Posts tagged Iowa

Daylily Fever

 

Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)

Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)

  I’ve been receiving calls and emails about Zora Ronan’s upcoming open gardens this weekend and hearing from people who plan to make the trip to see her daylilies. For those of you who cannot attend, Zora sent some tips on dividing daylilies and other general advice:

    When or if to divide a daylily is a decision to be made based on the plant’s health.  If it is not looking unhealthy, is still blooming freely and has not outgrown its space, there is no reason to disturb it.  I only divide when one or more of those problems occurs.  Daylilies vary greatly in how fast they become crowded.  I have some that get divided every 4 years or so and some that have been fine for more than that time.  The biggest problem in waiting to divide until the plant is very overgrown is that it can become very large and hard to handle.  When I do divide, I replenish the soil with lots of compost and a bit of peat. 

   Daylilies are considered the perfect perennial because they survive and thrive with very little care.  However, good nutrition and adequate water is always going to improve daylily performance.  I do fertilize lightly every year with lawn fertilizer (no herbicide).  Daylilies can use a bit more nitrogen than other perennials to keep the foliage a nice healthy green.  I apply a 3-month time released fertilizer in the early spring–never any fertilizer after August 1.  If you have a good supply of compost, top-dressing with that every year is also beneficial and can probably take the place of artificial fertilizer. 

   Any dividing is best done in spring or after bloom has ended.  I would not divide any later than early to mid-September – daylilies need about 6 weeks to settle in before winter arrives.  We never know when that is going to happen.

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Rain: Too much of a good thing

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

     He was correct.  A climatologist said July was going to be wetter and colder than normal.  Did you imagine we’d be wearing jackets and sweatshirts on mid-summer mornings?  A couple of my houseplants living on the deck for the summer got relocated under the eaves.  They were experiencing a little too much of a good (rain water) thing.  It has been nice not having to drag hoses or fill the water wagon as much this year.  The soaker hose has been pretty much dormant, too. 

    It does bother me letting all this precious water run off, though.  Rain barrels have become a popular efficient way to retain that wonderful commodity that Mother Nature provides. Rain barrels don’t need to be plugged in or powered up.  They’re good for the environment and save money. 

    Rain water is preferably to municipal water for gardens because it provides a beneficial pH balance, thus creating less of a need for fertilizer. 

     Rain barrels situated at the base of a gutter or downspout, are typically modified recycled 55 gallon food grade drums, and include a filter, spigot and with an overflow pipe usually directed  on to a flower or vegetable bed.  Commercial rain barrels are available with costs varying.   Rain chains, water-funneling devices, can be used in place of down spouts for an esthetic effect.  Maybe you would want a decorative rain barrel situated on either side of your patio door. 

     Rain barrels may provide a good source of water should we have a water restriction order.  While the primary use is plant associated, rain water can be used to wash a car, scrub patio furniture or even flush a toilet. 

     Rain barrels do require minimal maintenance.  Leaves and other debris have to be removed from the filter and the gutter supplying the water.  Also, users need to guard against mosquito breeding and algae.  All in all helping  the environment far outweighs a bit of inconvenience.

    And, speaking of mosquitoes, just a reminder with all of the moisture we’re experiencing, the most common floodwater mosquito will be laying eggs in any source of stagnant or muddy water.  Remember to regularly empty and clean the kids’ wading pools, the pet’s water dishes and the bird bath.  Tall weeds and grasses harbor mosquitoes during the day.  Reduce the incidence of the problem and reduce the population of the annoying and possible disease carrying critters.

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Trees Forever grant to go toward flood recovery landscaping

This just in from Trees Forever in Marion:

     Trees Forever today announced that it received a $10,000 grant from the Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) and The Home Depot Foundation. This challenge grant is part of the National NeighborWoods Program, made possible through generous support of The Home Depot Foundation. NeighborWoods is a nationwide initiative that engages the public in meaningful hands-on action to produce tangible improvements to community health through tree planting and stewardship. Trees Forever is one of just eleven organizations nationwide who received a NeighborWoods award in support of partnerships between urban forestry non-profits and affordable housing providers.

