Sept. 14: Plant Sale

September 12, 2011 under CANR News

The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens has extended its fall plant sale.  The sale, held this past weekend, has added Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to its hours.  It is open to the University community and the general public.

The sale, which features groundcovers and a host of fabulous fall bloomers, will be held in the production area across from the Fischer Greenhouse, behind Townsend Hall on UD’sCollege of Agriculture and Natural Resources campus.

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Sept. 8-10: UDBG Plant Sale

September 9, 2011 under CANR News

The University of Delaware Botanic Gardenswill hold its annual fall plant sale, featuring groundcovers and a host of fabulous fall bloomers, from Sept. 8-10.

The sale will be held in the production area across from the Fischer Greenhouse, behind Townsend Hall on UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources campus.

UDBG Friends can enjoy a members-only day at the sale on Thursday, Sept. 8, from 4-7 p.m. To enjoy this and other benefits, visit the UDBG website.

Hours for the general public are Friday, Sept. 9, from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.

The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens are open year around to provide ideas and inspiration, or for a quiet stroll. The gardens contribute to an understanding of the changing relationships between plants and people through education, research, extension and community support so as to instill an appreciation of plants in the landscape and the natural environment.

This article was originally posted online on UDaily.

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Fall in bloom

September 8, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

“I love fall plants, fall temperatures, fall colors, fall sounds. I think it’s the best time of the year for gardening,” enthuses Suzanne Baron, a Master Gardener with University of Delaware Cooperative Extension.

The “third season” is ramping up for Delaware gardeners and many, like Baron, consider it the very best season. It’s starting to get cooler, especially early and late in the day, making it easier to accomplish garden chores. It also happens to be an excellent time of year to get plants in the ground, notes Sue Barton, ornamental horticulture specialist with UD Cooperative Extension.

“Fall’s cooler temperatures and typically higher rainfalls help plant roots become well-established. The soil is still warm and allows roots to grow until the ground freezes,” says Barton. “In contrast, plants may get off to a slower start in spring because the soil is cooler and in summer new plantings can become stressed from heat and drought.”

Planting for fall interest is easy because there’s a wide range of perennials and shrubs that exhibit good color, in addition to the dramatic foliage of many deciduous trees.

At the Teaching Garden at the county Extension office in Newark, Baron and her fellow Master Gardeners have planted thread-leaf irownweed, which already displays bright purple flower tufts that will continue through early fall.  Another purple bloomer, Joe Pye weed, also is in flower. And while the pale blue flowers of Bluestar are long gone, its leaves will soon turn bright yellow. Later in the season, the black gum trees will turn bright red and the aromatic sumac shrubs will display brilliant orange, red and yellow leaves. Plus, the Teaching Garden features one of Baron’s fall favorites, goldenrod.

Baron has planted many varieties of goldenrod — ranging in color from vivid yellow to deep gold — at her farmette outside of Middletown. “I keep adding different ones to fill different needs in my gardens,” says Baron. “The flower lasts a long time and even in late October bees visit it.”

“Goldenrod is a great source for nectar in the fall,” notes J.W. Wistermayer, a Master Gardener who strives for a “riot of color” in his Newark-area yard.

Goldenrod and other fall blooms don’t just add pizzazz to the landscape, they also help out bees and other insects.  “Fall is an incredibly important time to think about flowering plants in the garden so that insects have a supply of nectar and can make it through the winter,” says Wistermayer.  “A lot of people think about planting for the pollinators in the spring and summer but tend to forget about it in the fall.”

In addition to goldenrod, pollinator-friendly choices include asters, spicebush and Joe Pye weed. “Joe Pye Weed is awesome as a nectar source and the hollow stems can be used by native bees when they lay their eggs,” says Wistermayer.

Carrie Murphy, horticulture agent for New Castle County Cooperative Extension, says that her home garden in North Wilmington starts out strong in spring but can be iffy in summer. She says the garden invariably “comes back to life” in the fall.

Murphy designed her garden with fall interest in mind, including such colorful choices as Virginia sweetspire, viburnum, blueberry and oakleaf hydrangea. “The oakleaf hydrangea never disappoints with its exfoliating bark, beautiful blooms that dry and hang on through winter and great fall color — reds, yellows, oranges,” says Murphy.

Asters, goldenrod and thoroughwort are the primary fall bloomers on Barton’s 11-acre property in Landenberg, Pa. They are complemented by the foliage of sourgum (brilliant red), sassafras (bright oranges and yellows), sourwood (red), sugar maple (yellowish orange) and red maple (bright red) trees.  She also has planted lots of sweet gums, which turn purple and orange all on the same plant. Most of these trees are at their peak color in October.

