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The Kansas City

GARDENER A M o n th ly Guide t o S u cc essfu l G a rdenin g

January 2012

Great Backyard Bird Count Ask the Experts Forms in the Landscape Lead Plant, Kansas Wildflower of the Year Meet Professional Alan Branhagen

Attention Gardeners!

If you’re thinking of adding a water garden this year, here’s why you should do business with Swan’s Water Gardens. Today’s Marketplace We realize that you are bombarded with many companies competing for your business. Everyone claiming to be the best or having the best products with the lowest prices. With so many companies just wanting to sell you their products for a price, then leave you alone to deal with the many mistakes that first time pond builders and Water Gardeners make.

We don’t think that’s right! When you entrust Swan’s Water Gardens with your business you get more than just the materials to build your pond. You get over 17 years of pond building experience and knowledge to go with your purchase. We are going to be here to assist you with the step-by-step pond building process from start to finish. Your end result a “Water Garden Paradise”.


In search of the ultimate Water Garden After 17 years of researching and installing water gardens we have refined our building techniques to a level that produces the most naturalistic and easiest maintenance water garden you can have built today. We call it the “Four Seasons Water Garden” for good reason. It’s the water garden for all seasons not just for Summer. It’s there to enjoy all year long. The best part of the “Four Seasons Water Garden” is it’s guaranteed from leaking for 5 full years. The longest guarantee in the industry. Why do we stand behind our work for so long? Very simple, when you hire Swan’s Water Gardens to build your water garden it’s the beginning of our relationship, not the end. So if you’re looking for a company you’ll never hear from again, then we’re probably not the company you’re looking for.

Swan’s Water Garden Center Located on 2 acres dedicated to building and maintaining water gardens. This year promises to be very exciting with the new water garden additions we have planned. You’ll be able to see water features you can build for as little as $295 for small patios or courtyards. We also have many more display gardens ranging in price from $2,500 up to $40,000 for a more elaborate feature built by Swan’s Water Gardens. We also have many exciting events scheduled for 2012 so be sure to watch for them in the upcoming issues of The Kansas City Gardener. Remember, we are a full service water garden company that carries everything you’ll need to complete and enjoy your water garden lifestyle.

Swan’s Water Gardens •

The Kansas City Gardener / August 2011

20001 S. Padbury Lane, Spring Hill, KS 66083 • Mon-Fri 9am-6pm • Sat 9am-4pm • 913-592-2143

The Kansas City

editor’s notes

GARDENER A Monthly Guide to Successful Gardening

Beat winter doldrums

Independently owned and operated since 1996 Publisher Michael Cavanaugh Editor Elizabeth Cavanaugh Editorial Assistant Lauren Cavanaugh Contributors Leah Berg Barbara Fairchild Diane & Doc Gover Willa Murphy Ken O’Dell Dennis Patton Distribution Publishers Delivery Solutions, Inc.

How to Reach Us ...

P.O. Box 8725 Prairie Village, KS 66208 Phone/Fax: 913-648-4728 For advertising information contact Michael Cavanaugh at Submit editorial questions to Elizabeth Cavanaugh at

Join us and fellow gardeners. Become a fan.

Don’t Miss A Single Issue! Get a subscription for yourself or your favorite gardener. See page 19. January 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener


ost of us have been a bit distracted during the last couple of months. We’ve been planning, decorating, shopping and cooking. We’ve celebrated well with family and friends, and have made lots of memories along the way. Now that the dust has settled, we’ve un-decorated, and rested for a few days, what’s next? It seems I consistently start January with a little bit of post holiday funk. It’s that letdown after the holidays have cleared the calendar, and I’m left looking at two long months of winter. Honestly, if I were a bear, I’d go to my cave, and set my alarm for St. Patrick’s Day. Does that sound like you? Can you relate? If so, join me in an active effort to survive the winter doldrums. I’ve compiled a few todo’s that might help. 1. Update calendar with garden chores. Last year I forgot to hard prune my boxwood in early spring so they start the season with thick, lush foliage. Is there pruning or fertilizing that you may have overlooked last year? Mark your

2012 calendar with important garden tasks. 2. Learn more about my gardening community. There’s a new community garden in its infancy in my city and I intend to participate. Over the years I’ve learned that if you want something you must go after it. You can’t sit on the sofa waiting for an invitation. Be actively involved. 3. Attend symposium, garden shows and classes. Between the diverse selection of classes offered by Johnson County Extension, Overland Park Arboretum, and Powell Gardens, and garden shows to see, I’ll be hard pressed to decide. My calendar will certainly be full. 4. Count the birds. There’s an annual citizen science project in February named the Great Backyard Bird Count, which I fully

intend to participate in. It’s easy and it’s free. See the feature article on page 10 for details so you can participate too. What’s your winter therapy? Are you a crafter, or a scrapbooker? Do you start seeds? Will you be planning a spring garden renovation? Join us on Facebook and share your suggestions. There we discuss/comment on a multitude of topics — from planting bulbs and ornamental trees, to compost bins and garden cats. We also invite you to share your garden pictures there. Whether it’s your favorite bird at the feeder or a picture of your Holiday Cactus in bloom, please share them. You will inspire fellow gardeners. I’ll see you in the garden!

In this issue January 2012 • Vol. 17 No. 1 Ask the Experts ....................... 4 Urban Farm Conference ........... 6 2012 KC Garden Symposium ... 7 Forms in the Landscape ............ 8 Great Backyard Bird Count ...... 10 GN Eastern red cedar ............... 12 Orchid Show ............................ 13 From the Ground Up ............... 14

Garden Calendar .................... 15 Upcoming Events ..................... 16 Powell Garden Events .............. 16 Weather ................................. 17 KS Wildflower of the Year ........ 18 Subscribe ............................... 19 JoCo Horticulture Classes .......... 19 Professional’s Corner ................ 19


about the cover ...

The Dark-eyed Junco is among many local backyard birds that will counted in February during the Great Backyard Bird Count. See the details of this citizen science project starting on page 10.

18 3

Ask the Experts! questions from our readers

Dennis Patton When to apply gypsum Question: When is a good time to apply gypsum to my lawn? I was thinking that maybe after core aeration in the fall would be the best as it moves into the soil easier? I have been told gypsum helps loosen our heavy clay soils. Answer: Never is the correct answer to when to apply gypsum to local soils. Gypsum is basically calcium sulfate and has little or no effect on our local soils. The myth is that it will improve clay soils by making them more friable, or crumbly, and increases water filtration. Research has shown that gyp-

sum does not affect these qualities unless the soil contains high levels of salt. These soils are referred to as sodic soils that have extremely high pH readings, above 8.5 to as high as 10. The sodium in sodic soil has caused the internal structure of the soil to collapse, thereby reducing water infiltration rates and friability. The calcium in gypsum will replace some of the sodium and allow structure to reform. Since we do not have sodic soils there is no benefit. So the bottom line is, save your time, money and energy and do not apply gypsum. Your time, money and energy are best spent on organic matter such as compost as it is the only way to improve the soil for the long-term. Other Extension sources Question: I so enjoy the Extension information in The

Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City Missouri


In partnership with UMKC Garden Collective

Lessons Learned in the GARdEN Spring Gardening Seminar 11th Annual

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for our region’s largest and most affordable annual gathering of gardeners to learn, grow and get inspired! UMKC Student Union and Linda Hall Library, Near the Plaza

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see, or call 816-252-5051 Register in January for early bird rate!

Register by FEBRUARY 24! Image from Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam courtesy Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology.

