Feb 07 2016

News from Kruse
by Angie

Filed under Kruse House

Since our Kruse garden is covered by snow and at rest till spring, I will give you my thoughts for my own garden in the coming year.

Many of us during these months are looking at garden catalogues and ordering plants for that wonderful garden we imagine will be ours in the coming summer. But think. Why aren’t garden catalogues sent out in the early fall when we would have more time to order, maybe place an order for gardening friends for Christmas? It’s because in the winter we’re rested from yard work, we are anxious for a flower. We don’t remember the unpruned shrubs, the straggly plants, the failed annuals. We don’t remember that we were too disinterested, tired, busy last August to water or weed. In winter we are at our weakest and the beautiful pictures in the catalogues and the plants soon to appear at the garden centers are luring us.

It’s time to get a grip. Remember last year, the plants we ordered from the catalogues. In spring they seemed to arrive too early, almost all at once, packaged well in tiny containers, very delicate looking, and usually half the size we expected. I planted mine here and there just to get them in the ground before they totally wilted away, having long forgotten where they were to go in that garden of mine.

So now I’ve put away the garden catalogues. I pulled out some great garden books and magazines. My favorite garden magazine is the “English Garden”. It has beautiful pictures of many perennial garden borders that are very doable. To me “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This magazine is one of six garden magazine subscriptions that our garden club buys for our library. Many of the plants featured are very familiar to us. The gardens are planted in a way that I try to emulate, though not often with success. So this year I am not ordering plants now. Instead I have a list of five things that I will do that I know will make gardening less labor intensive for me and give me a fairly presentable garden. These are also the five points that make the gardens in the magazine so lovely.

No. 1 Remove All Debris

All debris should be removed as early as possible in the spring, hopefully in early April before the weeds sprout aggressively. All branches, old flower stalks, etc. should be cut down and raked up.

No. 2 Prune, Tidy, Mulch

Now is the time to look with a critical eye at my garden and be very brutal. I will prune those lopsided bushes, prune low-hanging tree branches that hit me in the head as I walk by. I will dig out those plants that never looked good—that straggly rose, the over-grown perennials, plants that looked messy, collapsed, those that need to be babied (who has the time,) plants that I hoped might recover and miraculously perform? Hope does not spring eternal in the NEAT garden. I will then mulch as much as possible. This part of the early work is the hardest, but done well, brings in later months the most satisfaction—a good appearance, healthy plants, and less weeds.

No.3 Edge the Beds

I will use a shovel to dig out a shallow ditch between the border and the lawn. This will give a very finished appearance. After this chore I will have time for a bit of relaxation because if I do nothing else the garden will already look very fine. It will be neat and tidy.

No. 4 Repetition of Perennials and Shrubs

A great garden will always have a repetition of plants. Look at the beautiful gardens and notice. I like perennials tightly planted so there is little room for weeds. Our gardens are usually not large enough to have too many varieties of plants. A few varieties in groups of three or more, repeated throughout the border work well. Too many varieties end up looking like a miss-mash with no cohesion or a place for the eye to rest. The garden has to flow. The same is true for the shrubs in a border.

No. 5 Buy Plants for the Location

A plant for sun needs sun. A dry location is not swampy after a rain. I probably do not need many new plants if I divide what I have and re-position others into a better location. To get the tightly planted look I will seed annuals directly into the open spaces. I like the annuals weaving in between perennials, providing summer color. Some annuals that do well seeded directly in the soil are zinnia, marigold, larkspur, California poppy, to name a few. I like cosmos between tall grasses.

These five points are my thoughts and plan that I will try to follow in 2016 to make my garden more care-free and looking put-together. My aim is to start early and be done by Memorial Day. I remember my mother on many a Memorial Day looking at the plants that I hadn’t as yet planted, so satisfied that her zinnias and old-fashion petunias were seeded weeks before. She would give me her best gardening advice: “Green is a color” and especially, “LESS IS MORE.”

Feb 02 2016

From the Program Coordinators Desk

Filed under Uncategorized

January Recap: the first GC educational program in January, by R. Hentschel, on trees, reminded us how to plant a tree (useful information for April 29, Arbor Day, when I hope you all plant a tree) and information on invasive trees like barberry, burning bush, and Bradford Pears. The audience raised good questions, offering an opportunity for members to learn from each other as well as our speaker. I received 25 (37 attendees) evaluation forms back. 19 were marked “very satisfied” and many very helpful comments were included.

February Program: ‘The People and Nature Perspective’ by Peggy Doty

  • U of I Extension professional staff
  • Extension Educator, Boone/DeKalb/Ogle Unit
  • Expert in: environmental education, composting and vermicomposting, river ecology, recycling and solid waste, and wildlife management
  • Peggy received her Bachelor of Science degree in zoology with a specialization in wildlife management from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She received her Master’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University. She specialized in Outdoor Teacher Education, Curriculum, and Instruction.
  • Prior to her position as a Unit Educator for Boone, DeKalb and Ogle counties, she was the Natural Resources Educator for DeKalb County for 12 years.

Peggy’s talk about people and nature was reviewed in a “Wild Ones” newsletter as follows: “Her presentation was most enjoyable not only because of its content but also because of her humorous delivery. The title of her presentation was “The People and Nature Perspective.” One of her main points was about food chain restoration. She talked about the need to supply our native pollinators the native food they evolved with if we want to sustain our own food supply. She urged us to plant for more than just ourselves, i.e. plant native plants that support our native pollinators that in turn support the food chain. We are building a food chain. She says, if you plant natives, they will come, and then others will come. This was an inspiring message.”

Humorous, educational, inspiring, what more could you ask for in a talk?! Please come, I know you will enjoy it.

Added incentive: Peggy released a number of adult Monarch butterflies last year. If you come closest to identifying the correct number you will win a prize.

The plan: our GC schedule allows for 9 educational programs per year (2 meetings are social … presidents picnic in July and potluck/ auction in November). I gathered information on desired topics for programs from the 33 member surveys completed last fall. I’m focusing on providing programs that match your interest. However, there are so many aspects to each subject that we could have a whole series just to cover one topic. For example; The topic “perennials” cold be presented as a program about the most resilient, or a speaker might structure the talk on best color combinations or how to make a Perennial border. Another might focus on sun/shade perennials. The possibilities are numerous! The trick is to find the best match for our club considering what speakers/topics are available, what haven’t we covered in past years, and what is realistic in terms of cost. I will do my level best to find great programs.

Help me by giving me feedback following each presentation. The comments will be very helpful.

Program coordinator, Billie Childress, billiedc@sbcglobal.net, cell 630-862-1213 or text.

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