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The Kansas City

GARDENER A Monthly Guide to Successful Gardening

December 2017


evergreen for winter interest

Northern Cardinal Where the Wild Things Go Kansas City Garden Symposium Put Garden Debris to Work by Composting

December At Swan’s Water Gardens

Escape the hectic pace of the city for the tranquil atmosphere and relaxed shopping experience of an “Old Time Christmas Village”. Mark your calendar now, for our biggest sale of the year Dec. 7th, 8th and 9th open 9am-6pm. Sip on hot apple cider and hot chocolate while strolling around our winter wonderland of water gardens. Browse our stores and find special gifts. Bring your family and friends to experience this unique Christmas Village.

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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


11/11/16 10:45 AM

The Kansas City Gardener | December 2017


The Kansas City

editor’s notes

GARDENER A Monthly Guide to Successful Gardening

Garden dreams

Independently owned and operated since 1996 Publisher Michael Cavanaugh Editor Elizabeth Cavanaugh Contributors Nik and Theresa Hiremath Travis Karns Dennis Patton Scott Woodbury Distribution Publishers Delivery Solutions, Inc.

How to Reach Us ...

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

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December 2017 |

“Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too.” ~William Cowper, 18th century poet


he garden is blanketed with a healthy layer of leaves, a mixture of crabapple, sycamore, oak, maple and birch. What lies beneath are the perennials that have gone dormant, like the hosta, echinacea, rudbeckia, and daylilies. Soon temperatures will drop further, while Mother Nature sings a wintry lullaby. Now my backyard birds become stars of the show. The heated bird bath is ….. wait a minute. It’s not anywhere. If I remember correctly, I tossed it. It looked like a squirrel bath, more than a bird bath. Although I don’t mind if the squirrels drink from the well, I do mind when they chew down the edges. So I guess that’s at the top of my to-do list—replace heated bird bath. Part of the show takes place in and among the evergreen branching, as they dance and dash, chirp and cheep through the day. Feeding time for some will include plucking berries from the holly. Others will kick about on the ground searching for bugs and seeds. The smart ones, though, will head right for the feeders and suet cages that are kept full. I thought it appropriate currency

for delivering sweet entertainment and joy. Amid the now brown fronds of Kimberly Queen ferns is another place where birds lie low, sheltering from environmental dangers. These once favored for their spring green color, and durability throughout the growing season, are now repurposed as refuge in the landscape. While some gardeners overwinter ferns and other tender treasures, unfortunately we simply don’t have the space. When this subject comes up, Mr. Gardener and I repeat a familiar refrain, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a greenhouse?” It bears repeating, my man is a man of action. Because he’s been dreaming of a greenhouse since our early gardening days in Florida, Mr. Gardener decided to make that dream come true. Research ensued. Innumerable YouTube videos viewed. More research. Discussions with green-

house owners, builders and installers, both local and long distance. All of this new knowledge combined with his recent love affair with power tools and carpentry, leads us to present day, where a greenhouse build is in progress. In the garage. Where I park my car! I am a patient woman and I too am excited about the build progression. Plus to finally have a place to grow lettuces and herbs during winter, and house a few less-than-hardy plants, makes the waiting tolerable. Mostly, I have a soft spot for a man on a mission. Do you have garden dreams? Have you always wanted a pergola, or statuary, or a fountain? Or how about raised beds to grow vegetables? If you can dream it, it can be done. Maybe not now, but certainly within an attainable time frame. That’s my dream for you, dear reader, that all your garden dreams come true. I’ll see you in the garden!

In this issue December 2017 • Vol. 22 No. 12 Ask the Experts ........................ 6 Bird Banding ........................... 7 Northern Cardinal ................... 8 Holly ...................................... 10 Growing to Inspire .................. 12 Composting ............................ 13

about the cover ...

Where the Wild Things Go ...... 14 KC Garden Symposium ........... 15 Upcoming Events ..................... 16 Garden Calendar .................... 18 Subscribe ................................ 19 Professional’s Corner ................ 19

Holly is an evergreen suitable for every landscape, and a garden must-have. Learn more beginning on page 10.



