Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nanking Cherry - Prunus tomentosa

This shrub was in my landscape when I moved here back in 1997, and according to the previous owners, it was there when they moved here in the early 1960's. They didn't know what it was, but noticed the birds loved its fruit, but were afraid to follow the birds' lead and try it for themselves, for fear of the unknown. Can't say I blame them, or myself, for also not adventuring there.

I kept trying to ID it with no luck until last Summer, when I noticed an article in Fine Gardening about edible landscapes by Dr. Lee Reich. (Pictured above)

I did a blog post about him back in March, referencing his guest blog post at The Garden Rant, and noting that he is the keynote speaker at The Summer Garden Experience at Landisville on Saturday, July 31.  Look for more information about that in a future entry.

From the Fine Gardening article:

Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa) is in the same genus as cherries, plums, and peaches, but is a different species than either sweet cherries (P. avium) or sour cherries (P. cerasus). This means that your Nanking Cherries can't be pollinated by either of these species, just as sweet cherries won't pollinate sour cherries and vice versa.

Nanking cherry is so tough that it will even grow under semiarid conditions and endure a snowless winter of -40°F followed by a scathing summer six months later. Generally, the bushes grow about 8 feet high and wide and bear grape-size fruit with a refreshing flavor somewhere between sweet and tart. The pinkish white flowers and subsequent fruit are borne in such profusion as to practically hide the stems.
Nanking cherry is tough and tasty
Name: Prunus tomentosa and cvs.
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2 to 7
Habit: Shrub
Taste: Sweet and tart
Fruit: Appears in early summer; at least two plants required for best yield
He also wrote a paper in 2007, Uncommon Fruits with Market Potential, describing several plants and shrubs that aren't very common, but could be, given a chance and with a little promotion.  It is also included (along with others) in his books Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, and Landscaping with Fruit.  He puts Nanking Cherry in the category:


The fruits of many of the uncommon fruits I have studied are known as unselected seedlings or relatively few selected cultivars. Even in this rather primitive form, the fruits are quite delicious—a hint of what they might be with some deliberate selection and breeding.

When Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosum Thunb., Rosaceae, Zones 3–6) was introduced into the US from China around the end of the 19th century, it was met with great fanfare both as an ornamental plant and as a fruit plant (Fig. 5). Some breeding has been done in Russia and there was some breeding done in the US following its introduction, but now only seedling plants are available. The flavor of even seedling fruits is all quite good, something between that of a sweet and a sour cherry. Shortcomings of Nanking cherry are its small fruit size and the fact that the stem detaches from the fruit at harvest, leaving a hole that bleeds juice and severely limits storage and shipping. But besides starting out with relatively good flavor, the plant also has value for its tolerance to adverse conditions (in its native habitat temperatures might range from –50°F (–45°C) in winter to plus 110°F (43°C) in summer), its precocity, the frost resistance of its blossoms, and its heavy production.

So, last Fall, I dug and potted up 6 seedlings that had popped up, and offered them for sale at the Plant Sale last month. Elmer G. and Karen N. talked about them, and Karen noted that they were around her place growing up. I think Elmer bought a couple.

There are two left in the holding area, hoping for homes next year.

I have some more and will pot them up this Fall for next year. 
I picked some of the fruit and took this picture.  So, if you're in the office on Monday (tomorrow, June 28th) come in and sample them.

Not up to Denise L. or Nancy R. standards for arrangements, but kinda purty.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Polls Closed - "Gate" in a Squeaker!

"Gate" it is.  But not by much.  After two weeks of voting, with 47 people participating, the winner by a nose is "Gate", just beating out "Herb Garden" as your choice for the cover of the Franklin County Master Gardener Cookbook.  "Gate" received 23 votes, "Herb Garden" 21, "Meadow" 2 and "Gazebo" 1.

We still need recipes for the cookbook to reach the optimum number recommended to make a profit, so contact Kay O'B., Linda, or me, and we'll be sure to include them.

If you have any other ideas for polling our audience on a topic in a similar vein to this effort, let me know, and I'll put up a poll.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Goin' Fishin'

Wonderful tribute to Bob Kessler this afternoon.  After a 41 year career as an Extension educator, all of which was served here in Franklin County, Bob will transition from tireless public servant to vital volunteer at the end of this month. 

