Monday, February 24, 2014

Master Gardener Wedding Project

I had the good fortune to be invited to a wedding celebration in Miami FL on Feb 15, 2014 - temperature around 80 degrees, sunny, comfortable - a far cry from Franklin County's snow.
Our Next Door Neighbor

We went to celebrate the wedding of a college friend, Annie, and husband Jose.  They created a different kind of celebration; located at Camp Mahachee, a Girl Scout camp, they gathered 100 friends to do a service project to upgrade the camp (Clearing vines, cleaning roofs, laying pathways, and creating a butterfly garden).
Cleaning up the bed

Planting in progress

I was on the butterfly garden team, and we worked the day cleaning up a previously-planted area, identifying plants, planting them, mulching them, watering them, and then creating a garden map for the leaders and scouts to use for identification of plants.

Finishing up

The butterflies were there before we were done!

Project complete

At the end of the day, following a huge Cuban-inspired dinner and toasting/roasting session,
Happy couple Annie & Jose being toasted but mostly roasted

a lot of weary souls settled down to a great campfire…
Camp Mahachee campfire

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Look for Winter Interest Opportunities

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener
Still lots of snow but a good day to look around
Today was a great opportunity to get outside - warm (well-not so cold), clear and sunny. I took a walk around the house and yard to check the status of the trees and shrubs after the big snows and cold weather.

I'm following up on last fall's landscape design class. It was a good day to record what it looks like in winter, especially where I might need winter interest.

The line of arborvitae trees along the edge of the yard did not fare well last year but were rescued by wrapping them with twine to hold them together. This year we neglected to be proactive and they have suffered again. We anticipate only some branch loss. Next year we will have to follow a neighbor's strategy and tie them up in burlap.

Arborvitaes suffered damage in the snow & ice
Putting burlap around shrubs can prevent winter damage

Side yard - future shade garden

The side yard has been partially cleared for a shade garden next year thanks to Denise Lucas and Nancy Miller's inspiration at the Shade Gardening workshop. The yews at the far end revived after we kept shaking the ice and snow off. The back layer of the garden will need something evergreen that thrives in shade or an interesting winter shrub. There is a small azalea at the near end.

I'm thinking a Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica) might be good and a few dwarf boxwood that would be a good backdrop to other plants if kept trimmed.

Side yard - future Mediation Garden
The yard on the other side is earmarked as a Meditation Garden sparked by Alloway Creek's Sanctuary Garden (somewhere in the future). Taking a cue from Nancy Miller I want to make a doorway (hydrangeas?) near the front with the garden area near the wall having a few layers of plants. Electrical work this summer will add an exterior outlet for a future fountain.

I'm saving my pennies for a Frank Lloyd Wright Midway Garden Sprite statue.

To hide the air conditioner I hoping to put a trellis at a 90 degree angle and put a vine or two - maybe an evergreen like one of the varieties of clematis along with a summer bloomer.  With deciduous trees and southern exposure this side gets good winter sun.

My neighbor has a Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree sited perfectly for winter interest and our somewhat twisted cherry trees are also interesting.
Harry Lauder Walking Stick (L) & Cherry Trees (R)
So look for some clear days outside and do an inventory of where you might add some plants for winter interest. This will give you an excuse to look at all the catalogues that are coming in the mailboxes.

Right. like you need an excuse!

Monday, February 17, 2014

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

By Carol Kagan, Master Gardener
Doing the before-bed things and wandering through the house with the last of my decaf Earl Grey tea -  goodnight closed garage door, goodnight boots by the door - I headed back to the dining room thinking I had left the light on. I flicked the switch and the room got brighter. Off again and I looked up at the bright skylights.

Over to the window. "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below." What a sight! Bright moon. Clear sky. Pale blue snow with dark ink tree shapes falling in long shadows.

The full moon fell on Valentine's Day but it was still big and bright Sunday night. The February full moon is called the Snow Moon as February usually has the heaviest snowfall. Okay, that fits.

Looking forward, March's full moon, on the 16th is called the Worm Moon as the beginning of spring and softer ground brings earthworms up and robins out.

What About Lunar Gardening and Planting?
Pick anytime through history and somebody is trying to figure out how the moon affects our planet. While some scoff at the idea and call it folklore, others swear by it and others say “why not?” I am nevertheless wary of anyone who cites their “grandpap” as an authority.

Moon planters believe that the same gravitational force that affects the tides cause above ground crops to leap right out of the earth. And when on the wane with only a light pull and earth’s gravity the stronger, root crops dig deep in the ground.

Cheri Melton, a Cochise County Master Gardener, uses this method but provides no scientific back-up for the claims; however, she notes that it does add a rhythm to planting cycles and helps her pace her gardening.

Even further into astrological affects, some believe that the zodiac signs present when crops are planted can increase growth and production. There are air, water, fire and earth signs, each with plus and minus properties.

Whether you believe the moon affects plant growth or not, it's still an interesting idea and helps promote the annual almanac sales. Almanacs which, by the way, predicted heavy snow this February.

More information at the following links:

Cochise County Master Gardeners, Arizona: Gardening and  Farming by the Moon
Cochise County Master Gardeners, Arizona: Lunar Gardening Exploring the Zodiac Signs
Hendry County Extension, Florida: Astrological Gardening Planting by the Moon and Signs

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Gathering of Farmers at Wilson College

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener
Recently Fulton Farm at Wilson College received U.S. Department of Agriculture organic certification for produce and herbs grown on the college farm, a major step for the college and its sustainability program.