  Trees Forever is a regional nonprofit that plants trees and cares for the environment by empowering people, building community and promoting stewardship. Disastrous flooding in Iowa in 2008 irrepara-bly damaged 944 homes in Cedar Rapids, 75% of which were low-income housing. The city needs at least 420 new owner-occupied homes, half of which must be affordable housing. Trees Forever is partnering with Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity to help address this need and ensure green, sustain-able redevelopment in Iowa by planting approximately 40 trees at 20 new Habitat homes in the College Park Estates and Wilderness Estates neighborhoods of Cedar Rapids. 

Trees Forever will also plant another 50 trees at 20-25 Habitat sites in Des Moines, in partnership with the Greater Des Moines chapter of Habitat for Humanity. These projects will revitalize devas-tated Iowa neighborhoods and benefit low-income homeowners by increasing their property values, improving air quality, reducing storm water runoff and producing energy-conserving shade. Volunteers and future Habitat homeowners will receive training on proper tree planting and maintenance to ensure survivability of the trees and maximize their long-term benefits for Iowa communities.

“The NeighborWoods grant allows Trees Forever to help Habitat for Humanity leverage their landscaping budgets on dozens of new flood-recovery homes,” commented Karen Brook, Trees Forever Program Manager.  “And the new homeowners will benefit from the energy savings, aesthetics and improved home value that the trees provide over time,” Brook added.

For more information on the Trees Forever NeighborWoods project, please contact Karen Brook at (319) 373-0650 ext.20.  For more information on Trees Forever and its many programs, log onto www.TreesForever.org <http://www.treesforever.org/> .

About Trees Forever

Trees Forever is a nonprofit organization based in Marion, IA committed to planting trees, encouraging community involvement and stewardship, and caring for the environment. Programs focus on improving air and water quality, increasing wildlife habitat, providing substantial energy savings and beautifying our landscape. For more information visit www.treesforever.org <http://www.treesforever.org/>  or call 800-369-1269.

About Alliance for Community Trees

Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) is dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. With 160 grassroots affiliates in 40 states and Canada, ACT engages volunteers to take action to improve the environment where 80% of people live – in urban areas. ACT member organizations have planted and cared for 14.9 million trees in cities with help from 4.3 million volunteers. For more information, visit www.actrees.org <http://www.actrees.org/>

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Day(lily) dreamin’

    It seems too chilly to think this is prime summer and thus prime daylily season in Iowa. Might as well enjoy the cool while you can. Today (Saturday, July 18, 2009) Wanda Lunn of Cedar Rapids will have an open garden from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at her home at 526 Bezdek Dr. NW. Wanda said this will be the height of daylily blooms & the larger lilliums, as well as many other summer perennials.  She will be available to answer questions about all of these flowers.

     Next weekend (Sat. and Sun., July 25 and 26) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, Linn County Master Gardener Zora Ronan will open her gardens for viewing at 5031 North Marion Road, Central City.

Lillies, daylillies and other flowers at Zora Ronan's garden (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Lillies, daylillies and other flowers at Zora Ronan's garden (photo/Cindy Hadish)

    I had the opportunity to visit Zora’s gardens last week and more will be available in Sunday’s (7/19/09) Gazette.  Zora said her gardens are about one week behind those in Cedar Rapids, so they should be in their prime next weekend. Even a week ago, the beds were beautiful. Zora has the right touch with daylillies, which come in hundreds of shapes, sizes and colors. Both Zora and Wanda are open to questions and I think this is one of the best ways to learn about gardening, with an up-close view to see what both looks and works great. It’s really inspiring to have people like this in our community who are so willing to share and generous of them to offer their time and expertise, as well as open up their gardens to the public.