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Kansas City Gardener as I read it from cover to cover. Do you offer any other sources of information to help gardeners? Answer: Extension is your local information source of year-round information on both the Kansas and Missouri side. Here in Johnson County we provide several opportunities to learn more about gardening throughout the year. Of course we have the traditional publications and gardening hotline but we offer more online and through the world of social media. Best of all, these sources are free to the public. First is the monthly electronic newsletter we call “Knowledge for Life.” You may sign up for this newsletter by entering your e-mail address in the subscribe box from our home page at The second option for information is to become a fan of our Facebook page. Just go to Facebook search for Johnson County K-State Research and Extension and click like. Third, you can follow my tweets on Twitter. Either search on twitter for ksugardenguy or go to I know ksugardenguy is a little different but hey I need a private life for family and friends. Help maple overwinter Question: I found some small Japanese maple trees on closeout in November for a really good price. My plan is to hold them over

winter and then plant in spring 2012. What is the best method to help this small root ball survive our winter conditions? Answer: Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially on the prized Japanese maple trees? I have two options for wintering the plants. One is to heel them into the ground which means to basically plant them pot and all. This works great if you have an open soil area such as a vegetable garden. Simply plant the pot, cover with soil, then add a nice 4 to 6 inch layer of mulch around the plant pot and out a few feet around the container to help insulate the soil from winter extremes. The second option is to find a protected area in the yard and then heavily mulch the containers. Pack all the pots together and then cover pots and out and around the mass with straw or fallen leaves. Once again, the theory is protection from the extremes. Also keep in mind that the plants will need to be watered from time to time, so as

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to avoid drying out or overwatering. Either method should work; so come spring enjoy your new garden bargains. Compost jump start Question: I know that the composting process slows or even stops over the cold of winter but I was hoping maybe I could give it a jump start once spring arrived. Would the addition of the compost starters sold at local nurseries provide that needed kick come spring? Answer: You are correct that the cold temperatures of winter pretty much bring to a halt the process. Backyard piles are just not large enough to keep the internal temperature warm enough for the microbes to work. As for the activators I am not a big fan. They are basically a diluted fertilizer mixture. It is the nitrogen in the solution that mimics the greens in the compost chain process to help feed and breakdown the material. I think a simpler solution is to add a cup or so of a garden fertilizer to the bin and mix. This provides the extra nitrogen to start the process. While turning in the fertilizer this is also a great time to add water as it is the moisture and nitrogen that drives the entire process. Normally when a bin is not working it is due to a lack of moisture or low nitrogen. Ash problem Question: When my lawn service contract point person was updating me on my contract for the coming year he noticed my ash tree in the front. He then commented something to the effect of, “you won’t have that tree much longer because of the ash disease that is moving here from St. Louis.” He recommended that I start treating the tree to pre-

vent the problem. I heard about concerns for ash trees but not to this extent. What should I do? Answer: Well my first thought is that your lawn service point person is not really in the know. The problem with ash is not caused by disease but an insect called the emerald ash borer or EAB for short. This insect has been found in Missouri, but in the southern part of the state not St. Louis. EAB has moved rapidly around much of the North Central United States over the last few years and by all accounts will eventually make its way into the KC area. At this point we are not considered EAB infested. There are preventative treatments for this insect that bores into the tree disrupting sap movement which kills the tree. The common sense approach to this pest problem since we are not EAB infected is to do nothing. Applying an insecticide against a pest not found in our area is not a wise use of chemical products. The best approach is to keep your tree as healthy as possible through good cultural practices. Then when it arrives in KC decide if treatment is right for you. For example, I have a green ash in front of my home planted by the builder. The tree has a very poor branching structure and at old age develops decay. I will choose not to treat against the insect and take my chances. If the tree succumbs to EAB then I will look at it as an opportunity to plant a new tree for the next generation. Dennis Patton is the horticulture agent for Johnson County K-State Research and Extension. For free information fact sheets, visit, or call the Extension office at 913-715-7000.

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Remember our friends with feathers ... January 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

Host of Yard Crashers to speak at Garden Show


n his Facebook page, HGTV star Ahmed Hassan has the following quote that is attributed to Confucius: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” To Ahmed, this is not just a catchy phrase; it’s his philosophy, and he proves it every day. Raised on a California alfalfa farm, Ahmed was exposed to gardening and growing his entire childhood. He earned a solid educational background in ornamental horticulture, irrigation and landscaping. As a licensed landscape designer, Ahmed has spent over 20 years mastering his craft. In addition to his education and experience, Ahmed has a sharp wit and engaging smile. These attributes are a perfect fit as a host on HGTV and the DIY Network. His current show, Yard Crashers, has Ahmed at a home improvement store, where he

finds an unsuspecting shopper and does a yard makeover in a single episode of the Show. Ahmed will speak multiple times daily (Friday 1pm & 6pm; Saturday Noon, 3pm & 6pm; Sunday Noon & 2pm) on the Garden Stage at the Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show on February 10-12, at the American Royal Center. Be sure and bring him your landscaping questions; his wit and wisdom are sure to engage you!

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Urban Farming and Community Gardens to be featured at Growers Conference


he 16th Annual Great Plains Growers Conference is set for January 5-7, 2012, at the Fulkerson Center at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo. This conference is available to gardeners at every skill level. Among the highlights at the 2012 conference is an all-day track focusing on Urban Farming and Community Gardens in the sponsoring states of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and South Dakota. Urban farming will be the initial focus with the lead off presenter Katherine Kelly of the non-profit Cultivate KC, which helps people grow and eat healthy, quality food in city neighborhoods. Katherine has been a vegetable grower in the Midwest and active with

local foods, urban farming and nonprofits in Kansas City since 1996. “I’ve witnessed this agriculture niche develop into a dynamic and vital urban scene in less than 10 years,” says Katherine. “City residents are beginning to see how city-grown food can be a real contributor to the local food supply.” Registration for workshops on the first day is $50-$60; includes lunch. Registration for the second and third day of the conference is $35 each and includes lunch. For more information about the program, presenters, schedule, hotels and a registration form, contact Katie Cook at or 816279-1691. Conference updates are available at

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Spring Seminar and Linda Hall Library

n March each year since 2001, the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City have hosted their annual Spring Seminar just in time for the planting season. This year’s Seminar, “Lessons Learned in the Garden”, will be held on Saturday, March 3, at the UMKC Student Union and Linda Hall Library. The Linda Hall Library is the world’s foremost independent research library devoted to science, engineering and technology. Opened in 1946, the library was funded by a $6 million grant by Herbert and Linda Hall, with the stipulation that it be named after Linda and be “a free public library for the use of the people of Kansas City and the public in general” (from the Halls’ wills.) Initially housed in the Halls’ Georgian mansion until 1956, when the current building was finished, the library houses collections of journals and other serial publications, including monographs, conference proceedings, indexes and abstracts, documents, technical reports, and other reference materials to support the journal collection. In the 1960’s an annex to the library was built on the site of the Halls’ home to house additional materials, plus provide an auditorium and an exhibition room. Many architectural elements from the home were incorporated into the new building. Of particular interest for the Spring Seminar will be the

Rare Book Room, which houses collections of botanical scientific illustrations. During the Seminar, Nancy Green, Head of Digital Projects at the Library, will present “Women Advancing Science Through Illustration” (scientific illustrations by women artists), and Bruce Bradley, Librarian for History of Science, will present “Plants in Print, From Gutenberg to Modern Times”. Also part of the Linda Hall Library is the extensive arboretum which was begun in the early 1900’s when the Halls began landscaping the property around their new home. Scott Reiter, Grounds Keeper for the library since 1986, will present two programs in and around the Arboretum: “Tree PeoniesTreasures of the Emperor” (a look at the extensive and beautiful collection of tree peonies) and “A Year in the Arboretum” (an overview of the collection in the gardens and the arboretum building with discussions of the rare and unusual trees included in the collection). Join the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City for “Lessons Learned in the Garden, March 3, 2012. Registration and extensive seminar details will be available by early January on the Master Gardeners’ website: www.mggkc. org, or by calling the MU Extension at 816-252-5051. Register in January for the early bird rate! Deadline for registration is February 24, 1012.