On Saturday, March 8, Wilson College is hosting a unique Certified Naturally Grown event: A Gathering of the Farmers, An Agricultural Revival. All members of the community are invited to attend.
There will be a Keynote address by Brian Snyder, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture

*Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir - a radical musical revival

*Workshops - to keep us sharp and growing strong: Topics TBD (Presenters sought-information at this Weblink)

Evening Events: Bonfire, Chili, Cider, Hootenanny

General Admission
Daytime only events is $30
Daytime and evening events is $35

Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) is dedicated to strengthening sustainable agriculture by offering peer-review certification to farmers and beekeepers who use natural practices free of synthetic chemicals to produce food for their local communities. CNG is a grassroots non-profit organization founded by farmers in 2002. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Another Indoor Bloom Brightens Winter Blahs

Barb Petrucci took this photo with her phone of a beautiful hibiscus flower blooming indoors at her house.

It certainly lifts the spirit with a bright spot in the gray of winter.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Fairy Garden Workshop Draws Big Crowd

by Carol Kagan, Master Gardener

Detail from a miniature container garden (Photo: J Kaufman)
“Look closely. The beautiful may be small,” said Master Gardener Juanita Kaufman, quoting Immanuel Kant.

The crowd found Juanita to be enthusiastic and a good presenter.

Fifty four people came to the February 1 workshop “Fairy Gardening,” to look at and learn how to create small gardens. Brenda Hollar, a Master gardener from Washington County, Md., came because she wants to make one.

Kaufman’s enthusiasm and experience in making fairy gardens were evident. “I’m not actually gardening. I’m just having fun,” she said. Her displays included several of her container gardens, her handmade houses, and the outdoor accessories she brings in for the winter.
Kaufman made these out of a coffee can (L) & bleach bottle (R)
Although called fairy gardens, these miniature displays can also feature gnomes or, let your imagination go to small animals or different people. "You determine what your world looks like," Kaufman said.
Examples of accessories that can be used
Miniature gardening also includes bonsai (bone’-sigh) and railroad gardening. A Master Gardener workshop on bonsai is scheduled for February 22. The railroad gardening this year will be held off-site at a railroad garden and is planned for early August.

An outdoor garden (Photo: J Kaufman)

These gardens can be in a container or in ground as part of an outdoor area. Containers can be moved outside during the growing season and can enhance a patio, porch or any area of a garden.

Kathy Rogers, Waynesboro, likes the idea of the small gardens. She plans to make a container garden and “start small.” Andy Junker, Chambersburg, said her active life includes a lot of travel and an indoor container wouldn’t work. She may try to incorporate one in her outdoor landscape.

Kaufman went through various steps to create a garden. She noted her experience, including mistakes made and corrected, as she went from choosing a site (and where not to put one), a theme and the scale (look before you buy). Site preparation includes thinking about access to utilities and the garden itself (small enough to be ‘reachable”).

Linda Shuey came from Carlisle with her husband. She liked the “do’s and don’ts” Kaufman included. “And my husband seems to be fascinated, too,” she added.

“Kids that never grew up and got out of the doll house love these,” Kaufman said, noting that “there is a sense of magic and whimsy.”
A very small fairy garden
Seeing these fairy gardens as a wonderful way to create a childhood experience, Marlene Schlusser, Carlisle, has already tried two. “I know I need a lot of help,” she said, noting that she likes all the miniature items. “Scale may be” a problem she has to consider.

“Children love these things — they’re drawn to them like magnets,” Kaufman said. Nancy Pollard, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, says creating an indoor fairy garden can get children interested in gardening and nature, and, some creative teachers have incorporated exchanging notes with the fairies in their class activities.

Justin Lindley, Hagerstown, attended because his daughter Faith, 7, along with her younger sister, is interested in creating a fairy garden. “They like it all,” he said, indicating that picking a theme would curtail them from buying everything.

Prune these plants or they will overtake the tiny adobe house.
Some designs require “teeny, tiny plants” to keep with a very small themed design and the mature size of plants should be considered. “You have to keep [the plants] small. Otherwise, it may seem like a creature feature where the plants ate the house.”

Anne Boggs and daughter, Storie, Chambersburg, came to learn how to make these. “My daughter is interested in making a garden, probably along a Lord of the Rings theme,” said Boggs, adding “Her birthday is coming soon.”
Anne & Storie Boggs plan to make a container garden
Kaufman also included information about the care and maintenance of your creations, emphasizing careful watering techniques and pruning. For areas outside, watch where you drag the hose or the lawn mower exhausts.

Like most of those present, Hollar said at the end of the workshop that she learned how to make a fairy garden and she will try. Perhaps she will be able to give a workshop in Washington County and spread the knowledge.

E-mail notification of workshops and events - send your e-mail address to the Extension Service office at You may also register for workshops by e-mailing or calling the office at 717-263-9226
Check these links for more information
Rusk County, TX Master Gardeners: Designing a Fairy Garden
Univ. of Illinois-Urbana: Fairy Gardens
PA Herb Festival Workshops: Garden in Miniature
workshop - all supplies included
Rosemary House, Mechanicsburg, PA: Fairy Festival

And for those who wanted it, Juanita has generously agreed to share her Grandmother's zucchini bread recipe.