Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to Increase Native Bees

As seen first in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden newsletter. researchers at Oregon State University have made a chance discovery that might just increase the native bee population. During field observation native bees, including bumble bees, were drawn to the color blue. This went for blue flowers or inaminate objects. Honey bees were not attracted to any particular color. Researchers are now testing blue flags on a clothesline-like rope system in field crops.

So it may be possible to someday to hang blue flags to increase the native bee population to increase pollination in your gardens. For more information, go to

Monday, December 14, 2009

Adopt A Children's Garden

The National Gardening Association has a fantastic program to stimulate gardening in children at their school. The Adopt A Children's Garden allows donors to purchase kits to start a garden inside or outside the classroom. You can donate for the national program or handle yourself by finding a particular school. What a really cool thing to do for your child or grandchild's school?

Whether you are the of Director of Powell Gardens or your next door neighbor, chances are that passion was fueled by a childhood experience. Think about donating yourself and if you do, please let me know.

The Most Beautiful Pumpkinks

I'm reading and savoring each photograph in Amy Goldman's 'The Compleat Squash'. No, that's not a typo. From this gardener's point of view, it's the most beautiful colffee table I have ever seen.. She's grown each variety or contracted with growers to complete such a huge task, Then when it's paired with beautiful photography, it's a huge achievement. This type of quality is also validated by starting prices of over $150 bucks for this out of print book on Amazon. She's done the same thing with melons and tomatoes. Check them out at the library or better yet, add them to your gardening library.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gardening Quote

Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts, yet also the most forgiving

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Friday, November 20, 2009

Diamond\Point Combo

Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' is one of the best fillers for summer containers. But its lacy foilage and flowers are an excellent foil for the broad red bracts of the pointsettia as shown here. Proven Winners has trademark the combo as DiamondPoint. While researching the combo, Jan Vinyard told me to dig up your container plants of 'Diamond Frost, shear them back and utilize as a house plant. Jan tells me they will flower all winter.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Book Review: Foliage

Foliage: Astonishing Color and Texture Beyond Flowers is a truly comprehensive treatise of the subject. talk about bang for your buck. the book is divided into 4 color classes; Go for Gold - Rousing Red to Black - Stunning Silver, Gray and Blue - Marvelous Multicolors.

To help you find the perfect option for any combination, the most comprehensive plant descriptions i have ever seen are organized by overall texturre: spikey, bold, medium , fine and lacy. This is one hard working book for both gardeners and garden designers.

Little Red Riding Hood Tulips

The first time i heard of little red was from the original host of the victory garden, jim crockett some thirty years ago. Like other greigii tulips, little red has burgundy mottled foliage and each plant has three to five blooms per bulb on 10-12 inch plants in midspring. Another benefit of greigiis is their tendecy to perennialize to ensure little red be riding into your garden each spring.

Friday, November 6, 2009

pipestem creek fall wreath

I see a lot of wreaths in my line of work, but this one grabbed my attention. The center is a sunflower seed head. the white are corn heads cut in half and blue corn husks on the outer wring. simply stunning.see

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

from the summer's garden - holiday

local artist Steve Hess invites 23 other very creative artists to are participating in open houses at his house and garden fridays through sunday s in November. the events are named 'from the summer's garden'. my friend anita carr has visited and was blown away by the talent. i've just visited the website and i hope to attend soon. www, for the whole story. congrats steve!

Monday, November 2, 2009

plant amaryllis now!

amaryllis make excellent Christmas gifts every year. But if you want your own in bloom for your Christmas, start now. most amaryllis take 6 to 8 weeeks to bloom. if you have an annual Christmas party or family event, then do the math for when you need to pot one up.

i saw medium sized bulbs at Home Depot under $10 this weekend. but if you want the biggest bulbs on the market, then go to White Flower Farm (pictured). their bulbs are guaranteed to have at least two flower stalks and you're guaranteed to pay about $30 and up.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New for 2010 --' flirtation orange' diascia

one of the other proven winner's standouts were these 'flirtation orange' diascia. you can't beat the orange and blue combo. diascia is a cool season annual. this looked great for me in the spring but looked good all summer. the orange color works well in the fall.