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The Kansas City Gardener / January 2012

2012 Kansas City Garden Symposium ‘Grow the Good Life’ Feb. 17-18


oin gardening enthusiasts from across the region for tips and inspiration for “growing the good life” during the 2012 Kansas City Garden Symposium. Activities include a full day of entertaining gardening inspiration with practical tips, techniques and hands-on information, plus a presymposium demonstration and dinner lecture. Savory Tarts Demonstration by Ellen Ogden 9 a.m. February 17 at Whole Foods Cooking School Overland Park, Kan. Savory tarts are the perfect way to incorporate a wide variety of vegetables, and an especially good trick to know for those who enjoy their vegetables lightly disguised in a custard or sauce. Seasoned with sweet fall vegetables infused with fresh herbs or autumnal fruit baked in a healthy pie crust can create a meal fit for a king – without the

blackbirds. In this cooking class, cookbook author (and kitchen garden designer) Ellen Ecker Ogden will show you how to bake savory tarts with seasonal vegetables. Pre-Symposium Dinner Program by Dan Heims “Plant Hunters: Fabulous Plants from Around the World” 6 p.m. February 17 at the Brio Tuscan Grille President of Terra Nova Nurseries Dan Heims travels the world in search of the newest perennials. He and his team have introduced more than 700 new plants to horticulture, including many international medal winners.


with a Floral Design Certificate The JCCC Floral Design Certificate program is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and job skills for employment in the floral design industry. Upon completion, students will possess the competencies to be successful at entry-level or higher positions in the floral design industry. Students learn: • Principals of Traditional Design • Contemporary Design Styles • Wedding Design • Plants for Interior Design • Special Events Designs • Retail Flower Shop Operations For more information, visit or call Diana Ryan at 913-469-8500, ext. 5483. Johnson County Community College 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan.

Saturday, February 18, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. “Grow the Good Life” The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Atkins Auditorium 4525 Oak Street in Kansas City (Doors open at 8 a.m.) Ellen Ogden “Classic Potager Design”: A true kitchen garden goes beyond the simple straight rows of a vegetable garden to combine art and food in ways that enhance the experience of growing food. Dan Heims “Garden Gems: The Most Exciting New Perennials and Tropicals”: Join Dan Heims for a look at some of the most exciting perennials and tropicals coming to market. Roy Diblik “The Know Maintenance Approach”: Roy is co-owner of Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington, Wisc. His garden designs emphasize plant relationships, demonstrated in gardens he has helped to design, grow and install.

Andrea Bellamy “Growing Delectable Container Edibles”: Andrea is a home and garden writer from British Columbia who blogs about organic vegetable gardening in small, urban spaces. Early Bird Symposium Registration: $79/person (prior to January 13, 2012) Regular Symposium Registration: $89/person (after January 13, 2012) For complete details about speaker presentations, special symposium packages that include reserved seating and pre-symposium dinner pricing, and box lunch price and options, please check the web site, Don’t miss out; get your tickets as soon as possible. Space is limited. Call Powell Gardens at 816697-2600 x209 or register online. Presented by Friends of Powell Gardens and the Garden Center Association of Greater Kansas City.

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January 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener


Leah Berg


ardeners stay inside on freezing or rainy January days, busy planning what to do in their landscapes as soon as weather permits. While some New Years resolutions dwell on getting in shape, gardeners’ versions focus on getting the garden in better shape – but we get our exercise doing it! Stretch your brain and imagination this winter by thinking about shapes and forms in the landscape. In design terms, “forms” are 3-dimensional while “shapes” refer to 2-dimensional views like looking at a photo. Visualize the forms of people you can hug, rather than their pro-

file artists could draw. Drawings or construction paper cut-outs of Christmas trees reflect their 2-dimensional linear shape compared to the forms of real evergreen trees taking up cubic space in landscapes (or indoors for the holiday!). Children learn to recognize and name squares, circles, and triangles in their first books. As they learn to write and draw, they master other shapes like rectangles, cones, and pyramids. They practice fitting the right toy forms into matching holes, stacking blocks and slipping rings onto spindles. Notice these classic shapes while browsing those tempting images in magazines, books, and catalogs this winter. Then consider how they translate to spaces they might occupy in our landscapes. Observe the natural forms of perennials and annuals. Designers

Photos by Leah Berg.

Forms in the Landscape

Round dwarf arborvitae resemble balls that bounced down boulder stairs. use certain patterns to match or contrast hardscape features around the home like windows, doors, containers, birdbaths, or water gardens. Some occur naturally, while others result from human manipulation. We recognize certain species for predictable forms, like pin oak trees and weeping willows unmis-

takable even in winter due to the branching patterns. New evergreen cultivars may result from propagating unique growths like a so-called “witches broom” unlike the rest of its parent plant. An example now common in the landscape is Dwarf Alberta Spruce,

Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show

February 10-12, 2012 American Royal Center

Ahmed Hassan, star of HGTV’S DIY Network series Yard Crashers will speak nothing but the truth, the landscaping truth at the Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show on all three days.

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The Kansas City Gardener / January 2012

Compact globe blue spruce’s shape echoes arched structural elements.

Pyramidal pin oak with mounded and columnar junipers.

truly resembling a child’s drawing of a Christmas tree. Specify its scientific name Picea glauca plus the cultivar name ‘Conica’ to ensure getting this predictable variety, looking like an upside-down ice cream cone. Useful design terms reflecting forms apply and typically relate to some common names – and to scientific and cultivar names, too. Understanding these terms help ensure plant varieties specified and ordered match a designer’s intention. Substitutions or mistakes in an order could drastically alter the design results. If needing a compact globe blue spruce to fit a certain space, we want Picea pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’ and not a Colorado Blue Spruce that will grow to a full size tree. When wanting the “weeping” form of the grafted mulberry tree resembling an umbrella, specify ‘Pendula.’ Picture the columns on the porch of a historic home like Mt. Vernon. The term “columnar” calls to mind plants with a tall narrow form, like Arborvitae ‘Degroot’s Spire’ or Feather Reed Grass ‘Karl Foertser.’ Morton Arboretum notes that columnar trees (usually a single trunk) can be natural mutations from naturally occurring normal forms. Trees with many trunks or branches growing erect and close together to form a uniform, narrow crown are referred to as fastigiate trees. (Example: Upright English oak: Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’) Although used almost interchangeably in the landscape business when calling for a narrow form, these terms indicate slightly different growing habits. We push the limits of imagination by pruning, clipping, and shearing geometric shapes out

imaginations and we take delight in varieties with great structural forms as wells as colors and flavors. Playful designs in public places like Powell Gardens and the Kauffman Memorial Gardens include edibles, inspiring home gardeners as well as professional designers to use them in surprising places. Try erect kale ‘Red Bor’ and round cabbage ‘Ruby Perfection’ or mounded herbs like basil ‘Boxwood’ or columnar basil ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ combined with more traditional ornamentals.

of certain flexible evergreens. Whimsical evergreen topiary animals amaze us. It’s no secret that boxwood can be shaped individually like boxes, balls or into hedges with sides slightly tapered like a pyramid. Geometrically-shaped boxwood and yew populate landscapes, but only look perfect with periodic trimming and other care. Those who prefer less formally clipped styles mock the “green meatballs” and spiral-cut living ornaments. Formally shaped plants typically go best with traditional and symmetric architectural styles like a Georgian or Colonial residence. Informally shaped plants and asymmetrical landscapes usually best complement more contemporary and informal architecture. However, we see a lot of rigidly clipped plantings imposed around modern buildings – possibly because it is so commonly done and seems familiar and safe. Does this somehow also reflect our strong subconscious connection to the familiar forms and shapes learned in early childhood? Do we miss playing with balls and blocks? As demand has increased for lower maintenance and more sustainable landscapes, greater numbers of landscape designs for public buildings introduce the public to native plants, sometimes massed in geometrically shaped beds along buildings, sidewalks and parking areas and sometimes blended with more familiar cultivars. Rounded, mounded native prairie dropseed and columnar little bluestem have integrated many new urban and suburban neighborhood landscapes recently. Beautiful varieties of vegetables and fruits included more into home and work landscapes expand our

January 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

Let their forms enhance the structures we live and work in, feed us aesthetically and literally, and remind us a bit of childhood at the same time. Leah Berg is a landscape designer with a conservation emphasis. She teaches at MCC-Longview and is also the Agribusiness/Grounds and Turf Management department coordinator. She teaches classes for Raytown Community Education and volunteers for Powell Gardens. You may contact her at 816-3537170.