The sign says it all (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The sign says it all (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Here are directions to the home of Zora and Paul Ronan:   From I-380:  Exit at Toddville.  Travel east on County Home Road to Alburnett Road.  Turn north on Alburnett Road.  Turn east on Justins Road (gravel).  Justins Road dead ends at North Marion. Turn north and the garden is on the right. From:  Highway 13: Travel north on Highway 13 to Central City.  Turn west on E-16 (Center Point-Central City Road).  Turn north on North Marion Road (gravel) and travel 1.6 miles.  Garden is on the right. From Marion:  Travel north on North Tenth Street.  Tenth Street changes name to North Marion and becomes gravel when it crosses County Home Road.  Since North Marion is gravel for quite a long way, it is better to travel north on either North Alburnett Road or Highway 13.

When I went last week, one of the roads from I-380 was closed, but it was easy to get there by going to Central City and taking a left on E-16.

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Slimy slugs

Laura Jesse, of Iowa State University Extension’s Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic, wrote the following about garden slugs:

 

Slug photo by Laura Jesse of ISU Extension

Slug photo by Laura Jesse of ISU Extension

    There seem to be plenty of slugs in my garden, but I hope not in yours. Slugs leave small, irregular holes all over the leaves of plants. They especially seem to like my hostas but they are not picky feeders. Slugs are difficult to detect because they feed only at night. Slugs look like snails without a shell. They vary in size from less than an inch up to 2 inches in length, grayish colored, and a bit slimy to the touch. In fact as they crawl along they leave a slime trail.

    Slugs need moisture to survive and are found under mulch, rocks, logs, and other damp locations. My hostas tend to be eaten because they grow in a garden that is shaded and holds the moisture longer.

    Reducing slug damage is not an easy task and nothing will fix holes already there, so your first question should be – how bad is this and can I live with the damage? If you do decide to try to reduce the slug population you should combine several tactics. First, remove mulch and reduce moisture from around the base of afflicted plants as much as possible. Remove slugs you find either by using a trap such as a board on the ground that slugs will gather under or pan traps with beer as a bait. I assume cheap beer works fine and would not waste expensive beer on this. Remove dead slugs daily or it will get pretty disgusting. Finally there are commercially available slug baits available containing a molluscicide, but they are best used in the spring or fall.

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Weeding Party!

Cheryl Hoech, volunteer coordinator for Friends of Noelridge Park Greenhouse and Botanical Center, sent the following:

We are having a party and you are invited.

What:Weeding in prep for the Open Garden on Wednesday

Who: 40 volunteer hours needed

When: Monday July 13, 8 to noon come and go as you please

Where:  At the demonstration flower beds at Noelridge

RSVP: Please let me know if you can come on Monday so I can have enough treats for all of you. Noelridge Friends can be reached at: noelridge@gmail.com

You can find more about Wednesday’s open gardens by clicking on the events category at the right.

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Sweet corn has arrived (sort of)

   It’s a mixed bag on Iowa’s sweet corn season. Some of the farmers I spoke to today have it ready, but the crop is delayed in other areas. If you’re early, you might find sweet corn at Saturday’s farmers market in Cedar Rapids. Expect to see more sweet corn at area farmers markets in the next week.

  You can find a list of many Eastern Iowa farmers markets on this blog by clicking on the farmers market category at the right.

   Bob Shepherd, market manager for the Washington Farmers Market, said vendor Tom Vittetoe sold out of a pickup of sweet corn in 20 minutes at Thursday night’s market.

    Bob sent the following report from the market in Washington:

    Ears of succulent fresh picked sweetcorn are one of the special events at the Farmers’ Market; along with strawberries, vine ripened tomatoes, and the first tree fruit  – nothing attracts attention like that first offering. Central Park will hum with the excitement generated by this Iowa treasure.

   The selection improves with each Thursday Evening Market. Expect to see beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, green beans, onions, lettuce, peas, turnips, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers and chilies displayed by the local growers. Black raspberries and cherries have added their appeal as we anticipate the first apples shortly.    

   Farm fresh brown eggs have a definite ‘country’ appeal.

  An exceptional selection of fresh baked breads, pies, cookies, cupcakes, sweet rolls, bars, and short breads add their aromatic, mouth watering presence.

