth at Southwestern Seminary after about five years teaching school in Honolulu. I'm still trying to get her to become something other than a Southern Baptist (yes, I was raised in the Southern Baptist church and I still agree with most of their beliefs, but one belief that I never agreed with was the hangup about women preachers. It seems to me that if God calls someone to do something it is not my place to question the call.) well, when she gets out of seminary with an MDiv maybe she'll find out what it is that God has planned for her.

Have you ever noticed that I ramble? Kathy sometimes thinks I spend more time on this thing than I do, but if I spent as much time as she thought I did maybe it would make more sense.

Well, I have CADD class tonight. Hopefully I can remember something from week before last. I'm going to try to get something done before I have to go to class.

Call someone you haven't talked to for a while. A friend of ours called the other day that we had lost touch with and now we're trying to find time to get together. It's like finding a new friend that already knows everything about you.


A retraction, (ok, ok one little mistake)

Ok, first a retraction. As Kathy says I tend to write in absolutes and hyperbole (hey, I didn't know what it meant either. Go look it up, why did we spend all that money on dictionaries and encyclopedias if you aren't going to use them? Do you think money grows on trees? When I was a kid I had to walk to school fifteen miles, uphill both ways in waist deep snow in August. You kids just don't know how easy you have it.) Sorry, channeling my father there.

Anyway, yes, you can be allergic to non-wind-borne pollen. But that isn't what is making you sneeze when the elm trees are in bloom. That's what happens when your spouse, or significant other, or whatever they're calling it now, brings you roses when they know you're allergic to them. Maybe you have bigger problems than sticking bees up your nose.

I'll write more later. I'm going to take my own advice and have a cookie for breakfast.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Seeds of Wisdom (well, seeds anyway)

For those of you who have been sitting on the edge of your seats, waiting with bated breath for the news about my MP3 player, I can now announce (drum roll please), are you ready...... are you sure you're ready?..... IT WORKS!!!! I'm happy anyway.

A friend of mine was asking me the other day about the meaning of my heading. He doesn't think that seeds are all that remarkable. I've noticed that not very many people are all that het up on seeds but I've always been fascinated with them. There is just something about a piece of matter weighing a few grams turning into a tree that can weigh tons.

First some of my personal belief background. I believe in a Creator. To me it only makes sense. Charles Darwin found several species of finch on his famous voyage, all of which had "evolved" different beaks depending on the major food supply. But you know what? They were all finches. Not a single one of them evolved into a vulture. Now, do I believe in natural selection? Of course. The famous English moth thing shows natural selection. But when all of England was burning coal and white moths showed up so well, there were still white moths among the dark. And when England stopped burning coal as the major fuel, there were still dark moths among the white. Neither group ever died out, some of them were able to live to breeding age, that's all. And even if I believed in evolution, I'm not sure I could believe that man descended from apes. Actually, if I believed in evolution, I'd probably argue that apes descended from man. After all, they are stronger, use tools without tearing up the environment and are much better suited to their environment than man is. They're not the ones spending hundreds of dollars on clothes and spending hours in traffic driving to a job they don't want to go to. Well, enough about that, except to say that I am a creationist not a believer in intelligent design. My Creator made me and He watches over me because He cares. He didn't design me and then stand back to see if I'll make it.

Back to seeds. Think about this for a minute. Two genetically haploid things get together and join to make a diploid set of cells that keep on splitting and differentiating to become this huge plant. Yes, I know that animals do the same thing, but not quite. First of all, people and animals don't have cells that join together and then sit around for days, weeks, months, sometimes centuries before they get on with what they were doing. (Yes centuries. A couple of years ago some botanists (probably on a government grant) germinated wheat seeds that were an estimated 20,000 years. BTW, guess what came up? Wheat!) Anyway, people and animals join cells and start things right off. Another things that nothing but flowering plants (as opposed to fern, molds, and gymnosperms like pines, not to mention all the other phyla) have that nothing else in the world has is a genetically triploid group of cells! The triploid cells make up the endosperm that the plant uses to nourish the seed and baby plant.

A long time ago, my sister had one of those mustard seed necklaces that someone gave her. She didn't wear it that often, but that thing just fascinated me. The seed was so small. you could have closed a thousand of them in your hand and not had any slip out. But then I found out that the plant that comes from this small seed, Brassica nigra, grows into a shrub, 3 to 5 feet tall, and larger across. That once fully grown it is almost impossible to kill. This small, almost infinitesimal, seed, becomes a plant that can last a hundred years or more.

It amazes me. Out of the thousands of species of grasses; most of which bloom at the same time, and all of which are wind-bourne pollinated, each plant will almost always accept its own species of pollen. Yes, there is rarely a cross breed in nature, about one in a several billion, and there have been man-made cross breeds (which take so much work that if you come up with a viable grass, about 999 out of 1000 times you have to produce it vegetatively because it will not breed true, but if you can get one that breeds true, patent that sucker because it is worth millions!)

Speaking of pollen, if you have pollen allergies and you are taking bee pollen to reduce the effects, don't bother. Nobody in the world has respiratory allergies to bee pollinated plants, because the only way you can get the pollen into your respiratory system is to stick a bee up your nose, and if you are doing that, you have bigger problems than allergies. But if you are taking bee pollen don't stop, because it is one of the best sources of easily digested protein in the world, it just won't stop your sneezing. Most pollen allergies are to grasses, trees (especially pines trees, even if you aren't allergic, get down wind of a pine in pollination and that little yellow stuff will make you sneeze), and amazingly enough, molds (which strictly speaking isn't a pollen allergy but tends to hit at about the same time). I never thought I was allergic to anything until we moved to the uptown area where there are still elms. Now when the American elms are in bloom, I'm stuffed up, when any of the other elms are in bloom, nothing, go figure.

Back to seeds. Not only does each seed have to be made with its own ovule and pollen, but each is germinated in its own way! There are seeds that have to pass through the digestive system of a bird or animal so the stomach acids can eat through the tough seed coat so the seed can sprout. This also has the added benefit of starting out with its own little fertilizer supply. Some seeds have to be subjected to fire which heats the water inside the seed, expanding it, breaking the seed coat and allowing the seed to send up a sprout. There is some question in the ecological community whether sequioahs are going to die out because the forests are not having any fires anymore (because man immediately come around and try to put them out). Some seeds fall on the beach and get swept up in the tide and float for hundreds of miles and land on the beach of an island that a volcano just thrust out of the sea, and in a little while, a coconut palm starts to break down the solid rock into volcanic sand.