Plan Your Garden

Bring Home Some Wild Holiday Gifts!

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Fertilome Seeding & Cutting Starter Potting Mix Start Seeds indoors from January thru March. Get a jump on Spring! Starter Trays • Seedlings Heat Mats & Grow Lights available for better results. Winter is here! Don’t forget to feed your birds nutritious Wild Bird Center seed and suet all season long. Keep snow and ice from closing down your birdbath with a birdbath heater from the Wild Bird Center. Fresh water and seed will bring a wide variety of birds to your yard and help them survive the cold temps. Enjoy nature all year long!!

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Carolina Wrens

Cardinals (male left, female right)

Cedar Waxwing

Dark-eyed Junco


Tufted Titmouse

Northern Flicker

Red-bellied Woodpecker


The Kansas City Gardener / January 2012

Northern Mockingbird

Mourning Dove

Black-capped Chickadee

Blue Jay

15th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count February 17-20, 2012

Doc & Diane Gover


ow many days have you stood at a window entertained by the birds feeding at your feeders? If you are an experienced birder or simply someone who appreciates birds in the garden, then plan to participate in the 15th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This event is scheduled for February 17-20, 2012 (Presidents Day Weekend) and will span all of the United States and Canada. This annual event is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Go to www. to learn how to take part in this nature happening. Tens of thousands of nature lovers will be outside or looking through their windows, counting birds over this long weekend. You can be one of them! This is a FREE, fun and easy event and registration is not required. Simply go to www. to download a checklist for your specific area. Take part in this project to see how your local birds fit into the landscape of North America. People of all ages and skill levels will be participating. Your list, however long or short, will help scientists understand more about birds across the continent, as indicators of the state of the world around us. January 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

Counting for as little as 15 minutes (or longer if you wish) one day or all four days is not just educational – it can provide a lasting source of enjoyment, turning a daily walk or just a few minutes at a window into a treasure hunt. So remember, if you like birds and want to help them the GBBC is just for you. With thousands of participants, the GBBC collects massive amounts of data. The four day census is the largest Citizen Science Project in North America! After counting your birds enter the tallies at Every sighting reported in the GBBC becomes part of a permanent record that bird watchers, scientists and anyone with Internet access can explore at any time. Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop is excited to be a major sponsor of the Great Backyard Bird Count and to bring this opportunity to the residents of the Kansas City Metro Area. We invite you as individuals, families, schools and organizations to participate. Although it’s called the Great “Backyard” Bird Count, the count extends well beyond backyards. Lots of participants choose to head for national parks, nature centers, urban parks, nature trails, or nearby sanctuaries. If you have any questions, please stop by the store or give us a call, we’ll be glad to help you. Happy Birding! Doc and Diane Gover own and operate Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop at 11711 Roe Avenue, Leawood, Kan. Contact them at 913491-4887.

Fun Facts from the 2011 GBBC Birds Reported on the Most Checklists 1) Northern Cardinal 2) Mourning Dove 3) Dark-eyed Junco 4) Downy Woodpecker 5) American Goldfinch 6) Blue Jay 7) American Crow 8) Black-capped Chickadee 9) House Finch 10) Tufted Titmouse

Total Checklists Submitted 92,218 Total Species Observed 594 Total Individual Birds Counted 11,471,949 Top 5 Kansas Cities Reporting

1) Overland Park submitted 112 checklists 2) Olathe submitted 92 checklists 3) Shawnee submitted 71 checklists 4) Topeka submitted 65 checklists 5) Leawood submitted 45 checklists

Top 5 Missouri Cities Reporting

1) St. Louis submitted 139 checklists 2) Springfield submitted 130 checklists 3) Kansas City submitted 103 checklists 4) Jefferson City submitted 69 checklists 5) Columbia submitted 61 checklists 11

Grow Native! Plant Profile

Barbara Fairchild


hen Missourians search for a native evergreen tree, the list is short: shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata Miller), Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Ashe’s juniper (Juniperus ashei) and American holly (Ilex opaca). Shortleaf pine was a mainstay of Ozark forests and harvested heavily from 1890 to 1920—almost to a point of no return. Today remnant shortleaf pine stands are being restored. Ashe’s juniper and American holly are confined to the southern part of the state. Eastern red cedar, on the other hand, is abundant throughout

the state—more so than when the first European settlers arrived. In early Missouri history, Eastern red cedar typically was found on Ozark bluffs. Today it is found in nearly every county— a “pioneer” species in disturbed areas. It also colonizes glades and prairies that have not been burned, shading out herbaceous plants and leaching a resin into the soil that restricts plant growth. In Oregon and Hawaii, it spreads so readily, it is considered to be an invasive species. Since Eastern red cedar is so invasive, why would anyone consider planting it? Let me count the reasons: food and shelter for birds, butterflies and other wildlife; windbreaks for rural residences; easily worked and aromatic lumber; and landscape beautification are a few. Let’s start with wildlife habitat. If we could peek under the

Find the



snow-laden branches in the photo, we might discover a dark-eyed junco or a white-crowned sparrow seeking shelter from frosty winds. Cooper’s hawk, blue jays, robins and mockingbirds are among the birds that seek out Eastern red cedar as nesting sites. Owls, sparrows and a multitude of other birds roost in its protective cover. In addition to providing shelter, Eastern red cedar provides highquality food. Its dark blue berrylike cones are high in carbohydrates and fats and eaten by at least 20 songbirds and, occasionally, upland game birds. In fact, one bird (cedar waxwing) derives its name from its partiality to the berries. Mammals such as opossums, chipmunks and mice also eat the blue berries. In addition to birds and mammals, numerous insects rely on Eastern red cedar as a food source. It is a larval home for dozens of insects, including the olive hairstreak butterfly. Eastern red cedar has been widely used as a shelterbelt, where its dense branches provide protection from strong winds. Its dense branches also make it useful in screen plantings, where it offers year-round color and invites wildlife into the landscape. Red cedar, however, may be best known for

Visit the water garden specialists

Photos by Missouri Department of Conservation.

Eastern red cedar

its durable and aromatic wood. It has been used for fence posts, furniture, log cabins, interior paneling and pencils. The fragrant wood helps keep insect pests away from fabrics, thus cedar chests and cedarlined closets. Native Americans likely introduced early settlers to the easily worked wood. They used it for lance shafts and bows. Red cedar flutes were esteemed by the Cheyenne. Native Americans also

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Regional Orchid Show Will Have Hundreds of Plants for Sale

