Monthly Archives: September 2009

Fall foliage Tips in Missouri

Fall foliage Tips in Missouri

Driving tours in the Missouri Ozarks are filled with the color variations of 140 different species of trees. The fall color season stretches out for weeks because of that timber variety. Begin leaf peeping season with these three steps to get the most out of Missouri’s most colorful season.

1. Be flexible, fall color lasts most of October. Missouri’s wide variety of trees means that trees change color at different times. Don’t worry that it might rain on your tour. You may get some of your best photos in dizzily days. Overcast days tend to increase fall color intensity.

2. Take the scenic route. Practically any drive across the state, east to west to west to east will guarantee you a colorful fall drive in October. You may be able to combine a fall foliage tour with other travels. Schedule a little more travel time for all trips and enjoy the ride.

3. Reserve early. If you are planning a weekend leaf peeping tour, make hotel reservations as soon as possible. Fall is the busiest time in the Ozarks. When you complete your trip, consider making reservations for next year while still at the hotel.

For up-to-date peak foliage reports check out these sites. Weekly Eastern Region Fall Color Report The Forest Service Fall Foliage Hotline telephone number is 1-800-354-4595. (Eastern Region includes Missouri.)

Missouri Department of Conservation follow the MDC weekly foliage report.

Leaf peepers guide to fall color:
Red leaves: Red oak, white oak, pin oak, shingle oak dogwoods.
Yellow leaves: Ash, elm, hickory, poplar, redbud, serviceberry, hickory and silver maple.

These three photos were taken by C. Huff of Bucks and Spurs Ranch bear Ava, MO

Battle of Athens State Historic Site harvest gathering

Halloween spirits in Missouri state parks

More State Parks in the Halloween spirit

Cabela’s KingKat Fishing Tournament Sept. 25, 26

Cabela’s KingKat Fishing Tournament Sept. 25, 26

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Bloom Day September 2009

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day in Cape Girardeau, MO USA
This is the last of the hardy standby rudbeckia blooming.

This is a gifted rose from the storybook series. It’s a prolific bloomer, no fragrance, but the color stands out from a distance. I never saw these on the market, too bad because I would buy more. They are faithful bloomers, even gracing the Thanksgiving table last year.

I still have a lot of food crops blooming. “They won’t have time to make”, as grandma used to say.

This tasty English cucumber is still producing long skinny, thin-skinned. cucumbers.
Pinky WinkyHardy Hydrangea or Hydrangea paniculata is growing in a couple of places in my yard, The one that gets more sun does the best. Hiding behind thee hardy hydrangea, is Buttered Popcorn day lily, Hemerocallis Buttered Popcorn. It’s a repeat bloomer and the brilliant yellow blooms always get noticed.

About now, I should tell you that I’m using the camera/phone, and I have no excuse for the photo quality, except I can’t keep it steady enough for good photos.
Crown Princess Margareta, a David Austin Rose. Once it is cut, the heavy blooms tend to droop, so is it not a good choice for bouquets. Still it is so fragrant and lovely, it’s hard not to bring a few cut flowers indoors.

These creamy poppies were a garden surprise, I forgot that I had planted the seed. California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is native to grassy areas, in CA. Here in MO. it must be treated as an annual. But it is beautiful and easy to grow. It is California’s official flower and has it’s own day. April 6 is California Poppy Day.

Gaillardia Amber Wheels is hardy and some times self sows on my patio. I saved seed last year and planted the seed again this year. It’s a hardy flower, still blooming it’s little head off. Next year I will grow more of these because the color is brilliant and they have a very long blooming period.

Petunia, Old Fashioned vining, (Petunia multiflora) a fragrant single petunia. Fragrant blossoms from June until after frost. This soft color would go with anything. I hope to collect seed and grow several of these next year. A hundred years ago, it was common in gardens, this is now considered a rare heirloom.


The Southeast Missouri district fair is ready to go.

The Southeast Missouri district fair is ready to go.

