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The Kansas City


Growing A Monthly Guide to Successful Gardening

March 2016

Tall Bearded Iris and Memories in Kansas City

Healthy Yard Expo First Butterfly Sightings Spring Good Time for Soil Testing Water Gardens for Frogs and Toads

Swan’s Water Garden Village 2016 Spring is rapidly approaching and we’re working feverishly in preparation for the opening of the 2016 “Water Garden Season”. We’ve stocked our store with the largest inventory and selection of water garden supplies ever. We’ve doubled the size of our aquatic plant and flower area giving you more choices than ever before. We’ve made many changes over the last year adding new water features, paver patios, retaining walls and landscaping with more to come. New this year are sustainable landscapes using native plants that are drought tolerant and low maintenance that create gardens that are just as beautiful as the high maintenance gardens we see throughout the city. Make plans now to visit our “Water Garden Village”.

Look For The Sign

We Aren’t Hard To Find Anymore. Located Just Two and a Half Miles East of 69 Hwy on 247th St. You Can’t Miss Our Sign.

Career Opportunity

The Water Garden Store

Pictured above are Kevin and Diane Swan standing in front of their store. They started Swan’s Water Gardens back in June of 1994 a few years after building their first water garden so they could enjoy the peace and tranquility that water brings to any environment. From their humble beginnings as a design build firm specializing in the creation of naturalistic waterfalls, streams and ponds they quickly grew into a leader in the Kansas City area serving business and residential customers with their innovative products and artistic craftsmanship. The Swan’s started their business with a commitment of transforming boring backyards into magical places by designing and building their beautiful water features. Swan’s Water Gardens has created a unique experience for all visitors. Arriving at Swan’s Water Gardens is like entering a charming “Water Garden Village” complete with bridges, scenic pathways winding through beautiful water gardens, magnificent waterfalls and peaceful streams. You’ll find everything you need to build and maintain your Water Garden. Starting with the highest quality pond supplies, aquatic plants, fish, land plants and ground covers.

We’re Building the “Ultimate Water Garden Destination” and we need passionate, energetic friendly people to join us. Are you looking for someWe’re Just A Short Ten Minute Scenic thing fun, fast paced, working on projDrive South Of Overland Park ects that make a significant positive difference in peoples lives? If so, you have found your dream opportunity! Call Today!

Why Swan’s Water Gardens

We are committed to providing you with the highest quality in building standards and proven techniques used in the water garden industry. We don’t just say that to get your business, we back it up with a 5 year written guarantee that is the longest in the industry. This guarantee isn’t just for the water features but also all of our paver patios and retaining walls.

We Are Pleased to Announce “The Butterfly Lady”

Lenora Larson is coming to Swan’s Water Gardens Saturday morning April 16th from 10am-12pm. Lenora is a proud “science geek” with a degree in microbiology from Michigan State University, a career in molecular biology and a life-long interest in wildlife. Lenora is a nationally known expert on butterfly gardening and is a frequent speaker to gardening and community groups. We are thrilled to have Lenora come and share her vast knowledge as she shares photo-graphs of butterflies, caterpillars and their host plants illustrating the butterflies field of dreams:”plant it and they will come.” Limited seating so please RSVP to save a spot. You won’t want to miss this event.

Living and Loving The Water Garden Lifestyle... “Creating Paradise ... in Your Backyard” March hours: Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm • Sat. 9am-4pm


4385 W 247th St., Louisburg, KS

We back our Water Garden installations with a 5 year leak free guarantee!

SPRING CONTAINER BULB PLANTING HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY PLANT BULBS: (remember, grow different varieties in different containers)


If you plant bulbs upside down or sideways, you’re asking them to waste time & energy. Examine your bulbs for room remnants at the base – the end goes down.

2. FILL YOUR POT PART WAY WITH SOIL MIX Enough so bulbs placed upright on this layer with their tops 1” below the rim of the pot. Make sure to check the bloom dates of the bulbs you are planting.

3. SPACE BULBS SO THAT THEY’RE GENTLY TOUCHING OR NO MORE THAN 1/2” APART Press the base of the bulbs into the soil to keep them standing straight. Place any larger bulbs at the center of the group.


Use a mix that’s well drained but still holds some moisture. A soil mix with starter fertilizer is adequate, or you can mix in a small amount of bulb fertilizer while planting.


Set at a trickle until the soil is fully moistened. Some spring-blooming bulbs require a special chilling period before they’ll grow & bloom.

TIPS FOR GREAT RESULTS: Get the most color out of your planted space by planting bulbs or perennials with various bloom times. Mass planting of one color together makes the biggest impact. When the blooms are gone allow the foliage of the bulbs to yellow & dieback on its own before removing it. This is important to allow the plant to continue making food for the bulb’s next season.



May vary, check online for your specific location



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WWW.WESTLAKEHARDWARE.COM The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016 2/15/16


4:06 PM

The Kansas City

editor’s notes

GARDENER A Monthly Guide to Successful Gardening

Eyes on the garden

Independently owned and operated since 1996 Publisher Michael Cavanaugh Editor Elizabeth Cavanaugh Contributors Tracy Flowers Nik and Theresa Hiremath Lala Kumar Lenora Larson Susan Mertz Steve Painter Dennis Patton Judy Penner Rodney St. John Scott Woodbury Distribution Publishers Delivery Solutions, Inc.

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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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March 2016 |


ne benefit I treasure most about a home office is the freedom to be in my garden. Either at first light, mid day, or sunset, and no matter what season, I’m just a few steps away from the landscape. Even from indoors, I can glance out into the back corner, where the birds feed and shelter under the spruce trees, and watch the activity. In winter, when robins are picking berries from the holly shrubs just outside my office window, I allow a few minutes to observe and satisfy my curiosity about their behavior. Don’t you wonder how they don’t poke an eye out when flying into those sharpedged leaves? Recently I’ve noticed the 12-foot Allegheny Viburnum that spans the backyard fence line. First, I note that I must prune that beast back this year … after spring bloom of course. It’s almost touching the phone and cable lines. Next, I noticed the chocolate brown color of the leaves. This seems different. In seasons previous, leaf color has been green, and the edges were crispy brown, like they had been burned. Long-lasting below freezing temps will have that effect. I guess since we’ve had such a mild winter, it allowed a more consistent

color change. Or maybe it’s just me paying attention. {grin} Over the holidays, we had the occasion to visit our next-door neighbors for a party. I wandered to the deck where there is a clear view of our blue spruce trees that are now more than 20 feet tall, I’m sure. I was shocked and amazed to see them from that vantage point. I had no idea how huge they had become. It’s important to view your garden from every angle. To take the time to see what others see. The same is true with garden art. We have a tandem bicycle that entertained our children and their friends for many summers. We gave it away years ago to another family, only to have it returned when their kids had outgrown it. It’s been well loved. So now what? Put it out for large item pickup? No way! Sell it? It’s not worth much. Fix it up? For who!? So we parked it in the garage for a couple of years, unable and unwilling to part with such a family trea-

sure. In a whirlwind of downsizing furry, it was time to decide. How about garden art? We tried to picture it off the side of the gazebo, and hanging from the pergola. We both agreed we should spare our neighbors from such a junky sight. Common sense finally took its grip and we “parked it” at the back gate, leaning against the split rail fence, waiting for the next excursion. Isn’t it interesting what we notice and what goes unseen? Maybe it’s our frantic pace that dims our attention, barely getting a glimpse of our surroundings. I can’t explain why I seem to be more aware, except that I have been intentional about pace. There’s no need for this woman to be frantic about anything. And as long as I keep my eyes on the garden, and truly see the gifts therein, I’m certain my path to peace will be fulfilled. My prayer is the same for you. I’ll see you in the garden!

In this issue March 2016 • Vol. 21 No. 3 Powell Garden Events .............. 6 Ask the Experts ........................ 7 So, What’s a Vole? .................. 8 Rose Report ............................ 11 BUST Lawn Care Myths ............ 12 Spring Soil Testing ................... 14 First Butterfly Sightings .............. 15 Growing Tall bearded iris ......... 16 The Bird Brain ......................... 18

about the cover ...

In the Garden .......................... 20 Water Gardens for Frogs and Toads ..................... 22 Healthy Yards Expo ................ 24 Upcoming Events ..................... 25 Subscribe ................................ 29 Hotlines .................................. 31 Garden Calendar .................... 30 Professional’s Corner ................ 31

The tall bearded iris are easy to grow here in the Midwest. Learn more about these beauties starting on page 16.



© 2016, All rights reserved.

Feed your passion.

Osmocote® Smart-Release® Plant Food Outdoor & Indoor. Your partner in a beautiful world. When perfection matters, why trust anything else? The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016



Powell Gardens’ Spring Butterfly Exhibit Returns March 12!

eed a tropical getaway but don’t have time for a vacation? Escape to a lush rainforest by visiting Powell Gardens’ Out of the Blue Spring Butterfly Exhibit, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily March 12 through April 3! The conservatory exhibit features two types of butterflies: Blue Morphos and—for the first time at Powell Gardens—Paper Kites. These beauties will flutter about orchids, bromeliads, air plants, ferns, hibiscus, medinilla, lobelia and much more. There will also be a separate display of live monarchs, courtesy of Monarch Watch (, and tips on how you can help protect these butterflies. The exhibit is included with Garden admission of $10/adults, $9/ seniors 60+, $4/children 5-12, and free/members of Powell Gardens and children 4 and younger. Learn more at (Extra admission applies

for Easter activities on Saturday, March 26. See Easter for details.) The exhibit includes hands-on learning about butterfly conservation both near and afar and the chance to meet some rainforest creatures during weekend programs:

your garden along with other tips for supporting local butterflies. Note: Easter activities take place 9 a.m. to noon on Sat., March 26. March fun continues with:

Secrets of the Rainforest 11 a.m.-2 p.m. March 12-13 Sample foods (both familiar and surprising) with origins in the rainforest, and meet a tarantula and a plethora of tropical cockroaches. Lessons from Nature 11 a.m.-2 p.m. March 19-20 Meet a pair of geckos and learn how their feet inspired a fastener that is quicker than a zipper. Butterfly Gems of the Midwest 11 a.m.-2 p.m. March 26-27 Area Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners will share ways you can lure “flying flowers” to

Seasonal Hike with Alan Branhagen 1-4 p.m. March 13 Horticulture Director Alan Branhagen will be your guide as you hike the Byron Shutz Nature Trail. Listen to the singing frogs and watch for early spring blooms along the way! Fee: $9 or $5/members. Register by calling 816-6972600 x209.

Garden Planning Workshop 10 a.m.-noon March 19 Get expert advice on designing a productive edible garden and take home a variety of seeds and potatoes to plant! Fee: $29 or $22/ members. Register by March 11 by calling 816-697-2600 x209. Kansas City Kite Club (March 19) To celebrate the addition of paper kite butterflies to this year’s exhibit, Kansas City Kite Club members will fly some of their enormous kites and give fun educational demonstrations at the Gardens starting at noon! Save the Date: April 22 Join us at the Gardens on Earth Day! Admission is free all day on Friday, April 22, 2016, and we will have a limited supply of Legacy Tree Program seedlings to give away (one per party, while supplies last). Learn more at powellgardens. org/EarthDay.




