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Category Archives: Spring

Poppies

The poppies have been beautiful this year at The Raincatcher’s Garden.  Each plant has a story. The plant starts life as a seed, which germinates and grows into a plant. The mature plant produces flowers, which are fertilised and produce seeds in a fruit or seedpod. When it dies, seeds are left behind which germinate to produce new plants.

We thought you might want to see a few poppy pictures, as a part of their story.

Poppy Bud Ready to Open

 

Poppy close up 2016 008

Pink Peony Poppy

When the petals fall away, it’s time to collect the seeds.  The foliage turns grey and the seed pod becomes brownish. Wait for the seed pod to become ripe. The top of the pod opens and the seeds readily fall-1,00’s of them. The life cycle of the poppy begins again.

Ann

Pictures by Starla and Ann

Poppy Culture: Next October be sure to plant  poppy seeds in a sunny, well drained spot. Water them to keep the seed bed slightly moist if the weather is dry. You will be rewarded for many years to come with poppies in your garden.

We are collecting seeds to share from our pink peony poppies. We hope you will visit our garden.

 

 

Spring at Raincatcher’s Garden 2016

“A little Madness in the Spring is wholesome even for the King.”
― Emily Dickinson

Take a walk with us through our garden to see some of our spring madness!

'Annelinde' peony-type tulip

‘Annelinde’ peony-type tulip

Iris 'Frothingslosh'

Iris ‘Frothingslosh’

Peach Tree Bloom

Peach Tree Bloom

Pear Tree Bloom

Pear Tree Bloom

Plum Tree Bloom

Plum Tree Bloom

Ground Orchid, Bletilla striata Blooming in our Courtyard

Ground Orchid, Bletilla striata Blooming in our Courtyard

Cultivate Garden Thoughts by reviewing:

Our Orchard Varieties listed on the right, front page under Raincatcher’s Resources

Blooming Bulbs 

Daffodils, Jonquils, Narcissus

If you are like me, you have fallen in love with the Pink Tulip and Ground Orchid shown above.  Order them for your garden and help ours. The Raincatcher’s Garden receives a portion of your order at Brent And Becky’s fundraising site Bloomin’ Buck$ (www.bloominbucks.com).

Ann

Pictures by Starla

 

 

Orchid Heaven

Friday, June 5th, More than a dozen Master Gardeners from The Raincatcher’s Garden visited the Tarrant County Demonstration Garden for helpful ideas and then traveled to D&B Orchids, the Orchid Greenhouse run by Dr. Dotty Woodson and her husband, Berry Woodson.

We were overcome by the sight of approximately 8,000 orchids and the botany lessons taught by Dotty that day.

Meet some of the stars of our visit to D&B Orchids.

 Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis

It was intoxicating. Orchids everywhere!  This purple orchid was growing out of a pot, one of many, hanging from the rafters of the greenhouse.

Vanda

Vanda

And just when you thought you had found your favorite, another would steal the show.

 Angracum from Madagascar

Angracum from Madagascar

Dotty’s husband was the recipient of the  Herb Hager Award for Hybridizer of the Year from the American Orchid Society for his hybrid, Phalaenopsis Jose Carreres. Hopefully, Starla snapped a picture of it that we can share.

If not, looks like we will have to make another trip to D&B Orchids.

Ann

Video by Starla

Pictures by Ann

Thank you Ana and Michele for arranging the trip!

 

 

 

 

Dallas County Gardener’s May Meeting

Did you know that anyone can attend a Dallas County Master Gardener meeting? Tomorrow we are hosting the May meeting at our new garden with the purpose of talking to our membership and friends about the progress of The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.

Come so you can hear from our exciting array of speakers: Elizabeth, Eric, Lisa, and Susan. Learn from them, education is the purpose of our garden. We will be sharing detailed plant information tomorrow and on this blog through hand outs created by Elizabeth.   Take a look at our garden plans and tour The Raincatcher’s Garden to understand the height and depth of what we are trying to do on about an acre of land in North Dallas.

Dallas County Master Gardener May Meeting

11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 28

11001 Midway Rd., Dallas 75229

 Program

An Introduction to the New  Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

Tours will be offered before and after the general meeting.

 Buds, Bricks & Baskets

African Free Trade Baskets, Leather Handles! Reasonable Prices! We have Fallen in Love with These!

African Free Trade Baskets, Leather Handles! Reasonable Prices! We have Fallen in Love with These!

The Baskets are ideal for gifts or gathering produce from your garden.

Oregano, Phlox, Tomato Starts, Fig Trees, Cast Iron, Coneflower, Great Prices!

Oregano, Phlox, Tomato Starts, Fig Trees, Cast Iron, Coneflower, Turk’s Cap- Great Prices!

Fill up your card with homegrown plants from our member’s own gardens. We have tables of little starts you’ve just got to take home at Sarah’s “cheap” prices.  Plants will be priced from $1 to $5, with a few special items priced a tiny bit more.  Plan on filling up your cart!  Yesterday it was hard for me to pass by the phlox I saw from Susan’s garden!

