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The Kansas City

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

February 2012

Beautiful Bark Mr. Aden’s Favorite Hostas What Zone Are We? Vegetable Gardening: Seed Starting Choose Top Performing Trees

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 • 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

Independently owned and operated since 1996 Publisher Michael Cavanaugh Editor Elizabeth Cavanaugh Editorial Assistant Lauren Cavanaugh Contributors Matthew Archer Leah Berg Alan Branhagen Nancy Buley Mike Ditmars Janeil Egger Barbara Fairchild Diane & Doc Gover Ken O’Dell Dennis Patton Mary Roduner Diane Swan Brent Tucker Distribution Publishers Delivery Solutions, Inc.

How to Reach Us ...

P.O. Box 8725 Prairie Village, KS 66208 Phone/Fax: 913-648-4728


n the 17 years we’ve lived in the Midwest, this winter has been the most mild. With above normal temperatures – many days in the 50‘s – we’ve been able to spend comfortable days in the garden. It’s practically unheard of to stroll the garden in January needing nothing more than a sweater and sandals. It certainly will be a winter to remember. No matter the temperature, winter is an opportune time to admire the framework of the garden. There is a clear and unobstructed view of deciduous trees and shrubs. Garden art, pathways and trellises standout. And the evergreens planted throughout the garden are rightfully admired for their steadfast presence in the landscape. Another interesting garden element in winter is bark. When you’re in the garden, do you notice the bark of trees? Have you discovered the diverse textures? Can you identify a tree by its bark? In her article starting on page 14, Leah Berg introduces us to specimen trees with bark that provide winter appeal. The sycamore on the cover was photographed at the Linda Hall

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Library. It stands among the 450 trees spanning 14 acres. My “acreage” is a fraction of that (Prairie Village dweller), but I too have a stately sycamore. This majestic beauty must be more than 60 years old and is a treasured tree in my landscape. Every fall, though, it is a point of contention with my husband and my neighbor, who fervently complain when it’s time to clean up leaves. It seems they have a different opinion about the dinner plate-sized leaves that stack up in the beds and on the deck. From my perspective though, it’s those huge leaves that provide a canopy of welcome shade in summer. What I admire most is the sycamore’s characteristic bark, especially against a clear blue winter sky. Another favorite of mine is the river birch. We planted this tree in our landscape nearly 15 years

ago. Over the years it has had Christmas lights wrapped around its triple trunk. It has laid down and across the entry to our home during an ice storm, and stood back up when the ice melted. The kids have used the papery bark for a shoebox diorama in elementary school. The birds have perched waiting for a turn at the nearby feeder. And when the squirrels race up and around, that papery bark flies. As winter continues (hopefully in a mild manner), I hope you discover the beautiful bark in your landscape. Make an event of exploring the trees at Linda Hall Library, Kauffman Memorial Gardens, Powell Gardens and the Overland Park Arboretum. These garden destinations are inspiring year round. I’ll see you in the garden!

In this issue

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Winter discoveries

February 2012 • Vol. 17 No. 2 Ask the Experts ....................... 4 Summer Daylily Tour ................ 6 Mr. Aden’s Favorite Hostas ....... 8 KC Garden Symposium ............ 9 Winter Water Garden .............. 10 GN Rattlesnake master ............. 12 What Zone Are We ................. 13 Beautiful Bark .......................... 14 The Bird Brain ......................... 16

about the cover ...

Winter Drama ......................... 17 Vegetable Seed Starting ........... 18 Choose Top Performing Trees ... 20 Garden Calendar .................... 21 Upcoming Events ..................... 22 Powell Garden Classes ............. 23 Weather ................................. 25 Check out branch structure ....... 26 Professional’s Corner ................ 27

The bark of a stately sycamore is recognizable especially against a clear blue sky. What other tree bark do you easily recognize? Discover more beautiful bark starting on page 14.

February 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener


17 3

Ask the Experts! questions from our readers

Dennis Patton How much fertilization Question: I read in Extension information that the amount of spring fertilization should be reduced, but between the applications of crabgrass and broadleaf weed control I feel like I am overdoing it. Do you have any recommendations? Answer: Extension does recommend less nitrogen fertilizer in the spring months as it is directly converted to top growth which means you mow more and also depletes stored food reserves thus decreasing over vigorous growth of the lawn in summer. Fall fertilization which is applied in September and November is converted into stored food for the plants which allows the system to use what it needs when it needs it. So in answer to your question, I would recommend only one application in the spring, March through May. Broadleaf weed control is

best done with the use of a liquid which does not contain a fertilizer source and can also be spot sprayed on the weeds instead of a blanket application over the lawn. Crabgrass products are on the market without fertilizer but are harder to find. The answer then is to search fertilizer-free weed control products. If that does not work apply the fertilizer with the crabgrass control but limit any other applications. If you water on a regular basis during the summer an application is ok in mid-May using a slow release form. If you depend on Mother Nature for water then no more till fall. Moving hibiscus Question: I have a large perennial hibiscus that is too big for the spot in the garden. Can this plant be moved and if so when? Answer: Many of the cultivars of hibiscus do get quite big. They can be moved but it will require a little work. Of course what in gardening is not a little work? The best time to move it is in the early spring just before growth begins to appear.

Hibiscus size can also be controlled by cutting back the new growth. This is similar to pinching mums to make them bushier. When the plant reaches about 2 feet cut back to 1 foot. This will reduce the height and create a shorter and bushier plant. It will delay flowering slightly but also will increase the total number of flowers as there are more shoots.

Simply dig out and around the plant about 1 foot or so. When you start digging you will sever thick fleshy roots but that is just fine. Once the roots are cut, remove as much soil as possible. Sometimes the plant can be divided by breaking apart the various pieces. The plant can then be relocated to a new home. Like all freshly transplanted materials, be sure to water to settle the soil. It will also take a couple of years for the plant to reach mature size.

Conflicting information Question: How come all of you so called gardening experts in The Kansas City Gardener do not agree on recommendations? Answer: You’re funny or like to stir things up a bit? The answer is simple, do any two people agree on everything? We all come from different backgrounds with varying educations, personal experiences, and values that shape our thoughts. I fully realize that conflicting information is confusing when searching out information. I guess like anything else in life if information is conflicting search out yet another opinion or go with your gut hunch. Oftentimes in the realm of plant growth and development there is also more than one way to

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accomplish a task which could account for the difference. Another difference could be there is more than one particular time to do a gardening task depending on your desired outcome. Or last, it could be the difference of what is the best time to perform a practice. For the most part what I have observed in The Kansas City Gardener is good information that the experts just like to tweak a little. Thanks for the questions. Composting and walnuts Question: I am starting a compost pile and have several large walnut trees in the yard. The leaves are not a problem but the nuts all over the yard drive me crazy. Can I throw the walnut fruits into the compost bin to get rid of? Answer: Walnut fruits are organic so yes they will decompose. The problem is that they are very dense and woody. This means it will take a long time for the breakdown to occur. If the batch of compost that is finished and the nuts are still persisting just screen them out and throw back into the next batch. At some point they will

be broken down enough through the process to be used. I would have no worries about them creating problems with the quality of compost as the compound that makes walnuts toxic to other plants will be broken down in the process. How much compost Question: I am developing a new vegetable garden area that is 20’ by 4’. How much compost do I need to apply? Answer: The tongue and cheek answer is as much as you can afford. My recommendation for an immediate improvement in the local clay soil would be to apply a good 4 inches of compost over the entire area. Start by tilling the area to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, then bring in the 4 inch layer and incorporate. Don’t forget to soil test so that any adjustments to pH or phosphorus and potassium levels can be made at this time. 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.

