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The Kansas City

GARDENER A Monthly Guide to Successful Gardening

December 2016

Editor’s Choice


Pass Along Rose Turtlehead Native Edible Plants are Naturals Be a Seasonally Savvy Bird Feeder The Great American Basswood Tree

The Kansas City

editor’s notes

GARDENER A Monthly Guide to Successful Gardening

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ature’s multicolored autumn farewell has lingered longer than usual this year. We’ve enjoyed above average temperatures mixed with just enough chill to signal that winter is on the way. You’ll not hear complaints from me. Too many times I find myself whining about the weather and its effect on the garden. I’m learning to accept the things I cannot control, like weather. Instead, I’m looking for the silver lining and practicing gratitude. So today, I give thanks for this beautiful weather. A couple of my smarty-pants neighbors have taken advantage of these mild temperatures and have already hung Christmas lights on their houses. It’s a little too early for me. I mean, how can it be, “you know, deck them halls and all that stuff?” without the discomfort of frozen fingers and the misery of blustery winter winds? I guess I need colder weather to nudge me towards Christmas.

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tainers that will be stored in the garage through winter. Then as spring approaches, the bulbs in containers can be moved to any sunny place in the landscape. Some think it’s too late to plant these bulbs, but it’s not. I’ve planted them in late December, which resulted in a blooming success. So as long as the ground is workable, there is still time to create your spring show. Mild weather or not, the holidays are coming and I better get crack-a-lackin’. While these are busy times, I’ll keep the reason for the season in my head, on my lips and in my heart. And may you receive blessings of abundant joy and peace. I’ll see you in the garden!

In this issue

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I remember those days, when on a cold winter afternoon the kids persuaded their father to hang the Christmas lights on the house. The wobbly ladder, burnt out bulbs, a string that won’t light at all, and a trip to the hardware store were all part of the gig. Soon, one by one, they’d run in the house to warm up. They’d be drinking hot chocolate, and watching television while under a blanket. And where was Dad? Outside in the cold and dark all by himself finishing the job. That’s just one of many instances that earned him “Father of the Year.” Temperate conditions also allow more time in the garden. For me that means getting my springblooming bulbs planted. Not only in the ground, but also in con-

December 2016 • Vol. 21 No. 12 Ask the Experts ......................... 4 Be a Seasonally Savvy Birder ..... 6 American Basswood Tree ........... 7 Native Edible Plants ................... 8 Amaryllis .................................. 1 0 Pass Along Rose Turtlehead ........ 1 2 Composting .............................. 1 3 Nature Events at MDC ............... 1 4

about the cover ...

Pets & Plants ............................. 1 5 Upcoming Events ..................... 16 Powell Garden Events .............. 16 Luminary Walk .......................... 1 7 Bird Banding ........................... 17 Garden Calendar .................... 18 Subscribe ............................... 19 Professional’s Corner ................ 19

Amaryllis, an ideal gift for every special person in your life. It is a festive flower that brightens any room during those dreary winter days. Read more on page 10.

December 2016 |





great gift for a gardener:






Place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. If direct sun can’t be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain. Provide room temperatures between 68 & 70 degrees. Generally speaking, if you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia. Water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch.


Never over water or allow the plant to sit in standing water, best to remove from a decorative container before watering & allow the water to drain completely. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold & excessive heat, avoid temperatures below 50 degrees. Keep away from drafts & don’t place directly near heating vents. Never fertilize your plant when it is in bloom.



2016_dec_kcg.indd 1


The Kansas City Gardener | December11/11/16 201610:45 AM3

Ask the Experts Readers share their questions about landscape issues, and DENNIS PATTON gives expert tips and advice. WHAT’S UP WITH EMERALD ASH BORER Question: I have not heard much lately about the spread of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the Kansas City area. Did the issue go away or are people not talking about it much these days? Answer: The issue has definitely not gone away, nor will it. EAB is here to stay and the issues with this ash killing pest will only continue to increase. EAB is continuing to spread more widely throughout the metro area. Some parts of the city are at the tipping point with dead trees while other areas are not seeing the fallout from this insect feeding. If you have an ash tree, decisions need to be made sooner, not later about your approach. It really boils down to the fact the tree must

be treated or it will die in the coming years. Keep in mind that many trees are not valuable enough to treat for the long term. Your other decision is whether to remove the tree before it dies or wait till it succumbs and then remove and replace. These are not easy decisions because no matter which option you choose the devastating pest will cost you money. I fully understand the concern as my only tree in the front yard is a green ash. WALNUT TOXICITY AMONG PLANTS
 Question: This year I had a bumper crop of walnuts. I am concerned about them killing my grass as they decompose. What should I do? Answer: Walnuts have a toxicity issue with many plants as they contain a chemical called juglones.

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Walnuts have a toxicity issue with many plants, as they contain a chemical called juglones. Juglones are a naturally occurring compound in walnuts that can kill other plants growing nearby to reduce competition. The greatest concentration is found in the roots but there are also juglones in the leaves and nuts. Usually the fallen nuts will not harm the turf when lightly scattered throughout the lawn. If the covering is thick enough, then between the shading caused by the nuts covering the ground and the juglones, turf dieback should be expected. So the question is the definition of lightly? When in doubt pick them up. Another factor to consider is the mowing hazard of the fallen nuts. Picked up by a mower blade they are projectiles and could become a hazard. ACORNS EFFECT ON SOIL 
Question: Help, this year I had a bumper crop of acorns.

They are covering my lawn to the point it is difficult to walk. I realize they will kill out my turf if not picked up but what do they do to the soil pH? Answer: Oaks are wonderful landscape trees but unfortunately acorns can be a real pain. There is not a simple way to pick up the acorns once fallen. Raking or hand picking is time consuming and hard on the back. I don’t have a great answer for how to get them picked up. Honestly, I would be more concerned about the damaged caused by the acorns shading out the soil then altering the pH. Over time acorns could lower the pH of the soil. Although keep in mind that most of our soils tend to have a higher pH level. The ability of the acorns to significantly affect the soil pH is a long term issue not a short term problem. Bottom line don’t worry about the acorns

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at the Overland Park Arboretum, 8909 W. 179th St., Overland Park, KS Will acorns kill out my turf?