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Granny’s Got the Blight and She’s Got to Go

Granny Cantrell is on her way out.

The story of these rare Granny Cantrell tomatoes is that a soldier brought home the seed when he returned from Germany after WWII. Lettie Cantrell grew those tomatoes from seed every year since the 1940s. It was the only kind of tomato Lettie Cantrell of West Liberty Kentucky, grew.

She grew those “very large and tasty” tomatoes until her death in 2005 at the age of 96. And I’d say that’s proof enough that gardening – especially growing tomatoes, will help you live to a ripe old age.

The sad news is my tomatoes got early blight late this year. The plants will not live a long life, because I’ll be pulling them up very soon. It’s a shame too because this is the first time I’ve grown this variety of heirloom tomato. Today I shared a couple of tomatoes each with two of my neighbors and had one more sliced at dinner. That’s five red tomatoes, thin skinned, with very little core and bright red, solid fruits weighing 13 to 14 ounces each. All of my Granny Cantrell tomatoes weighed in under a pound this year, though I was not trying to grow the really big ones.

If you want to know my secret to growing big tomatoes, I’d have to say neglect is the key. Once a tomato plant shows signs of blight – late blight or early blight, any blight, it will quickly spread to all the tomato plants. I ripped out the first tomato to show signs of early blight, then carefully cleared out any sign of the doomed tomato plant, but the rest of the tomatoes still ended up with the disease. Sure, you could try to blast the plants with chemical treatments, but there really is no practical way to get rid of this soil borne disease.

This year I grew only rare heirloom tomatoes. A lot of those plants are susceptible to early blight. Heirlooms like “Brandywine,” and “Old German” have been around a long time, but the older varieties don’t have a lot of disease resistance.

Plants with early blight slowly lose their leaves. Right now, the infection is not severe, so I am harvesting mature tomatoes. The immature tomatoes are stating to show signs of the disease. Soon, I’ll pull up all the tomatoes and put in a cover crop for the cool season. Next year I will rotate the tomato crop to a different location, probably growing different varieties.

The German Red Strawberry tomatoes are growing in the straw bale garden next to the Granny Cantrell. Both tomatoes are struggling with blight. But for this week, I’ll have more big tomatoes to share and to eat fresh.

The grounds keeper has requested Gazpacho from these last few weeks of big tomato harvests. It’s a great way to use a lot of fresh tomatoes and a summertime favorite.

Baker Creek and Southern Exposure sell the seed. Abundant Acres sells the plants. These red beefsteak type tomatoes won “Best In Taste” at the Baker Creek Fall Festival 2006. A rare variety, that can reach 2 ½ pounds.

This is the German Red Strawberry tomato. It needs another day or two f warm sunny weather.

Baling out of the perfect garden dream

The No Longer Secret Garden.

Early this year I announced my bale garden project. The advice of garden expert Rose Marie Nichols McGee has some great advice about bale culture. The Gardeners Pantry Blog is the best straw bale information you can get. Plus there are some very good recipes.

We both got busy with the many things that gardeners do. I neglected the blog entries I had promised because the bale garden was failing and I was away from the garden all of June. At first, the seeds I sowed in the soil atop the bales flourished in the spring. It looked like I would have a guaranteed success. The neighbor was where no where in site.

As the seedling roots reached deeper into the bail, they died or just stopped growing. I was not going to take a picture of this sad failure until I had an answer as to why the lettuce seeds were dieing. I continued to plant beans, cucumbers and summer and winter squash seed on top of the bales. There were no signs of insects on the plants. The seeds that were sprouting then struggling to survive.

The neighbor planted tomatoes. At first, I thought it was a fun and friendly competition because I always win. Not this year.

I planted tomatoes in the bales when the weather got warm enough. The tomato plants did not grow. The neighbor, who had red ripe tomatoes in his garden a full month before my garden, was down right joyful at his success. His success was a bellwether for my garden.