Bricks make the perfect contribution to the new garden.

Honor a loved one, recognize the special person that introduced them to gardening, or remember a friend or family member with a personalized brick.  The bricks will serve as part of the entry to the Raincatcher’s Garden under the newly reassembled arbor.  Bricks are priced at $50 for a 4”x 8” size or $125 for an 8” x 8” brick.  Orders will be taken at the May 28 meeting with installation later this year. If you would like to participate and can’t come to the meeting, leave a comment and we will contact you.

Cash, checks or credit cards accepted.

A note about our lunch sales: Thank you to the 98 who purchased box lunches to enjoy during the meeting.

To accommodate feeding almost 100 people we had to stay firm with our reservation deadline. Oh, the planning that goes into an assembly of cooks like we have had the last few days! Hope any who missed the deadline for lunches will understand. We will have more events this summer. Subscribe to Dallas Garden Buzz, to get the details first!

Confession: I didn’t sign up for lunch in time, but you can be sure I will be first in line for a fig tree!!

Ann

 

 

BUTTERFLY PLANTS: I LOVE YOU, BUT IT’S TIME TO LEAVE

 

Variegated Fritillary on Salvia

Variegated Fritillary on Salvia

My side yard has a new unwanted hedge of plants in pots.  These are plants that should be planted in the new butterfly plot at the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.  They are not. They sit in pots.  At my house.

The plants have been living in my side yard for two weeks.  They remind me of adult children who move back in for “just a few months, Mom,” and a year later you’re still sharing the washer with their yoga pants.

Using the butterfly garden plan, I made a list of plants required for that garden.   We needed almost 200 plants.

Plant sales are a little cheaper, but you have to know what you’re doing:

Get there early.  I am convinced most shoppers get up at 4:30 a.m. to line up two hours before the doors open.  If you’re pulling in the parking lot with your coffee in a to-go cup about 10:30, it’s not worth the drive.  The shelves are bare at that point.

Plant sales are the closest thing Dallas has to a crowded New York subway.  You’ve got to elbow your way to native-this and hard-to-find that  (saying ‘excuse me’ after each grab—this is, after all, The South).  My genteel mother would have been appalled.

Don’t kid yourself. A tiny old Prius will not be big enough for the drive back with your new acquisitions. You’ll have to beg your patient friend Judy-with-a-truck to pick up all the leftover purchases the next day.

Which brings us to why I have about 200 Plants In A Pot in my side yard, and why I know each of them intimately.

North Texas has been in a severe drought for six years.

I purchased the plants two weeks ago.  Six hours after I unloaded them to my side yard, I hauled them back into the garage because of impending “damaging 60 mph winds, hail, and possible tornadoes.” Out into the sun. Thirty minutes later, back into the garage. This has gone on for days. The plants are confused.  I am exhausted.

Last week I emptied 5 inches of rain from the rain gauge. It is too muddy to till the site for the new butterfly garden.  It is too wet to even think of planting.

The forecast is for 85 degrees and sunny today.  Severe thunderstorms are predicted for tomorrow.

Elizabeth

To read more about our Butterfly Garden Plans click here.

Picture by Starla

Plant Sales and Church Potluck Dinners

 

If you think about it, a plant sale is a lot like a church potluck dinner.  You never know what you’re going to have, the good stuff goes fast, and you get to try new things.  And it’s all homemade, except for the tubs of fried chicken.

Our Sarah outdid herself organizing the Demonstration Garden’s annual plant sale on May 22, held each spring when the Demonstration Garden volunteers host the Master Gardener monthly meeting.  The speakers giving announcements didn’t start until 11:30 a.m., but the early birds were scrambling long before that for the best deals.

Plant sale cashiers

And what deals they found: About 33 bright cardstock plant tags in Elizabeth’s calligraphy hovered over the “Have to Have It Plants” like Purple Coneflower, Lyre Leaf Sage, and White Autumn Clematis.  “Garden Standbys” like Rock Rose and Red Yucca enticed shoppers.  And then there were the “You Don’t Find That Very Often Plants” including horseradish, Jewel of Opar, and Rose Campion.

Plant sale sign

Of course, garden advice was dished out with each purchase.  Want hummingbirds?  Flame Acanthus must be in your basket.  Malabar spinach? Well, it’s sort of like spinach, but it will take hot weather.

Now you don’t just decide to have a plant sale the week before.  This is a multi-month process for our Sarah to keep up with.  In March, eager plants are divided and seeds started.  Then nursemaids take these little guys home to pamper them.  Gardeners also raid their own yards for contributions. We even had many lovely plants donated by a friend of the Demonstration Garden, Master Gardener Margaret Burnette.  Then there’s the “I Don’t Know Exactly What’s Coming In” factor, as Sarah was inundated days before the sale with last minute “I’m Bringing….” emails.

This was a Plant Sale with added attractions.  Shoppers could also bring home some of the Demonstration Garden’s magical compost or worm castings.  Cindy has the knack of coaxing compost out of a mound of clippings and leaves, and shoppers knew to stock up.