'snow princess' alyssum for 2010

one of the best perks of being a garden writer is the opportunity to trial plants a year before they are placed on the market. of this year's plants the stand out by far was alyssum 'Snow Princess' from proven winners. it is basically sweet alyssum on steroids. i had four plants which overwhelmed everything else in my window boxes. if 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia is the ultimate filler then 'snow princess' will become the ultimate spiller

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Teal Flower @

add some bling with spray paint

another truly original piece of thinking from Fallscaping is using spray paint to enhance the fall garden. how? add just a little gold to dried seed heads and bare branches. examples would include sea holly and honesty. you coud also use the paint for gourds and pumpkins.

'sweet caroline bronze' potato vine

i recently saw an example of this variety in a fall container and the effect with a bronze carex was a big winner. i'll talk to my contacts at family tree about growing it for the spring.

hakone grass 'aureola'

there really is a grass for shady locations. the varigation of 'aureola' can lighten up any shady corner. its performance across the country by it's designation as a recent perennial of the year. this photograph is the best example i've seen that shows of its graceful effect.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

featured plant: sedum 'angelina' in fall

i'm a big fan of groundcover sedum 'angelina' since it was nominated as a Patrick Pick last year. the chautruse foilage turns to a beautiful orange this time of year. it looks great paired with the gaillardia shown here at left

featured plant: amsonia

i've been readingh a book titled "Fallscaping". on it's cover it featured the fall foliage of amsonia, a perennial i'm not familiar with. when it was paired with pink muhly grass the effect was stunning. check the book out of the library for one final blast of fall.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

whitehouse garden plan

there has been a lot of hoopla regarding the WH garden but few details. so from out of the blogosphrere comes the first lady's plan. fascinating stuff.


"autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower"
Albert Camus

Monday, October 26, 2009

JOCO Master Gardener Channel 1943

Lee Brenum, one of my fellow JOCO Extension Master, produced some beautiful short documenteries about the Overland Park Arboreteum's Monet Garden and the display garden at the JOCO extension building in Olathe. they are artfully done and i hope they will be enjoyed by more than the master gardeners.

pass them on

got squirrels? get bulb cages!

if you have a problem with squirrels or other pesky critters digging up your bulbs, then bulb cages from Gardenerrr's Supply could be your answer. unlike others on the market these are epoxy coated to prevent rusting. i really like this company. let me know if you have had experience with these products.

beautiful pots

from time to time. i have to share a beautiful image and this is one of those from a weekly newsletter courtesy of . if you haven't been to this site, check it out and enjoy!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

floating jack-o-lanterns

to create a feeling your jack-o-lanterns are floating in mid air use these steps -
1. carve at least three small sized jack-o-lantern.
2. insert small dowel rod in both sides of j-o-l about half of the way down. dowel rod should overhang the pumpkin by 3" on both sides
3. tie picture wire on each protruding down to create a wire hanger effect
4. add votives and enjoy.

Flower magazine

my wife recently bought me a magazine i had never seen before simply titled flower from . it's tagline is - enriching life through flowers it's a gkossy mag with a subscription under $15. recent issues have included an in-deph story of an organic dahlia farm, a florist using local growers to avoid central american suppliers to reduce her carbon footprint and a georgia o'keefe story.(see Black Hollyhock Blue Larkspur 1930 at left)

Friday, October 23, 2009

new book -- black plants

my wife will shoot me if i buy a new book, but during the halloween season, this is very tempting. i know of black hollyhocks, tulips and voilas, so i'm very interested in the other 72. i don't know if i can wait until Christmas money to check this out. at under $11 at Amazon...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

spider gate

in honor of the season, comes this wonderful piece of garden art. reminds me of charlotte's web. enjoy

don't mulch too early

mulches applied too early can be dangerous to the health of the plant. it will keep the ground warm when the plant should be shutting down. wait a month before applying.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gardening 101 - "The Garden Primer"

now it its newly revised edition, coming in at over 650 pages is the best tool the new gardener can buy. it really is the gardeners bible.
would make an excellent gift for our new vegetable growers. try it, you'll like it. enough said.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Color Blend Tulips at Nursing Home

i recently volunteered my advice to a nursing home where a family member is staying. the home was recently landscaped with sun plants. problem is it under two huge pin oaks and two crabs and the landscaper isn't returning calls. they have asked me to redo the job in the spring.