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Ask the Experts Gardeners have plenty of questions about landscape issues, DENNIS PATTON answers a few of them here. EXPLANATION OF TERMS Question: This fall I read an article about how to clean up the perennial garden. They referenced unfamiliar terms to describe what parts of the plant to remove for winter. Can you help me understand terms such as “cut back to basal foliage” or “to the ground”? Answer: Funny you should ask. We have been having a similar discussion among some of our Extension Master Gardeners about where and how far to “cut back” in the fall season. Basal foliage is the green leaves that develop low to the ground in the fall. This tuft of leaves overwinters protecting the plant crown and preparing it for next spring. Cutting back to the basal foliage means to remove the flower stems and other old stemmy

growth while letting these leaves remain. Cutting back to the ground can be interpreted in several ways. For perennial plants it usually means to remove the old dying stems to within a few inches of the soil surface. Leaving a few stems in place marks the plant’s location, and traps leaves and snow helping to insulate the plant over winter. Cutting back to the ground on a shrub usually means to remove all the old growth to the bud or new shoot that will develop closest to the ground. This still may be as clear as mud, so here’s the bottom line. In the fall, if it is dead or will be winter killed, remove it. If it is green, fresh growth or potentially has a bud for next year, leave it until spring.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PEAK COLOR Question: Where has the fall color gone in Kansas City? It seems in the last few years leaf color seems to just trickle over several weeks, never showing a noticeable peak. What has changed? Answer: I have noticed the same thing. For years, we have said that peak fall color arrives the second or third week in October. In actuality, what we have seen is a push back to the fourth week of October or even early November. Essentially, the fall season has been extended, as has our average first frost date. Years ago, in midOctober, usually around the 15th was the average time of arrival for the first frost. Now it is closer to October 25th. Quietly and slowly the growing season has been expanding on the front and back ends. Our season is about ten days longer than 20 or 30 years ago. As a result of the warmer weather longer, changing of the leaves is getting later.

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December 2017 |

WORRYING ABOUT WOUNDED MAPLE Question: I am having a debate with my tree service that planted a nice two-inch caliper maple tree. The tree looks beautiful, but when you get close there is a wound about an inch or so wide and about six inches long on the trunk. The tree service says this not an issue. I am concerned with the damage. Is this a problem? Answer: This is difficult to answer in a short amount of space as it depends. Ideally if I were planting a new tree I would want one free from any defects. Damage to the trunk is a canker injury that will last a lifetime. The tree does have the ability to seal off this damage and grow new wood and bark over the damage. Cosmetically the tree will look fine in a few years if all goes well. The issue is that maples are prone to rot and decay. This damaged area provides an entry for decay into the main heart of the tree. What we cannot know or control is how much decay will happen over the


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couple of applications to eliminate. Liquid applications made when the clover is actively growing in the late spring and fall tend to be the best time for knocking this weed out of the lawn.

life of the tree and how it will affect it for the long term. So yes, it is a problem but you will need to assess several factors before deciding to replant or encourage it to seal over. RID WHITE CLOVER Question: What is the best way to get rid of white clover taking over my yard? Answer: White clover has had a couple of good growing seasons with the cooler temperatures and rainfall. Clover is a cool season perennial plant. Some call it a weed while others embrace it as it is a nitrogen fixing plant for the lawn. For most it is a common lawn weed. Clover is often more persistent in lower fertilized lawns. Higher levels of nitrogen, of course within reason, tend to decrease the clover pressure. One culture practice might be to fertilize a little more. Your other option is chemical control. Since it is a perennial some of the most common lawn herbicides just do a so-so job. The active ingredient triclopyr found in some over the counter broadleaf weed control products tend to be the most effective. Since it is a perennial and can spread by runners and seeds, it may take a

LIVE CHRISTMAS TREE Question: My husband wants a live Christmas tree, not cut for the holidays. Is there anything special I should know before going down this path? Answer: Having a live tree that can live on is a great way to create lasting memories. Balled and burlap and container evergreens are available and work nicely. Here are a few tips for success. • Dig the hole while the weather is good and cover to keep out moisture. • Make sure the root system stays damp at all times. • Hold the tree outside in a protected location prior to decorating. • Keep the tree indoors for about a week only. You don’t want it to break dormancy or dry out. • Move back out quickly after the holidays. • Plant as soon as possible in the already prepared hole. • Water as needed during the winter. Enjoy! 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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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

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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! 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 816-795-8177 with any questions.

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Northern Cardinal Local birding expert, THERESA HIREMATH tells of winter habits, like nesting, mating and foraging of Cardinals.


winter, they can be seen in groups of one or two dozen. Cardinals spend most of their time foraging close to the ground for fruits like mulberry, blackberry and hackberries. They also eat katydids, cicadas, flies, spiders, crickets and beetles, as well as other insects during warmer weather. Plus, for our viewing pleasure, they frequent backyard feeders filled with delicious black oil sunflower, safflower and sunflower seeds. This diet is especially important to the male because it determines the intensity of his plumage. Unlike Bluebirds and other birds whose color is based upon what is reflected by their wings, Cardinals have pigment in their feathers which are derived from the food they eat. While you will see Cardinals perched up high singing, they build

here are few winter scenes as picturesque or breathtaking as a Cardinal framed with a snowy background. It is likely to be one of the first bird sightings which sent many of us searching in a field guide to identify the bright red bird. While we might take Cardinals for granted, living in the Midwest, many people west of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest have never seen a Cardinal. Also, we get to see them all year because they don’t migrate. They’re especially easy to spot in the winter because they have just completed their second molting of the year in fall; the other in spring. You’ll often see them in male and female pairs through the breeding season; the female appearing more dull in color. Then during the fall and