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March 2016 |


Ask the Experts Readers share their questions about landscape issues, and DENNIS PATTON gives expert tips and advice. PLANT EARLY WITH CAUTION Question: Some local nurseries are getting trees and shrubs in stock for spring planting. How early can a plant? Answer: You can start planting as soon as they arrive. The best planting window is late March through mid-May so the plants have a chance to develop roots before summer conditions. The concern with planting nursery stock very early in the spring could be potential winter injury especially from plants shipped in for the south. Plants with tender, new growth are more likely to be damaged by a late freeze. My recommendation is if you find the plants you want go ahead and purchase as they may not be there in a few weeks. If you are concerned just hold them for a few weeks until hopefully any extreme cold snaps have past. MOVE LEAVES TO SOIL SURFACE Question: We have pin oaks that have dropped leaves all winter onto our boxwoods. Will the pin oak leaves smother out the boxwoods or hurt the leaf color? Answer: When in deep piles, leaves exclude sunlight. Any plant in the absence of sunlight will turn pale yellow to white. The problem is the chlorophyll that causes the leaf to be green and carry on photosynthesis does not develop. Yes, the leaves that pile up or cover any plant should be removed. Leaves

can be left on the soil surface to act as mulch but if they cover any part of the green plant damage will result. It would be best to rake the smothering leaves away from the boxwood plants but there is no need to remove all of them from the garden, just the offenders. LEAVE MULCH AROUND DAFFODIL EMERGING FOLIAGE Question: Should I pull the mulch away from my daffodils that are coming up? Answer: No. I feel like I should stop just there as this is a close end question. The mulch will not harm the emerging foliage and may help keep the soil temperatures cooler to slow growth to help make sure they do not develop too quickly and be damaged by late winter cold temperatures. WHEN TO FERTILIZE, OR NOT Question: Do azaleas and rhododendrons need fertilizer? The Internet seems to present conflicting advice. Answer: Well, it all depends! Those that know me realize this is my favorite answer to most questions. Fertilizer is not a miracle drug for plants. Simply put, fertilizer will not make a sick plant healthy. If you are fertilizing because these acid loving plants are performing poorly then the fertilizer will not help, in fact it could harm the plants.

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Normally fertilization of shrubs is only necessary for the first couple of years while they are establishing. If the plants are growing healthy and you want bigger plants sooner, then yes fertilization is a good idea.

If the plants have outgrown their space or need pruning, then fertilization is not necessary. Why feed them and make them grow faster? Normally fertilization of shrubs is only necessary for the first couple of years while they are establishing. Then they should get all the nutrients they need from decomposing organic matter in the soil. If I am selling fertilizer than yes they need a yearly application of fertilizer. Personally, I think most people over fertilizer shrubs and then they get overgrown. Thoroughly consider the reason for fertilizing. 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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The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016


So, What’s a Vole? When critters take up residence and destroy your landscape, STEVE PAINTER understands the challenge.


hat question is asked a lot. Most people have never heard of such a creature. But, Voles are actually quite numerous, and are widespread throughout most of the United States. Voles are top menu items for most furbearers such as fox, coyotes, bobcats, badgers, etc., as well as feathered predators like owls, hawks and small falcons such as American Kestral. As a prey species, these “field mice” reproduce accordingly – good for predators, not so good for homeowners. They do not hibernate. Rather they spend the winter months in a burrow that they dig to get below the frost line. They won’t give a second thought to using mole burrows to travel. It gets them started on their own burrows. By traveling these burrows, voles are able to

keep themselves concealed from their predators. They are basically a mouse species. Therefore their major food source is weed seeds, flowers seeds, root tubers, and more. New residential communities developing in the Kansas City metro area are surrounded by overgrown fields, filled with weeds and wildflowers, providing plenty of seeds to go around. This is why in these new developments we see the vole population really explode. With this same new development, comes fewer predators to control them naturally. Another food attraction is spilled bird seed. If you feed the birds, voles will love it. If times get tough, like lots of snow or ice in the winter, voles will start girdling the bark off of small trees and bushes.

Here’s where these critters become a problem for most, particularly around the newer subdivision previously mentioned. Any property that has a lot of overgrown fields are vulnerable to a high population of Voles. They prefer burrowing up along sidewalks leading up to the front door, driveway, back patio, any solid object that they can burrow under. This solid form of concrete allows for some security from burrowing predators. Your landscape provides a lot of food for them and then again the surrounding properties. Then between these burrow entrances they have the habit of clipping the grass off right at the ground level to create a sort of “highway” that they can zip through really fast. Further in the spring and summer the grass will grow tall and form a

sort of tunnel to help conceal their movement. OK, you went outside and found some burrows up along the front sidewalk. What to do? You can use traps. But, I have found that to be labor intensive and they really don’t bait well. They can be finicky. The other option is rodenticide. You can purchase this at most hardware stores. Be sure to read the instructions. The bait is best placed into the burrows so that it will fall below ground level. This will ensure that no other wildlife, like birds, will eat it. When baiting, it’s best to be persistent as well. Best of luck! Steve Painter owns and operates Catch-It Wildlife and Pest Control, Inc. You may reach him at 816769-3106.

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Spring Gardening Seminar scheduled for March 12


he Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City invite all local gardeners to their 15th annual Spring Gardening Seminar, scheduled for March 12, 2016. The seminar will be held this year at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri. The opening speaker for this year will be Jan Riggenbach, whose syndicated column, “Midwest Gardening”, has been guiding and entertaining newspaper readers throughout the region for more than 40 years. She also was garden columnist for Midwest Living Magazine for 22 years and is the author and coauthor of several garden books, the most recent being Your Midwest Garden: An Owner’s Manual. Jan’s presentation features new or overlooked garden plants, including annuals, perennials, shrubs, and a few edibles. Attendees will find something for every garden site.

As in the past, the seminar will be divided into four sections with three speakers each. Each section will cover related topics. Under “A Change Will Do You Good”, the three speakers are William Ashworth, Dan Parcel, and Meghan Steen. Ashworth will talk about the transformation of the European Flower Garden. Parcel, Director of the Retail Program for Kaw Valley Greenhouses will speak on “11 Ways to Sabotaging Your Containers”, showing the ways patio containers and hanging baskets may not be performing their best. Steen, owner and lead designer at FineLine Design, will introduce “Landscape Design”, taking the audience through the detailed process a professional landscape designer goes through to achieve a well-thought-out plan and one that the audience can follow on their own.

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Under My (Green) Thumb introduces three speakers: First, Dennis Patton, Horticulture Agent with Johnson County K-State Research and Extension will present two sessions about weeds: Know Your Weeds and Kill Your Weeds. Dr. Starbuck, retired from the University of Missouri after 33 years of teaching, research and MU Extension, will speak about Shady Groundcovers, explaining how, as a landscape matures, shade can make it difficult to maintain high quality turf, and presenting solutions to those issues. Let’s Get Physical opens with Cary Rivard, a Fruit and Vegetable Extension Specialist at Kansas State University and Center Director of Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center, who will present “Grow your soil, Grow your Garden”, explaining the living ecosystem with a huge community of microbes that help to build soil and help plant growth. Duane Hoover worked at Soil Service and currently works at The Ewing and Murial Kauffman Memorial Garden. His topic, Pruning—Pushing the Limits, will show just how far you can go with designing your garden through judicial, healthy pruning. Bobby Wright, a Community Partner Garden Coordinator with

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Kansas City Community Gardens, will emphasize the collection surface — looking at systems and best practices for rainwater collection. Living in the Future speakers are Dayna McDaniel, Kim Dyer and Conor Brown. Dayna has been working in horticulture for 40 years. She will bring the audience up-to-date on seed-saving: learning the tools, how to harvest and store the seeds for future use. Kim Dyer, Greenhouse manager at Colonial Nursery, is always a favorite with her hands-on programs. This year she will show how flowers can be eaten, how to grow them, and ways to prepare them, using many demos to make it easy to follow. The final speaker is Conor Brown, a mushroom specialist who has worked at the Wakarusa Valley Farm in Lawrence for six years, who will speak about The Fungus Among Us. For further information about this year’s Spring Gardening Seminar, and for dates to sign up, watch our website at www.mggkc. org.

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March Rose Report Kansas City’s expert rosarian JUDY PENNER educates gardeners on planting and caring for bare root roses.


are root roses simply means that all the soil has been removed from the dormant plant. Some of the advantages to bare root roses is that they adjust more quickly to soil and garden conditions. Another advantage is you can plant them earlier allowing you more time for other gardening jobs later in the spring. March is the time to plant bare root roses as long as the soil is workable. I don’t like to plant in wet soil since this can damage the soil structure and cause soil compaction that could have long lasting effects on your soil. When your roses are delivered be sure to check the canes and roots for damage. The canes should be smooth, not dried out, cracked or wrinkled. Bare root roses should have 3-5 canes. Roses are graded

by number and size of the canes: #1 grade has at least 3 strong canes that are branched no higher than 3” from the bud union. After inspecting your roses, cut the rose canes leaving 8-9 inch canes and cut the tips of the roots. Remember if there are broken canes or roots cut them away so infection won’t get into your plants. Next soak your roses for 12 to 24 hours in water treated with bleach (1 tablespoon per gallon) this helps sanitize the roses. While the roses are soaking, dig the holes about 18” wide by 18” deep. Then make a mound on the bottom of the hole with soil and place the roots over the mound. Next I put 2 tablespoons of Earth Right and 1 tablespoon of Mushroom Stuff into a gallon of water and pour it into the hole.

Identify the bud union when planting bare root roses. I then fill the hole with soil to ground level making sure that the bud union is 1 inch below ground level. (See diagram above.) I cover the canes all the way to the top with mulch. Covering the canes ensures that they will not dry out from wind and weather. I remove the mulch from the canes when I see buds growing and as a precaution I always leave some

mulch close by the rose in case we get a late spring freeze and need to cover them up again. If you would like to learn more about roses, I will be giving a Free Spring Demonstration sponsored by Kansas City, Mo. Parks and Recreation and the Kansas City Rose Society, on Sat., March 19 from 10am to noon in Loose Park Garden Center, 5200 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, MO 64112. The program will include How to Take the Challenge out of growing roses, and a live demonstration out in the Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden on how to plant and prune a rose. All are welcome. Judy Penner is Expert Rosarian at Loose Park, Kansas City, Mo. You may reach her at judy.penner@

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The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016


Let’s BUST Lawn Care Myths Lawn care can be a tricky venture. RODNEY ST. JOHN demystifies common beliefs and feeds gardeners with fact.


s with most things today, there is a proliferation of information available about lawn and tree care. It is difficult to sort through all of the fiction to get to the facts. Today, I want to expose some common myths about lawn care so that you can get your lawn on the right track this spring. Myth: All lawns should be mowed at the same height all year long. Fact: Differing types of grass respond differently to various cutting heights. Depending on the type of grass you have, you can create a healthier and more beautiful lawn by raising and lowering your mower at specific times of the year. I personally advise people to lower their mower one notch in the spring and then raise it back up when we get closer to summer.

Once the fall hits and the grass blades stop growing, I recommend lowering it back down again. If the blades grow too long in late fall and winter, leaves and snow will mat the blades down, reducing sunlight, and trapping moisture. This can lead to patches of dead grass, mold and other fungal diseases. For cool season lawns (tall fescue, bluegrass), there isn’t a major agronomic benefit to lowering it one notch for the first mowing. It is mainly for aesthetics. By lowering it one notch, you will remove much of the brown leaf tissue making it easier to see the new green blades, which makes your lawn appear greener, quicker. For warm season lawns (bermuda, zoysia, buffalo), mowing it a notch lower will allow more sunlight to reach the ground and warm up the soil quicker, thus

decreasing the amount of time it takes for the grass to green up and get growing. Now for the caveat. As stated above, lowering the mower one notch will increase the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground. But if your lawn is thin and weak, this could allow more weeds to germinate. The solution here is to apply a pre-emergent to deter any weeds from growing. Myth: You should always bag grass clippings because they cause thatch. Fact: Grass clippings do not cause thatch. Thatch is made up of decomposing stem, root, rhizome, and stolon tissue. Yes, due to the laws of gravity, some grass clippings may find their way into a layer of thatch, but it is by no means the primary component of it. In fact, there are several benefits to not bagging your grass clippings. For starters, clippings can be easily broken down by soil microbes, returning nutrients back to the soil. Essentially being a free fertilizer.

