Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Archive for September 2011

Dividing and Donating Perennials

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As I was taking photos of the gardens last week, I took this photo along our service road behind the Rose Garden.   It’s off the beaten trail for good reason – not very pretty! J  The rows of perennials are Arboretum extras as well as a nursery bed for Green Scene’s annual spring plant sale.

Have you ever been to Green Scene’s plant sale?  It is one of my favorite spring events!  Here is a blurb about the event from their website (http://greensceneinc.org ):

Our plant sale is our biggest fund-raiser, the proceeds of which are dedicated to the purchasing and planting of trees in Black Hawk County.  Some of the items we offer include trees and shrubs, houseplants, native plants and grasses, perennials, wildflowers, herbs, hosta and companion plants, plants for butterfly gardens, dwarf conifers and alpines, ground covers, roots and tubers, vines, and a Collector’s Corner of unusual plants.

Many of the perennials found at the sale are from gardens right here in our community – so you know they will grow well in our climate!  Each year before the sale, community gardeners are encouraged to divide perennials in their garden and donate extras to the sale.

Now is the perfect time to walk your gardens and evaluate the plant material in your flowerbeds.  Do you have perennials that are getting too big for their allotted space?  Make a note of all perennials – maybe even flag in your garden this fall – that could be divided next spring and then consider donating your extras to the sale.  (I don’t know the date of 2012’s sale but will pass along information when hear more.)

 

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 30, 2011 at 6:55 am

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Alpine Garden Update

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I’ve been crazy about our new Alpine Garden all summer.  If you remember, this space (south of the Education Center) got a much needed makeover earlier this season.  To read about the new plant material added in June, please click here: https://cedarvalleyarboretum.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/garden-update-alpine-garden/ .

        

The different succulents are SO COOL!  And even better, they look cool ALL season long – not just a few week bloom period like many other perennials.  And when other gardens are starting to look ratty at the end of the growing season, there is still much to see in the Alpine Garden.

For several weeks I’ve been meaning to show you the most recent addition to the Alpine Garden – a vertical garden made by one of the Arboretum’s many creative volunteers.  Hung on the north fence of the space, this vertical garden holds several different varieties of succulents.  What a fun and easy way for anyone to have their own Alpine Garden!

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 29, 2011 at 6:30 am

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September View

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Do you receive our monthly e-newsletter, The View?  September’s edition is filled with great photos from our Fall Harvest Festival as well as an informative article on Japanese Beetles.  Click here to download:  http://www.cedarvalleyarboretum.org/pdfs/The%20View%20Volume%204%20Issue%209.pdf .

Want to receive The View in your email inbox?  It’s easy!  Sign up at http://www.cedarvalleyarboretum.org/newsletter.asp .

 

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 28, 2011 at 6:43 am

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Annuals in the Garden

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By September, our perennial beds are starting to look a little tired … the colors are not as vibrant and foliage is starting to look a bit ratty.  That is certainly not the case for our Community Gardens that are filled with annuals!

As I walk through our Community Gardens, I am reminded why every garden is better with a collection of hardy and tender plant material.  Trees and shrubs provide year-round structure and interest – they are the bones of the garden.  Perennials are the work horse of the garden – coming up year after year and also provide structure as well as color, form and texture.  Annuals are only in the garden for one growing season but provide a special pop of color and are great for filling in empty spaces.

The problem with annuals, however, is that they can take several weeks to establish roots if it is a cool, wet spring.  I often have a bad attitude about large plantings of annuals for this reason – we plant them after the frost free date in May and then (because of our finicky Iowa spring weather) don’t see any significant growth until the first week in June.  But then I always have a change of heart late summer and fall when they are still happily blooming while the perennials are starting to go into hibernating mode.

For this reason, a collection of hardy and tender plant material is best in my book.  As I walk through our gardens at the Arboretum, I am looking for spaces that could use some late season color – I want every space to look as cheery and welcoming as our Community Gardens still look!