A used the boughs for bedding and wove mats with the bark. The mats had multiple uses such as roofing, partitions and floor coverings. And, of course, parts of red cedar were used medicinally by Native Americans. Leaves were boiled in water and applied topically to treat arthritis and rheumatism; tea made of the root served as a general tonic, tea made of leaves was used to relieve coughing and to speed delivery during childbirth. From 1820 to 1894, the young leafy twigs of red cedar were listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia as a diuretic. And since 1916, distilled oil of red cedar has been officially listed as a reagent. The oil also is used as an ingredient for perfumes. Eastern red cedar is native throughout the eastern half of the United States and has numerous common names, including coast juniper, coast red cedar, eastern red juniper, red juniper, sand cedar and Virginian pencil cedar. Seeing juniper as a common name reminds us that Eastern red cedar does, indeed, belong to the juniper family and is not, despite its common name, a member of the cedar family. In “Trees of Missouri,” Don Kurz notes that red cedar has been cultivated since 1664. “Some

gnarled cedars, on the bluffs in the Ozarks, have been aged at over 1,000 years old,” he says. Some red cedars have reached heights of 120 feet with a trunk diameter of four feet. In other instances, 20-year-old trees are only 20 feet tall with a trunk diameter of three inches. Red cedar grows readily in average, dry to moist, welldrained soils in full sun. It tolerates growing conditions that range from swamps to dry, rocky glades. While it has the best drought resistance of any native conifer in the eastern part of the country, it prefers moist soils. If you are considering adding red cedar to a landscape, you should know that it is a host for cedar apple rust and that there are male and female plants. If you want trees with fruit, be sure you have a female tree. Some Native Americans believed red cedar symbolized the tree of life and, given the food and shelter it provides to wildlife, that belief is right on target. For more information about native plants, visit

ccording to a report published by the Department of Agriculture’s Floriculture Crops Survey, the popularity of orchids has skyrocketed in recent years. No other flowering plant has enjoyed the increased popularity as the orchid. And orchids are second only to poinsettias in flowering plant sales in the United States. The reasons for the increased interest in orchids are understandable when you know the facts. Orchids are the largest group of flowering plants in nature with over 25,000 identified species. Orchid blooms come in almost every color and shape imaginable. Although orchids have an ethereal, delicate look, this is deceiving. Orchid admirers are increasingly learn-

ing that orchids are easy to maintain, hardy, and are able to bloom all year long. And those breathtaking blooms can last six weeks or more! Orchids thrive on filtered light, high humidity and moderate temperatures. Overwatering and too much direct sunlight are the orchid’s nemesis. The Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City will have a regional Orchid Show at the Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show on February 10-12 at the American Royal Center. Hundreds of both rare orchids and more common varieties will be for sale. Members of the Society can answer your questions regarding the care and maintenance of these exotic looking beauties.

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Checking Out The Neighborhood Down-Under By Willa Murphy


very day as you walk outside, do you think about what is taking place below your feet? Micro-organisms are aerating the soil, digesting the decaying leaves and rotting plant debris— creating minerals and nutrients for new plant life. The longer a piece of land lies idle, the greater the chances that numerous insects are thriving, depending on the type of vegetation present. Characteristics such as pollen, odor, texture, biological structure and soil quality will determine what type of neighborhood is under your feet. The broader the diversity of plant life, the greater the variation of soil organisms, resulting in richer soil and more nutrients for plant growth.

Soil that is not compacted will produce better vegetation and the inhabitants will do their job more efficiently. Frequently walking over areas you planted will hinder soil aeration and microorganisms from helping your pants grow. The less you disturb soil, the better chance organisms have to survive and be productive. When you flip that shovel of dirt over, you expose countless little creatures to not only sunlight but the drying effect of the air. You may have seen how stressed earth worms look

when they have been forced to the surface after a heavy rain has flooded their dwelling place. They come up for air only to die from the drying effects of the sun if they can’t get back underground rapidly. Not every little creature is helpful; there are some potential ‘pests’ that you don’t want in your garden. White grubs, wireworms, cutworms and others may call for prevention and the use of insecticides depending on the degree of invasiveness. But good insects can help to keep the harmful ones in check. The soil underground is similar to the land masses you see on a map. On land there are a variety of waterways which make transportation of goods and people possible. Underneath the soil there are tunnels and channels through which water moves and transports nutrients and oxygen. These waterways function best through well-drained soil which never shuts off air movement. Drainage is important because roots cannot develop, live or function without this continual supply of oxygen. Clay soil dries slowly because the spaces in it are very small and

compact; as a result, oxygen being carried by water is slow to arrive at roots, thus stopping the steady supply of oxygen needed for good growth. Sandy soil has many spaces, but dries out too quickly to benefit the roots which need a constant supply of oxygen. There are many ways to amend soil that is too sandy or has high clay content. Adding organic material will help to produce a better soil called loam. One of the best ways to improve soil content is the use of ‘cover crops’ after the regular planting season is over. These crops, such as clover, alfalfa, lintels, or beans, do a great job of adding nitrogen to the soil. When the crops have reached a good height, usually in early spring, turn them over into the soil, increasing the microorganisms, and breaking down this new food source. As the breakdown takes place, minerals and nutrients are made available to the roots of plants. The BIG THREE — Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus — are vital to all plant growth, and the roots are ready to take it all in and up. For a soil analysis to find out the type of soil you have, and how to improve it, contact the MU Extension office at 816-252-5051. Willa Murphy is a Greater Kansas City Master Gardener.

Watch This Space Find Out What’s New & Exciting for 2012!

Visit Your Local

Distributor 14

The Kansas City Gardener / January 2012


garden calendar

n Lawns • Avoid walking on frozen lawns. It may injure the grass. • Rake fallen leaves that pile up on the lawn to prevent the grass from suffocating. • Proper mower maintenance is important, tune now. • Scatter snow instead of piling up on the lawn next to drives and walks. • Talk with your lawn service about summer contracts. • Dormant seed following a light snow or rainfall.

n Flowers

• Scan nursery catalogs and the Internet for new introductions. • Plant forgotten spring bulbs. • Start seeds throughout the winter depending on growth requirements. • Water fall-planted perennials as needed to prevent desiccation. • Watch for signs of frost heaving and cover tender roots. • Replace mulch layers as needed. • Check stored bulbs for rot and decay, discard damaged ones. • Curl up with a good book or e-reader and learn more about gardening.

n Trees and Shrubs

• Gently brush off heavy snow from tree and shrub limbs to reduce damage. • Prune storm damaged limbs quickly to reduce damage and prevent tearing of the bark. • Allow ice to melt naturally from limbs. • Bring twigs of flowering trees and shrubs indoors for forced spring blossoms. • Avoid the temptation to prune on a warm winter day.

• Water fall-planted trees and shrubs when soil is dry and not frozen. • Watch out for rabbit damage to bark of trees and shrubs.

n Vegetables and Fruits

• Peruse seed catalogs and prepare order. • Check stored seeds for decay. • Soil test, and prepare for spring planting by making required additions. • Start vegetable transplants for the garden under grow lights. • Order fruit trees. • Pick up fallen fruit before spring arrives and discard. • Be on the lookout for rabbit and rodent damage to fruit tree bark.

n Houseplants • Wash dust off plant leaves to allow more sunlight to reach the leaves. • Water plants with room temperature water. • Insecticidal soap sprays can be used to remove pests. • Mealy bugs and scales can be wiped off with a swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. • Rotate plants to develop a well-rounded plant. • Keep new plants separated to be sure they do not harbor insects. • Reduce fertilizer use until spring when more sunlight is available for growth. n Miscellaneous • Repair garden tools. • Sand and seal handles to prevent splinters. • Brightly colored paint applied to tool handles makes them easier to spot in the garden. • Keep bird feeders and water supplies filled for feathered friends.

Johnson County K-State Research and Extension recommends environmentally-friendly gardening practices. This starts by identifying and monitoring problems. Cultural practices and controls are the best approach for a healthy garden. If needed, use physical, biological or chemical controls. Always consider the least toxic approach first. Dennis Patton is the horticulture agent for Johnson County K-State Research and Extension. For free information fact sheets, visit, or call the Extension office at 913-715-7000.

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anuary’s chill is perfect for feeding and watching the birds from a cozy perch—but also for bundling up and exploring the under-appreciated treasures of the winter garden. Visitors to Powell Gardens this month will find plenty of opportunities to do both, with a new conservatory exhibit opening Jan. 14, and a new series of nature walks. Winter admission is $7/adults, $6/seniors and $3/children 5-12. (Note: Café Thyme is temporarily closed; check for details on when it will reopen for the season.)