Dallas County Master Gardener with Plant Sale Specimens

Dallas County Master Gardener with Plant Sale Specimens

It’s a year until the 2015 Demonstration Garden Plant Sale Extravaganza, and I’m already making my shopping list.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

Honey Selections for Tasting and Cooking

Hello Honey! Like a fine wine…..

the color and flavor of every nectar reflects

a particular time and place

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Tupelo The Gold Standard of Honey

Tupelo, the Gold Standard of Honey

Tupelo Honey:

Bright citrus and summer berries, buttery undertones

Savannah Bee Company describes Tupelo as the “gold standard” of honeys, like a “slow moving river of sunshine.” L.L. Lanier and Son’s Tupelo Honey Co. has harvested honey from the tupelo-gum tree since 1898 in swamps along the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers of northwest Florida. Bees are placed on elevated platforms along the river’s edge, free to search out the fragrant nectar in April and May. As the white Tupelo bloom begins, beekeepers clean the combs of other honey to be sure to collect the just new crop. Then the new crop of honey is removed after bloom, to keep the honey pure. Tupelo honey is a light golden amber color with a slight greenish cast. Because of its unusually high fructose content, tupelo honey will not granulate. (A granulated honey indicates an impure Tupelo honey.) Be careful when purchasing Tupelo honey, as it can be mixed with Gall berry, which blooms right after the Tupelo tree, or cut with wildflower honey. Fun fact: Tupelo Honey by the band Van Morrison was a song and album released in 1971.

 L.L. Lanier & Son’s, Wewahitchka, Florida  www.lltupelohoney.com

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Sourwood, Angelic!

Sourwood honey:

Most honey is made by bees. But sourwood is made by bees and angels.”

Sourwood honey requires just the right timing: the sourwood trees bloom late in June through August and must have enough sunshine and rain to produce enough flowers to yield a honey crop. If the understory trees don’t receive enough rain, the producer cannot make honey that year. Like fine wines, this honey from southern Appalachia is only available during those perfect “vintage” years. Sourwood honey is so rare that a good crop sometimes only surfaces once every decade. Like Tupelo honey, the beekeepers are careful to restrict the bees’ nectar gathering to the sourwood blossoms. If the honey has even a small percentage of other varietals, it cannot be sold as sourwood. Sourwood honey won the 2005 World Honey Tasting Competition for its flavors of molasses, maple, and mocha. The color ranges from pure white to light amber with a slightly grey or purple tint. Sourwood trees are also called “Lilly of the Valley Trees” because of the similar look of the blossoms.

Savannah Bee Co. Savannah, Georgia savannahbee.com

 

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Orange Blossom, Sweet Citrus

Orange blossom honey:

Candy-sweet explosion of citrus flavor

Orange Blossom honey comes from sunny southern Florida and is one of the earliest honeys harvested in the year. The orange blossoms are a classic flower for bridal bouquets because they symbolize purity and have a lovely fragrance. Use this floral and fruity honey for Baklava or to drizzle over French toast. Orange Blossom is also perfect as a dip for figs, strawberries, and melon.

www.savannahbee.com

Wildflower honey:

Inspired by a field of Texas wildflowers

Unlike a varietal honey drawn from a specific nectar plant, Wildflower honey depends on the whimsy of bees let loose in fields of flowers. The bright golden honey is rich and luscious: a taste of Texas in a jar. Enjoy Wildflower honey on a classic peanut butter and honey sandwich or twirled on a steamy latte.

Warne Bee Farm, Anna TX 972-924-3928 www.warneshoneybees.com

  

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Huajillo, Smoky and Spicy

Texas Huajillo Honey:

Smoky with a tease of dried chilies

Texas Huajillo honey springs from the brush country of Southwestern Texas and Northern Mexico along the Rio Grande River. Bees feast on the fragrant white blooms of native Guajillo Acacia berlandieri in March and early April. (Guajillo is also known as Huajillo, Berlandier Acadia, and various Catclaws.) The large, multi-trunked shrub can be pruned to a small specimen tree for use on patios or around pools. Guajillo has an open airy form, fern-like lacy foliage, and prefers full sun. Walker Honey Farms Huajillo honey is harvested in Frio County, Texas, southwest of San Antonio.

Walker Honey Farm, Rogers, TX http://www.walkerhoneyfarm.com

 

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Buckwheat, Malty and Earthy

Buckwheat honey:

Malty and earthy

Buckwheat honey is unusual for its deep brown color, thick rich texture, and a taste that reminds one of mild molasses. Honeybees are drawn to the irresistible fragrance of the profuse white buckwheat flowers, a plant related to rhubarb and sorrel. Buckwheat honey is the perfect sweetener for Jewish Honey Cake or gingerbread, delicious on sweet potatoes and a distinctive topping for pancakes. Local honey producers rely on beekeeper friends in states like North Dakota and New York to provide honey from this northern crop.

http://www.warneshoneybees.com or Weeks Honey Farm http://www.weekshoneyfarm.com

More reading: National Honey Board http://www.honey.com

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla and Linda

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