Need a little eye candy to start your day?  Here are a few annuals still looking great at the Arboretum:

        

(left to right: coleus, petunia, zinnia and lantana)

        

(left to right: gomphrena, salvia, pentas and coleus)

 

 

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 27, 2011 at 6:05 am

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Growing Veggies in the Children’s Garden

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Early in the summer, we took a virtual tour of the Children’s Garden and I mentioned our vegetable garden (to read that post, click here: https://cedarvalleyarboretum.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/visiting-the-childrens-garden/ ).  Our garden looked like this in June:

  

For most of the summer, these two raised beds were overflowing with produce.  What a huge success!  Here is our vegetable garden last week:

The raised beds are located in the southeast corner of the Children’s Garden – an awkwardly shaped space that I have never used well.  Creating these two small beds was perfect for the space and (my favorite part) very low cost.  Wood for the raised beds was leftover from our old Rose Garden pergola and I filled the beds with free compost from the Waterloo dump.

** I have mentioned before using free mulch from the Waterloo dump (located just south of the Arboretum) but this was the first time I have taken advantage of their compost — I was concerned about having insect/disease problems with this compost so had never used it before.  But since we were starting from scratch and even these little beds were going to need a lot of fill, I decided to try out the free compost.   The compost worked great and I had no problems!

Earlier in the summer, I harvested lettuce, broccoli and celery from the garden.  I still have several tomatoes and green peppers as well as cabbage (left) and carrots (middle).  I also snapped a photo of our broccoli (right) going to seed because I thought the delicate yellow flowers were so sweet.  Hmmm…. maybe fun to grow in a flower garden next year?

     

I also grew a small patch of pumpkins in the southwest corner of the Children’s Garden.  Pumpkins need a lot of space, so I didn’t dare to plant them along with the others in the raised beds.

  

Since we are getting close to the end of the season, I will probably clean out our vegetable gardens very soon.  It is important to remove all plant debris from your vegetable garden each fall to prevent disease/insect infestation next year (that sort of stuff likes to overwinter in plant debris).  I will likely spread a new layer of compost on top of the beds that will be worked into the soil next spring as I plant.

Interested in planting you own vegetable garden next year?  Now is the perfect time to prepare your beds!  The one thing I have learned over the years is that the more that can be done in the fall, the better — often we have such wet springs that new bed construction can be a muddy project!  When choosing a site for your vegetable garden, choose an open space that receives full sun for most of the day and is close to a water source.  Your vegetable garden does not have to be raised, but it certainly is easier on your back and stops grass from creeping in.  Consider using salvaged wood and compost from the city (Cedar Falls also offers free compost) for a low-cost option.

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

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Run the Rabbit!

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For many years, a corn maze has been one of our festival attractions.  This year the field needed to be soybeans —  we made a maze anyways (it’s getting more difficult to walk now that the beans are getting floppy) and an Arboretum friend was able to capture this awesome aerial photo for us!

(An exit and entrance have been cut into the field since this photo was taken.)

 

 

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm

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Vegetable Garden Update

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Remember when I told you all about our ugly vegetable garden we planted in June?  For a recap, check out this post:  https://cedarvalleyarboretum.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/.

  

Garden in June (left) and September (right).

As many could have guessed, the looks of our little garden did not improve with time.  Some might even say it got uglier!  But we have harvested a great deal of produce, which is all that matters!  All of the produce was donated to folks in our community.

Our bounty included (left-right) green peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet corn and squash.

The garden is almost done for the year and I have stopped (as above photo clearly indicates) weeding.  All in all, I think the newspaper and snow fence worked great in controlling weeds around each plant.  I also found it very easy to train our tomatoes off a center pole rather than messing with cages.  The only change I will make next year is spacing the plant rows wider for walkways.

How did your vegetable garden grow this year?  Any new tricks that you tried?

 

See you in the gardens.

Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

September 9, 2011 at 6:00 am

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