Posts tagged ornamental grasses

“Few enemies”

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

 

The critters sense that the weather outside will be—already is—frightful.  I almost need traffic signals and turn lanes in my yard and driveway where the squirrels are frantically harvesting nuts from the walnut trees.  Canadian geese have noisily moved in mass overhead traveling south.    I’ve not had feedback from the deer, but they must have felt the hosta in my xeriscape was especially tasty as they have, again, totally decimated all of them as they prepare for winter snow cover. 

 You see, we live in the country and our road ditch is steep, difficult to weed whip and impossible to mow.  We created an attractive xeriscape using mulch to cover grass and weeds and rock to stop an area of erosion, then added a few perennials for interest.  Maintenance has been minimal.  This spring we plan to xeriscape a smaller area on the other side of the lane.  An article in a recent Master Gardener’s newsletter sparked my interest in perennial ornamental grasses. Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch says ornamental grasses have few enemies. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, even insects seem to not be interested in them.   Becki describes the grasses as “beautiful, regal, feather topped, silver sheened, golden stemmed, ten feet tall, back-lit by the sun and swaying in gentle breezes.”  After established, ornamental grasses are drought resistant.  You can fertilize them—or not.  They do like mulch.  And, ornamental grasses come in a multitude of heights, shapes and textures. Ornamental grasses sound like a plan to me. What do you think?  Oh, when, oh when will seed catalogs start to arrive?

Even if we can’t work outside in Iowa’s winters, we can still enjoy gardening by listening to someone from the Master Gardener’s Speaker’s Bureau.  A colorful and educational presentation on any number of gardening topics is available for your group or organization.  Contact the Linn County Extension Office at 319-377-9839 for a brochure reflecting the range of speakers’ experience.

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Showcase gardens

Becki Lynch, Linn County Master Gardener, shares information about the group’s  Garden Walk: 

 

Have you heard about the new activity that the Master Gardeners in Linn County are offering?  We are hosting a Garden Walk on Saturday, June 14!  We hope that it will be well received, and plan on hosting a walk every year as a fundraiser. 

 

As you can imagine, we have a wealth of beautiful gardens to showcase, and it was a tough decision for this first year.  We guarantee that if you decide to go on the tour, you will get many creative ideas and helpful hints for your own gardens.

 

Since we know that we all have very different tastes, time, and space, the committee chose five gardens that represent a wide range of those elements.  So whether you have acres to play in, or a 1/4 acre lot, there will be examples geared to your situation.

 

To download a map,  just log on to www.extension.iastate.edu/linn and click on “1st Annual Garden Walk. “ Or, simply call the Hortline at 319-447-0647 and they will be happy to send you a brochure.

 

The hours will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the price is $5 per person or $10 per family.

 

And now to the fun part!  What gardens will be showcased this year?  Today, I will describe two, and will continue next week with the final three.

 

The Skripsky Gardens – 4296 Fox Meadow Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids –

Ellen Skripsky is a longtime Master Gardener, and won the award for Master Gardener of the Year in 2007.  As a senior, she is an expert on how to garden ergonomically, with minimal strain on muscles.  She has a “Kitchen Garden” outside her back door, which is a square foot raised bed.  She can easily harvest vegetables for her dinner table.  Ellen also is an expert with containers and has beautiful combinations of colors and ornamental grasses throughout her large city lot.  The mature trees provide a canopy and restful shade, particularly at the front of the house. 

 

The Ortberg Gardens – 317 Forest Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids –

            This property is the historic Armstrong Estate, and thus the white home is both elegant and graceful on a large corner lot.  Val Ortberg has refined and built on the beds that surround the house with an English historic garden design theme.  The property has gentle slopes, and she combines myriad perennials with urns, fountain and iron fencing to provide that old world feel.  The beds range from sun to shade, with a color pallet emphasizing pastels.

 

Even if you are not a gardener, come to view the gardens of those who love to plan and beautify their corner of the world.

