Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Archive for January 2010

Gardens for Cutting

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Yesterday a friend and I were talking about cutting gardens and it made me so anxious for spring!  Giving out bright bouquets is one of my favorite parts of gardening.  If I were to plant a cutting garden today, I would plant four o’clocks, cosmos, salvia, Magellan zinnias and celosia.

     

When choosing flowers for your cutting garden, what should you be looking for?  I like to choose mostly annuals (complete living cycle in one growing season) grown from seed because it provides more flexibility from year to year and seeds are often very cheap to buy.  It is also important to choose flowers that will bloom continuously throughout the whole summer, rather than a flower like pansies that bloom in the spring and fade out once the heat sets in.  I like to choose flowers that I know will make a beautiful bouquet for several days.  Zinnias are a flower that will last several days in water while sometimes flowers with more delicate petals (like hollyhock) would not last as long.

   
I hope this virtual bouquet cheers up your winter day!

 

See you in the gardens.

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Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

January 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm

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Frost Bites

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Did you know there are different types of frost?  To start, what is frost?  Frost is ice crystals that accumulate on solid surfaces as water vapor cools below the dew point of the surrounding air.  Dew point is the temperature that water vapor changes into water.

I wasn’t sure myself on the different types so I did a bit of research.   Three main types of frost are hoar, rime and fern.

Hoar frost occurs when water vapor forms into ice crystals while rime frost has a liquid phase between water vapor and ice crystals.  Over the past week, we have had many nights of freezing fog (fog that forms under 32 degrees) that has created a beautiful whitescape throughout the Cedar Valley.  When water vapor changes directly into ice crystals like this, it is called deposition.  As the fog remained throughout the night, the ice crystals feathered out more and more.  Fern frost forms on windows as the glass is exposed to cold temperatures on the outside and warm temperatures on the inside.

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

January 21, 2010 at 6:00 am

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Give and Get

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Have you seen this commercial or similar on air?  The “Give a Day. Get a Disney Day.” is an excellent opportunity to do good in your community and be rewarded with a free ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park.  The offer is valid through the end of the year. 

“In 2010, we want to recognize and add one more reason for celebration: the contributions people make to their communities every day,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.  “We want to inspire 1 million volunteers – people who will invest time and energy to make their own communities and neighborhoods a better place.”

So how does the program work?  Go online to http://www.disneyparks.com.  Follow the links to get started and then scroll through the various volunteer opportunities.  There are many wonderful organizations listed, but since I’m a bit biased, I’ll encourage you to find The Arboretum!

Volunteer opportunities at The Arboretum will begin in April (Once the snow melts!) and continue throughout the growing season.  Please encourage your family and friends to take part in the “Give a Day. Get a Disney Day.” program.

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

January 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm

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Needle Eye

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I took a variety of identification courses in college.  Remembering all those plants was enough to make me go crazy at times!  I would make up alliterations, rhymes, sayings … any trick in the book to help me keep them all straight.

When it comes to conifers, how do you tell one from the other?  When placed side by side, they all start to just look like a bunch of Christmas trees after awhile!  Thankfully there are a few easy ways we can begin to differentiate.  We can identify trees many different ways, including: bark, fruit, growth habit and leaf form.

The good thing about conifers is that they are evergreen so we can still use their leaves for winter identification.  We might not think of the leaves and scales of our conifer trees as “leaves,” but they are.  Plant leaves are the above-ground organ specializing in photosynthesis, whether it is the frond of a fern, sheath of grass, palmate leaf of a maple or needles of a conifer.

We can group conifers by their leaf type or arrangement.

 

Scaled leaves.  If the conifer does not have needles, it probably has scaled leaves (see photo).  A familiar example for many Iowans is the arborvitae (Thuja).  The hedge surrounding the Arboretum’s Rose Garden is arborvitae.  Other scaled-leafed conifers include many varieties of juniper and cypress.

 

Clumped needles.  Conifer needles either grow clumped on the branch or are attached each needle separately.  All pine trees (Pinus) have clumped needles in two, three or five per bundle (also called fascicle), depending on the species.

Two: Jack pine, Mugo pine, Austrian pine, Red pine, Scots pine

Three:  Ponderosa pine (but sometimes two)

Five:  Limber pine, Eastern white pine

“Flat Fir and Square Spruce” is all you need to remember for the last two groups of trees.

 

Flat needles.  Fir trees (Abies) have flat needles with blunt ends.  They are often the common Christmas tree variety because the short needles are less likely to drop than other species.

 

Square needles.  Spruce trees (Picea) have pointed needles that feel square when rolled between your fingers.

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

January 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

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