I don't know, but the more I learn and the more I study science, especially botany, the more I am convinced. God made each seed to become each plant. God made each bug to become that bug. And God made me.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Technophobia Part Two

Well, I bit the bullet and erased my MP3 player. Now I'm reloading it to see if Window's media can do it. If it won't I'm not sure what I'll do. And why did I take the chance and erase the stupid thing you ask? Because I get bored. The thing only holds about 1200 songs, and I listen to it almost every day. I have a little doober in the car that plays it through the radio (if I'm not too close to whatever station plays close to that spot on the dial) and I play it when I'm doing yard work and I play it when I'm not on the computer (where I usually listen to Yahoo's Martini Lounge) and sometimes I play it out on the porch when I'm having my last cigarette of the day to try to run it out of power so I can recharge it overnight. Sometimes I just play it while the earbuds are out of my ears and I'm talking to Kathy (she hates when I just take one earbud out). Anyway, I guess I'll find out whether or not it worked a little bit later.

So what do I put on it (I'm really stretching for something to put on this thing aren't I?) Well, there's Peggy Lee, of course. I'm really happy with some of the Tony Bennett music I've got. I put Billie Holliday on there and Lena Horne. Believe it or not I found some Vic Damone and Eddie Fisher. Bette Midler has jumped on the bandwagon and made two albums lately of Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee songs and then like I said I've got Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney (maybe that's why I get bored, I only have about 20 different songs but their all done by 72 artists apiece). I'm kinda glad that all the new artists decided to record the old songs (is rod Stewart and Bette Midler really new) because they are popular all the old stuff is being re-released. That way I can actually hear the original artists doing it. Because of yahoo music I have discovered some new artists, new to me at least. Les Nubians has some really good rhythms and Basia has the voice of an angel. I listen to a lot of Diana Krall and have decided I like the way Steve Tyrell sings the old standards. Frank and Dean are on there of course and a little bit of Sammy Davis Jr. I've got as much Etta James as I have been able to find and because Kathy and I got hooked on that Dancing with the Stars show I discovered Michael Bulbe. Dinah Washington is on there tons of Bobby Darin. I guess like a friend of mine says if it was written 50 years ago I probably have it on the MP3.

Tonight Kathy and I are going to Pizza Inn and meet my youngest daughter and son-in-law and two of the grandkids (Natasha and Ethan) notice that the kids are the only ones who get mentioned by name. Guess that shows where my priorities lie. It's like my dad always said, "grandchildren are the reward God gives you for not killing your kids when they are teenagers."

And tomorrow we get Maddox for the afternoon and night because the kids are going out. Grandchildren are fun! Glad I didn't strangle Jill for sure, though it came close at times I promise. Even she is surprised sometimes that she made it out of her teens.

Well, I've blown enough time on this thing, I think I'll check out Wonderland Knitter (not all about knitting) and Hazelnut Reflections (amazingly not about hazelnuts).

Play, there is time enough for work.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

My computer is conspiring against me.

Sometimes I think that computers are out to take over the world. Or maybe it's just mine. Have you ever noticed it is the people who are slightly techno phobic that have the most tech problems? I don't quite understand how it works. Why is it that even though I don't care much for technology; I prefer to read books over computer screens, I was perfectly happy with cassette tapes, heck, I was happy with LPs, I even like getting and sending real letters! But nooooo, I have a computer where most of my correspondence is by e-mail, I have to listen to CDs and my mp3 player, and even the library is talking about sending books out over the net.

Well, the ITunes thing finally stopped converting all my music over to something it could read sometime after 9:30 last night (from about 11:30 am), and lo and behold when I got up this morning the Windows media player could still figure out what the file is. Will wonders never cease. Of course, I haven't tried to reload my mp3 player yet. I'll probably end up with the thing channeling KISS or something. Of course, Kathy might like that better. I don't think she knows any KISS songs. The ones I have on my player are familiar to her, except when I'm mumbling them under my breath, then she can't figure out what the heck I'm singing, especially when I get lost in the middle of a song and I have to sing ninety miles an hour to catch up, heaven forbid that I should leave any words out.

I'm not sure exactly why my computer is trying to take over my life, it isn't that exciting of a life, after all. A friend of mine keeps wanting me to tidy up my desktop. He says I shouldn't have anything on there that I don't use fairly often. But I'm a packrat in everything. As soon as I take it off my desktop I know I'll need it. I know, I know, just because I take it off the desk top doesn't mean it's gone, but how will I know I need it if I have to go to the start menu to get it? Of course, maybe I'm a little obsessive. After all, I have Musicmatch Jukebox, Realplayer, RecordNow, Windows Media Player, and now ITunes and Quicktime Player. For pictures I've got Adobe Photoshop, HP ImageZone, HP Memories Disc Creator, PC Cam Center, ULead Photo Explorer 4.0 and 8.0, and of course, the shortcut to My Pictures. Ok, so I need to clear some of this stuff. But how do you decide what to kill? I guess I could get rid of the Easy Internet Signup icon since we already have SBC Yahoo and are reasonably happy. And do I really need the Adobe Reader icon on my desktop? After all, I don't think I ever do anything in it. For that matter, I guess I could wipe off some of the 6 internet connection icons I have on there. But I always use the SBC icon and the lady at tech support told me to use the bit E internet explorer icon if the SBC icon gave me anymore trouble, but I guess I don't really need the yahoo mail icon or the yahoo music icon and I definitely don't need the MSN icon since it signs on automatically and our daughter Laura doesn't even use that anymore which is why we got it. And do I really need two Yahoo site builder icons since I don't even have a Yahoo website? But if I get rid of those then sure enough Susan will want me to get one of those and we know how she gets when she is thwarted. She'll get those pointy sticks after me (told you I could get those comments back in! Ha!) But if I did clean up the desk top a little then you could see the wallpaper better. Right now I have a picture of the Muir forest that Kathy took the last time she went to San Francisco. I usually like to have a picture of her up there but then she gets shy on me and wants me to take it off. I'll fix her. I'll get a Jessica Simpson wallpaper and put that up there. Naw, with my luck and computer savvy I'd hit the wrong button and end up with Lisa Simpson.

Well, I started this so I could take a break from dusting, I was starting to sneeze. But I've blown about as much time as I can get away with.