January Family Fun Walk 1-4 p.m. Jan. 8

Bundle up the family and get outside and get moving for fun and fitness. Walk the 1-mile loop of the Byron Shutz Nature Trail with Youth Education Coordinator Stephanie Acers, a naturalist who will show you Mother Nature’s winter treasures. Register by Jan. 4 at 816-697-2600 x209; $9/ adults, $5/adult members and $4/ children ages 5-12.

Feather Your Nest Conservatory Exhibit 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 14-March 5

includes the 3.25-mile Byron Shutz Nature Trail and back through the Rock & Waterfall and Island Gardens. Register by Jan. 9 at 816-697-2600 x209; $9 or $5/members.

Birding 101 with Naturalist Craig Hensley 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 21

Join bird-bander and Naturalist Craig Hensley for a morning of up-close and personal encounters with birds. Hensley will help participants net, identify, band and release winter songbirds found around Powell Gardens. From cardinals to chickadees, you’ll have a unique opportunity to learn about our local songbirds, how to identify them and how they make a living during the winter months. Learn what bird banding is all about and how you can help. Register at 816-697-2600 x209 by Jan.16; $7/adults, $3/children ages 5-12 and FREE for all members of Powell Gardens.

Five Centuries of Rare Botanical Books at Linda Hall Library 3-5 p.m. Jan. 27

Come sit a spell and enjoy the winter scenery from a warm vantage point. Local interior designers will create a variety of beautiful indoor garden “rooms” within the gorgeous glass-topped conservatory. These inviting spaces will include benches, chairs or other seating to accommodate at least four people at a time. Hot beverages will be available for purchase so you can enjoy a hot drink while you gather ideas for feathering your own nest or watch the birds.

Herbals were among the earliest printed books, often illustrated with hand-carved woodcuts. Copperplate engraving and lithography became preferred methods for illustrating botanical books in later centuries, but hand coloring of the finished prints continued through the nineteenth century. The results are some of the most visually stunning books ever produced. Join rare book librarian Bruce Bradley at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City for a personal look at books from five centuries of botanical printing. Register at 816-6972600 x209; $9 or free/members.

Winter Hike: The Bones of the Winter Landscape 1-4 p.m. Jan. 14

Bird Feeding 101 Discovery Station Jan. 28-29

Admire the sublime beauty of tree silhouettes, dried grasses, evergreens, winter seeds and berries with Alan Branhagen, Powell Gardens’ director of horticulture and master naturalist. The hike


Visit this weekend to pick up free information and tips you can use to draw a variety of birds to your feeders. Discover which seeds and feeds some of your favorite feathered friends enjoy!

Upcoming Garden Events places to go, things to do, people to see

Club Meetings

Events, Lectures & Classes

African Violet Club of GKC Tues, Jan 10, 5:30-8pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-784-5300 Bonsai Society of GKC Sat, Jan 21, 9am-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Workshop. 816-784-5300 GKC Gardeners of America Mon, Jan 9, 6-8pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Refreshments and socializing begin at 6pm. Speaker presentation begins at 6:30pm. The program will be “Exciting New Perennials and Annuals for 2012!”, by Rita Arnold, Arnold’s Greenhouse and Garden Center. ‘New plants’ are the driving force in horticulture, and we have added over 120 new cultivars of perennials for Spring 2012. We have added at least that many new annuals and vegetables as well. Guests are welcome. Join us and make a gardening friend. 816-941-2445 or Greater Kansas City Herb Study Group Wed, Jan 11, noon-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-822-1515 Heart of America Gesneriad Society Sat, Jan 21, 9am-12:30pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-784-5300 Independence Garden Club Mon, Jan 9, 6:30pm; at the Sermon Center, corner of Truman and Noland Rd, fourth floor. Visitors are welcome and refreshments served. Kansas City Cactus and Succulent Society Sun, Jan 15, 1-4pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-784-5300 Kansas City Rose Society Tues, Jan 14, 1-3pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Board meeting. 816-784-5300 Leawood Garden Club Tues, Jan 24, 10:30am; at Leawood Presbyterian Church, 2715 W 83rd St, Leawood, KS. Business meeting followed by program “Exciting New Perennials for 2012” by Rita Arnold of Arnold ’s Greenhouse of LeRoy, KS. Bring a sack lunch. Desserts & beverages are provided. Open to the public, guests are welcome. Contact 816-3630925 or for further information. Lee’s Summit Garden Club Tues, Jan 10, 7pm; at Gamber Center, 4 SE Independence Ave, Lee’s Summit, MO. Geneva High of the Lee’s Summit Social Services will make presentation on the impact that this office has in our community. Join us for meeting and refreshments. 816-524-8757; Northland Garden Club Tues, Jan 17, 7pm; at Linden Baptist Church, 611 NE 69th St, Gladstone, MO. Program: Sissinghurst Castle Garden by Dee West. Guests are welcome. 816-781-4569; Sho Me African Violets Society Fri, Jan 13, 11am-2:30pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-784-5300


Understanding Plant Families: Why peas and redbuds are cousins Thurs, Jan 5, 11:30am-1pm; at Wyandotte County Extension Office, 1216 N 79th St, Kansas City, KS 66112, Sunflower Room. Scientists have organized plants into groups, based on similarities in vascular system and anatomy. Understanding these groups and learning to identify a plant’s “family” helps gardeners understand its growth characteristics, improves communication with other gardeners, and aids in identifying unknown plants more quickly. You will learn about the plant classification system and discover family relationships among plants in your own garden. The class will be $5 to non-MG’s. RSVP to Extension office at 299-9300. The Green Industry (AGBS 100) Jan 19-Mar 7, Mon/Wed 5:45-8:30pm; at Metropolitan Community College-Longview Campus, 500 SW Longview Rd, Lee’s Summit, MO. This introduction to careers in the green industry includes a variety of local guest speakers discussing their work in landscape services, public gardens, golf course management and contemporary urban agriculture as well as a historical overview of the importance of horticulture in our lives. Instructor: Leah Berg. Fee applies. This 3 credit hour class may be taken for personal interest or by students enrolled in the Grounds and Turf Management program at Metropolitan Community College-Longview Campus. For more information, please e-mail Pam.Hensley@ or call department coordinator Leah Berg 816-353-7170. A Bird In Hand (Families, Ages 5 & Up) Sat, Jan 21, 9am-noon; at Powell Gardens. Come to Powell Gardens for a morning of up-close and personal encounters with birds. We will be netting, identifying, banding and releasing winter songbirds found around the grounds of Powell Gardens. From cardinals to chickadees, you’ll have a unique opportunity to learn about our local songbirds, how to identify them and how they make a living during the winter months. Learn what bird banding is all about and how you can help. $7/adult, $3/child (5-12), free/ Members. Registration required by Jan 16. To register call Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext 209. Or register online and see pictures of projects at and follow the CLASSES link. Basic Landscape Photography Sat, Jan 21, 10am-noon; at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 8909 W 179th St, Overland Park, KS. $20 per person. Class limited to 30 people. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to take your landscape and scenic photographs to the next level, this is the class for you. Carol Fowler and Dave Shackelford, local photographers and members of the FOTA Photo Committee will focus on the basics of lighting, exposure and composition when taking photos in the great outdoors. Indoor classroom only. Register by going to and follow the prompts. Bring your paid receipt to the class for admission. No refunds for missed classes. For additional info, 913-685-3604. Rare Books on Practical Plants Fri, Jan 27, 3-5pm; at Powell Gardens. Some of the earliest printed books on plants emphasized their practical pharmaceutical uses. Other early books discussed plants in the context of their economic and agricultural use, while still others were focused on growing plants for pleasure. Linda Hall Library’s rare book collection includes many of these practical books on plants, beginning with

The Kansas City Gardener / January 2012

books printed in the fifteenth century. Their beautiful and often hand-colored illustrations are done in woodcuts, engravings, and lithographs, making them especially appealing. Join Bruce Bradley from the Linda Hall Library for an introduction to these rare books on practical plants, and for a chance to examine first-hand several examples from the library’s History of Science Collection. $9/person, free/Members. Registration required by Jan 23. To register call Linda Burton at 816697-2600 ext 209. Or register online and see pictures of projects at http://shop.powellgardens. org and follow the CLASSES link. Native Winter Sparrows Sat, Jan 28, 1-2:30 pm; at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 8909 W 179th St, Overland Park, KS. $5 per person. Join R. Craig Hensley, a long-time naturalist and educator, as he focuses on the native winter sparrows that inhabit our fields, roadsides and woodland edges. Learn handy tips on sorting and identifying this sometimes frustrating group of songbirds through a lively presentation. This will be followed by a guided walk along the trails of the Arboretum to practice your newly learned skills. Bring your field guide & binoculars and dress for the weather. Register by going to www.opabg. org and follow the prompts. Bring your paid receipt to the class for admission. No refunds for missed classes. For additional information, 913-685-3605.

