Barbara Fetchenhier, Gardener - Heartland Harvest Garden, and volunteer RD Wood examine a peach tree in our nursery for pruning needs. With help from volunteers, Barb has meticulously planted and maintained nearly 1,200 shrubs and trees in our Heartland Harvest Garden nursery.
When pruning peaches she follows the 4 "D's." Prune out: Dead wood and Diseased wood, thin to reduce the Density of the tree for good fruit production and prune each branch to encourage its Direction of growth the coming season for the overall shape of the tree.
Barbara recommends pruning back approximately 50% of new (last season's) growth. Here you can see she is pointing just below the bud above which the pruning cut will be made. Note the bud faces outward (the trunk of the tree is to the right) so that this year's growth will continue outward, creating an open tree for fruit production. The cut is made just above the bud with an angle sloping away so water drips off away from the bud.
Each tree must be carefully pruned in such a manner and we have nearly 75 peaches and nectarines comprising over 50 cultivars to prune each late winter.
Finished peaches have an open spreading shape that will permit them to be very productive fruit trees in future seasons. Over 50 of our trees are scheduled to be transplanted to the Heartland Harvest Garden's peach spiral orchard this spring. Stay tuned to see them move and bloom in approximately five to six weeks!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Seed trays of newly emerged native plant seedlings bring a touch of spring to Powell Gardens' greenhouses. Powell Gardens' mission to embrace the Midwest's spirit of place makes growing, promoting, displaying and conserving native plants an important activity. Each late winter we grow a wide array of native plants for Kansas City Wildlands (http://www.kcwildlands.org/).
Kansas City Wildlands is a not-for-profit coalition of resource professionals, private conservation organizations and conservation-minded citizens who restore and manage the finest remnants of native "wildlands" in Greater Kansas City. Powell Gardens is a partner in this coalition and our contributing role is to grow unique and rare native plants for Kansas City Wildlands restoration activities. All the seeds we plant are collected by Wildlands-trained volunteers from local natural areas.
Some of the seed is started in sheltered seed flats resting on heat mats to encourage germination. Each fall, the seed is brought to Powell Gardens by KC Wildlands volunteers. Our Senior Gardener Marie Frye then becomes in charge of growing these plants. The seed must first be stratified as per each individual species. For example: some seed must be chilled for up to three months and be kept moist at all times before being put in seed trays or flats to germinate. Some seeds require scarification -- that is the breaking of the seed coat for germination.
Here seedling Blazingstars (Liatris) can be seen from the corner of the seed flat.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Production for annual Spring Plant Sale has begun! It may be bitterly cold outside as winter grips us with its last gasps but in 10 weeks is our sale. Here Horticulturist Donna Covell inspects seedlings germinating for the sale. Donna is in charge of all production in our seven greenhouses and keeps close watch of annual and tropical plant production for the plant sale.
Cuttings of many of our favorite stock plants have been made and are rooting in media on a heat mat. Shortly they will be potted up into individual containers.
Our first perennials have arrived today! Here, Jennifer Comer (in charge of the sale's perennial production) takes an inventory of the new arrivals. Our first batch was grown in Holland -- the Dutch produce large, top quality, field grown plants for us to provide a superior plant for you.
Senior Gardener MarieFrye inspects each plant and removes any dead roots or foliage before passing them on to the potting bench. The work is being done in a cool greenhouse to get the new plants to root in as if it were early spring.
Volunteer Pat Wright pots up the roots into gallon pots on the potting bench. (If you are interested in becoming a Powell Gardens volunteer, contact Betty Gember at ext. 228.) Stay tuned for further posts about the progress of our plant sale plants and the unique varieties you may find. Mark your calendars for May 3 and 4 for our Spring Plant Sale. Members may attend a preview sale at 5-7 p.m. on Friday, May 2, and are sure to get the best selection as many varieties sell out quickly. Join Friends of Powell Gardens today!
Posted by Kansas City's botanical garden at 11:09 AM
To update you on our January 3, 2008 blog: Our Endangered, Ozark Chinkapin seeds arrived and were planted by Marie Frye -- Senior Gardener Collections and Plant Records. As a reminder, these very rare seeds were donated to Powell Gardens by the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation http://www.ozarkchinquapin.com/.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Cineraria are a very colorful greenhouse plant for the winter season. Powell Gardens regularly uses these flowers in its winter and spring displays.
Donna Covell, Horticulturist - Production is all smiles regarding the crop of cineraria. Well, not exactly, they are a very tricky crop to produce in our greenhouses! We grow 3,000 from seed that were started 25 weeks ago. We also grow 1,200 from plugs. Planting depth is very crucial when transplanting the seedlings or plugs. The temperature is critical for them to initiate flower buds: night temperatures must be between 45-55F or we will just have foliage plants.
Donna inspects the plants on a daily basis. Thrips (a bug) are always a concern because they can mire the brightly colored flowers with colorless stripes.
