The Flower Press - - a newsletter of the Lincolnshire Garden Club
March 2010  


General Meeting and Program

Thursday, March 18, 2010

“Millions of Spring Bulbs in Holland”

Alan Schulman, North Shore Garden Club

Alan and his wife are avid gardeners, gardening their property in Riverwoods, participating with the Gardeners of the North Shore, or traveling the world to enjoy gardens.  Alan will share with us slides from their trip to Holland to see the spring tulips. 

To enhance your enjoyment of the program, club member Rose-Anne de Haan, a native of Holland, suggests reading the following article she found on Dutch gardening history:  http://library.wur.nl/speccol/intro.html. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Time:  9:30 a.m. – Continental Breakfast

  9:45 a.m. – Business Meeting

  10:00 a.m. – Program

Place:  Vernon Area Public Library

Hospitality Committee:

Jan Stefans – Lead Hostess

Iris Cosnow

Merle Lynch

Kathleen Young-Perkins


FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

Jan Stefans, President

I guess I have to read about spring since I am definitely not seeing it outside!  This month's "Living" Magazine has an article about container plants that brings Martha Stewart's porch to life.  What I would give to have those houseplants, full lush ferns, begonias, and cacti.  Will our little traded transplants from this month's meeting ever look as good?  At least the daffodils in the grocery bring a pop of color to our grey days and we can think spring!

REMINDERS FOR GENERAL MEETING

·      Bring food donations for the Vernon Area Food Pantry to our monthly meeting.  Remember that regular sized packages are easier to distribute than the jumbo sizes from warehouse clubs.  The pantry is currently in desperate need of canned tuna and canned fruit.  Also, donations of clean, used plastic grocery bags are needed for use in distributing food to recipients.

 

·      Bring any unwanted mugs to the general meeting so the club can start replacing throw-away paper goods with reusable china.

 

·      We will be having a houseplant exchange at the March general meeting.  Please bring cuttings from your houseplants in small containers (Dixie cups or plastic bags), labeled with the plant’s name and any specific care instructions.


MARCH MEMORIALIZED IN PROSE

Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn.

-       Lewis Grizzard, Kathy Sue

Winds of March, we welcome you,

There is work for you to do

Work and play and blow all day

Blow the Winter wind away.

March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.

-       Hal Borland

Buttercups and daisies,

Oh, the pretty flowers:

Coming ere the spring time,

To tell of sunny hours.

When the trees are leafless;

When the fields are bare;

Buttercups and daisies spring up here and there.

-       Mary Howitt


NOMINATING COMMITTEE REPORT

Submitted by Ellen Strauss

The Nominating Committee of Dimitra Alexakos, Linda Berryman, Kelly DuPont,

Lisa Lewis, and Ellen Strauss selected the following slate for Officers of the Executive Board for the term, 2010-2011:

  • President: Jan Stefans
  • 1st Vice President, Benefit: Dawn Anderson
  • 2nd Vice President, Programs: Linda Berryman
  • 3rd Vice President, Allocations: Janice Hand
  • Recording Secretary: Meg Zimmermann
  • Corresponding Secretary: Hazel Weaver
  • Treasurer: Kathleen Young-Perkins

 

RARE ANIMAL-PLANT THAT ALL GARDENERS SHOULD KNOW

In the 1500s to as late as the 1800s, kings and queens sent explorers to bring home a Vegetable Lamb of Tartary (Planta tartarica barometz*).  It was a very rare “animal-plant,” which resembled a lamb growing from the top of a stalk. The lamb bent the stalk to graze around the plant and was known to be very ferocious. The only way to safely get one was to shoot an arrow that cut through the stalk; only then could one approach the lamb.

 

Actually, the Vegetable Lamb was cotton, but travelers from Europe had never seen that plant. So, they reasoned that the material was wool, which they did know. Of course, since wool comes from sheep, the plant logically must be some kind of animal-plant. They thought that the puffs of cotton were tiny sheep attached to the plant by their navel. It was said that the plant bent to let the sheep graze on the grass underneath. When all the grass was gone, the sheep dropped from the plant and ran off, leaving the tree to die.


2010 ALLOCATIONS RECOMMENDATIONS

From The Allocations Committee

The Allocations “to do” list is almost completed for this year:

  • Invitation letters sen
  • 11 proposals received
  • Decision criteria developed
  • Individual review, then committee meeting for proposal evaluation
  • Recommendations to Board for 7 recipients; approved
  • Recommendations to membership for final approval

In our March 18 meeting, Garden Club members will be asked for approval of seven 2010 Allocations recipients. As approved by the Board on March 4, the total allocation recommendation is for $5,010 to these organizations:

 

Daniel Wright Jr HS

Native plant rain garden; on-site botany lab

$  700

Eagle Scout Project, Ryerson

Native garden (in front of Ryerson cabin)

$  560

Habitat for Humanity, Lake Co.

