Rose Grades

Bare root roses have their grade noted on the bag. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Bare root roses have their grade noted on the bag. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Rose Grades

Have you ever picked up a package of bare root roses and wondered what the number grades mean? The good news is that the rose Industry has established standards to help growers, and consumers, better know what they are buying. Those standards translate into grades, with the lowest number being the most expensive, Grade 1, to the less well-established roses at grade 2.

To us as consumers, Grade 1 roses are the most expensive and the ones we can expect to fully bloom the year they are purchased. These are also the newly launched roses.

Grade 1.5 are roses that can use a full year of growing before they are fully in bloom. They also tend to be the older, tried and true roses.

The other mark I look for in my roses is the American Rose Society emblem. Established in 1892, the society funds research and education as well as the ratings that help us all in our rose purchases.

The American Rose Society publishes a guide shared with its members rating the named roses. The higher the score the better the rose. I joined the society a few years back and have one of the booklets around here somewhere. The ratings can be misleading because a rose featured at the Portland Rose Festival may not do as well here in Missouri in USDA Hardiness Zone 5b/6a.

I do look for the American Rose Society Symbol more to assure myself I am buying a good established rose.

The other factor that is important to me is scent. I want roses that speak to me with their fragrance, be it spicy or just a heady odor that can fill up a room. Most roses today will note whether the rose is fragrant on the label.

Here’s one of the bare root roses getting a good start. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Here’s one of the bare root roses getting a good start. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Finally, here is the ranking of rose bush sizes. In mid-Missouri, the miniatures, which are a small shrub rose, have done well for me so I am adding a few more shrub varieties for my bees. And me.

Miniature (1 ft)

Floribunda (2-4 feet)

Hybrid Tea (3-5 feet)

Grandiflora (4-6 feet)

Shrub (4-6 feet)

Roses are edible and make lovely salad and plate garnishes, just make sure you are picking them from an area that hasn’t been treated with chemicals or pesticides.

Missouri is well-known for its clay and hot summer weather. Planting roses should work if we can amend soil with compost to give the roses the nourishment they need and provide them with air conditioning.

Well, one out of two isn’t bad.

Good reason to have a back up around, like this vintage roses quilt. No watering required!

Charlotte

Ox-eye Daisies Or...

All flowers should have bugs as visitors! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

All flowers should have bugs as visitors! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Ox-eye Daisies

Ox-eye Daisies Leucanthemum vulgare (formerly Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) were the first Missouri wildflowers I learned to identify before they were blooming. There was a field of them behind where I was living so I waited for them to die back and took note of what their rosette shape looked like so I could transplant some the following year.

Although identified as a Missouri wildflower, Ox-eye Daisies were introduced to North America from Eurasia. Others include dandelion, shepherd's purse, salsify, and henbit.

Ox-eye Daisies are herbs and the original plant that was bred to produce the more popular, and well-behaved, Shasta Daisy.

Ox-eye Daisies can be invasive and easily take over an area, which earns them the moniker of weed. I love seeing them along road sides and in my garden, they are very happy flowers and undoubtedly inspired me to carry this crochet daisies lap quilt throw.

The Ox-eye Daisy patch next to my mail box. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The Ox-eye Daisy patch next to my mail box. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Interestingly enough, this perennial is edible although I have to confess I haven’t tried them. Yet.

As I was looking at what was visiting this personal favorite, I spotted another, smaller white daily-like flower. Can you spot it?

(Hint. Bottom left)

But are all of those daisies Ox-Eye Daisies? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

But are all of those daisies Ox-Eye Daisies? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Philadelphia Fleabane Erigeron philadelphicus looks similar to Ox-eye Daisies but the white petals look more like someone took a pair of scissors and cut up the petals into a fringe. Philadelphia is considered a native Missouri wildflower and is a favorite food source of many of Missouri’s native bees including mason bees, small carpenter bees and cuckoo bees.

The more fringy daisies are Philadelphia fleabane. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The more fringy daisies are Philadelphia fleabane. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Philadelphia Fleabane flowers are also about half the size of Ox-eye Daisies so it’s easy to distinguish them when sitting together in a field.

Can you tell the difference in this photo? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Can you tell the difference in this photo? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Both flowers are simply white flowers with yellow centers but both are nice hosts to a number of insects, which means they have a nicely established job in our garden’s ecosystems.

Charlotte

Bush Honeysuckle Removal

Bush honeysuckle has flowers very similar to the honeysuckle vine. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Bush honeysuckle has flowers very similar to the honeysuckle vine. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Bush Honeysuckle Removal

It’s time to tackle one of the more invasive shrubs in Missouri, bush honeysuckle. May-June is when they flower so that helps in identification although their gray stems are also a dead giveaway.

According to Missouri Department of Conservation, bush honeysuckle are large, upright, spreading shrubs reaching up to 15–20 feet in height, with flowers that change from white to yellow, juicy red berries, and opposite, simple leaves that green up much earlier than surrounding native vegetation.

Leaves are deciduous, opposite, simple, 1–2½ inches long, narrowly oval with the tip abruptly pointed, the margin entire (not toothed or lobed); upper surface green, lower surface pale green and fuzzy. In late autumn, leaves typically remain green and attached well after the leaves of our native trees and shrubs have fallen.

Bark is grayish brown, tight, with broad ridges and grooves.

Twigs are grayish brown, thornless; often the older branches are hollow.

Flowers May–June, fragrant, in clusters from the leaf axils, tubular, 1 inch long, slender, distinctly 2-lipped, with upper lip having 4 lobes, lower lip with 1 lobe. Petals change from white or pink to yellowish as they age.