Strawberries are not difficult to grow.

changing the pH of the soil. The issue of abundant acorns is not a soil issue but it is the shading effect of them on the grass crowns.

plants, remove all plants except about a 10 inch row leaving about 2 feet between the rows. This space allows for the new daughter plants to grow and fruit the following year. I realize it is hard for many to kill out the plants but renovation is the only way to help keep a bed productive. Also realize that a strawberry planting only lasts about five years. Then it is time to move to a new location and start with fresh plants. Transplanting from the current patch is not recommended. Strawberries have shallow roots and need to be watered regularly. Fertilize in the spring when growth begins, when renovating and one last time in early August. Fall is when they set the flower buds for spring. One last comment, June bearing strawberries are best for our area as the ever-bearing produce less fruit.

 Question: My strawberry bed just doesn’t produce. The best berries were around the edge while in the middle they were small and mushy. What can I do so that I can grow fresh strawberries? Answer: Strawberries are not difficult to grow once you know and follow the rules. Strawberries are best grown in a sunny location with good drainage. The main problem with home strawberry production is overcrowding of the plants. Strawberries produce runners which develop into new plants. A good spacing on strawberries to ensure sunlight penetration is one plant about every 6 inches, anything more results in crowding, small berries and reduced harvest. Strawberry beds should be renovated after harvest each year. This is accomplished by removing a majority of the plants. For example, if the bed is a mat of

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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Ken O’Dell, the Kansas City Regional Leader of The Kansas Native Plant Society, will give a one-hour PowerPoint presentation on Great Native Trees of the Kansas City Region. We will show photos of our great native trees, see how they live and reproduce, manufacture their food, survive against all odds, and add to our enjoyment of life. We will have seating for 50 people. Reservations are not needed or taken. Come early to get a chair. If you are not a member of or volunteer at the OP Arboretum, there is a $3.00 admission fee. More information is at Click on the events calendar to contact Ken O’Dell.

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Be a Seasonally Savvy Bird Feeder Attention birders! THERESA HIREMATH discusses backyard bird winter needs, and how you can help.


uring fall, many birds change some of their eating habits. Birds that usually eat insects may start to eat berries to supplement their diets. Birds will start to look for reliable sources of food for wintertime survival. And, in the fall, many birds began forming flocks. Flocks of birds are better able to find food and protect themselves from predators. Winter can be a difficult time for birds, especially in the Midwest. The days are short, and nights are often cold and long. The natural food supply has been consumed or is hidden by snow, and most insects are dead or dormant. Water can be hard to find, and food needed to provide the energy to keep birds warm might be scarce. Finding shelter may not be easy. If there are limited natural evergreens or shelter, birds may seek man-made houses or habitats that can provide refuge from the winds, rains, ice or snow of winter. Birds are warm-blooded. In general, this means that they maintain their body temperature within a certain range even when the temperature around them changes. The maintenance of body temperature within a normal range depends

on the amount of heat the bird produces. On cold, wintry days, most birds fluff up their feathers, creating air pockets, which help keep the birds warm. The more air spaces, the better the insulation. Some birds perch on one leg, drawing the other leg to the breast for warmth. To keep up their high metabolic rate, most backyard birds eat rich energy foods such as seeds, insects and suet. There are some times, however, when birds are not prepared to deal with sudden drops in temperature or sudden winter storms. At times like these, it is especially helpful to have

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feeders full so that birds can find food easily. Food Consider providing high calorie and high fat foods now which is beneficial to the birds. The birds visiting winter feeders may be arriving in flocks or may come to the feeders as individuals, so you will need to provide different options for the birds. Feeders should be located out of the wind. The east or southeast side of a house or near a row of trees is ideal. It is best to have a perching spot such as a bush or tree for the birds to use to survey the feeding area and provide sufficient cover for safe refuge from predators and shelter from the wind and weather. The feeders should be positioned near cover but in the open to allow birds to watch for danger. For ground feeding, an area near cover with a clear view of the surroundings is desirable. Placing seed in a ground feeder entices birds such as sparrows, juncos, Mourning Doves, quail, pheasants, towhees and Brown Thrashers. Even the Red-bellied Woodpecker, which is thought of as a tree dweller, does some foraging on the ground. Platform and hopper feeders are especially good for attracting cardinals, wrens, chickadees, titmice, jays, and grosbeaks. Hanging feeders, because they blow in the wind, are generally used by those species that have

the ability to hang on while feeding such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and finches. Oil sunflower is a great overall seed to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content, and it has twice the calories per pound than striped sunflower. In addition, its smaller shells make less mess when discarded by the birds. Try hulled sunflower or no mess blends to eliminate all shell debris and waste. Suet is a great food to offer backyard birds. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm. Suet can be fed in a variety of feeders ranging from a suet cage to a recycled plastic cage feeder offering protection from the weather elements and designed to require the birds to hang upside down. Water Birds do need an open water source in winter, especially when freezing temperatures arrive. Use a heated birdbath or a heater in your birdbath to ensure water for backyard birds. Cover Roosting boxes, roosting pockets, or natural plant covers can also aid birds seeking protection from cold weather. Shelter is also needed for protection against natural predators, such as cats and birds of prey. Be sure to clean out old nests from houses to reduce the possibility of parasitic bugs surviving the winter. If you have any questions about enjoying your backyard birds this winter, call or stop by the store and one of our expert staff would love to help you! Nik and Theresa Hiremath own and operate Wild Birds Unlimited of Leawood at 11711 Roe Avenue, Leawood, Kansas. Contact them at 913-491-4887.

The Great American Basswood Tree Local plantsman, KEN O’DELL, introduces one of the many species of native Kansas trees.