   The sound of a sharpening wheel means another fine tool has been keenly touched by John Moore, Bits ‘n’ Blades. Local artists display beautiful glazed ware, stitchery and jewelry.

  A couple of Markets ago samples of BB-Q’ed pork chops were tasted by Market goers. The rub used was a new technique and so successful the recipe is following for all to try on their home BB-Q.

                Cumin and Coriander spice-rubbed Pork Chops

Mix 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 2tsp. ground coriander, 2tsp. ground cumin, 1 1/2tsp. garlic powder, 1tsp sea salt, 3/4tsp. ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric in a small bowl. Preheat grill to medium high. Lightly coat both sides of 6 3/4in. thick boneless pork loin chops with olive oil, and rub with the spice rub. Grill (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas)until the pork forms impressive grill marks on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue to grill until meat is just firm to touch and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

   The thick style chops are a favorite to BB-Q and the rub makes them even more delectable.

   The Washington Farmers’ Market starts at 5pm but the downtown square is home to entertainment until 9pm. Thursday Night Live at 6:30 and the Washington Municipal Band at 8pm extend the evening enjoyment under the lofty trees of Central Park. Join us downtown………..see you there!

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The deadly juglone of black walnut trees

The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

    The seeder wagon is in place.  The lawn mower towed it out of the shed down to the water way and then with two planks and my favorite son’s strong back we pushed and pulled it to the other side of the ditch.  With the addition of an old wire garden gate staked behind a sapling, a hand pump from my parent’s former home and a rock lined pseudo fire pit filled with Petunias that were on the end-of-season sale, the area reflects the peaceful primitive atmosphere I was striving for.  This is the area I mentioned in an earlier blog that became inaccessible to mow due to last year’s flood.  Hosta, native grasses and prairie perennials will grace the space next year.  We continued our zeroscaping to include a part of the road ditch that I learned is also impossible to mow after the mower and I suffered a close encounter with the culvert.  Now that waterway is filled with large rocks and what was a sloping grassy space is mulched. 

            Hosta will ring the two Black Walnut trees in the roadway ditch.  Hosta is a plant of choice there because I have some that need transplanting and they are not sensitive to Juglone, a chemical secretion from Black Walnut Trees. 

             Discovered in the 1880s, Juglone is produced in the fruit, leaves, branches and root system of several trees with Black Walnuts exhibiting the highest concentration.  The greatest intensity in the soil exists within the tree’s drip line, on an average 50 ft. radius from the trunk of a mature tree.  Plants susceptible to Juglone display yellowing leaves, wilting and eventual death.  Plants sensitive to Juglone include Peonies, Hydrangea, Asian Lilies, and Lilacs.  There are multiple choices that will withstand close proximity to Walnut trees such as most grasses, Phlox, Sedum, Daylilies, Iris and Hosta.

            Now my challenge is to determine plants that are not only resistant to Juglone, but also to the deer population in this neighborhood.  Unfortunately, Hosta is one of the critters’ favorite choices.  They have already decimated the Hosta and Bee Balm in the ditch on the other side of the lane.  A great winter  pastime will be comparison shopping perennials and grasses that are both deer and Juglone resistant as well as low maintenance for those landscapes. 

             I actually enjoy mowing.  And I like the challenge of creating and maintaining flower beds, but the  simple clean lines of zeroscaping does appeal to me.  A few plants and shrubs easily embellish the area without overstating the purpose of low maintenance.

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Answers to your questions and what about those tiny worms??

Cyndi Lee asked the following: I have found a large trail of what at first looked like sawdust, but upon closer examination are very tiny worm like things. They are falling from the large tree I have which overhangs our deck. Any idea what these are? They are very tiny and are falling in clumps. They are a pale yellow in color.

 If you know what the worms might be, please leave a reply below.

 Linn County Master Gardeners have answered some of the other questions you’ve been asking:

 Q: We have a small vine-like weed that is taking over the gardens and flower beds. they are small leafed the stems are strong and grow upon the plants and choke them off. I pull them constantly but they continue to grow back. Is there anything that I can spray them with without killing off the flowers and garden plants? I would appreciate your input.

