Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Day of Autumn

by Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener

Summer is gently sliding into autumn here in South Central PA. I like it. Do you?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

It's Not Too Late enjoy some time with your favorite plants.  Some of them are almost at their peak...

And whether you're looking for critters...

Or flowers...

or just some interesting blooms...

They are yours for the enjoying in the Herb Demonstration Garden...

So come sit and take it all in...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Visit to Hershey Gardens

by Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener
Hershey Gardens
Since this weekend was the last for the Butterfly House at Hershey Gardens and the weather was fantastic, we headed out Friday. The gardens are only 1 ½ hours away and well worth the trip.There are over 23 acres of garden including a beautiful Rose Garden of over 3 acres started in 1937.
Only a few of the 5,600 roses of 275 species
Areas include ornamental grasses, Japanese garden, herb gardens, Native American, rock garden, nut and oak groves, and arboretum. The extensive Children’s garden has many interactive stations, hideaways and a hedge maze that is so much better for youngsters than the challenging commercial corn mazes. 
Ornamental Grasses
We headed to the Butterfly House first and spent over an hour, mostly with me chasing butterflies around or patiently waiting for the Malachite butterfly to get warm enough to open its wings. My favorite was the Malachite, beautiful on the underside with wings closed. I’ve included an Internet picture of it open. Oh, I wish I could have waited.
Malacite with wings closed
Malacite with wings open (from the Internet)
Others that I enjoyed were the Julia (Dryas iulia Fabricius), native to south Texas, Florida and Brazil,
the Great Southern White (Ascia monuste), native to south Texas, Florida and Gulf Coast,
Great Southern White
the Zebra (Heliconius charithonia), official butterfly of Florida,

Zebra butterflies feeding on brown-eyed Susan seed heads
the Mexican Bluewing (Myscelia ethusa), native to Central America but obviously enamored of my blue pants that day,
Mexican Bluewing
the White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae), native to the southeastern U.S. and Central/South America,
White Peacock
and the Atala (Eumaeus atala), native to Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba, and like the Malacite, refused to open but was beautiful when closed. It is their smallest butterfly.
Atala with closed wings
Atala with open wings from Internet
A fun event coming up is the Pumpkin Glow nights in October, geared toward kids 12 and under, costumes and flashlights encouraged. Over 150 illuminated pumpkins throughout the garden and floating. Check the link below for more information. There is also a Bonsai exhibition from October 10 to November 10.
Here’s a sampling of flowers currently in bloom.

For more information about Hershey Gardens

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tomato Tasting Day - Wet but Successful

Compiled by Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener
No age or height requirement at Tomato Tasting Day
Over 170 people ignored drizzling rain, and the threat of thunderstorms to participate in the 13th annual Penn State Extension Tomato Tasting Day, sponsored by the Franklin County Master Gardeners on Wednesday, August 28, 2013. That total represents the 2nd highest attendance figure in the history of the event.

Rain did not deter people determined to taste tomatoes
Twenty-four different varieties of tomatoes were sampled, and the winner was Old Brooks, an heirloom variety, described in the catalog Totally Tomatoes, where the seeds were purchased, as “Smooth, blemish-free fruits known for their superior resistance to blossom end-rot as well as to early and late blights. Gourmet quality flesh, with a fine, even texture. The taste is somewhat acidic, which proves to be an asset in home canning. Good all-around variety.”

Second place honors went to Maglia Rosa, a recently introduced open pollinated variety by tomato breeder Fred Hempel of Baia Nicchia Farm in the Bay area of California, who licenses his seeds to Seeds of Change, where the Master Gardeners purchased the seed last winter. Seeds of Change describes the variety as, “This cherry tomato produces truly unique, mottled pink, long, egg-shaped fruits with bright, lightly sweet acidic flavor. Harvest just as the fruit turns light pink for optimum flavor. The small plants are perfect for growing in hanging baskets or patio containers.”

And the third place finisher was Rose, another heirloom sourced from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, whose catalog describes it as, “Deep pink and smoother than Brandywine, Rose is every bit as meaty and flavorful. Fruits weigh 10+ oz. Good yielding.” Here’s the whole list:

Angela Weathers of Blue Ridge Summit submitted an entry in the largest tomato grown with a Striped German variety weighing in at almost 2 pounds. Brenda Baumgardner of Dillsburg was also a prize winner on Wednesday. Her green salsa, dubbed Salsa Verde at the event, won the people's choice award.
Salsa Verde

Photos included are from the Public Opinion Website.
WHAG Channel 21 News (includes video interviews)
Public Opinion Story
Public Opinion Photos

Update - October 20, 2013 - The breeder of Blush and Maglia Rosa - Fred Hempel of Baia Nicchia Farm and Artisan Seeds informs us in the comments section that the seeds are freely available to all seed companies, and will be available from Johnny's and others this winter.  Check out Fred's introductions for 2014.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Discovered in the Rock Today

By Franklin County Master Gardener Carol Kagan
Oh, how gently summer is sliding into autumn. I took a stroll around the yard in the cool of the morning, carrying my hot tea (known as checking the back 40 at our house).

Weeds are persistent little devils – they pop up in sidewalk cracks,in splits in the road tar,
in a miniscule spot between towering skyscrapers –
even without our help.
I discovered, behind the tall and wide ornamental grass, that my sedum has managed to find several small niches in the rock and has flourished there.

It’s good to know, at the end of the day, that even the good stuff is persistent.