Garden Happenings: Plant Sales

By Teresa Woodard

The plant-buying frenzy is about to begin, and there’s no better place for one-of-a-kind plants and great gardening advice than a public garden’s plant sale.  Besides, the sales generate significant income for botanic gardens, arboreta and plant societies.  At Ohio State University’s Chadwick Arboretum, for instance, a three-day event staffed by 180 volunteers pulls in more than $40,000.

Like Chadwick’s sale, many sales also feature auctions, pre-sale party nights, workshops and book signings.  To get first dibs on plants, check out the pre-sale events typically offered to members. No doubt, the membership privilege is well worth the $25-$50 annual dues.

Also, come with questions.  Many of the volunteers have first-hand experience growing the plants for sale.  So, don’t be afraid to ask for their favorite tomato plant, native shade tree or miniature varieties.  The only danger is you may end up with a trunk full of wonderful plants.

Posted in Happenings


Four Reasons You HAVE to Garden

IMG_2695By Michael Leach

When my sister and I were little and driving Mother crazy with noisy indoor play, she’d shout, “You kids need to go outside and get the stink blowed off.” Turns out she was right, as mothers usually are. Except she had no idea of the benefits of being outside. There’s more than room to run and a dose of Vitamin D awaiting. In recent years concerns about the lack of nature in children’s lives are topics of articles and books, such as Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle. Evidence links “unnatural” lifestyles to disturbing childhood trends, such as obesity, attention disorders and depression.

To help get the stink blowed off, I’m launching a new campaign called You H.A.V.E. to Garden. Gardening positively affects you in four significant ways: Your health, attitude, property value and environment. I’ll look at these areas in future posts. Meanwhile, we need to start using science to persuade non-gardeners to take up the trowel and fight for a healthier, saner world by working with plants. I think this is especially important for the “green” industry of commercial horticulture. We all tend to be more enthralled with new varieties and gardening trends, than promoting the benefits of literally greening the world. Something tells me Gen Xers are more excited by the idea of cleaning the air with plants, than the newest variety of pansy I’m trying this spring.

Even a miniscule amount of gardening affects people in positive ways. According to the America in Bloom, the October 2008 issue of HortTechnology cites a study of 90 patients recovering from an appendectomy. Half the patients were randomly assigned to hospital rooms with plants during their post-op recovery. Patients with plants had significantly less pain medication, pain anxiety and fatigue. They also had lower blood pressure readings and heart rates, plus higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms. They also said the plants were the most positive quality of their rooms (93 percent). The patients without plants said watching television was the most favorable aspect of their rooms (91 percent).

If you choose the right houseplants, your air will be less likely to harbor various pollutants such formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from indoor air according to NASA studies. Some are almost foolproof to grow, such as Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema commutatum, peace lily, Spathiphyllum wallisii, Dracaena fragrans; sago palm, Cycas revoluta, and bamboo palm, Chamaedorea seifrizii.

But there’s more. Outside the home, trees, shrubs and other plants are touted for their ability to remove carbon — plus create oxygen. Not to mention the benefits of a landscape for enhancing the value of your home’s curb appeal and energy savings through wind breaks and shade. Even if we garden enthusiasts can’t quote studies and statistics, we know our passion for plants is good for what ails us. Maybe that’s why, despite the aches and pains of a day of garden work, we can hardly wait to go out and start again tomorrow.

Designing Edible Landscapes and Gardens – PART 3

2011-09-14_12-26-07_745By Debra Knapke

(Abridged version of an article published in the Perennial Plant, Winter 2013, a publication of the Perennial Plant Association)

Plants for the Edible Garden that is in partial sun:

Not all of us have full sun (6 + hours) areas for our food gardens.  Below is a list of plants that will tolerate less than ideal light conditions.

Paw paw fruits

Paw paw fruits

Fruits  (caveat – production may be decreased)

currants; gooseberries; many of the brambles

(blackberries, raspberries, etc.); chokeberry; rhubarb; pawpaw

Vegetables   beets; cole crops: broccoli, cabbage, collards,

kohlrabi, turnips, etc.;  greens, especially in the summer months;

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'

Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’

horseradish; peas; potatoes; spinach;  Swiss chard


Vegetables that are the fruit of a plant usually require

more sun; 6-10 hrs. – eggplant, tomatoes, chilies, beans

vegetables that are a vegetative part of the plant tend to be more

tolerant of part sun/shade – 3-6 hrs.