February 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

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Summer Daylily Tour Part of Regional Meeting


Daylily enthusiasts are invited to the regional meeting of the American Hemerocallis Society, where Carl Hamilton (left) and Lois and Bill Hart’s (right) beautiful gardens will be on display. The gardens on tour include the following. Judith Durham’s Independence garden is laid out along formal lines, but the plants are randomly set creating a lively spontaneous



he Mo-Kan Daylily Society is preparing to welcome daylily enthusiasts to town this summer when it plays host to the Region 11 summer meeting of the American Hemerocallis Society. The meeting is planned for June 29 through July 1 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Independence, Mo. Events during the meeting include a program by Don Herr, a daylily hybridizer from Lancaster County, Pa., and a tour of six area gardens. Check Summer_Meeting.html for regional meeting schedule updates and information on registering. Events are for members only, but membership in the local Mo-Kan chapter is only $5 for an individual or $7 for a household. Dues can be mailed to Mo-Kan Daylily Society; P.O. Box 412071; Kansas City, MO 641412071. There also is a fee for the regional meeting.




feel. Although relatively small in size, there are 250 daylily varieties; 50 peonies, 30 iris and more than 100 varieties of daffodils planted between the daylilies, as well as phlox, crape myrtle, clematis, Japanese Maples, Magnolias and a long list of other plants. Durham grows many of the newest daylily cultivars, but her favorite of all time is ‘Pink Ruffled Love’ (Josie Bomar, 1996) which grows 18 inches tall and has 6-inch blooms that are pink with a rose halo and green throat. “Great color, wonderful form, round flat flowers, heavy texture and that elusive element: The Wow Factor!” Durham said. In Belton, Mo., Carl Hamilton has an eclectic garden. Daylilies are by far the most numerous plants, but he loves having a mixture of perennial plants and shrubs



that bloom from spring to fall. Interspersed among the perennials are colorful, hardy annuals like vincas, marigolds and petunias. His daylily collection has 260 cultivars and represents an eclectic assortment of types and colors. Lois and Bill Hart’s garden grows on 40 wooded acres just north of Louisburg, Kan. Lois has been a MoKan club member and AHS member since 1994, and is co-vice president. She is also a member of the Topeka daylily club, and is Region 11 treasurer. The garden has more than 900 cultivars of daylilies representing all the various forms, including more than 130 doubles and 150 spider and unusual forms. “I like to buy the plants that win the AHS awards if I think they will survive in Kansas,” she said. “I also add plants from the popularity

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polls in Zone 5 regions. I am partial to the purples and reds but those big gaudy orange and yellows sure are nice too.” She also has a large selection of shade plants, perennials, hostas and lilium. Elroy and Loreta Knoche have a sprawling 7-acre country garden near Harrisonville, Mo., that they have tended for 27 years. Elroy prefers vegetable gardening, but does include his spectacular selections of cockscomb among his veggies. Loreta prefers just about anything else that blooms. You will find peonies, iris, hosta, coneflower, cleome, balsam, zinnias, ornamental grasses, vines, flowering trees and, of course, daylilies planted all around the house and in large beds throughout the grounds. Their garden includes some of the newest daylilies, cherished favorites and seedlings that Loreta has hybridized. Mary Niemeyer began her garden nearly 20 years ago in Kansas City, Mo., between Ward Parkway and Wornall. Her garden has more than 350 cultivars of daylilies. She is partial to spider and unusual forms. Mary’s sister-in-law introduced her to daylilies, but a visit

to Kansas City’s Lenington Daylily Garden was the catalyst to begin collecting in earnest. Companions to the daylilies include rose bushes, coneflowers, coreopsis, clematis, hostas, ferns and lavender. There are also burning bushes, red twig dogwoods, boxwoods and a crape myrtle. Gayle Yelenik is a neighbor of Niemeyer. Her backyard garden is informal and includes some 350 daylilies, both older and newer cultivars. There are trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs, vegetables, annuals, wind chimes and bird and hummingbird feeders. She likes growing plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects to the gardens. Companion plantings include hostas, coral bells, phlox, lythrum, baptisia, rose of Sharon, weigela, butterfly bushes, yarrow, shasta daisies, coneflowers, milkweed, hyssop, blanket flower and herbs. She has also dabbled in creating garden art: a rebar trellis, stepping stones, and pottery. She likes using her garden too: cooking with herbs, harvesting vegetables, having fresh cut flowers and photographing daylilies to make garden note cards.

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hen doing research about some of the favorite hostas in the United States, the name Paul Aden comes to the top quite frequently. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Aden in the 1980s when he spoke to a group of horticulturists I am associated with. He has since passed away and left many wonderful memories for the hosta world. Before I ever met or really knew anything about Mr. Aden, I had a copy of his book, The Hosta Book (Timber Press). At that time it was a trailblazer of a book and we all looked to it for information on hosta. Since that time many new and more complete books, including

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blue leaves. Look them up at The Hosta Library. I have several Color Glory hosta with large leaves of a golden variegated background, making a wonderful strong clump. Fragrant Bouquet, brought out in 1982, is still very popular, and certainly is fragrant. One of the greatest hosta of all times, Blue Angel, was introduced by Paul Aden in 1986. It is a giant hosta to about 36” tall, and wider than tall, with large, lovely blue leaves. That same year Paul brought out So Sweet, which is one of the Hosta of the Year winners. Sun Power was brought out that year and it is perfect for shady gardens with its goldenyellow leaves that show up very well in the shade garden because of their light golden coloring. I have Sun Power planted under rather deep shade of walnuts, hackberry, redbud and locust trees, and Sun Power has great color in those conditions. Stiletto is one of my favorite mini hosta with its long narrow leaves of green and white. Very low spreading, Stiletto was registered in 1987. Fragrant Blue was registered in 1988 and is a very favorite medium size hosta. I am

Photo by Shady Oaks Nursery.

Ken O’Dell

The Hostapedia by Mark Zillis, have become available, and those are quickly outdated, as many new hosta come to the forefront through hybridization and tissue culture. The Hosta Library, www.hostalibrary. org, is a very informative, up-todate website for hosta people and a must if you want to quickly look up any of the names of hosta — including the names in this article. Paul Aden introduced or registered at least 150 hostas to the hosta world. Some people give him credit for more than that. He brought Hosta Blue Cadet to our attention in 1974, and I am still planting that beautiful small-size blue leaf hosta in my gardens today. Chartreuse Wiggles is a perfect miniature hosta with chartreuse-gold leaves, and I have them planted in my mini hosta gardens. Blue Umbrella, Big Daddy, Love Pat, and Serendipity were introduced to us in 1978, and these were for the most part all blue hosta. Serendipity is a lovely upright variety with light powdery

Photo by Rob Mortko.

Mr. Aden’s Favorite Hostas

Fragrant Blue using them for border plants in my shade gardens. Paul Aden did us all a service by introducing these wonderful hosta for our gardens. You will never go wrong by planting any of them. Google Paul Aden’s Hosta and you will get a complete list of his introductions. The Friends of the Arboretum spring plant sale at the Overland Park Arboretum on May 3, 4, and 5, 2012, will have many of Paul Aden’s introductions, including the ones mentioned here. Ken O’Dell is a long time volunteer at the Overland Park Arboretum and a 25-year life member of The American Hosta Society, www.

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The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

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

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 intro-

duced more than 700 new plants to horticulture, including many international medal winners. 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 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. You will learn how to design a new vegetable garden or renovate an existing garden based on classic design. Ellen is the author of four books, including “The Complete Kitchen Garden”, and co-founder of The Cook’s Garden seed catalog. 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. He has written two books, including one on horticultural humor. 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 – including Chicago’s Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. Andrea Bellamy “Growing Delectable Container Edibles”:

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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.

For more details about speaker presentations, special symposium packages that include reserved seating and pre-symposium dinner pricing, 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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The Winter Water Garden the weather is like and how the pond looks, a winter pond is superior to look at than boring brown lawn and dormant flower beds. The sights and sounds of a water garden beckon you to spend a little time, no matter how warm or how cold it is. This winter has enabled us to get outside and spend even more time around our ponds. When the ‘bad’ weather does finally arrive we can look forward to ever-changing winter scenes making the winter not so ‘bad’ after all. The breath-taking ice sculptures created by the waterfalls and streams are well worth the experience. The ice sparkling on a sunny winter day can’t help but lift your spirits and make it easier to handle those cold dreary days. The old school of thought regarding ponds was to simply turn off the pump and wait until spring. In other words forget about your water garden until spring. The real problem with this is you lose an entire season of enjoyment.

Diane Swan


hort crisp days and long cold nights…winter is here. But look out in your yard and you see a sparkling waterfalls cascading into a stream flowing through the snow-covered landscape. The ice covered pond is glistening in the sunlight and a red cardinal is sitting in a nearby snow laden evergreen. A setting perfect for a winter wonderland postcard. Snow can be breathtaking against moving water and ice formations. They provide visual interest like nothing else in an otherwise dormant setting. This year water gardens look more like a late Fall or an early spring pond. But no matter what UNIQUE GARDEN ART METAL ART • FOLK ART CHAINSAW CARVINGS

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Your fish, plants and overall water quality will remain healthier if you leave the waterfalls running as much as possible. Any time you shut down your waterfalls for any length of time, your ecosystem will become unbalanced. Water gardens are meant to be enjoyed year round. Winter is a season to simply enjoy your pond with very little work you actually have to do. • Aquatic plants have been trimmed and are dormant for the winter season. Nothing to do there. • The fish are in a semi-hibernation state and are not being fed until spring. Nothing to do there. • If you used a leaf net to keep the excess leaves out of the pond, then there is not much to do there. (If you didn’t, you may have to take some leaves out of the pond to cut down on debris in the bottom of the pond.) • If you have any Autumn Prep left (cold-water bacteria) put the rest in. There is nothing more to put in until spring. • Keep an eye on the ice buildup so it doesn’t create a dam and divert the water out of the system.