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I think the main reason many people bag their clippings is because they don’t mow often enough. When you mow infrequently, the grass is too tall to be easily dispersed across the lawn. When mowing, follow the 1/3 rule. Which means ‘never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf tissue when you mow.’ So if you are maintaining Kentucky bluegrass at 2 inches, don’t let it grow taller than 3 inches before you mow. If you are keeping your tall fescue at 3 inches, mow it before it reaches 4.5 inches. This will keep your clippings small and easily dispersible. It will also be the least stressful on the grass. Yes, this means you will have to mow more often during those rapid growing times (in the spring and fall for cool season grasses and in the summer for warm season grasses). This might mean mowing every 4-6 days instead of the oncea-week most people mow, but your lawn will repay you buy looking green and full. I’m always happy to help homeowners bust lawn care myths and grow the best lawns possible. With a little know-how, all of us can have a great canvas for our kids to play on and enjoy. Dr. Rodney St. John is an agronomist at Ryan Lawn & Tree. Have questions about a lawn care myth you have heard? Give him a call at 913-381-1505 or contact him at

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Gardeners Connect presents

Top Performing Plants for the Midwest


erry Meyer, a Proven Winners project manager living in mid-Missouri, plans to talk about “Top Performing Plants for the Midwest” in a Gardeners Connect program on March 19. The free program, open to everyone, is planned for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 19, in the auditorium at the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, Mo. 64110. Please come early to socialize. Kerry lives and gardens in central Missouri on 10 acres, half of which is a rocky wooded hillside. She and her husband bought their house in 2005. They now live mere miles from the small family farm where she grew up, near her hometown of around 300. Both of her grandmothers and her mother loved flowers and passed this passion on to her and she plans on passing this on to her daughter. She expects her garden to continue to grow as she has time to add to and improve existing beds. Kerry has a bachelor of science degree in horticulture from the University of Missouri and a master of science degree in horticultural science with a minor in plant breeding from the University of Minnesota. After graduation, she lived for five years on the Central Coast of California before returning to the Midwest.

Kerry’s responsibilities with Proven Winners include managing plant tag development, assisting in coordination of Pack Trials and trade shows, managing the plant patent process, preparing cultural information, acting as the lead source of product information for industry and consumer publications, overseeing and participating in development of public relations for special projects, such as the Proven Winners pot program and Proven Winners consumer hard goods. The Proven Winners brand was created by three leading U.S. plant propagators — Euro American in Bonsall, Calif.; Four Star Greenhouse in Carleton, Mich.; and Pleasant View Gardens in Loudon, N.H. — in 1992. They propagate and grow small plants, called liners in the industry, which are sold to wholesale growers to finish growing and sell to retailer garden centers. Kerry’s mid-Missouri gardens include beds around the foundation of her home, wide borders, a vegetable garden and dozens of containers. The mission of Gardeners Connect is to “educate and inspire members of our community to become more complete gardeners.” For more information on this program and other programs of Gardeners Connect, please visit

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Spring is Good Time for Soil Testing Good looking landscapes start with healthy, balanced soil. LALA KUMAR reminds gardeners to test soil now.


oil testing is a gardener’s best guide to the wise and effective use of fertilizers and soil amendments while avoiding over application. The over application of fertilizers could pollute the ground water through leaching and runoff. Soil testing is also a useful tool in diagnosing plant growth problems. When problems related to poor growth such as weather extremes or pests can be eliminated, soil testing is the next logical step to diagnose the problem. Although soil-testing kits are available in garden centers, laboratory testing is more reliable, and the results from laboratories are accompanied with interpretations and recommendations. Soil samples for the test must represent the area of the soil being sampled. A composite sample of



several individual sub-samples within a lawn or garden area is a good way to represent the soil. Collect cores or shovel slices of soil from five or more areas to a depth of six inches for gardens and new lawns, and three inches for established lawns. Be sure to use a clean digging tool and collection bucket or bag to avoid contamination. Mix the sub-samples together and take 2 cups or one pint of soil for the soil testing. Do not include soil from both lawn and garden areas in the same composite sample, as recommendations for the two different areas would vary. Garden soil should be tested every two to three years. Although fall and early spring are typical times to test soil, gardeners can really do it any time the soil is not frozen, but don’t take a sample

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after recent compost, fertilizer or lime applications. Jackson County MU Extension Center, Blue Springs provides the service of soil testing through the University of Missouri’s soil testing laboratory located in Columbia. There is a fee per sample. The soil test results are generally available after 2-3 weeks depending on the season. Regular fertility tests include measurements of pH, neutralizable acidity (NA), lime requirements, organic matter, available phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and cation exchange capacity (CEC). The CEC is a measure of the soil’s ability to hold nutrients. Generally soil with higher organic matter has a higher CEC. The liming requirement is based on the pH (active acidity) and NA (source of

active acidity). Soil pH is a measurement of a soil’s reaction, for example, its acidity or alkalinity. A soil’s acidity level affects nutrient availability, the activity of soil microbes and the growth of plants. Adjusting pH often corrects the nutrient problem for most plants. The optimum pH for most plants is between 6.0-7.0. Finally, soil testing ascertains fertility problems and not other conditions such as poor drainage, structure, and contamination. For more information contact Jackson County MU Extension Center (816-252-5051) or e-mail: Lala A. Kumar is Regional Horticulture Specialist, University of Missouri Extension Jackson County.

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First Butterfly Sightings In late winter and spring, butterflies take to the sky. LENORA LARSON identifies which ones and their habits.

Other Spring Sightings The aptly named Blues emerge in early March and prefer nice, moist scat. Unless the weather is unseasonably cold, mid-March begins sightings of Black, Pipevine, Spicebush and Zebra Swallowtails, freshly emerged from their chrysalids and ready for love. By late March you should also see the

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Photos by Lenora Larson.


utterfly sightings promise that spring is on its way. A 60 degree day in February will awaken the bright orange Commas and Question Marks that were hibernating in leaf litter. Fortunately, these first butterflies do not seek flower nectar since even Dandelions may still be sleeping. They prefer fresh scat or tree sap dripping from wounds, especially if it has fermented into butterfly beer. In contrast, we won’t see our first Cloudless Sulphur until August. How to explain such a wide difference in first sightings? It’s all about how the butterfly spends its winter. Butterflies that hibernate in our area as adults are the first to brighten February skies. Lucky Lepidopterists may also spy the beautiful Mourning Cloak with wings a rich brown edged with electric blue spots and a brilliant yellow band. They too winter as adults, protected by the antifreeze glycerol in their tissues. They are usually seen near woodlands since its caterpillar eats the leaves of Willow, Cottonwood, Elm and Hackberry Trees. Cabbage Whites overwinter as chrysalids and emerge to perform aerial ballets in late February. These immigrants from Europe are North America’s most numerous and wide-spread butterflies, a welcome sight to everyone except farmers and gardeners growing Cabbages, Broccoli and other cole crops. Cabbage whites and their North American cousin, Checkered Whites, are considered agricultural pests because their caterpillars are the despised ‘Cabbage Worm’.

Summary Throughout late winter and spring, butterflies take to the sky after a winter spent as an adult, chrysalis, caterpillar or egg. The proactive butterfly gardener welcomes them with masses of nectarrich flowers and their caterpillar host plants.

A Gray Comma basks in the winter sun, warming body and wings.

An Eastern Tailed Blue enjoys fresh scat on an early spring day.

large yellow and black Tiger Swallowtails cruising their tree-top territories.

be the first to post a photograph of each new sighting. We also have meetings and field trips where newcomers can learn about butterflies from experienced butterfliers. Our March 12 meeting is posted

Seasonal Migrants In early April, pale yellow Clouded Sulphurs and bright Orange Sulphurs migrate north from the gulf states where they over-wintered. They greedily nectar on spring flowers such as Catmint (Nepeta) and Rose Verbena and lay their eggs on plants in the pea family. Red Admirals migrate to Arizona and New Mexico in fall and overwinter as adults. Their offspring head north to the Midwest in spring to nectar on early bloomers like Ninebark and Crabapple and search out Nettles to lay their eggs. If the weather is favorable between Kansas City and the Gulf of Mexico, we may even see Monarchs in late April, part of the northward bound wave of generational migrants seeking Milkweed. The aforementioned Cloudless Sulphur overwinters along the gulf coast and, like the Monarch, migrates north generation by generation, but doesn’t reach our area until late summer. Postings Where can you find out about Kansas City area butterfly sightings each year? Our local butterfly club, The Idalia Butterfly Society, has a very active group page on Facebook where members vie to

Marais des Cygnes Extension Master Gardener and member of Idalia Butterfly Society and Kansas Native Plant Society, Lenora Larson gardens and hosts butterflies in the cruel winds and clay soil of Paola, Kansas. She may be contacted at lenora.longlips@

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Growing Tall Bearded Iris and Memories in Kansas City

Available in a rainbow of colors, TRACY FLOWERS tells of her favorite tall bearded iris and how to grow them.


f you are reading this magazine, then you probably already have much experience with Tall Bearded iris. Maybe like me, a friend gave you a fan of leaves with a small bulb on the bottom and said, “plant this, it’s purple.” Hopefully, you took their advice and discovered just how rewarding growing iris can be. Tall bearded iris are easily used in many different types of gardens. Soft and subtle varieties like ‘Beverly Sills’ float like mystical fairies over peonies in the spring. Bold and brash colored iris draw the eye like a neon sign. Used in mass, their leaves can be the backdrop to an annual flower border. A unique-looking iris can become the garden focal point as a solitary specimen. Iris is the Greek word for rainbow and tall bearded iris are known to come in every color except red. Sunny ‘Galactic Gold’ and ‘Janet Lemon’ extend yellow tones in spring after the daffodils fade. Dramatic bearded iris with names like ‘Black Attack’, and ‘Coal Seams’ represent some of the darkest flowers found in any garden. When choosing an iris, descriptions talk about falls, which are the petals that droop down at the bottom of the flower. The Standards are the petals that stick straight up and the beard is the fuzzy part between the two. Tall bearded iris can have thousands of variations and patterns. Speckles, lines, borderedpetals and ombre effects are just the tip of the iceberg when describing these garden gems. Air circulation is the most important thing to give tall bearded iris. They are forgiving about 16

March 2016 |

dry conditions, but they do not like to sit in water. Tall bearded iris prefer to be planted with a little bit of the bulb above the soil and most pests and diseases can be prevented by keeping the tubers clear of weeds and debris. Once established, tall bearded iris will perform best if they are divided every few years. Fast growing varieties need a division every three years. Others are slow and can move to the bottom of the “Honey-Do” list. Visit growers, like Comanche Acres Iris Garden, located in Gower, Mo. (, in May and June, when iris are in bloom. Float around like a bee, through fields planted with more varieties than one can count. The best time to plant iris is late summer, so you have plenty of time to decide which ones you want. Another opportunity to see Kansas City’s tall bearded iris in bloom is at Powell Gardens. In a garden area called Iris Hill, members of the American Iris Society (AIS) care for over 500 award-winning varieties. Iris Hill was originally established by Dr. Norlan Henderson, a retired UMKC botany professor and iris breeder. Everyone at Powell Gardens knew “Doc” to be an amazing force. He passed away earlier this year at the age of 100. Alan Branhagen, Powell Gardens Director of Horticulture, respected Doc, not only as an educator, but also as a great friend. “He was at Powell Gardens every day during iris bloom season in May and his sharing

Tall bearded iris Botanical name: Iris hybrida Plant type: Herbaceous Perennial Plant size: 2.5-3’ x 1.5-2’ Habit: Erect Flower color: Every color except red. Thousands of color combinations and patterns. Flower size: 4-7” Bloom period: May, June Light: Full sun Soil: Average soil, medium moisture Uses: Spiky leaf texture, tall cut flowers Companion plants: Allium, Nepeta, Echinacea and Hemerocallis Remarks: There are many re-blooming varieties available.

the special quality and beauty of each variety’s flowers was infectious,” remembers Branhagen. Iris not only beautify our gardens, they also bring people together and create fond memories. This spring when the bearded iris bloom, I will look at my garden and remember my friend Doc and the time that he gave me that funny little fan of leaves, and he said, “plant this. It’s purple.” I am glad that I did. Tracy Flowers is on the Horticulture staff at Powell Gardens and she works at The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden. You may reach her at 816-932-1200.

