Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Logger Calls Himself A "Forest Gardener"

In September 2010's issue of Family Handyman , there's a great story about Tim Carroll, an old-fashioned horse-logging operator in Minnesota. Working with clients to reduce the amount of construction impact on building sites, Carroll uses horses to haul away logs instead of modern tractors.
"Conventional logging calls for skid loaders. they not only tear up the woods but also require a lot of trees to be cut down for manuevering room. The horses, on the other hand, just leave a nice, long trail of road apples, and luckily, the remaining trees appreciate those." ~ Trace Larsen
Tim Carroll, a woodworker who also builds custom cabinets says about his work, "We're not loggers - we're forest gardeners."

Logging with Hoof and Heart

Cedar River Horse Logging

Studies Show That Plant Enzymes Prevent Skin Cancer

Great news for all of you sun worshippers in Florida: Scientists have found certain combinations of plant compounds can prevent skin cancer. The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio is conducting research with red grapes, that is proving to be successful at preventing skin cancer in mice.

"On the basis of our research, supplements and creams or sunscreens may be developed, tested in humans and then used to prevent skin cancer," said Zbigniew Walaszek, Ph.D., research associate professor of pharmacology at the Health Science Center.
The plant substances are being tested in SENCAR mice, which because of genetic manipulation are sensitive to skin cancer initiation and promotion/progression. The natural agents include resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, and grape seed extract. Others are calcium D-glucarate, a salt of D-glucaric acid, present in many fruits and vegetables and also the bloodstream, and ellagic acid, found in a host of berries and in walnuts.

Skin cancer affects over a million people a year. Finding a preventative would be certainly be miraculous.

Hurricane Earl

An awesome photograph of Hurricane Earl from outer space taken by NASA Astronaut Douglas Wheelock. Will Hurricane Earl threaten Florida gardens? At this time, it looks like we will just be subjected to rain and 15-foot waves on our coast. But, this time of the year, you should always be prepared for hurricanes. Hurricane Fiona is right behind Earl.

You can follow Doug Wheelock's tweets and more beautiful photographs on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lechuza, A New Choice For Garden Containers

Choosing garden containers for Florida's hot summers takes some forethought if you're going to be sustainable and keep your plants thriving.

With our high evapotranspiration in our subtropical and tropical climate,and if they choose a clay pot or a planter that allows the soil to dry out quickly, Florida gardeners can find themselves watering their container gardens once a day. But new European designed pots may be the secret to never having to be afraid to leave your flowers in your container gardens high and dry.

Lechuza, a division of Playmobil, a worldwide corporation and yes, the maker of world-famous traditional children's toys, has created an intelligent self-watering planter for container gardens inside and outside your home.

Using the plant's natural root growth to create a sub-irrigation system of wicking water up through the plant's root system, Lechuza planters outdoors can depend on rainfall during Florida's rainy season without worrying that your container gardens will need constant attention. Establishing your plants first before leaving them to Mother Nature is critical but once that is done, Lechuza planters seem to be very low maintenance and water conserving.

The Lechuza Factory Outlet in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida has a wide array of modern and cottage containers to choose from. All of Lechuza's self-watering planters come with a pure mineral alternative to soil called Lechuza-Pons, an organic plant substrate created with pumice, zeolite, lava, and fertilizer. Added either to soil or used alone, Lechuza Pons will help your container plants thrive with little need to worry about fertilizing.

Lechuza's award-winning designs include classical lines, urban design, and cottage simplicity for every garden theme. The planters are made of durable plastic that can withstand heat without fading for a look of elegance for pool patios or your very own backyard botanical garden.

I couldn't resist purchasing a purple Cubico for my beautiful pink and green Calathea. It looks like a piece of furniture in our home and can now look out the window and receive great eastern exposure. Before it was in a porcelain pot placed on the floor. It is thriving with its new container.

Prices range from $30 for interior table top and herb container gardens through $180 for larger containers suitable for palms and smaller trees.

Pretty impressive for a toy manufacturer. Those of us who have handed down our Playmobil sets to our grandchildren to play with, know what quality toys Playmobil makes. Creating a beautiful, durable self-watering garden container with the same ingenuity and integrity, I'm looking forward to handing down my Lechuza planters to my grandchildren that will hold great memories of gardening with me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

California's Climate Change Fails Crops

Low-pressure systems in southern California during June and July and a cyclonic phenomenon called the "Catalina eddy effect" have increased inland cloud conditions keeping summer temperatures cooler. Except for the mountain ranges and desert regions, Southern California has experienced below normal temperatures since April.