Most insulting of all, he kept offering me tomatoes from his garden. “I’ve got plenty of ’em,” he said.

Then, the natural baling ties began to fall apart. If I had bales with synthetic twine, the bales may have lasted for two seasons. The tomato plants were simply not growing. I finally figured out that the straw had been treated or sprayed with some herbicide. After the seeds got past the top soil on the bales, they started to die very quickly. Even weeds would not grow on the bales.

I abandoned the project, not mentioning it at all in this blog. The tomato plants were just not growing in the bales. A few shallow rooted chard plants grew on top of the bales. In July, the heirloom tomato plants began to grow. And one winter squash plant began growing fast and blooming like crazy. By August, early blight hit all the tomato plants in the garden, and in the bales.

In September, the tomato plants and the lone delicata squash are producing. That is the bale garden at the top of this blog. Because the surviving plants have been struggling all year they are weak and more susceptible to disease. A couple of the tomato plants on the bales aren’t even producing at all. Bugs are eating up the few remaining bean plants on the bales, and the squash bugs are in need of some serious crowd control.

Of the several marigolds that I planted surrounding the bales, only two of the marigolds lived. They are growing at about the same rate as the other marigolds around my other gardens. Nothing will slow down the growth of those hardy marigolds until frost.

Finally, I am now getting some good sized tomatoes from the bales. The success will be short lived because of the blight. The bales are slowly imploding, collapsing in on themselves.

The story of the bale garden ain’t pretty. Not all gardening projects go as planned. I’m not baling out. The project was enough of a success that I am going to learn from my mistakes and try again next year.

The short, frustrating story of gardening on bales ended by growing with some of my biggest tomatoes of the year.

A first look at The Grand Treehouse Resort in Eureka Springs AR

The Grand Treehouse Resort

The Sanctuary at The Grand Treehouse Resort in Eureka Springs Arkansas.

“Come stay with us and sleep out on a limb tonight.”

Nature lovers and Gardeners will be coming out of the woodwork when they see this.

The newest treehouse resort in Eureka Springs was filled to capacity well before the Grand Opening this week. Treehouse accommodations are wildly popular in Eureka Springs Arkansas. When word got out the Frank Green, the Innkeeper at the Woods, was building more treehouse lodgings, the resort filled immediately.

Your best opportunity to be pampered at the Grand Treehouse Resort is to try for a midweek stay. October is the busiest time at all restaurants and hotel accommodations in Eureka. Reservations are filling fast. It’s not too early to reserve a holiday getaway.

Romantic holiday getaways seem even more special snuggled into these luxury accommodations. Eureka looks like a Christmas card during the holidays. All the treehouses are decorated for the season, so it’s a relaxing and uncomplicated place to celebrate any occasion. The Grand Treehouse Resort is adorned with Italian party lights, welcoming you from the minute you arrive.

These are not the kind of tree house you remember from childhood. The treehouses are designed for grownups. It’s a perfect retreat for an anniversary or honeymoon. If a small wedding is in your future, consider this romantic treehouse location.

The luxury accommodations include a Jacuzzi for two, 32″ flat screen television, luxury towels and sheets, and even a decadent towel warmer. Rest assured that “All you need to bring is yourselves!” The resort has thought of everything you might want before you even know what it is.

Your treehouse even has home made desserts, juice and coffee waiting for you. There is a wet bar with refrigerator, dishes, utensils, microwave, coffee maker and toaster. All treehouses have gas fireplaces and walk-in showers. (The Swiss Chalet treehouse has an outdoor shower!)

Rates at the Grand Treehouse Resort are the same for all the Treehouses. They range from $149-$165 per night year round, except for October, when rates for all units are $165/night.

The Grand Treehouse Resort, 350 W Van Buren, Eureka Springs, AR 72632-8802, 479-253-TREE (8733).

You might also enjoy: Eureka Springs Arkansas, wedding capitol of the south

Treehouse weddings in Eureka Springs Arkansas

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