i'm starting right away with 50 color blended tulips from white flower farm in a seasonal part of the garden. the hope is these tulip varieties that bloom together. of course, that's a high bar to meet across the whole country. so we'll see how it works in kansas. kansas is a long way from amsterdam.

combo at left is 'stretch 'with all that color up on top, i'll underplant with white pansies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

now that's a mum: exhibition mums

one of my best gardening recollections from my childhood in Australia is of a man in our neighborhood who sent these types of large mums approx 8" wide to the Chelsea Flower Show in England and won ribbons. i can't imagine the logistics of such a trip never mind customs. in this country, i have seen them referred to as football mums. my favorite are the spider mums pictured at right.

with memories of that gentlemen's efforts, i tried growing these type of mums in ks. my experience was the spiders needed a longer growing season to pull off a specimen bloom. but i did win a best mum in show at a local show. i still have the trophy.
i know nearly all of you are more than content with our mums, but take a cool trip to the vendor i used at

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Orchids to cure post killing frost blues

well we should have a killer frost in the next day or two. p allen smith (when i grow up i want to be almost just like him) recommends indoor orchids to help you adjust to life without your precious annuals. i strongly concur with him that moth orchids (phalaenopsis) are the best place to start. once in flower, they can continue for months. i was given the best advice from a hobbiest years ago. hopefully you have a spray fitting on your faucet, either way, each week let the water flow under the sink for five minutes. when i was working i made it part of my saturday morning routine.
photo courtesy pas

Friday, October 9, 2009

how late can i plant trees safely?

According to Ken Wood of Family Tree in Shawnee, you can safely plant until the ground freezes and he's not exaggerating. he said late planted tree can still send out roots through December. so take advantage of those 50% off sales like at Suburban or Earl May's free planting offer. your trees will also be developing roots way before you can get a tree in next spring.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bald Cypress - no leaf raking (almost)

it is this time of year when gathering leaves is added to your chore list. however, if you had a yard full of bald cypress it would be greatly reduced. notice the small leaflets (my word). each individual piece drops to the ground and most are blown away unless you have fences or other obstacles. and then they are a little bother.
but the biggest asset is the graceful effect these delicate leaves create unlike any tree we have in our landscaping pallette. i can't imagine the impact of 3 grouped together. i'm planning to in a clients backyard next year.
this is the same tree found in florida's everglades. because of this attribute i have been told they sop up water in poor drainage areas. this one i have to verify with KSU extension. i'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Old House Gardens -- Heirloom Bulbs

When you want to get serious about your bulbs, you must check out
and by serious i mean willing to pay $5.00 for a rare tulip which has been documented as introduced to commerce in 1857. there are cheaper bulbs but for rest of us hungry gardeners its just a trip.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Missouri Botanical Garden Clock

there is a long history to the floral clock. it was invented by Carl Linnaeus, the same man who created the botanical name system. i have seen examples at Disneyland and Edinburgh, Scotland,the land of my forebearers. i'm eager to see the example at right in the Missouri Botanical Garden at St. Louis. few people are aware that MOBOT is one of the best in the world. check it out!

Best Garden Plants For Kansas Book

my wife purchased this nifty little book for me last year. the pages are nicely color coded and one page is dedicated to each plant. it's an excellent 101 tool for beginners and a great brainstorming tool foe the more accomplished gardener. it is co-written by a wichita master gardener so you can trust the information in oor area.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

American Meadow Wildflower Seeds

I have a small slope area in my backyard with a small retaining wall at the bottom. Even though its covered in landscape fabric and mulch I have terrible erosion on the sidewalk next to the wall. I have concluded the only thing to do is to get some roots in the ground ASAP. So I'm seriously considering wildflowers.
I have found an excellent source at They have a very easy option to get to different regions. For the midwest, they have a mix as well as individual seed packets including one of my favorites Echinacea pallidia pictured above. So I'd like to start this fall but simply have too many fall projects, so I'll wait until next spring.

