Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Archive for September 2010

Preparing for Cold Nights

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There is always something very satisfying about giving your house a good clean through.  I get that same feeling at the end of a growing season once I have cut down the perennials, pulled out the annuals and raked up the debris in my gardens.  And while I am in NO WAY ready for the long months of winter, I am getting kind of antsy to start my end of season shutdown routine at the Arboretum.  After last week’s dreary weather, I thought I would start pulling annuals this week … but much to my (happy) surprise, we have a gorgeous week ahead of us!

But the snow won’t stay away forever and we have to get started in order to be done by November.  One of the first tasks I do each fall is start pulling our containers.  I often leave a few out in key locations (and poke in a few mums for one last shot of color) and then pull the rest. 

I often use tropical plants in my containers because they perform well throughout the summer and add exotic on the cheap.  They are also extremely easy to overwinter and reuse the next summer!  I’m going to try to overwinter two palm and two rubber trees this year.

         

I decided to pull two containers in the Rose Garden this morning since the annuals were starting to look a bit ratty.  The containers were filled with a palm tree, coleus ‘Saturn’ and sweet potato vine ‘Blackie.’  It took a bit of muscle to get the annuals out of the container and I had to make sure to pull the tubers of the potato vine (middle photo).  I then repotted the palm in a smaller, terracotta pot that can easily be moved inside once the night temperatures drop.  It is much easier to repot now and be ready for the colder night temperatures than to be rushing the afternoon before our first frost!

Have you started cleaning out your gardens yet?  If you have any helpful tips for quicker (and easier) fall clean-up, please pass along!

See you in the gardens.

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Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 27, 2010 at 9:11 pm

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My Festival Top Ten

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September is always a busy month at the Arboretum.  All year we plan for our annual Fall Harvest Festival – the Arboretum’s SIGNATURE event – held the third weekend each September.  And even with a little bit of rain and a little bit of cold, it was another successful festival this year! 

After a week of putting the grounds back together (and taking time to relax during all this rain!), I’ve had time to reflect on my favorites of the weekend.  Here are my top ten, in no particular order:

  1. Did you know the festival is run almost all by volunteers?  We are so lucky to have an outstanding group of creative, hard-working volunteers!  Even with less than perfect weather, everyone kept their spirits up and threw one heck of a party!  HUGE THANKS to our festival chair, Cindy Wells, and her committee chairs (Melissa Wells, Sara Jansen, Cassie Luze, Kathy Payne, Carol Folkerts, Barbara Brown, Billie Hemmer and Linda Holmes).
  2. We had beautiful quilts donated (and made!) by Arboretum volunteers to raffle off on Sunday afternoon.
  3. AWESOME scarecrows!  I haven’t heard the final numbers, but I bet we had the most scarecrows ever this year for our scarecrow contest.  And they were fabulous! 
  4. Sunday’s festival was completely free to the more than 1,500 families and friends that attended.  What an amazing event to offer to the Cedar Valley Community!  Thank you to the festival sponsors that made this possible.
  5. Another reason we are able to keep Sunday’s festival wallet friendly is by having a special fundraising event, Wine & Scarecrows, the night before.  It rained on us most of the day Saturday and I have to admit, I wasn’t looking forward to the evening.  But then Mother Nature gave us a break and skies cleared up just before Wine & Scarecrows began.  And it’s a good thing because the pork dinner was delicious, singer Deb Flamang-Roper set the tone for an enchanting evening in the gardens and there were plenty of great items to bid on at the silent auction.
  6. All our great market vendors, food vendors, music performers and Prairie Village participants came out in the weather to help make Sunday a great day for our guests.  (I had a tenderloin sandwich for lunch and decided it was the best I had ever eaten.)
  7. Every time I walked past the petting zoo on Sunday, it put a smile on my face.  The goats, ducks, chickens and llama were so good-natured with the children.
  8. Along with the petting zoo, the Children’s Garden was filled with activities for children of all ages.  My favorites were the pinecone bird feeder, rock painting and learning about owls from Linda Nebbe.
  9. I also loved the trains running in the Children’s Garden.  Members from the Cedar Valley Garden Railway Society brought out a variety of trains to run on our tracks … even a steam engine!
  10. People came out by the carloads to support our festival.  And what a good-looking crowd they were!  I saw some of the coolest galoshes, rain slickers and umbrellas.  My favorite was two little girls running through the Prairie Village in their galoshes and bright pink tutus just purchased from a market vendor (because even in the rain, one must always look good!).

And I could probably give you another ten!  It was a great weekend and I’m already looking forward to next year.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all the volunteers, vendors, sponsors, guests and supporters that make this the best fall festival in the Cedar Valley!

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm

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A Spot in the Shade

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Ahhh….it’s finally Labor Day Weekend.  Time to sit back and relax after a fast-paced summer!  Are you looking for a place to enjoy your long weekend?  Stop by the Arboretum!  I encourage you to rest a bit (and soak up the beautiful view!)  in one of these lovely Adirondack chairs made by one of the Arboretum’s volunteers. 

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 4, 2010 at 6:00 am

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Synthetic vs. Organic Fertilizers

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Have you taken a look at the annuals in the Enabling Garden raised beds?  They are growing like crazy!  Last season, a good friend of the Arboretum ran across an organic rose fertilizer that was working wonders at the Deluth (Minnesota) Rose Garden.  We thought why not give it a try in our Rose Garden and annual beds?

The fertilizer is equal parts alfalfa meal, blood meal, fish meal and soybean meal.  We bought 50# bags of each at Waterloo Mills Company and dumped them on the Head House floor to better mix.  With our wholesale prices, we were able to get all under $70.00!  200 pounds will likely last us 2 full seasons.

Over the summer, I have spread the fertilizer in both the Rose Garden and Enabling Garden twice.  I’m not sure if I can tell a real difference in the Rose Garden, but I definitely can in the Enabling Garden!

What are the advantages of using organic fertilizer versus synthetic fertilizer?

Synthetic fertilizers feed (has more soluble nitrates that the plant and immediately uptake) the plant itself while the organic fertilizer feeds the soil which in return feeds the plant.  Feeding the plant directly with synthetic fertilizer gives you quick, lush growth …. but the downside is that it also attracts many pests (like aphids, thrips, etc.) that are also attracted to the nitrogen and new growth.  Feeding the soil which then in return feeds the plant, gives you healthy soil and a healthy plant …. but at a slower rate. 

Both types of fertilizers have their uses.  But I think I’ll stick with the organic fertilizer and remember the age old adage “slow and steady wins the race.”

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm

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