Above: Nightmare

Above: Galactic Gold

Above: Beverly Sills

(Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden.)

Above: Janet Lemon

(Photo courtesy of Powell Gardens.)

Below: Rio

Above: Friendly Fire

Below: Sandy’s Serenade Above: Venue Below: Black Attack

Above: Coal Seams

(All photos, except where noted, courtesy of Jim Hedgecock,

Above: Magnificent Masterpiece

The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016


The Bird Brain

Bird of the Month: Eastern Bluebird

By Nik and Theresa Hiremath


arch is such an exciting time of year for birdwatching here in the midcentral area of the US! Bluebirds, Robins, Belted Kingfishers, Eastern Phoebes, Turkey Vultures, Pied-billed Grebes, Killdeer, RedWinged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Tree Swallows return to us. It is the peak of migration for Snow Geese and many other waterfowl species, as well as Sandhill Cranes. Bald Eagles and Screech Owls are sitting on their eggs, and Goldfinches are beginning to molt into their brilliant yellow plumage. Purple Martins return by the middle of March, so be sure to have your houses ready for them! Species beginning to explore potential nesting sites include the Chickadee and the beautiful Eastern Bluebird. His melodic song and striking blue plumage have made the Eastern Bluebird a favorite among birdwatchers of all ages. Bluebirds are typically seen as a symbol of happiness. Although the Eastern Bluebird was once abundant, the population declined throughout the late 1800’s and much of the 20th century, suffering an almost 90% decline in

population. The decline was due primarily to the loss of natural nesting holes and intense competition for nesting sites from introduced European Starlings and House Sparrows. Fortunately, Eastern Bluebirds have made an incredible comeback due to thousands of bluebird nest boxes being installed throughout the country. As the days grow longer in the spring, the male begins his mating song. Along with his song, the male attracts a mate by bringing nesting material in and out of the nesting hole, perching near the site, and fluttering his wings. Unpaired male bluebirds may sing up to 1000 songs per hour but average a more reasonable rate of four to five hundred songs per hour. Males may carry nest material to the nest, but they do not participate in the actual building. They spend much time guarding their mates during this time to prevent them from mating with other males. Bluebirds are generally monogamous, staying together throughout the breeding season, and they may breed together for more than one season. Both sexes defend territories, however, the males tend to defend territory

Bluebirds need trees to provide the elevated perches from which they hunt. A Bluebird can spot caterpillars and insects in tall grass at the remarkable distance of over 50 yards. edges while the females primarily defend the nest site. Only the female incubates the 4-6 eggs which she maintains at a temperature of 98-100°F. Nesting occurs from March through August, and bluebirds may raise two and sometimes even three broods per season. Pairs may build their second nest on top of the first nest or they may nest in an entirely new

site. The male continues to take care of the recently fledged young while the female begins to re-nest. Young of the first brood will occasionally help raise their siblings in the second brood. Families flock together until fall, when they merge with other family flocks. Bluebirds rarely winter in areas where night-time temperatures routinely fall below

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be drawn in with a small dish filled with mealworms. They also love suet, sunflower hearts and fines, and fruit, which can be placed in a tray feeder or tube feeder with a tray adapter. The Eastern Bluebird’s willingness to use nesting boxes and their love of mealworms provide excellent opportunities for you to attract these lovely creatures to your area. If you’d like to try attracting them, or have any other questions, come visit our backyard bird-feeding experts at the store today! Nik and Theresa Hiremath own and operate Wild Birds Unlimited of Leawood at 11711 Roe Avenue, Leawood, Kansas. Contact them at 913-491-4887.

Find the oasis from the ordinary

Signs of Spring March 19 ∙ Saturday ∙ 10 AM–2:30 PM Anita B Gorman Discovery Center 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO 64110 816-759-7300 Walk-in (all ages) Many signs are popping up to let us know spring is just around the corner: spring peepers are calling, turtles are becoming active and birds are building their nests. Going on a hike is a great way to experience the many sights and sounds of spring. Come make your own hiking stick to take with you on your next adventure. Classes to create them will begin at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Then come take a hike with us outside or enjoy one of our other spring-time activities inside! For more information email

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20°F. Adult bluebirds tend to return to the same breeding territory year after year, but only a small percentage of young birds return to where they were hatched. Bluebirds need trees to provide the elevated perches from which they hunt. When an insect is spotted, they drop to the ground to capture it with their bill. This sitand-wait technique is called drophunting. A Bluebird can spot caterpillars and insects in tall grass at the remarkable distance of over 50 yards. During fall and winter, they perch in fruiting trees to eat berries. Bluebirds consume about four grams of food per day, or about 12% of their body weight. This is equivalent to a 200 pound human eating 24 pounds of food each day! Bluebirds love mealworms and can

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The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016


Photos by Susan Mertz.

In the Garden: Vallarta Botanical Gardens Vacationing in Mexico, SUSAN MERTZ chronicles her travel thrills and beautiful landscape views.


was certain we were going to die. Take two busses, walk a few blocks, catch another bus that comes by every hour or so and end up at the gardens. The concierge at the resort tried to be reassuring as he gave us directions to a public garden far from the touristy areas of Puerto Vallarta. We wandered along streets without street or bus

signs hoping the third bus would come along. It never did. Instead, a beat up old taxi pulled up and the driver offered us a ride. It seemed like an okay idea until he pulled off the paved road and headed up a rutted, remote dirt road saying he was going to show us his Mexico. In the back of the cab, I started praying, certain that I would never see my

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children again. Instead of a tragic end to a wonderful vacation, he drove us up to see the most incredible view of Banderas Bay. The journey to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens was filled with anxious moments, beautiful views of the coastline, and tales by a humble man sharing with pride stories of his hometown and family. It turned out that our destination was a bit like the gentle soul driving his beat up taxi. Both are unexpectedly beautiful in roughhewn setting. Waving goodbye and promising to come back in a few hours, our driver dropped us off at the gardens near the rugged Sierra Madre Mountains and miles from anywhere familiar. The 20 acres of the Vallarta Botanical Gardens are on a hillside with collections including orchids, cactus, ferns, oaks, palms, blue agaves, vegetables, and chocolate plants. Mexico has an incredibly diverse mix of plants in desert, grassland, forest and jungle regions and the gardens represent it well. It was preserving collections of orchids growing wild in the neighboring jungles that led Bob Price and his mother to create the Vallarta Botanical Gardens in 2004, opening to the public in 2005. At times, the gardens reminded me of my grandmother’s style of gardening with her collection of favorite rocks and prickly pear cactus nestled in amongst them. At the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, the rock gardens also include yuccas and succulents. Sometimes the gardens reflect the harsh mountainous setting. Then, unexpect-

edly, a pathway winds through an iron gazebo with colorful glass droplets hanging from it and the setting and plants become a bit more magical. The pathway leads visitors to the garden’s courtyard where, fluttering in the breeze, traditional Mexican papel picado banners help create a festive atmosphere. Through the wall of flowers is the hacienda, visitor’s center, where we enjoyed lunch, views of the mountains and Rio Los Horcones, along with bird watching. Surrounding the hacienda are flowers, urns and art as colorful as the banners. Always the Boy Scout, my husband decided we should hike the garden’s Jaguar Jungle Trail down to the river. It was rough going at times and there always seemed to be a tree with thorns along the trunk (Ceiba speciosa) when footing gave way and I stumbled down the path. We didn’t spot any jaguars. Instead, we were greeted by friendly dragonflies at the base of the trail along the river. On the hike back to the hacienda, the friendly smile of our taxi driver greeted us. Full of questions about our garden visit and more tales of his family, our return trip to Puerto Vallarta passed quickly. Our journey ended with hugs and more reasons to fall in love with Mexico, the people, and the land. Susan Mertz, Garden Writer and Director of Marketing at Loma Vista Nursery. Join her for tours and photographs of gardens at

Spring Garden Symposium in Paola


inter will soon be over and gardeners will finally be freed from indoor confinement to celebrate life outdoors. Now is a good time to review the basics and learn new techniques to make 2016 the best gardening year ever. To help area gardeners, the Marais des Cygnes Extension Master Gardeners have

Horticultural Agent Jamie Kidd is the featured speaker at the April 9th Symposium invited three faculty members from K-State Research and Extension to share their expertise at an all-day symposium, which will be held on Saturday, April 9th at the K-State Research and Extension, Marais des Cygnes District – Paola Office 104 south Brayman. Starting at 9:00 am, our keynote speaker, Horticultural Agent Jamie Kidd, will conduct a two hour hands-on workshop titled “Landscape Design Made Simple”. Tools to evaluate your current yard will be explained, followed by exercises in creating a landscape that combines beauty and function.

Once you have your master plan, trees are the next important investment because they are the largest and most permanent plants in your yard. Dr. Cheryl Boyer will discuss the basics: selection, planting and maintenance of the best trees for the Kansas homeowner. In an afternoon session, Dr. Boyer will share the winning Prairie Star and Prairie Bloom plants for 2016. These plants have been trialed under low-maintenance conditions for a minimum of two years, primarily at the K-State Horticulture and Research Station in Olathe and have proven their success in our harsh climate. Ask gardeners, “What is your biggest frustration?” The majority will answer, “weeds!”, usually with a profane adjective. Horticulture Extension Educator, Lynn Loughery, will address those “Pesky Weeds in the Landscape” and offer a variety of control options. The day will include a gourmet box lunch and handouts. The cost is $25 per person and preregistration by April 1 is required. Space is limited, so sign-up early. The registration form is available at To register, please send your registration form and check made out to the MdC Extension Master Gardeners to the K-State Research and Extension, Marais des Cygnes District – Paola Office, 104 S. Brayman, Paola, KS 66071. For more information, call the Extension Office at 913-2944306.


Save The Date Annual Plant Sale Saturday, May 7th 8 a.m. until sold out (Rain or shine)

Bass Pro Shops, 1-70 & 291 Hwy, Independence, MO The Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City have a reputation for offering great plants at reasonable prices. Annuals and perennials. Shop early!

WAKE UP YOUR GARDEN THIS SPRING WITH EARTH RIGHT NATURAL AND ORGANIC PRODUCTS. Join Judy Penner, Director of the Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden & Jacob L. Loose Memorial Park at the Rose Garden on March 19, 10 AM till Noon. Learn “How to Take the Challenge Out of Growing Roses” with a 28 year veteran of growing in Kansas City!

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For information on all Earth Right products call us at 913-492-2992 If you want to have our products applied contact Tobin Lawn & Landscape at 816-765-5565 or Sonshine Lawn at 816-525-7111. The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016


Photos by Scott Woodbury.

Green frog on water lily

Pickerel weed

Water Gardens for Frogs and Toads Water features with native plants are home to an array of wildlife. SCOTT WOODBURY describes the scene.


ne thing is certain in the Whitmire Wildflower Garden: Water features with open water and native plants are home to an exciting array of wildlife. Take one small water gar-

den in the home landscaping area, for example. In a typical spring I see aquatic insects like dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, six-spotted fishing spiders, various water beetles, an array of frogs and toads,

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and last year’s mucky leaf litter all interacting in remarkable ways. The frogs and toads emerge from winter hibernation (some hibernate under water in muck, others dig into leaf litter on land or rotting trees) hungry and in a mood for love. Frogs fill their bellies with aquatic insects and turn their attention to singing. Each frog and toad species has a unique and beautiful call that can be breathtaking to hear even if you aren’t another frog. Spring peepers are a harbinger of spring calling on warm days in March. Leopard frogs call next, sounding like laughing hyenas. Then chorus frogs that sound like thumbs raking the teeth of a comb,

and cricket frogs that sound like clacking marbles. All of these species call, mate, and lay eggs, many of which become easy meals for aquatic insects and crayfish emerging from their leafy winter hibernation. Surviving eggs hatch into tadpoles that move about with wiggling tails. They retreat to safety in decomposing leaves. Tadpoles start out eating algae and dead leaves then become hunters, developing a taste for plankton, fly and mosquito larvae (yay!), and at times, each other. (Dragonfly nymphs also hammer mosquitos and occasionally eggs and tadpoles.) As spring progress-

Does your landscape need inspiration? Get ahead of the cur ve and call today!