Fruits mature in September–October; typically red berries about ¼ inch across, 2–6 seeded, in pairs in the axils of the leaves.

Another tell is that butterflies will visit honeysuckle vines but not touch bush honeysuckle.

Here’s what it looks like fully established:

Full grown bush honeysuckle has grey striated stems. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Full grown bush honeysuckle has grey striated stems. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One of the problems with bush honeysuckle is that it kills everything growing under it, eliminating other native plants and shrubs.

Native plants and shrubs provide food for native insects and pollinators, some that depend on specific plants for their food and survival.

Our recent spring rains gives us all a chance to easily remove bush honeysuckle stars like this one:

Small bush honeysuckle starts are easy to remove. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Small bush honeysuckle starts are easy to remove. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Rain softens soil and makes it easy to pull the bush honeysuckle starts straight out of the ground, roots and all.

Pull bush honeysuckle starts after a rain. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Pull bush honeysuckle starts after a rain. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The larger, established bush honeysuckle plants should be cut in fall and treated with vinegar to kill the plant.

Don’t use a weed eater to cut off the top of the new bush honeysuckle plants, that will make the stem hardier and more difficult to pull out later.

I have been clearing my one acre hillside for the past 5 years and have one patch at the bottom of the acre to still clean out.

Guess what I will be doing as soon as the sun comes out again!

Charlotte

Planting Tomatoes

A little stash of tomatoes ready to be planted. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A little stash of tomatoes ready to be planted. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Planting Tomatoes

We had several local plant sales over the weekend, an excellent time to stock up on tomato plants. Not that I need too many, my favorite cherry tomatoes tend to volunteer in nearby plant pots so all I need to do is look for their tell tale leaves.

This year I decided to treat myself to three other tomato plants; a Better Boy, an all time large tomato favorite; a Brandywine which I have never grown before and an heirloom variety.

I grow my tomatoes in large pots along my retaining wall steps so I can easily manage and maintain them. After filling the planting pots with new potting soil around buried holy plastic bottles so I can water roots, I added crushed up egg shells to the bottom of the planting hole. The dried egg shells will provide the plants with the calcium they need. Half a shell per plant will do nicely.

Each pot was also given a scoop of compost from one of my composters. This compost cooked over winter and turned a lovely dark brown, a sure sign that it is ready to be used. I mixed it up so the compost is spread through the soil. The compost will provide extra nutrients to soil microorganisms that help keep the tomato plants healthy.

Add dry egg shells to the bottom of your planting holes. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Add dry egg shells to the bottom of your planting holes. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Why yes, I do have gardening gloves but it’s hard to take a picture with them on. You will have to believe me that I used the gardening gloves as I made the planting holes, mixed compost and added egg shells.

Finally, a step I forgot to take last year. Add a tomato cage now, when the plants are small and you can easily get the cage over them.

Last year, I waited until late June to cage them and I had to literally wrestle the plants into the metal frames, loosing some branches in the process. It’s much easier to do it now.

Add a tomato cage now or you may forget. I do! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Add a tomato cage now or you may forget. I do! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

As a natural bug deterrent, I added basil plants to each of the tomato pots, two per plant. I will keep them pinched so they bush as they grow, giving me not only fresh basil but repelling bugs.

One last addition, basil to keep bugs at bay. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One last addition, basil to keep bugs at bay. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Now the fun part, watching them grow. I love going out into my garden every morning to see what is growing, blooming and changing. Tomato plants usually grow fast so their changes are interesting to watch.

By the way, honeybees don’t pollinate tomato plants, bumblebees do. Luckily I have seen quite a few in my garden already this spring so the tomato plants will have good company.

Charlotte

Remember to Water

Basic planting supplies should include a watering can. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Basic planting supplies should include a watering can. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Remember to Water

I was at one of my favorite yearly plant sales when one of the ladies said she just had someone complain that the plants she purchased last year didn’t make it.

“Did you water them,” the lady asked the customer.

“No.”

And once again, someone who may have claimed to have a brown thumb is revealed to have forgotten a basic requirement when planting: water.

Note to all shoppers at Gardeners of the Forest City plant sale. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Note to all shoppers at Gardeners of the Forest City plant sale. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One of the reasons I like to plant in spring is that I can time the work around spring showers. Rain provides so many more benefits to plants than we may realize; the newly-oxygenated water can saturate soil and fully moisturize it making soluble nutrients available to soil microorganisms.

In addition, city water contains fluoride which inhibits plants from taking up nutrients.

When looking at soil composition, 25% of all soil is water so to keep soil in balance, it should get about 1” of water a week.

No need for a watering can, you can also repurpose a one gallon milk jug. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

No need for a watering can, you can also repurpose a one gallon milk jug. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

When I am getting ready to plant, I always carry a water source with me, either a watering can or a recycled milk jug, that way I won’t forget to add water before I move on to the next project.

In summer, when temperatures are much hotter, I used an underground watering wand to keep plant roots moist.

The bottom line is when you plant, water. You may be amazed at how quickly a black thumb will turn green!

Charlotte

Orange Rose Tree

What do these colors remind you of, anything in particular? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

What do these colors remind you of, anything in particular? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Orange Rose Tree

I have to confess, I have had my eye on rose trees for awhile now. Since my garden is basically vertical - I tend to plant so that one plant covers something that is dying back - it was only a matter of time before I brought home an example of a rose tree.

