Commentary

MY FAVORITE TREE

MY FAVORITE TREE

BY Gyorgyi Szebenyi

is Desert Willow (Botanical Name: Chilopsis linearis, pronounced: kil-OP-sis lin-ee-AR-iss).

                     desert_willow     desert_willow_2     desert_willow_3

 

            Desert willow is among my beloveds plants, because it is our wedding anniversary tree. But my reasons for enthusiasm are not only personal. Desert Willow is a tough tree that thrives in Dallas and is strikingly handsome. It is a plant native to the American Southwest and Mexico and thus loves the sun. It is drought tolerant, but can handle downpours with good drainage (add expanded shale to your soil). If watered, it will grow faster and bloom more abundantly, but it will do fine even if you left it alone for long periods of time. Most labels for Desert Willow say that it grows up to fifteen feet, sometimes they even call it a shrub, but the one Paul and I planted for our tenth wedding anniversary twelve years ago is now more than twenty feet tall, and we did not fuss over it. We do prune the lower branches at least once a year, may be that helps to give it more than average height. I love it being tall, because it creates another level of interest in the garden without halting growth below.

     The sun shines through its open structure canopy, graceful, swaying branches, and between its fine long leaves. Underneath our tree, I grow roses that have full sun requirements. So you see, this tree will not create a shady spot for sipping your margaritas, but if you want an inspiring tree to marvel at while you are relaxing under your elm or oak tree and look up towards the sky, this is definitely an excellent choice. The flowers are delicate, elegant, subtly multicolored, and they are plentiful from May through November. I am quite attached to the pink variety we have in our garden, but the white, and the darker hot pink-purplish Buba, a newer and very popular cultivar, are also spectacular.

            Finally, there is one more piece of good news I want to share about this tree: even though I have not yet tried, I read that willows were easy to propagate from either wood cuttings or seed. So if anyone of you would like to try to grow a tree just like ours, let me know. You are most welcome to cuttings and seeds.

            Passing along plants, seeds, and garden stories is what our garden club is about. We’d love to hear about your favorite plant in the next newsletter! Send your story and picture to Allison (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)!

Gyorgyi Szebenyi

Book Review

THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE LANDSCAPE

by Joy Bossi and Karen Bastow
     
    The holidays will be here before we know it.  Do you have a friend or family member who would enjoy a present that would encourage them to get started with gardening? Maybe you yourself would like a bit of encouragement??  If so, this book  could be just what you need.  The authors are both experienced gardeners, and they want everyone to share in what they obviously believe will change the life of the gardener, their community, and the world.
     The authors live in Utah and are Mormons.  It is important to mention this because it is important to their world view.  However,  in no way do they attempt to influence in a religious way.  They call their way of gardening "provident gardening".  The book assists the reader to think about using the land in their care (no matter how small) to produce something edible as well as beautiful.  The first chapters explain why this is so important.  When gardeners try to grow something to eat to store for the future, to share with others, they enrich themselves and the world around them.
     This book is not full of pat answers-far from it .The authors emphasis that gardening is not easy.  Start small, study your surroundings,  find out about the condition of your soil, read, and talk to other gardeners about what works and what doesn't.  But then, don't just dream-TRY!.
      "Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful'  and sitting in the shade" -Rudyard Kipling    This quote used in the book sums up alot of the philosophy of the authors.
      However do not think it's "no fun".  There are lots of suggestions for getting started with many common vegetables and fruits--what might be tucked into a flower border or even grown in a pot.  The joy of seeing a plant grow from a tiny seed--the joy of eating something you grew yourself--its all there.  And do not worry the advice is to grow with responsible methods.  Simple directions for composting and careful water use are there.  Oh--and there are lots of pictures!!
     First tries at gardening can be discouraging--the garden can seem to take more than it gives.  But with trying and learning the garden becomes far more than it was in the beginning-- and gives joy and hope along with the vegetables.  This is a lesson we all can appreciate. This book provides just the knowledge and guidance to get started--and to keep going!

SAVING TOMATO SEEDS

suggested by Susan Thornbury

from the blog of Mr Brown Thumb

Saving tomato seeds? Isolate Tomato Flowers for True Seeds

If you're growing a particularly great heirloom tomato in your garden, chances are you will want to grow that tomato again, or maybe even share your tomato seeds with gardening friends and family. Saving tomato seeds is easy, but there is one step that you, as a new seed saver, may not know you should take. Make sure you isolate tomato flowers for true seeds.  

Tomato flower isolation for seed saving

Gardeners with large yards are at an advantage when saving tomato seeds because they can isolate tomato plants by placing them far enough apart from each other that they won't accidentally cross-pollinate and create seeds for a hybrid tomato. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hybrid tomatoes, but if you're growing an heirloom tomato, chances are you're doing so because of some unique characteristic to that particular tomato plant. Maybe it's the color, shape, taste or history behind the plant that calls you to grow it. Whatever your reasons, you are now a steward of the history of a tomato and you want to continue the line.

Small-space, and urban gardeners, like myself, don't have the luxury of being able to grow several tomato varieties and plant them far apart to keep the seeds true. Our cramped gardens may require us to either grow one heirloom tomato variety a year, or get creative and find a way to keep the blooms from being accidentally cross-pollinated by bees and other garden pollinators.

Isolating tomato blossom for seed savinng

Read more: SAVING TOMATO SEEDS

SUMMER POINSETTIA

IMG_3923

By Jacki Brewer 8/1/2013


I received this plant from Susan Thornbury last summer.  This summer it has graced me with many seedlings growing here and there.  I especially love it coming up with cosmos as you see here.

In researching I found that there are other plants also called Summer Poinsettia in the Amaranthacea family such as Joseph's Coat and the like.  This Summer Poinsettia is in the Acanthaceae family.

In some places it is considered a weed but for my north Texas garden it thrives and looks wonderful in our intense heat and sun and that is a plus for me.  It can look a little wilty if it is too dry but it recovers well.

See this link for more info:  Wildflowers

Euphorbia cyathophora Murr.

Wild Poinsettia, Summer Poinsettia, Fire on the Mountain

Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)

Synonyms: Euphorbia barbellata, Euphorbia graminifolia, Euphorbia havanensis, Euphorbia heterophylla var. barbellata, Euphorbia heterophylla var. cyathophora, Euphorbia heterophylla

USDA Symbol: EUCY

USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.

The dwarf poinsettia has green stems and alternate lobed leaves, the uppermost with irregular red blotches near the base. The terminal flowers are yellowish with 1-2 small glands or nectaries.

Fire-on-the-mountain is a member of the spurge family (family Euphorbiaceae). Spurges are commonly herbs, with milky sap; in the tropics also includes shrubs or trees. There are about 290 genera and 7,500 species, mostly of warm or hot regions. Among the valuable products of the family are rubber, castor and tung oils, and tapioca. Most members of the family are poisonous, and their milky sap will irritate the membranes of the eyes and mouth.