Barton also takes a long-range view on fall gardening. “Everyone focuses on fall color — foliage or flower — but bark, branch structure and remaining flower heads can provide a lot of interest,” she says, “especially late in the fall when most of the leaves are gone.”

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley


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Sept. 6: Great Groundcovers

August 22, 2011 under CANR News, Events

Homeowners tired of fighting English ivy are invited to join Chanticleer’s Dan Benarcik as he presents “Great Groundcovers—Abundant Options” on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m., in the Townsend Hall Commons on the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources campus.

The talk is sponsored by the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens (UDBG) and the cost is $5 for UDBG Friends members and $10 for nonmembers. Reserve a place by calling 302-831-2531 or email BotanicGardens@udel.edu.

Benarcik offers aesthetically pleasing, regionally appropriate and culturally-suited options as alternatives to English ivy, Japanese pachysandra and liriope. Both native and responsible non-natives will be featured in the illustrated lecture that may have some replacing lawn areas with some low maintenance options.

The University of Delaware Botanic Gardens are open year around to provide ideas and inspiration, or for a quiet stroll. The gardens contribute to an understanding of the changing relationships between plants and people through education, research, extension and community support so as to instill an appreciation of plants in the landscape and the natural environment.

 

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Enchanting Butterflies

July 18, 2011 under CANR News

Sheila Vincent may be the only person in Delaware who gets paid to catch butterflies. Every summer day, Vincent heads out with a net and collects butterflies, caterpillars and larvae to stock Ashland Nature Center’s Butterfly House.

As group program coordinator for the Delaware Nature Center, Vincent spends the bulk of her time teaching natural history programs and only about 15 minutes with her butterfly net. “I really look forward to butterfly catching. It’s a bit of peace and quiet during hectic workdays,” she says.

Last season was a “spectacular butterfly season,” according to Vincent and this summer looks to be shaping up to be a good one, too.

“Most years, butterflies are abundant in Delaware from June through August,” says Brian Kunkel, an entomologist with University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. “Mid-July to mid-August is typically the peak of activity.”

But bad weather or insufficient food sources can be game changers. Two years ago, the butterfly season was lackluster because of too many cool, rainy days. Other times, host plants may not be well developed.

Delaware is a good place for butterfly watching. There are about 120 species of resident breeding butterflies in the state. Some entomologists make a distinction between butterflies and skippers – in which case, there are 70 species of butterflies and 50 of skippers. Named for their rapid flight pattern, skippers have small, angular wings and bodies that are proportionately larger than true butterflies, says Kunkel. There’s even a skipper known as the Delaware skipper because it was first spotted here.

But speedy skippers aren’t good for teaching purposes. Monarchs are Vincent’s go-to butterfly for nature programs, especially when she’s working with kids. Monarchs are fairly slow, abundant and easily recognizable. Her own personal favorites include the pipevine swallowtail, a relatively rare species that has orange spots and iridescent blue wings. Vincent also appreciates what she calls the “somber beauty” of the mourning cloak butterfly, which is dark brown with yellow borders around the wings and a row of blue spots.

The black swallowtail butterfly, which has distinctive yellow and bright-blue markings, tops Kunkel’s list of favorites. His wife grows herbs on their deck and always plants dill or fennel, which attract black swallowtails and their caterpillars. Kunkel also likes the Eastern-tailed blue. The males are usually light blue and the females a charcoal color but some varieties are pink or purple.

When Kunkel was a boy, he saw scores of Eastern-tailed blues in his yard every summer. That’s because his parents weren’t perturbed by a bit of clover in the their lawn.

“The caterpillars of Eastern-tailed blues feed on clover,” says Kunkel. “If you eradicate every piece of clover in your yard, I guarantee you won’t see any Eastern-tailed blues.”

Kunkel says he’s a “lawn guy,” who loves a carpet of green, but he’s happy to let clover or wild strawberries coexist with turf. He also can handle a little leaf damage on ornamental plants for the sake of the butterflies.

“Don’t get overly excited about caterpillars on your plants,” he says. “Yes, they’ll munch on some leaves but if you want butterflies, you’ve got to have host plants for the larvae, too.”

Vincent has incorporated plenty of host plants for caterpillars, as well as food plants for butterflies, into her New Castle yard. Her perennials include butterfly weed, milkweed, phlox, asters and goldenrod.  She also plants parsley and fennel in the ornamental beds to attract black swallowtails.

If your yard isn’t lepidoptera friendly just yet, there are other places to spot butterflies. To see the largest number, as well as the most species, choose a sunny, open location – like a meadow or field – that features plant diversity. Vincent recommends the meadow at Ashland Nature Center, Middle Run Natural Area, and White Clay and Brandywine Creek state parks.