Bob's leadership in establishing the Therapeutic Riding Center, his influence and mentoring of 4H youth, and, of course, the creation of our own organization, the Franklin County Master Gardeners, were celebrated with speakers from throughout his career in Extension.  Nancy Reddington represented MG's on the speaker roster, recalling that first class of 7 intrepid gardeners willing to be tested, trained, and trialed to provide workshops, hotline support, and garden projects to the citizens of Franklin County. 

An authentic and moving moment came when Bob admitted,  "I didn't think it was going to be this hard." It all gave way to a standing ovation and good cheer.

Beautiful flower arrangements, a lily-pad water centerpiece, and a fishing themed floral tableau provided by Denise and Nancy decorated the Ag Heritage Building.  Enjoy the pictures.


More pictures to come.  These provided by Anne F.

Update: Monday, June 21, 2010.  The Public Opinion covered the event with this article.  Here's an excerpt:
Associates called retiring extension agent Robert Kessler an inspiration to thousands of young people whose lives he touched during the 41 years he has worked with Penn State's Franklin County Extension Office.

He was honored Sunday at the Agricultural Heritage Center on Franklin Farm Lane.

"I don't remember a time when I did not know Bob," said former 4-Her Kerry Golden. "I don't know about 4-H extension agents in other counties, but Bob was hands on. He listened to us, he believed in us and he cared."

She said it was clear as she was growing up and involved in 4-H that Kessler loved his work, and loved the youngsters he worked with in 4-H. In return, she said, Kessler was loved by the thousands of 4-Hers who over four decades were mentored by him.

"Thank you for all you have done for the almost 30,000 4-Hers you have mentored," she said during the program honoring Kessler.  
She then added one last thought for the man she said treated all children like they were his own: "Happy Father's Day."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Invasive Species

Garden Professor Bert Cregg of Michigan State University alerts us to a new invasive species, linking to this video narrated by an Extension educator at Utah State University:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ticks and Lyme Disease

This Friday, June 18th, I’m participating in Farm Safety Day, teaching about ticks, their diseases, and how best to protect yourself from them. I thought it would be a good idea to put up a blog post as a reference point. It was also timely that Dr. Raupp, who sponsors the “Bug of the Week” report from the University of Maryland (see link to the right) covered ticks in this week’s entry. From his article:
The black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis, is an important carrier of Lyme disease in our area while on the west coast the western black-legged tick, Ixodes pacificus, is the culprit. Lyme disease can be a serious debilitating disease. In the short-term flu-like symptoms including headache, fever, fatigue, and an unmistakable bulls-eye rash called erythema migrans usually accompany a case of Lyme disease. An untreated infection becomes more serious when the bacterium moves to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. The culprit behind Lyme disease is a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia is transmitted by ticks from mammals like mice to humans. The northeastern region of our country is a hotbed for black-legged ticks and often leads the nation in the annual number of cases of Lyme disease. The number of Lyme disease cases rises dramatically in May and June, peaks in July and August, and declines in autumn.

One fascinating study suggests that as populations of small mammals like white-footed mice and chipmunks increase, tick populations also increase, thereby elevating the risk of tick bites and the potential for Lyme disease in humans. Greater abundance of small mammals like mice and chipmunks follow years in which oak trees produce bumper crops of acorns in a phenomenon called masting. White-tailed deer are frequently implicated with ticks and Lyme disease; however, researchers found deer to be less important contributors to the risk of Lyme disease than populations of small mammals. When it comes to Lyme disease, blame the mighty mouse and the mighty oak more than Bambi.
The simple acronym, AIR, for Avoid, Inspect, and Remove is a good way to remember what to do about ticks.
Avoid ticks and their bites in the following ways. If you enter habitats where wildlife and ticks are suspected such as grassy meadows, boarders of fields and woodlands, and vegetation along the banks of streams, wear long pants and light colored clothing. This will help you spot ticks on your clothes as they move up your body. Tuck your pant legs into your socks. This forces ticks to move up and over your cloths rather than under them where tasty skin awaits. Apply repellents labeled for use against ticks. Some are applied directly to skin, but others can only be applied to clothing. If repellents are used, be sure to read the label, follow directions carefully, and heed precautions particularly those related to children. Inspect yourself and your family thoroughly if you have been in tick habitats. This may involve enlisting a helper to view those "hard to see" areas around back. Remove ticks promptly if you find them. Removal within the first 24 hours can greatly decrease your risk of contracting a disease. If you find a tick attached, firmly grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible using a pair of fine forceps and slowly, steadily pull the tick out. Cleanse the area with antiseptic. The CDC and the Bug-Guy do not recommend methods of tick removal such as smearing the tick with petroleum jelly or scorching its rear end with a match. Cases of Lyme disease are the most common in children and seniors so take special care to keep kids of all ages safe when they play outdoors.

