Posts tagged poppies

Lazy days of summer

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:


LUV having the windows open!  LUV keeping the air conditioner off!  LUV sitting on the deck without bugs!  LUV having to mow the lawn only once a week!  It’s August.  Summer is winding down.  The cicadas are singing.  The robins are readying for their southern migration.  Soon we’ll experience the vibrant burst of burgundys and yellows and oranges.  School starts in a couple of weeks.  Are you ready for some football? 

            How are you going to tend your garden and yard for the rest of the lazy hazy days of August? 

Now is a great time to tour your yard looking for bare spaces or…….a good excuse to

  • create a new bed or add plants. How about peonies?  Choose a spot with sun and drainage.  Plant the “eye” (bud) about two inches deep.
  •  Or dig and divide your (or your neighbor’s—with their permission, of course) overgrown iris, poppies and other spring blooming perennials.  A good rule of thumb is to move spring blooming flowers in the fall and fall blooming flowers in the spring. 
  • Plant a tree!  Fall planting takes advantage of favorable soil temperatures and moisture conditions that promote the root growth needed to sustain plants through their critical first year in the landscape. 
  • It’s best not to prune now.  Pruning will stimulate unwanted late season growth.
  • Think fall flower arrangements.  Invest in a Burning Bush, a Bayberry Bush or a Red-twigged Dogwood.  All have colored stems that will stand out in dreary winter landscape. And those reddish branches create an outstanding compliment to fall groupings of gourds, pumpkins and dried flowers.
  • Mid-August through mid-September is the best time to repair, replace or start a new lawn.  Lawns with fifty percent or more weeds should be replaced.  Always purchase quality lawn seed.  All grass seed mixes should contain several varieties of bluegrass, fescue and rye grass.

So, get up off that couch.  Get out in the yard.  Enjoy this great time of the year.


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Poppy Quest



Kathryn Armstrong Johnston and her daughter, Helen.

Kathryn Armstrong Johnston and her daughter, Helen.


  Kathryn Armstrong Johnston lives in Hammond, Indiana, but a search for heirloom plants that her grandmother grew is centered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

   A story about Kathryn’s efforts ran in the Sunday, Aug. 10 edition of The Gazette.

   Her grandmother, Esther Armstrong, lived at Pleasant Hill in Cedar Rapids where she gardened most of her life. Kathryn is looking for anyone with offspring from the pink poppies that Esther grew. She kept seeds from the poppies in a jar and often gave them to friends.


   Some side notes not mentioned in the article: Kathryn’s  father’s mother, Lorine Johnston, also was a dedicated gardener in Coral Gables, Florida.  Her mother had a garden in South Carolina while they were growing up, and several of her siblings also were gardeners.  Her grandmother’s younger brother, Preston Davis, wrote a memoir about growing up in South Carolina at the turn of the century.  He self-published it for friends and family, and to his surprise, it was bought by prominent libraries and historical societies around the country, and went into a second printing.  Part of the reason is that he describes in detail the plants his mother grew on their property, which is very valuable for those maintaining historic homes and gardens.  Her Uncle Preston later lived in Virginia and was well known for his camellias.


   Part of Kathryn’s inspiration for her search was a friend from a very old New England family (descended from witches and judges at the Salem witchcraft trial) whose family has their own bean, which they use for Boston baked beans. She got to eat some Pottle beans when she visited at spring break.


   Kathryn’s husband took pictures of her and daughter at their home in late July.  The phlox were from her grandmother’s garden.

   “I do not have a model garden myself, but I can dream,” she notes.

   Their daughter, Helen, was named after her grandmother,  Esther Helen Armstrong.


   If anyone believes they have pink poppies descended from Esther’s at Pleasant Hill, send a note to me at: or add a comment to this blog and I’ll make sure Kathryn gets the message.


   An additional note: Kathryn found a photo of a pink poppy similar to her grandmother’s at:

Check out their Web site for an amazing array of beautiful poppies.


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