When I first saw these, I kept thinking the color reminded me of something but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I liked the fact that these tree roses had single petals, making it much easier for my bees - both honey bees and native bees - find the nectar and pollen. Flowers produce nectar to entice pollinators, then pollen sticks to them so they move the pollen from one flower to the next, ensuring the plant’s reproduction.

The rose tree color was also striking with the rose buds starting very dark, almost brown around the edges, then lightening up as the rose bud unfolded.

I inadvertently knocked one of the buds off and put it in a vase. The bud was lovely for several days, then today it opened.

This bud finally opened in my kitchen, love the yellow accent. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This bud finally opened in my kitchen, love the yellow accent. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tree roses are easy to grow. I picked up a couple red ones last year on sale and have them staked just in case strong winds sweep through the garden. Short of that, tree roses have the same requirements as regular roses - compost, onion sets to discourage bugs and mulch.

Oh, and my rose recipe: dry coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, cut up dry banana peels with a dash of epson salts.

Rosa “Playboy” (Floribunda) rose tree. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Rosa “Playboy” (Floribunda) rose tree. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

So I was sitting outside on a garden bench at sunset, watching the sun disappear over the Ozark hills, when I remembered why these tree roses were nagging at me. The orange rose color with the yellow accent reminded me of that lovely sunset color as the sun is waning and the sky molts from blue to orange.

That’s probably why I brought these Rosa ‘Playboy” Floribunda tree roses home. Now when I miss my sunsets I can still enjoy them in the color of the flowers.

Charlotte

Giant Missouri Beavers

Today’s beaver skull compared to the giant beavers that once lived in Missouri. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Today’s beaver skull compared to the giant beavers that once lived in Missouri. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Giant Missouri Beavers

Yes, Missouri at one time had very large beavers. The proof was at the Kimmswick, Missouri Mastodon Museum, located on the site of an archaeological excavation that found proof that Mammoth Elephants roamed Missouri millions of years ago.

At that same time, Mammoths lived among a number of giant creatures including giant beavers.

A number of years ago, I worked with a team of biologists trying to find a way to discourage a family of beavers from making damns along one of the river tributaries where they were trying to restore natural communities. During those discussions, I learned a lot about beavers including how industrious they are and how well they deserve the nickname of engineers.

The way they can cut down trees to make their wooden logs is one of nature’s many amazing features.

Here are the beavers fully-covered in fur. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Here are the beavers fully-covered in fur. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Now can you imagine what giant beavers could do? I imagined they had much larger trees to deal with but the museum has concluded they probably fed on softer kinds of vegetation.

Now that’s a big - no, giant - beaver! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Now that’s a big - no, giant - beaver! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Meanwhile their modern counterparts are much smaller although more efficient in terms of what they do with their teeth.

Dimensions of today’s beaver for comparison. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Dimensions of today’s beaver for comparison. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The project I was tracking ended up catching the beavers and moving them to another part of the forest where they wanted a damn built, and the beavers were only too happy to help.

While discussing the findings of these creatures, I asked the docent if they had found bees and what size they may have been. After going through a listing of what creatures they had confirmed to date, there was nothing in the records about the size of bees but it does make one wonder, doesn’t it?

Charlotte

Mystery Yellow Flowers

These mystery yellow double flowers finally get an id. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

These mystery yellow double flowers finally get an id. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Mystery Yellow Flowers

I forget what year this plant was given to me. It was touted as a vine that blooms in spring and then again later mid-summer, easily climbing over trellises. I don’t recall if this was supposed to grow in sun or shade so I have it growing in both conditions. The yellow reminds me of an egg yolk color, deeper than the yellow in this yellow rose handmade quilt.

I was fine not knowing what this plant was until I gave several starts to my gardening buddy Tom.

“Have you figured out what the yellow flowers are” became his substitute for “good morning” some days.

Checking my gardening books and guides, I couldn’t find anything remotely like them and the search was on.

This year, I took several photos and took them to a friend who works at a local gardening center.

Japanese rose, she said. Actually she said Kerria japonica but Tom said “give me the simple version.”

These rose-family shrubs are originally from China and Japan. They bear pretty yellow double flowers in spring and then again mid to late summer.

Japanese rose's bark and branches are also interesting. The main branches on the double flowering type arch gracefully to a height of 8-10 feet. Smaller branches radiate off the main ones in all directions so these bushes require little pruning. The bark is a pleasing kelly green to greenish-yellow, to boot -- a color retained throughout the winter. 

Grow the bush in partial shade. It is one of the most shade-tolerant of the deciduous flowering shrubs (in terms of shade not stunting flower production. The plants will also do fine in sun, but sun causes the color of the flowers to quickly fade.

Japanese rose is not overly fussy about soil. It will tolerate poor soils but may perform better in soils enriched with humus. The ground should be kept evenly moist around Kerria japonica, which prefers a well-drained soil.

japanese rose on wall.jpg

Its shade tolerance gives you the option of having a deciduous flowering shrub in shady garden areas. The attractive branches also provide visual winter interest.

Choose a background against which the branch color can be displayed to optimal effect; for example, Japanese rose's kelly green stems pop against a grey cedar wood background.

Japanese Rose Care

The plant blooms on old wood in early-to-mid spring; prune just after its spring flowering is over. A second flowering later in the growing season is not unusual, but it is too late to prune at that point. Prune out dead branches as you find them.

Old plants in need of rejuvenation pruning may be cut down to ground level. Japanese rose spreads by suckering; remove suckers as they occur if you wish to control its spread. In fact, the main problem with this plant is that it spreads vigorously; stay ahead of it with regular sucker removal. 