The fruit of the Basswood tree.


he ancient woodlands at the Overland Park Arboretum hold about 40 species of native Kansas trees. The rocky bluffs in this woodlands formed 12,000 years ago. The meandering Wolf Creek runs through the middle of the arboretum from west to east dividing bottomlands to the north side of the creek and beautiful large rocky bluffs on the south side. These bluffs stretch across the rugged woodlands in the arboretum and this affords us some of the most beautiful native forests imaginable. In these beautiful woodlands you can take several marked trails through these giant trees and forget city life for an hour or so. These woodlands have many species of trees, shrubs and vines naturally planted by Mother Nature. You will see several of the Great American Basswood trees. The American Basswood tree is native in Eastern Kansas and Eastern North America. The basswood is also called American Linden. The Linden we use in our landscapes is usually the European Linden and more specifically the Little Leaf Linden, as the European Linden does not grow as large or as fast as our native American Basswood. The American Basswood will grow two feet taller each year for several years and will be 75 feet tall and nearly as wide if it has room to spread. It is a giant tree with thick foliage. The 3” to 5” wide green leaves are round to heart shape.

Leaves are round to heart shape. The scientific name for the American Basswood is Tilia americana. Tilia being the latin name and Americana for where it was first found. The word bass in basswood is from bast which is the fibrous material inside the outer bark used by Native Americans and others to make rope-like materials to use in their daily lives. Pioneers dubbed it “bastwood” leading to its common name of today. The young tender leaves of basswood when eaten as a fresh salad has a slightly lime flavor. The fragrant, yellow, lime-scented flowers in spring attract bees and make honey with delicious flavors. The flowers are picked and used to flavor beverages with a honey-lime taste. In England the Brits refer to the linden tree as “Lime” or “The Lime” because of the lime like flavor and fragrance. The largest American Basswood growing at the Overland Park Arboretum is near Wolf Creek. Actually just a few feet above flood stage. The lower bluff trail will pass within a few feet of these special trees. Many smaller basswood are growing on the upper and lower bluff trails on dry, rocky ridges. Most of the American Basswood at the Overland Park Arboretum are multi trunk as this appears to be a natural occurrence. Unless the suckers at the base of the tree are removed, Basswood will be a multi trunk tree. Basswood is a favorite tree of both honeybees and beekeepers.

Basswood tree can be multi trunk.

Its non-showy, fragrant flowers appear in late May or June and attract large numbers of bees which produce a distinctive tasting honey which is sometimes sold separately as “basswood honey.” The smooth wood is a favorite for wood carvers and is also used

for crates, barrels, slats and veneer. Ken O’Dell is a longtime volunteer at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and the Regional Leader of the Kansas Native Plant Society for the Kansas City region.

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Native Edible Plants Are Naturals DR. NADIA NAVARRETE-TINDALL introduces native edible plants for home gardens and urban farms.


Slender mountain mint


n Missouri, one can find a variety of native plants that can be consumed as greens, teas, in stews or for flavoring, the way American Indians did before the arrival of the Europeans. Settlers

adopted many of them in their diet and these foods continued to be used commonly until recently in our history. Many of these plants are mentioned in native edibles books, but usually only a few of

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Wild plum them are consumed regularly, such as gooseberries, black raspberries, paw paws, persimmon and elderberry. A very few domesticated popular native species include sunflower, pecans and black walnut and northern species like cranberries and wild rice. In Missouri and across the country, there is little awareness about native perennial greens that are available in abundance, including nettles, cup plant, and goldenglow among others. There are many reasons to grow and consume native edible plants. Because of their diversity, some grow better in dry conditions and some prefer wet habitats. Some tolerate shade and others grow better under full sun. Most of them have a wide range of adaptation, and in unpredictable weather native plants can be very hardy.

Many books have been written about native edible plants in Missouri, among them: Jan Phillips wrote the award-winning book “Wild Edibles of Missouri” published in 1979. In 2011, “Cooking Wild in Missouri”, written by Bernadette Dryden presented 100 kitchen tested recipes including salads, appetizers, savory stews, entrees and desserts. Both books were published by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the latter is still available from Missouri Department of Conservation. At Lincoln, we are helping to increase appreciation of readily available native edible plants in Missouri by offering classes, field days and special events through outreach and education. We put special emphasis on plants good for human consumption and those

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T Persimmons that provide food and cover for pollinators. Two Native Plant Outdoor Laboratories and other demonstration gardens located at Lincoln University campus feature more than 125 native plants. They are open to the public, and private tours are offered upon request. The following are a few native edibles that are common in Missouri and could be established in gardens or urban farms: Smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) and winged sumac (R. copallinum) are two shrubs that form thickets. The bright red berries should be harvested immediately after ripening in the fall and can be used to prepare ‘sumacade’, a refreshing drink, syrups or jams. (To be safe, all edible sumacs have red berries.) Wild plum (Prunus americana) is a thicket forming shrub or small tree. The bright red fruits mature in late summer and are used to make jellies and marmalades. Flavor is excellent! Mountain mints, slender mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) and hairy mountain mint (P. pilosum), are two aromatic herbs. At Lincoln University we have

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developed a recipe for ice cream and a cheesecake that, according to evaluators, are to die for! Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) also called carpenter square for its square stems is a member of the sunflower family. In the spring, the first leaves are gathered and used in recipes that call for greens like spinach. There are many more and we will discuss some of them in future columns. You may be surprised how many there are already in your surroundings. Before you start consuming these plants, be sure you know how to identify them. You can have your own little supermarket by planting some of these natives right in your own backyard. Remember these plants are just to get you started!

his December 1st through 3rd, join us for three magical days of shopping, dining, music and more – all benefiting Kansas City Community Gardens! This event has a little something for everyone in the family and is a great way to kick off your holiday season! Starting Thursday, December 1st at 5 p.m., Crestwood shops and restaurants will feature in-store holiday discounts and beautiful, handmade fairy gardens for auction. For a special treat, visitors can stop in at Aixois and Cafe Europa for pre-fixe, holiday food and wine pairing menus. Wine will be curated by Underdog Wine. And, on Saturday, December 3rd at 2 p.m., Kansas City Community Gardens will be auctioning off a collectible, rare-release bottle of O.F.C. Vintage bourbon whiskey from Buffalo Trace Distillery – and you could be the lucky winner! To participate in the auction, visit George Terbovich Studio at 5510 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO 64113. On Thursday and Saturday, families will delight in the opportunity to meet Santa and hear live Christmas music from the Bishop Meige Choir and the Kansas City Boys Choir. On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Santa will be offering a chance for songs, photos, and crafts for the kids. Your attendance at this special holiday event will support local business owners, help Kansas City Community Gardens empower low-income families to grow their own healthy fruits and vegetables, and invite some much-needed Christmas cheer into the lives of your entire family!