The University of Rhode Island sponsors a very good website, containing all sorts of good information about ticks and their diseases. Below is a video demonstration on how to remove a tick from their website.

A bull's eye rash is one of the characteristic symptoms of Lyme disease

UPDATE:  The pesticide education blog at Penn State also has a good post up about ticks with some good links at the end of the post directing you to more good information.  I added a link to their blog to the link list to the right.

Downy Mildew on Basil

Angela alerts us to a Washington Post article from this morning describing a recently introduced disease on basil, downy mildew.
Sweet basil, the mainstay herb of summer, is under attack from an aggressive fungal disease named downy mildew. Long an affliction of other plants, the disease is new to basil in the United States and threatens to become a permanent headache for grower, gardener and cook alike.

The disease was first found in Uganda in the 1930s but didn't appear again until nine years ago, in Europe. The first cases in the United States were in south Florida in 2007; it has spread since along the East Coast and in Canada, parts of the Midwest and California.

The effects first appear as faint yellow bands on the upper surfaces of the leaves. The lower leaf surfaces become dotted with tiny gray specks.

Cornell's plant pathology website has this information about the disease:
Downy mildew of basil is a new, destructive disease that is expected to occur routinely in the USA as it has been doing in Europe since first occurrence. Downy mildew was reported as severe at many farms in the northeast USA in 2008, the first year it was observed in this region. Growers generally did not realize their basil had a disease because the most noticeable symptom on affected plants was yellowing, which was assumed to be the result of a nutritional problem.

The basil downy mildew pathogen (Peronospora belbahrii) can be spread in contaminated seed, through marketing of infected basil leaves, and as wind-dispersed spores. Downy mildew also was observed recently on ornamental plants related to basil, in particular coleus and salvia. These plants all belong to the Lamiaceae family, which includes basils (Ocimum spp.), mints (Menta spp.), sages (Salvia spp.) and other aromatics. Fortunately, the coleus and basil downy mildew pathogens have now been demonstrated to be genetically different; therefore, these ornamental plants are no longer considered potential alternative hosts.

The best thing for the basil home grower, is to plant it in open, airy, sunny locations.  Minimize leaf wetness by conducting overhead watering only in the morning to make sure any moisture on the leaves dries quickly, and pick off any leaves that show signs of the disease.

There is no harm to people in eating infected leaves, but infected plants are unsightly and unsellable, so to be good neighbors to growers in our area whose livelihood depends on sellable produce, please keep an eye out for signs of the disease in your home gardens.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MG's Educate Inmates on Gardening

There's a great write up in today's Public Opinion Newspaper highlighting Master Gardener efforts to help inmates learn how to plant.  Here are some excerpts:
"I'm impressed with the enthusiasm of these women," said Franklin County Master Gardener Barbara Betteker, one of two gardeners who gave of their time to teach the inmates gardening and landscaping skills this week at the jail.

Betteker was joined by Master Gardener Tracy Burkholder, Tracy's son Cole Ott and his friend, Eli Miller, all of whom volunteered to help teach the inmates the skills that will earn them a landscaping certificate. The idea is that after their time is served, the certificate could help them get a job.

Inmate Crystal Menter said she knew nothing about gardening, but was having a lot of fun learning.

"I even had to learn how to dig the hole (for the plant)," she said. "I learned that roses roots down go straight down but spread out, so you have to give them room to grow."

She called the experience "awesome."

Inmate Natasha McCammon said she considered it a privilege to participate in the program.
Go read the whole thing.  I'm particularly impressed with the whole collaborative effort with businesses and other volunteer organizations.  And this is the kicker:
"There were no tax dollars spent for this," Fink said. "It is totally the effort of volunteers, local businesses and jail employees."
In these tough economic times, with budgets being squeezed everywhere, we can be very proud of our organization's contribution.  Congratulations, folks!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Late Blight Discovered in Pennsylvania Again

Scott Guiser, the horticulture educator from Buck's County, has a blog post up alerting us to the discovery of late blight again in Pennsylvania.  At this time, late blight has only been confirmed in three western PA counties but all Pennsylvania tomato and potato glowers need to be vigilant. Please go read his blog post and follow his advice for your home gardens.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Off With Their Heads!