Not much there to do and you can do that while you enjoy the water garden. • When there is a lot of ice buildup or when it is a really dry winter like this year you may have to add a little water to replace winter evaporation. Water evaporation in the winter is usually very minimal, so not much there to do. • If you already have your aerator installed in your pond or have put in a de-icer to leave an airhole, there is nothing more to do there. So as you can see there really is very little to do to a winter water garden then to simply enjoy it. “There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you .... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ~Ruth Stout Kevin and Diane Swan own Swan’s Water Gardens, a full service water garden center. You may contact them at 913-592-2143.

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Birding and Houseplant Pests in Winter Butterflies at OPABG


rab your gardening and birding friends for a break from the winter blue funk, and head out to the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens for a variety of classes. Classes listed here are held at the Arboretum, 8909 W. 179th St., Overland Park, Kan. You may register by going to and follow the prompts. Bring your paid receipt to the class for admission. There will be no refunds for missed classes. For additional information, contact 913-685-3604. Birding as a Lifelong Adventure Saturday, Feb. 25, 10-11:30am; $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. Dr. Seibel is a native Kansan and lifelong birder. He holds a Ph.D. in ornithology from the University of Kansas, is a biology professor, author, poet, popular lecturer and avid nature photographer as well as an award-winning faculty member at Johnson County Community College. His passion for birds has taken him to three continents, six countries and most of the lower 48 states. He has captured tens of thousands digital images of birds and has numerous publications to his credit, including the cover photo for a recent edition of the journal North American Birds. Beginning and experienced birders alike will find this class appealing.

Butterfly Gardening: Add Flying Flowers to your Garden Wednesday, Mar. 7, 1-2:30pm; $10 per person Are you only seeing the occasional migrating Monarch? Like all wildlife, butterflies have specific needs that must be met. This class will review butterfly biology and habitat requirements with an emphasis on garden design. From early spring to fall’s hard freeze, butterflies need nectar-rich flowers to fuel their short life of love. However, feeding their children, the caterpillars, is the secret to success. You choose your resident butterflies by choosing your caterpillar food plants. Participants will learn how to convert their already lovely landscapes to butterfly habitats. Lenora Larson, Miami County Master Gardener, member of Kansas Native Plant Society and Idalia Butterfly Society, maintains a 4 acre NABA certified garden on her property, Long Lips Farm, in rural Paola, Kan. She is a proud “science geek” with a degree in microbiology, a career in molecular biology and a life-long interest in wildlife.


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Brent Tucker


nfortunately, every winter I have a small battle with one pest or another on my houseplants. Winter is a time when pest populations can explode. Beneficial predators that help keep numbers in check aren’t typically found in the home. And, I can get lazy. Sound familiar? Since I place my houseplants outside for summer to be reinvigorated by our tropical weather, pests can move in. But, in the fall before I bring my plants in I will start a pesticide spray regimen. Spraying once a week for three consecutive weeks will knock out most if not all of the pests. I will choose a pesticide

that lists both insects and mites because most insecticides won’t kill mites. This winter I made a resolution to check my plants for pests every time I water them. When I find a problem like aphids or mites, most times giving them several warm water showers in the bathtub will resolve the problem. Otherwise, I will spray the plants with horticultural oil that will suffocate the pests. This will also work on mealy bug and scale insects that can pop up too. Be sure to follow the label instructions. Also I test a few leaves on plants that I’m unsure if it is sensitive to oil before I spray the whole plant. Brent Tucker has been growing plants for 20 years. He is the Tropical Plant Manager at Heartland Nursery and Garden Center, Kansas City, Mo.

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Grow Native! Plant Profile

Barbara Fairchild


ith bristly-edged, swordshaped leaves, rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) looks more like a native of the arid Southwest than a plant native to Missouri, where it flourishes in prairies, glades and rocky woods. With a stark, silver-gray structural design and spiky flower heads, rattlesnake master has an architectural feel that draws attention to it, despite a lack of showy color when its blooms in late summer — typically July and August. Its spherical (about an inch in diameter), thistle-like heads have

greenish-white flowers surrounded by large, pointed bracts that give it a bristly appearance. While the flowers are not showy, they exude a heady, honey-like aroma that attracts a variety of bees and butterflies. These critters likely need specialized gear to get through those whitish, pointed bracts. Although not colorful, the distinctive heads and sharply pointed leaves give the plant a distinct beauty. Rattlesnake master grows easily in average, dry to medium, welldrained soils in full sun, but prefers dryish, sandy soils and does not do well with wet feet. Although it self-seeds in optimum growing conditions, it does not spread readily and is not considered weedy. It typically is about three feet tall, but can reach heights of four feet or more, making it a great companion for big blue stem (Andropogon gerardi), compass plant (Silphium

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Rattlesnake master

laciniatum) and other tallgrass prairie plants. Like them, it has a deep taproot that enables is to withstand drought and help control erosion, but makes transplanting after it is established nearly impossible. It has no serious insect or disease problems. While mature plants are not palatable to livestock and other grazing animals, tender new growth is a delicacy for them. For Native Americans, rattlesnake master served as a drug store and a shoe store. They used the roots of the plant to make a poultice for snake bites and toothaches and brewed and chewed the leaves to treat bladder disorder, coughs, neuralgia and rheumatism. When they needed new footwear, they bundled the leaves and soaked them in water to increase flexibility of the leaves. Then they could form

the warp or lengthwise element of the footwear. Cordage to weave the slippers together also was made of rattlesnake master leaves. The name rattlesnake master is a reference to its use for treating rattlesnake bites. Another common name for the plant is button snakeroot. The botanical name has Greek and Latin sources. Eryngium is from Greek Errugion, the name of a thistle and yuccifolium is Latin, meaning with the leaves of a yucca. It’s interesting to note this plant is a member of the Carrot (Apiacae) family. Its stiff yucca-like leaves certainly bear no resemblance to the frilly leaves sported by garden carrots. There is no medical science to support the medicinal use of rattlesnake master and creating footwear is now a factory job, rattlesnake master, however, remains important as a provider of wildlife habitat. It also makes a distinctive addition to home landscapes and prairie restorations, where it serves as a dramatic accent plant. For more information about native plants for prairie-like plantings go to www. Barbara Fairchild is the communications specialist for Grow Native, a program of Missouri Department of Conservation.

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816-763-7371 The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

Alan Branhagen


one 5, 6, 7? What zone are we? After the last couple colder winters I can clearly see all three! On the current USDA maps Kansas City lies on an island of zone 6 in a sea of zone 5. When I moved here from “up north” in REAL zone 5, I’ve always questioned that. I have to admit I was never taught hardiness zones in college but rather to look at what grows well in a region’s landscape. When I moved here 15 years ago I scoured the metro from Liberty to Mission and everywhere in between to see what grows here. Zone 5 means the average minimum temperature each winter is colder than -10F. The last USDA map was drawn by a computer after a series of particularly cold winters in the 1980’s that skewed the results. Those winters killed trees that had survived in many places for 50 years or more. It resulted in zone maps a little colder in places that rarely go that cold. Then, when we had more moderate winters plants also got hardier ratings because of the new zone map: zone creep! Nandina is an example of a zone 7 plant that got revised to a zone 6 plant. To complicate matters, new plant selections and hybrids have improved the hardiness of many formerly marginal plants. Consider ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ Southern Magnolia, hybrid crape myrtles,

‘Margarita’ Carolina Jessamine, and 10 varieties of the formerly tender, repeat-flowering Encore® Azaleas. All these varieties have 5 to 10 more degrees of hardiness in their genes. I know of a local 15’ ‘Natchez’ crape myrtle showing beautiful chestnut bark! Yes, it was -11F at Powell Gardens last winter but for just one night and we hadn’t been that cold since 1996 here. We’ve had one winter in that time period when the minimum was +17F or zone 8! Some areas around the Metro in low-lying or outlying areas did get VERY cold last winter and some areas reached -15F or colder. Oklahoma had temperatures of more than -20F (yes, even zone 7 can go that cold once in a blue moon like it has here in the past). My yard on the upper edge of high ridge next to Powell Gardens had -7F as its coldest, while some sheltered, urban courtyard gardens still failed to fall below zero last winter (zone 7). So where did your personal garden fall in this extreme? Most people in the core of Kansas City and close in suburbs that are on high ground all were solid zone 6. Outlying areas and low valleys where the cold air settled on those clear, cloudless nights last winter were colder than -10F. Even so, the cold didn’t do too much damage because it was brief and protected by deep snow “the other white mulch.” Growing season length also plays into hardiness, our often 7 month, hot growing season helps harden off stem and twig growth making it better to withstand cold. Zone denial describes gardeners who purposely push the limits

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February 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

Photo by Alan Branhagen.

What Zone Are We?

