A New Sign for the Wildlife Watch

Today I’m painting a new sign for the Wildlife Watch garden. It will replace the last sign that broke after four years of exposure to the elements. The first sign was made from an antique slate roofing tile. I think it probably got banged around by the wind and broke against the tree it hung upon (see photo). Despite that I’m going to use slate again because I have a free supply and I like the rustic look that compliments the Wildlife Watch garden’s style.

Please understand I have no illusions that I’m an artist but I want the sign to be legible.  I hope to get stencils of wildlife to add some idea that we aren’t looking for lions, tigers, and bears but rather insects, toads, and birds. Not that deer aren’t in the vicinity (that’s why I applied human hair around vulnerable plants), but they are shy.

The first sign had white letters but this time I wanted to add some kid-friendly colors so I used the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. As I wrote this I took photos of the new sign and I must say it might look a little too rustic – dirty even. I may have to rethink the whole thing. It seems this too is a Work In Progress. Perhaps I will paint the background of the sign a solid color like black. What do you think?

Secrest Arboretum

The 2012 Plant Discovery Day at Secrest Arboretum was a great shopping trip. I got some favorites and some newbies. But a comment on a recent post got me thinking about what secrets are hidden at Secrest. Though Webster defines an arboretum as a “place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes,” Secrest has so much more to offer that I need to return as soon as possible! The Arboretums grounds are used by many people other than educators today including walkers, runners, bicyclists, birdwatchers, children, their parents, and grandparents. June events alone include guided bird walks, a rose garden open house, a pruning workshop, and Whiz Bang! Science shows for kids. That’s something for everyone, right?

Beginning as Forest Arboretum, in 1950 Secrest was named in honor of educator Dr. Edmund Secrest, known as the father of Ohio forestry. In the early 1900s the forestry arboretum’s educational designation was Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES), but in 1965 the OAES was renamed Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

Secrest has been conducting scientific research of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants for more than a century. The OARDC studies plant genetics, diseases and insect pests to inform growers and   consumers what grows best under Ohio’s conditions. Recent research entails a program “Why Trees Matter” that establishes information for communities explaining the “environmental services trees provide, such as storm-water remediation, air quality benefits, energy savings, and carbon sequestration.”

In 2010, a tornado damaged Secrest Arboretum and the (OARDC). Winds attained speeds of 130 mph, taking out about one fourth of the arboretum’s 120 acres and ruining 1600 trees! I saw pictures at a master gardener presentation how whole areas had to be backhoed to clear the debris.  Today Secrest continues to rebuild and plant sale dollars were contributed to the effort.

As Secrest and OARDC collected specimens for research they also created a lush landscape through artful plant juxtapositions that are worthy of an extended visit. I’d like to tour the grounds and maybe take one of those classes. If you’d like to visit you can check out Secrest here: http://secrest.osu.edu/

Technical Difficulties Delay Garden Duties

Today hubby Jack and I were going to work at the Wildlife Watch but on the way we were hit by a heavy thunderstorm.  My phone’s map showed more on the way so we went instead to get stenciling materials to replace Wildlife Watch’s broken sign. After buying stencils and paint we headed home when I noticed my phone had not recharged through the car’s charger. When we got home I connected to my normal charger – nothing. Next I tried Jack’s charger, then the laptop connection – nada. So I went to my carrier and was surprised to find out they don’t fix the iPhones. My options were to call 1-800-myiPhone, take it to a store (nearest about 100 miles) or mail it in. Currently I’m down to 10% on the iPhone and waiting for a live voice on 1-800-myiPhone. I’ll get back to you asap.

Secrest Plant Purchases


These are the plants I bought at Secrest Arboretum’s Plant Discovery Day, 2012!


Secrest Arboretum’s Plant Discovery Day

Today I went plant shopping at Secrest Arboretum’s 19th annual plant sale and auction with my gardening buddies. This was my first time at the sale and it was a great day! We had good weather and plenty of plant choices. Everything from trees and shrubs, to herbs, annuals and perennials, with many things I’d never seen before, including a bug zoo for kids! Other offerings included of garden art, food and guided walks in the arboretum.

This 19th annual Plant Discovery Day was at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Ave., in Wooster, Ohio. Secrest Arboretum was hit by a tornado in 2010 and lost many trees and buildings.  Proceeds from today’s event benefit the arboretum. You can learn more about the arboretum’s tornado renewal fund here:  http://go.osu.edu/JqA.