Penny Hudson - Greenhouse Gardener - routinely waters this crop. Cinerarias are very fussy about watering! They must be allowed to dry out between waterings but no water can be allowed on their foliage or they readily get mildew. The plants must be checked every day (sometimes twice a day on warm sunny days). They must be individually watered with a watering wand.
Deep blues are classic cineraria and probably the most widely loved. Cineraria are obviously relatives of daisies in the Aster family.
Enjoy the following colors of this 'Jester Mix.'
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Orchids at Powell Gardens provide a cure for the winter blues and spring fever. Scroll down and enjoy a quick look at the colors and varieties currently in bloom. Many of the plants are not labeled.
I have lived here 12 winters and never have I heard so many folks complain about the winter! It has actually been "average" but so many winters have been mild recently that we have forgotten what a real one is like. (Green Lantern Dendrobium depicted.)
Friday, February 8, 2008
The first Snowdrops Galanthus elwesii emerged today! The 50F thaw after nearly 2 inches of rain caused them to emerge. This is actually about average bloom time for them; often we have them in bloom in January. The first snowdrops blooming this year are on the west side of the Island Garden.
A quick walk through the Rock & Waterfall Garden revealed no snowdrops yet but a couple very little known perennials of winter interest caught my eye. Depicted is the Sacred Lily Rohdea japonica. It is an evergreen related to lily-of-the-valley but stays in a clump and its flowers are little noticed. The flowers produce beautiful red berries which remain through the winter as shown. In a sense this plant looks like a hardy corn plant with almost shocking green leaves in the winter landscape. It is a great plant for dry shade (it must be planted in shade). In China it is a plant given to a new family for good fortune.
The winter foliage of the Italian Arum Arum italicum 'Pictum' also caught my eye in the Rock & Waterfall Garden. This plant sends out leaves in the fall and they remain green all through the winter. In spring, pale green "jack-in-the-pulpit-like" flowers emerge. The leaves soon fade but the flowers develop into naked stalks of green berries that turn red in late summer into fall. The stalks of red berries always draw questions of "what is that?" A great plant for the shade garden with interest at all seasons.
All photographs taken by Alan Branhagen at Powell Gardens on Feb. 8, 2008.
Richard Heter, Horticulturist - Grounds & Natural Resources, kneels beside one of our fallen big trees of Powell Gardens. Last year, a storm blew down our largest Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata, the same day the patriarch of Powell Gardens, George Powell, Jr. passed away. The tree fell across our nature trail and Richard cut a swath through it so school children and hikers could pass and experience this massive tree. The fallen tree will become the home for many creatures and replenish the woodland soil. We must remember trees are mortal too.
The tree has 92 rings at a height of more than 15 feet. Hickories grow notoriously slow when young, concentrating their energy on an amazing tap root so that they can survive the vagaries of the Midwestern weather (This tree may have been 150 years old). This is why this beautiful tree is never for sale in nurseries -- you can't grow a saleable tree in two years. A hickory takes time, which is also money anymore. No one is willing to pay $25 for an 18-inch tree even though it would be a wise investment in the future.
Because of our fallen hickory we wanted to make sure we knew where all the big trees on our 955 acres are. Powell Gardens was originally more than 60 percent prairie according to the original land surveyor's notes, but there was forest along our creek and in scattered pockets. Powell Gardens has some huge trees in its remnant woodlands. Richard has begun measuring the top three largest of each native species. The inventory will help us make better land management decisions: as the great conservationist Aldo Leopold said, "The first step in intellegent tinkering is to save all the parts."
It is very hard to photograph a huge tree. Here Richard stands beside our largest Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra. Richard is over 6 feet tall and a former football player! The buttressed base of this tree is nearly 6 feet across.
Here Richard inspects our tallest Shagbark Hickory. The characteristic shaggy bark is farther up the trunk which soars up around 50 feet before its first branch. We have not yet taken this tree's measurements -- it's possibly near 100' tall.
There are several massive Sycamores Platanus occidentalis along our creek. At 6 feet in diameter, they have a long way to grow because when the land was settled many were reported so massive and hollow they could be a makeshift shelter for cattle!
I always admire the spectacular crown of sycamore trees in the winter. This is the crown of the sycamore Richard was looking up at. The highest branches are certainly over 100 feet up. Sycamores shed their bark to sluff off any vines that may try to climb up in their crown and compete for sunlight. The fresh new bark is always a chalky white and beautiful against the winter sky. Sycamores remain a strong tree even though they grow fast and naturally hollow out with age. Their hollow trunks were the original home of Chimney Swift birds, which now nest in chimneys.
Sycamores were the largest tree in eastern North America in overall size. Eastern White Pines and Tulip Trees may have been taller but never as massive. They are not a good tree for a small yard but are at home along a river, creek or swale where they are native.
We will have more on Powell Gardens' big and old trees in a future blog. We are thankful for and inspired by Chuck Brasher of Kansas City, MO, for keeping track of Greater Kansas City's big trees (Jackson and Clay Counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas). You can see Chuck's roster of the Greater KC's big trees on our website http://www.powellgardens.org/.
All photographs taken by Alan Branhagen on January 8, 2008 at Powell Gardens.