LOCATION K-State Research and Extension • Marais des Cygnes District – Paola Office • 104 S. Brayman, Paola, KS 66071

The $25 fee includes lunch. Pre-registration required. Registration forms can be found at TO REGISTER, please mail check payable to MdC Extension Master Gardeners, along with registration form to K-State Research and Extension, Marais des Cygnes District – Paola Office, 104 S. Brayman, Paola, KS 66071

For more information call 913-294-4306 22

March 2016 |


Searching for wildlife es, tadpoles sprout legs and venture out of the safe muck to a brave new world of sunlight, air, beaks and teeth. Fish – even goldfish – eat tadpoles, which is why we exclude fish from water features in the Whitmire garden. In the garden, we prefer amphibians over fish, but so do red-shouldered hawks and northern banded water snakes. Red-shouldered hawks nest near open water and are commonly seen perched a few feet from the water’s edge waiting to pounce on frogs, crayfish, and water snakes. When northern banded water snakes move into our water gardens, they tend to deplete frog numbers quickly then move on. Not much you can do except enjoy the free subscription to Nat Geo live in your own back yard. But all of this hinges on one thing, the cornerstone of ecosystems and healthy gardens…native plants. Just as monarch butterflies need milkweeds, aquatic insects

and frogs need native aquatic plants for cover and to support invertebrates that aquatic animals eat. My favorites for water gardens include pickerel weed (Pontedaria cordata) and swamp loosestrife (Decadon verticillata), which have vibrant-colored flowers and grow in one to two feet of water. Another favorite is fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata), which has floating leaves that frogs love to sit on. Two small shrubs, Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica) and Missouri willow (Salix eriocephala) are at home at the edge of water features where soils are wet. Using native plants in your yard helps build critical habitat where native plants support other living things. These days it is impossible to talk about gardening without also talking about ecology, which involves relationships between micro-organisms, insects, amphibians, birds, mammals and most importantly native plants. They all have hearty appetites, are beautiful and intriguing to observe, and deserve a place in your garden. Find sources of aquatic and moistsoil loving natives at, Resource Guide. Happy water gardening!

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12902 SHAWNEE MISSION PKWY Reynolds lawnAnd &SHAWNEE, leisuReKS ,Inc. i66216 nc. Reynolds Lawn Leisure, www.reynoldsll.c 913-268-4288 12902 shawneeMission Mission Pkwy ,MISSION shawnee , ks 12902 Shawnee Shawnee, KANSAS 12902Parkway, SHAWNEE PKWY 913-268-4288 913-268-4288 SHAWNEE, KS 66216 Prices and models may vary by dealer. Manufacturer suggested list913-268-4288 price at $2,499 on S240 Sport, $1,499 on D105 and $2,499 on Z235. Prices are suggested retail prices only and are subject to change without notice at any time. Dealer may sell for less. Shown with optional equipment not included in the price. Attachments and implements sold separately. Available at participating dealers. *The engine horsepower and torque information are provided by the engineCity manufacturer to be used for comparison only. Actual operating horsepower23 The Kansas Gardener | purposes March 2016 and torque will be less. Refer to the engine manufacturer’s website for additional information. §

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**Term limited to years or hours used, whichever comes first, and varies by model. See the LIMITED WARRANTY FOR NEW JOHN DEERE TURF AND UTILITY EQUIPMENT at and for details. John Deere’s green and yellow color scheme, the leaping deer symbol and Prices DEERE and models may vary byofdealer. JOHN are trademarks Deere Manufacturer & Company. suggested list price at $2,499 on S240 Sport, $1,499 on D105 and $2,499 on Z235. Prices are suggested retail prices only and are subject to change without notice at any time. Dealer may sell for less. Shown with optional equipment not included in the price. Attachments and implements sold separately. Available at participating dealers. *The engine horsepower and torque information are provided by the engine manufacturer to be used for comparison purposes only. Actual operating horsepower A0D03KKCU2A62195§

Healthy Yards Expo promotes green lawn and garden practices


“The expo promotes eco-friendly practices and provides education so that you can do your part for clean water, air and healthy soils while maintaining an attractive landscape,” said Dennis Patton, horticulture agent for Johnson County Extension. “Without proper care the practices that we do to manage our landscape will have an effect on our water supply. Runoff or misapplications of products can move into our rivers, and ultimately in our drinking water.” The expo highlights many simple and easy practices that can be done to achieve a nice yard. The Healthy Yards Expo will feature businesses, non-profits and tips that meet the program’s criteria, helping Johnson County and surrounding area residents become “greener” in their lawn and garden care.

he seventh Annual Johnson County Healthy Yards Expo on Saturday, April 2, aims to help you make greener choices for your yards and homes. This free event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Shawnee Civic Center, located at 13817 Johnson Drive in Shawnee. The expo focuses on Kansas Healthy Yards and Communities (KHYC), a program developed by Kansas State University Research and Extension. KHYC helps homeowners make wise choices on environmentally conscious lawn and garden care techniques. Johnson County K-State Research and Extension is teaming with Johnson County Stormwater Management and the cities of Lenexa, Olathe, Overland Park and Shawnee to present the event.

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Expo features The expo is a great place to get new ideas from experts. It’s a onestop learning event on green ideas and services. Visitors to the Expo can: • Enter to win door prizes such as compost bins and rain barrel. • The first 100 visitors will receive a free tree seedling, courtesy of Overland Park. • The first 300 visitors will receive an assortment of native plants to try in their home gardens, courtesy of Johnson County Stormwater Management. • Visit with Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Master Gardeners and local plant societies. They’ll offer expert advice on gardening and plant cultivation. • Talk with city representatives to find out what’s going on in your neighborhood and learn about cost share programs for establishing rain garden and rain barrels. • Listen to informative speakers on topics such as native plants, pollinators, vegetable gardening and landscaping

Come listen to speakers on topics such as native plants and pollinators. • Visit the soil trailer, an underground experience for young and old. • Participate in free, fun and educational activities for children including performances by the Stone Lion Puppets. Free soil tests Johnson County residents can get a free soil test, complements of Johnson County Stormwater Management and Johnson County Extension. It is important to know the nutrient levels in order to grow healthy plants and protect the water quality in our local streams and lakes. Bring your soil sample to the expo. Learn how to take a soil sample by visiting the website. For more information on the Healthy Yard Expo, visit www. or call 913715-7000.

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Upcoming Garden Events places to go, things to do, people to see Club Meetings African Violets of GKC Tues, Mar 8, 6-8pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816-513-8590 Bonsai Society of GKC Sat, Mar 12 and 26, 9am-4pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Workshop. 816-513-8590 Bonner Springs Garden Club Tues, Mar 15, 1pm; at United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall, 425 W Morse Ave, Bonner Springs, KS 66012. We will a workshop on the “ABC of a Flower Show”. Refreshments will be served. The meeting is free and visitors are welcome to attend. GKC Dahlia Society Sun, Mar 13, 1-3pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Regular meeting. 816-513-8590 GKC Gardeners of America Mon, Mar 14, meeting at 6pm, presentation at 6:30pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Our speaker is Rita Arnold, from Arnold’s Greenhouse. The presentation is titled ‘Exciting New Plants, Roses and Shrubs for 2016!’ New introductions are the driving force and excitement in gardening every spring. Rita plans to present over 240 new introductions of perennials, roses, shrubs, annuals, succulents and herbs that will be available in their garden center this spring! Particular emphasis will be on attracting pollinators to the garden and landscape, and why these cultivars were chosen and added to their extensive plant selection. Nonmembers are always welcome. For additional information, contact Margaret Singer at 816-9428889 or Vince Vogel at 816-313-8733. Greater Kansas City Herb Study Group Wed, Mar 9, noon; in the Rose Room of Loose Park Garden Center, 52nd and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO. We begin at noon with a short business meeting, then enjoy a potluck lunch with an Easter theme, all our favorite spring foods. Visitors are warmly welcome to join in the lunch, as we have some great cooks and there’s always plenty. After lunch, Dayna McDaniels from Seed Savers will be presenting the importance of isolating seedlings and preparing them for the garden. Dayna has much information to share with us that we can take home and put into practical application. It is a wonderful time to gather with others for an afternoon of thoughts toward spring, prizes and surprises. There is not a fee for lunch. Mark your calendar for this event. If questions, please contact Barbara at 816 523 3702 or email Charlotte at GKC Water Garden Society Tues, Mar 15, doors open at 5:30pm for snacks and socializing, formal portion of the evening begins at 6:30pm; at Union Station in Kansas City, MO. Park in the Northwest parking lot beside the Planetarium. Follow the WGS signs to meeting rooms. Parking for members is free with their parking pass. Our first speaker, Jo Domann, comes to us from Operation Wildlife in Linwood, KS. Operation Wildlife is the largest non-profit wildlife hospital in Northeast Kansas. She will be speaking to us about “Backyard Hospitality”. There will also be information presented about how to become a certified wildlife habitat. Their water garden was the first one installed by the Water Garden Society over 20 years ago. Our featured speaker is Mike Parmley, from Anything Aquatic in Lawrence, KS. Mr. Parmley received his BA in Biology and specializes in aquatic environments to create well-balanced water features. Anything Aquatic is a custom design, build and

maintenance firm serving customers in Kansas City, Lawrence and Topeka, KS. It’s that time of year when water garden enthusiasts are dreaming of spring, tweaking their water features and making some new plans or adaptations to their pond. Mike Parmley will be presenting about his favorite topic, “Bogs and Plant Filters”. If you are interested in membership, dues are $35 per year and $45 per year for a 2-person household. With membership you receive monthly meetings at Union Station from September through May, newsletters, tickets to the annual public tour, a plant exchange, discounts from our sponsors, as well as special private member only tours throughout the summer. www.kcwatergardens. com Heart of America Gesneriad Sat, Mar 19, 10am-1pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st St and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816-513-8590 Heartland Hosta & Shade Plant Society Sat, Mar 19, Hospitality at 9am; Meeting and Program at 10am; at Faith Lutheran Church, 4801 W 67th St (67th & Roe), Prairie Village, KS. Kim Dyer will present an innovative program on Shade Perennials, sharing tips we all need to know, some that will both please and surprise you! Potluck will follow, Club provides meat, drink and utensils. You may bring a dish to share. There will be a raffle and door prizes. Following lunch, Keith Wheeler will share his presentation on Hypertufa containers. Come and join in the excitement of Spring! Visitors are always welcome! For more info, call Gwen at 816-213-0598. Idalia Butterfly Society Sat, Mar 12, 5:30pm Potluck Dinner and 7pm Presentation; at Prairie Village Community Center, 7700 Mission Rd. Bartending for Butterflies: Choosing the Best Nectar-rich Flowers. Lenora Larson presenter. Humans and butterflies agree: flowers belong in every garden. However, if you offer only flowers, you are not a butterfly gardener. You are a bartender, serving up beverages to adult butterflies as they search for love and their caterpillar’s food plant. Of course during spring and fall migrations, butterflies absolutely need nectar to fuel their journeys. This presentation discusses which flowers are best for the highly discriminating butterflies. We’ll also be voyeurs, watching butterfly courtship behaviors at the “Nectar Bar”. Free to the public. Lenora Larson is a Marais des Cygnes Extension Master Gardener and member of local chapters of both the Idalia Butterfly Society and Kansas Native Plant Society. Questions? Contact Johnson County Rose Society Thurs, Mar 10, 7pm; at the Prairie Village Community Center, 7720 Mission Rd, Prairie Village, KS. The first meeting Miss Rosie will tell us how she likes her spring trim (pruning) and how to plant her new friends in our garden. General spring care will also be discussed. All JCRS meetings are free and open to the public. Refreshments are provided. Members and guests are welcome to take advantage of the “Consulting Rosarians Corner”- a free individual consultation with a Consulting Rosarian. Bring your questions and concerns about any aspect of growing and caring for roses! The Consulting Rosarians will also give timely tips about caring for roses “This Month In The Rose Garden”. For more information about the meetings, programs and other activities of the Johnson County Rose Society, visit their website at Kansas City Cactus & Succulent Society Sun, Mar 20, 1-4pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st St and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO. Visitors are welcome. For more information, call 816-513-8590.