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Flourishing in Iowa

       Master Gardener Claire Smith shares the following information:

 

   How fun is it to read the multitudes of gardening articles flooding the newspapers and magazines this time of the year!

    

   New colors, new varieties, new landscaping ideas……there’s so much information to digest and so little time before we plant.  Just as a word of caution, my own personal experience tells me that just because it looked great in a picture; it doesn’t necessarily mean it will flourish in Iowa.

   Remember, those articles can be sent from anywhere to anywhere i.e. an Arizona perennial will probably not survive Iowa’s winter!

   If you think you can’t live without it, take the picture or the plant name to your gardening center or call the Horticulture Hotline (319-447-0647).  Ask questions!  Gardeners love to talk!

 

    On that note, do plan to attend the Master Gardener Plant Sale on Saturday, May 24th from 8:00 to Noon in

 

 the parking lot in front of the Linn County Extension Office at 3279 7th Ave. (that’s the East side of Marion

 

by the farm store.)

 

 

   Plant Sale Chairwoman, Charlene Woeste provided this information: 

 

 “Anyone interested in plants for their garden will want to attend this event.  We will have many, many kinds of perennials (both for sun and/or shade) and many varieties of hosta and daylilies.

   There will also be wildflower plants, groundcovers, ornamental grasses, and some annuals.  These plants come from our Master  Gardeners own gardens  where they were carefully dug up and potted  and tenderly taken care of until the sale day.

   And perhaps best of all, they are priced so anyone can purchase them.

   So many have found when they take Master Gardener plants home and grow them in their gardens, that they can enjoy them for years to come.  Master Gardeners will be right there if you need help choosing the plants just for you or answering your gardening questions.”

     And, mark the afternoon of June 14th on your

 

calendar, too, for the Linn County Master Gardeners’  Garden Tour.  Five gardens will be featured in this exciting first annual event. 

 

 

     Gardening:  what a great hobby  it is!

 

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“A grass for you”

The following post is from Master Gardener Becki Lynch: 

I’m looking forward to participating in the WMT Lawn and Garden Show, both as a customer, and as a presenter.  But to get to my promise from last week,  here is a quick description of the four presentations that Master Gardeners will be giving over the weekend. Hours of the show are:  Friday, March 7.  3-8 p.m.;  Saturday, March 8, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 9,  10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Hawkeye Downs on Sixth Street SW in Cedar Rapids.

Our first presentation will be on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and is titled “Kitchen Gardens.”  Ellen Skripsky is making this presentation and she is always a delight to hear.  You’ll soon see that she is not talking about a traditional vegetable garden, but one that includes fruit, vegetables, and flowers. She will also be sharing ideas and tips on raised garden beds, vertical growing, successive planting and other space saving techniques. You don’t need a lot of land to have a beautiful garden!

The second presentation is mine, (Becki Lynch’s) and is called “Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses.  It will be on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.  I will cover the basics very quickly, but the emphasis of this talk is on the next step – how to choose grasses to place in your landscape – looking with a designer’s eye. I will give info and tips based upon growth, form and size as illustrated in the beds on my property.  No matter how large or small your space may be, there is a grass for you!

On Saturday at 2:30 p.m., our Master Gardener radio expert, Deb Walser, will be presenting “Garden with Children.”  You’ve probably heard her on WMT, and here’s a chance to see her as she shares her knowledge on how to pass along the joy of gardening to your children and grandchildren. She will also give valuable info on how to grow enough vegetables for a family of four in a space only 4-by-8 feet.

Our final presentation will be on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and is titled, “Old Gardener’s Tales – Fact or Fiction.”  Bill Oliver will be unraveling those words of advice that we’ve heard from “Aunt Nellie” or “Great Uncle Joe.”  What does science say about some of our favorite old tales? You may be surprised! 

Well, there you go – if you have any questions about the show, just call our Master Gardener Hortline at 447-0647 and I hope to see you there!   

 

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