Find your inner child today and give him or her a cookie.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Late night post (well not late for everybody)

In case you're wondering why it took me so long to post today (let's not talk about yesterday, I was just lazy) our daughter Laura posted a video on her blog and when Kathy tried to open it, it said that you needed apple quickplay or whatever. So she had me download the program (talk about the blind leading the blind) and when I tried to watch it after I downloaded the program nothing happened so I opened the apple program and tried again. Well, windows media player opened up the video and ITunes started converting the entire file of my music to something it could read. Anyway, it is using about 90 to 98% of the CPU (no exaggeration!) and if the bloody thing screwed up the file for media player (which is where I load my mp3 player from, and we know how I feel about that) I will just scream and cry!

Ok, so the rant is over. Unless of course my music files are screwed up and then I will really start a rant.

Enjoy your life, it is the one God gives us.


Favorite houseplants sooner or later

To everyone who commented about my beautiful grandson, thank you. It is wonderful to find so many insightful, intelligent, clever people. Actually, I have 8 beautiful grandchildren, four grandsons and four granddaughters. The next kid to have a kid is going to screw up the balance (unless they have fraternal twins, a boy and a girl...hmmmm).

Natasha with her cousins Bekka, Sebastian, and Nadia

Ryan and his sister Erin

Natasha again with her baby brother Ethan


Anyway, they all fill me with joy!

Now, about house plants. A great one has to be Agaves, I love them all but especially Agave parviflora. Not for homes with small children, but a fantastic textural plant.

There is also any bougainvillea. A wonderful flowering vine. These things look fantastic, almost unreal. I have had friends and clients think they were silk because of the flower color and texture. But with most of them when you get close enough to get bit by the spines you believe they are real.

Any of the Begonia rex species are a must have. Most begonias put me to sleep because their flowers to me are just so-so (I'm gonna get comments about that). But the rex are grown for the foliage and it is beautiful!

As far as flowers go, you cannot beat the gardenia. Sometimes a little temperamental in Oklahoma, they are actually grown as a field crop in the southeast part of the state and can be kept alive in Oklahoma City in the ground, but make it easy on yourself and grow them in pots. The flower is one of the most fragrant and tantalizing there is.

I also love the guzmanias, One of the bromiliad species they are easy to grow, interesting and come in some of the most wild color combinations you will ever see.

And speaking of flowers, (was someone talking about flowers?) you almost have to have both fucshia and passionflower. Fucshia needs high humidity so if you have a misting system it is a good idea to keep it going during the heat of the day in the summer. And after having passionflower on my trellis (and in my flower beds, and growing in my yard, and coming up in the cracks in the street, yes, it's a little invasive) I've decided it is better in a container. Besides you can get cooler colors than the regular old native maypop.

Some people think I'm crazy, but one of my all-time favorites is the mother-in-law's tongue. This is a tough plant, it can take almost everything you throw at it. I've had them break containers, go without water for months at a time and like I said, my uncle used one for an ash tray. They are a striking architectural plant and I think the different foliages are beautiful.

For a ground cover, a hanging basket, or even just for added color on the window sill, you can't really beat purple heart (Tradescantia purpurea). About three years ago I got three sprigs of this from school. I have it in almost every pot I own as ground cover, I've got a hanging basket of it, I have some that comes up volunteer every year in my side bed (yes, it's a tropical, but it is also tenacious) I've given pounds of it away, and thrown even more out. This is a very thrifty plant. I even took some out of a pot last fall and tossed it to the side, planning to offer it to my neighbor and then three weeks later planted the shoots in a hanging basket that looks beautiful thank you very much. I think you can kill this plant but I'm pretty sure it would take napalm.

Ok, from the toughest to the gentlest. While it doesn't look that picky, bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae) needs fairly constant moisture, but not too much; fairly constant watering, but not too much; fairly even temperatures, but needs a 15 to 20 degree difference day to night; lots of light, but no direct Oklahoma afternoon sun. Now you ask why I would even think about this plant as lazy as I am? When you can get it to bloom, it looks like this.

As long as we're talking about picky plants, lets talk about Lady Jane anthurium. It isn't as mean to you as bird-of-paradise, but sometimes it can be rather stubborn about blooms. But it gives you such a tropical feeling, it can make it all worthwhile. Plus the flowers are so striking that everyone will be asking you what it is.

Last but not least, false aralia (Schefflera elegantissima). This poor baby has been renamed probably more than any plant in production. I talked to a producer several years ago that said he was leaving it as a Balfourisima until he was sure they had quit messing around with the nomenclature. I love this plant, and not just because it looks like cannabis. It is one of the most fine-textured plants in production. It is easy to grow, it has very few pests, and it is just plain beautiful.

Ok, I know I have left out some of ya'lls favorites, heck, I left out some of my favorites. But I will take any suggestions or arguments and I will probably being adding to this list as I remember oldies and fall in love with new ones. Until then, I'm going to close this out.

Be good to yourself and someone you love today.


Monday, March 13, 2006

I hate computers!

So first, I was working out in my gardens so I couldn't do the blog on Saturday. Then I couldn't get blogger to let me load the pictures half of Sunday. Then when I finally got the pics loaded and took a break blogger wouldn't let me back on because it said my computer wouldn't accept cookies (I would have accepted a cookie, especially peanut butter). So this morning (Monday) I finally got yesterday's blog posted and this afternoon I was going to write some more on my favorite tropicals but now I'm going over to see my grandson Maddox and he takes precedence over all! See why?

See you later. Wayne

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Favorite Tropicals

Well, I was going to give you my favorite tropical plants yesterday but Kathy and I decided to clean out the planting beds in the front yard instead. You have to understand that although we live on a small city lot out front yard is about 90% flower beds because I hate grass! Needless to say it was an all day job that filled both of our dumpsters and 13 trash bags besides. Glad that is over. Now Kathy is just after me to put the tropicals out on the front porch. She saw on the news this morning that there was going to be a night when it got down to 32 degrees so maybe she'll let me hold off for a couple more weeks anyway. This is the tussle we have every year. By March 1st she is tired of having potted plants everywhere and I'm worried that they will freeze if we put them out and want to wait till the middle of April. We usually compromise and put the out the end of March and I spent a few hours covering them up and moving them close to the house a few nights. This year shouldn't be so bad since I got rid of about 25 potted plants so we only have about 20 lest. That won't last long though. We tend to find quite a few that we both agree we just have to have every year.

Most of the plants I really like are large, colorful , interesting shapes or foliage shapes or spined, or all of the above! Ok, so my favorites.

The first one has to be the split-leaf philodendron (Monstera deliciosa) also called the breadfruit vine, because that is what it is. Breadfruit is a culinary staple of the Polynesians and it flowers and fruits fairly readily. Most of the time I don't want fruit because it pulls a lot of strength from the plant and you don't get the lush vegetative growth. This is one that makes you feel like you are in the tropics!