Kunkel suggests the UD Botanic Gardens, which opened its Lepidoptera Trail in 2009. This self-guided interpretative trail showcases trees, shrubs, wildflowers and native grasses that provide food for butterflies and moths during both the caterpillar and adult stages. Right now, the Trail is abundant with butterflies.

Special events

• Open House in the Native Plant Teaching and Demonstration Garden will be held Monday night, July 18. Join Kunkel for a plant, pest and beneficial insect walk. Get your questions answered about butterflies, caterpillars and other insects. New Castle County Cooperative Extension Office, Newark. 6-8 p.m. For more information, call 831-COOP or email cjmurphy@udel.edu.

• A Mid-Summer Night’s Stroll through the Gardens will be held Wednesday, July 20. Watch butterflies feast on natives on the Lepidoptera Trail and enjoy all the mid-summer blooms in the UD Botanic Gardens. Live steel drum music and light refreshments. 4-6:30 p.m. Reserve a spot by contacting Donna Kelsch, 831-2531 or botanicgardens@udel.edu.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Bringing the harvest home

July 13, 2011 under CANR News

Volunteers spent the morning of July 12 harvesting a cornucopia of fresh peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, tomatillos and more from the University of Delaware’s Garden for the Community. Once they finished harvesting the Food Bank of Delaware’s mobile pantry truck was loaded and headed to Sparrow Run Park in Bear where volunteers distributed fresh produce, 30-pound meal boxes, chicken, fresh bread and other food items to 387 individuals.

“Working with the food bank’s mobile pantry allows our volunteers to experience theresult of their hard work in the garden and connect with the community,” said Dr. Tom Sims, University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Deputy Dean.  “Our students not only gain valuable lessons in what it takes to produce food, they start on a path of service.”

“We are incredibly fortunate to have a steady stream of fresh, locally-grown produce from the University of Delaware’s Garden for the Community,” said our President and CEO, Patricia Beebe. “Because of the garden and other local partners we are able to provide families with healthy foods that they otherwise may not be able to afford.”

Renee Connor, a University of Delaware student and intern for the Garden for the Community said that contributing fresh produce to our  mobile pantry is important because it provides those in need with healthy foods. “Obviously feeding people in need is an important part, but it’s also important to give families healthier food, like fresh-picked produce. We’re giving them basil, peppers, eggplant, okra, squash, zucchini and tomatoes,” she said. “The partnership is a good way for people in the community to get involved and do something helpful for people who are in need of assistance.”

Through the mobile pantry program, a  truck travels to an underserved area during hours when clients find it easier to receive assistance. Thirty-pound meal boxes filled with enough nutritious food to feed four people for up to five meals are distributed.

For more information about the Garden for the Community efforts visit www.ag.udel.edu/communitygarden.

To celebrate the bounty of the Garden for the Community, in partnership with our friends at the Food Bank, we will hold our third annual Evening in the Garden event on Thursday, August 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The event will be held outside the garden. Tickets are $40/person. The price includes dinner, wine and entertainment. For more information or to attend the event, please visit www.fbd.org

For photos of the event please click here.

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Sussex MGs offer garden walk

June 13, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

The Sussex County Master Gardeners are pleased to invite the public to a Garden Walk at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden on, Thursday, June 16, 2011, 5 – 7 p.m. The garden is located behind the county Extension office, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown. The event is free.

Master Gardeners will feature a look at a June garden filled with flowers. In addition to enjoying the garden, a number of Master Gardeners will be available to provide information and help on a wide variety of gardening topics including an exhibit of Accessible Gardening Tips and Tools.

Following the Garden Walk, Master Gardener Vicki Thompson will be presenting a workshop on ‘Hostas’ at 7 p.m. in Conference Room 3 of the Extension Office. Pre-register for this workshop by contacting Tammy Schirmer at (302) 856-2585 ext. 542 or tammys@udel.edu

Master Gardeners are working volunteers and are supported by Delaware Cooperative Extension through the University of Delaware and Delaware State University Extension offices. It is Delaware Cooperative Extension’s policy that that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran or handicap status. If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.

Article submitted by Michele Walfred.

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June 15: Official opening of NCC MG garden

June 8, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

We invite you to join the University of Delaware New Castle County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners on Wednesday, June 15, from 5 to 7 pm to celebrate the official opening of their Native Plant and Vegetable Demonstration and Teaching Gardens; tours, a question and answer session and light refreshments are included in the program. A formal program featuring the development and purpose of the demonstration and teaching gardens will take place at 6 pm in conference room 132A.