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Editor’s Choice

Amaryllis a favorite festive flower W

hen our children were young, we established a family tradition of shopping for a live Christmas tree. Also on the list of holiday décor was a wreath for the door, garland for the fireplace mantle, and an amaryllis or two for seasonal indoor color. Naturally, any excursion that concluded with hot chocolate was enough motivation for kids. It’s an odd thing, this amaryllis bulb. The kids were intrigued with how green leaves and flowers on tall stalks were to grow up and out of what seemed like a dead-looking bulb. Aha, time for a little lesson in horticulture. Yet, as children will be children, one pipes up, “When can we get hot chocolate?” {sigh} Anyway, with the right container, descent soil, water every now and then, and some sunlight, this curiosity of nature will devel-

op into the most beautiful holiday plant. And of all flowering bulbs, amaryllis are the easiest to bring to bloom. You can find amaryllis bulbs at local garden centers and hardware stores. Available as a single bulb “in the raw” for you to plant, or you may find some already potted in a container and possibly in bloom. Another option is a boxed kit, which usually includes everything you need – container, soil and bulb. I’ve mailed boxed kits as gifts for out of town friends, or given as hostess and teacher gifts. This is one gift that is always a winner. Amaryllis bulbs are easy to grow, and fun to watch, as they seem to bloom overnight. They come in assorted beautiful varieties including various shades of red, white, pink, salmon and orange. There are also many striped and

multicolored varieties, usually combining shades of pink or red with white. And they say, the bigger the bulb, the more the flowers. Plant amaryllis bulbs in a nutritious potting compost, many are available pre-mixed, and in a container with drain holes. You don’t want roots sitting in water. Plant the bulb up to its neck, leaving a bit of the shoulders exposed, in the potting compost, being careful not to damage the roots. Press the soil down firmly to set the bulb securely in place after planting. That way, as they grow tall and get top heavy, the plant is less likely to tip over. Place the potted bulb in a warm spot near direct light since heat is necessary for the development of the stems. Water sparingly until the stem appears, then, as the bud and leaves appear, gradually water more. At this point, the stem will

grow rapidly and flowers will develop after it has reached full growth. Remember to turn your plant occasionally, as it will grow towards the light. Bulbs will flower in 7-10 weeks as a general rule. If you are so inclined, there are methods for putting that bulb to work once flowering has finished. Found on The United States National Arboretum website ( faqs/AmaryllisBloom.html) are complete details to get that bulb to bloom next year. Of course, your local garden center professional can give you instructions as well. I’m likely to toss it on the compost heap due to the lack space for such a project. Make the holidays merry and bright with a gorgeous amaryllis – not just for you, for your friends and neighbors too!

The Kansas City Gardener | December 2016


Pass Along Rose Turtlehead SCOTT WOODBURY tells us about how to save a rare plant – the rose turtlehead. Photos by Scott Woodburry.


n 1992 we received rose turtlehead (Chelone obliqua), as a gift from Edgar Denison (pictured left), author of Missouri Wildflowers, who rescued roots from a disturbed wild population in northeastern Missouri. Edgar brought it home, grew it, and shared it with friends, neighbors and strangers in hand-delivered recycled bags or left in front of his Kirkwood home with a sign reading “free plants.” Edgar saved plants like he saved stray dogs and cats and found homes for them in gardens throughout Kirkwood and St. Louis. Rose turtlehead is a beautiful rare plant that charms children, dazzles gardeners, is easy to grow, and sticks around for decades. It’s the ultimate pass-along plant. Fast-forward to October 2016 when we received rose turtlehead

seed collected from a wild patch not far from Edgar’s original rescue site. This was the first time I’d seen the plants growing in the wild so I was thrilled and grateful to Meg Engelhardt, the seed bank manager for the Missouri Botanical Garden who led our foray into a somewhat degraded young bottomland forest

growing with sycamore, cottonwood, and buttonbush. Meg led us to the historic site using Star Trek gadgetry where we found a dozen or so plants and carefully collected small portions of seeds from each so as to not disturb the rare patch. We will grow seedlings from each plant and study them in the native plant trial garden at Shaw Nature Reserve. Each wild plant has varying numbers of flowers and fruits, some flowering abundantly, others not so much. They also have different stages of fruit ripeness, which indicates that they perhaps bloom at different times. We hope to grow and evaluate plants and store seed of this rare plant at Shaw Nature Reserve and then pass it along. Rose turtlehead is bumble-bee pollinated and caterpillar food for an uncommon and beautiful butterfly in Missouri, the Baltimore checkerspot. Watch for small webproducing caterpillars, which also

occur on the more commonly found white turtlehead (Chelone alba). In the garden, plants thrive and sucker to form small colonies in moist soil with part shade. They tolerate clay soils and standing water so are great for natural soil rain gardens. They bend or flop in overly rich soil so give them a “haircut” (cut back by 50-60%) in late April to reduce height at bloom time in late summer. But be careful, if you trim them too late in spring, they won’t bloom. Plant them near mistflower (Eupatorium coelestinum), blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), and beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) for a purple, blue and pink splash of color in late summer and early fall. Mervin Wallace, owner of Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, has been growing this plant since the mid-1980s, making it available to gardeners and garden centers. Whether you buy a plant or pass one along in a grocery bag, rose turtlehead will brighten shady gardens and bring people together, the oldfashioned way. Happy gardening! Horticulturist Scott Woodbury is the Curator of the Whitmire Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, MO, where he has worked with native plant propagation, design, and education for more than 20 years. He also is an advisor to the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Grow Native! program.