A Japanese Rose By Any Other Name

Besides "Japanese Rose," other common names for Kerria japonica pick up on the fact that it is a member of the rose family. The common name "Easter Rose" comes from its early blooming period during Easter, in some regions. The flowers' color accounts for the common name, "Yellow Rose of Texas.”

Who Is The Plant Named After

The genus name, Kerria comes from William Kerr, who brought the plant from the Far East to the West. Kerr was one of the great 19th-century collectors responsible for importing some of the plants indigenous to China. According to the University of Arkansas Extension, Kerr also brought to North America heavenly bamboo and tree peonies.

The leaves of Japanese rose are truly a bright kelly green. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The leaves of Japanese rose are truly a bright kelly green. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Instead of planting these as growing trellis vines, they will work nicely as specimen plants in an informal garden where their naturally sprawling branches can grow freely. I will be moving some of these just to that kind of spot in my garden!

Charlotte

How to Manage Dying Spring Bulbs

Daffodils and purple tulips are now fading in my garden. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Daffodils and purple tulips are now fading in my garden. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

How to Manage Dying Spring Bulbs

Frankly I cringe when I see people mowing down, or worse, pulling out, their tulip bulbs and cutting off the top greenery. Granted once bloomed, tulip and daffodils are on the down side of pretty, leaves turning yellow as they shrivel up and melt into the landscape. That is precisely the point; they should be allowed to gently fade away.

In the process, these bulbs, as most other plants, are still taking in sunlight they turn into energy that gets stored in bulbs. The energy then is taped next time they grow and, if they have enough, they will bloom again.

Tulips, daffodils and other spring-blooming plants need to collect the energy through their leaves if they are going to have enough energy to bloom again. Without it, they will use up whatever energy they have stored and either just grow leaves next year, or die.

I understand the remaining greenery is not attractive so what to do about the ugly greenery. I plant other flowers in front and around the daffodils and tulips so they will grow and overtake, or cover up, the yellowing leaves.

Daffodil leaves are turning yellow as they die back. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Daffodil leaves are turning yellow as they die back. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

If you want to save the bulbs, dig the up with the greenery still attached. The plant may continue to grow after it is out of soil so keep their version of being solar powered available to the plant or it may die.

These tulips, for example, can be moved after blooming as long as the green tops are left attached to the bulbs. If you cut them off, the bulb has no way to collect sunlight and, through photosynthesis, turn it into energy and food it stores in the bulb.

Tulip bulbs depend on leaves to provide bulbs food. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tulip bulbs depend on leaves to provide bulbs food. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The same applies to mowing them over, cutting off the greenery, walking across it - anything that detaches the solar panels of a plant, the leaves, from their storage area - the bulbs.

Even if you don’t have anything to camouflage the yellowing leaves, the dying off process will take a very short time so be patient!

Charlotte

Patience

You think this hybrid tea rose is dead? Think again. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

You think this hybrid tea rose is dead? Think again. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Patience

Of all of the four seasons in my garden, it’s during spring that I tend to relearn this lesson: be patient. As my Missouri hillside greens up from a drab, cold winter, I periodically am startled to find plants growing I thought had died.

Some show up the following spring from when they are planted. Others, such as a catalpa tree start, has re-appeared a couple of years after I planted, and then thought, it had died.

It’s yet another reason why I don’t cut out and remove plants that appear to be dead. Well, I tell myself that but last week I decided I was going to clear a flower bed of one of the hybrid tea roses that appeared to be dead. As soon as I pulled it out, I saw a new green start growing along the side so back into the soil it went while I admonished myself to not be so impatient.

In another flower border, I looked at my little fig tree and debated whether to pull it out or not. After a few minutes, I reached a compromise with myself and peeked along the side of what appeared to be dead. Again a little shoot appeared growing to one side so I left it there, excited to know I had not lost them after all.

If you let go of being compulsively tidy, you may just find some plants still growing. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

If you let go of being compulsively tidy, you may just find some plants still growing. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

By pulling the fragile starts out of the ground we reduce the chances they will grow. If we leave them in and only clean them out later when we know nothing has survived, then we raise the chances that the plants will re-establish themselves.

The critical part of anything growing well is the strength of its roots. Even after drought periods, as long as the roots are kept hydrated there is a good chance the plant will come back later.

I think of myself as a patient person but every year my garden reminds me of what it truly means. To every thing, including plants, there is a season, and a rate of growth. So keep my hands off of them until I know for sure they haven’t made it!

Charlotte

Turtle Time

The first box turtle of 2019 was conveniently crossing my driveway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The first box turtle of 2019 was conveniently crossing my driveway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Turtle Time

It’s that time of year again when box turtles are on the move looking for love. Usually turtle season or turtle season in mid-Missouri starts closer to Mother’s Day but this year it is a couple of weeks early.

My first box turtle was walking across my own driveway. I was heading out to run errands and saw the traveler at the top of my gravel road. I couldn’t blame the turtle, it was a warm sunny spring day and even I was headed out.

When I got close, the turtle clammed up. Or turtled up, as one of my brothers used to call it, by pulling head and limbs back into its shell.

Box turtle closing up when I came close. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Box turtle closing up when I came close. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

According to Missouri Department of Conservation, there are 17 kinds of turtles native to Missouri. The location of Missouri between the forested eastern United States and the prairies of the Great Plains has allowed plants and wildlife of the two regions to mingle. This is definitely the case with our two species of box turtle. The three-toed box turtle is closely related to a species found east of the Mississippi River, while the ornate box turtle has relatives to the west.

