THE OLD SIGN PHILOSOPHER, THOUGHT FOR THE DAY!

A garden is a poem.....without words

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LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION 200 YEARS AGO TODAY 12/29/1804

Captain Clark is getting used to life on the High Plains with today's entry of "it's only -9 F" and I don't consider it very cold".

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MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN ANNOUNCES 2005 PLANTS OF MERIT, EXPANDS PROGRAM'S REGIONAL SCOPE.
Powell Gardens Joins as Program Partner


(ST. LOUIS): The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis has designated 55 "Plants of Merit" for the Midwest in 2005. The Plants of Merit distinction aims to build home gardeners' confidence in selecting previously little known or underutilized annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines and trees for their proven excellent qualities and dependable performance in the growing region.

The Garden also welcomes Powell Gardens of Kansas City, MO. into the program as its first botanical garden partner.

Plants of Merit began in 1999 as a joint effort between the Garden's Kemper Center for Home Gardening and University of Missouri Extension. In 2003, Grow Native!, a joint program of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, joined the partnership. Garden and university horticulturalists, as well as regional growers examine plants growth characteristics, pest and disease tolerance, maintenance requirements and more to narrow down selections successful in USDA Zones Five and Six. Plants of Merit is one of the largest plant selection programs in the U.S. and is unique in its promotion of diversity with underutilized but reliable material. A list of recommeded plants is published annually for home gardeners.

In August of 2004, Powell Gardens became the first botanical garden to join the Plants of Merit partnership. "We look forward to this partnership and working with the Missouri Botanical Garden to educate the public on these meritorious plants," said Eric Tschanz, president and executive director, Powell Gardens. "With our combined resources, we have an opportunity to make this a premier program statewide and beyond."

The addition of Powell Gardens broadens the scope and geographic range of the Plants of Merit program by allowing for evaluation of plants in a cooler and drier climate. Powell Gardens will display signage throughout their grounds identifying Plants of Merit, sell the Plants of Merit brochure, offer educational opportunities and encourage local and regional garden centers to participate in the program.

The Plants of Merit program aims to diversify the home gardening landscape by promoting plants that are relatively underutilized in home gardens. Plants may be known by professionals but not by the general public and are therefore unfamiliar to consumers. Annuals and perennials must perform well in one or more locations in the Midwest region for two or three years, and trees and shrubs must perform well for at least five years, in order to be considered for nomination. The program brochure contains information on each plant selection, such as sun and water growing conditions, usage recommendations and whether plants are native selections. New plants are added to the list each year, while others "graduate" to emeritus standing once they have increased in popularity and are no longer underused.

Highlights of the 2005 Plants of Merit list include blue false indigo (Baptistia australis) a showy, low maintenance addition to any landscape or garden. This native plant has been around for many years; early Americans used it as a substitute for true indigo when making blue dyses. However, gardeners rarely see the plant in full bloom while potted, according to Mary Ann Fink, coordinator and ambassador of the program. "Baptistia australis is our 'cover girl' because she is a perfect example of what the Plants of Merit program is about," said Fink. "She Blooms beautifully once planted. She's a 'local girl' but homeowners just don't know her. This program is all about helping everyone enjoy more success with their gardens," said Fink.

Another perennial, Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is new to the list in 2005 and the first bulb ever to be promoted as a Plant of Merit. Also known as squill or Scilla, its many name changes over the years have caused it to be less well known. Each bulb produces 12 or more bell-shaped flowers in spring and is an excellent selection for borders or underneath trees.

In 2004, a consulting committee of area green industry specialists and sponsors was formed to assist with future Plant of Merit recommendations. Specialists were selected based on their vast knowledge of growing plants in each of the various categories the list encompasses. Also in 2004, Wydown Park of the city of Clayton's Parks & Recreation Department was the first local garden to be recognized with a "Merit Garden Award." A garden can be considered for this status if Plants of Merit (either currently active or graduates) are present, it is open to the public and has the Plants of Merit signage present for one full season. Jefferson City Master Gardeners were the first in the region to establish a Merit Garden.

