Posts tagged oak

Another snowstorm? Look here for spring

As Iowa braces for what could be another spring snowstorm this weekend, Deb Engmark, head gardener at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, sent the following observations and photos from the historic Brucemore estate:

From the Brucemore Gardens

 

It would have been a glorious first snow fall of the season had the snow fallen sometime between November 27th and December 30th. With four to six

 inches on the ground, my week of vacation coming to an end, and not nearly enough yard work finished, it sure made Sunday hard to take. On the bright side, on Monday morning the little bit of green that was evident in the landscape at the end of last week was much more abundant and vibrant. I also noticed the swelling of the buds on many of the shrubs and some of the trees here at Brucemore have expanded close to the point of explosion. Many buds have popped and the leaves are extended toward the sun.

 

 The honeysuckle bushes along Linden Drive opened sometime between 8:00 a.m. and 12:30p.m.on Monday, as did the first scillas on the property, revealing the sweet essence of  spring along with the reliable blues many visitors associate with older neighborhoods. The snowdrops are always an early sign of winters waning. Shining in the woods for a few weeks already and now many of the white nodding heads have opened to reveal the upside down v-shape of green marking the inside bell and if you are able to get close enough, it too carries a fresh scent of spring.   

 

Out in the formal garden the crocus are blooming and other bulbs are making their presence known as are some of the undesirables dandelions, violas and the creeping charlie seem to have survived the winter just fine, lucky us.

 

Now, before spring has totally sprung, is a great time to take notice of that which is often overlooked – trees. We are fortunate here at Brucemore to have a few grand specimens to appreciate. Across the road from the formal garden, west of the old greenhouse is a mature red maple and a stately old red oak.  Roger Johnson, our building and grounds superintendent, believes they are some of the oldest trees on the property. He estimates that they are well over 100 years old due to their height, trunk diameter, and the texture of the bark.  Oaks are slow growing, long-lived, and require a century to mature, and will often live undisturbed for two to three centuries or more. The red maple upon maturity develops a unique bark texture. Flat gray ridges like fins begin to wave and flake while spiraling up to the multitude of branches. A bit of the oaks’ structural supremacy and the mature maples textured bark is softened after the emergence of the leaf canopy in spring.

 

As I finish this typing Tuesday afternoon, the landscape has changed once again adding more colors, hues and tones in every passing moment.

 

I would love to hear what you are doing also!  Please feel free to send me any suggestions, ideas, or tips from your own gardens and explorations.

 

 

Deb Engmark                            

Brucemore Head Gardener                     

2160 Linden Dr. SE

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52403

deb@brucemore.org

www.brucemore.org

 

 

Blue scilla

Blue scilla

 

Snowdrops at Brucemore

Snowdrops at Brucemore

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Winterizing roses

  Every year around this time, my neighbor’s oak tree, two houses down, generously deposits a pile of  leaves in my backyard.  For that, my roses and I are grateful.  I use the oak leaves as mulch around my hybrid tea roses.  Most types of leaves don’t hold up well in the long-term, but leathery oak leaves withstand the forces of winter. My miniature roses do well under Styrofoam caps in Iowa’s coldest days and my old-fashioned roses somehow survive without any help.  The week of Thanksgiving is the usual time to prepare roses for winter in the Cedar Rapids area where my roses grow.

 

   Richard Jauron, horticulture specialist at Iowa State University Extension, offers more tips on winterizing roses below:

 

   Most hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses require winter protection in Iowa. The low temperatures and rapid temperature changes in winter can severely injure and sometimes kill unprotected roses.

   Hilling or mounding soil over the base of each plant is an excellent way to protect hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses.

   Begin by removing fallen leaves and other debris from around each plant. Removal of diseased plant debris will help reduce disease problems next season. Then loosely tie the canes together with twine to prevent the canes from being whipped by strong winds. Next, cover the bottom 10 to 12 inches of the rose canes with soil.

   Place additional material, such as straw or leaves, over the mound of soil. A small amount of soil placed over the straw or leaves should hold these materials in place.  Prepare roses for winter after plants have been hardened by several nights of temperatures in the low to mid-twenties. Normally, this is early November in northern Iowa, mid-November in central areas, and late November in southern counties.

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Savanna walk

   Author Connie Mutel will lead a walk through restored oak savannas at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, at the Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd. SE, Cedar Rapids. Mutel will discuss the history and modification of these rare ecosystems and highlight portions of her new book, “The Emerald Horizon.” Participants should meet at the Nature Center barn. Admission is $4 or $3 for members. For more information, call (319) 362-0664.

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Ah, Ah, Ahh-choo!!

       This information about allergies and gardening is from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology:

The beauty of budding plants and bouquet of aromas are sources of satisfaction for many gardeners. For allergy sufferers, though, gardening can be as much a chore as pursuit of passion.

Pollen from trees, shrubs and grasses can cause an onslaught of allergy symptoms, including sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and, in some cases, an asthma attack. But sensitive people can take a few simple steps to minimize their risk of exposure to bothersome allergens, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI.)

“Gardening outside during times of high pollen counts puts patients at risk for severe allergic symptoms,” said Dr. Warren Filley, an Oklahoma City allergist/immunologist and a long-time horticulturalist who suffers from allergies. “Avoidance measures, as well as the use of medications and allergy immunotherapy, can make the difference between having fun in the garden and being miserable.”

An allergist/immunologist can help determine what plant species are causing an allergic reaction and advise on the best times of day or season to work in the garden. For example, pollen levels are typically lower on rainy, cloudy and windless days. Immunotherapy (allergy shots), medications and other treatments can also help reduce symptoms.

People with allergies can also trim irritation by carefully choosing the plants they include in their landscaping or garden. Certain flowers, trees and grasses are naturally better suited for the gardens of allergic people. They are less likely to produce bothersome pollen and will still add color and variety to the garden.These include:

  • Cacti
  • Cherry
  • Dahlia
  • Daisy
  • Geranium
  • Iris
  • Magnolia
  • Rose
  • Snapdragon
  • Tulip

In general, highly-allergenic plants to avoid include:

  • Ash
  • Cedar
  • Cottonwood
  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Pine
  • Saltgrass
  • Timothy

The best way to determine which plants will trigger reactions is through skin testing at an allergist/immunologist’s office. An allergist/immunologist can help patients develop strategies to avoid troublesome plants and pollen and can prescribe medication to alleviate symptoms.

Other tips to consider:
Whenever working around plants likely to cause an allergic reaction, avoid touching your eyes or face. You may also consider wearing a mask to reduce the amount of pollen spores that you breathe in. Wear gloves and long sleeves and pants to minimize skin contact with allergens. Leave gardening tools and clothing – such as gloves and shoes – outside to avoid bringing allergens indoors. Shower immediately after gardening or doing other yard work.


Contact an allergist/immunologist to identify specific causes of allergic reactions or to get information on treatment options and tips to reduce allergen exposure. An allergist/immunologist is the best qualified medical professional to manage the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma. To find an allergist/immunologist near you, visit the AAAAI Web site at www.aaaai.org.
The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.

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