I bought:

  • Hosta ‘First Frost’ and Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ (might have to plant these frosty guys together)
  • Hellebore ‘Pink Marble’ and H. ‘Ice Breaker Max’
  • Scented Geranium, Pelargonium crispum ‘Fingerbowl Lemon’
  • Trailing Snapdragon Chaenorrhinum ‘Summer Skies’ (blue with a white eye, shown in photo)
  • English lavender, Lavendula ‘Jean Davis’
  • Fern leaf dill, Anethum graveolens and sweet basil, Ocimum basilcum
  • Native turtlehead, Chelone glabra

We had lunch at The Barn http://www.thebarnrest.com/ and checked out their local grounds and of course, the shops too! They have a lovely stream and lake, lots of ducks, and a giant LEGO ® bass violin played by Bullwinkle!

I consider this a successful day with lots of additions for the Work In Progress Garden!

Wildlife Watch Gardening


Wildlife Watch

I did my gardening today at Sunplace Special: A Children’s Garden. The Wildlife Watch (WW) is also a Work In Progress Garden! Sunplace Special’s soil has been a challenge from the beginning. The ½ acre garden was created on Trumbull County land that was woods, scrub brush and an overgrown field. It was full of tree stumps, roots and weeds. As if that weren’t enough to deal with we had to trench to install water and electric. This brought all the rocky, clay soil to the top. These past three years we’ve been improving the soil slowly but surely.

Today the WW area of the garden needed soil and mulch moved and raked, plants planted and watered, and additional deer proofing of vulnerable plants. Luckily, I had help from my husband, Jack. He loaded up the garden cart (the large wooden kind, not a wheelbarrow) with soil and mulch, trucked it over to WW, and dumped it for me – three loads of mulch and one of soil! This past Monday it took two hours to move two half cart loads by myself!  More hands make less work! Thanks, Jack!

We mulched three separate beds, added soil to level an area for a giant nest and planted a couple of annuals. Our last frost date is May 24, so I’m trying to beat the odds. The low temperatures are forecast to stay above freezing for the next 10 days. That takes me to May 14th and leaves another ten days to monitor.

A special task we finished was spreading human hair around vulnerable plants in order to prevent deer from eating the plants. I’m not sure where I heard this tidbit but supposedly the deer get the human scent from the hair and move on to other growth. I doubt it’s been researched by Ohio State Extension but we were successful last year. Places without hair were eaten while those with hair were left alone! Before I applied the hair, someone ate the coleus, Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum), Columbine (Aquilegia) and a particularly special hosta. After I applied the hair the coleus, columbine and hosta regrew to respectable size but the Solomon’s Seal only regained a spindly growth. All Sunplace Special’s master gardeners had similar results last year and we hope it works again this year. After all, Sunplace Special and the Wildlife Watch gardens are also Work In Progress Gardens!

Keeping a Garden Journal

Do you keep a garden diary or journal? It seems an excellent idea to keep everything in one place but I doubt I will ever be able to use a small bound book for everything I want to know about my plants and my garden! Some things I track include a plant’s:

  • Nomenclature, history and culture
  • Date, cost and source
  • Original plant tag or seed packet
  • Date and location planted
  • Date and location moved (My plants need wheels! Who said that?)
  • Date of demise or MIA if necessary

However, none of this info is catalogued in a nice neat packet such as a bound journal.  I have used multiple methods of logging my desired info. I have lists on 3 X 5 cards, envelope backs, magnetic grocery tablets, a different blog, a desktop and a laptop. Not one year have I yet to achieve my holy grail of 52 weeks of records all in one place. I figure my best bet is to blog it all.

The info I want most to be able to access quickly over the years is what bloomed when. Each year I keep notes of what plants are blooming any given week. If I know who blooms when I figure I can coordinate my garden groupings better.

So today I begin my new bloom journal. These plants are blooming in my garden this week:

Bulbs: Narcissi ‘Poeticus’, Muscari, giant alliums, a pink tulip, Star of Bethlehem, Hyacinthoides (white, pink, purple and blue)

Perennials: Columbine, Solomon’s Seal, Thalictrum, sweet woodruff, bearded iris, Primula, Geranium, Forget-me-nots, creeping phlox, Lunaria, Ajuga, Tradescantia,Trillium, Brunnera

Shrubs/trees: Azalea, Japanese flowering quince and dogwood

I’m sure I’ll improve my record keeping and system – after all it’s a work-in-progress. How do you track your bloom times? Do you keep a garden diary or journal? What info do you list?