My next one has to be the Philodendron 'Black Cardinal'. I love this thing. The picture doesn't really do it justice and you need some room for it (and for most of the plants I like) but it is well worth it. The foliage is so dark and full, the leaves can be up to 2 or 3 feet long. It has very few pests and really sets the stage for smaller lighter-colored plants in front.

Burgundy rubber plant (Ficus elastica 'Burgundy') is another favorite. The dark reddish foliage and the wide thick leaves and wonderful and it can either be trained to be a shrub or limbed up as a tree (not a style I particularly like for rubber plants but some folks swear by it).

Another of my favorites are the Calathea species. The leaves has dark red or maroon backs and green fronts with bars or spots. Many different sizes, color combinations, beautiful plants.

I also absolutely love the fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). This is a huge plant and needs room to spread out. Actually, if you have a sunroom, Florida room, etc, somewhere it can stay year round and not have to be moved, this will grow into a large tree. The largest I've seen was about 25 feet tall and 15 wide, but I've heard of trees 35 to 40 feet tall. Wonderful.

The Madagascar palm (Pachypodium lamerei) , which isn't a palm or from Madagascar, is another great plant but not for homes with children or where you can't put it to the side somewhere. Kathy was walking around our big Madagascar (about 7 feet pot and all) last summer when it was out and slipped in some mud. Out of reflex she grabbed for the palm but let go in a hurry. Her hand was sore and throbbing until she got each of the tiny spine ends out of her skin. A beautiful plant but somewhat dangerous.

Well, this is later than I was planning on working on this. The problem is I have too many favorites that it is hard to narrow it down. I'll do some more on this tomorrow.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Yay, it's Friday

Well, I have gotten some questions about container gardening so I thought I would pontificate some on that. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do take requests. Once I sang "melancholy Baby" seventeen times by request. Of course, I had been drinking and the guy that kept requesting it was doing it as a joke, but that is beside the point.

Ok, container gardening. Almost any plant can be used in container, but some do better than others. Most of the plants that we think of as "houseplants" are native to the tropical forest understory. The good thing about that is that they are most comfortable in the approximate temperature levels that people use inside their offices and homes. The problem is that the light levels are usually woefully inadequate and let's not even talk about the humidity levels. Well, maybe we better to give you some understanding. Architects like to plan for humidity of 35% to 60%, Sometimes in the winter heating systems dry the levels out to as low as 20%, which is almost unbearable for people (hence the itchy skin, etc). The humidity levels for the rainforest however is 85% to 90%. Quite a bit of difference. On top of this, most plants used indoors need much higher light levels. Most plants used in interiors are at or below the Light Compensation Point. The LCP is just a fancy way of saying that the plant is producing (remember, plants produce their on food, the fertilizers we use, so called plant "foods" only give them the chemical and minerals they need to do this) just as much food as it is using in respiration. There is no new growth, there is no replacement growth and the plant doesn't have any starch reserves to fight off pests or injury. Given these facts, now you don't feel so bad about killing all those house plants over the years, now do you? Actually, with all the stress we put them under, all the mistakes we make, all the downright abuse (my aunt used to have a sanservia that my uncle hated. He would use the pot as an ash tray for his cigars) most house plants are killed from...... Are you ready?????? OVERWATERING. This amazes me (mainly because I am too lazy to water most of the time) Most house plants prefer to be a little dry, not to say you can get away with not watering them at all, and remembering their are species that come from the swamps, but most of our plants we just plain overwater.

Ok, with all the doom and gloom out of the way. What the heck do we have to know to grow wonderful, beautiful, happy houseplants? Not really that much, actually. First is selection. If you are going to a mega-store make sure it is one that uses plant markers with at least some information on them. I like more info than most people care about, at least the real botanical name so I don't have to work so hard on research (that laziness thing, ya know?) I can't really make sense of bright, medium and low light levels myself. The human eye sees levels as glaring that to a plant isn't high enough, so no help there. Most people over compensate when the marker gives a watering guide too, so that really isn't much help either. So what do we do? Experiment! Try your plant in one spot and watch it, if it doesn't like it there, move it someplace else. If you are watering on the dry side and the plants seems to droop too quickly, water a little more, a little!!! Ok, so you see a plant that you can't live without, you'd be surprised at how many times this happens to me, although when my wife says I can't have it, I seem to survive all right, so you see a plant. Pick it up. Look at it. Check it for pests. See if the leaves are turgid and healthy looking. Take the root ball out of the pot, if the plant center doesn't want you doing this, find another plant center (So I sez to 'em, I sez, Hey, I been thrown out of better nurseries than this joint!). Look at the roots, is the plant root bound? (The roots running around in a circle and not much dirt to them.) This isn't an insurmountable problem but it will take a little extra care.

If you're going to repot the plant (those black plastic ones are so decorative aren't they?) pick a pot that is no more than one or two steps bigger than the pot it is in, and make sure the new pot has a drain hole. Put something over the drain to keep potting mix from flowing out, I usually use landscape fabric or window screen, and put enough mix in to set the root ball so the crowrn of the plant is at the dirt level in the new pot. Firm the mix down, place the plant and fill the pot, firming as you go. If you want to use a slow release pelleted fertilizer, scatter it at the root level. Use a good quality soilless potting mix. Please don't use garden soil! I could go into perched water tables and crown rot and a whole lot of scientific reasons but I don't want to. Just trust me, soilless mix.

When you are choosing your plants remember that variegated leaves tend to need more light than green leaves, and flowering plants want even more. Tomorrow I'll go into some of my favorite tropicals and I'll warn you now, I like the weird ones.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Traffic in Edmond

Well, I just got back from a job interview in Edmond. Boy, if any of ya'll live up there, I don't know how you do it every day! The traffic is enough to make you crazy! I can't believe there are that many people in that many cars on that few streets. For those of you that live and drive in Edmond everyday, my hat is off to you, but I don't think I want to spend much time with you, at least not until after you've decompressed from traffic.

If you have seen my site before you may have noticed that I added some more links (yes, Susan, it was just as easy as you said). You might wonder about the Oklahoma City Zoo being under garden sites. Almost everybody in the country knows that OKC has one of the top five zoos in America because they advertise the heck out of that. What you may not know is that the official name contains Botanical Garden. It is also one of the top ten rated public gardens in the U.S. I've always loved zoos, but in the spring I have trouble keeping my eyes on the animals because everything is coming out and they have some plants that you'll find no where else in town. Anyway, the garden sites contain some of my favorite public gardens. Trust me, that list is in no way exhaustive.