Herbs (some prefer shade)   angelica, anise hyssop, basil, borage,

calamint, catnip, chamomile, chervil, chives, cilantro/coriander,

fennel, horehound, lemon balm, mints, oregano, parsley, rosemary,

sage, scented geraniums,  sorrel, summer and winter  savory, sweet bay,



sweet cicely, sweet woodruff, tarragon, thyme, valerian, violas, wintergreen

Designing Edible Landscapes and Gardens — Part 2

By Debra Knapke (Abridged version of an article published in the Perennial Plant, Winter 2013, a publication of the Perennial Plant Association)

Plant Selection – We often think of this first, but it should come in much later in your planning process.

tomato basil combo crop resize

Tomato and basil

There is an overwhelming selection of food plants in an overwhelming number of catalogs.  Plant what you want to eat.  If you are a beginner, choose three to five fruits and vegetables and one to three cultivars, or selections, of each.  As you become more experienced, expand your garden palette.  The gardener with the most plants does not always win.

For the more experienced or adventurous gardener, take the next step: consider using the age-old practice of companion planting.  In garden design we typically arrange plants by their physical attributes: height, width, growth rate, habit and seasonal interest.  With companion planting we group plants together that support each other.  For example: plant parsley with tomatoes.  Why?  Parsley attracts the parasitic wasp that preys on tomato and tobacco hornworms (caterpillars of sphinx moths).  These hornworms eat tomato plants, the whole plant, in 1-3 days.


Currants and garlic

David Jacke, in his two volume set Edible Forest Gardens, has categorized plants by their architecture or physical attributes and their functions in the garden:  N2 fixer, dynamic accumulator, wildlife attractor, nectary, shelter, breeding habitat, groundcover, and others.  You may be familiar with N2 fixers – many species of the pea and bean family – and the groundcovers that go a long way in preventing weeds.  You may not be as familiar with dynamic accumulators, plants that take up and store nutrients and then release them back into the soil as they decompose.  Nectary plants attract the “good” bugs that eat or parasitize the “bad” bugs.  This is the wisdom our grandparents knew and what we are now rediscovering.

Think of this as plant-profiling.   David Jacke in Edible Forest Gardens, Vol. 2, and Robert Kouric in Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally have created lists based on plant functions that will help you decide which plants will play well with others.


Asparagus and pumpkin

One final note about plant selection – while many plants support, there are some that inhibit. Plants cannot move from their rooted place, so they have developed strategies to be successful.  Consider the black walnut.  It is just as well-known for its allelopathic action on the potato/tomato and rose families as it is for its tasty nuts.  Have you noticed that plants, other than sunflowers, do not grow as well under birdfeeders filled with sunflower seeds?  The discarded seedcoats inhibit seed germination of other plants.  Antagonistic plant relationships often explain why some plants and gardens fail to thrive.

Many find the idea of creating and maintaining food gardens to be a daunting task. There is no replacement for experience, but there are many resources for the novice and expert alike.  Check out your state extension office and look around your neighborhood.  The closest “expert” may be your neighbor.

Jacke, D. and E. Toensmeier.  2005.  Edible Forest Gardens  (2 volumes).  Chelsea Green Publishing Co., White River Junction, VT; Kourik, R.  1986.  Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally.  Metamorphic Press, Santa Rosa, CA.   Republished: 2005. Chelsea Green Publishing Co., White River Junction, VT.; Soler, I.  2011.  The Edible Front Yard: the Mow-less, Grow-more Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden.  Timber Press, Portland OR.

Gardens to Drive For: Daffodils

Daffodils to fill our hearts

IMG_8226By Michael Leach

The most dependable and numerous spring-flowering bulbs in my garden are daffodils. Despite planting hundreds, there are never enough. When I see them blossom, how can I not think of the poet Wordsworth, the most articulate of the legions of daffodil lovers past and present? My heart, too, fills with pleasure at the sight of “a host of golden daffodils.”

DSC_0180For us narcissi-philes there are several places to revel in this diverse family of plants. Among the American Daffodil Society’s official daffodil display gardens are several in the Midwest. These include: Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL; Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO; Fellows Riverside Gardens- Mill Creek Metro Parks, Youngstown, OH; Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, Cincinnati, OH; Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA.

For serious enthusiasts, there’s the American Daffodil Society’s (ADS) convention, April 11-14 in Greisse daffodil garden 017Columbus.  Teresa Woodard also wrote a feature on Jill Griesse, the conference chairperson and her ADS daffodil display garden in Granville.  See the current issue of Ohio Magazine.

The Midwest Daffodil Society Show is April 27 and 28 at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

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