Color ful Winter Greens



December 2016 |

Put garden debris to work by composting By Connor Orrock, K-State Research and Extension


ome people think of composting home and garden debris as recycling – a proactive way to use materials that otherwise would go into landfills. Once the composting process is complete, the compost can be used back in the garden to enrich the soil and reduce your carbon footprint. Regardless of the reason, maximizing your composting efforts is important, according to Dennis Patton, K-State Research and Extension horticulture agent. Fall may seem like an odd time to compost, but this may be the best time of year. “To a gardener, composting is black gold,” said Patton, who is based in Johnson County. It’s also a great way to get rid of organic debris that comes from lawns, gardens and leaves. Compost, including shredded leaves, can be used as mulch, plus working it into the soil provides nutrients and loosens heavy clays typical in Kansas soils. “Composting is a living, breathing process,” Patton said. Microorganisms in the compost break down and chew the materials, so, it’s important to provide an environment that supports the microorganisms. Start with the bin and build from there “The bin is something that holds the massive material of the compost so it can be anything from a purchased system to four old wooden pallets to a four-foot circle of heavy duty gauge wire,” he said. “It is just

something to hold the material. It does need some circulation because it is a living, breathing mass.” When starting a compost pile, the base or bottom layer falls into two categories - greens and browns. Browns are items like leaf debris and other dry plant material. Greens are fresh grass clippings and manure. “Gardeners should mix the greens and browns,” Patton said. “Unfortunately, many gardeners have a lot of browns and not a lot of greens.” Those gardeners must add green, possibly in the form of manure or garden fertilizer. “When you build the compost you may want to put six to eight inches of dry brown, leaves another green layer and repeat,” he added. It’s the combination of greens and browns that make composting work, Patton said. The microorganisms found in compost piles also need water and oxygen to survive and break down the materials in the compost. Gardeners should keep the pile well hydrated throughout the process, including baking. Many times the inside of the pile can heat up to 150 degrees, a result of the microorganisms that are at work. “It helps to turn the compost pile a couple of times,” Patton said. Once the temperature in the pile peaks (to 150 degrees), turn it over so it can reheat again. “The wonderful thing about composting is you can be active or passive,” he said. “The bottom line is passive and active management

Some items just don’t belong Some materials should not be composted. Pet manure, including dog and cat waste, can transmit disease. Fats, greases and oils, including salad dressing, should be avoided, as should meat scraps that may attract animals. “If there are tomato vines, pepper plants or anything else that has




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Nature events for kids and adults offered by Missouri Department of Conservation

EVENTS at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center 1401 NW Park Road Blue Springs, MO 64015 816-228-3766 For more information email burr.oak@ Recycled Bird House Dec 3 ∙ Saturday ∙ 1-2:30 PM Registration required by calling 816-228-3766 (all ages) Create a twig-embellished bird house from recycled materials for some feathered friends (wrens, chickadees, etc.) and learn how they raise their little flyers.   SPECIAL EVENT Missouri River Eagle Day Dec 10 ∙ Saturday ∙ 10 AM-3 PM LaBenite Park, Sugar Creek, MO (just east of MO 291 bridge) Registration required beginning Dec. 1 for Missouri River Boat Tour only by calling 816-228-3766

Evergreens, pine cones and many other natural trimmings will be provided. Learn how to assemble and take home your creation.

(ages 8+ with an adult) Walk in for Live Eagle Program and Eagle Discovery Stations (all ages) Join in on the fun as we bundle up on a pontoon boat and launch onto the magnificent Missouri River for the chance to view bald eagles in their own habitat. Your family will love to visit the discovery stations as you wait your turn on the river to learn more about one of

America’s greatest natural wonders and these magnificent raptors that call it home. Wreath Making Dec 10 ∙ Saturday ∙ 10–11:30 AM or 1-2:30 PM Registration required beginning Dec. 1 by calling 816-228-3766 (adults) Celebrate the season by crafting a natural artisan wreath!

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Winter Dendrology Workshop Dec 14 ∙ Wednesday ∙ 8:30 AM-Noon Registration required by calling 816-228-3766 (adults) Any outdoorsman can ID trees with their leaves on, but bona fide tree nerds can even identify them in the winter. Join Community Forester Chuck Conner as he teaches how to identify trees when they’re “naked”. Participants in this workshop will learn the basics of tree identification including leaf shapes, arrangements, buds, twig, fruit, bark, form, position in the landscape and other characteristics used to identify trees. Students will learn how to use reference books and keys to help identify trees in both a classroom setting and in the field. Special emphasis will be

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EVENTS at Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO 64110 816-759-7300 For more information email Geese in Missouri Dec 3 ∙ Saturday ∙ 10 AM–2:30 PM Walk-in (all ages) The fall goose migration is in full swing! Canada, white front and snow geese fly over our skies and into the rivers, lakes, marshes and fields

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across Missouri. Learn about each species and their unique characteristics as we explore their goosey world. We’ll make some goose art using goose feathers and learn how to use goose calls and decoys to get their attention and bring them in close.

Holiday Greenings Dec 17 ∙ Saturday ∙ 10 AM–2:30 PM Walk-in (all ages) Thinking of making the holidays a little greener this season? Then join us for one of the Discovery Center’s holiday traditions. Learn to decorate using native plants and trees. Fashion a festive holiday swag to hang using red cedar, prairie grasses, wild nuts, berries, seeds and your imagination. Tracks and Sign Dec 27–30 ∙ Tuesday–Friday ∙ 10 AM–3 PM Walk-in (all ages) Have you ever wondered what animal left tracks in your yard? Do you know what scat is? During the holiday break the Discovery Center will help you learn how to identify wildlife based on their tracks as well as other signs they leave behind. There will be hands-on activities like sawdust track prints, the scat challenge and much more.