February Midwest International Society of Arboriculture Annual Conference and Trade Show: “Arboriculture – Above and Beyond Just Trees” Wed, Feb 1-3; at Doubletree Hotel, located in the Corporate Woods Office Complex, 10100 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS. Join us for three days of discussions on arboricultural topics such as “Diversity is Healthy” and “What Do Trees Need? Energy!” presented by Dr. Gary Johnson of the University of Minnesota. Speakers from Kansas State University, Davey Resource Group, Missouri Department of Conservation and Ameren, just to name a few, will also be presenting topics covering commercial, utility, and municipal arboriculture. ISA Continuing Education Units will be available. Sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities are available. For information or to register, visit or contact Greg Ruether 913-327-6634. Bird Chat – Fun Winter Birdfeeding Sat, Feb 4, 9:30am-11am; at Ironwoods Park, 147th & Mission Road, Leawood, KS. Doc & Diane Gover of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop will discuss feeding our feathered friends during National Birdfeeding Month (February) and what high calorie foods should be offered during the cold weather. They will explain the importance of participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Questions will be answered and problem solving will be discussed during the presentation. Educational handouts will be provided. Registration required as class size is limited. Fee $6. Resident discounted fee $5. Ages 18 years & up. To pre-register 913-339-6700 or www. New Volunteer Orientation Sat, Feb 4, 9-11am; at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 8909 W 179th St, Overland Park, KS. Consider spending part of your leisure time volunteering at Overland Park’s 300-acre Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. This hidden jewel at 179th and Antioch is a great place for people to get back in touch with nature, admire the beauty of numerous flower and water gardens and become part of a wonderful volunteer experience. You can find out about volunteer opportunities such as gardening, greeters, prairie restoration, greenhouse operations, weddings, photography, birds, special events and plant sales.

Free - only requirement is 30 hours per year of volunteer time. Register by going to www.opabg. org and follow the prompts or by calling 913685-3604 or by emailing volunteercoordinator@ African Violet Club of Greater Kansas City Annual Spring Sale Sat, Feb 11, 9am-3pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. 816-373-6915 or Honeybee Keeping 101 Sat, Feb 11, noon-4pm; at Powell Gardens. The honeybee is a highly advanced social insect, and many people enjoy studying its behavior just because it is so fascinating. But did you know the honeybee affects your life in a major way? In addition to honey, the honeybee is extremely important in providing you with some of the foods you eat every day, thanks to their efficient pollination habits. Hobbyist beekeepers all across America – people of every imaginable occupation and background – keep bees for many reasons. The first is the fascination of the hive or colony. The second is science and education as people of all ages have observed, studied and made exhibits concerning honeybees. Lastly of course is honey production and use. In this class you will learn the basics of beginning beekeeping, equipment needed, where to obtain bees, how to manage bees and how to harvest the honey. $24/person, $19/Members. Registration required by Feb 3. To register call Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext. 209. Or register online and see pictures of projects at and follow the CLASSES link. 15th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count Fri, Feb 17–Mon, Feb 20. Join Citizen Scientists (novice bird watchers and experts alike are welcome to participate) across North America in the GBBC and help researchers understand bird population trends. It’s FUN – It’s FREE and everyone can participate. Visit to learn more or contact the Certified Birdfeeding Specialists at Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop, 11711 Roe Avenue, 913-491-4887. Master Gardeners of GKC Gardeners’ Gathering - “Gardening With Nature” Tues, Feb 21, 6:30pm; at Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, 4801 Rockhill Rd, KCMO. Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture, Powell Gardens will teach you how to create a healthy personal sanctuary for you and all of life with design, plant selection and garden preparation. Free, open to the public. Door prizes. Questions call 816-396-5541. Birding as a Lifelong Adventure Sat, Feb 25, 10-11:30am; at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 8909 W 179th St, Overland Park, Ks. $10 per person. Class is limited to 30 people. Dr. David Seibel will share some of his birding adventures, exceptional bird photographs, and his expertise in bird calls and songs. He will explain methods of identifying birds, the different classifications of birds, and seasonal patterns of birds. Register by going to and follow the prompts. Bring your paid receipt to the class for admission. No refunds for missed classes. 913-685-3604.

Come in out of the cold and enjoy GCA January Program


den centers in Kansas, Missouri reak out of January’s winter and Nebraska, including 20 in doldrums by attending a free the KC area. program on “Cool New Annuals Pat and Leon Edmunds startand Perennials that Perform ed Kaw Valley Greenhouses in Beautifully in Kansas City.” 1967. Leon has a docThe Garden Center torate in plant patholAssociation of Greater ogy. They have nine Kansas City is sponchildren who helped soring the program run the business. planned for 10 a.m. on Until recently, Kaw Saturday, Jan. 21, at Valley Greenhouses had the Anita B. Gorman Dan Parcel supplied Kroger superConservation Discovery markets. However, in Center, 4750 Troost. 2006 Kaw Valley stopped selling The management at the to 70 supermarket customers in Discovery Center has decided the Kansas City area and in 2010 we may not offer coffee and they stopped selling to the rest nosh before the program, but of them. Now the Kaw Valley please come early to get a good Greenhouses only supply its own seat and grab handouts. retail outlets. Dan Parcel, who has been Kaw Valley Greenhouses has retail director for Manhattan, a 7-acre production operation Kan.-based Kaw Valley Greenhouses for 23 years, plans near Manhattan. For more information, check to present the program. out www.gardencenterassociaKaw Valley Greenhouses operates some 50 seasonal gar-


Weather Repor t

We are happy to promote your gardening events. Send details to: E-Mail: Deadline for February issue is January 5. January 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

Avg temp 30° Avg high temp 39° Avg low temp 21° Highest recorded temp 75° Lowest recorded temp -20° Nbr of above 70° days 0

Clear or Cloudy Avg nbr of clear days 10 Avg nbr of cloudy days 15

Rain and Snow Avg snowfall 5.8” Avg rainfall 1.3”

March The Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City will present their 11th Annual Spring Gardening Seminar Sat, Mar 3, 8:30am-3:20pm, at UMKC Student Union and Linda Hall Library, both near the Plaza. The Seminar, a partnership this year with the UMKC Garden Collective will be on Sat, with a special advanced training session on Fri evening, Mar 2, 5:30-8:30pm. For more info, see our website at or call MU Extension at 816-252-5051. Early bird rates available in Jan. Deadline for enrollment Feb 24.

