Thursday, May 30, 2013

Le Jardin des Plantes.... Paris Gardens

Eileen Kull

Le Jardin des Plantes is the main botanical garden in Paris.
It is located in the 5th arrondissement on the left bank of the Seine.
It is also the site of a botanical library, horticultural museum, horticultural school, and zoo. I found it mostly used for strolling. There are several hedgerows and allies of plants that suit this purpose.

Here, in late April, you could still catch early spring :

Prunus fruticosa
Prunus Hisakiara
cherries and other Prunus species were in bloom:

 Magnolias were just getting started:

Magnolia stellata

Magnolia liliflora 'Nigra'
There are also historical trees to discover, the Wollemi Pine is a very interesting tree. Wollemia was only known through fossil records until the Australian species Wollemia nobilis was discovered in 1994.

  I discovered my new favorite flowering tree, Cydonia Oblonga, The Quince. Isn't it lovely?
 The leaves are fuzzy!

It's easy to see how it is in the Rosaceae family along with apples and pears. The flower buds look like little rose buds.

In Paris, spring being slow is not such a bad thing. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Glowing Plant as a Sustainable Light Source

Linda Grimwade

I just read a fascinating article about a new glowing plant project that I want to share with Master Gardeners.
“A glowing plant that could provide a sustainable light source”

In the 1980s scientists made a tobacco plant glow

Would you believe it?  “trees could act as street lights.
The research team, led by synthetic biologist Omri Amirav-Drory and plant scientist Kyle Taylor, aims to transplant a fluorescent gene into a small plant calledArabidopsis, a member of the mustard family.

The team has chosen this plant as it is easy to experiment with and carries minimal risk for spreading into the wild.

However, it hopes that the same process will work for a rose, which it considers to be more commercially appealing.

The team will work with luciferase, an enzyme common in fireflies as well as some glowing fungi and bacteria.”

Just one of many Gardens of Versailles

Eileen Kull

The Gardens of Versailles are incredibly vast, they are on land that is 800 hectacres . Most of them consist of wide open spaces, with hedgerows and fountains on every corner.



I found it interesting that the hedgerows were not boxwood, but 
Carpinus betulus (hornbeam) a deciduous plant native to Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, and Western Asia. It looked like a variety of beech to me. 

I prefer interesting landscaping, which was why my favorite garden was the Jardin du Roi. An oasis of beautiful landscaping in the middle of vast expansiveness. It was the site of many fountains dating back to 1617, but the fountains were eventually moved during one of many renovations and in 1817, Louis XVIII ordered the Île du roi and the Miroir d’Eau to be completely remodeled as an English-style garden, which must be why I like it so much.

 On the grass with the Magnolias was a perfect place to be on this beautiful day


 I wish I knew what this tree above was called, the photo doesn't do it justice, it was absolutely beautiful

 A very old Pine tree

A very old Ginko tree

clean lines against dainty leaves

the sun on the lense

What a photogenic garden!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

7 of the World's Strangest Flowers a Sierra Club Article

Michele K. Koskinen

In my mailbox this morning was an article from the Sierra Club about strange flowers. Have you heard of the rafflesia arnoldu, the hydnora africana, mimosa pudica or the 10 foot amorphoshallus titanum? Being a botanical amatuer geek I found it quite fasinating to learn about these flowers we rarely see or hear of from far away. or nearby places. Traveling often allows one to experience the different flora and fawna but most of us do not have that kind of opportunity. We must rely on articles like this to educate and fascinate us in far away pleasures. Some, however, can be found in the United States at various Bontanical Gardens and are accessible to all. So, go out and find your own strange flowers. Visit the gardens around you or take a day trip to your nearest Botanical Garden.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

My personal favorite is the Black Bat Flower. It reminds me of a beautiful Easter Bonnet or a Hat worn at the Kentucky Derby. So enjoy the surprises in the article of far away or near bontanical favorites or strangest flowers.

Sierra Club Article

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Cicadas are Coming!!!

Image courtesy of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
Judging from some comments in the press you would think that we are about to be invaded by a plague of locusts when the 17-year cicadas start hatching out this summer.

Here is some useful and sober information from Nancy Bosold, Turfgrass Management Educator with Penn State Extension, Bucks County.