The name “box turtle” refers to the ability of this reptile to tightly close its shell when frightened. It does this by means of a hinge located across its lower shell. When startled, the turtle pulls its head and limbs into its shell for protection. Then it moves each half of the hinged lower shell up to meet the upper shell, thus closing like a box.

The name “terrapin” is often used for box turtles in Missouri, though it isn’t quite correct. The dictionary’s definition of the word terrapin refers to edible, aquatic turtles found in fresh and brackish waters of North America. Box turtles should not be considered edible, nor are they aquatic. However, the word terrapin is used by people of the British Isles to refer to any and all species of turtles. This could be the source of the word usage in southern Missouri.

To complicate the matter further, the scientific name (genus) of North American box turtles is Terrapene. In reality, our box turtles are closely related to semi-aquatic turtles found in rivers and wetlands, such as red-eared sliders and painted turtles.

A little spring treat to my garden visitor before I left him to enjoy it. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A little spring treat to my garden visitor before I left him to enjoy it. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Both three-toed and ornate box turtles are fond of eating soft-bodied insects and earthworms, and the young of both species eat a higher percentage of these foods than anything else. However, there are some differences in the overall diets of the adults.

Adult three-toed box turtles eat more plant material and fruit than ornate box turtles. In the wild, they are known to eat strawberries, mulberries, black raspberries and blackberries. Mushrooms, tender shoots and flowers are also eaten.

Because box turtles live on land and eat plants, people often think of them as being small tortoises. This has led to the belief that box turtles live a very long time, maybe 100 years or more. Missouri’s species of box turtles actually live an average of 40 to 50 years.

A 25-year study of a population of three-toed box turtles in central Missouri by Charles and Libby Schwartz showed that the oldest specimen in a sample of over 1,700 was 59 years old.

There are times and circumstances when box turtles come in contact with people and, more often than not, it turns out poorly for these reptiles.

Many people who enjoy gardening have experienced box turtles getting into their crops of red, ripe strawberries or tomatoes. It’s easy to understand why box turtles frequently visit gardens in May and early June. There are few insects available at this time of year to eat, wild strawberries are scarce (and very small in size) and turtles are still trying to gain some weight after a long, over-winter dormancy. A garden with a nice crop of strawberries is too hard to resist for a hungry box turtle. Later in the summer, as tomatoes ripen, box turtles are attracted to the red color and the amount of moisture available in these fruits.

A simple solution to these problems is to build a low fence to keep box turtles and other wildlife out of the garden. Then, make sure the tomato plants have good, sturdy stakes or wire supports for climbing so that ripening fruit will be off the ground and out-of-reach of your neighborhood box turtles.

Relocating box turtles to new areas is not good for the reptiles. The new location may already have an established population with limited resources, and the transplanted turtles may not survive. Also, relocated wildlife have a strong urge to head back to where they came from, which can lead to them being killed on a road.

If you find a box turtle on a road, safely stop and move the turtle across the road in the direction it was travellng. Giving it a strawberry treat is purely optional!

Charlotte

Missouri's State Tree Flowering Dogwood

The lovely flowers of Missouri’s state tree, dogwoods. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The lovely flowers of Missouri’s state tree, dogwoods. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Missouri’s State Tree Flowering Dogwood

I have always loved Missouri’s state tree, flowering dogwood “cornus florida.” When my husband at the time and I moved into our home on this Missouri limestone hillside, one of the first things I did was plant dogwood seedlings. I should have marked the sites but I didn’t know then it could take years, in some cases decades, before these trees found their roots through the limestone to nourishment that would propel their growth.

This is one of the flowering dogwood seedlings I planted in my front island. This tree has taken a good two decades to get to this size and bloom. What I appreciate is that I no longer have to duck or walk around it since it is so close to the garden path. Well, the path wasn’t there when I planted it. It sprung up several years after I planted it and had added the garden path.

Flowering dogwoods are understory trees, giving forests a snow-covered look. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Flowering dogwoods are understory trees, giving forests a snow-covered look. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The flowering dogwood seedling I spent the most time watching grow - well, hoping is more like it - is Theodore. Yes, this flowering dogwood tree has a name.

When I first planted Theodore in front of my living room window, I thought I would be able to enjoy seeing the flowers sitting in a comfortable easy chair at the window. Theodore sat in this one spot for a good 25 years standing no more than 3 feet tall. I was convinced I had planted him in a rock ledge so he was going to be a bonsai dogwood and gave up ever seeing the snowy-white understory cover dogwoods give larger trees.

Then about 5 years ago, I noticed Theodore was a few inches taller. The following year, he grew a whole foot, then another few feet the following year and then, one whole white bloom. It was a big bloom but one bloom nevertheless.

This year, Theodore was in full bloom, a 33 year wait for this flowering dogwood to find enough nourishment on this hillside to finally grow into his full beauty.

Theodore finally in full bloom after “only” 33 years! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Theodore finally in full bloom after “only” 33 years! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I do sit at the front window in my easy chair and look at him some mornings. Besides the beauty, flowering dogwoods add a lot to a garden’s ecosystems. The fruits are eaten by squirrels and white-tailed deer and are a preferred food for wild turkey and at least 28 other species of birds, including quail.

As an understory and forest border tree, dogwood provides cover for many mammals and birds.

When I was adding tags to my fruit trees last year, I gave Theodore one as well. It’s quite an accomplishment for this little tree and one others should celebrate.

Happy spring!