Jasminum nudum is hardy to only about -5F yet thrives at my house and has been blooming since late December – last year it didn’t bloom until spring! and cultivate plants from beyond its usual hardiness. You can be successful if you’re realistic about what the microclimates in your yard or garden are – those in last winter’s more mild areas can get away with more southerly plants.

At Powell Gardens we do play a bit with the more southerly plants. It’s usually just a few cold nights vs. a LONG, humid, hot and dry summer and weather data that shows average temperatures are going up, not down. I still stick to hardy, adapted plants as the bulk of any landscape but why not try a favorite tender plant in a potential microclimate where it might thrive. I do have one friend whose gardening style IS zone denial and I must say I enjoy visiting because it is like a trip to the South and Southwest. The bottom line is gardening is supposed to be fun and a way to express your creative side and meet your own personal needs and tastes. May we all have a great gardening year in 2012 and that my prose doesn’t bait an Arctic blast! Alan Branhagen is Director of Horticulture at Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden. See his blog at

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The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012




Beautiful Bark Leah Berg


ark on trees caught my attention throughout the unusually mild weather this winter. Bold arching sycamore limbs (photo 2) reflecting sunlight against a blue sky or glowing in evening light make this large native tree easy to recognize at a distance. Area garden centers sell related London planetree (Platanus x acerifolia) instead. A fungal disease (sycamore anthracnose) frequently causes newly forming sycamore leaves and twigs to drop prematurely in cool damp spring. Though new leaves emerge, hybrid cultivars resulting from crosses between American and Oriental species tend to resist the disease better. London planetree bark appears more like mottled army drab camouflage, less ghostly white-gray. River birch (Betula nigra) (photo 1) remains a popular suburban landscape selection, with many mature examples in our region displaying the peeling brownishorange bark and creamy layers beneath. Look for varieties resistant to insect borer damage, and take note of expected mature sizes. Popular multi-stem clump forms grow

quickly, often crowding building foundations and overhanging driveways. Newer compact selections like Betula nigra ‘Little King’ promise mature height and width closer to 10-15’ than the 40’ height by 20-30’ width of varieties like ‘Heritage’ or ‘Dura-Heat.’ To fit more confined spaces like courtyards, consider Seven-son flower (Heptacodium miconiodes) (photo 3), a large shrub suited to limb up into a small tree form. Shaggy strips of bark peel lengthwise and accent walls or smoothtextured plants nicely. In the perennial garden at Powell Gardens where room permits growing to full height and width (up to 15’ x 15’), countless clusters of seven white flowers attract many butterflies in late summer. A specimen easy to view closeup is tucked between a wall and black iron fence at the Kauffman Memorial Gardens framing the burial site. Along the entry sidewalk there, note the beautiful bark on a double row of Chinese tree lilacs (Syringa reticulata subsp. pekinensis ‘China Snow’) (photo 4). They have the traditionally heart-shaped leaves of common lilac shrubs and produce creamy white flower panicles in late May/early June. Their rich cinnamon colored bark remains the dominant feature during leafless months. Feel the lighter colored raised lenticels,

February 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

oval-shaped openings allowing for exchange of gases between the air and inner tissues below bark. Similarly prominent lenticels on Japanese flowering cherry trees like Prunus ‘Kwanzan’ (photo 5) display bark reddish-brown to gray-brown at its shiny best after rain. Cherry trees tend to suffer in compacted clay soil and droughts, so require careful site selection. Recently planted paperbark maples (Acer griseum) (photo 6) might be mistaken for single-stem young river birch at this time of year. One beside the Business Building on the MCC-Longview campus is a favorite of many of my students studying trees and landscape design. A notable mature specimen is easy to view beside the Linda Hall Library parking lot on the northeast side. When leafed out in the growing season, the main trunk is a bonus to notice when planted near paths or seating areas. Growing to 20-30’ at a rate slower than most maples, it’s a good choice for smaller sites. Stroll a little farther east to find the Greater Kansas City Champion Chinese tree lilac. Groundskeeper Scott Reiter planted this one in fall, 1991, plus several others recently. A little farther north on the grounds, the craggy gray bark on a native persimmon (photo 7 & 8) reminds me of alligator or crocodile hide. A persimmon grove at Powell

Gardens pleases visitors with beautiful edible fruit, too. While on the grounds here, locate several wonderful lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia) (photo 9 & 10), one north of the public parking lot, another nearby in an island, and one on the south grounds. Up close the mottled patterns on the trunk resemble ancient charts or topographical maps. These grow at a moderate rate to become 35-50’ tall and wide and are not bothered by Dutch elm disease. Also called Chinese elm, don’t confuse with common undesirable Siberian elm. Finally, visit the large lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana) (photo 11) along the sidewalk between the east side of the Library and Cherry St. So far this uncommon species seems healthier than the Austrian and Scotch pines dying in our region. By planting diverse species like these in our landscapes, we minimize loss due to diseases and insect attacks as well as enrich the scenery. Choose more woody plants with beautiful bark qualities to stand out in winter! 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. Contact her at 816353-7170. 15

The Bird Brain

answers your backyard birding questions needed break from today’s stressful lifestyles. So sit back, stay warm and enjoy this wonderful hobby right in your own backyard. Q. Why in the world would a bird bathe in freezing temperatures? A. Birds need a source of liquid water for drinking and bathing to maintain their metabolism during cold weather. Clean feathers help birds stay warm, and a heated birdbath is often the only way for some birds to drink and keep their feathers in top condition. After splashing around in a bath, a bird usually perches in a sunny spot and fluffs its feathers out to dry. Then it carefully preens each feather, adding a protective coating of oil secreted by a gland at the base of its tail. Most birds adjust their feathers to create air pockets which help them to keep warm. The soft,

Doc & Diane Gover


ost of us are tired of winter by now and our backyard birds are tired, too. For those unaware, February is National Birdfeeding Month. It is one of the toughest months for our wild birds. The natural seed and berries that many birds typically feed on have been eaten or are covered by a blanket of snow. Americans are encouraged to provide food, liquid water and shelter for the birds. Caring for the birds can be an entertaining and educational experience for both children and adults. It also provides a much

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fluffy down feathers are puffed up with air to create a warm blanket around the bird. The body feathers lie on top of each other, overlapping like shingles on a roof. Small interlocking barbules, or “hairs”, zip their feathers together to create an airtight windbreaker. Research has shown that a chickadee with well-maintained feathers can create a 70 degree (F) layer of insulation between the outside air and its skin. Q. How do I go about identifying a bird at my feeder? A. Notice the two or three most obvious markings on the bird. Next observe the size. For example, is it as big as a robin? Start at the top of the head and be sure to look closely at the shape of the beak. Then move downward and back to the tip of the tail. Take in the true coloration of the bird. Check your observations against images in a reputable field guide. Good luck, you should be on your way to a positive ID.

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The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

Winter Drama in the Garden By Janeil Egger


inter is a wonderful time of year to enjoy all out drama in the garden! If the weather is tolerable at all, I love to be outside and in the world of plants. The importance of “good bones” for the garden is essential, of course, and the nakedness of most plant material and sites in the winter makes this season an excellent time to see what you’ve got and correct or add to as needed. Pruning a tree or shrub when you can see crossed branches and lack of balance is so much easier. Something else I enjoy is what nature provides in the display of herbaceous “fluff plants”, especially during the winter months. Last year, we planted a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’). What a spectacular show its twisted and gnarled branches provide in the winter! I’m learning to love this plant (also called Contorted Filbert) more and more. Its branches are ideal for

cutting and mixing with winter greens. For some unconventional drama, try spray painting the branches black, or even gold or silver. After its wonderful winter display, interesting yellow catkins will drip down its branches in a regal display of early spring color. Talk about plant material with plenty of seasonal interest, this one seems to have it all. I like to leave some perennials with their seed heads proudly displayed in the winter garden. Gold sturm, coneflowers, sunflowers, and other “heady” perennials stand as a source of food for the birds, and are gaining momentum among gardeners who admire their distinctly native look that prevails even when they are not flowering. Snow balanced on the arching canes and bobbing heads present a wild and wonderful visual delight! I have four window boxes that are at their best during the spring and summer seasons when they are

jam-packed with bold color and texture. During the winter months, I like to fill them with large sprays of evergreens and a variety of branches displaying eye-catching winter berries and pods, anchoring them in the resting soil. I “earmark” evergreens during the year, anticipating how I will prune them for transition into the waiting window boxes. As an added bonus, the window

boxes are easily maintained during the winter months: no watering, no fertilizing, no deadheading...a gardener’s dream. I also like to use weather proof free-standing containers filled with material collected from the winter garden; they seem to come alive with texture and color. Branches, pruned from a birch tree and tied together with thick raffia material, also provide excellent vertical interest in a large container. It’s a fresh look for winter and there is no cost involved. The ache of waiting for spring seems so much less when the winter garden is enjoyed as the uncommonly beautiful source of delight and adventure that you can enjoy right now. “Playing” in my garden on a frosty winter day inspires me to plan and dream...and I’ve got the time NOW to do it! Janeil Egger is a Greater Kansas City Master Gardener.