"We’ve been getting questions about the impending “plague” of periodical cicadas.  Some of us may be able to witness a pretty big hatch later this month.  Here is a link to a fact sheet on the cicadas. and recent press release

For some reason, people think that cicadas are locusts – they are not.  Although they hatch in large numbers, they don’t eat everything in their path.  In fact, there is very little consequence to their feeding.  They have piercing sucking mouthparts (like a big aphid) and may suck sap from twigs.  The female lays eggs in twigs so she may damage the plant when she saws into the twig and deposits the eggs.  But, the effect on the plant is similar to pruning.  Really no big deal for the average landscape.  And the insects may be a nuisance, but they really can’t hurt anything.  So you may get questions about how to kill them or what to spray on plants, and it’s probably unnecessary for most homeowners to do either.

It’s a teachable moment:  one of nature’s amazing occurrences and a continuing curiosity for scientists.  No other creature does what these cicadas do.  No one really knows how they synchronize to emerge in the 13- and 17-year cycles. Theories about why they emerge in such numbers and after such long periods of time revolve around the fact that there is safety in numbers and that very few predators can match their cycle. But lots of birds and fish and other animals will be well fed!"


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Garden Apps

Michele K Koskinen

On a visit to the local nursery, I was watching someone on an IPAD look up a plant for more information. Wow! Why didn't I think of that moment? I have used my phone to take photos of gardens
or plants but this was pretty awsome. Knowledge at your fingertips. So are these apps a good thing. Research shows the first garden references for the tech/garden group were internet sites to get lost in. Then came ereaders of books......Now Apps for your phone or tablet. The earlier versions of apps I understand were not very good but have been updated and rated and have gotten much better.

Below are some useful articles to read if you are interested in using the New reference library when you are out and about. Good Luck. There are a ton of apps out there. Need more app articles? Google garden apps and there are many many selections. app

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Master Gardeners at Work

Volunteers recently have kept the public informed at two events where we set up information tables and also at the Hazardous Waste drop off sites in Philadelphia.

Philly Farm Fest Table

Penn State in the City Share event
Our information table at the Philly Farm Fest and the recent Penn State in the city event had volunteers speaking to attendees about our program and gardening questions. We also had publications from the Extension on hand to distribute to those wanting information on everything from organic vegetable growing to lawn care.

Pesticide Education is paired with the annual drop off sites in Philadelphia to provide the public with information on a variety of topics in Pesticide Education. A recent blog by Jessica Herwick has a detailed explanation on this topic. Previous blog

Patty Latanzio started the year off with the following:

Diane Olesik and I both volunteered for this event as Master Gardeners for Philadelphia County.  

As usual, it was a very engaging and informative event.  What started out as one-lane entry into the facility became two working lanes with a 45-60 minute wait, backed up lines, and Philadelphia Police directing traffic.  We used this time to speak to drivers and their passengers about pesticide safety, Penn State Extension, reading labels, etc...while distributing the pest ed literature as they passed us in line.  The public very much appreciated our assistance and information. 

Free Weed ID Tool

May Second Saturday features Lori hayes on a Walk and Talk on Weeds in Fairmount Park. A recent article in Horticulture Magazine highlights an app for weed identificationfrom the Extension at the University of Missouri. There is also a website version to download.

Free Weed ID Tool from U-Missouri

canada thistleWouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what pesky weeds are growing within our gardens, lawns and/or fields and how we can get rid of them? Well, there is an app for that!
This useful app, called ID Weeds—available for iPhones, iPads and also Android, was developed by James Meng, a programmer at the University of Missouri Extension. What does the app do? It helps users easily identify over 400 species of plants that can be classified as weeds., like Canada thistle (shown).
How does the app work? There are an abundance of drop-down boxes with various weed characteristics that users can click on to figure out what type of weed they are dealing with. If the user doesn’t understand horticultural terms being used, they can click on “what’s this?” for illustrations.  Once you have entered all the characteristics that apply to your unidentified, troublesome plant, you can press “Identify,” which will produce a list of weeds that match your selected descriptions.  You can click on a weed from within the list for photographs and detailed descriptions to help you put a name to the irksome plant that has settled in your garden.
In addition to drop-box characteristics to help identify the weeds, you can also simply search by common or scientific names of weeds that you know, for detailed information on them.
With a little help from ID Weeds, you can control and eliminate the annoying weeds that seem to enjoy settling down in our lawns, gardens and pastures, reeking havoc among our beloved plants.
To learn more about the app and how to download it, see the University of Missouri Extension website.
There’s also a web version here.

Image: Linnaeus