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their nests closer to the ground in bushes and shrubs. Cardinals don’t mate for life and while both male and female are involved in finding a nesting spot; the female builds the nest and will have up to two broods a year. It’s common to have a female on her nest sing to her mate to bring food to the nest; the Cardinal is one of the few backyard female birds that sing. The mating season lasts from early spring to late summer. It’s during this nesting season that you’ll witness very dominant behavior by the male defending his territory. It’s common to see a male Cardinal fighting with his own reflection in your window. Juvenile Cardinals will begin with a black beak and with age display the adult orange to reddishorange beak. During molting, the male’s feathers start with a grayish color and then turn to a crimson red. Unlike their body feathers which they’ll molt gradually, it’s not unusual to see a Cardinal with all of its head feathers missing at one time. This is caused by one of two things. The first is what is called a full molt of the head feathers, where in all feathers are molted at the same time. The second is mites, which are not harmful but

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cause all the head feathers to fall out. There is no need to worry about mites, the cold kills the mites and the feathers grow right back. It looks very disfigured and sick but will soon grow in its new feathers and that beautiful distinct crest. With trees bare of their leaves it is easier to spot these beautiful birds in your backyard. Maybe, you’ll be lucky to see that picture perfect Cardinal on a limb on a snowy day. If you have any questions regarding Cardinals or other backyard birds, our experts would love to answer them. Happy birding!

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2018 Kansas City

Feb. 10, 2018 Presented by

Inspiring and educating gardeners since 1958

A full day of regionally focused lectures by nationally recognized garden experts Featuring Joe Lamp’l, host of PBS-KCPT TV show “Growing a Greener World,” at the Symposium and Friday Banquet

Plus, two events on Friday, Feb. 9, a banquet at Lidia’s Restaurant and a herb workshop at Loose Park For tickets and more information, go to Tammi Hartung, author of “Wildlife Friendly Vegetable Gardening,” talking about coexisting with garden pests and teaching Friday’s workshop, “Herbs for a Healthy Lifestyle”

Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, speaking about “Prairies, Pollinators and the World You Keep”

Kelly Norris, Des Moines Botanical Garden’s first horticulture chief and author of “Plants With Style,’ talking on that and “Planting for the Future.”

Tickets to the Kansas City Garden Symposium make a thoughtful holiday gift The Kansas City Gardener | December 2017



evergreen for winter interest


holly varieties that we can grow in our yards with success. Near the top of the list are the Meserve hybrids. These are cold hardy shrub form varieties that offer wonderfully glossy leaves, dark purple stems and loads of bright red berries on the female cultivars. These hollies are available in named pairs that should be planted near each other, as having male and female plants is essential for flower cross pollination and berry set. One of these pairings is the Blue Princess and Prince. Blue Princess will get quite large if grown unpruned; maturing around 8–10 ft. These have serrated leaves, blue-green in color and have very heavy berry production when pol-

linated with Blue Prince, which can grow to 8 ft. Blue Maid and Dragon Lady are large growing pyramidal (to 10 ft.) female forms that also can be pollinated by Blue Prince. The Blue Girl and Blue Boy pairing has the same dark bluegreen leaf color and purple stems, but are a little more compact growing to about 6 ft. Another popular hybrid holly pair is the China Girl and Boy varieties. These hollies are a bright green in leaf and stem, and grow to about 5 or 6 ft. Most of these varieties are available as a combo plant, with the male pollinator grown in the same container as the female to ensure berry set. They are sold under the Photo courtesy of Garden Debut®.

he days have gotten shorter and colder as winter settles in upon us. The gardens have turned from the scenic wave of summer blooms and autumn color to the long slumber months of dormancy. Now the exposed forms of deciduous trees and shrubs come into view. Bark patterns that range from rough, patchy, peeling or even velvety smooth can show themselves now, free of their cloak of leaves. Our eyes also are drawn to the color of evergreen plants that have been waiting in the background for their turn to be the landscape star. One such standout group is the evergreen hollies. Here in the Midwest there are a number of

To perk up winter days in the landscape, TRAVIS KARNS describes evergreen hollies, a success in the Midwest.