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Vegetable Gardening: Seed Starting

Matthew Archer


egetable gardening remains popular every year. Kansas City residents are looking for vegetable garden tips, strategies, and materials to aid in more successful growing and more bountiful harvests. Customers often ask about the process of starting plants from seeds, as there are many challenges to factor when seeding indoors or outside. However, for the challenges they face, gardeners are rewarded with a larger selection plant varieties, as garden centers generally offer more varieties of vegetables from seed vs. started plants. Also, costs associated with seeding are lower, if done success-

fully, than purchasing plant starts. As we look ahead to the 2012 growing season, here are a few tips and strategies to help make your seeding endeavors more successful. Soil: Do not use garden soil. I recommend a high quality “soilless” potting mix. ‘Dirt’ from the yard is not a good way to save money. You will have compaction issues and much lower germination/ growth rates compared to potting mixes. As it has been said, “Success starts with soil”. Fertilome’s Seed & Cutting mix is a good growing media. This mix contains sphagnum peat, horticultural perlite, and dolomitic limestone. These ingredients are essential to maintain a moist, pH-balanced environment while allowing air to move freely into young root zones. A surfactant has been added to this product, as a wetting agent, to increase uniform water penetration to all soil areas. You will need a plastic 10”x20” tray and your preference of an 1801, 606, 1204, 7201 cell liner.

These numbers are referring to how many cells there are per plastic sheet. Think of bedding plants in retail centers. Four-pack annuals are generally a 10”x20” footprint with a 1204 plastic liner = 12ea. tearaway 4-packs = 48 individual soil cells. The difference in liners only determines how long a seedling can remain after fully rooting in an individual cell. Afterward, it will be transplanted into a larger container, or into an outdoor garden.

Light: Very important factor for several reasons. Some seeds have shallow sowing depths to receive signals from direct light to begin germination. In contrast, others must be sown deeply, as light inhibits these seeds from germinating. Seed packages will inform as to proper seed depth. Next, having an ample source of light will affect the strength of emerging seedlings. An unobstructed southern facing window is usually sufficient, but

Johnson County

Home & Garden Show

March 2-4 Overland Park Convention Center

Joe Lamp’l, host of “Fresh from the Garden” on the DIY Network, will speak daily on the Garden Stage.

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The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

if not available in your home, use a grow light. Full spectrum T-5 fluorescent lights are becoming our biggest sellers for seeding, cuttings, and early vegetative growth. T-5’s have very low energy consumption, at 54 watts (~1/20th kWh), with high light intensity output, at 5022 lumens. KCP&L charges our store ~12¢ per kWh, so to run a 4’ T-5 bulb for 14 hours costs 8.4¢ per day. One 4’ T-5 fixture will supply enough growing light for two 10”x20” trays. Temperature: In general, most seeds will germinate indoors in average room temperature environments. By placing seed trays near heat vents or radiators, or purchasing horticultural heating mats, germination can be hastened. Some plants, tomatoes and peppers to name a few, need soil temperatures higher than 70°F to germinate and thrive. Water: Soil moisture and humidity levels will play a vital role in seedling success. I recommend to sow seeds into pre-moistened soil,

as it is easier to manipulate seed positioning and depth. Once sown, place a vented humidity dome over the seed tray to aid in regulating temperature, soil moisture, and of course humidity. Proper watering techniques vary per plant. In general, use a misting bottle for pre-germination thru early growth. Soggy soil can lead to seed and seedling rot issues. Once seedlings have formed the first set of true leaves, begin watering the entire area thoroughly enough to cause drainage, then allowing the individual cells to dry between waterings. This drying sequence allows oxygen to penetrate to the root zone. Hopefully, these refresher tips will aid your seed starting. Remember, the real reward in starting gardens from seed is not the cost savings, but the wide selection, the anticipation, and the satisfaction of abundantly raising and culturing life. This spring, make it a point to take the time and have fun shopping local seed racks. Read the descriptions. Study the diversity. Envision your garden as it could be, full of dozens of vegetable varieties you, your family and friends have not experienced. The colorful pictures on seed tags, the promise of a healthy, bountiful harvest, makes even the most seasoned gardener a little bit happier after the long, barren winter months. Matthew Archer is the plant manager/buyer and the fourth generation at Soil Service Garden Center – Kansas City’s One Stop Garden Shop. Contact him at 816-444-3403 or

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Choose Top Performing Trees


ow is the time to behold the winter wonder of trees. Two bold-barked beauties with very different character share the spotlight as top performers for the Kansas City region. Proving that beauty is more than skin-deep, Paperbark Maple and Seven-son Flower are highly rated favorites on the “Great Trees for Kansas City” list, compiled by a panel of local experts. Worlds apart in appearance and style, both of these small trees of Asian origin are traffic-stoppers in winter when most trees suffer from the winter blahs. Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) is named for its smooth, cinnamon-orange bark that exfoliates in long, paper-thin, curling tendrils. “Touch-me” bark is irresistible at any time of year, but especially so in winter, when frosted with snow and backlit by late afternoon sun, or uplit at night by strategically placed landscape lighting. Extraordinary four-season beauty, longevity and proven per-

formance earns Paperbark Maple a place at the top of most lists of trees with winter appeal, including the Small Trees for the Landscape list that’s part of a larger Great Trees for the Kansas City Region list. Delicate, dark green, heat resistant leaves and extraordinary fall color helped launch Paperbark Maple to the #1 spot of the Small Trees for the Landscape list, beating out 152 others that were ranked for overall performance by 17 expert local horticulturists. Considered for many years to be a pampered garden tree, Paperbark Maple has proven to be a streettough urban survivor as well. Its track record as a street tree for the Kansas City region earned it a #10 ranking among the 153 trees evaluated for use as small street trees. Few trees of any species can match the winter appeal of this hardy pest and disease resistant tree. Multi-stem trees multiply its unique visual appeal. Not to be outshone by the bark, the foli-

Photos courtesy J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.

By Nancy Buley

Seven-son Flower

age orchestrates its own command performance during the growing season. Small, tri-foliate leaves emerge light green in spring, adding a strong textural element as they mature to medium green in summer. Drought and heat tolerant, they flaunt brilliant, long-lasting red fall color late into autumn. Strong, hard wood and open, upright angled branch angles protect Paperbark Maple from breakage and damage from snow, ice and wind. Seven-son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides) is a rugged individual, unique in form, flower, foliage and bark. Its unusually rugged, strongly textured bark makes this small tree or large multi-stem shrub a standout in the winter garden. Attractive Randy’s year-round, winter is the season when curling ribbons of exfoliating, vertically striped, grey-brown bark create the perfect foil for sparkling, pure white snow. An artistic, arching and open Dirt • Rock • Mulch • Pavers • Retaining Wall • Flagstone • Wall Stone growth habit results when Sevenson Flower is grown as a large, upright spreading, multi-stemmed shrub. It reaches a height of about 14 feet with a spread of about 10 RANDY’S feet. Space-challenged gardeners can choose single-stemmed, tree for aSUPERCENTER more compact plant &forms BULK under which annuals, perennials Dirt • Rock • Mulch • Pavers and small shrubs can be•grown. Retaining Wall Flagstone Wall fare Stone well in Tree forms also parking strips where they can be pruned up for traffic and pedestrian clearance, and mature to heights that prevent conflict with utility lines. In either case, glossy green summer foliage is lush and tropical in appearance, and turns yellow in Like us on autumn. Narrow, pointed leaves are rather thick and strongly veined, and resistant to heat drying projects. winds. We have all you need for yourand outdoor Premium Mulch and Topsoil bulk deliverywhite available. Petite, fragrant flowAnnuals • Perennials • Shrubs • Pond Plants 1820 NE County Park Rd, Lee’s Summit, MO ers appear in clusters of seven in Garden Decor • Seed & Fertilizer 11/4 mi. East of Hwy 291 on Colbern Rd, in Lee’s Summit, MO

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Paperbark Maple late summer, long after most trees have flowered. These delicate, starshaped blooms attract hummingbirds, butterflies, honeybees and other pollinators, and are inspiration for the “Hepta-” and “seven son” segments of the Latin and common names. After the flower petals drop, the long lasting, ornamental calyxes take center stage, shining bright red to maroon well into fall. These unique “flower” clusters are even more ornamental and eye-catching than the flowers themselves. Named a Plant of Merit for 2008 by the Missouri Botanical Garden, the record of Seven-son Flower as a proven performer is reinforced by its #19 ranking in order of preference among the 153 trees rated for the Great Trees for Kansas City list. The Great Trees for Kansas City list is dedicated to helping residents and landscape professionals of the region choose the very best and most suitable trees for local landscapes. A goal of the project is to increase the diversity of species in the region’s urban forest. This monthly series highlights top performers for the Kansas City region. You can find all four lists, and the names and credentials of the experts who ranked them, at Nancy Buley is with J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Wholesale Tree Growers, Boring, Oregon. Contact her at