(continued on page 26)


Growing sm ile s on our Ka n s as fa r m since 1 9 7 7

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Upcoming Garden Events places to go, things to do, people to see (continued from page 25)

Planting flowers or a garden? Then you need to have your underground facilities marked! Missouri law requires that any person making or beginning any excavation notify MOCS. Placing a locate request is free and easy! Call 1-800-DIG-RITE (800-344-7483) or 811. For more information, visit

Kansas City Garden Club
 Mon, Mar 7, 10am-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st St and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO. Program is “Tomato Tips for Great Tomato Harvests” by Brian Chadwick-Robinson, Kansas City Garden Club member, Gardeners Connect Executive Director and self proclaimed garden geek through and through. He will discuss the big things that can go wrong growing tomatoes, preventing you from savoring that taste you can only receive from a home grown tomato, and then talk about what you can do to thwart those problems. Finding the right tomato, whether it be a hybrid or heirloom, cherry or slicer, determinate or indeterminate, sunny or shady, will also be discussed. Bring a sack lunch and join everyone for furnished drinks and treats after the meeting. The public is welcomed. 913-341-7555 Kansas City Rose Society
 Sat, Mar 19, 9:30am-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st St and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO. Spring demo. 816-513-8590 Kaw Valley Herbs Study Group Tues, Mar 8, 7pm; at Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 N 1100 Rd, Lawrence, KS. We meet monthly to learn about herbs. We explore all aspects of an herb: growing and harvesting, historical lore, culinary virtues, medicinal merits, and aromatherapy, household, and cosmetic applications. There is a $2 charge to cover costs (KVHSG is a non-profit group; no charge for students). No pets. Babies-in-arms and children over 10 are welcome. Information, Monthly Newsletter: Leavenworth Co Master Gardeners Wed, Mar 9, 11am; at Riverfront Community Center, 123 Esplanade St, Leavenworth, KS 66048. Lenora Larson, a Marais des Cygnes Extension Master Gardener and owner of Long Lips Farm, will present “Bartending for Butterflies: Nectar-rich Flowers”. The meeting is free. Visitors are welcome. For information call Melony Lutz, 913-484-4568 or the Leavenworth Co Extension office, 913-364-5700. Leawood Garden Club Tues, Mar 22, 10:30am; at Cure of Ars Catholic Church, 9401 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS. At about noon, Keith Wheeler, a Board member of the Kansas City Hosta Society, will present “My Hypertufa Journey.” The meeting is open to everyone and guests are most welcome. Bring a sack lunch – beverages and desserts provided. For information,,, 913-642-3317.

One free, easy call gets your utility lines marked AND helps protect you from injury and expense. Safe Digging Is No Accident: “Always Call Before You Dig in Kansas” Call 811, 1-800-DIG-SAFE, (800-344-7233) or visit us at


March 2016 |

Lee’s Summit Garden Club Tues, Mar 8, 7-9pm; at Winterset Park Community Center, 2505 S W Wintercreek Dr, Lee’s Summit, MO 64081. Our speaker will be William Gibson, his topic will be “Benefits of Planting Native Plants”. Refreshments provided. Visitors welcome. www.leessummitgardenclub. org, 816-540-4036.

gram will be on Culinary Herbs, presented by Extension Master Food Volunteers. Lunch will be available for $10 at the meeting. The public is welcome to attend. For any questions, call Joan Shriver, 913-492-3566. Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City Sun, Mar 13, 1:30pm; at Lenexa Senior Center, 13420 Oak St. Beginners’ Group at 1:30pm. Regular meeting at 2pm. Program at 3pm is Dennis Whigham, from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Washington, D.C. Dennis will be speaking about Native Orchid Conservation. This is a very special opportunity to learn about the newly formed North American Orchid Conservation Center. Open to the public. More info at Overland Park Gardeners of America Mon, Mar 14, 7pm; at Colonial Church, 71st and Mission Rd, lower level, rear entrance, Prairie Village, KS. Our program will be presented by Suburban Landscape and Garden Center. Two members of their staff will present a program on the new annuals and perennials for Spring. Bring your notepad because you are going to see some plant samples. The public, as always, is invited to join us if you are ready to put your thinking caps on for your 2016 planting. For any questions, please call Sallie Wiley 913-236-5193. Raytown Garden Club Tues, Mar 1, 10am, at Raytown Christian Church, 6108 Blue Ridge Blvd, Raytown, MO. Keith or Phronsie Farrand, owners of Farrand Farms Garden Center will present a program entitled “What’s New for Missouri Gardens in 2016?” Visitors are always welcome; refreshments will be served. For more information, visit our website at Sho-Me African Violet Club Fri, Mar 11, 11am-2pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816-513-8590

Events, Lectures & Classes March Flower Garden Basics Tues, Mar 1, 7-9pm; at Johnson County Extension Office Room 1060, 11811 S Sunset Dr, Olathe, KS 66061. Claude Monet said “I must have flowers always, and always.” Who doesn’t love a beautiful garden? Come and learn the basics of flower gardening: when to plant, fertilize, water, divide, deadhead and more. This session will be chalk full of tips to get the most out of your garden. Presenter: Dennis Patton, K-State Research and Extension Horticulture Agent. $10 per person. To enroll: classes-events/index.html or call (913) 715-7000.

Mid America Begonia Society
 Sat, Mar 19, 1-4pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st St and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO. Membership. 816-513-8590

Colorful Shade Gardening: Beyond Hostas Thurs, Mar 3, 11:30am-1pm; at the Sunflower Room, Wyandotte County Extension Office, 1208 N, 79th Street, Kansas City, KS. Wyandotte Co Extension Master Gardeners are sponsoring a presentation by Rob Mortko, known as “the hosta guy,” and owner of Made in the Shade Gardens in Olathe, KS. He will be sharing his expertise, as he discusses the many options to create balance and diversity in the shady landscape. He’ll cover the different degrees of shade as well as the seemingly endless number of plants which are ideally suited for the shade. Fee: $5.00, payable at the door. Registration not required. 913-299-9300

Olathe Garden and Civic Club Tues, Mar 15, noon; at Johnson County Extension Building, 11811 S Sunset Dr, Olathe. The pro-

Selecting, Planting, Caring for Berry Plants Fri, Mar 4, 12pm; at Kansas City Community Gardens, 6917 Kensington Kansas City, MO

Lenexa Field and Garden Club Sat, Mar 5, 1pm; at Family Tree Nursery, 7036 Nieman Rd, Shawnee, KS. New Plants, New Products. Annual spring kick off meeting. Individual membership $10, Family membership $15.

64132 (in Swope Park by the KC Zoo). Grow your own berries right in your own backyard! Learn about the different varieties of fruit-bearing shrubs and how to care for them to produce healthy, high-yielding plants. We will focus on strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, but will discuss other fruit plants as well. Workshop is approximately 1 hour with time for questions after. FREE, but space is limited. Please call 816931-3877 to reserve your spot or register online at New Volunteer Orientation Fri, Mar 4, 10am-noon or Tues, Mar 8, 1-3pm; at Powell Gardens. Volunteers needed for the 2016 season. Ages 16 and up or 13-15 year olds can volunteer with a parent, grandparent or guardian. You only have to attend one; and if none of the dates/times suit your schedule please let me know as we will set other dates at needed. An RSVP is appreciated and you can bring a friend - volunteering together is twice the fun! Call Connie Harclerode, Volunteer Coordinator, 816-697-2600 x304. Planning, Planting Your Schoolyard Garden Sat, Mar 5, 10:30am; at Kansas City Community Gardens, 6917 Kensington Kansas City, MO 64132 (in Swope Park by the KC Zoo). Designed for teachers or school staff who have or are planning to start a school garden, this workshop will cover the basic gardening knowledge needed for planning and planting your spring and summer school garden. Plant selection, tips for planting and garden management will all be discussed. We will also highlight ideas for fun garden activities and demonstrate garden-based lessons. Workshop is approximately 1 hour with time for questions after. FREE, but space is limited. Please call 816-931-3877 to reserve your spot or register online at Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies Sun, Mar 6, 1:30-4:30pm; at Hoot Owl Hill Gardens, 30750 Osawatomie Rd, Paola, KS. Eight garden herbs will be discussed, including their benefits, growing, storing and various ways to concoct healing preparations. You will then make a salve and a tincture to take home, plus recipes and information to continue preparing herbal medicines. Enjoy this country setting which includes light refreshments prepared from the garden’s bounty. Weather permitting, a tour of the gardens will follow. Please email brenda@ for more information and reservations. 913-271-7451 Herbal Medicine: The REST of the Story Sat, Mar 12, 9:30am-Noon. Join local herbalist and Wisewoman, Ocoee Miller for a special event. Oriental medicine – a 2,000-year-old discipline – fills in the gaps of the relatively new practice of Western Herbalism. This introductory class for beginners to Oriental Medicine will explain the basic concepts in simple terms that make sense to our western minds. Ocoee says: “This ancient helpful information can make you a better herbalist and is too valuable to not share with you.” $29. Details and Registration: www. Gardening Fundamentals Sun, Mar 13, 2-3:30pm; at Hoot Owl Hill Gardens, 30750 Osawatomie Rd, Paola, KS. Plants don’t want to die. All of us want beautiful gardens. So why are there so many dead plants and ugly gardens? Despite our best intentions, gardeners lapse into bad habits and poor horticultural practices that put our beloved plants at risk and waste thousands of dollars. Solutions focus on the latest science and de-bunking common plant myths. Topics range from sick soil, to zone envy to too much love. Enjoy this country setting which includes light refreshments prepared from the garden’s bounty. Weather permitting, a tour of the gardens will follow. Please email brenda@ for more information and reservations. 913-271-7451 Home Tweet Home Mon, Mar 14, 1-3pm; at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 8909 W 179th St, Overland Park, KS 66013. Put a bird in it! For kids ages 8 and up, they will enjoy building their own wren house designed for the suburban yard.

Our volunteers will lead this fun and interactive class. Additionally, we will make use of good old-fashioned hammer and nails. By the end of class you will have built a house for the birds that you will take home. One adult participant is required for each student for no extra fee. More than one person can work on a single house. Cost: Birdhouse class and construction $15, plus regular admission; Child Arboretum Nonmember Admission ages 6-12 $1; Arboretum Nonmember Admission 13 and up $3; Arboretum Admission for Child Members $0; Arboretum Admission for 13 and up Members $0.