Christmas Jewel 10

December 2017 |

names BerriMagic or Twins hollies and are for the gardener who only has room for one plant. If your landscape has adequate space, hollies also are available in tree forms. Nellie R. Stevens is a beautiful dark green, fast growing variety that will grow to about 25 ft. in height. Christmas Jewel is a newer variety that is not quite as tall, growing to about 12 to 15 ft. It features extremely large showy red berries and is self-pollinating. While adding holly to your landscape is great choice to bring evergreen color to the winter garden, there are a few care considerations to keep in mind to be successful in growing them. Placement of holly plants is important; they should be grown in spots fairly protected from drying winds and hot afternoon sun. Bright shade or part sun is the ideal exposure for hollies. They also need good drainage, so amend planting areas well and avoid low wet areas. Provide consistent moisture over the winter as well as in the summer when we don’t receive much moisture. Keep an eye out for critter damage; rabbits and deer love to munch on holly branches, so if you think you might be setting out the snack tray, consider using temporary fencing around new plants or treating with a deterrent. There are several deer and rabbit repellants available in liquid and powder form. Holly plants can provide the color and evergreen focus we want this time of year with minimal care. Make space for a couple of them in your yard, you’ll be glad you did. Travis Karns is Assistant Nursery Manager at Suburban Lawn & Garden, 105th & Roe, Overland Park, Kan.


Blue Maid

Nellie R. Stevens

China Girl

Blue Princess fruit

Photo courtesy of Garden DebutÂŽ.

Blue Girl

Blue Maid The Kansas City Gardener | December 2017


Growing to Inspire Excitement grows for Overland Park Arboretum expansion


place for all seasons. A place to enjoy and learn from nature. A place for exploration of art and science. A place for celebration and quiet meditation. Where is this place? It’s the beautiful Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens on 179th Street in Overland Park. Decades ago, city leaders recognized that green space was essential to quality of life, and the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens opened in 1990. Today, over 150,000 visitors annually enjoy 4 nature trails traversing over 5 miles through 8 unique eco-systems, 45 acres set aside for botanical and specialty gardens, 38 sculptures, and a multitude of educational programs, exhibits and events for all ages. An experienced staff operates the Arboretum with the assistance of over 400 dedicated volunteers.

For the last year, the Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park has been conducting the “Growing to Inspire” capital campaign to expand programs and activities at the Arboretum. “As gardeners know, a perennial plant sleeps, creeps, and then leaps,” said Vicki Lilly, executive director of the foundation. “And so it is with the Arboretum. For 27 years have seen slow but impressive growth at the Arboretum, but now is the time for the Arboretum to “leap.” According to Lilly, over twothirds of the improvement cost has already been raised from private contributions and a multi-million dollar commitment from the City of Overland Park. The centerpiece of the $12,375 million improvement is a 22,000 square foot visitor center, including a new entry and expanded parking for 200 vehicles. The building

Cardinals wild winter red

will provide views of the existing gardens to the east and south; a café; space for arts and horticulture displays; two classrooms; an art gallery, a 4000-square foot multipurpose room overlooking a waterside terrace, a community room and a catering kitchen for weddings and festive occasions; along with a wing for retail space and administration. Surrounding the Visitor Center, the project improves 38 acres including a new drive and entry plaza, landscaped parking area, the Celebration Green, a new pond, the Great Lawn, new gardens, the

waterside terrace, patios, walkways, fountains, and reflecting pools. The project also includes the first of 4 phases to develop a monumental sculpture garden on the Kemper Farm property immediately west of the Arboretum. This first phase also features an open-air outdoor amphitheater seating 8001000. For more information about the Arboretum’s “Growing to Inspire” campaign and how you can help the Arboretum grow, visit or call the foundation office at 913.322.6467.

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Put garden debris to work by composting

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

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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 makes compost. However, the more you manage the pile the quicker you get it to become compost.”



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

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 a lot of disease I recommend you keep that out of the compost bin,” Patton said. “The pile will heat up but it is not a sterilization process.” Avoid adding crab grass and other weeds. It’s possible that their seeds will survive the composting process and when added back into the garden as compost, you will be spreading the weed seeds. More information on home composting is available at http://

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Make the Trip! The Kansas City Gardener | December 2017


Where the Wild Things Go Guiding gardeners through winter, SCOTT WOODBURY talks butterflies and other insects that overwinter in gardens.


Photos by Scott Woodbury.


o you wonder why butterflies appear on warm late winter days? Question mark, Eastern comma, tortoiseshell, and mourning cloak butterflies overwinter as adult butterflies. They find protection from cold winter winds under leaf litter, fallen logs, and the bark of white oak and shagbark hickory trees. To encourage these butterflies and other insects that overwinter under leaves, do not rake them up in woodland wildflower beds— especially ones that are out of sight from the street (because neighbors may complain). In planting areas in the front yard or near the house rake up leaves in fall and immediately replace with a one- to two-inch layer of ground leaf mulch (not compost). This should insulate