The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

(816) 525-1111 or (816) 554-DIRT 1


garden calendar

n Lawns • Rake fallen leaves that the wind has carried into the yard to prevent suffocation. • Review lawn service contracts and make changes. • Get a jump on the season and tune-up and repair lawn mowers. • Avoid injury to the grass; keep foot traffic to a minimum when soil is frozen.

n Flowers

• Start seeds for transplanting. • Check fall planted perennials and water if needed. • Watch for frost heaving of tender perennials and cover. • Replenish winter mulch around roses and other plants. • Check bulbs in storage for decay and discard. • Prepare orders for mail. • Obtain a soil test and make needed improvements.

n Trees and Shrubs

• Check for rabbit damage on young trees and shrubs. • Water fall-planted trees and shrubs. • Apply dormant oil for control of scale and mites. • Take advantage of warm days and begin spring pruning. • Delay pruning spring flowering trees and shrubs until after bloom. • Twigs and branches of spring shrubs cut and brought indoors add a splash of color. • Carefully remove snow from limbs with broom. • Water evergreens if soil is dry and not frozen.

n Vegetables and Fruits

• Make garden layouts to assist with planning process. • Order seeds. • Soil test testing is conducted at all extension offices in the metro area. • Start broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage transplants. • Prune fruit trees, apples, pears and cherries. • Prune peach and nectarines just prior to bloom time. • Select varieties and order new fruit trees. • Check for rabbit and rodent damage on fruit trees. • Apply manure or compost to garden areas and incorporate for soil improvement. • Prepare garden soil for early trees on warm days. • Do not work soil when wet. • Check stored seeds and discard old supply. • Prune grapes, raspberries and blackberries.

n Houseplants • Rotate plants to produce a balanced plant. • Withhold fertilization until spring light arrives. • Check plants for insects, mites and other problems. • Remove dust from plants by placing in the shower under room temperature water. • Give a plant to a friend for a winter pick-me-up. • Repot root bound plants in a 1-inch larger pot. • Take cuttings of plants to make new ones for friends. • Shape plants for spring growth to produce a more balanced and attractive plant.

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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SPEAKERS’ BUREAU Need a speaker for your church, civic group or garden club? The Johnson County Extension Speakers’ Bureau have the speakers you are looking for on just about any topic like environmentally safe lawn care, or perennial flower gardening. To schedule a speaker for your group, please contact the office. For more information, call 913-715-7000.


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Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City presents

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

Kansas City Orchid Show February 10-12, 2012 inside the

Metropolitan Lawn and Garden Show American Royal Center 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM • Friday and Saturday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM • Sunday For more information: or 913-248-8669

Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show American Royal Center, Feb. 10-12 Johnson County Home & Garden Show Overland Park Convention Center, Mar. 2-4 Kansas City Flower, Lawn & Garden Show Bartle Hall, Mar. 23-25

Club Meetings African Violet Club of GKC Tues, Feb 14, 5:30-8pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-784-5300 Bonsai Society of GKC Sat, Feb 4 and 18, 9am-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Workshop. Call 816784-5300

Honey bee Apis mellifera

Photos by Mary Roduner.


Submitted by Mary Roduner, Children’s Gardening Coordinator, Kansas City Community Gardens.


oney bees are endangered from the unknown problem colony collapse disorder, and with the new information that parasitic flies are killing large numbers of bees, it is more important than ever to protect our populations. Planting nectar producing plants like caraway, coriander, basil or other plants, that are listed as bee attractive provides extra food. Additionally, be cautious with insecticides. Many kill not only pest insects but beneficial as well. If you must spray wait until sundown. Once most insecticides are dry they are no longer a danger to bees. Using care we can keep our bees healthy for a long time.


Greater Kansas City Gardeners of America Mon, Feb 6, 5:30-8pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Board and members meeting. 816-784-5300 Greater Kansas City Gardeners of America Tues, Feb 7, 6-8pm; at Bird’s Botanicals, Interstate Underground Warehouse, 8201 E 23rd St, Kansas City, MO. Escape the winter blahs by taking a tour of this tropical paradise, featuring over 10,000 beautiful orchids. There will be a 45 minute guided tour and a 15 minute mini-class. Our club will provide refreshments. One lucky attendee will win a fabulous orchid as a door prize. Many blooming orchids will be available for purchase. There is a $5 fee associated with this tour. Guests are always welcome. Join us and make a gardening friend! Call 816-941-2445 or Greater Kansas City Herb Study Group Wed, Feb 8, noon-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Getting your roses for spring presented by Judy Penner, Director of Loose Park Garden. Registration required. Call 816-822-1515. Heartland Hosta & Shade Plant Society Sat, Mar 24, hospitality and registration at 9:30am, followed by a short business meeting and program beginning at 10am; at Faith Lutheran Church, 4805 W 67th St (67th & Roe) Prairie Village, KS. Coming to us from the Boston area, Leo

Blanchette will be our Guest Speaker. Mr. Blanchette has been a collector of shade plants for many years. Among his favorite genera are Polygonatum, Anemonella, hardy Arisaema, Astilbe and Primula sieboldii, each of which makes great companions to Hosta. Leo Blanchette is the owner, operator and propagator of Blanchette Gardens in Carlisle, Massachusetts, which specializes in rare and unusual perennials, with most being suited for shade. We’re planning a potluck after the meeting, so bring a dish to share. There will be numerous door prizes. Guests are always welcome! Questions? Call Gwen at 816-228-9308 or 816-213-0598. Independence Garden Club Mon, Feb 13, 6:30pm; at the Sermon Center, corner of Truman and Noland Rd, fourth floor. Visitors are welcome and refreshments will be served. Visit us at our web site for more information Johnson County Rose Society Thurs, Feb 9, 7pm; at Prairie Village Community Center, 7720 Mission Rd, Prairie Village, KS. An informative program designed to help you get ready to plant and care for your roses will be presented. A new feature at the meetings this year will be free one-on-one consultations with American Rose Society Consulting Rosarians. Members and guests will be able to talk with a Consulting Rosarian about their specific rose-growing questions and concerns. All JCRS meetings are free and open to the general public. Refreshments are provided. For the complete 2012 JCRS program schedule or for details about JoCo Rose Society membership, please visit Kansas City Cactus and Succulent Society Sun, Feb 19, 1-4pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-784-5300 Kaw Valley Herbs Study Group Tues, Feb 14, 6:30pm; at Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 N 1100 Rd, Lawrence, KS. Our February focus herbs are Chocolate and Cinnamon. In addition to our topic herbs, we will explore Herbal Tea Combinations, and the Herbs of Valentine’s Day. Plus, you never know what you’ll learn during our popular Share, Show, and Tell segment. Everyone with an interest in herbs is welcome. There is a $2 charge to cover costs (KVHSG is a non-profit group; no charge for students). Leawood Garden Club Tues, Feb 28, 10:30am; at Leawood Presbyterian Church, 2715 W 83rd St,

The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

Leawood, KS. Business meeting followed by potluck luncheon. Desserts and beverages are provided. Program: What Are Kansas City’s Urban Growing Programs Up to These Days by Grow KC. Open to the public-guests are welcome. Contact 816-363-0925 or for further information. Lee’s Summit Garden Club Tues, Feb 14, 7pm; at Gamber Center, 4 SE Independence Ave, Lee’s Summit, MO. Do you LOVE to Garden? If so, this will be a wonderful way to spend Valentine’s Day with like-minded souls who will make you feel welcome if this is your first time to visit our group. Refreshments are served. If you have any questions, please call Robbie at 816-5248757; MoKan Daylily Society Sun, Feb 5, 10:30am-4pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-784-5300 Northland Garden Club Tues, Feb 21, 7pm; at Linden Baptist Church, 611 NE 69th St, Gladstone, MO. Program: Missouri Native Plants by Mervin Wallace, Missouri Wildflower Nursery, Brazito, MO. Guests are welcome. For further information contact Gretchen Lathrop, 816-781-4569. www. Olathe Garden & Civic Club Tues, Feb 21, 12:30pm; at the Bass Pro Store, 12051 Bass Pro Dr, Olathe, KS. The program will be will be “Village English Gardens” given by a Johnson County Master Gardener. Refreshments are provided. Guests are welcome. Call Lila Courtney, 913-764-2492 for more information. ShoMe African Violets Society Fri, Feb 10, 11am-2:30pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. Members meeting. 816-784-5300 Sunflower Gardeners of America Tues, Feb 14, 7pm; at West Wyandotte Library, 1737 N 82nd Street, Kansas City, KS 66112. Public is invited. For more info call Claudeane at 913-2877045.