Planters Seed Co. • Since 1927 •

The Artistic Garden Tues, Mar 15, 7-9pm; at Johnson County Extension Office Room 1060, 11811 S Sunset Dr, Olathe, KS 66061. Mixing art objects among your plants can be daunting; however, garden art can bring both form and function to your landscape while creating beauty and disguising eyesores. This presentation assists gardeners in answering the question, “What is art?” and defining their own artistic style. A handout provides guidelines and inspirations. Presenter: Lenora Larson, Marais des Cygnes Extension Master Gardener. $10 per person. To enroll: http://www. or call (913) 715-7000. Birding Adventure for Children Wed, Mar 16, 1-2pm; at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 8909 W 179th St, Overland Park, KS 66013. Cost: regular admission. Kids age 9-12, would you like to learn about our feathered friends? Observe them through binoculars at our bird watch and native habitat. Learn how they survive. Adult presence/participation required. Please wear sturdy shoes and dress for the outdoors. Kick-Start Your Garden: Planting Early Spring Crops Fri, Mar 18, 12pm; at Kansas City Community Gardens, 6917 Kensington Kansas City, MO 64132 (in Swope Park by the KC Zoo). Give in to your spring gardening fever and get outside to plant a spring vegetable garden. Learn about selecting, planting and caring for vegetables that thrive in the cool spring weather. Workshop is approximately 1 hour with time for questions after. FREE, but space is limited. Please call 816931-3877 to reserve your spot or register online at Watercolor: Flowers & Butterflies Sat, Mar 19, 9am-4pm; at Powell Gardens. Using fresh flowers, photos and preserved butterflies, learn to use watercolors to capture color temperature, control water and lead the brush. A supply list will be mailed after registration. For beginning painters, supplies are available to borrow for an extra fee of $5; please request when registering. $69/person, $60/member (add $5 for supplies to be furnished). Registration required by Mar 14. To register call Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext 209. Or register online at AdultClasses. Naturescaping Workshop, Native Plant Sale Sat, Mar 19, 8am–12:45pm; at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, 1401 NW Park Rd, Blue Springs, MO 64015. Beautify your landscape with some of Missouri’s best natural resources, native plants! Learn how to save time, money and create wildlife habitat with educational sessions. Keynote Speaker-– Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture for Powell Gardens, “Birdscaping – The most bird-friendly native plants of Greater Kansas City”. *All presentations are 50 minutes in length. Eight more presentations to choose from: Native Pollinators- Steve Buback, MDC Natural History Biologist; Invasive Species- Stephen VanRhein, MDC Community Conservation Planner; Monarch Watch- Angie Babbit, Communications Coordinator-Monarch Watch; Native Plant Fairy Gardens- Lisa Richter, MDC Naturalist; Wild Edibles- BOW Volunteers; Tree Care and Disease Solutions- Wendy Sangster, MDC Urban Forester; Leaf Print Art- Pat Whalen, MDC Education Specialist; Dealing with “Varmints”Todd Meese, MDC Wildlife Damage Biologist.

Potatoes, Onions, Herbs and Vegetable Plants arriving daily!

Largest Selection of Flowers & Vegetable Seed in the Area More than 300 Varieties of Seed in Bulk Package Seeds Arriving Daily Grass & Pasture Seed • Thousands of Bulbs Baskets, Terracotta and Pottery Birdhouses, Birdfeeders Retail • Wholesale • Lawn • Garden • Farm

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Full & Part time positions available For more information please contact our Human Resource Department phone: 816-941-4700 fax: 816-941-3838

applications available on line at

(continued on page 28)

The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016


Give Happiness a Home

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

(continued from page 27) *Registration required. Call 816-228-3766 to register. Native Plant Sale – We host Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, selling native perennial plants. Missouri is the genetic origin for their seed sources. They have very good prices and wonderfully robust, nice-sized plants. The Native Plant Sale is open from 12:45-1:15p for workshop participants and 1:15:-3:45p for the public. Audience: Adults; Teens are welcome only when accompanied by an adult participant. No charge for workshop or materials for make and take home presentations.

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of Leawood Proudly serving Kansas City for 28 years 11711 Roe Avenue (Under the Blue Awning) • 913-491-4887 Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat 9am-5pm; Sun noon-4pm Join us and fellow birders BIRDSEED • FEEDERS • BIRDBATHS • OPTICS • GARDEN ACCENTS

2016 Wyandotte County Extension Master Gardeners

PLANT SALE Friday, April 29, 9am-5pm Saturday, April 30, 9am-2pm Extension Office, Wildcat Room, 1200 N. 79th Street, Kansas City, KS

Vegetable Plants: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs and more grown by our Master Gardeners for this sale Flowers: annuals, perennials and Kansas native wildflowers Ornamental Grasses Garden Miscellany: including books, small tools, decorations 28

March 2016 |

Garden Planning Workshop Sat, Mar 19, 10am-noon; at Powell Gardens. Discover tips and tricks to have a productive garden from spring to fall. Learn when to plant what and how to keep your garden healthy. Sketch your garden design plans with expert advice and take home a collection of seeds and potatoes. $29/person, $22/member. Registration required by Mar 12. To register call Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext 209. Or register online at Native Plant Sale Sat, Mar 26, 9am-4pm; at Kansas City Community Gardens, Swope Park, 6917 Kensington Ave, Kansas City, MO 64132. Sponsored by The Westport Garden Club, Missouri Wildflowers Nursery is the plant supplier. Open to the public. Growing Vegetables in Kansas Sun, Mar 27, 2-3:30pm; at Hoot Owl Hill Gardens, 30750 Osawatomie Rd, Paola, KS. Whether you have just a patio, a small yard or a large farm, following the K-State recommended processes for planning and planting can produce a bountiful vegetable garden. Topics include soil health, plant selection, maintenance (AKA weeding and watering!) and insect visitors. Enjoy this country setting which includes light refreshments prepared from the garden’s bounty. Weather permitting, a tour of the gardens will follow. Email for more information, reservations. 913-271-7451

April and May Missouri Prairie Foundation Native Plant Sales April 2016 Sat, Apr 16: Missouri Prairie Foundation native plant sale: 9:30am-2:30pm; at Anita B Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave, Kansas City, MO 64110. Missouri Wildflowers Nursery will provide a variety of native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees to purchase at the Discovery Center’s Go Native event. If you wish to pre order your choices for pick up at the sale, contact Missouri Wildflowers Nursery: 573-496-3492 or email: mowldflrs@ Cash, check, or credit card accepted. A percentage of proceeds is donated by vendor to benefit MPF’s prairie conservation work. Questions: 816-716-9159 Sat, Apr 23 and Sat, Apr 30; 8am to 1pm each day; at the City Market, 5th & Walnut, Kansas City, MO. The Missouri Prairie Foundation will hold its Annual Native Plant Sales. A variety of native plants, trees and shrubs suitable for shade, partial shade, sunny, dry, or moist conditions will be available. This is a great opportunity to buy native plants to provide habitat for native pollinators and birds. If you wish to pre-order plants for pick up at the sales, information is included below. Apr 23 sale: Plants can be pre-ordered for pick up at the sale by contacting Missouri Wildflowers Nursery at 573-4963492 or email: Apr 30 sale: To pre-order wildflowers, grasses, sedges, vines from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, call 573-496-3492 or email: To pre-order from Forrest Keeling Nursery:

trees ($20 each) and shrubs ($15 each): email Cash, check, or credit card accepted. A generous portion of proceeds is donated by vendors to benefit MPF’s prairie conservation work. Questions? 816-716-9159 Growing Strawberries Sat, Apr 2, 10am-noon; at Powell Gardens. Learn how to grow your own strawberries and discover ways to preserve the fruit of your labors. Learn easy recipes and instructions for making your own jam. Take home 25 plants to start your strawberry patch. Dress for outdoors and bring a pair of gardening gloves. $35/person, $29/ member. Registration required by Mar 28. To register call Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext 209. Or register online at AdultClasses. Growing Asparagus Sun, Apr 3, 10am-noon; at Powell Gardens. The taste of fresh asparagus beats store-bought hands down, and growing your own is less expensive. Learn the proper techniques and conditions for growing a healthy crop of asparagus. Planting and care tips are included. Take home six asparagus crowns, including a purple variety. $35/person, $29/member. Registration required by Mar 28. To register call Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext 209. Or register online at AdultClasses. Gardening for a Lifetime Thurs, Apr 7, 11:30am-1pm; Sunflower Room at Wyandotte County Extension Office, 1208 N 79th St, Kansas City, KS. Wyandotte Co Extension Master Gardeners are hosting Joyce Householder, MSPT. Ms Householder will discuss how using ergonomic tools, good body mechanics, practical gardening practices and good plant choices, along with flexibility and strength, all work together to achieve the gardener’s dream of staying healthy enough to remain in our gardens for as many years as possible. Fee: $5.00, payable at the door. Registration not required. 913-299-9300 Spring Garden Symposium Sat, Apr 9, 9am-3pm; at K-State Research and Extension, Marais des Cygnes District – Paola Office, 104 S Brayman, Paola, KS 66071. Sponsored by the Marais des Cygnes Extension Master Gardeners. Keynote Speaker, Jamie Kidd, Shawnee Co Horticultural Agent, will present “Designing your Dream Garden”. Kansas State Research & Extension faculty Dr. Cheryl Boyer and Lynn Loughary will cover tree selection and care, the newest Prairie Star and Prairie Bloom releases and the challenges of weed control. The $25 fee includes lunch. To register, send your check made out to the MdC Extension Master Gardeners to the K-State Research and Extension, Marais des Cygnes District – Paola Office, 104 S Brayman, Paola, KS 66071. For more information or to register, call 913-294-4306. Container Gardening with Ornamentals Sun, Apr 10, 2-3:30pm; at Hoot Owl Hill Gardens, 30750 Osawatomie Rd, Paola, KS. Do you love flowers, but have no yard? Or do you wish to infuse portions of the landscape with the drama of container plantings? This presentation will review the basics of container gardening, then apply those principles to creating drop-dead gorgeous ornamental container plantings. Enjoy this country setting which includes light refreshments prepared from the garden’s bounty. Weather permitting, a tour of the gardens will follow. Email for more information and reservations. 913-271-7451 Spring Wild Flower Walk: Kansas Native Plant Society Thurs, Apr 14, 1pm; at Hillsdale State Park, 26001 West 255th St, Paola, KS. Ken O’Dell will lead an exploration of the 1.5 mile “Hidden

Spring Nature Trail” (Yes, there is a hidden spring!). While the terrain is steep in places, it is well graded with steps for easy walking. We will meet at the Visitor Center parking lot at 1pm. Directions: The Visitor Center is at 26001 West 255th Street. Turn west on the Hillsdale exit from K-7/169. Contact: Lenora Larson 913-284-3360. Sponsor: Marais des Cygnes Extension District Master Gardeners Flying Flowers in your Garden Sat, Apr 16, 10am-noon; at Swan’s Water Gardens, 4385 W 247th St, Louisubrg, KS. How to convert your beautiful garden to an even more beautiful butterfly garden. Many flower gardeners aspire to attract butterflies and over 30 large tropical-looking species of butterflies call Eastern Kansas home. Are you only seeing the occasional migrating Monarch? Like all wildlife butterflies have specific needs that must be met. This presentation will review butterfly biology and habitat requirements with an emphasis on garden design. Limited space. Please RSVP to save a spot. Presenter Lenora Larson. 913-837-3510 Medicinal Uses of Herbs Sat, Apr 16, 1-4pm; at Powell Gardens. Discover which “weeds” in your yard are edible and medicinal. Learn how to preserve collected herbs and how to use poultices, compresses, tinctures and teas for overall good health. We’ll take a short walk to identify and gather herbs and make a healing salve from our harvest. Hands-on demonstrations, samples and handouts included. $47/ person, $42/member. Registration required by Apr 11. To register call Linda Burton at 816-6972600 ext 209. Or register online at African Violet Show and Sale Sat, Apr 16, 9am-3pm and Sun, Apr 17, 10am3pm; at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st St and Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO 64112. The park entrance is the west driveway immediately South of 51st St. The Sho-Me African Violet Club will sponsor the 31st Annual Show and Sale “Violets-N-Rainbows”. This is a nationally judged African Violet event. Members will be entering African Violets and other plants of the gesneriad family. Open to the public. Please come and enjoy the beauty of the African Violets and related gesneriad plants being entered in this nationally judged show. View the plants in the Show Room, then enhance your home with member grown plants being offered in the Sales Room. Club members will share their knowledge and answer your questions. In visiting this event, should you find yourself intrigued, you would be most welcome to attend a meeting. Meetings are the second Tuesday of the month September thru Jun 11am at the Loose Park Garden Center. Free admission. 816-513-8590 Loose Park Garden Center; 816-510-8593 L. Ridder, Club President.