Asimina triloba

Bee fly

Ozark witch-hazel with fly

most hibernating insects and keep weeds from sprouting in spring. Last winter when I was splitting wood on a warm day I was visited by a bee that looked like a fly or the other way around. It was basking on me so I sat down for a break to check it out. It had soft furry-looking yellow and black hair like a bee, but had wings like a fly. It was a bee fly, a fly that mimics bees. Like other fly spe-

cies, it overwinters as an adult in the crannies of tree bark, rock, and buildings. I see many different flies in winter, especially on winter-flowering witch-hazels and late winter-blooming pawpaw. Recently I learned where walking sticks go in winter, thanks to colleague James Trager, an entomologist who works with me at Shaw Nature Reserve. He told me that they drop their eggs to the ground randomly in autumn and then die. The eggs are similar to wood poppy and bloodroot seeds in that ants gather some of them, bring them back to the nest and eat them. Part of them anyway. The egg portion survives in the earthen nest through winter where it hatches in spring into a walking stick nymph. Out it crawls from the nest and into the native garden it wanders. Ever notice gravid female praying mantises in fall? You know, the green or brown ones with a big belly. They are curious creatures that take a moment to check you out while you’re checking them out. The big green ones (6-7 inch) are the invasive Asian species, the smaller brown or tan ones (3-4 inch) are native. In fall mantises lay their eggs inside a mass of brownish tan “styrofoam” that is extruded from its swollen belly onto a plant stem about 2-4 feet off the ground. If you accidentally cut one off you can shove the stem back in the ground. If the stem you cut is too short, duct tape it onto a taller stem. In spring they all hatch at once feeding on whatever insects they encounter including each other!

The muck at the bottom of a water garden or pond is the winter destination for adult frogs, salamanders, and some turtles in winter. Like me, these cold-blooded critters slow way down in winter. Same is true of lizards and skinks, but they seek out dry crevices in rocks and tree trunks in winter. Back in the pond, juvenile dragonfly, damselfly, and other aquatic insect nymphs also live in the muck in winter so if you want to clean out the bottom of a water feature, wait until May and try to scoop up as many critters as possible in a bucket and return them to the water when finished or another water feature that you clean out on alternating years. To garden with native plants that attract native critters, one must go outside and look around to see them. Fortunately in Missouri we are blessed with plentiful balmy days in winter. Next chance I get, I’ll be out sleuthing around. Perhaps it will be on a trip to the compost bin or to the mailbox. Either way I can’t wait to discover and learn about the next wild thing that shows up in my native garden.

December 2017 |

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 26 years. He also is an advisor to the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Grow Native! program. Find suppliers of native plants to make your property a haven for insects and other creatures all year round at www.grownative. org, Resource Guide.

Kansas City Garden Symposium features PBS-TV star of “Growing a Greener World”


PBS-TV star leads a panel of locally focused, nationally recognized garden experts presenting lectures at the Kansas City Garden Symposium on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Rockhurst University. The theme of the 2018 Symposium is “Embrace a Greener Garden.” The PBS-TV star is Joe Lamp’l, creator and host of the award-winning national PBS series “Growing a Greener World.” Catch Joe’s show on KCPTTV Channel 19-1 at 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and also on Channels 19-2 and 19-3. He previously was host of “Fresh from the Garden” on DIY Network. He is the “Joe” behind and has authored several books, including “The Green Gardener’s Guide.” During the Saturday Symposium, Joe will talk about “Greening Your Garden While Protecting the Planet.” Also, join us for the Friday evening Banquet at Lidia’s Restaurant, when Joe will give us a behind-the-scenes

look at some of the most popular stories from the past six seasons of “Growing a Greener World.” The other speakers taking part in the Symposium are Tammi Hartung, author or “WildlifeFriendly Vegetable Gardening”; Kelly Norris, horticulture director of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden; and Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation. Tammi has been an ethnobotanical herbalist and organic grower for nearly 40 years. She and her husband, Chris, own Desert Canyon Farm in southern Colorado, a certified organic farm growing more than 1200 varieties of herbs, heritage and heirloom food plants and wildlife habitat and native plants. Hungry deer, rabbits and other varmints besiege their crops, but they haven’t declared war on them. During the Symposium, she is going to talk about how to peacefully co-exist with them.

Tammi also plans to teach a Friday workshop, “How to Use Herbs for a Healthy Lifestyle.” She plans to share many ways to bring herbs into your daily life, from cooking and household use, to personal care items like bath herbs, even herbs for pets. Kelly is the first director of horticulture at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a newly revitalized 14-acre public garden in Des Moines, Iowa. He has a new book out, “Plants With Style,” and is working on the next. Many of us already own his “Guide to Bearded Irises.” During the Symposium, Kelly plans to talk about “Planting for the Future.” Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a 51-year-old conservation nonprofit organization, oversees the Grow Native Program and edits the “Missouri Prairie Journal.” During her Symposium talk “Prairies, Pollinators, and the World You