New Plants of Merit gift card sets are now available at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Garden Gate Shop and participating Plants of Merit garden centers. Each set contains ten plant images digitally created by Master Gardener Dr. Jim Teng. All sale proceeds benefit the Plants of Merit program.

For more information on Plants of Merit, visit www.plantsofmerit.org or contact Dr. Steve Cline at (314)577-9561 or steven.cline@mobot.org. Plants of Merit brochures may also be purchased at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Kemper Center for Home Gardening and the Garden Gate Shop.

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LAWN MOWING TIPS

Cutting height settings of 2 to 3 inches are appropriate for most lawns during cool weather. A higher cut may be needed to protect the lawn during the hot summer months. Most grasses should be mowed when they have grown ½ to 1 inch above the recommended height. For best results, mow the lawn frequently enough that you will need to cut off less than one inch of grass per occurrence.

Frequent mowings, with light cuts, makes it easier to turn the grass clippings into fine particles that will fall through the turf and decompose quickly.

As a general rule, do not cut off more than a third of the total height of the grass in one mowing. If tall grass is reduced in height a little at a time, and is allowed to recover between mowings, the grass will be healthier, and the mower will work better and leave a better lawn finish.

For best performance, the blade should be sharpened several times during the growing season. Always use the fast throttle setting, and keep the engine running at or near maximum rpm. If you hear the engine speed decrease, that means you should mow a narrower swath, and/or mow slower. You may also need to raise the mower’s cutting height.

For good mowing conditions, the grass should be relatively dry. If dust is a problem, water your lawn the day before mowing, allowing the grass to dry while the soil remains moist.

Always wait for wet grass to dry. Wet grass will clog the mower deck, and it will leave clumps on top of the lawn. Heavy clumps of clippings should always be removed from the lawn. Grass must remain uncovered to grow properly.

Mulching cuts grass clippings and fallen leaves into fine particles that will fall through the turf and decompose quickly. This returns nutrients to the soil and reduces the need for raking, agging and disposal.

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EARTH FACTS

The earth is warming. Average global temperatures are the highest on record. The 1980’s produced the five hottest years of this century. The implications for society could be enormous if this trend continues.

• Agricultural areas may be affected by climatic changes.
• Our ability to produce food and maintain our drinking water supplies could be reduced substantially.
• The root of this global climatic change is the “greenhouse effect,” carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere traps the sun’s energy, turning the earth into a planetary hothouse.
• Some scientists estimate that the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide could double in a few years, and global temperatures could rise 6-12 degrees Fahrenheit.
• World energy use is the main contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide. The United States, with only 5% of the world’s population, produces nearly 25% of the annual global carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
• Urban areas, with their expanses of concrete create “heat islands”.
• In the last decade, only one tree was planted for every four that died or were removed in the average American city or town.
• Trees and other plants can absorb carbon dioxide. Trees, for example, can absorb carbon dioxide at the rate of 26 pounds per year---about 5 tons per acre per year.

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Dothistroma Blight of Austrian Pines

This is a fungal disease of pine needles. We see it primarily on Austrian Pines. Dark green bands are closely followed by tan spots and bands. These turn reddish brown. Needles begin to die from the tip back and needle base usually remain green. Although the fungus can infect throughout the season, adequate control can be achieved with one or two sprays in late spring. The first spray in early to mid-May protects mature foliage. A second spray in mid-June will protect the current season’s needles, which are resistant until they achieve full growth. Consult with a tree care professional to protect these valuable trees.

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GREENSCAPE GARDENS JOKE OF THE DAY!

Late one night, a mugger wearing a ski mask jumped into the path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs.

"Give me your money," he demanded.

Indignant, the affluent man replied, "You can't do this - I'm
a United States Congressman!"

"In that case," replied the mugger, "give me MY money."


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