Patrick's Picks -- Annuals

Patrick’s Picks: Versatile Annuals for Bedding and Contaners

Annual plants can provide a wealth of flowers and color impact in your garden quite inexpensively during this tough economy. I had personal experience with gardening on a tight budget when during my childhood I used my allowance to buy annuals. Since I couldn't afford perennials, I had no idea what I was missing. But consider using annuals on their own merit when you need fast growth and color in your garden.
‘Boxwood’ Basil was bred in France for a highly flavored pesto ingredient. But Alan Stevens of Kansas State Extension believes Boxwood’s real value is as an excellent ornamental plant. “Boxwood is a great new plant for the gardener’s palette,” says Stevens. “It has enormous potential for use in a variety of garden designs. It may become a “line” plant in geometric garden designs much like its woody namesake. As a bonus, it also has the aromatic basil scent

‘Calico’ and ‘Purple Flash’ are two new ornamental peppers hitting the market in 2009. Calico is unique with its leaves of white, purple and green while Purple Flash has primarily bright purple leaves with contrasting flecks of white color. “While Black Pearl has been a model of good vigor and dramatic foliage; it now has company with the introduction of Calico and Purple Flash,” says Stevens. “Both of these new ornamental peppers are highly branched, vigorous plants of great color.” Calico comes in at 12-14 inches wide by 14-16 inches high and Purple Flash comes in slightly largerCalico comes in at 12-14 inches wide by 14-16 inches high and Purple Flash comes in slightly larger.

Gary Leuckenotto of Rosehill Landscaping works with outstanding clients such as the Country Club Plaza and Town Centre Plaza. Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ in pots or as a ground cover sports cascading silver foliage resilient to foot traffic. In sun or in partial shade locations, this variety develops into a 3”- 4” high plant with a spread of 2’ in a typical growing season. "We have been looking for a border plant to provide contrast and durability while not overwhelming container arrangements. This is a gem as it behaves and does not look “tired” midway through the growing season " Gary says ‘Silver Falls’ was displayed beautifully as a curbside edging last season at Ruth Island on the Country Club Plaza, located at Wyandotte and Nichols Road.

‘Big’ Series Begonia performs in sun or partial shade with waxy, bronze-green leaves and pink-coral blooms as large as golf balls. This 2-1/2- to 3-foot plant works well in both garden soil or containers and doesn't need the dead heading of spent blossoms. You can use this Begonia with Diamond Frost Euphorbia and Scaevola for a fantastic pot combination. "The coral-pink is our favorite in the series,” explains Leuckenotto. “It does not have a washed-out bloom color and blends with other colors in borders much better than the red-orange of typical Dragon Wing Begonias.”Leuckenotto predicts that the “Big” Series Begonias will be a popular choice this season. “We did not have a large supply of the “Big” Begonias in 2008, but with their proven performance this year as centerpieces in pots we plan to step up their quantities considerably in 2009" he said.

potato A true breeding breakthrough from my native Australia is Ptilotus ‘Joey'. Rita Arnold of Arnold Greenhouses in Leroy, KS describes ‘Joey’ as “an annual flower sporting a compact habit of 12-18" wide and the same around. The large conical flower spikes are glistening silver with darker neon pink color near the tips.” Arnold says, “This variety performs well as an accent in combinations such as Eucalyptus cinerea, Pentas 'Butterfly Light Lavender’, and Salvia 'Evolution'.”

All six of these annuals provide the versatility of use as a container or bedding plant. Consider using these varieties in both containers and as bedding plants in the same garden to provide a repetition of bloom and foliage. So use your budgeted dollars wisely for annuals this season and pray for our economy to turn around by next spring in time for larger investments of perennials and beyond.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Patrick's Picks: Cut Flowers 09

If you are looking for ways to stretch your limited dollars this year, you may want to consider learning the potential of a simple packet of flower seeds. One packet can supply bucket loads of high-quality cut flowers to grace your family home and provide friends with unexpected surprises all summer long.

Renee Shepherd has been running the specialty seed company Renee’s Gardens since 1997. I have long admired their cut flower offering and the beautiful illustrations on the seed packets as seen in area garden centers. As you can imagine, Shepherd reviews many new introductions before offering in her catalog. This season two of the most exciting are new varieties of classic cut flowers.

‘Apricot Blush’ zinnias sport gorgeous quality cut flowers in soft hues of apricot- rose through salmon-blush. Their densely petaled flowers make beautiful and long-lasting bouquets when they are continually cut through the season. Apricot Blush is a selection of the famous Benary's Giant zinnias, known for superb garden performance in tough summer conditions. The multi-branched, 31⁄2 foot tall plants yield armfuls of long-stemmed flowers perfect for eye-catching garden displays all season long. Renee says “the soft and subtle color changes as the flowers unfold making them especially beautiful for bouquets."