Keep,” she plans to discuss the ecological and economic importance of prairie and pollinator conservation, and how we can use the ancient prairie ecosystem as a model for new, sustainable landscapes. Early-bird ticket prices for the Symposium at $85 if you purchase them before midnight on Saturday, Jan. 27. Early-bird tickets for the Symposium banquet on Friday evening, Feb. 9, at Lidia’s Kansas City restaurant at $69 before the Jan. 27 deadline. Early-bird tickets for the Symposium workshop on Friday, Feb. 9, at $49 before the Jan. 27 deadline. The Kansas City Garden Symposium is presented by Gardeners Connect, which for 60 years has been inspiring and educating area gardeners. For more information and to buy tickets to the Symposium, please visit



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African Violets of Greater Kansas City Tues, Dec 12, 6-8pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership/ Christmas Potluck. 816-513-8590 Greater Kansas City Dahlia Society Sun, Dec 3, 1-3pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st & Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership/ Christmas Luncheon. 816-513-8590

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Greater Kansas City Herb Study Group Wed, Dec 13, Noon; at Loose Park Garden Center, Rose room, 52nd & Wornall, Kansas City, MO 64112. Program: Catered Holiday Luncheon. This is a special event 3E eachSeries year where lunch is catered in and we 3032E exchange and 3038E White Elephant gifts. Anyone is welcome, the lunch is $15 each. Don’t forget to bring a gift for the gift exchange. We invite anyone interested in Herbs to join our group. We have our year of programs for 2018 planned and meet the 2nd Wednesday of each month. Dues are $15,• Final Tier 4-compliant engines we have an Herb garden at Loose Park we maintain, and have wonderful • iMatch Quick-Hitch compatible classes and luncheons to learn all aspects • 2-speed hydro transmission of herbs and how to use them in our lives. We sometimes take field trips so be sure • Category 1, 3-point hitch to check with us for each meeting. We hope you will join us. Facebook: check us out at Greater Kansas City Herb Study Group. Friends & visitors are always welcome. Questions: call Nancy at 816With purchase of 2 implements 478-1640.


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MoKan Daylily Society Sun, Dec 3, 11:30am-2:30pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816513-8590 Sho Me African Violets Club Fri, Dec 8, 10am-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816-513-8590

Events, Lectures & Classes December thru March Festival of Lights Dec 1 through Jan 7, Thursdays through Sundays, 3-9pm; at Powell Gardens. Join Powell Gardens for a unique holiday experience artfully curated by the talented Horticulture staff. The Festival of Lights includes botanically-themed lighting displays that begin at the garden entrance and stretch along a winding mile-long pathway through six of the seven themed gardens. Cafe Thyme will offer a soup bar with kid-friendly options and hospitality stations will be available along the trail with hot chocolate and festive adult beverages. Visit for additional amenities, events and holiday concerts. Holiday Luminary Walk Stroll down candlelit trails through the gardens and woods at the 19th annual Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Luminary Walk. This major fundraiser features a mile of candles, holiday lights, live entertainment, Santa Claus, horse-drawn wagon rides, hot cider around a campfire and mystical Gnome and Fairy Villages. Volunteers and staff members are transforming the Arboretum into a wonderland of candles and lights, music and holiday fun. Thousands of candles line the walkways and trails. Holiday lights will be on display from trees, buildings and bridges. Children will be thrilled to see Santa’s Woodland Depot in the Train Garden and chat with him nightly from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. It will be held from 5 to 9pm, two remaining weekends, Friday and Saturday, Dec 1-2, and Dec 8-9 2017 eTicket is $9 per person; children 5 and younger are free. Purchase tickets online. Tickets can also be purchased the night of the event for $10 per person. Wonderland Workshop: Drop-in Gift Making for Families Sat, Dec 2, 2-6pm; at Powell Gardens. Bring your little elves to Powell Gardens for a fun-filled afternoon of ornament making, Christmas card designing, bird feeder constructing, and storytelling in front of a fire! Get a family photo

made for the holiday season, ask Santa for that pony you’ve always wanted, and enjoy seasonal treats to kick off Powell Gardens first-ever holiday lighting display. Festival admission applies and includes most hands-on activities (additional fee for photographs and $2 fee per person for the ornament activity). Visit for more information. Holiday Nature Crafts Sat, Dec 2, 9am-Noon; at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, 1401 NW Park Rd, Blue Springs, MO 64015. Walk-in (all ages) Come by anytime between 9am and noon and stop by our craft tables to create a special native nature craft for the holiday season. Give as a gift or keep for yourself. You decide! For more information email burr.oak@ Kansas City Garden Club Annual Holiday Auction and Luncheon Mon, Dec 4, 10am; at Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO 64112. Everyone is invited for bargains and to bid in a live fast action auction for a grand selection of treasures at our fundraiser auction. Some of the at least 140 lots include bundles of fresh holiday greens; plates of homemade cookies and other baked items; wreaths and swags; farm fresh honey; a wide variety of merchant gift certificates including restaurants; garden books and tools; plants; dried flowers; vases and many other miscellaneous items. After all the good humor bidding is completed, join us for a delicious potluck luncheon. For details 913-636-4956. Natural Holiday Décor Workshop Sat, Dec 9, 10am-3pm; at Powell Gardens. Aspiring hosts with the “most” and masters of the crafty are invited to prep for the holidays during our natural decor workshop. Participants will create something for your door, something for the table, and a gift to give or keep. Our expert staff will guide you through the process of selecting, preparing, and using plant materials to create unique door charms, garlands, and more. Use live plant materials to create a romantic kissing ball that will thrive in the seasons to come. Between projects, enjoy a box lunch and a festive adult beverage. Visit for more details.

