Tag Archives: Signs of Spring

Xeriscape your garden before vacation

Ozarks Travel Examiner: Xeriscape your garden before vacation

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Prepare your gardens and select plants
that can survive while you are away on vacation.

When you plan a trip to the Ozarks this spring or summer, stop by the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden to get ideas for your home landscape or garden. The xeriscape garden is designed with hardy water-saving plants, many are Missouri natives. See how to prepare your gardens and select plants that can survive while you are away on vacation.

A stroll through the gardens will help you prepare your garden for vacation, save water and reduce watering chores all season. Landscaped to be attractive year round, something is blooming in the demonstration garden every day three seasons of the year.

On our way to Branson, we stopped for a stretch break in Springfield and checked out the garden. The Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, is on the corner of South National and Linwood.

Established in 1992, the garden is a volunteer project of Springfield master gardeners. Their goal is to demonstrate efficient use of water in landscaping in an urban setting.

The Xeriscape is divided into three zones:

  • high water use zone which depends on frequent irrigation
  • moderate water zone which utilizes less irrigation
  • low water use zone which receives no supplemental irrigation

Xeriscaping will lower water bills, require little or no lawn mowing and plants tend to survive when water restrictions are implemented.

See what trees, turf, perennials and ground covers can best survive our hot, humid Missouri summers. Most gardeners love to see other gardens, bringing home new ideas and landscape solutions with every trip.

This summer I’ll visit several gardens in Missouri and surrounding states. Two other outstanding demonstration sites are Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis and Kansas City’s botanical garden, Powell Gardens. Both of these gardens are a full day trip and are worth a visit in every season.

In Springfield, a botanical garden is in the works at Nathanael Greene-Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic.

The two not-to-be-missed gardens in Springfield are the Mizumoto Stroll Garden, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., and the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, South National and Linwood streets.

Visit Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau for a free Visitors Guide, accommodations or area maps.

For more info: Send your travel ideas and suggestions to the Senior Travel Examiner Patsy Bell Hobson at patsy64068@yahoo.com . To get notice of new Senior Travel Examiner columns please subscribe via email. Patsy also blogs about Southeast Missouri and Senior travel She also has a gardening blog: Oh, Grow Up!

Don’t Forget The Sun Screen

First Spring Workout Since the weather is still cool, I was proud that I remembered to apply sun screen on my face and don a garden hat before heading out to weed and clean the strawberry bed this morning. I enjoy spring chores like cleaning out the gardens and tidying the strawberry bed. It is good exercise to get down on my hands and knees to weed and trim. With the protection of a garden hat and sun screen, it is easy to putter in the garden all morning.

Finally, the strawberry bed is groomed and weeded. All is right with the world! How does the poem go? “God’s in His Heaven, All’s Right with the World,” wrote Robert Browning. That man knew spring!

Time to get up and move onto the next chore. I try to stand up, but my bones start popping like a string of Black Cat firecrackers. Dizzy, I lean on the hoe, standing there for a wobbly minute until my blood remembers the circulation routine.

I am so stiff, I think about laying down in this gorgeous strawberry bed. Maybe I’ll just take a little nap right here in the sun-warmed garden soil. If I never get up, I will simply compost and improve the quality of the season’s harvest. What a way to go. What better final resting place than a garden? Gnats crawling up my nose change my mind.

Suddenly, my sweetheart bursts out of the house looking alarmed. He’s had a call from our widowed neighbor who wonders if she should call 911, or the funeral home. I get up and wave to the neighbor as I shout an explanation, “Just doing my yoga stretches outside today. I’m fine. Really.”

This is when I make every effort to step lively, as the neighbor has had her eye on my husband ever since she became a widow. Healthy men with good lawn mowers are hard to find. Not until the warm water of the evening shower hits my neck do I realize my mistake. I’ve been on my hands and knees all day. Head down, hat on, not really exposing my face to the sun at all. The back of my neck is on fire. It looks like a scalded chicken neck. My winter white skin has been exposed to the fires of hell. The sun has turned me into a one-sided redneck.

If it weren’t for the fragrance of lilacs wafting through the window, I’d be a mighty cranky, creaky gardener right now. I’m pretty sure heaven smells like lilacs in the spring. It has to, there are just too many grandmothers and gardeners there that have preceded us.

Red and sweet tiny Alpine Strawberries

Wild Strawberries or Alpine Strawberries are hardy, disease resistant and perfect for a low birder or edging plant.

Loads of Sweet Little Fruits

I discovered some wild strawberries once and brought a few plants home. They loved living at my house and multiplied into a beautiful ground cover in a small flower bed. My sweet husband thoughtfully cleaned up that flower bed one spring, ripping out all the weeds, which were my prized wild strawberries.