ANSWER: Cut and paint cut end with undiluted Round Up.  Use a small foam brush.

 Q: I found a large worm on my mom’s apple trees and what to know if they are good worm or bad. where can I take then to find out? I can take them to Ames but where in Ames?????

ANSWER: Bring sample to Linn County Extension Office, 3279 7th Ave., Marion.  We’ll try to identify it here, or give info to ISU.

 Q: I am in need of help to get rid of the seedlings from my pear tree. I need to know when and how to manage them as I have a flowerbed under my tree. I did not put these in but inherited them from the previous owner. They are a nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER: They will need to be pulled out.

 Q: I have a beautiful Walnut tree but it has been sprouting branches near its bottom and just does not look right. Can I prune them now ? If so what angle? And should I put something on the exposed ends? Some of the branches are approx. an inch in diameter. I surely don’t want to harm my tree!

ANSWER: The tree is under stress for some reason.  Prune now.  Do not paint anything on wound.  It will heal itself.

 Linn County Master Gardeners also answer questions on Iowa State University extension’s horticulture hotline at (319) 447-0647.

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Fun of July

Following are some of the gardening and eco-events in Eastern Iowa scheduled for July 2009. As always, if you know of other events, add it in a message below, or send an e-mail to: cindy.hadish@gazcomm.com    

 

         Wed., July 1, 12:15 p.m. – Gardening program at Cedar Rapids Library’s Bridge facility at Westdale Mall. What better way to enjoy delicious, healthy food and glorious flowers than to plant your own garden? Master gardener Larry Dawson will discuss maintaining bountiful, beautiful gardens. This Brown Bag Briefing program also includes landscaping, fall tree planting, and audience questions. Bring your sack lunch for this 30-minute program. For further information, visit the Library’s website www.crlibrary.org or call 398-5123.   

 

    Mon., July 6, 7 p.m. – Ushers Ferry Historic Village, Trees Forever’s rescheduled Liberty Tree and Champion Tree Tour. IF THE WEATHER DOES NOT COOPERATE AGAIN- the Rain-date is scheduled for the next evening July 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm at Ushers Ferry Historic Village. Email agreen@treesforever.org or call (319)373-0650 x 25 with your RSVP.

      Wed. July 8, 7 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, FROM MULTIFLORA ROSE TO BLUESTEM: 30 YEARS OF CHANGE: Members-$3; NONMEMBER- $5;VOLUNTEERS –FREE. Rich Patterson has seen much change in his 30 years at the Nature Center. The landscape has changed greatly–for the better–over those years. Join him on a two-mile walk at a leisurely pace to parts of the Nature Center more ecologically healthy because of the dedicated work of Nature Center staff and volunteers. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

   Wed., July 8, 5:30-8 p.m., Funky Garden Art, Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 725 N. Center Point Rd., Hiawatha. Make one-of-a-kind garden art out of odds and ends at the ReStore. Fee: $25. Call (319) 294-1500.

Thurs., July 9, 7-9 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, BEGINNING BEE CLASS: SESSION I– MEMBER – $55/SERIES; NONMEMBER – $85/SERIES. This eight session series is designed for individuals serious about starting a beekeeping hobby. The series will take the participant through the annual cycle of beekeeping from establishing a hive to harvesting and marketing the honey produced. The class members will be actively involved in learning activities by working with the hives at the Indian Creek Nature Center. Call 362-0664 to register.

     Sat., July 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friends of Hickory Hill Park will have a garden walk in Iowa City. The walk benefits the group’s stewardship fund for maintenance and restoration work. Four gardens will be on the tour, plus tornado recovery areas on Hotz and Rochester avenues. Speakers will be at each site to discuss prairie plantings, Backyard Abundance and organic lawn care.  Start at 1167 E. Jefferson Street to purchase tickets and pick up a map. Cost is $10 per person or $8 per person if you bike or walk to 1167 Jefferson St. Families are $15. To volunteer or for more information, phone 319-338-5331. To make a donation:  Anyone unable to attend the Garden Walk but wishing to make a contribution should make the check out to LEAF and mail it to:  LEAF, P.O. Box 1681, Iowa City, IA  52244-1681.

