Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Archive for May 2009

Spring Posies

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Usually I’m not a showy flower type of girl.  I often gravitate to the more natural gardens and have learned to appreciate the subtle beauty found in many of our native wildflowers.  But there is something about the saucer-sized blooms of peonies that I cannot resist.  The peonies at The Arboretum are about to bloom, and I am eager to see their many colors throughout the gardens!

For a quick peony review, read below.


Nomenclature.  Peonies are in the genus Paeonia and in the family Paeoniaceae.  Previously, peonies were classified in the family Ranunculaceae (along with hellebores and anemones).

Planting.  It is best to plant in the fall before the ground freezes.  Spring planting is also an option, but not as desirable since the plants focus on leaf development instead of root establishment.  Planting depth is very important for healthy plants, with the eyes of the plants two inches below planting surface.

Planting Location.  Peonies prefer sunny and well-drained locations.   Heavy or very sandy soils should be amended with compost or replaced with garden soil. 

Fertilizing.  Peonies need very little fertilization, and in fact, over fertilized plants will not bloom as well.  Use low-nitrogen if fertilizer if necessary.

Flowering.  Often it takes three years for peony plants to become fully established.  Early blooms will be true to color but significantly smaller and fewer buds.  Many stems will produce a main bud as well as lateral buds around the base of the main bud.  For larger blooms, remove the lateral buds.

Disease.  Botrytis is one of the common peony diseases.  Symptoms can include shoot dieback in the spring or brown buds and brown spots on the leaves.    Wet spring weather is often a culprit, as the disease spores spread by water and wind.  To help prevent infection, make sure to provide proper air circulation as well as remove all spent foliage in the fall.

If you are also a peony lover, I encourage you to attend Jolene Rosauer’s Garden Gallery and Open House on the weekend of June 6-7th from noon to 5:00 p.m. each day.  You’ll have the opportunity to tour Jolene’s garden filled with over 55 peony bushes as well as “shop for really cool stuff.”  The address is 801 10th Street in Grundy Center, IA.

See you in the gardens.


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

May 26, 2009 at 3:51 pm

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The “Ultimate Tour”

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Picture 017You might have spent time in the Children’s Garden and Rose Garden …. but do you know where the north prairie is?  Where the walking trail begins and ends?  Did you know that we have a second grass labyrinth being planned?

It’s time to give a thorough tour of The Arboretum to the many volunteers who share their time, skills, money, muscles, brains and bad jokes to make ‘The Arboretum Experience’ the many splendored volunteer opportunity that it is!

We will meet in the Enabling Garden on Thursday, May 14th at 5:45 p.m. to walk through the gardens while volunteers share bits of history and future plans for each area.  Afterwards, we will adjourn to the Education Center for lemonade and cookies. 

This is a special ‘Ultimate Arboretum’ Tour for volunteers, but feel free to use this opportunity to introduce a friend who might want to volunteer at The Arboretum.  Remember, The Arboretum will still look quite bare bones … we won’t see a lot of blossoms, just a lot of green beginnings.

See you in the gardens!

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

May 13, 2009 at 4:54 pm

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What A Creep

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 I had an email earlier this week regarding Creeping Charlie removal … I’m no turf expert, but am happy to pass along a few basic management tips!

Creeping Charlie, Glechoma hederacea, is a ground ivy found in the mint family (so has square stems).  The perennial weed is very prolific by seed and also spreads by stolons*.  Creeping Charlie is a European native that was introduced to the United States by early settlers who thought it was a good groundcover for shade.

In some cases, hand removal is an easy solution.  When the ground ivy is taking over your turf, more drastic measures might be necessary.  When spraying, there are better times than others to attack.  Ideal time is fall, when the plants are preparing for winter and sending food to their roots (so chemical moves all through plant) and second best is in the spring when in bloom.  Weeds in general are more susceptible to chemical control when flowering.  Best application temperatures are in the 60 to 80 degrees range with no rain in the immediate forecast.  It is also best not to mow two days before and after application.  If the turf is severely infested, it might require more than one application.