For gardeners and farms that cooler season has prevented fruits and vegetables from ripening. Jill Morganelli, horticulture curator at the Los Angeles County Arboretum noted:
"The fruits and vegetables, the tomatoes and a lot of the citrus and things like raspberries are not ripening up because it's not getting hot long enough," she said, adding that some fruit could taste less sweet because less sun means less sugar content.

Morganalli said she has picked just one fully ripened tomato so far from her own summer garden.
Read more: Temperatures continue well below average in Southern California - Whittier Daily News

More climate change news:

Record Cold at LAX

Free Guide To Identifying Southern Invasive Plants

The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station has created a free pdf download of invasive plant species, “A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests.”

The book is a more comprehensive identification guide to nonnative trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns and forbs invading the region’s forests and other natural areas. The revised guide includes 23 more plant species with updated information on the original 33 species; 241 new photos and images and a new “Resembles” section so users can identify plant “look-alikes.”

The book’s appendix contains the most complete list of nonnative invasive plants in the 13 Southern states, providing common and scientific names for 310 other invading species including, for the first time, aquatic plant invaders.

Complete with color high density photographs, it takes a few minutes to download or you can email:

To: pubrequest@fs.fed.us
Subject: Publication Request
In email, type: Please send me: A field guide for the identification of invasive plants in southern forests (GTR-SRS-119) by Miller, James H.; Chambliss, Erwin B.; Loewenstein, Nancy J.
This publication should be in every Master Gardener Clinic, County Extension office, Master Naturalist, eco-tourism guide, and environmentalist's library. The pdf is an updated version of their original publication from 2003.

Leading Botanists To Speak At Garden Museum

Horticultural Week announced that South Africa's leading botanist Prof. Braam van Wyk, will be speaking on South Africa's Highveld Grasslands at the Garden Museum, London in September.

We have great memories of the 17th century Museum of Garden History, as it was formerly called. On our honeymoon, nearly five years ago, we discovered the hidden treasure in the Church of St. Mary-at-Lamberth near the Thames River and Westminster Palace. The former church and yard is small, with a cemetary that honors the buried Sir. John Transcendant and Captain Bligh, both important in horticulture. If you have the chance to visit, dont' miss this gardening jewel. Now that it's been renovated, I can't wait to go back and see the exhibitions.

You can see the enlarged photographs here: The History Of Gardening Museum, London, England

Road to Bali and Moonflowers

I'm always on the lookout for flower and gardening references in movies and commercials. I was thrilled to discover one of my favorite blooming flowers in the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope "On the Road" movie marathon this weekend. In "The Road To Bali" there was a great song about the exotic fragrant moonflowers.

Growing moonflowers is easy. Either find moonflowers in seed packets at the garden center or find someone with moonflowers. The seed pods are plentiful. You'll never need to buy moonflower seeds again. Make sure you soak the seed pod overnight and score the hard shell with a knife before planting. They will emerge quickly and seem to grow overnight to about 8 to 10 feet tall. This is a wonderful plant for children as it combines human senses; large, white flower that literally blossoms in front of your eyes for sight, heady perfume for smell, and it opens at night.

Moonflowers in "The Road To Bali" should be the clue that this annual vine will freeze in cold weather. But finding the flowers in bloom and seed now will allow you to save them for next spring.

You can hear Dorothy Lamour singing the song here.

From the film "Road To Bali" (1952)(Johnny Burke / Jimmy Van Heusen)
Romance comes with the moonflowers.
Tonight the moonflowers will be in bloom.
Love walks among the moonflowers.
I planted moonflowers outside my room.
I'll watch the path that winds by the wishing tree.
It ends beneath my window and there I'll be.
And there I'll wait for the love I longed for
Tonight the moonflowers may bloom anew.
(Orchestral Interlude)
I'll watch the path that winds by the wishing tree.
It ends beneath my window and there I'll be.
And there I'll wait for the love I long for
Tonight the moonflowers may bloom anew.