As early as 1592 Shakespeare used the phrase "off with their heads" in many of his plays.  Later, Lewis Carroll became the best-known user of the phrase "off with their heads" when he included it in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (published 1865).   The Queen of Hearts shrieks the phrase several times in the story - in fact she doesn't say a great deal else.  "Off with their heads" is the mantra of many a fine modern gardener as well - referring, of course, to deadheading perennials.
One of the best ways to keep color in your perennial border a little longer is to deadhead spent flowers.  Reasons for deadheading generally falls into three categories:  to encourage reflowering of some perennials; to limit seed production and/or self-seeding of other perennials; and to improve the overall appearance of the plant.
Some of the common perennials that may rebloom after deadheading include (Disabato-Aust):
  • Allwood pinks  (Dianthus X allwoodii cvs.)
  • Baby’s breaths  (Gypsophila paniculata and cvs.)
  • Bee balms  (Monarda didyma and cvs.)
  • Blanket flowers  (Gaillardia X grandiflora cvs.)
  • Butterfly weed  (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Checker mallows  (Sidalcea malviflora and cvs.)
  • Cheddar pinks  (Dianthus gratianopoIitanus and cvs.)
  • Columbines  (Aquilegia spp. and cvs.)
  • Culver’s root  (Veronicastrum virginicum)
  • Dame’s rockets  (Hesperis matronalis and cvs.)
  • Delphiniums  (Delphinium spp. and cvs.)
  • False sunflowers  (Heliopsis helianthoides and cvs.)
  • Foxgloves  (Digitalis spp. and cvs.)
  • Garden phloxes  (Phlox paniculata cvs.)
  • Gauras  (Gaura lindheimeri and cvs.)
  • Geums  (Geum spp. and cvs.)
  • Globe thistles  (Echinops ritro and cvs.)
  • Golden marguerites  (Anthemis tinctoria and cvs.)
  • Hardy begonia  (Begonia grandis ssp. evansiana)
  • Hollyhocks  (Alcea rosea cvs.)
  • Italian bugloss  (Anchusa azurea)
  • Jupiter’s beard  (Centranthus ruber)
  • Lavenders  (Lavandula spp. and cvs.)
  • Lilyleaf ladybell  (Adenophora liliifolia)
  • Lupines  (Lupinus spp. and cvs.)
  • Masterworts  (Astrantia major and cvs.)
  • Meadow phloxes  (Phlox maculata and cvs.)
  • Monkshoods  (Aconitum spp. and cvs.)
  • Mountain bluet  (Centaurea montana)
  • Painted daisies  (Tanacetum coccineum and cvs.)
  • Patrinia  (Patrinia scabiosifolia)
  • Penstemons  (Penstemon barbatus and cvs.)
  • Perennial salvia*  (Salvia nemorosa and cvs.)
  • Pincushion flowers  (Scabiosa spp. and cvs.)
  • Purple coneflower  (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Purple toadflaxes  (Linaria purpurea and cvs.)
  • Queens-of-the-meadow  (Filipendula ulmaria and cvs.)
  • Rose campions  (Lychnis coronaria and cvs.)
  • Shasta daisies  (Leucanthemum X superbum cvs.)
  • Sneezeweed  (Helenium autumnale)
  • Spike speedwells  (Veronica spicata cvs.)
  • Spiderworts  (Tradescantia X andersoniana cvs.)
  • Stokes’ asters  (Stokesia laevis and cvs.)
  • Sweet violets  (Viola odorata and cvs.)
  • Tickseeds  (Coreopsis spp. and cvs.)
  • Upright hollyhock mallow  (Malva alcea var. fastigiata)
  • Yarrows  (Achillea spp. and cvs.)
  • Yellow corydalis  (Corydalis lutea)
How to deadhead will depend on the particular growth habit of the plant.  According to Tracy DiSabato-Aust (The Well-Tended Perennial Gardener), "choosing the exact point to make a deadheading cut can seem confusing, since perennials have different flower forms. Because deadheading, like other types of pruning, is so species specific, it can be difficult to group plants into categories. For most plants, however, all you need to remember is to prune spent flowers and stems back to a point where there's a new lateral flower or bud. If no new flower is apparent, prune the stem back to a lateral leaf."