See you in the gardens.


* Stolons, also called ‘runners,’ are horizontal stems that root at the nodes.  Rhizomes are also horizontal stems, but are usually found under the soil surface.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

May 6, 2009 at 1:28 pm

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Buzz Worthy

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Last month, the Board of Directors welcomed a new President and Executive Committee to The Arboretum.  I wanted to share this article found in the April View (The View is The Arboretum’s e-newsletter.  If you would like to subscribe, please email office@cedarvalleyarboretum.org.) written by the new “Queen Bee,” Pam Hayes.



Greetings! As the new president of the board of directors of The Arboretum, I was told that one of my first duties was to choose a theme for this year. After reviewing the 14-year history of The Arboretum, and thinking about my own (much shorter) experiences with the people and places involved with the organization, and obvious theme sprang to mind – We’re All About Growing.

In a few issues of The View, I plan on developing this theme with our readers. The obvious reading of these words is that “Yep, The Arboretum grows lots of beautiful flowers, bushes, trees and other plants! We’re all about growing!” another straightforward interpretation emphasizes the “all,” – all of us, staff, volunteers, members, donors, etc. – are involved with supporting the mission of The Arboretum.  We’re all about growing – The Arboretum needs us all.

However, there are lots of other ways to interpret this theme. In this issue, we’ll look briefly how The Arboretum grows people, and how people can grow by being involved with The Arboretum.  We already know that Arboretum volunteers benefit in many ways from their involvement – they learn more about nature and gardening (as well as everything from air conditioning to website to equipment maintenance to budget operation, etc.). Garden volunteers enhance their physical and mental health as they perform their open-air Arboretum chores – and maybe keep their waistlines from growing a bit at the same time! Volunteers make friends and grow their friendship circles as they work together. Some even grow their repertoire of (clean) jokes!

But besides helping volunteers grow, The Arboretum makes its beautiful and bountiful self available to the whole community (as well as visitors from all over the U.S.) for their enjoyment.  Have you ever thought of the following benefits that The Arboretum provides for visitors?  The Arboretum:

Provides a quiet space to meditate upon nature; to nourish a sense of wonder.

Serves as a demonstration of best practices and new ideas for home gardeners.

Provides a safe and interesting place for individuals and families to be together in a natural landscape (busy parents and grandparents especially thank us for the Children’s Garden).

Facilitates health enhancement by providing an attractive landscape to walk through, including a one-mile walking trail.

Serves as a classroom for parents to teach their children about nature and environmental issues.

So this year, let us all appreciate what The Arboretum does for each of us as individuals, and for others who come for a visit.  I also ask you to think seriously about the theme, “We’re all about growing,” and make a commitment to give a little more this year – a little more time, perhaps; a little more money; or maybe just a little more effort to share your skills and resources with The Arboretum.  After all, with your help, We’re All About Growing.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

May 5, 2009 at 4:02 pm

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A Volunteer For All Seasons

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Congratulations to Howard Craven for receiving a 2009 Mayor’s Volunteer Award!


The 31st annual awards program recognized outstanding volunteers in the Cedar Valley this past Thursday at a luncheon in downtown Waterloo.  The Volunteer Award showcases the accomplishments and dedication of local volunteers, regardless of age or years of service.  For the full article, please visit http://wcfcourier.com/articles/2009/04/29/news/local/doc49f6ebd95789e542944052.txt.

More than ever, it is important to remain engaged in our community.  There are a variety of  opportunities to get involved at The Arboretum.   If you would like more information about volunteering at The Arboretum, please email me at director@cedarvalleyarboretum.org

Garden Crews begin Monday, May 4th!  Volunteer in the gardens as part of a crew on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings 8:00 to 11:00 a.m. or Thursdays after work.

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

May 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm

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