    Sat., July 11, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Indian Creek Nature Center’s NATURAL HISTORY WALKING TOUR OF DOWNTOWN CEDAR RAPIDS. MEMBER -$3; NONMEMBER – $5; CHIDREN:$1. Join Indian Creek Nature Center’s naturalist on an urban adventure to investigate the fascinating cultural and natural history of downtown wildlife. Learn about the pre-settlement ecology of the downtown area and how it has changed with urbanization. This 90-minute tour begins at the old Cedar Rapids Public Library parking lot between 5th and 6th Avenues SE on 1st Street. Stroll along the Cedar Lake Trail near the library to discover native plants growing along the Red Cedar River and learn about urban wildlife along streets and buildings as you walk to Greene Square Park and then to return to the library. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

    Sun., July 12, 1-4 p.m.,  The Fairfax Parks Committee will have a walk, rain or shine, at five Fairfax gardens. Iowa State University Extension master gardeners will be available at the gardens to answer questions. The walk includes the garden of Megan McConnell Hughes, which is featured on the cover of the summer 2009 Country Gardens magazine. Tickets can be purchased at Fairfax State Savings Bank or Guaranty Bank in Fairfax. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event at the Fairfax North welcome sign at Williams Boulevard and Prairie View Drive. Cost is $5 for adults and $10 for families. Proceeds will be used to buy playground equipment for Hawks Ridge Park.

    Sun., July 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Project GREEN will have a garden walk in Iowa City. If you want to know how to garden with deer, this is the walk for you. Four large gardens at the edge of woodlands are featured on the walk, including one property that covers nearly four acres. All gardens are located north of Interstate 80, off Dubuque Street. Cost is $5 for adults. Children under 16 are admitted free.  Start at any of the following sites for a map, which becomes your ticket for the other gardens: Pat and Stan Podhajsky, 3817 Cedar Drive NE; Maggie VanOel, 8 Oak Park Lane NE;   Twila and Dick Hobbs, 9 Oak Park Lane NE; Bill and Michelle Welter, 15 Oak Park Place NE. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The weather may be hot and buggy, so bring along a bottle of water and bug spray.  To learn more, see: www.projectgreen.org              

     Sun., July 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Iowa Pond Society’s pond tour. Whether you are a serious water gardener, Koi keeper, casual pond owner, want-to-be pond owner, or just plain love flowers and water, you won’t want to miss the chance to view the ponds in this year’s 13th annual pond tour. As usual, pond owners and club members will be available at each pond to answer questions. Will also have a plant and small art/craft sale at one of the pond locations. This year’s tour will feature beautiful ponds in the Cedar Rapids/Solon/Swisher areas. Tickets and maps are $5.00 for adults (kids under 12 are free) and are available at all pond sites with all proceeds going back to the community for area landscape and beautification projects.  A good place to start might be 131 Rosedale Rd SE, Cedar Rapids or 3682 Douglas Dr. NE Solon. For more information please call Jackie Allsup 319-934-3665 or visit: www.EIPS.org

   Mon., July 13, 7-8:30 p.m. – Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Rd., Toddville. “True Lilies–Queen of the Gardens,” illustrated lily presentation by lily expert Wanda Lunn of Cedar Rapids. Lunn is an accredited North American Lily Society Lily Judge and just returned from judging at the NALS National Lily Show in Missouri. She will showcase many different true lily cultivars for sun & shade and give gardening hints for growing them properly. Cost: $2.50. Master Gardeners can count it for instruction hours.

     Mon., July 13 – Fri., July 31 – Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, OWAA PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT. The Outdoor Writers Association of America Photography Contest winners will be exhibited. The work of noted wildlife photographers features both black-and-white and color photographs. Visit during regular business hours: Monday-Friday 9 AM-4 PM & Saturdays 11 AM-4 PM.