how attracting a variety of backyard birds to your yard can be a rewarding and fun way to make those winter blues flutter away. For more information email burr.

What’s Happening at Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center

Making Spirits Bright: Boozy Botanicals, Live Jazz, Holiday Lights, and Appetizers Sat, Dec 16, 6-9pm. Join Tom’s Town Distillery of Kansas City at Powell Gardens to learn about the botanical aspects of hand-crafted gin (and other liquors) while enjoying signature cocktails (some infused with Powell Gardens herbs or produce). Socialize, enjoy a hearty hot appetizer buffet, and live “speakeasy” 1920s jazz. Don your “Zelda” wardrobe and get festive. Be sure to include outerwear to walk the pathway to experience the holiday lights up close. A bus for those desiring a ride will depart from Kansas City’s Kauffman Gardens (4800 Rockhill Road) at 5pm and will return at 10pm. Must be 21 to purchase a ticket for this event.

Animal Silhouettes Dec 2 ∙ Saturday ∙ 10am–2:30pm Walk-in (all ages) As winter approaches, Missouri animals are hunkering down for the cold weather. Which animal drops its body temp to near freezing temps? (An American toad!) Who has to scratch through the snow to find seeds and nuts? (A wild turkey!) We’ll learn what owls, foxes and cottontail rabbits do to survive the low temperatures and then create a one of a kind silhouette art piece showcasing a MO animal. Holiday Greenings Dec 16 ∙ Saturday ∙ 10am–2:30pm 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 all native plants and trees. Fashion a festive holiday swag to hang using red cedar, prairie grasses, wild nuts, berries, seeds and your imagination.

Nature Film Festival Sat, Dec 23, 10am-3pm; at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, 1401 NW Park Rd, Blue Springs, MO 64015. Walk-in (all ages) Join us once again for an end of the year film festival! This year we are featuring the wonderful fish, forests and wildlife found right here in Missouri. We will also be showing other nature movies and short documentaries throughout the day. Sit back and enjoy these spectacular films. For more information email burr.oak@ Gardening By Design Symposium in Paola Sat, Mar 3, 9am-3:30pm; Sponsored by the Marais des Cygnes Extension Master Gardeners, at the District Extension Office, 104 South Brayman, Paola, KS. Symposium keynote speaker, Merle Sharp, is joined by Cynthia Gillis and Bryan Kottke. Topics include The Garden Design Process, Gardening Rooms, Perpetual Garden Color and The Aesthetics of Hardscaping. The $30 fee includes a box lunch. Space is limited; you must pre-register by Feb 26. Obtain a registration form at www. Call the Extension Office, 913-284-4306, for further information.

4750 Troost Ave, Kansas City, MO 64110 | 816-759-7300 For more information, email

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Backyard Bird Basics Sat, Dec 9, 10-11am; at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, 1401 NW Park Rd, Blue Springs, MO 64015. Registration required (all ages) Come sit in our warm and cozy solarium and learn

Promote 2018 club meetings, classes, plant sales and other gardening events! Send details to:

Treemendous Trees Dec 26-29 ∙ Tuesday-Friday ∙ 10am–3pm Walk-in (all ages) Have you ever wanted to learn more about Missouri trees? During the holiday break families are invited to take part in some free nature fun that is all about the wooded members of nature. Learn about wildlife that depends on trees, go on a tree hike and take part in an art project that utilizes trees. There will be fun for all ages!

Deadline for publishing in the January issue is December 5.

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“The Pros You Know In The Clean Red Trucks.” The Kansas City Gardener | December 2017



garden calendar


• Keep heavy snowfall from tree limbs and shrubs by lightly shaking. • Avoid shoveling snow onto trees and shrubs to prevent breakage and prolonged snow cover. • Protect the trunks of young trees and branches of shrubs from rabbit damage. • Living Christmas trees are special, leave in the home no longer than one week. • 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 to use as holiday decorations.