Charlotte

Missouri Native Columbine

Missouri native columbine lining the path to my front door. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Missouri native columbine lining the path to my front door. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Missouri Native Columbine

As my Missouri limestone hillside garden transitions from early to mid-spring, one of my favorite native wildflowers adds delicate color: Missouri native columbine, which appears at about the same time as the first hummingbird scouts return from South and Central America.

According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri’s native columbine Aquilega canadensis is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. I collect seeds, then scatter them in flower beds only to be surprised the following year where they show up on their own.

These native Missouri plants tolerate a wide range of soil as long as drainage is good. I find them growing in rich, moist soils in light to moderate shade.

Remove flowering stems after bloom to encourage additional bloom. Keep soils uniformly moist after bloom to prolong attractive foliage appearance. When foliage depreciates, plants may be cut to the ground.

This Missouri native spring wildflower shows up on rocky woods, slopes, ledges and open areas throughout the State. The perennial plant features drooping, bell-like, 1-2", red and yellow flowers (red sepals, yellow-limbed petals, 5 distinctive red spurs and a mass of bushy yellow stamens). Delicate, biternate foliage is somewhat suggestive of meadow rue (Thalictrum) and remains attractive throughout the summer as long as soils are kept moist. Flowers are quite attractive to hummingbirds.

Missouri native columbine with yellow rocket along a path. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Missouri native columbine with yellow rocket along a path. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Genus name comes from the Latin word for eagle in reference to the flower’s five spurs which purportedly resemble an eagle’s talon.

This species has very good resistance to leaf miner which often causes severe damage to the foliage of many other columbine species and hybrids. The leaf miner looks like tiny white or yellowish lines through the leaves.

Missouri native columbine is red with yellow and delicate. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Missouri native columbine is red with yellow and delicate. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Missouri native columbine looks good almost any where it settles - orders, cottage gardens, open shade gardens, woodland gardens and naturalized areas.

Missouri Botanical Garden recommends continuing to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the attractive foliage. After it yellows, it can be cut to the ground.

I have both hydbrid as well as native columbines in my garden and, of the two, I prefer the delicate native ones. And so do the hummingbirds!

Charlotte

Tree Stumps Bench

My new tree stumps bench replacing the larger blue bench. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My new tree stumps bench replacing the larger blue bench. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tree Stumps Bench

Who remembers taking a walk in the woods in the spring and settling down on a tree stump to take a break and think about life? That was the inspiration for this make shift tree stumps bench I now have in my Missouri hillside garden at the center of my retaining wall. I like to think it’s a new take on garden decor, too.

Originally I was using a painted blue wood bench but the bench takes up too much space between the retaining wall and the nearby path. I wasn’t sure what to place there in its stead until I found these pre-cut, almost perfectly level tree stumps.

The two smaller stumps were stuck together when I found them but broke apart in the move. No problem, they now form the foundation for the bench and I can use them as little side tables.

I will let the stumps weather for the season and then apply a sealing coat this fall to help slow down their decomposition.

In the meantime, I have tested the tree stumps bench a number of times and it is just the right height and level.

Using the smaller tree stumps for side tables at the bench. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Using the smaller tree stumps for side tables at the bench. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

It also makes a nice set of steps to pop up on the retaining wall when I see something I want to trim.

The side pieces make for nice little resting tables. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The side pieces make for nice little resting tables. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Can’t you just see how surprised a squirrel will be when they see these? And I can more easily jump onto my retaining wall from the center when I see something I want to move!

Charlotte

First Lilacs "Run In"

Old fashioned lilacs finally in bloom at the top of my driveway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Old fashioned lilacs finally in bloom at the top of my driveway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

First Lilas “Run In”

It was a grey, rainy day as I walked up my driveway stewing on something. I was also carrying a plastic container of used cat litter but that isn’t as romantic as stewing on a grey, rainy spring day but I am talented in that I can do both at the same time.

As I headed around the corner of my driveway to the garbage container, I was looking at the tulips at the corner and wondering how much longer they will bloom.

Heading up my driveway to the garbage container. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Heading up my driveway to the garbage container. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Then I was back to stewing, not paying attention to what was right in front of me, and I ran smack dab into it.

Making the turn and not watching where I am going. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Making the turn and not watching where I am going. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

As my face plowed into the wet old-fashioned lilacs, I jumped back. When did those get there, was my first thought but that’s not a fair question since I myself planted those there a few years back.

The better question is what finally made them bloom this year when they haven’t bloomed in the past.

I did add mulch to them last year and this one, and having bees around may have improved their odds of reproduction but oh, that scent.

Running straight into these old-fashioned lilac flowers. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Running straight into these old-fashioned lilac flowers. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

After I emptied out the cat litter container, I went back to the house for my camera and retraced my steps.

The droopy flowers this year are just lovely, who could stew even a little after literally running into these lovely flowers?

Aren’t these old-fashioned lilac flowers just lovely? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Aren’t these old-fashioned lilac flowers just lovely? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

And yes, I leaned into the flowers and took a big breath to take in the lovely scent.

I planted these old-fashioned lilacs under my bay windows many years ago so I could catch a whiff of their scent as they bloomed. The idea was to have a reading nook in those windows and have them opened in spring to enjoy the weather.

Today I was too busy with other things to even think about doing that but this “run in” was a good intervention. I walked back to the house calmer and smiling just at the thought of these flowers in bloom, which remind me of bluebells. Only purple. And this was a good reminder.

Do you remember the smell of old-fashioned lilacs? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Do you remember the smell of old-fashioned lilacs? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

We all should stop and smell the lilacs!