May Day Chores Update


My title yesterday included the phrase May Day. My intent was to show my stress over committing to daily postings during the busiest garden month of the year. However I should have listed it as Mayday (one word) since I was channeling the usage by aviators when they have a life-threatening situation.  According to Wikipedia I should have invoked the phrase “three times in a row (“Mayday Mayday Mayday”) to prevent mistaking it for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call.

Of course my distress is not life threatening but I wanted to emphasize my alarm at entering myself into the NaBloPoMo May bloggers’ promise to post daily on their blogs.

Enough about that back to my list of garden chores posted as yesterday’s goals. I didn’t get them all done but here’s what I accomplished:

  • Weeded a section of my alley bed. This perennial bed has been infiltrated by the bad guys! Coreopsis, daylilies, torch lilies, daffodils, iris reticulata and mugo pine are all invaded by mint, ground ivy and quack grass! Weeding a terrorized bed like this is a major PITA (pain in the a**)! I covered an area about 4’ X 3’ in around three hours of hard labor! I had to lift some bulbs to get the mint and grass roots out from under them.
  • I did locate two vendors for Rosa Jeanne La Joie through Dave’s Garden online site.
  • I did NOT get to work on the sign info; I’d better save it for a rainy day.
  • I did water my newly bought plants (in photo). For my home containers I have Perilla, sweet potato vines (Ipomoea ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Tricolor’), Euphorbia ‘Blush’, Heliotropium ‘Fragrant Delight’, and Bacopa ‘White Wedding.’ Destined for Sunplace Special: A Children’s Garden are coleus (Solenostemon ‘Kong’) and black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia ‘Lemon’).
  • I canceled a workshop in order to go to Secrest Arboretum’s 19th Annual Plant Discovery Day. http://secrest.osu.edu/pageview/Contact_Us.htm
  • I added popcorn plant to Sunplace Special’s database. This popcorn plant is Cassia didymobotrya aka Cassia Popcorn. Its leaves are said to smell like popcorn and its flowers like peanut butter!
  • I tracked my plants in bloom by taking pictures of everything in bloom yesterday. I’m trying to keep track of who blooms when so I can better coordinate my bloom times.

I accomplished six out of seven chores listed. Not too bad for one day’s gardening play! What’s there to be stressed about?


I Joined NanBloPoMo today, May Day 2012!

NaBloPoMo is a blogging stimulus to get people blogging by posting daily. Since I have problems in this area I intend to give it a shot despite it being the busiest gardening month in Ohio. The NanBloPoMo theme for the month of May is “PLAY.” I’m going to be playing in the dirt all month long!

Today’s post addresses what gardening chores I hope to accomplish today:

  • Weed alley bed at home garden
  • Locate Rosa Jeanne La Joie for Sunplace Special: A Children’s Garden’s trellis
  • Design info for sign in Wildlife Watch area of Sunplace Special: A Children’s Garden
  • Water plants bought Thursday for home garden
  • Cancel one garden lecture in favor of another garden center road trip
  • Add Popcorn plant to Sunplace Special: A Children’s Garden’s database
  • Track plants blooming today in my home garden

 I’ll let you know how I did tomorrow! You can find out more about NaBloPoMo here:


Spring Bouquet 2012

This spring I’m taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to try my hand at forcing shrubs and trees into bloom (see previous post).  This arrangement started with prunings from Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ aka Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and a white Spirea that I’ve been told is called ‘Bridal Veil’ but have not been able to confirm.

Since my second-hand vase is so large, I decided to fill in with sprout prunings from my flowering crabapple, also an unknown Malus ‘X’.  These are hard to see in the picture because they aren’t open yet but appear as dark pink pendulous clusters.

I still felt that more color and textural contrast was needed so I went shopping at my local big box store for tulips. The store didn’t have any tulips on sale so I bought  10 Alstromeria stems @$5.88. The Spirea has been blooming for a couple of days and I’m still waiting for the crabapple blossoms to open. I think it turned into quite the impressive bouquet, considering my floral arranging skills are also a Work In Progress.