A full day at the office

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Published in Arkansas Gardening

It doesn’t happen all too often, but as we get into the countdown for the state conference, we try to block time to spend at the office.There are so many last-minute details to think of and things to do. But my job doesn’t begin and end with the MG program, I still have columns to write, emails, letters and phone calls to handle, so it was good to have a full day at the office.I did do a lot of things for the conference today, but I also wrote 2  1/2 columns and hopefully will finish the other 1  and 1/2 tomorrow. I did a Powerpoint for Saturday and answered phone calls and emails. When you are busy the day flies by. It gives you a sense of accomplishment to wrap up so many loose ends.

It did not get quite as hot today as it was yesterday, and in spite of the torrents of rain last week, I did water for a few minutes tonight before I left for an event. I focused mainly on newly planted annuals, perennials and vegetables and containers.My lime trees are coming along nicely and I hope to have some limes some day. 

My water lilies are blooming and the lotus is beginning to put on more foliage.  I also have blooms on the aucuba–they are small but they are flowers!  The naked lady lycoris have already gone dormant, so they should be back up and blooming in about 6 weeks.  The gardens really look good right now. All of our rain and early growing season have us off to a great start.Let’s hope the trend continues!


The kitchen is coming along nicely and we get floors tomorrow in three rooms. I did help move a few things out, but Clay did the bulk of it. It won’t be long now before it is done! Then it will take time to move everything back in.The painting for the most part is done and after the floors, we have back splash, a little trim, cabinet doors, knobs and pulls and final lights over the island.   Can you tell I like color?


I spent 80% of the day at the office. I did get two more columns written. I also worked on the Italy trip, another PowerPoint and wrapped up more loose ends for the conference. I made a Sam’s run this afternoon to get supplies that are needed, plus went and looked at a tree that has issues.My final stop was Good Earth nursery to scout out where our buses will park. I visited with Jennifer and we got it all figured out.  If you saw the nursery today you would be impressed with their vast array of plants.   You would not suspect that a week ago they were flooded with plants sailing across Highway 10! They have made a very impressive recovery and are quite excited to welcome the Master Gardeners. Don’t forget that every day they give a 10% discount if you show your MG card.

It warmed up today and air conditioning was required when I walked in the house. The folks were a bit late to arrive this afternoon to lay the floors and they got hot too. They had an earlier job that ran over so they will finish tomorrow morning.What they have done so far looks fantastic.  Tonight with the help of the kids we did get the family room sort of put back together, except for the coffee table, which Clay broke last night moving. A new one will be available for pick-up on Friday! Each day we move one day closer!

Another busy day at the office and all day it has been promising rain, but it looks like rain is on it’s way. According to the forecast it should continue part of tomorrow as well. I hope we have no more flooding!

There are a lot of events coming up besides the state MG conference which starts May 20 with the pre-tour.

Tomorrow night St.Joseph Center of Arkansas is hosting its second annual Lettuce Grow Fundraiser 6:00pm until 9:00pm on the grounds of its historic campus at 6800 Camp Robinson Road in North Little Rock.This event will support St.Joseph’s mission to preserve the historical building while continuing sustainable farming and community outreach.

Join us to celebrate the opening of St.Joseph’s Farm Stand and spring planting of the gardens.Lettuce Grow will feature dinner with Chef Matt Bell of South on Main and will include libations, tours of the building, a silent auction, and live music.Also, adding to the evening will be an art show including artists Kevin Kresse, Jennifer Wilson, Steven Rockwell and V.L.Cox.Janet Carson, gardener and author, will be available to sign copies of her new book.

St.Joseph Center of Arkansas is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed to preserve the former St.Joseph Orphanage which is on the National Historic Register.Through the efforts of SJCA, St.Joseph Center will return to its original roots as a self-sustaining farm.Instead of supporting an orphanage, the 56,000 sq.ft.building and 63 acre property will continue to serve and support the community through art, farming, agritourism, and agricultural education.

Tickets to Lettuce Grow are $50 in advance/$65 at the door and are available online at Evenbrite.com or by calling (501)993-4560. Come join us.