Charlotte

My Tulip Time

My driveway bunnies now have flowers all their own. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My driveway bunnies now have flowers all their own. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My Tulip Time

When I first started planting tulips several decades ago, I had the worst luck. If it wasn’t some hungry little mouse eating the bulbs, a family relative going through a vegan stage picking and frying them. Yes, tulips are edible although I can’t remember them to describe the taste.

When I moved to the house on my one acre Missouri limestone hill, I swore off tulips, opting to plant daffodils and related natives for spring color.

Last fall, however, my gardening buddy gifted me with a huge box of discounted bulbs including tulips. It was such a lovely, exciting gift that I got to planting them. Also helped that the first hard frost was in the forecast for about a week later.

Winter has been colder than usual but it’s still a bit of a gamble how many bulbs will make it without becoming food for mice and squirrels.

This spring, in addition to the regular spring colors of pink Eastern Redbuds, vanilla white Dogwoods, blue Grape Hyacinths and flowering vinca, I now have a lovely pop of red, yellow and purple color courtesy of these gift tulip bulbs.

Would you like to see them?

This is the flower bed across the driveway from my concrete bunnies. I see this flower bed as I walk up the driveway to my garbage can and down the road to my mail box.

A sprinkling of tulips greet me at the top of the driveway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A sprinkling of tulips greet me at the top of the driveway. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

As I return from my mailbox, I detour to a path that takes me to one of my memorial seating areas.

This one is for my Uncle Tony, who lived in Louisiana. The little pop of red tulips brightens up this corner while other summer-blooming plants get their start.

A group of tulips in my Uncle Tony’s memorial bench area. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A group of tulips in my Uncle Tony’s memorial bench area. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Another way to approach my house is through this series of round concrete steps leading to, and from, the front door.

Sometimes I walk down the road and return to my garden through these steps so I lined them with a little pop of tulips as well. Frankly I don’t have large swaths of available soil to plant so I sneak tulip bundles in where I can and still protect them.

Tulips welcome visitors walking down my front door path. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tulips welcome visitors walking down my front door path. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Rainy days mean time spent in reading nooks through my house so I added a little plop of tulips where I could enjoy them from a window seat. This view out one of my windows made me think I really should add one of my Pink Tullp Quilts on my bed, then I thought no, I have enough tulips around me as it is.

A few tulips brighten up the southern flower beds. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A few tulips brighten up the southern flower beds. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This little clay pidgeon has been with me for more than 20 years so I gave her a little embellishment by planting orange tulips around the path that leads to her sitting spot.

My clay pidgeon gets company with orange tulips. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

My clay pidgeon gets company with orange tulips. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Back to the other side of the garden, where I am walking back to the house from Uncle Tony’s memorial bench.

The path leads by my driveway retaining wall, which now has little bouquets of blooming tulips. You can see staining from how the water perculates through the wall, giving it a nice aged look.

This will be the third year for the retaining wall plantings and I am looking forward to seeing how it grows.

Small bunches of tulips brighten up my retaining wall gardens. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Small bunches of tulips brighten up my retaining wall gardens. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

As I walk down the path to the back of my house, I added another small bundle of tulips at the bottom. Once they stop blooming, other plants will take over and hopefully give them some cover so they will return next year.

A few tulips welcome you to this garden path. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A few tulips welcome you to this garden path. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Thanks to my gardening friend Tom for this lovely gift of spring color, I hope it’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Charlotte

Lovely Wild Violets

Recently-transplanted Missouri wild violets next to last year’s cousins. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Recently-transplanted Missouri wild violets next to last year’s cousins. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Lovely Wild Violets

If there is one native Missouri flower that represents spring to me, it’s wild violets, viola sororia or “sister,” because it looks so much like other violets.

I remember “discovering” these native flowers many decades ago in a field behind where I was living. It was in a neighborhood without street lights so it was easy to sit outside and gaze at stars at night, then walk through the field and try to find flowers.

These Missouri natives are called “common violets.” Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins

These Missouri natives are called “common violets.” Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins

Common violets can vary in color from a dark, almost navy color to the light lavender here, which reminds me of the lavender applique cat in our Pastel ABCs baby quilt, which I am currently working on as a custom gift.

There are other Missouri native violets living in my garden. Some have moved in on their own, others have been invited in, such as these white violets with purple accents.

These violets look like they can use a drink of water, don’t they? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

These violets look like they can use a drink of water, don’t they? (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I also have yellow violets in one spot - don’t ask, I don’t remember where so I need to wait for them to bloom - and all white violets, which I planted at the entrance to my house so I can enjoy them every day.

The white violets tend to bloom later than the common violets. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The white violets tend to bloom later than the common violets. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

These wild violets are not only pretty March-June but the flowers are edible and high in Vitamin C. Since I don’t use toxic chemicals in my garden, I can pick a handful of flowers and add to a salad. Not only is the color pretty but I am adding vitamin C and a little tartness to my meal.

I confess, I also love the look of them on my plate.

Wild violets from non-chemical treated spot in my garden, ready for lunch. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Wild violets from non-chemical treated spot in my garden, ready for lunch. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

These are also welcome resting spots for bees and other pollinators, and their heart-shaped leaves add a nice contrast to other garden greenery. I tuck these in at the front of flower beds wherever I can. don’t know why some people find these plants to be unwelcome, we have to rethink our standard of beauty being a sterile green carpet. These are the plants we should welcome into our gardens!