Not all perennials will rebloom after deading, but they sure will make the garden look much better.  Some of these perennials include (Disabato-Aust):
  • Baskets of gold (Aurinia saxatilis and cvs.)
  • Bearded irises (Iris spp. and cvs.)
  • Bergenias (Bergenia cordifolia and cvs.)
  • Clustered bellflowers (Campanula glomerata and cvs.)
  • Common rue (Ruta graveolens)
  • Coral bells (Heuchera spp. and cvs.)
  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp. and cvs.)
  • Goatsbeards (Aruncus dioicus and cvs.)
  • Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis and cvs.)
  • Hostas (Hosta spp. and cvs.)
  • Jacob's ladders (Polemonium caeruleum and cvs.)
  • Japanese anemones (Anemone × hybrida cvs.)
  • Lady's mantles (Alchemilla mollis and cvs.)
  • Lambs' ears (Stachys byzantina and cvs.)
  • Lavender cottons (Santolina chamaecyparissus and cvs.)
  • Lungworts (Pulmonaria spp. and cvs.)
  • Mulleins (Verbascum spp. and cvs.)
  • Obedient plants (Physostegia virginiana and cvs.)
  • Pearly everlastings (Anaphalis triplinervis and cvs.)
  • Peonies (Paeonia spp. and cvs.)
  • Red hot pokers (Kniphofia spp. and cvs.)
  • Rodgersias (Rodgersia aesculifolia and cvs.)
  • Rose mallows (Hibiscus moscheutos and cvs.)
  • Scotch thistles (Onopordum nervosum and cvs.)
  • Sea thrifts (Armeria maritima and cvs.)
  • Wall germanders (Teucrium chamaedrys and cvs.)
  • Wall rock cresses (Arabis caucasica and cvs.)
  • Western bleeding hearts (Dicentra formosa and cvs.)
  • Western mugworts (Artemisia ludoviciana and cvs.)
Whether or not you allow your perennials to set seed will depend on whether you want to spend your time deadheading or removing seedlings.  Some seedlings are a welcome  gift to the gardener while others can be a gardener's nightmare.  Some seedheads are very attractive (sedum Autumn Joy) while other actually detract from the overall appearance of the garden (daylilies).  Be aware that in some cases, too many seedheads can rob the plant of energy and affect the following year's flowering (Siberian iris).   Many short-lived perennials (Lychnis coronaria) can perpetuate themselves by self-sowing.

Off with their heads?  It all comes down to the personal  choice of the gardener and knowing the growing habits of each individual perennial.   Two excellent online resources are:

If you are a perennial gardener,  I highly recommend two books that need to be in every perennial gardener's library:  The Well Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust and The Perennial Care Manual by Nancy J. Ondra.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Foxglove - Digitalis purpurea

Some pictures from my wildflower meadow at home.  I just love these things.  All were started by scattering seed over an area where the existing turf was eliminated using an old pool cover for a season, removed, then raked and seeded.  That may not be the best way to eliminate turf, I've recently learned, because it interferes in the water and air interaction with the soil.  (Here's a better way).  Nevertheless, it appeals to my lazy, but patient demeanor, as a way of naturalizing areas, without using herbicides unnecessarily.  I now only mow the area once a year - in early March.

The original seed came included in the Northeastern Wildflower mix from Wildseed Farms, which was the same source of seed for our meadow in the wildlife demonstration area at the Horticulture Center.

From their description:

One of the loveliest, most important plant species that has been introduced from Europe and naturalized in various parts of North America. The flowers are numerous, on a spike, and range from a deep purple to lilac with conspicuous spots interlining the throat of the tubular flower. As a biennial, the leaves form a rosette the first year followed by the flower spike the next year. Prefers a nitrogen-rich sandy loam soil, in partial sun to full shade.

They also show up on Extension lists of deer resistant plants, plants poisonous to livestock, and herb and medicinal fact sheets:

There are several varieties of ornamental foxglove available, differing in size and flower color. The primary value of foxglove, however, is as a source of the medicinally important glycosides found in the plant. Digitalis, a cardiovascular drug extracted from the leaves, is the most effective drug available for heart failure caused by hypertension or arteriosclerosis. It is also used medicinally as a heart regulator, a diuretic, and an expectorant. Digoxin and lanatoside C from foxglove are effective in the correction of arrhythmias. Folk remedies use foxglove as a cardiac tonic and in the treatment of circulatory failures. The cardenolides slow and strengthen the heart beat.
Digitalis is poisonous, and symptoms include vomiting, headache, irregular heartbeat, and convulsions. Overdoses can be fatal.
So, even though classified as an herb for its usefulness as a medicine, enjoy it for its effect on your sense of sight, not taste.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cookbook Cover

Pick a cover for the Master Gardener Cookbook.  I've set up a poll over to the right.  Vote for your favorite.