light refreshments prepared from the garden’s bounty. Weather permitting, a tour of the gardens will follow. Please email for more information and reservations. 913-271-7451 Annual Paola Plant Sale Thurs, Apr 28, noon-5pm; Fri, Apr 29, 8am-5pm; Sat, Apr 30, 8am-noon; at 300 Baptiste Dr. Take the Baptiste Exit off 169 Hwy and drive 1/3 mile west. This Marais des Cygnes (formerly Miami County) Extension Master Gardener sale includes annual bedding plants, vegetable seedlings, succulents and perennials. Native plants are featured and there will be over 20 species of butterfly caterpillar host plants, including Tropical Milkweed. All the plants are locally grown organically and are neonicotinoid-free. Extension Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your gardening questions, and handouts on butterfly gardening will be available. 913-294-4306 Dahlia Root Sale Fri, Apr 29 members 1-4pm; Sat, Apr 30, public 8am-3pm; at at Loose Park Garden Center, 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO. 816-513-8590 Edible Landscapes Class Sat, Apr 30, 1-2pm; at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, 8909 W 179th St, Overland Park, KS 66013. What is edible landscaping? It’s integrating edible food plants into your garden in a decorative and visually interesting manner. It is not the standard vegetable garden in straight rows. If you carefully plan, you can combine your fruits, vegetables and herbs with standard garden varietals to create a beautiful yet functional garden. You will also learn how to choose plants that are productive and visually pleasing. Landscaping with edible plants allows your garden to not only be beautiful but practical. Registration is recommended. Landscaping for Wildlife and Pollinators Thurs, May 5, 11:30am-1pm; in the Sunflower Room at Wyandotte County Extension Office, 1208 N 79th Street, Kansas City, KS. As much as gardeners like birds and butterflies, we usually hesitate to include wildlife habitats, fearing a weedy mess. The goals of beauty and habitat can be achieved together, with a garden design easily including the specific plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife and pollinators while still remaining beautiful for the humans. The class will be taught by Meg Mullett, a Johnson County Extension Master Gardener and Kansas Master Naturalist, who has been gardening for 40 years. She not only grows food for her family, but also maintains an attractive landscape for wildlife using only organic methods. Sponsored by Untitled-17 1 the Wyandotte Co Extension Master Gardeners. Fee: $5.00, payable at the door. Registration not required. 913-299-9300

NOW HIRING SEASONAL LAWN & GARDEN HELP AT ALL LOCATIONS! Day & evening shifts available, please apply at your local Westlake Ace or forward your resume to Applications available at

SUBSCRIBE Container Gardening You don’t need a yard to have a garden. Container gardening offers a myriad of planting possibilities for the patio, deck, balcony, window box, roof top... you name it. And, even if you do have a yard, don’t limit your gardening to ground level. Plants can go anywhere that soil, water, light and imagination can go.

Native Plant Sale Sat, Apr 16, 9am-2pm; at Backyard Bird Center, 6212 NW Barry Rd, Kansas City, MO 64154. By Burroughs Audubon. 816-746-1113

Orchid Auction Sun, Apr 17, 2-4:30pm; at the Lenexa Senior Center, 13420 Oak St, Lenexa, KS. Orchid Society of Greater Kansas City will hold its annual fundraiser, an Orchid Auction and Sales, plants will be available, starting at $5.00. For more information about our auction and society, visit

Butterfly Gardening Sun, Apr 24, 2-3:30pm; at Hoot Owl Hill Gardens, 30750 Osawatomie Rd, Paola, KS. The secret to attracting butterflies is not flowers, it is all about feeding the children, the darling caterpillars. This presentation will review butterfly biology with an emphasis on garden design. Participants will learn how to create butterfly habitats with no compromise in beauty or function. Enjoy this country setting which includes

Central Missouri Master Gardeners 19th Annual Indoor Plant Sale Sat, May 7, 7am-noon; at Jaycee Fairgrounds, 1445 Fairgrounds Rd, Jefferson City, MO. Follow the plant sale progress and see what’s for sale on or For questions, please contact Julie at 573-295-6263 or Annual Spring Plant Sale Sat, May 14, 9:30am-2:30pm; at Faith Lutheran Church, 4805 W 67th St (67th & Roe), Prairie Village, KS. Sponsored by Heartland Hosta & Shade Plant Society. There will be a great collection of newer hostas and other lovely perennials, including arisaemas, great ferns and variegated Solomon Seal, plus mini hostas so wonderful for your troughs and Fairy Gardens. You won’t want to miss this sale! Some quantities are limited, so you will want to arrive early. The sale is open to the public, Bring a friend! For info, Gwen 816-213-0598.


GAR G A RENEDREN E R N D E D R A G ER Beyon 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 G ui de to Su A Mon thly cc es Guid e to Suc October 2014 sf ul cess ful Gard Garde ning G ar de enin g to Succe ssful August 2015 ni ng 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.

d the W ate Butterflies and Bee s Love These rlilies Spooky Plants



r Garden

for the Octobe

ity with Grasses Beauty and Divers een Not Just for HallowCall 811 Orange and Black: Lemon rd of Digth Control BeforeBiYou Daylily: Beau Park eM ty for fy Weeds for Better Identi Decis ThanBu ion Time: ShouSeeded Lawn More a tte Dayrfl onth: Blue In the bird y Ask andExpe Feeding of Newly ld You Remove YourGaAsh rdenTree Conserva rts about weed Proper Carethe with tories control, oozin g sap and more Marvin Snyder

Name: Address: City, State, Zip: Phone: E-mail: Where did you pick up The Kansas City Gardener?

When choosing plants for your container, consider the following: Please enclose your check payable to Promote gardening events! • Light -- Mostyour flowers are sun-lovers. If you’re decorating a shady spot, try imThe Kansas City Gardener and mail with this form to: Send information to: P.O. Box patiens, begonias, coleus, browallia, fuchsia, or torenia. Check plant care8725, tagsPrairie Village, KS 66208 E-Mail: The Kansas City Gardener is published monthly Jan. through Dec. Deadline for April issue is March 5. and buy with your location in mind, or rotate containers to a sunny spot. The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016 • Thriller -- This is the center piece and will be the tallest plant in the container. • Filler -- These will be planted in the middle area and will fill the space around



garden calendar n LAWN

• Spot spray for dandelions, henbit and chickweed. • Apply crabgrass preventers in late March through mid-April for best results. • Seed thin areas in bluegrass and tall fescue lawns. • Fertilize bluegrass and tall fescue if no fall applications were made. • Lower mowing height about ½-inch to remove debris as the turf greens, do not scalp. • Soil test to determine fertility needs. • Tune up lawn mowers for the season. • Sharpen blades for a quality cut.


• Prune trees, except birch and maple which are best pruned after leaf out. • Wait to prune spring flowering shrubs until after they bloom. • Mulch tree and shrub plantings up to 4 inches deep. • Fertilize trees and shrubs. • Plant new trees and shrubs. • Remove tree wraps from young trees for summer growth. • Rake and clean ground cover plantings.


• Plant pansies, snapdragons, calendulas, other cool-loving annuals. • Clean up perennial beds by cutting back foliage and removing winter mulch layer. • Prepare soil for annual planting by adding compost or other organic matter. • Fertilize gardens with a balanced fertilizer as growth begins. • Take a soil test if one has not been done in the last five years. • Start seeds under lights indoors for transplanting to the garden. • Late month remove winter mulch from roses and prune as needed. • Cut ornamental grasses back to within 3 to 5 inches of the ground. • Plant new roses.

• Start dividing and planting perennials. • Fertilize spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils as they emerge. • Cut seed pods from spent bulbs. • Control iris borers by destroying old foliage before new growth begins. • Mail order plants should be unwrapped and kept cool and moist until planting.


• Prepare soil for spring planting. • Soil test if needed. • Fertilize garden soil before planting with 1 pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet. • Plant broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage in late March. • Plant potatoes, peas, onions, lettuce and other salad crops. • Asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries can be planted now. • Start seeds of tomatoes, peppers and other warm season vegetables. • Sharpen garden tools and repair. • Apply dormant oil to fruit plantings to reduce scale and mite insects. • Make a fungicide application to control peach leaf curl before growth begins. • Prune fruit trees, grapes, raspberries and blackberries. • Remove mulch from strawberries when growth begins. • Turn the compost pile.


• Fertilize houseplants, encouraging rapid spring and summer growth. • Repot crowded plants in a 1-inch larger pot. • Shape plants by pruning and trimming. • Remove winter dust from leaves with a damp cloth or by placing in a warm shower. • Check for insects. • Take cuttings of plants or divide overgrown plants.

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. EST.2007

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Hotlines for Gardeners Extension Master Gardeners are ready to answer your gardening questions. Get your garden growing.

Dig for more at GAR G A RENEDREN E R N D E D R A G E Be The K Th e Ka ns as Ci ty C ity a n s a s C Th e Ka ns as ity A M on th ly Gu id e to Su cc

A Mon thly Guid e to SuccOctober 2014 essfu l Gard Garde ning enin g to Succe ssful A Month ly Guide

yond th

es sf ul

Ga rd

August 2015

e Wate Butterflies and Bee s Love These rlilies Spooky Plants for the October

en in





ity with Grasses Beauty and Divers een Not Just for HallowCall 811 Orange and Black: Lemo rd of Digth Control BeforeBiYou n Park ly: Beau for Better WeedsDayli eM ty for More Identif Decisyion Time: ThanBu a tte Dayrfl onth: Blue ShouSeeded In the ld You Lawn bird of Newly g y Remove Ask Feedin and the YourGaAsh rdenTree Conserva Proper Care Experts about weed with tories control, oozin g sap and more Marvin Snyder


660-380-8460; Wed, 9am-noon


785-843-7058;; Mon-Fri, 1-4pm

Magazine archives


• Find a Professional for the next project • See where to pick up the current issue • Weather report • Look for garden clubs • Check out upcoming events


816-833-8733 (TREE); Mon-Fri, 9am to noon


913-715-7050; Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm;


660-747-3193; Wed, 9am-noon


913-364-5700; Apr 15 thru Jul 1, Monday 10am-1pm, Thursday 1-4pm


913-294-4306; Mon-Fri, 9am-noon


913-299-9300; Mon, Wed, Fri, 9am-4pm

2016 is the Year of the Delphinium

Delphinium is a perennial favorite as the tall spikes of blue flowers in the background of a stately English or cottage garden. Learn more at KCGMAG.COM

Professional’s Corner Meet Jacob Weller, Gardening Consultant with Rosehill Gardens, Kansas City, Mo. Job description summary: Assist customers with do-it-yourself landscape design advice, plant care product information, artistic merchandising, custom planters, and instructor of various classes throughout the year. Education and experience: I received a double major in Art History and History with a minor in Classical Studies from UMKC. I put myself through college working in the green industry doing everything from landscape maintenance and hardscaping, to mowing and personal gardening. I love my job at Rosehill because I get to blend my love of art and natural world. What inspires/motivates your work in the green industry: My fondest memories have always been outside in nature. Nothing is more profound and beautiful to me than participating in the cycles of the natural world. Now with almost 20 years of experience in the landscaping business, it’s my hope to inspire the same with my customers. Favorite plant: Rudbeckia is one of my favorite plants for several reasons: the sculptural appeal, winter interest, and ample source of bird food. Of course, non-stop blooms during summer and fall is an added bonus. Favorite garden destination: Because I’ve visited numerous gardens that are astounding, it’s truly difficult to select just one. Here are the most memorable worth mentioning. First is my own backyard that is a sanctuary for me and those who visit. Next, Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Golden Gate Botanical Garden in San Fransisco and the Denver Botanical Garden. All are wonderfully unique. What every gardener should know: There is always an earth-friendly solution to any garden problem. Little known secret: For woody plants, a little bit of mud on an awkward cut can act as a salve for your plant, preventing opportunistic infections and pests. Company information: 311 East 135th Street, Kansas City, MO 64145; 816-941-2332; The Kansas City Gardener | March 2016


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