Then Saturday are more MG plant sales–two large ones are Faulkner County (Conway) and Van Buren County (Fairfield Bay). I will be speaking at Conway this year.


A long, full day

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Published in Arkansas Gardening

It was a gloomy, rainy day. I started off with our annual termite inspection and then I worked on state conference, had several meetings, with the last one ending at 4.

I did have time to make a stop at Merilyn’s garden.It is one of the homes on our tour and we had some committee stuff to discuss so I got a bonus early garden tour. Her  garden is amazing!   She has so many unique trees and shrubs, along with perennials.I am coveting this variegated pomegranate.

I made it home with time to freshen up before heading out to the old St.Joseph orphanage for their annual fund-raiser event.I was there with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette doing a book signing and we saw so many old friends and made some new. The event was slated to be outside, but because of the weather, they redirected and moved everything indoors.   They opened their farm stall tonight and had plenty of produce. They had a silent auction and live music along with food and drink.I think everyone had a good time, but I didn’t get to walk the gardens.By the time we got everything unloaded it was dark, and I made it home by 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow is the Faulkner and Van Buren County plant sales. No wonder it rained today!LOL!

I did get to cook a meal in my almost finished kitchen last night.Nothing fancy, but one of my favorites–a potato, corn, and egg saute over fresh greens from the garden.Not only was it tasty, but it felt good to be able to cook in my own kitchen. 

The River Valley MG training is a full week of classes.They are completing all 40 hours in one full week.I spoke all morning on ornamentals and this class of 20 men and women was full of questions. They are eager to learn and I think will be a great addition to the River Valley program.  Not only did they have questions for me, but they were very engaged getting to know each other.I left them as they were about to eat their lunch. It was bright and sunny in Fort Smith but raining as I neared LR. I, for one, am about done with rain for a bit! It was also quite cold today. When I got up they said the temperature was 44 but with the wind chill it felt like 39 and it is MAY! It only got up to 60 degrees in LR and all the men working on the house were in sweatshirts today it was so cold. And just a day or two ago it was in the 80’s! Weird, weird weather.

There were many more storms throughout Arkansas yesterday and once again trees are down, including many small branches in my yard but this large tree in my neighborhood. You can see the obvious decay in the tree from an old wound. This makes trees much more susceptible to falling apart in a storm.

It finally stopped raining early evening and I did walk outside. My potato plants are not looking good–too much rain maybe. The hellebores have about finished making seeds and the seed heads are beginning to open and scatter seeds.

The pineapple guava plants are producing an abundant amount of blooms  with many more buds to bloom.  My pomegranates are also blooming.They produce two types of flowers–male and hermaphroditic (perfect) blooms. The top bloom which is fuller or more vase-shaped is the perfect bloom containing male and female parts while the more bell-shaped bloom is the male bloom and will fall without producing a fruit.Better production will occur with multiple plants, but I only have one and am hoping to see some fruit this year.


Rain and Planning

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Published in Arkansas Gardening

Rain was predicted today and they nailed it.It was sunny as I left LR but the skies quickly turned darker. I was meeting the tour committee in Altus to look at potential pre-tour options for 2018. I made it to Chateau Aux Arc a bit early and I am glad I did. I pulled in and parked and it was cloudy.  and within 5 minutes the skies opened up and it poured rain along with lightning, thunder and marble-sized hail.  Luckily the heavy rain did not last long and by the time everyone had arrived it was just lightly raining. We met with folks at Chateau Aux Arc, Wiederkehr and Post. All have great options for us.  Then we went to Subiaco and met with their head gardener and learned about options there. They had some of the most spectacular Gloxinia I have ever seen.  Driving back towards Fort Smith we stopped in at a long running family owned azalea and Japanese maple nursery –Cardin Harris nursery.  We were also told by many that we needed to go to Nanna’s Iris garden in Charleston. So we did and met with the most wonderful gardener.  Then it was back to the Learning Fields.I had time to check in to my hotel and catch up on phone calls and emails before our committee chair meeting tonight. Things are coming together.