I'm sitting at my computer and listening to Bette Midler singing the Peggy Lee songbook. According to the net it is disc 1 but doesn't say out of how many. Sometimes you wonder how the artist picks what songs go on the album. It has "Fever" and "Big Spender" which Peggy did better than anyone else, but it also has "The Folks Who Live On the Hill" and no offense to the wonderful Miss Lee, but a lot of people did that one better. And it doesn't have "I Don't Know Enough About You" (one of my favorites by Peggy Lee) or "Why Don't You Do Right" (one of my favorite songs period, I even loved it when Kathleen Turner did it in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". Also has one of the best lines of any movie of all time "I'm not bad, Mr. Valiant, I'm just drawn that way.") Do you ever wonder how I get off on these rabbit trails? I used to blame my Sunday School class for getting me off track, but now that I'm not teaching the class anymore I don't think I can do that.

Well, we got a little rain last night but no where near enough. My suggestion is to not depend on the rain clouds. If your gardens need water, water 'em. On the other hand, my almond bush looks wonderful. Little pink double flowers all over the thing. Beautiful! The blooms on the plum tree are a little erratic, I'll be able to tell in a few days if it is going to bloom out all over. Speaking of erratic the Bradford pear trees all over town are looking weird. Some of them are in bloom, others have more leaves than flowers, and still others haven't started really doing anything yet. Bradfords aren't really one of my favorites, they have oh so many things wrong with them, but they do usually give a better show than what we're getting this year.

Speaking of favorites and non-favorites. I have been called to task on my list of favorite trees and shrubs. A friend of mine reminded me that it wasn't the same list from a few years ago, what can I say, I'm fickle. Another friend of mine couldn't believe I would leave Japanese maple off the list, especially since I have 3 of them in a small yard. Well, it isn't my fault! When I said I would do the article for Susan she had size constraints. Just because she didn't want the next 20 years of her newsletters to contain nothing but my favorite plants, you can't really blame her. No matter what all my gardening friends say. One thing I've learned about plant people, they are opinionated. Sometimes just to be mean I'll throw out some off-hand comment like "annuals really have no place in serious gardens," and then sit back and listen to it fly. You can get four gardeners together and get five opinions on anything! It is so much fun!

Well, after being cloudy, chilly and windy all day, the sun is out, so I'm going to go outside and enjoy it for a little while before class.

Be good to yourself and those you love,


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Rain or no rain

You know, the people in cyberspace are so nice. Susan came over yesterday to help me with my blog even though she really didn't feel like it. Jim helped me set up so I could tell whether I had comments or not. Shelly, the prayerful knitter told me all about an site I could get a counter on to see if anybody is really reading this thing. And Kay told me about spambots. Well, here I was getting a little vain about all the hot girls reading my profile and falling in love with me immediately and it turns out that it's just a computer somewhere falling in love with me. Of course Kay also suggested I start up a nuclear needle buildup against Susan. If I do that I know what will happen, I'll lose. First of all, the Knitters outnumber me by millions to one, even my wife for heaven's sake. And second, I'm a little worried about Susan on the roids, ya know? Sometimes she's mean to me just because, if I ever really ticked her off, watch out! You know how those pointy stick people get.

Well, my CADD class started last night, finally. Yes, I know, I'm computer semi-illiterate and I'm taking a computer aided design class. Well, everybody else is doing it. And besides my wife is starting to get worried with me home every night. Ever since I started back to school (3 years ago) I've been gone 3 or 4 nights a week. She's used to that. Not that I'm boring or anything, as a matter of fact she tells me that all the time, "Oh no dear, you're not boring." she says. Sometimes she says that when I don't even ask. Sometimes just out of the blue she says, "Oh no dear, you're not boring." Hmmmmm.... I wonder why she keeps saying that? Speaking of that, we were watching Family Feud the other night and one of the questions was how many times a wife hears her husband's gfavorite joke in a year. One of the women answered something like 30 and she said, "Way too low." Ok, maybe I do need to get a new joke book.

You know, after proofreading that last paragraph I realize what people are saying about the stream of consciousness thing. I would take it out, but it takes me so long to type and then run spell check ya'll can just suffer.

We went to Our Lord's Community church last Sunday. It was missions awareness Sunday and they had representatives from the missions they support. Amazing. The people there are friendly, almost too friendly, you know what I mean? I can shake hands and smile just so many times a day. Anyway, my friend Pastor Mark says that we should take at least six months or so to find a new church home. I don't know if I can stand it. I'm not used being in different churches anyway and doing it for six or eight months, EEEEEKKKKK! If anybody out there has any suggestions about Oklahoma City churches, Bible teaching, financially solvent, people in their 40's, 50's, and 60's, comment please. We've gone to Council Road Baptist, Northwest Baptist, and liked both of them. Yes I can hear some of you out there now, ooohhh Baptist. Well, my dad was a Baptist minister of music and I was raised in Baptist churches. I don't have to have a Baptist church but I agree with at least most of the published beliefs. Of course, as with any group of people, the published list of beliefs and the real list of beliefs aren't always the same thing.

It is supposed to rain here in OKC tonight. At least that's what they're claiming. It has been cloudy and then clear and then cloudy all day. My mom wanted me to come over and mow her lawn and then put pre-emergent weed-killer on her lawn (I know, I know, I don't believe in weed killers. Digging weeds, or even just leaving the bloody things alone is better for the environment. But my mother does believe in weed killer, and she's my mother. And I also know you aren't supposed to mow before you lay down the weed killer so it has as much leaf surface as possible to stick to. But again, my mother!) Anyway, so I went over there and mowed her lawn and then I had to rake under her magnolia and get all the seed pods up and then she decided that it was too windy to put down pre-emergent. Just as well, you're really not supposed to water or have rain right after putting down pre-emergent either, but I still can't get that through to her.

Speaking of horticulture, this blog is supposed to be at least semi-educational, that's how Susan is advertising it anyway, so here is some suggestions for March in Zone 7b, which is what Oklahoma City is in.