Since then, I’ve tried a couple of times to start wild strawberries from seed and failed. When I had the opportunity to start new gardens in a new home, I went a little overboard with these tiny berries.

I ordered “Mignonette” French strawberry seed from Renee’s Garden Seed and had great success using the AeroGarden. The plants, once started, are easy to grow. They are compact perennial Alpine strawberry plants producing sweet, pointed fruits from early spring to the last frost. I notice that Renee’s has an article about these itty bitty berries on her web page. This is where I got the idea to use these strawberries as an edging plant. Renee’s is one on the most reliable and prompt places to order seed.

That same year, I bought a Fragaria vesca “Ruege” plug pack of 12 plants from Richter’s. These little sweet and tangy berries are about the size of the wild ones on compact, runnerless plants but they do multiply and should be thinned every few years.Bears fruit from June til frost. Richter’s has the best selection of culinary and medicinal herb plants that I have found.

Both plants have multiplied rapidly. Since I planted them, they have mixed and I have no idea which is which. This spring, they started blooming in March. A freeze only slows them down but they soon begin setting bloom again. So, I am not worried about them surviving these late hard freezes in April.

I think that those monster sized rugged and tasteless berries at the grocery store turned me away from normal strawberries. The tiny wild or Alpine berry taste like strawberry candy in comparison.

The first year, it was a contest to see who would eat these mini delicacies, me or the birds. There are so many of them and the season is so long, that now the birds and I have agreed to share the abundant harvest. A third variety of strawberry grows in my gardens.

French‘Mara des Bois’ from White Flower Farm.

‘Mara des Bois’ lives in hanging baskets on the patio and are just starting to green up this year. Last summer I had one or two berries and a winged predator or possibly my beloved husband ate the rest. There were not a lot of berries because the plants were busy trying to escape their confinement by sending runners over the edges of the baskets. The berries are twice the size of the Alpine berries, but that still means a very small berry compared to what we find at the grocery.These hardy little plants over wintered in hanging basket sitting on the patio all winter.I’m always pleased with whatever I buy from White Flower Farm.

Fraises des bois is a French word for strawberries of the woods. The strawberries are also known by other names including: Fragaria vesca, Alpine Strawberry, Wild Strawberry, Woodland Strawberry, American Strawberry, European Strawberry, fraises des bois, and fraisier des bois. Call them what you will, these itty bitty berries a too fragile for transport. The little ones fetch premium prices at the market.

I’m sure the frost will take these little blooms. But the small and mighty plants aren’t about to give up. I thinned them by fifty percent this spring, tossing literally hundreds of plants. I should have been merciless and ripped out more and may yet.

The tiny berries are beautiful decoration on a desert plate. It is said that tea made from the leaves will stimulate the appetite. They grow as an evergreen edging along the sidewalk near the garden, making for easy picking as I walk by.

New Orleans is always open for the season

Red Buds Blooming

We just got back from a river barge excursion last week. http://www.riverbarge.com/
New Orleans is blooming with tourists and spring flowers.
The redbuds were blooming in the French Quarter around Jackson Square.

Musicians near Jackson Square.

Street musicians, artists and mimes were out.
You still have to crowd into a packed Cafe Du Monde, for beniets and coffee.

Fern filled hanging baskets won’t be safe for leaving outdoors in Cape Girardeau for another month. It was great to see this balcony garden on Jackson square in early March, 2008.

It is short sleeved weather in new Orleans. We shall see our own red buds in Cape in a couple more weeks. We will pray for a rain free redbud dog wood season to help make the garden land workable and extend the beautiful trees blooming.

The parts of New Orleans that was always a tourist attraction are back and waiting for you business. Tourists would be wise to come now when the crowds are light yet the French Quarter is live and vibrant.

Early March is late winter, not quite spring in Cape Giradeau, MO. But on a recent trip to New Orleans I did see signs of spring. And signs of resilience, like this ship.

The New York is built of steel recycled from The World Trade Center.
USS New York (LPD-21)

Twenty-four tons of the steel used in the ships’ construction came from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

USS New York (LPD-21) was christened on March 1, 2008, in a ceremony at Avondale Shipyards, which is located on the banks of the Mississippi River approximately 12 miles upriver from downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. It is scheduled to be commissioned in the Fall of 2009, in New York City.

“The USS New York will soon be defending freedom and combating terrorism around the globe, while also ensuring that the world never forgets the evil attacks of September 11, 2001 and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed in response to terror,” said New York Govonor George Pataki.

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