Tomorrow morning I speak for their new MG training class before heading back home. Let’s hope the rain clears out and the temperatures warm up just a bit.It was cold today and very wet!

I had a half of a day at the office and it felt like 10 minutes. We have a lot of last minute details to wrap up for the state conference, and it was a flurry of phone calls, emails and meetings before I had to leave for Garvan to tape our monthly tv spots. The rain and wind this past week had many of the lingering blooms on azaleas and dogwoods knocked off, but the later blooming deutzia, roses and leucothoe were filling in. 

Many perennials were in bloom with a whole host of bees, butterflies and other insects hovering.

The stand of verbena bonarensis just gets bigger and bigger and does not stop blooming.  Some of the more drought-tolerant perennials were a bit worse-for-wear with all this rain.I have a milkweed that is toppling and this yarrow is sprawling too much as well.

The Garland County Master Gardeners have done themselves proud with the Southern Inspiration Garden.It looks amazing and has the most color of any part of the garden.  It was a beautiful day to be in the garden, but it was much warmer than yesterday (and this morning).It has definitely been a weird weather pattern so far this year.

I made it home to a new experience.They have taped and draped the whole upstairs in preparation for spraying trim tomorrow.    We are painting additional rooms since walls have been knocked out. It was a maze navigating upstairs.I had to go downstairs and up to the deck to have access to my refrigerator and Clay had to do the same to get to his TV! But I do have a sink and RUNNING WATER and my stove top and hood are in. There is light at the end of the tunnel.   Each day is an adventure, but it has really not been bad and I have a great crew of guys working for us!    I will miss the spraying tomorrow as I head north to Fort Smith for a couple of days!

We had a very enjoyable time at the 2017 Texas State MG Conference aboard a cruise ship out of Galveston. There were over 600 Master Gardeners from all over Texas along with about 15 from Arkansas and one from Michigan.The two days the ship was at sea were loaded with educational events and the room was packed for all seminars as well as the opening welcoming session.  The Texas Extension Director was in attendance at all events and was the welcoming speaker. I had a great time presenting Garden Inspiration from Travel yesterday afternoon.I did a similar topic once many years ago, but I added a lot to it.It brought back a lot of good memories of all our MG adventures and I believe it was well-received.

At meals the we could change seats each meal as long as we sat at a MG table, so we got to visit with a lot of great volunteers from all across Texas as well as our Arkansas folks. I always think you learn as much from networking with other volunteers and agents as you do from the educational sessions.

Our day in Cozumel was on our own.The ship offered a wide range of tours or you could stay on the boat or just explore on your own. Many of ours did the latter and explored close to the ship. Some of us did the ruins and city tour, while others went snorkeling, dune-buggying and more. 

Last night the crew entertained us for our last meal.

We had to pack up and have our bags out before we went to bed.We had a beautiful sunset for our last night and a gorgeous sunrise as we headed into port at Galveston this morning.  For the Texas folks many were staying another day to do their awards luncheon in Galveston along with some garden tours, so they unloaded a bit earlier than we did.

The cruise lines have this loading and unloading down to a science.We were supposed to be off by 9:45 a.m.and we were done by 9 a.m.and on our shuttle headed to the airport by 10. It was an easy flight home and I was walking in the door by 5 p.m. I think we were lucky to be flying today and not yesterday.Many folks were still catching up from cancelled flights yesterday due to weather.We saw a lot of flooding from the air as we were landing. I can’t believe how much rain we got while I was gone. There were small branches all over the yard but overall the plants looked great. I have tons of lettuce and I also harvested some peas, green onions and broccoli is ready too.

Our office was closed today because of no power. Not sure if it will be back on by early tomorrow. I have seen so many posts on Facebook about flooding across our state and more rain is predicted!

It is good to be home and the kitchen is coming along.Tomorrow I head to Garvan Gardens in the afternoon to tape TV and I am off to Fort Smith Wed and Thursday for state planning and MG training.


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