Prepare lawn mower; install clean filters.
Cultivate annual flower beds to destroy winter weeds.
Apply organic mulch to control weeds in beds. Landscape
fabric barrier can reduce the amount of mulch but
care should be taken to ensure proper water penetration
to plants roots.
Remove excessive thatch from warm season lawns.
Dethatching, if necessary, should precede crabgrass
control treatment.
March is the second best time of the year to seed coolseason
turfgrass; however, fall is the best time to plant.
Cool-season lawns such as bluegrass, fescue, and
ryegrass may be fertilized now with the first application of
the season. Usually, four applications of fertilizer are
required per year, in March, May, October, and November.
Broadleaf weeds can easily be controlled in cool-season
lawns at this time with post-emergent broadleaf herbicides.
Begin mowing cool season grasses at 1 1/2 to 3 1/2
inches high.
Chemical and physical control of galls (swellings) on
stems and foliage of trees should begin now.
Dormant oil can still be applied to control mites, galls,
overwintering aphids, etc.
The 1st generation of Nantucket Pine Tip Moth appears at
this time. Begin pesticide applications in late March
based on pheremone catches.
Anthracnose control on sycamore, maple, and oak should
begin at bud swell.
Prune roses just before growth starts and begin a regular
disease spray program as the foliage appears. Check
with garden center personnel for roses that don't require
chemical applications.
Divide and replant summer and fall blooming perennials.
Mow or cut back old liriope and other ornamental grass

This is from a checklist I gave to my clients, a lot of whom do believe in chemical controls, some of it I wrote some I cribbed from the year checklist from the Oklahoma County Extention Office.

Hope everybody is having a good day. Be good to yourself today.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Computers are people too

Well, I just got off the phone with Yahoo. Apparently my computer's feelings were hurt by something I did and it was pouting. After an hour of trying to explain to the nice lady what the problem was (my fault, not hers) the fix took about two minutes. We still haven't figured out why my computer downloads pictures as bitmaps, but she e-mailed me some things that will supposedly help if I ever take the time to mess around with them. She said the problem may be spyware. Is it just me or do the computer geeks purposely make up names that sound scary? I don't want spyware! It makes me think that someone is on the other side of my screen and watching me. I'm already slightly paranoid, well, ok, more than slightly. I don't want someone staring at me if I decide to write in my blog in my pajamas! Trust me, not a pretty sight. Maybe what I should do is write in my blog in my pajamas and the spy will get disgusted and stop staring at me. It's worth a try.

Speaking of computer geeks (but only in a nice way, she still carries those pointy sticks everywhere she goes) Susan is going to try to come by and help me dress the blogger site up a little bit. I'm making her since it was her idea for me to start this thing. Anyway, If she isn't too tired (she is after all, still recovering) this thing will look much dressier this evening. But then on the other hand, maybe the only reason she is coming over is so I can put her blog on my daily reads. Nah, that's probably not it, since most of my readers come from her. Speaking of which, is there anyone out there who knows how you can set this thing to tell you when you get comments without going to the blog itself? Or for that matter, how you can tell if someone is reading the crazy if they don't leave a comment. Please don't make me ask Susan, she gets this pitying look on her face everytime I ask stupid questions.

Somebody named baby somebody-or-other just IMed me saying that she saw my yahoo profile and thought I sounded interesting and did I want to see her profile and picture. I clicked it off. I'm pretty sure she was fibbing. Mainly because my profile is as boring as they get, and I'm pretty sure my wife doesn't want me looking at any pictures of anyone named baby sophia. Just a hunch there.

I got a piece a snail mail today, yes I get mail, just not from anybody I really know. Anyway, this piece was from The National Dean's Honor List. It said someone nominated me for inclusion. The weird thing is I'm already on it this year because Dr, Vezey, my plant biology professor put me on it. If you get hit twice does that make you twice as smart? I figure it has to be Scott that nominated me, since the only other class I took last semester was internet algebra, and I don't think squeaking a D will get you on the honor role. Well, I'll find out in a couple of days when I get their begging letter. They want me to but a copy of the book. Actually, they want me to but a copy of the book with my name embossed in gold. I'm vain, but not that vain... Sorry, rocking out there, Etta James was playing on Yahoo music, I kinda have to drop everything when Etta is on.

Speaking of Etta James, I was at Wal-Mart the other day (trust me Etta has something to do with this story) getting my oil changed and you know it takes about an hour to do a ten minute job because apparently everybody sees me going up there and jumps ahead of me. So I went into McDonald's to have a coke and wait for them to finish, and like I always do when Kathy isn't around, I had my MP3 player on, I love my MP3 player, anyway, the greeter guy when I left Micky D's asked me if I was going to pay for the player before I left. This is a little red box that fits in my shirt pocket, I told him I had already paid for it (well, ok, it was a gift from my mother, he doesn't need to know all my business) and he had the manager called over of course the manager apologized when he realized the thing was loaded with all my favorite music so it probably didn't come off the shelf like that, mainly because I don't think anybody else listens to Frank, Dean, Diana Krall, etc. Ok, so what does Etta have to do with this story? My theory is that the reason he stopped me is because I didn't look like someone who was going to cut him (good thing he didn't meet me when I was crazy) and he must have noticed me because I was rocking out and singing along with Etta, cause she's one of the few I can't control myself on. Well, her and Frank and Dean, and Diana and etc, etc, etc. Ok, I'll admit it, I can't control myself on most of the songs, that's why I usually listen to it outside, where I'll disturb the fewest people. And I would have listened to it outside that day too but then you can't hear them call and tell you your car is ready. Of course, I couldn't hear them call and say my car was ready anyway because I had headphones. Oh well.

I have a couple things I have to do before Susan gets here, so I better close this out.

Do something nice for yourself and someone else today,


Monday, March 06, 2006

Monday, Monday

Well, the weekend is over. I didn't get didley done. I had big plans, got started, got cold, did a little bit, got exhausted, quit. I hate being sick. Not the being sick part so much as the fact that I'm getting old enough for it to take a long time to get my strength back. I did cut down last years clematis and restring the lattice and dig out (some) of the passionflower and restring the arch. You might be asking yourself why I would dig up passionflower. Last year the caterpillars liked the foliage so much I didn't even have any flowers all I had were bare vines. I like feeding the butterfly larva (even though these were just those small orange ones) but I'd rather they feed somewhere a little more out of sight. So this year I'm planting a mixture of annual vines until I decide what I want to replace the passionflower with.

I also planned on getting some other stuff dug out this weekend. The lilac for Jill, the chaste tree for Susan. I've got to get both of them done soon!!! My buds on the almond are turning pink, and this morning there were half a dozen blooms on the plum tree. Stuff is starting to take off without me. I have to hurry and catch up. Speaking of which, is it just me or is this weird weather? We had snow (well, Oklahoma snow which other places call sleet) just a couple of weekends ago and yesterday it was about 80. Next week end we'll probably have another freeze. Nah, it'll wait until everything I have is in bloom, then it'll freeze. I'm having to water all the beds because we're in drought, yes I know, we're only a few inches short of rain for this year. I love the way the weathermen do that. We're only a few inches short for this year, but we ended '05 in negative rainfall and '04 and etc, etc, etc. According to the USDA website, Oklahoma has been in drought emergency for about half the counties for the last four or five years. YAY, the dustbowl is coming back. That was a real fun time in history for those in my profession.