Gardening Together Program

$  500

Indian Creek Watershed Project

Pollution prevention-themed newsletter design and print costs

$  500

Lake County Forest Preserves

Entrance planter for Welcome Center

$  500

Laura B. Sprague School

Gardening project, demonstration gardens

$1,000

Village of Lincolnshire

Holiday entrance lighted trees

$1,250

Total:  

$5,010

 

The Allocations Committee:

  • Janice Hand, Chair
  • Iris Cosnow
  • Joan Keyes
  •  Lisa Lewis
  • Marj Lundy
  • Kathleen Young-Perkins
  • Eve Jacobs,(advisor)


UNDERSTANDING GRASSES

By Ellen Strauss

Some of us are uneasy planting ornamental grasses, because we’ve seen such big out- of -control clumps in neighboring yards.  To understand why some spread and some remain in their place, one has to understand how grasses grow. All grasses, including lawn grasses, grow by means of creeping rhizomes (underground stems.) New shoots will arise at intervals along the rhizome as it pushes along under the soil. Some rhizomes grow quickly and the shoots are spaced at long intervals along it, this grass forms an interwoven mat or turf, and is very desirable for lawn grasses. Ornamental grasses may also have shoots at long interval spacing, which however may be undesirable, as they will spread rapidly and become unsightly, especially in the garden.

Grasses are also classified as warm season and cool season. Cool season grasses green up quickly in the Spring, and rest during the heat of Summer. Warm season grasses get a later start, however, stay green in the Summer heat, and flower in Autumn. 

Some examples of these running ornamentals grasses are:  Japanese Blood grass (Imperrata cylindrica), Chinese silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis), Crimson fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum), and Prairie Cord Grass (Spartina pectinata) all of which can become invasive and take over the garden.

Some grasses produce very short rhizomes with shoots stacked up one on top the next. These are clumping or bunching grasses which expand slowly and are much more desirable in garden plantings.

Some examples of bunching grasses are:   Big Blue stem (Andropogon gerardii), Side Oats Gramma (Bouteloua curtipendula), Blue Gramma  or mosquito grass (Bouteloua gracilis), Northern Sea Oats ((Chasmanthium latifolium), Purple Love Grass (Eragrostis spectabilis), Switch Grass(Panicum virgatum),and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium.)  These clumping grasses are all native to Illinois, and are warm season grasses. Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis ) is a clumping grass of intermediate season.

For variety one might also consider grass-like plants such as Sedges (Carex spp.), or Rushes (Juncus spp.) in the mixed garden.

Sources:  1) University of Illinois Extension,  “Horticulture, Native Plant Series #3”

                2)  Horticulture Magazine. Oct./Nov. 2009 “Native Grasses” by William Cullina

                3)  U of I Extension web site:   http//web.extension.illinois.edu/lake/hort_env.html


MUSINGS OF THE OLD ROSE GARDENER

By Elaine Petersen

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

The vagaries of March:        

3/15/2004  Purple crocus covered with snow.

3/27/2004  “Tête-à-tête” daffodils are in bloom.

3/26/2006 Hundreds of snowdrops in bloom.

3/22/2007  60degrees!  Unbelievable lovely warm sunny day.

3/25/2009 Plant primroses today.  Transplant snowdrops.

3/29/2009  Two inches of heavy wet snow.

I am not religious about keeping my garden journal, but it is interesting to look back at past years while impatiently waiting for the ground to warm up.  If we are lucky, the daffodils will bloom before the end of the month and we can feel like spring is …almost here.   If you simply can’t wait to get your hands into the soil, you can sow peas, lettuce and spinach outdoors in March, but don’t remove the mulch from the beds yet!

The average frost-free date in Zone 5 varies from May 1 through 31.  Of course, you can garden without ever consulting a hardiness zone map.  Instead, rely on local knowledge from the Master Gardeners and the University of Illinois Extension.  Buy from regional nurseries, which normally won’t carry plants that are not 100 percent survivors in our area.  Avoid national discount stores that mount instant gardens centers from March though June, staffed generally by workers chosen for the ability to lose plant labels and swear that everything they sell will thrive in our region.  Read gardening books and magazines at library or ask our garden club members for practical advice. And for fun, start a garden journal right now.  

The last fling of winter is over…

The earth, the soil itself, has a dreaming quality about it.