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Pets & Plants: Macadamia Nuts By Phil Roudebush, DVM, DACVIM


he macadamia tree is a member of the Protaceae family and native to Australia. The nut is typically cultivated from the Macadamia integrifolia and M. tetraphylla trees with common names for the trees such as macademia nut, bauple nut, Queensland nut, prickly macademia, nut oak, rough-shelled bush nut and rough-shelled Queensland nut. Macademia nut trees have been widely propagated in Hawaii, Mexico and other sub-tropical regions. Dogs will readily ingest macadamia nuts but they are uniquely susceptible to poisoning from this common food item. Severity and onset of adverse effects are dependent on the amount of nuts ingested. Clinical problems can include severe lethargy, increased body temperature, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, weakness and inability to rise or walk. The


given to the identification of native deciduous trees in their “leaf-off” or dormant condition using species specific characteristics and keys. Workshop will be presented at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center. Leaf Print Art Dec 31 ∙ Saturday ∙ 10 AM-Noon Walk-in (all ages) Splash some color into your winter by making a unique leafy print! Using rubber leaves and printing ink, acrylic, or tempura paints finger painters to skilled artists will create a frameworthy leaf print to take home. Play games to discover what trees do for you and wildlife.

toxic compound and mechanism are unknown but appear to effect nerve function. In reported cases, the amount of nuts ingested averaged 12 grams per kilogram of body weight. Dogs are very attracted to macademia nuts covered by chocolate, which can result in concurrent methylxanthine (chocolate) toxicosis in some cases. Fortunately, most dogs with problems associated with macademia nut ingestion (without concurrent chocolate poisoning) recover uneventfully within one or two days. Enjoy macademia nuts yourself but be sure to keep them away from dogs. Phil Roudebush is a retired veterinarian, specialist in small animal internal medicine, and Extension Master Gardener. He can be reached at

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Events at

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

Powell Gardens Kansas City’s Botanical Garden Giving Tools to Support Powell Gardens Ongoing through December 31 We’re holding an end-of-year tool drive to collect some of the tools and resources our horticulture and maintenance teams need to care for Powell Gardens. Learn more at Thank you for your support! Christmas Couture Exhibit 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily* through Jan. 8 Celebrate the holidays in high fashion with this season’s non-traditional conservatory exhibit, featuring dress form Christmas trees and sparkling white poinsettias accented with a splash of pink. Dress form trees (imagine a traditional dress form bedecked with skirts of evergreen boughs) hit the holiday fashion scene in recent years, even making an appearance in the White House’s Christmas display. Don’t miss this fascinating exhibit, which will undoubtedly spark ideas for a new spin on your holiday décor! *Powell Gardens is closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Native Plants of the Midwest: An Evening with Alan Branhagen 6:30 p.m. December 6 at the Kansas City Public Library’s Plaza Branch Alan Branhagen, horticulture director at Powell Gardens, will discuss his latest book, Native Plants of the Midwest – A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden, and offer ideas on how to enrich your landscape with native plants. The session is part of Powell Gardens’ Native Plant School series. In his book, Branhagen provides the ultimate guide to the best indigenous plants for Midwestern gardens, including valuable tips on selection and design. Admission is free and open to the public. Please register kclibrary. org. Native Plants of the Midwest—A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden is in stores (including Perennial Gifts at Powell Gardens) and will be available at the lecture. Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel Holiday Concerts 4-5 p.m. December 10 and 11 Enjoy the sounds of the season in a spectacular setting—the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel. This season’s performances, presented by Friends of Powell Gardens, include: Central Standard Men’s Chorus on December 10 Chamber Ensemble of the Heartland Men’s Chorus on December 11 Tickets are $14 or $10 for members and include all-day admission to the Gardens, concert and Gardens by Candlelight, which follows both concerts. Purchase tickets at or call 816-697-2600 x209. Gardens by Candlelight: A Luminary Walk 5-7:30 p.m. December 10 and 11 Enjoy the yuletide spirit with a walk through the Gardens aglow with the lights of hundreds of luminarias. The path will take you from the visitor center and across the Island Garden to the peaceful beauty of the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel. Take the trolley back to the visitor center to warm up in the cozy comfort of the grand hall with a roaring fire, music, cookies and cocoa. Admission: $7/adults, $5/seniors 60+, $3/children 5-12, and free/members and children under 5.


December 2016 |

Club Meetings African Violet Club of GKC Tues, Dec 13, 6-8pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816-513-8590 Greater Kansas City Herb Study Group Wed, Dec 14, 12 noon; at Rose Room, Loose Park Garden Center, 51st St and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO. Annual Christmas Catered Lunch and Program. Catered Luncheon $10 for members, prepay please. White Elephant gift exchange - $10. Program by Lynn Soulier our president: What tea blends are good to keep us healthy during the coldest months and Aromatherapy for the winter emotional well-being. Enjoy learning about some medicinal herbs that we can put into practical use with our own families. Friends and visitors are welcome. Call for details. RSVP and questions, call Nancy at 816-478-1640. KC Cactus and Succulent Society Sun, Dec 11, noon; at the Loose Park Garden Center, 51st St and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO. Besides having a yummy potluck meal, we’ll have a gardeningthemed gift exchange and play bingo to win small cacti and succulents. Everybody wins at least 1 or 2 plants! Visitors are welcome at both of these enjoyable events. Just bring a dish to share, your own disposable plate and cutlery, and a wrapped, garden-themed gift if you’d like to participate in the gift exchange. For more information, email Kansas Native Plant Society Wed, Jan 18, 1pm; at the Overland Park Arboretum, 8909 W 179th St, Overland Park, KS. Ken O’Dell, the Kansas City Regional Leader of The Kansas Native Plant Society, will give a one-hour PowerPoint presentation on Great Native Trees of the Kansas City Region. We will show photos of our great native trees, see how they live and reproduce, manufacture their food, sur-

vive against all odds, and add to our enjoyment of life. We will have seating for 50 people. Reservations are not needed or taken. Come early to get a chair. If you are not a member of or volunteer at the Overland Park Arboretum there is a $3.00 admission fee. More information is at www.kansasnativeplantsociety. org. Click on the events calendar to contact Ken O’Dell. MoKan Daylily Society Sun, Dec 11, 11:30am-3:30pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816-513-8590 Overland Park Gardeners of America Mon, Dec 12, 6pm; at Colonial Church, 71st and Mission Rd, Prairie Village, KS, lower level. Dinner is at 6pm. This meeting will be our Annual Christmas Party with a Pot Luck dinner. Meat will be furnished. Just bring your favorite side dish to share with all. We will be entertained by the Shawnee Mission North Strolling Strings. We will also have a gift exchange. Bring a present and receive a present with a cap of $10.00 and possibly garden related. Installation of 2017 Officers and Board of Directors will take place. Come and enjoy the festivities and feel free to bring a guest. All visitors are welcome. Any questions, contact Judy Schuck, 913-362-8480. Sho Me African Violet Club Fri, Dec 9, 10:30am-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816-513-8590