• Rake fallen leaves from the lawn to prevent suffocation. • Keep limbs and other debris picked up from the lawn. • Negotiate lawn service contract for next year. • Store fertilizers in a dry location and out of reach of children, pets. • Store pesticides in a cool, not freezing, dry location out of reach of children and pets. • Winterize power equipment by changing oil, draining gas and lubricating all moving parts.


• Evaluate the garden and make notes to assist in planning. • Mulch roses, only those that are grafted by mounding soil 6 to 8 inches deep over the plants. • Roses grown on own roots such as easy care Knock Out need no winter mulching. • Cut tall hybrid tea roses back to 18 to 24 inches to reduce wind whipping and plant damage. • Easy care or shrub roses need no winter pruning.

• Mulch perennial beds with a 2- to 4-inch layer of straw, shredded leaves or other lightweight material. • Remove old stems and growth on perennials. • Pull and discard dead annuals. • Till garden soil and incorporate 2 to 4 inches of organic matter. • Review new garden catalogs and make selections. • Test soil to help determine soil needs for the next growing season. • Continue to plant spring flowering bulbs, water and mulch. • Give plants or gift certificates as holiday gifts for gardening friends.


• Till soil and incorporate organic matter such as compost or manure. • Take a soil test and make recommended improvements. • Store leftover seeds in a cool, dry location such as a sealed jar in the refrigerator. • Turn compost pile to encourage winter breakdown. • Check vegetables in storage for spoilage. • Mulch strawberries for winter protection. • Protect trunks of fruit trees from rabbit damage with tree wraps. • Pick up fallen fruit, discard to reduce disease and insect problems. • Clean and oil garden hand tools for winter. • Repair equipment now to avoid spring rush. • Start planning for next year by making notes and preparing orders.


• Enjoy poinsettias longer by placing in bright light, keeping away from hot and cold drafts, and watering evenly so the soil does not dry out. • Buy holiday plants such as cactus and amaryllis for a festive touch. • Watch plants for signs of insect infestations and treat. • Wash plants occasionally to remove dust layers that develop. • Rotate plants in the light to produce a balanced plant. • Water as needed to keep soil moist, avoid standing water in plant trays. • Reduce or quit fertilizing during winter. • To avoid leaf damage, watch for hot or 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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• Look for garden clubs • Upcoming events

WEB ARTICLE Jade plant Did you know that Jade plant is named after jade-like, dark green color of the leaves. Crassula ovata, commonly known as jade plant, friendship tree, lucky plant, or money tree, is a succulent plant with small pink or white flowers. Read more about this popular, easy to grow houseplant 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

Alex Garcia

Experience: Growing up on a family farm and learning from family members was my first classroom. At 16, I began working at Farrand Farms where I was able to get onthe-job training. Surrounded by plantsmen more knowledgeable than I, gave me ample

head grower and crew manager, Farrand Farms opportunities to learn about growing plants and greenhouse operations. Currently: As head grower, I’m responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the greenhouse, as well as all the tasks associated with growing plants. We grow 95% of all our plants, perennials and annuals. That’s a lot of plants! I also manage the crew. I love working with the crew and staff. Some of them have been here a long time and some are family. What’s happening in the greenhouse now: Poinsettias! We grow thousands of plants, many varieties, that will be ready for our customers during the holidays. They count on us to provide gorgeous, healthy plants. From start to finish, tell us a bit about the process: We grow from plugs that arrive in July. Each flat has many tiny plants that we start growing at 68 degrees. Later, when they color up I drop it down to 62 degrees so they hold their color and don’t fade. Spacing is very important. They are spaced 14” apart. Any closer and they would be leggy and tall. Not good quality. To me it is the easiest to grow. If you do it right, they don’t need a lot of spraying.

Which variety is the most popular: Of course, red is the most popular. For me, I like the pink a lot! And the marble! What is the favorite part of your job: Watching the tiny starts grow into full finished products especially flowers. It’s miraculous! Challenges: The biggest challenges we face at the nursery are making sure we’re ready for the busy spring growing season. Customers are eager to spend time in their garden, and want fresh colorful plants to choose from. Nature’s magic: My favorite plant is the hibiscus. Easy to grow, and they remind me of Guatemala. What every gardener should know: Healthy, happy plants are a direct result of your maintenance. Time spent caring for your plants is an investment towards a beautiful garden. In my spare time: When I’m not growing plants, I’m growing memories with my family. Spending time together, soccer, foosball, and church are great ways to enjoy family life. Contact information: Farrand Farms is located at 5941 South Noland Road, Kansas City, MO 64136; phone 816-353-2312; email

The Kansas City Gardener | December 2017


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holly, evergreen shrub, cardinal, birds, composting, where do the wilds things go, grow native, Kansas City Garden Symposium, events

KCG 12DEC17  

holly, evergreen shrub, cardinal, birds, composting, where do the wilds things go, grow native, Kansas City Garden Symposium, events