I took Kathy to the dentist this afternoon, yecchhh. I don't know how anybody can be a dentist. I love Kathy, still don't want to spend a couple of hours with my hands in her mouth! Then we went to Target to get her scripts filled. Is it just me or do these places have a racket going? We got in there and the pharmacy was closed fro lunch, so we shopped for about thirty minutes. We turned her scripts in and then shopped for another twenty minutes or so. Two prescriptions and we spent $100, well, ok, slight exaggeration. But we bought more than we would have at the old time pharmacy where it was drugs and a lunch counter. Well, the good thing I got chocolate. It's always a good shopping day when you get chocolate.

Well, my CADD class starts tomorrow night. I was just about to call and get a refund when they called last week and told me it was on. So that's two nights a week that Kathy doesn't have to put up with me. Lucky for her, but think about the fifteen or twenty people that have to be in class with me. Now you don't think it's so funny, huh. Especially if you're one of the twenty (insert maniacal laughter here).

TTFN Wayne

Ps. Susan reminded me that there is information going around about formosan termites in mulch coming out of New Orleans. The info I have been able to get from professors at OSU/OKC is that while there is a problem it is not as big as is being reported. One of the keys is to use a mulch that termites don't like. I use either cedar or (preferred) cypress.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Article for Susan.

This is a reprint from the other blog. I'm going to place it here because I can add the pictures into the blog itself.

This is the article I wrote for Susan's newsletter. A little long, but what the heck.

Top Twenty Trees and Shrubs
(My Article, My Choice)
Wayne Rucker
Trees and shrubs are the backbones of the residential landscape. The materials that the rest of the landscape will be designed around. So it is a good idea to put a little thought into your choices. The problem is that everyone you ask has a different opinion. So just to add to the confusion I decided to offer this list of my favorites to Susan for her newsletter.
Trees and shrubs in bareroot or balled-in-burlap should only be planted when they are in dormancy. Trees and shrubs in container can be planted any time the ground can be worked. Dig the hole three to five times the width of the root ball, and the same depth (a little more shallow in heavy clay). Place the plant in the hole and straighten it up. Replace the native soil, firming as you go, and fill to the soil line of the root ball. It is usually a good idea to stake a tree on the north and south, we live in Oklahoma, after all, and the wind is impressive. Water. Mulch the plant well. Enjoy.
Arbor day (or week) for Oklahoma is the last full week of March, the 19th through the 25th. National Arbor Day is April 28th.
Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) 50 to 80 feet tall, 20 to 30 feet spread (large tree) The first year I plant these trees for a client, I can almost be sure that I'll get a call in the fall that their tree is dying. Most people assume they are evergreen, but while they are conifers, they are deciduous (lose their foliage in the fall). However, before they lose their foliage, they give a color show that has to be seen to be believed. The very fine needle like foliage turns a beautiful rust and stays for several weeks before it falls. A friend of mine in the business hates Bald Cypress because the leaves tend to form a mat on the ground under the trees, but I'm a big believer in mulch and natural nutrient replacement and Cypress are great at this. As the mat forms under the trees, (yes you may have to rake them back under there, we do live in Oklahoma, after all) it smothers any weeds that even think of sprouting, hold in the water and keep the soil warmer in the winter. Bald Cypress do need a lot of room and planted where they will receive full sun.
Caddo Maple (Acer saccharum 'Caddo') 60 to 80 ft tall, 40 to 60 ft spread (large tree) Make sure that you get a Caddo maple. Sugar maples from the northeast U.S. are very short lived in our climate but Caddos are native to the southwestern part of Oklahoma and, as you can imagine, are very drought tolerant (when established). Slow growing, but with beautiful fall color, allow it plenty of space to grow into a mature shade tree.

Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) 30 to 40 feet tall, 25 to 35 feet spread (medium sized tree) This is one of the best trees ever planted in the state of Oklahoma or anywhere else. Highly adaptable, able to take drought (once established), tolerant of alkaline soils and watering, and beautiful fall color. This is a perfect street tree. The male cultivars are slightly less messy, though the birds are usually happy to eat the metallic red or blue berries that come from the female flowers.

Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli) 20 to 30 ft tall, 25 to 35 ft spread (medium tree) Four seasons of interest, early summer flowers becoming long lasting dark red berries that are loved by the birds, vibrant crimson fall color, a wonderful plant. One of the pluses for me are the curved thorns, 1 ½ to 3 inches long. A great plant for security planting. If you decide to use this tree in a hedgerow, be sure and plant it where no one will accidentally brush by it, people that try to get through it on their own deserve what they get.

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) 15 to 30 ft tall, 15 to 25 ft spread (medium tree) Easily established, drought tolerant (when established), lavender summer flowers, gray-green foliage, interesting bark texture. Somewhat hard to find locally, but well worth the hunt.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) 46 to 60 ft tall, 20 to 40 ft spread (large tree) Often referred to as a living fossil, ginkgo hasn't changed for 150 million years (or, it is just like God created it, my own personal opinion). The seeds of ginkgo are a delicacy in its native China but are surrounded by a rancid, strong-smelling covering that makes a slimy mess as it decomposes. Make sure you get a male cultivar, as a matter of fact in some areas, it is illegal to plant female trees, but so far that hasn't happened in Oklahoma yet. Picturesque form, bright yellow fall color, and interesting leaf shape. An altogether wonderful tree.
Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora) 40 to 60 ft tall, 40 to 60 ft spread (large tree) Another tree that needs to be placed close to enjoy. And even better if you plant a multi-trunk specimen. Needs some care to establish since pines like acid soil and Oklahoma is mostly alkaline, but well worth the trouble to start. Very drought tolerant (once established) and a very well behaved and elegant tree. The bark exfoliates to reveal a trunk made up of about a jillion shades of red to orange (yeah, I didn't realize there were that many shades until I saw my first Japanese Red Pine either).

Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) 40 to 60 ft tall, 30 to 40 ft spread (large tree) A tree that needs to be given room but also needs to be enjoyed close up. An elegant shade tree, the true glory is the exfoliating bark that begins fairly young in the tree's life and just gets better with age. The bark flakes away to reveal a rainbow of colors. Drought tolerant when established, accepting of less than ideal conditions and, so far, apparently resistant to Dutch Elm disease.

Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardi) 80 to 100 ft tall, 50 to 60 ft spread (large tree) One of the best oaks for Oklahoma. Tolerates clay soil, tolerates alkaline soil (doesn't like it, but tolerant), beautiful red-orange fall color. For all those who planted Pin oaks and are unhappy, pull them out and plant a Shumard. If you want an oak for shade and looks, plant a Shumard. Anywhere you have room, plant a Shumard!

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandifolia) 20 to 60 ft tall, to 50 ft spread (large tree) Sometimes a little hard to establish in Oklahoma, especially in newer areas, needs acidic soil and plenty of room. But the flowers make up for the trouble and the beautiful form takes me back to my childhood. Evergreen. Little Gem is a smaller and more narrow cultivar that still has the flowers and scent of the parent plant.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 6 ft tall, 5 ft spread (medium shrub) In spring the flowers sent out a heavenly scent. In summer, the leaves are a medium green that makes a wonderful backdrop for annuals and perennials. But in the fall, after leaf drop, beautyberry comes into its name. The fruit of the beautyberry is a small metallic purple berry that covers the stems, drawing eyes and birds alike.

Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) 6 to 20 ft tall, 6 to 15 ft spread (large shrub, small tree) For some reason, I can't grow a butterfly bush, but the chaste tree is a wonderful substitute. It flowers all summer long, the flowers attract more butterflies than you can count and when you limb the plant up it adds the most interesting architectural advantage.
Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) 8 inches to 25 ft tall, variable spread, (small shrub to medium tree) Everyone knows the crape myrtle. Beautiful summer flowers, interesting bark, good fall color, drought tolerant (when established), no pests. What's not to love? Now you can find all sizes and a rainbow of colors.
Redtwig dogwood (Cornus alba) 10 ft tall, 10 ft spread (medium shrub) Redtwig dogwood comes into its own in the winter. Yes the leaves are beautiful, yes the flowers are attractive, yes the berries draw birds. But in the winter you see those amazing red stems and if you are lucky enough to have a sleet storm it will have an architectural interest to beat anything else. And besides what do you have to do after a sleet storm anyway? You don't want to get out on the roads! Kesselringii cultivar has dark purple, almost black stems and red and purple fall color.
Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) 8 to 10 ft tall, 3 to 5 ft spread (medium shrub) Blooms all summer long, and you can pick your color! Reds, pinks, whites, bi-colors, close to blue and some talk of true blues coming, though I haven't seen one. Drought tolerant (once established), flower litter may be a slight problem on pavements, but all together a wonderful plant.
Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) 15 to 18 ft tall, 15 to 20 ft spread (large shrub, medium tree) This is one of my favorite natives. Somewhat hard to find in the trade, but one of the best viburnums you'll ever see. Good wildlife tree, fragrant flowers, blue-black berries, wine-red fall color. Tough and hardy.
Sweetbox (Sarcococca hookeriana) 6 ft tall, 4 ft spread (medium shrub) If you have ever planted boxwood and were disappointed (because of spider mites, winter dieback, and don't get me started on that smell) sweetbox is your answer. It does well in shade, grows slowly (so plant on the close side of the spread but less maintenance) and in the early spring, the small unnoticeable flowers will release their violet scent and make you fall in love.
Trifoliate Orange (Poncirus trifoliata) 15 to 25 ft tall, 10 to 15 ft spread (large shrub, small tree) One of my particular favorites, especially the Flying Dragon cultivar, which has twisting stems. Trifoliate orange is the only citrus that is hardy in Oklahoma. The flowers in spring have the distinctive orange blossom scent and the fruit is attractive to birds and squirrels, once they figure it out. The branches are armed with very sharp spines which make this an excellent plant for security plantings. As with all spined plants, limit human contact, and believe me, you'll want to limit pruning to only the necessary.
Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) 10 ft tall, 10 ft spread (medium shrub) This is a great shrub if you have some place where it can ramble. The height and spread numbers are somewhat misleading since it colonizes and fills any available space. When I told my dean at OSU/OKC that I had winter jasmine he got excited and wanted some. I went out and dug half a dozen sprigs out of the mulch and now the greenhouse has 20 or 30 pots of it! Blooms in winter all over bare stems with the true jasmine scent, a bright yellow reminder that spring is coming sooner or later.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis 'Sandra) 15 ft tall, 15ft spread (large shrub) Witch hazel is not often planted in this area, and I'm not sure why. Flowers in late winter (usually January in Oklahoma) and profusely, and they smell great. Sandra has new leaves in purple and in fall the leaves turn red, yellow and purple.

Susan's orders

Susan wants me to post to Blogger so she can send people here. Her wish is my command, and if you know how scary Susan is you will understand why that is. If you don't know Susan, why the heck are you here this early anyway?

A little about myself. I am married with six children and eight grandchildren. I am a landscaper working mostly on residential properties for about the last eight or nine years. A few years ago, I was working on a landscape for a woman who's husband was a retired engineer. I spent more time explaining my design to him than it took me to conceptualize and draw it. That was when I decided that I needed to find out exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Since then I have been a student at Oklahoma State University/Oklahoma City and in the fall I transfer to Oklahoma State at Stillwater to complete my degree in Public Horticulture.

I've always been a plant nut. My dad had a vegetable garden when I was growing up and my mother always had flower gardens. You sometimes wonder how the heck you find your way through but let's face it, if anyone had told me when I was growing up that I would be in school and looking at several more years and with a goal of a Master's or Doctorate in poseys I would have called them crazy. Everybody would have called them crazy. Let's face it, I looked like the person who was going to not only finish school the first time but probably finish it early. Looks are deceiving. It is never too late to do what you have to do. Sounds trite, I know, but it is true.

I am a good student, partly because let's face it, I'm brilliant, but mostly because I don't try anymore to fight the facts. A student's job is to listen to the professor and give him or her back what they want. That's not to say you don't think for yourself, you have to learn how to learn. But you don't try to prove the professor wrong everytime you open your mouth either. This is partially self-defense folks, if my dream comes true I will either be working as an educator in a public garden or a university someday and I don't want everybody arguing with me.

Anyway... My plan for this thing is to post stuff about my life, my work, and my beliefs and feelings. I'll try to give ideas about plants and garden design and if anyone has ideas on what I need to talk about feel free to load it on. I will try to give factual material but let's face it, most of it is going to be my opinion. Sit back and enjoy the ride.