It is warm to the touch; it has come alive;

It hides secrets that in a moment, in a little while, it will tell.”

Donald Culross Peattie

 

A LAWN CARE REFRESHER

By Janice Hand

Somewhere under the snow lies a lawn, which will turn green again in the spring, whenever that may arrive. Looking ahead to the happy event, it’s time to check lawn care practices. I just learned (and re-learned) a few things that others may find helpful.

§  Dormancy is natural.  Our turf grasses in northern Illinois are “cool season” grasses. This type grows during the cooler months — spring and early summer and then again in fall. It is normal for this form of grass to go dormant in the heat of mid-summer, and watering it to keep it green can actually harm this type of grass. This form of grasses can be weakened by on again-off again watering during its “off” (dormant) season. Bottom line: do not water your turf during its natural dormancy period (unless there is a very severe drought, and then you should water, but only enough to keep the crown alive —about ¼ inch of water).

§  Mow at 2-3 inches.  So that grass plants can produce enough food via their green “leaves,” do not mow less than 2 inches high. A longer lawn better shades its roots to conserve water and roots are hardier since they have access to more food generated by the green leaves. Also, never remove more than 1/3 of the plant height during any one mowing, or the lawn will be stressed. (If the lawn gets very tall, split the mowing into 2 sessions a few days apart. The first one takes off the top inch or so, and the subsequent mowing takes off the rest.)

    §  Leave clippings. Many people think that clippings promote thatch. Not true. Clippings are about 80% water, so         will reduce to almost nothing. Thatch is made up thicker materials like stems and roots, not clippings.

§  Test soil. To make sure that your lawn soil is optimal, you can have a lab test it. To do that, wait until the soil is above 50°; take your sample 2-4 inches down (not at the surface); and take several samples around the yard, mixing them together to submit about 1 cup of soil for the test. (The U of I Extension can refer you to labs in this area.)

§  Treating salt damage. Most gardeners routinely spread gypsum to counteract road salt. However, gypsum only works if the “salt” is sodium chloride. Since Lincolnshire uses a mixture of calcium chloride, beet juice, and sodium chloride (the mixture depends on circumstances), applying gypsum is appropriate in our village.

§  Lawn problems can be diagnosed by “indicator weeds.” Prostrate spurge and knotweed grow in compacted soils, while creeping Charlie, violets, and nimbleweed grow in shady areas with poor drainage. Soils with poor fertility seem to generate white clover, and plantain.

§  Use herbicides for the weed stage.  Pre-emergence herbicides form a barrier and kill weeds as they come out of the seed. Because of that, if you use such a weed-killer, do not dig or cultivate after it is applied or you will break the “barrier” and allow weeds to come through. The best timing is late April/early May when the soil is about 55°. The other kind of herbicide is post-emergence – these kill broadleaf weeds when they are actively growing. Always read and follow label instructions exactly (technically, herbicide labels are a federal legal document!).

§  Fertilizing. There are two optimal times to fertilize a lawn, if fertilizing is needed. While it is not necessary to fertilize (esp. if leaving clippings to decompose and provide nutrients to the turf), some gardeners prefer to do so. The optimal time? Fall when the grass is no longer growing (you no longer need to mow) and the air is cool (about 45-50°). Late season fertilization feeds the roots, leading to early spring greening with flush growth.  Another good time to fertilize turf is early spring. (Just remember, do not buy fertilizers with phosphorus—make sure the middle number on the bag is 0.)

 

ODDS AND ENDS

White Flower Farm (www.flowerfarm.com)  a great source for bulbs (especially dahlias), gardening supplies, and plants, has a partnership with the Chicago Botanic Garden.  If you are a member of the Garden, and place an order with White Flower Farm, use the source code AS043 and 10% of the order will go to the CBG for garden beautification.  Their total donations from this effort are currently at $10,300.  If you join the CBG, as a new member White Flower Farm will give you a 25% credit (good for one year) towards your next order with them.  As another token of their generosity, White Flower Farm will be supporting our benefit.

UPCOMING EVENTS


·      Thursday, March 18th – General Meeting, Vernon Area Public Library

·      Thursday, April 8th – Board Meeting, Lincolnshire Village Hall

·      Thursday, April 15th – General Meeting, Vernon Area Public Library

·      Thursday, May 6th – Board Meeting, Lincolnshire Village Hall

·      Thursday, May 20th – Spring Luncheon,

·      Thursday, June 3rd – Board Meeting, Lincolnshire Village Hall

            Thursday, June 17th – Annual Picnic, North Park       
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