Charlotte





Cat Hair for Birds Nests

The first cat hair offering disappeared in less than a day. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The first cat hair offering disappeared in less than a day. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Cat Hair for Birds Nests

Do you have long-haired pets? I have one cat and, over winter, I save the hair from her daily brushings to give to birds for their spring nests.

There have been a number of suggested bird nesting materials and some are do nots: aluminum, plastic, human hair, yarn and dryer lint. Also on the do not use list are string and dog hair. The best nesting material I have found to date is the long cat hair. It lasted less than a day in the repurposed suet feeder, now refreshed with a second batch.

Suet holder has been re-filled with another batch waiting to be added. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Suet holder has been re-filled with another batch waiting to be added. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Later this year I will check birdhouses and look for tufts of cat hair sticking out of nexts and birdhouse corners.

The cat fur is a favorite because it is very soft and warm, giving the nest extra insulation and protection.

To save your long haired cat fur, clean your brush after every brushing session. Clean your winter suet holder before filling with pet fur, then hang back on a tree.

If you can watch the suet holder, periodically check it and you may catch a bird helping themselves to the fur.

Charlotte

Apiary Cattle Panel Arbor

This double cattle panel arbor guides me into my north apiary. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This double cattle panel arbor guides me into my north apiary. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Apiary Cattle Panel Arbor

If a bee skep represents beekeeping then cattle panel arbors represent Ozark backyard gardens. Over the years, I have seen many of these either spanning garden beds or forming welcoming arbors in front of farm houses.

When a friend showed me how to bend these metal structures to form the arbor shape, I started to add them to my garden. If you have shopped for garden arbors, you know they can be quite expensive so having an alternative that provides for creativity was right down my alley.

Cattle panels are popular garden arbors in the Ozarks. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Cattle panels are popular garden arbors in the Ozarks. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Once painted black, the cattle panel arbor nicely disappears into the background but I still wasn’t happy with the overall look.

The same friend who showed me how to bend the cattle panels made a lovely gate out of cedar boughs, which inspired me to add cedar boughs to the cattle panels.

Carefully cutting the boughs so I that i can weave them through the metal squares, I started to add cedar limbs from discarded trees from our local recycling center. Setting them two squares apart, they form the skeleton for the overall cedar covering.

Weaving cedar branches into the cattle panel takes time and some creativity. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Weaving cedar branches into the cattle panel takes time and some creativity. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I have the structure in, now to collect, clear and add more cedar boughs.

I already have grapes and blackberries growing over the cattle panels so it will be a matter of time to see who covers the cattle panel first, the plants or me!

Adding cedar branches to the arbor side. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Adding cedar branches to the arbor side. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This is an excellent way to reuse long-lasting cedar while giving the cattle panels a nice texture and finish.

Here is the first apiary cattle panel arbor I made, located at the front and entrance to my garden:

Once seated on the garden bench, the view is to my north apiary. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Once seated on the garden bench, the view is to my north apiary. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I like to have seating areas all around my garden, places where I can sit down and enjoy the view. Some of the areas have arbors, others now have these cattle panel arbors that will provide shade.

Each of the cattle panel arbors have plants already growing over them: blackberries and grapes. Over a couple more arbors rescued clematis vines are being encouraged to grow. Looking forward to seeing these arbors covered in green!

Close up you can see the painted cattle panel under the cedar. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Close up you can see the painted cattle panel under the cedar. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Charlotte

Secret to Bare Root Plants

Bare root Itoh peonies are getting a start first in a container. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Bare root Itoh peonies are getting a start first in a container. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Secret to Bare Root Plants

It’s that time of year when gardeners dreams turn to buying bare root plants because they are less expensive, or something they can’t easily find locally. Or maybe you get a bare root tree for Arbor Day, or as a store giveaway at your local home and garden center. Regardless of how you get them, there is a simple secret to getting bare root plants to grow.

You need to pot them first.

That’s right, no planting directly into your garden this first year. Instead, get them in pots with potting soil and let them grow in the pot for the first year. What the plant is doing is establishing roots, which will ensure the plant survives when you transfer it into its final growing spot.

A number of friends have bought bare root plants from places like George O. White Nursery in Licking, Mo., one of my favorite places to get local native plant stock. The prices are hard to beat, the most expensive tree seedling is 90 cents per seedling, and the price goes down as you buy in larger quantities.

However, you don’t want to take those seedlings and plant them straight into your garden or landscape. The roots need a little more time developing so once you get the bare root seedling, get them into a pot. Make sure the pot is about twice the size of the current root structure to give it room to grow.

This bare root dwarf fruit tree is getting a start in a pot. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This bare root dwarf fruit tree is getting a start in a pot. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

And be patient. It can take a little time for new seedlings to get used to their new environment, which is why I use plain potting soil, not soil with added fertilizer. I can then monitor how the plant is doing and add my own fertilizer as I see fit.

How do you know if the plant is settling in?

New green growth is a sure indication the plant is settling in. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

New green growth is a sure indication the plant is settling in. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Green growth along the trunk nodes is one good sign. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t see much growth this first year above ground, with the right conditions most of the energy should be going into root development.

I leave my seedlings in pots through the growing season, then add them to my garden in fall or the next spring. I keep an area that I call my nursery and plop the plants, pot and all, in the nursery to winter over there if I haven’t moved them to their permanent location.

And don’t forget to water them. Since they are now in pots, they may need water more frequently than the established plants in your garden.

You will know they are ready to plant in the garden when the tree seedlings are looking more like the Tree of Life lap quilt.

Charlotte