Herb Garden


Angela sends this report about MG efforts to help the students in the Mercersburg area learn about plants and wildlife.  By the way, the request for this effort came from a comment  posted at this blog back in March.  These are the kind of efforts that can get very good publicity for the Master Gardener program, and can be used as exemplars when we apply for grants, and talk about the importance of Extension and our program to the University, commissioners, and our state representatives in Harrisburg.  So thanks, guys!

On Friday, June 4th, Barbara Buzzel, Bill Dorman, Jim Reddington, and Angela Weathers went to Tuscarora Middle School to teach 100 school kids about the environment and ecosystems by experimenting with terrariums as a learning tool to show a small example of the bigger world we live in.

We arrived at 8am, not without a little trepidation, carrying plants and containers to make terrariums. We signed in at the main office and were given visitors passes and made our way to the science classroom. After we had stood for the national anthem and morning assembly was over the first of 4 groups of 25 kids trooped into the classroom.

Barbara introduced us and explained what we were all about, then using her many teaching skills got everyone started with five short quizzes on backyard wildlife that she and Karen Strimple (who was unable to join us due to jury duty) had put together. Jim, who will be on the permanent staff at the school beginning next term, enjoyed himself and held everyone's attention at the blackboard with lots of questions encouraging thought and expecting, and getting answers with an eager show of hands. Bill gave the students some interesting insights from his many years of experience growing plants in the garden, and intrigued them with some anecdotes from his travels around the world, Angela used a cookie jar purchased from Wall-mart to demonstrate how to make a terrarium and showed the kids how they could put together a simple terrarium themselves. Everyone had their own take-home terrarium made out of 2 small see thru plastic cups taped together.

We repeated these teaching discussions and procedures another three times, each time getting a bit more confident with our presentations. The science master was in the classroom with us all day as a firm hand to keep discipline, however, there were no problems because the kids were fascinated with it all and some even came back during their lunch hour to finish their terrarium. I know they want to invite us back again because everyone had such a good time and learnt a little about nature, it's connectedness and our role as stewards, the life cycle of plants and the importance of interaction in eco systems.

Thanks go to Mike Cannady, our own Franklin Co. MG terrarium expert for providing us with the perfect terrarium plants and soil but who unfortunately couldn't go with us due to work commitments.

If you want a rewarding experience please volunteer next time we get the opportunity to be school volunteers. You can use your creativity, expand on a subject and have fun with it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Panoramic Plants Pic

Laurie C's husband, Keith, performed some computer magic and produced this panoramic shot of the plant sale.
(Click on the picture for a fuller view)

UPDATE June 7, 2010:

A couple more taken by Anne F. that I missed.

Ruth C.

Bill D. and Mary C.

Dragon Arum

Nancy M. sends this picture of a Dragon Arum (Dracunculus vulgaris) in bloom in her garden, with the message "Blowflies just love it."

After some research, I learned it's because the Dragon Arum belongs to a class of plant known as

Carrion Flowers:

Unlike the fragrant blossoms that attract bees, butterflies and moths, carrion flowers simulate the odor of a rotting carcass and attract carrion beetles and a variety of flies including blowflies, flesh flies and midges.
The European relatives "lords-and-ladies" (Arum maculatum) and "dragon arum" (Dracunculus vulgaris) emit rather unpleasant odors resembling carrion or fresh feces.
Although these plants are inconspicuous most of the year, their showy spathes and stench are unmistakable during late spring and summer.
Here is the Wikipedia entry:
Dracunculus vulgaris is a species of aroid in the genus Dracunculus and is known variously as the Dragon Arum, the Black Arum, the Voodoo Lily, the Snake Lily, the Stink Lily, the Black Dragon, Dragonwort, and Ragons. In Greece, part of its native range, the plant is called Drakondia, the long spadex being viewed as a small dragon hiding in the spathe.

It is native to the Balkans, extending as far as Greece, Crete and the Aegean Islands, and also to the south-western parts of Anatolia. It has been introduced to the United States and is currently present in the states of Oregon, California and Tennessee as well as the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Lots of pictures here.  USDA information here.