Events, Lectures & Classes December Annual Luminary Walk The Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Garden announces the 17th annual Luminary Walk will kick off Thanksgiving weekend and, due to popular demand, will run for an additional weekend. The Arboretum will be transformed

into a wonderland of candles and lights, music and merriment from 5 to 9pm, Friday and Saturday evenings: Nov 25 and 26, Dec 2 and 3, and Dec 9 and 10. Tickets are $10 at the gate, but can be purchased in advance for $9 at area Westlake ACE Hardware stores and Hen House Markets, or online at Children 5 and under are free, and parking is free, as well. Located at 8909 West 179th Street – 10 minutes south of I-435 and Metcalf, just west of 69 Highway. Hearth Basket Sat, Dec 3, 10am-4pm; at Powell Gardens. Weave a functional hearth basket measuring 13- by 8-inches and 14-inches tall with a sturdy, wooden handle. Learn how to embellish the basket handle and rim. Please bring a flat screw driver, an old towel, and a sack lunch as the class will not break for lunch. $49/person, $42/member. Call 816-697-2600 ext. 209 or email for availability. Plentiful Fun, Bargain at the Holiday Garden Auction Mon, Dec 5, 10am-noon; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO, Fern Room. Again this year, the Kansas City Garden Club will hold their fundraiser auction. The public is welcome to attend this jolly event. A wide variety of treasures await the auction bidders including plants, dried flowers, vases, garden books and tools, boxwood wreaths, fresh winter holiday greens, home-

made baked items, and many nursery, restaurant and other merchant gift certificates among numerous other items. We usually have at least 170 to 200 auction lots available for bidding, so the selection is certainly grand. For details, call 913-341-7555. Native Plant School: Alan Branhagen presents Native Plants of the Midwest Tues, Dec 6, 6:30-7:30pm; at the Plaza Branch, Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St, Kansas City, MO 64112. Alan Branhagen, Powell Gardens’ Director of Horticulture, will discuss his latest book, Native Plants of the Midwest, and offer ideas on enriching your landscape with native plants. He will also be signing copies of the book, which will be for sale at the lecture. This is the third and final 2016 program in our Native Plant School. Free and open to the public. Register at Ikebana: Japanese Flower Arranging Sun, Dec 18, 1-3pm; at Powell Gardens. Sharpen your focus on the line and form of your own arrangement while learning about Japanese culture. (You will borrow a vase and pin frog to use in class.) Leave with fresh flowers for practice at home. Bring trimming shears. $42/person, $37/member. Register by Dec 12. To register call Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext 209. Or register online at

Promote garden club and society meetings, classes, seminars and other gardening events! Send all the details via e-mail to: Deadline for January issue is December 5.

Bird Banding


xperiencing bird banding can make a life-long connection between an, otherwise, unknown bird and a child. Banding is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to witness the beauty of birds. Dana Ripper and Ethan Duke from the Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO) will gently net, identify and record vital statistics of captured birds before giving visitors the opportunity to release them! Data collected aid in the study of species using the Missouri River corridor as both migratory stop-over and breeding habitat, providing scientists with insight about what’s happening in the ecosystem. Each bird receives colored and numbered bands aiding in identification and assessment of territory fidelity if re-captured. Burroughs supports MRBO’s important work, and we offer the public several opportunities to watch Dana and Ethan band birds. It’s a magical experience for everyone, seeing birds up close!

Saturday, December 3, 2016 – 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM Saturday, January 7, 2017 – 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM Special note: If high winds and rain make it unsafe to net the birds, Dana and Ethan will give a presentation in lieu of banding. Please contact the Burroughs Audubon Library and Bird Sanctuary at 816795-8177 with any questions. Unless otherwise stated, bird banding events always take place at our Nature Center and Bird Sanctuary, 7300 SW West Park Road, Blue Springs, Missouri 64015. For more information about Burroughs Audubon Society, visit

Annual Arboretum Holiday Luminary Walk Provides Opportunity to Create Lasting Holiday Memories


he Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Garden announces the 17th annual Luminary Walk will kick off Thanksgiving weekend and, due to popular demand, will run for an additional weekend. The Arboretum will be transformed into a wonderland of candles and lights, music and merriment from 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday evenings: Nov 25 and 26, Dec. 2 and 3, and Dec. 9 and 10. The tour will be along the Mystical Loop and enhanced by the ethereal music of the tin whistle, performed live by Turlach Boylan or Molly McLaughlin. As is tradition, the Luminary Walk will feature thousands of candles illuminating the paths through the gardens and woods, while holiday lights brighten the trees, buildings and bridges. Lighted trains will be running in the Train Garden, and Santa Claus will visit with children each night from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in his Woodland Depot. Boy Scout Troop 222 will again be serving warm cider around the campfire, courtesy of Louisburg Cider Mill. The Serenity Trail through the quiet, candlelit woods will be another optional path, and will feature the music of Native American flute player Larry Daylight. In contrast, children will love the bright colors of the Children’s Garden and the child-size Gingerbread House. There will also be live musical entertainment in the Visitor Center each evening, with hot chocolate and treats for sale. Tickets for the Luminary Walk are $10 at the gate, but can be purchased in advance for $9 at area Westlake ACE Hardware stores and Hen House Markets, or online at Children 5 and under are free, and parking is free, as well. The Kansas City Gardener | December 2016



garden calendar


• Store unused seeds in a cool, dry location or refrigerator. • Check vegetables in storage for spoilage. • Mulch strawberries for winter protection. • Clean and oil garden hand tools for winter. • Till soil and add organic matter. • Store unused garden chemicals in a cool, dry and safe location. • Update garden journal for successes and failures. • Start planning for next spring on cold winter nights.