 Wed., July 15, 6-9 p.m., Noelridge Park open gardens, corner of Collins Road and Council Street NE. Tour the gardens with Noelridge staff and Friends of Noelridge volunteers. Activities will be available for children.

   Thurs., July 16- Sat., July 18 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Prairiewoods, 120 E. Boyson Road, Hiawatha. Solar Energy Workshop. This three-day workshop will provide information and experience in installing solar panels to generate electricity. The workshop includes hands-on exposure to assembling pole-mounted solar racks, installing solar modules and wiring of the entire system including modules, disconnects, inverters and grid tie. Approximately half the class will be in the classroom learning how solar energy works. Classroom instruction includes the basics of photovoltaics, racks, solar modules, inverters, basic electricity, design processes and safety. Instructor is Dennis Pottratz, Iowa’s first nationally certified photovoltaic installer (NABCEP). His company, GoSolar, has been in business in Decorah since 1996. He has designed and installed more than 100 working systems. Dennis is a frequent speaker and workshop presenter with I-RENEW. Fee: $250 for the first person from an organization or family; $200 for a second person. Fee includes daily lunch and handouts. Lodging is available at $45 per night. See: www.prairiewoods.org

       Fri., July 17 to Sun., July 19, Seed Savers Exchange 29th annual Summer Conference and Campout at Heritage Farm, Decorah. Organic farmer, author, and teacher, Eliot Coleman will be keynote speaker at 7 p.m. July 18. Other featured speakers include Barbara Damrosch, Coleman’s wife and co-owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, and Mike McGrath, host of the popular nationally syndicated show “You Bet Your Garden” on National Public Radio. Coleman is author of “The New Organic Grower,” “Four Season Harvest,” and the newly published “Winter Harvest Handbook”.  The conference will also include several workshops on various aspects of gardening and farming, a panel discussion, field demonstrations, heritage seed swap, lots of good local food, inspiring conversation and even a barn dance. Local vendors will be selling products on Saturday morning. The cost for the weekend conference is $75 for Seed Saver members and $100 for the general public.  One-day only registration is also available. Registration details and a list of scheduled events are available at www.seedsavers.org or by calling Seed Savers Exchange at (563) 382-5990. 

   Sat., July 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nature Photography class at Linn County Extension, 3279 7th Avenue, Marion. The class will be taught by Jim Messina, a professional photographer with many years of experience in photography and teaching experience.  Topics include exposure, metering techniques, tonality natural lighting, photographic equipment, digital photography and macro photography.  Teaching method includes slide presentations using dual projectors emphasizing comparisons with several examples.  The examples provide a framework of understanding basic principles and practical solutions in difficult field situations.  Extensive handouts are provided for the workshop topics.  You can bring your camera. Register by at the Extension office or call 319-377-9839.  Cost is $ 35.00.  Payment must be made when registering.  Registration will close on July 10.  

     Sat., July 18, 7:30 a.m. to noon, “Green” Day at Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market. Area environmental organizations will have space set up at the farmers market.

      Sat., July 18, 9 a.m. to noon, Prairiewoods, Mulch Sheet Beds for Flower and Vegetable Gardens. This workshop will include classroom and hands-on experience building mulch sheet beds for soil used in gardens. Mulch sheet bedding is a permaculture technique used to enrich the soil and decrease weeding. This is a sustainable way to work the soil while retaining water and and to maintain the soil without tilling and the use of chemicals. This workshop will not be held is there is heavy rain. Fee: $10

     Sat., July 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. – Daylily and true lily open garden at Wanda Lunn’s home, 526 Bezdek Dr. NW, in Cedar Rapids. Lunn said this will be the height of daylily blooms & the larger lilliums, as well as many other summer perennials.  She will be available to answer questions on cultivation of all these glorious flowers. Lunn says with all the buds, loaded stems & stalks, this promises to be a wonderful summer bloom!

   Sat., July 18, 11 a.m. to noon – There’s nothing like an Iowa prairie in summer. Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville is hosting a Guided Prairie Loop Trail Hike.  Participants will learn about the native grasses, wildflowers and prairie wildlife. The prairie loop trail contains an area of sand prairie and a beautiful view of the wetlands below. Meet the naturalist at the kiosk in front of the center. Donations accepted.