Events, Lectures & Classes 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 more information or to register, visit or contact Greg Ruether 913-327-6634. Bird Chat: Fun Winter Birdfeeding Sat, Feb 4, 9:30-11am; at Ironwoods Park, 147th & Mission Rd, 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. One 90 minute class. Registration required as class size is limited. Fee $6. Resident discounted fee $5. Ages 18 years & up. To pre-register 913-3396700 or 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 for classes by going to and follow the prompts or by calling 913-685-3604 or by emailing volunteercoordinator@ Orchid Show Feb 10-12; at the Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show, American Royal Center. Presented by the Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City. 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. African Violet Club Greater Kansas City - Annual Spring Sale Sat, Feb 11, 9am-3pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. For info call Fred and Pat Inbody at 816-373-6915 or kskd1@ 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

February 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

(continued on page 24)

Get Growing With Classes at Powell Gardens A Bird In Hand (Families, Ages 5 & Up), 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Feb. 18 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 February 13. Great Backyard Bird Count 9 a.m.-noon Sunday, February 19 Join Powell Gardens’ Director of Horticulture Alan Branhagen as we participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. You will be part of a team that identifies and counts the wealth of birds that frequent the Gardens. Checklists submitted by citizen scientists helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how the birds are doing and how to protect them. Register for the GBBC and stay for the afternoon hike for FREE. $7/adult, $3/child (5-12), free/Members. Registration required by February 13. Build a Cold Frame 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday, March 3 Learn how cold frames help protect and harden your early plants and give your seedlings a head start. You will assemble a portable, cedar cold frame large enough to hold four flats of seedlings to use at home or in other small garden spaces. Learn how to position, vent and maintain your cold frame to maximize its growing potential. We will even start you out with some cool season starts. $87/project, $79/ Members. Registration required by February 20.

Starting Seeds Indoors 9:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, Ma. 10 Get a jump on spring by starting your seeds indoors. You’ll learn all the fundamentals of what seeds need and the techniques for starting easy annuals as well as some tricky perennials that need stratification. (You’ll learn what that means, too.) Come ready to get your hands dirty as you sow your own seeds and transplant your own plants to take home. All seeds and supplies will be provided. $24/person, $17/Members. Registration required by March 2. Woodland Walk Terrarium 1-3 p.m. Saturday, March 10 In this workshop you will design and build your very own “woodland walk” terrarium. Enough variety of materials will be available so each participant will create something very unique. All materials provided including miniature ferns and other tiny plants, an attractive glass container, “fallen log”, soil, tools, care sheet and more. Come create a beautiful working terrarium as well as the knowhow to keep their garden in glass looking beautiful and enchanting all those who see it. $54/project, $47/Members. Registration required by February 27. To register for any of these classes, call Linda Burton at 816697-2600 ext. 209. Or register online and see pictures of projects at and follow the CLASSES link. Powell Gardens is a not-forprofit botanical garden located 30 miles east of Kansas City on Highway 50. Spring/summer garden admission is $9.50/adults, $8.50/seniors, and $4/children age 5-12. Garden hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November-March and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April-October. Powell Gardens is open daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day), year round. For more information, call 816-697-2600 or visit 23

February Horticulture Classes


f you’d like to attend either 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 February 7, Tuesday Basic Botany for Gardeners 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. Instructor: Laura Dickinson, Johnson County Extension Horticulture Assistant and Master Gardener Coordinator February 22, Wednesday Vegetable Gardening 101 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. Instructor: Dennis Patton, Johnson County Extension Horticulture Agent

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


eston-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. You’ll see ideas you can bring home to your garden, whether it’s large or small. Proceeds will be used to beautify the Weston area, including tree plantings along new sidewalks that are making Weston a walkable town. For more information, call Marilyn at 816-640-2300.

Upcoming Garden Events places to go, things to do, people to see (continued from page 23)

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. 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 http:// and follow the CLASSES link. Annual Great Backyard Bird Count Fri, Feb 17 thru 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 www. to learn more or contact the Certified Birdfeeding Specialists at Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop, 11711 Roe Ave, 913-491-4887. Pot & Swap Sat, Feb 18; at Suburban Lawn & Garden, 135th & Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Do you have a decorative indoor or outdoor plant container that you no longer use? Don’t throw that old relic away, bring it in and trade it for something new during our first ever POT & SWAP workshop. Join other plant enthusiasts with their ugly pots and choose to either SWAP into one of the other traded-in containers. OR Suburban will give you $10 for your old pot toward the purchase of any new pot in stock. (Limit 2 trade-ins per customer. $10 store credits can only be applied up to 50% of the new pot’s purchase price.) After you pick out your new container, work hands-on with our house plant experts as they demonstrate for you how to pot up stunning indoor combo pots that will thrive. All house plants in stock are on sale 25% off, too! 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. 816-396-5541 Pleasant Valley Baptist Church Garden Ministry Kickoff Sat, Feb 25, 8-11am; at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, West Wing. Pancake breakfast begins at 8 am. Featured speakers will discuss vegetable and flower gardening. Choose which area you want to hear about. Resource tables will be provided by local nurseries. Hear what’s new with the Garden Ministry as we begin our fourth year providing a free farmers market to our community and church. Opportunities available to sign up to serve at our onsite garden, Garden ’n Grow class and farmers market. 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/person. Class 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. Dr. Seibel is a native Kansan and lifelong birder. He holds a PhD in ornithology from the University of Kansas, is a biology professor, author, poet, popular lecturer and avid nature photographer as well as an award-winning faculty member at Johnson County Community College. His knowledge of birds, photography, and computer technology converged in 2003 when he undertook the new art of digiscoping (super telephoto digital photography through a telescope) which quickly propelled him into a second career in photography. Register by going to www. and follow the prompts. Bring your paid receipt to the class for admission. No refunds for missed classes. For information, 913-685-3604.

March The Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City will present their 11th Annual Spring Gardening Seminar Sat, March 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, from 5:30-8:30pm. For more information, please see our website at or call MU Extension at 816-252-5051. Deadline for enrollment is Feb 24. Elevated Gardening: Raised Beds, Berms, and Containers Thurs, Mar 15, 7-9pm; at Raytown South Middle School, 8401 E 83rd St, room 108. Strategies for building up garden

The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

beds results in less back strain for gardeners plus improved drainage and vigorous plants. Consider several options based on your available space. Review composting and the use of rain barrels and other water-conserving techniques. Local resources discussed and handouts included. Instructor: Leah Berg. Call Raytown Community Education to enroll: 816-268-7037. Landscape Design and Maintenance (AGBS 106) Mar 19-May 16, Mon/Wed 5:45-8:30pm; at Metropolitan Community CollegeLongview Campus, 500 SW Longview Rd, Lee’s Summit, MO. The practical emphasis is on information relevant to our region, including site assessment and scale drawing of plans using a blend of regionally appropriate ornamental, edibles, and native landscaping. Many handouts supplement our great book (Landscape Design: Theory and Application by Ann Marie VanDer Zanden, IA. St. U.) & Steven Rodie (U. of NE.). 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. or call department coordinator Leah Berg 816-353-7170. Pest Management (AGBS 109) Mar 20-May 17, Tues/Th 6-8:50pm; at Metropolitan Community CollegeLongview Campus, 500 SW Longview Rd, Lee’s Summit, MO. Students study Integrated Pest Management practices and organic control methods appropriate for ornamental horticulture and turfgrass management. The Missouri State exam for Certified Pesticide Applicators License is given the final day of class.  Instructor: Rusty  Denes. For more information, please e-mail or call department coordinator Leah Berg 816-353-7170. Edibles to Enhance Landscapes Thurs, Mar 29, 7-9pm; at Raytown South Middle School, 8401 E 83rd St, room 108. Many edibles offer both ornamental and nutritional value! They may be

grown in traditional areas defined for produce, or integrated within mixed use landscapes. Learn which varieties may survive where wildlife or black walnut toxicity create challenges and some which are high risk. Local resources discussed and handouts included. Instructor: Leah Berg. Call Raytown Community Education to enroll: 816-268-7037. Sho-Me African Violet Club 27th Annual Show and Sale – “Violets Down on the Farm” Sat, Mar 31, 9am-3pm and Sun, Apr 1, 10am-3pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO. During the waning days of winter, please come enjoy the beauty of African Violets and related gesnariad plants being entered in this nationally judged show. View the plants in the Show Room, then enhance your home with member grown plants being offered in the Sales Room. This Club has experienced a tremendous increase in membership. In visiting this event, should you find yourself intrigued, you would be most welcome to attend a meeting. Free admission. 816-784-5300

April MO Prairie Foundation’s Annual Native Plant Sale Sat, Apr 21 and 28, 7am-1pm; at the City Market, 5th and Walnut, Kansas City, MO. The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s annual native plant sale will be held the last two Saturdays in April. A large variety of native Missouri wildflowers, grasses and some shrubs/small trees suitable for many growing conditions—sunny, shady, wet, and dry—will be available for sale. Proceeds will benefit MPF and will help protect Missouri prairies. Contact: Doris at 816-779-6708.

