LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION 200 YEARS AGO TODAY 12/04/1804

Chief Black Cat and two younger chiefs come to Fort Mandan to visit with the captains. During the visit it becomes evident to the captain that their interpreter, Jusseume, is discontent with his position with the Corps of Discovery.

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NORFOLK ISLAND PINES NEED SPECIAL WINTER CARE

The Norfolk Island pine has grown in popularity as a live indoor Christmas tree. Its lush green twigs of soft needles provide a lovely backdrop for festive holiday ornaments. Greenscape Gardens has an assortment, ranging from compact desktop plants to large floor plants rivaling a traditional holiday tree!

Unlike most pines that are familiar in the St. Louis area, the Norfolk Island pine is far too tender to plant outdoors in our climate. But the good news is that it makes an elegant houseplant when given proper care. The ideal indoor climate for this species is cool and bright, responding well to daytime temperatures ranging from 60-70 F and slightly cooler at night. Although the Norfolk Island pine will adapt to bright indirect light, the plant will look its best with a couple of hours of direct sunlight daily. If the light source is coming from just one direction, you'll want to rotate the plant a quarter turn weekly to keep it from tilting toward one side.

When the plant is actively growing, feed it with a fertilizer formulated for indoor foliage plants. It is not unusual for the plant to be in a period of rest during the winter months, at which time there is no need to fertilize.

Water the plant when the top inch or so of the soil in the pot feels dry. Use enough water to allow a little excess to escape through the bottom drainage holes. Discard remaining drained water after about 15 minutes.

What is most challenging for the typical home gardener is giving this plant the high relative humidity it needs. Norfolk Island pine thrives at 50 percent relative humidity, yet it is not unusual for the average house to drop to 15 percent during the winter heating season, unless steps are taken to increase moisture in the air. Running a humidifier will increase both people and plant comfort and is the most effective way to adequately raise the humidity.

It is not unusual for a few needles on the lowest branches to turn brown and drop. If this happens slowly over time, it's likely just normal aging of the branches or possibly from lower light availability. However, if many needles are browning, or if the problem appears more widely distributed among the branches, look to problems of either too much or too little water or too little relative humidity.

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MOTHER NATURE'S PURPLE PAINTING PALETTE

Try saying that title three times or better yet, read this article about adding purple to the landscape and garden. Purple is all the rage among gardeners and Mother Nature’s palette is well endowed with shades of purple flowers, fruit and foliage.

Looking for perennials with purple flowers? Consider Bear’s britches (Acanthus), Agapanthus, Ornamental onion (Allium), Columbine (Aquilegia), Aster, Astilbe, Baptisia, Swan river daisy (Brachycome), Siberian bugloss (Brunnera), Bellflower (Campanula), Delphinium, Foxglove (Digitalis), Coneflower (Echinacea), Joep Pye weed (Eupatorium), Hosta, Iris, Lavender, Liatris, Flax (Linum), Purple toadflax (Linaria), Bluebells (Mertensia), Catmint (Nepeta), Russian sage (Perovskia), Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium), Lungwort (Pulmonaria), Salvia, Stoke’s Aster (Stokesia), Meadow rue (Thalictrum), Thyme and Veronica.

There are only a small handful of hardy shrubs with purple or blue flowers, including Beautyberry (Callicarpa), Bluebeard (Caryopteris), Smokebush (Cotinus), Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus), Rhododendron and Lilac. Those with purple fruit include Chokeberry (Aronia), Beautyberry (Callicarpa), and Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum).

Although green foliage provides a great backdrop for flowers and fruit, a little purple foliage can perk up your garden design. Plants sporting purple leaves look showy throughout the growing season, even when nothing is in bloom. When you consider that most flowering shrubs and perennials are only in flower for a few weeks, colorful foliage can provide a more consistent contrast to green foliage.

Perennials and ground covers with selected cultivars of purple foliage include Bugleweed (Ajuga), Canna, Black snakeroot (Cimicifuga), Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium), Alumroot (Heuchera) and Penstemmon ‘Husker Red.’ Shrubs or small trees that feature at least some cultivars with purple foliage include Smokebush (Cotinus), Japanese maple, Elderberry (Sambucus) and Weigela.

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GREENSCAPE GARDENS NEWS FLASH

In the past five years, the number of American homes that display real Christmas trees has dropped 33 percent, to just 23.4 million. About twice that many have fake trees. Ba Humbug!

The single busiest shopping hour of the holiday season is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Avoid the Christmas rush at Greenscape Gardens and buy a gift certificate for your special gardener. Sorry, we'll already be closed for Christmas Eve.

The average American family throws away 14 percent of its food. But one in nine American households go from day to day without being sure they'll have enough to eat.

The Quakertown, PA., Optimists Club is disbanding for lack of interest. The 35 year old club used to draw 70 people to its events, but club president Bernard Kensky siad only four or five now showed up. "I don't know why people stopped getting involved," Kensky said. "I feel sad."

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Joke of the day

A man was helping one of his cows give birth, when he noticed his 4-year-old son standing wide-eyed at the fence, soaking in the whole event.

The man thought, "Great...he's 4 and I'm gonna have to start explaining the birds and bees. No need to jump the gun - I'll just let him ask, and I'll answer."

After everything was over, the man walked over to his son and said, "Well son, do you have any questions?"

"Just one." gasped the still wide-eyed lad. "How fast was that calf going when he hit that cow?"