Highs and Lows

Avg nbr of rainy days 7 Source:

From the Almanac Moon Phases First Quarter: Jan. 1 Full Moon: Jan. 9 Last Quarter: Jan. 16 New Moon: Jan. 23 First Quarter: Jan. 30 Source: Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac

Plant Above Ground Crops: 3-5, 8, 9, 26, 27, 31

Plant Root Crops: 9, 10, 15, 16

Control Plant Pests: 19, 20

Transplant: 8, 9

Plant Flowers: 26, 27, 31


Lead Plant

Kansas Wildflower of the Year

Ken O’Dell


he Kansas Native Plant Society Wildflower of the Year for 2012 is the beautiful native Lead Plant. Our Lead Plant is one of those true prairie plants that grows in many Kansas and Missouri counties and in many of the central and great plains states. A member of the bean family growing to about 2’ or 3’ tall with light purple and dark purple flowers. Lead Plant is not particular as to soil as it does well in sandy, gravely, loamy and clay soils. We have them growing in the prairie on our farm in Miami County, Kansas and they come up every year even when we cut that

prairie for hay every other year. Despite looking like a thin forb that dies to the ground each year Lead Plant is more of a shrub growing to 2’ or sightly taller in height with rather thin branches and it does not die to the ground in the winter. The beautiful grey-green foliage has many leaflets making up each larger leaf. Sometimes the tiny hairs on the leaves appear to be dusted with silvery-grey and some people say that is where the name Lead Plant comes from. Others say when the plant was first discovered it was growing near a lead mine and it was thought that this plant required lead in the soil to survive. It does not require any lead to survive. It is a beautiful, tough, prairie plant that will grow very well in our yards and gardens.


Floral Crew Supervisor/Maintenance Crew Leader The Brickman Group, a nationally recognized leader in the landscape industry, is currently seeking individuals to work in our Kansas City, KS office.

Lead Plant is a great food source for butterfly caterpillars. Lenora Larson, Miami County Extension Master Gardener, member of the Kansas Native Plant Society, Idalia Butterfly Society and Caterpillar Food Plant writer for North American Butterfly Association says Lead Plant is food for the caterpillars of Silver-spotted Skipper, Wild Indigo Dusky Wing, Southern Dogface Sulfur (its wings have a poodle’s face on them!) and the Marine Blue Hairstreak. The caterpillars eat the leaves. The caterpillar of the Silver-spotted Skipper makes a leaf-nest by folding over a leaf to make a shelter. Lenora says, easy to find on the plant — just look for little green tacos! The botanical name of this Lead Plant is Amorpha canescens. Amorpha is from the Greek word

The Floral Crew Leader position will be responsible for all aspects of floral installation and maintenance on our commercial accounts. This position requires that you are able to lift 50lbs minimum, work outdoors in various types of weather and be able to participate in snow removal operations during the winter months. We are seeking very detail-oriented individuals that have experience in either commercial floral installation or nursery experience caring for annuals.


Ken O’Dell is a long time volunteer at the Overland Park Arboretum and a member of the Kansas Native Plant Society in Miami County, Kansas. To learn more about Kansas native wildflowers go to www.KansasNativePlantSociety. org or go to or Contact Ken at

Save the Date!

Cottage Gardeners of Weston (MO) Country Garden Tour 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Friday & Saturday, June 22-23, 2012

The Maintenance Crew Leader position will be responsible for leading a crew of up to 5 individuals in caring for our numerous types of commercial accounts. We are looking for hardworking individuals that love working outdoors and have the ability to lead people. This position requires 1-2 years experience in the industry and knowledge of turf mowing, shrub pruning and general weed management. For these positions you must be 21 years or older and possess a clean Kansas or Missouri drivers license. We are very busy and hiring immediately. Please email your resume to Leiser at or come by our office and fill out an application. Our office is located at 540 South 12th Street, Kansas City, KS 66105. Our phone is 913-371-2661.

meaning deformed as the flowers only have one petal which curls around parts of the reproductive system. There are many of these one petaled flowers making up a 3” to 4” tall upright spike on the tips of the branches. The purplish coloring has some reddish purple stamens that add more color to the flowering heads. Canescens means graying or grey hairs as many of the early flowers are covered with the tiny grey hairs.

For Home Or Commercial Use 74th & Prospect, KCMO


Weston-area country gardens will be featured on the tour this year. See what’s down those country driveways, surrounding our antebellum (and newer) homes out in the rolling hills, high above the Missouri River. For more information, call Marilyn at 816-640-2300. The Kansas City Gardener / January 2012

Johnson County Extension offers horticulture classes


e’re kicking off the New Year with opportunities to learn. If you’d like to attend any of these classes, please call ahead (913-715-7000) to reserve your spot. Classes are held at K-State Research and Extension, 11811 S. Sunset Drive, Suite 1500, Olathe, Kansas 66061. Fee is $10 per person per class, and can be paid when you call. Class time is 7 to 9 p.m. For more information see our web site at www.johnson.ksu. edu. Monet Inspired Gardening January 24, Tuesday Claude Monet planted his gardens in Giverny, France as if he were creating one of his masterpiece paintings. Learn how Monet’s art inspired his love of gardening. This class will study Monet’s style of gardening and reveal some the techniques he used to give his gardens the

Professional’s Corner

shimmer and glimmer of reflective light. Basic Botany for Gardeners February 7, Tuesday Understanding how plants grow is the key to being a successful gardener. Using real-life questions from the Extension Master Gardeners’ garden hotline we will review the basics of plant biology and how it applies to good gardening practices. Vegetable Gardening 101 February 22, Wednesday It is so easy to grow vegetables in the home landscape for use in the family meals. This class will start with the basics and provide a healthy dose of tips so that anyone can have success with growing vegetables whether your plot is small or large. After this class you will be able experience the joy of picking it fresh from the vine.

Don’t Miss a Single Issue! The Ka nsa s City

GARDENER A Monthly Guide to Successful Gardening

For convenient mail delivery, complete the form below and send with your check for $20.00. You will receive a one-year subscription to The Kansas City Gardener. Name: Address: City, State, Zip: Phone: E-mail: Where did you pick up The Kansas City Gardener? Please enclose your check payable to The Kansas City Gardener and mail with this form to: P.O. Box 8725, Prairie Village, KS 66208 The Kansas City Gardener is published monthly Jan. through Dec.

January 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

Alan Branhagen has been planting things all his life. Name: Alan Branhagen Company: Powell Gardens Director of Horticulture: I supervise the talented and committed horticulture staff of Powell Gardens and work with the design, interpretation, development and management of the garden’s masterful 970 acre site. I have worked at Powell Gardens for 15 years. Education & Experience: I earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Iowa State University and Master of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University. I’ve had just two jobs since graduation: Deputy Director of Resource Development for the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District in Rockford, IL (9-1/2 years) and my current position. When did you know you wanted to be in horticulture: When I was a young boy, my dad and I went and bought an apple tree and planted it in the backyard – I’ve been hooked on planting things ever since and the apple tree is still there. Favorite tree or plant and why: I love all plants in their place yet White Oak (Quercus alba) is a favorite for its longevity, shade, stature, fall color and all the creatures it supports. Favorite garden destination: I find myself coming to Powell Gardens even on my time off! Beyond Kansas City it would be Chicagoland with cutting edge horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden, Morton Arboretum, Garfield Park Conservatory, Lincoln Park, Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue planters, and nature’s fabulous gardens at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (it is the United States’ fourth most biologically diverse national park!), Illinois Beach State Park, Chiwaukee Prairie and the regional Forest Preserves that make up the “Chicago Wilderness”(Cook County alone protects 100 square miles). What every gardener should know: “right plant, right place” (choose wisely before you buy and dig) A plant growing in the conditions that it needs is more resistant to diseases and pests, is more productive and beautiful, and requires less resources like water and fertilizer. It’s rule number one of sustainable gardening. Non-green industry interests: The three “b’s” of birding, butterflies and botany. Birding is my sport and I’ve seen 210 species at Powell Gardens and 166 species in my own yard. I wrote The Gardener’s Butterfly Book for the National Home Gardening Club. I worry botany is going the way of the dinosaur while life could NOT exist on this planet without plants! Company Contact: Powell Gardens, 1609 NW US HWY 50, Kingsville, MO 64061. Open daily from 9am to 5pm, April-September hours until 6pm; 816-697-2600,; 19


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K-7 & Prairie Star Pkwy Closed for Winter Season

105th & Roe

The Kansas City Gardener / January 2012 (913) 649-8700

Profile for The Kansas City Gardener

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