    Tues., July 21, 1-2 p.m., Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center, 10260 Morris Hills Rd., Toddville.  Toad Adobe! (Repeat from June 23.) OK, so not everyone finds toads attractive. However, a single toad can consume about 110 beetles, slugs, moths, armyworms and other bugs in a day! Meet our live toad. Make a house for a local amphibian to hang out in your yard. House is made of a clay pot that will be decorated with paint. For all ages. Young children must be accompanied by an adult. Register by July 18. Cost is $5 per toad house. Call (319)892-6485.

   Tues., July 21, 6-7:30 p.m. – The Linn County Conservation Department will hold a public program about turtles at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville.  A naturalist will debunk myths about turtles and show a variety of live turtles.  Please register by July 20 online at www.lincountyparks.com or register by calling 892-6485. Cost: $2.50/adult, $1/child or $5/family.

    Fri., July 24 – Aug. 2, Rummage in the Ramp at Chauncey Swan Ramp, Gilbert and Washington Streets, Iowa City. Ten-day-long garage sale benefitting several area non-profit groups aimed at waste reduction and affordability (most items are priced under $20). Items for donation should be dropped off at the ramp on sale days.

     Sat., July 25, 1 p.m., Indian Creek Nature Center, GREEN AND SIMPLE: COOKING WITH A SOLAR OVEN. MEMBER -$5; NONMEMBER -$8. Create a simple solar oven for backyard cooking. Collect heat energy from the sun to cook simple, tasty meals. Take home basic recipes and techniques. Sample solar-baked foods. REGISTER BY 4 PM ON THURSDAY, JULY 23. CALL 362-0664 TO REGISTER.

     Sat., July 25 and Sun., July 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Garden of Zora and Paul Ronan, 5031 North Marion Road, Central City, gardens open for viewing. The garden of Zora and Paul Ronan is located in rural Linn County.  The garden covers approximately 1 acre surrounding the house.  The remaining 32 acres uses no-till cultivation and wild-life habitat to conserve the soil and prevent erosion. Herbicides are used for weed control but no insecticides are used in crop production.  Over the last 10 years the soil has become healthy again.  Twelve years ago the soil was lifeless and heavily fortified with chemicals and we were never visited by wildlife.  Now, earth worms, birds, critters and varmints both are in abundance.  (Some are more welcome than others.) You may find gopher and moles disturbances in the grass, so walk carefully.  Directions:  From I-380:  Exit at Toddville.  Travel east on County Home Road to Alburnett Road.  Turn north on Alburnett Road.  Turn east on Justins Road (gravel).  Justins Road dead ends at North Marion. Turn north and the garden is on the right. From:  Highway 13: Travel north on Highway 13 to Central City.  Turn west on E-16 (Center Point-Central City Road).  Turn north on North Marion Road (gravel) and travel 1.6 miles.  Garden is on the right. From Marion:  Travel north on North Tenth Street.  Tenth Street changes name to North Marion and becomes gravel when it crosses County Home Road.  Since North Marion is gravel for quite a long way, it is better to travel north on either North Alburnett Road or Highway 13.

    Sat., July 25 and Sun., July 26 – Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse in Marion is planning a free Do-It-Yourself Weekend, open to the public. During the event, customers will be able to view displays and collect information on a number of home, lawn and garden topics. In addition, kids can enjoy decorating Culver’s grounds with sidewalk chalk. Free summertime refreshments will be available. Information about Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse and Culver’s Lawn & Landscaping, Inc. is available online at www.culverslandscape.com or by calling (319) 377-4195.

     Sun., July 26, 2-3 p.m. – “Slimy Scaly Guided Hike,” The Linn County Conservation Department is hosting an afternoon hike at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center near Toddville to view reptiles and amphibians basking in wetlands and or on sandy trails.  A naturalist will provide participants with a new appreciation of these animals. Meet her at the kiosk in front of the center.  This is a free program.

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