• Mulch grafted roses by mounding soil 6 to 8 inches deep to protect the graft. • Cut tall hybrid tea roses back to 24 inches to reduce wind whipping and plant damage. • Continue to plant spring flowering bulbs until the ground is frozen. • Give plants or gift certificates as holiday gifts for gardening friends. • Empty decorative pots and containers, storing inside.

• Store pesticides in a cool (not freezing) dry location, out of reach of children and pets. • Review lawn service contracts. • Avoid extensive walking on frozen grass.


• Keep heavy snowfall from limbs, lightly shaking to avoid damage. • Avoid shoveling snow onto trees and shrubs. • Check and protect the trunks of young trees and shrubs for rabbit damage. • Living Christmas trees should be in the home less than one week, and then acclimate to the outdoors and plant in a desirable location. • Prune damaged branches throughout the winter months. • Water newly planted trees and shrubs in winter to prevent dry soil conditions. • Mulch roots of tender shrubs such as azaleas and rhododendrons. • Prune branches of junipers, pines, hollies and other plants for holiday decorations.



• Remove leaves, limbs, and other debris from lawn to prevent suffocation. • Store unused fertilizers in dry location and out of reach of children and pets.

• Start planning for next year by making notes and preparing orders. • Turn compost pile to encourage winter breakdown. • Make your Christmas list adding gardening supplies. • Keep houseplants out of hot and cold drafts.

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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Assorted Fresh Christmas Trees, Wreaths & Accessories Cemetery Blankets upon request, and more! Commercial and Residential Snow Removal and Salting

Dig for more at • Find a Professional for the next project • See where to pick up the current issue • Hotlines to answer your questions

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GAR RENEDREN GAR DGEANRED ER Beyond The K T ty K an sa Cihe s C it y a n s a s C Th e Ka ns as ity A M on th ly

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WEB ARTICLE ’Tis the Season for Fall Bulb Planting

One of the greatest early-season thrills is seeing spring blooming flowers popping up their heads, possibly even through a late spring snow. As long as the ground is workable, you still have time to plant spring bulbs for beautiful bursts of brightly colored flowers heralding the long-awaited spring. Here are five fall planting tips that will help make next year’s spring garden one of your prettiest! Read the entire article at KCGMAG.COM.

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A Mon thly Guid e to Suc October 2014 cess ful Gard Garde ning enin g to Succe ssful A Mont hly Guide

For convenient mail delivery, complete the form below and send with your check for $25.00. You will receive a one-year subscription to The Kansas City Gardener.

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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.

Professional’s Corner

Keith & Nancy Farrand

Important News From Farrand Farms: Friends, we’ve got both good and sad news to share. The good news is that after 28 years at the helm, I will be officially retiring come June 30, 2017. The sad news is that I am leaving a profession that I absolutely love. All things considered, the time is right. I have carried Farrand Farms to its 95th year

owners, Farrand Farms, Inc.

of continuous operation. I am blessed to work with a very talented and involved staff. I have always appreciated and enjoyed working with our many friends and customers. I’m sure I have learned more from them than they have from me. Kansas City remains a great community in both to live and to work. Thanks to all of you for a lifetime of remarkable experiences. (Please visit for complete details and other timely updates). What’s happening now: Farrand Farms is an explosion of color right now. If you haven’t visited Farrand Farms during the Christmas Season, you should – it is a real treat! It is considered on of the “best” color experiences in the U.S. today. Bring your family, all the kids and your camera! Eleven thousand home grown poinsettias will quickly put you into the Holiday Spirit. Celebrate the season with us. It’s fun and it’s free! We always have a fire in the stove for you to enjoy when it’s cold outside and we offer only fresh cut Christmas trees and greens. Things we are most proud of: That I am the fourth generation to continue operating Farrand Farms. We are also especially proud

of creating a very distinct and unique shopping experience for our customers. We grow top quality home grown plants right here in our own greenhouses. We are especially proud of our knowledgeable friendly staff who rarely fail to impress. We are very pleased to operate and be recognized as one of the cleanest greenhouse operations in the central U.S. What most folks find surprising about me: Most people look shocked when they learn that I don’t love plants. Don’t get me wrong here, I really do like plants! But what I love about my work is to deliver a great product in a great environment to people who appreciate Mother Nature’s color and beauty. I love the challenges of creating and maintaining a positive shopping experience for all who share the excitement of gardening. It is great fun to try and figure out how I can best satisfy your needs. What’s next: Spring time! Please come and celebrate our last Spring season together.. Looking forward to seeing you here. Contact: 5941 S. Noland Rd., Kansas City, MO 64136; 816-353-2312;;

The Kansas City Gardener | December 2016


Suburban..... where Beautiful Holiday Homes begin


Choose from thousands of fabulous poinsettias grown in our greenhouses and bright with all the colors of the season. direct from the grower prices


$ 99

starting at just

and up

Delivery Available

Gift Ideas Metal Art Gazing Globes Statuary Lanterns Fairy Gardens and More

Choose from your freshest ever

Christmas Tree

specially grown and shipped to us from Oregon starting at




Holiday Arrangements for your outdoor pots 135th & Wornall

Fresh & Fragrant Evergreen

Garlands * Wreaths * Boughs Permanent greenery also available

ds r a t C ble f i G ila a v A 20

105th & Roe


December 2016 |

135th & Wornall


KCG 12Dec16  

amaryllis, rose turtlehead, natives, birds, basswood

KCG 12Dec16  

amaryllis, rose turtlehead, natives, birds, basswood