June Northland Annual Garden Tour Sun, Jun 3, 1-5pm. The tour, A Day of Wine and Roses, will feature unique and beautiful private gardens in the Liberty area with the final stop at Belvoir winery for refreshment. Presented by Northland Garden Club. For info, or call Dee West, 816455-4013.

Promote your gardening events! Send information to: The Kansas City Gardener P.O. Box 8725, Prairie Village, KS 66208 E-Mail: Deadline for March issue is February 5. February 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

FREE! Bird Feeders February is National Bird Feeding Month and Wild Birds Unlimited is offering free bird feeders with seed to any interested schools, libraries, assisted living facilities and parks. The feeders being offered are a result of a feeder trade-in promotion held last fall. Customers traded in quality feeders knowing that they would be given


Weather Repor t

to deserving organizations. Hopefully this will allow even more people to share in the joy of backyard birdfeeding. Groups interested in receiving free feeders should stop by or call Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop for more information. The store location is 11711 Roe Avenue, Leawood, Kan. (913-491-4887) Feeders will be available on a first come first serve basis.

Highs and Lows Avg temp 34° Avg high temp 43° Avg low temp 24° Highest recorded temp 80° Lowest recorded temp -20° Nbr of above 70° days 1

Clear or Cloudy Avg nbr of clear days 8 Avg nbr of cloudy days 14

Rain and Snow Avg snowfall 4.5” Avg rainfall 1.3” Avg nbr of rainy days 7 Source:

From the Almanac Moon Phases

Plant Above Ground Crops: 1, 5, 6, 22-24, 27-29

Full Moon: Feb. 7 Last Quarter: Feb. 14 New Moon: Feb. 21 First Quarter: Feb. 29 Source: Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac

Plant Root Crops: 11-14

Control Plant Pests: 16, 17, 20, 21

Transplant: 1, 5, 6

Plant Flowers: 22-24, 27-28


Winter is the time to check out branch structure Mike Ditmars


inter provides a unique opportunity to study the branch structure of trees. Without leaves to obscure our view, we are able to look for potential problems. Things to look for include rubbing or cracked limbs, limbs growing into your home or utility wires, and co-dominant leaders. What is a co-dominant leader? For many varieties of trees, it is ideal to have one leader that grows vertically with branches radiating from it. Occasionally, a tree will have more than one leader growing side by side vertically. These

branches are usually attached at a narrow angle, making for a weak branch union. As the tree ages, the connection between the leaders will weaken, making one or both of these limbs prone to splitting with high winds, snow or ice. The problem is, by this time, the leaders are rather large, creating a lot of destruction when they eventually splinter from the tree. We see co-dominant leaders frequently in pin oaks and red maples, but we also see them at times in most other tree species. If you study the Bradford pear closely, its limbs are really a mass of co-dominant leaders. This is why the Bradford is so prone to break in storms. The very best solution to this problem is to prune regularly, starting when trees are young. If you notice a co-dominant leader, remove it. The branches will still be small, the wound will quickly heal,

Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City Missouri


In partnership with UMKC Garden Collective

Lessons Learned in the GARdEN Spring Gardening Seminar 11th Annual

March 3, 2012

Join us

With Advanced Training, Friday Evening, March 2

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

For registration,

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.

MU: An equal opportunity/AdA institution


and the shape of the tree will not be deformed. Moreover, you will be protecting your property from potential damage in the future. For older trees, there are two options. One is the removal of the weakest leader over several years. This is what arborists call subordination pruning. A portion of the branch is cut back each year for two or three years until the entire branch is removed. A second option for larger co-dominant leaders involves cabling the branches together for support. Consult a professional arborist for advice on which option to use on your tree. The point to remember is that regular, corrective pruning is the key to preventing damage in adverse weather. You will hear that there are best times to prune your trees. However, it is really okay to prune most trees anytime. You may find maple trees and birch will ooze sap if pruned at certain times in the spring, but I have not found this hurts the tree; it is more of an annoyance if the tree hangs over a deck or sidewalk.

Oftentimes, you will find better rates if you contract pruning off season. If you call a company in May to have major pruning done, expect to wait a few weeks to several months. Late spring is when quality companies get backed up with work. Take advantage of this warm winter weather to take a close look at the branch structure of all the trees on your property. This is the only time of year you can get a clear look at your trees without leaves getting in the way. Plan to remove broken branches, branches hanging over your home or driveway, rubbing branches, and of course, co-dominant leaders. Often timely, proper pruning can eliminate damage from winter storms and high winds. Mike Ditmars is an arborist at Ryan Lawn & Tree. He can be reached at 913-381-1505 or mikeditmars@

Taking applications for Spring! Hiring 58 people for various departments:

cashiers, nursery, annual and perennial. Part time and full time, seasonal and year round.

Knowledge helpful, but not necessary. Please apply in person. I–470 & View High Dr., Kansas City, MO 64134 • 816-763-7371 The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

March 3 Spring Seminar: Lessons Learned in the Garden


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. The 2012 Seminar, “Lessons Learned in the Garden”, will take place partially in the new UMKC Student Union, a gold LEED-certified building, and partially at Linda Hall Library. The Linda Hall Library is the world’s foremost independent research library devoted to science, engineering and technology. 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. Of particular interest for the Spring Seminar will be the Rare Book Room, which houses col-

lections 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” (an extensive look at rare botanical prints in the past 600 years). Please see the brochure on the web site for a complete schedule of speakers and seminar descriptions. Seating is limited. Join the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City March 3, 2012. Registration and more information is available on the Master Gardeners’ website:, or by calling the MU Extension at 816252-5051. There is no walk-in registration. Hurry – deadline to register is February 24, 2012.

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.

February 2012 / The Kansas City Gardener

Professional’s Corner

Scott Reiter has been the Linda Hall Library Groundskeeper for 26 years. Name: Scott Reiter Company: Linda Hall Library Job Description: As Arboretum Groundskeeper, I supervise a small staff that is responsible for stewardship of the Library grounds. Our goal is to assure the grounds are preserved and maintained so “that the surrounding trees and grass shall add beauty and dignity” to the Library. I am also responsible for implementing a recently developed master plan for our grounds. Length of Service: I have been working at the Linda Hall Library since March of 1986. Prior to that I spent five years working in a wholesale greenhouse doing potted plant production. Education and Experience: Studied Ecological Theory and Resource Management and English Literature at Ottawa University. International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist since 2001. Why You Like What You Do: I like working outside and working with my hands. I like to be able to look back at the end of the day/ week/year/decade and have the ability to point to things and say “I did that.” I like to believe that by planting trees here now I am preparing a place for future generations to come and enjoy the Hall’s legacy. Favorite Garden Destination: Beyond the beautiful grounds of Linda Hall Library, I have two. First is The Morton Arboretum, located 25 miles west of Chicago, Ill. The high canopy of shade in the Spruce Plot and the row after row of straight tree trunks that hold all those branches up in the air is impressive. The other is Heartland Harvest Garden at Powell Gardens because much of the landscaping at my home has a culinary function and I always get new ideas when I visit. What Every Gardener Should Know: When to stop and smell the roses! I get so caught up in ‘taking care’ of things that I have to remind myself to take some time to enjoy what my efforts have created. Little Known Secret: Linda Hall Library recently created a GIS map of the trees on our grounds and entered tree data into a searchable database. Sometime in 2012 we will have a link from our website that will allow the public to look at an aerial view of the grounds, select a tree and view records and photos of that tree. Contact: 5109 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO 64110; www.lindahall. org; email The Library provides guided tours of the Arboretum on Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. or by appointment. Contact Scott at (816) 926-8747 for details. 27


Tropicals & Houseplants T r opi c a l C o m bos in C o n t a i n ers

Consult with our knowledgeable staff for tropical combinations that flourish together in your home environment!

25% Off regular low prices

Lift your spirits, banish winter doldrums, re-vitalize your decor and improve air quality too! Vibrant tropical plants at a fraction of their regular low cost. 3 Orchids 3 Cyclamen 3 Cineraria 3 Bromeliads 3 Kalanchoe 3 Potted Spring Bulbs 3 Hyacinths 3 African Violets plus

All House Plants

Time to repot root-bound plants! Huge selection of decorative pots NOW.

POT & SWAP Saturday, Feb. 18

WORKSHOP 1:00-3:00

135th & Wornall Greenhouse

105th & Roe (913) 649-8700


ck ation, che m r o f n i e r For mo ar of Events d the Calen issue or Our s inside thi ents page! v Website E

135th & Wornall

(816) 942-2921 The Kansas City Gardener / February 2012

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