Ever since I saw them waving in the opening frames of “The Color Purple", I have been intrigued how such a delicate flower can appear on such a rigorous growing plant. June Dancing Petticoats Specialty Cosmos takes this simple daisy and creates a new level of the load days ago and I name the new think you a mud bulletin boards at 99 and is known for it's about to get those pictures of the mall sophistication for this old-fashioned favorite.

Renee’s Garden’s custom blend of special cosmos dance and sway above lacy foliage. We've combined "Seashells," with dainty tubular petals, "Psyche," whose semidouble frilled blossoms are like softly ruffled crowns, and "Versailles," the aristocratic florist cosmos with perfect form and rich color. Dancing Petticoats paint a color collage of apple blossom pink, deep magenta, soft rose and pure white, some with deeper colored centers. These easy-care, 3 ½ - 4 feet tall flowers bloom nonstop throughout the summer. I love them for casual but romantic, country bouquet."

The last recommendation from Renee’s Garden is an outstanding new Monardo named ‘Bergamo.’ This plant has intense, rose-purple flower spikes whose blossoms whirl in clusters around the stems. Bergamo flowers earlier and longer than any other Monarda varieties. Plants are compact, 2 1/2 feet tall, heat-tolerant and mildew resistant. Renee says "These lovely flowers are true butterfly magnets, bloom abundantly for several months and make wonderful bouquets. ‘Bergamo’ is a beautiful new cultivar of old-fashioned cottage garden flowers."

Closer to home, Alan Stevens of Kansas State University highly recommends
Cramer’s Burgundy Crested Celosia. "This impressive plant exhibits excellent vigor, great stem length and strength; with large, bright burgundy colored, deeply textured flowers." The fresh stems have a 7-10 day vase life and excellent dried flower qualities. The center bloom reaches 4-5 inches across with many more versatile side stems. With approximately 15 to 20 stems, this variety is a strong work horse in the cutting garden.

Stevens surprisingly recommends Rocket Cherry Snapdragon. Stereotypically a cooler season annual, "this is one of the most heat tolerant snapdragons we have tested in our K-State trials. We have planted them out in May and had them bloom all summer. The stems must be harvested or cut back a little more than just deadheading to keep them productive. At 32 inches tall by 16 inches wide, the 8-12 inch cherry red flower spikes sit on top of high quality, strong stems with excellent vase life.

Frequent, light applications of nitrogen fertilizer are required for all these annual cut flowers to keep them producing new flowering stems and for the stems to grow to an optimal length. And come late July when you have some great specimens, you may consider exhibiting at area flower shows or even the Missouri State to, if you're feeling kind of cocky.. Just bring your entry and a clear tall vase to the show and organizers will help you prepare your flower for exhibition. A word of warning, after you enter your first show your competitiveness may bloom into a wonderful new obsession.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Welcome to My Garden

Thanks for visiting, home of Patrick's Picks column in Kansas City Gardener. The objective of my columns, website and blog is to provide bite-sized information for today's fast-paced communications consumer.

See Menu at right for locations to find the freely-distributed Kansas City Gardener and a listing of retailers who strive to stock my selections. Please bookmark this site for major upgrades including chatrooms, an extensive library of Kansas City specific garden articles and a weekly newsletter. I encourage you to send comments to improve the site from the link at the bottom of each page.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Excellent Strawberry Flavor

It has been years since I last grew strawberries. But on one side of my walk way in the backyard there is a perfect spot for a ground cover. So if I'm going to give that space to a ground cover, why not hand it over to one that will give me fruit as well. So I contacted Kansas State extension, to find out the best rated varieties. Sorkel Kadir wrote an excellent Horticulture Report in 2003 where 'Earliglow' and 'Sparkle' were the only varieties to receive an excellent flavor designation. So I bought 25 'Earliglow' plants from Stark Brothers and I am looking forward to the results.
For more information, check out:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners

I just discovered a valuable website for those of
you vegetable heads. This site is from Cornell University. You just input a variety name and you'll find a chat room that provides feedback about that particular plant. Today, they have over 5000 varieties. It is interesting that the top 10 rated varieties are all tomatoes. The top variety, Sungold is pictured on the left. So anyway take a look at Enjoy!