Please check our website for any program updates https://ag.udel.edu/nccmg. RSVP to sharon lucabaugh, sharonlu@udel.edu, (302) 831-2506.

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension New Castle County Master Gardeners’ Native Plant and Vegetable Teaching and Demonstration Gardens are located at 461 Wyoming Road in Newark Delaware on the University of Delaware campus.

The Native Plant Garden has been designed and planted to create an awareness of the environmental benefits that can be achieved through the use of native plants. This garden, located at the front of the Extension office, is an attractive demonstration of native plant use, easily adaptable to the home landscape. It consists of five very different garden niches, each planted with material appropriate for the growing conditions/objectives of that site: the butterfly garden, rain garden system, corner prairie meadow, foundation plantings, and shrubs and paths.

The Vegetable Garden has been designed, amongst other things, to demonstrate how to grow vegetables successfully in a small space. This garden, located behind the Extension office, alongside the compost demonstration site, features four raised vegetable garden beds, a perennial border for pollinators, a berry border featuring raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, and a tomato border. The harvest from this site supports the Plant-a-Row for the Hungry program and is donated to the Delaware Food Bank.

The teaching and demonstration gardens are used as outdoor classrooms for workshops and other purposes. Self- guided tours are also encouraged at any time.

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Create a backyard rain garden

May 24, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Want to do your part to help local rivers and bays? Create a backyard rain garden.

It’s fairly easy to build your own rain garden and it can pay big dividends for nearby watersheds.

Stormwater runoff is one of the leading sources of pollution in waterways, according to Valann Budischak, a horticultural associate with University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. But rain gardens can be a great way to manage stormwater. Rain gardens are shallow depressions, planted with perennials and woody plants, which collect water from roofs, driveways, other impervious surfaces and turf grass (which, like a driveway, is lousy at absorbing water).

Rain gardens slow down and reduce runoff and thus help prevent flooding and erosion. In addition, the garden’s soil and plants filter pollutants in rainwater.

“Rain Gardens for the Bays” was launched last year to encourage homeowners to build rain gardens to improve water quality in the Delaware Bay, Delaware’s inland bays and Maryland’s coastal bays. Partners in the project include UD Cooperative Extension, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Center for the Inland Bays, Delaware Nature Society and other agencies.

In addition to doing good, rain gardens look good. “Rain gardens are an attractive way to reduce impact on the environment,” says Budischak. “And you don’t need a huge property to have a rain garden.”

She has seen successful rain gardens as small as 10 feet by 15 feet. On the other end of the spectrum, rain gardens on UD’s Newark campus range from less than 1,000 square feet to more than 3,000. In addition, a large rain garden was installed on the Lewes campus last year, says Tom Taylor, UD’s landscape engineer.

Rain gardens were at UD long before the term “rain garden” was coined, says Taylor. He spearheaded the installation of a rain garden – at the time called a bio-retention basin – at the Dickinson residence complex in the early 1990s.

UD’s rain gardens have always had an environmental function but now the gardens serve an educational role, too. “The key is signage,” notes Taylor. “It’s important to have signs at the rain gardens so that people know what they’re looking at and understand how they can do something similar at home.”

Taylor added plantings to a bio-swale at his Lewes home and used the campus gardens for inspiration. Plants on the exterior of a rain garden must tolerate both dry and wet conditions while plants inside the garden need to handle very wet conditions. (A rain garden’s interior is designed to hold water for up to 48 hours.)

On the edges of a rain garden, Taylor likes native ornamental grasses, asters, goldenrod, blueberry bushes and red-twig dogwood. For the interior, he frequently chooses clethra, cardinal flower, iris, button bush and winterberry. Other options that Budischak suggests are turtlehead, Joe-Pye weed, dwarf fothergilla, sweetbay magnolia and river birch.

Living in Sussex County, Taylor doesn’t have to contend with the single biggest obstacle to a successful rain garden – heavy clay soil. That’s a problem most New Castle County residents must overcome because clay soil inhibits water infiltration.

Taylor recommends replacing a foot and a half of heavy clay soil with a rain garden soil mix to improve drainage.

Other considerations in building a rain garden are size and location. Although it would seem logical to install a rain garden in a low area that doesn’t drain well, this is a poor choice because it won’t support plant growth. The ideal place for a rain garden, says Budischak, is gently sloping ground where stormwater drains off grass or impervious surfaces.

Garden size depends on the size of the area from which you are capturing runoff, soil type and depth of the garden. Many homeowners seek professional advice about the garden’s size and soil requirements before tackling installation and planting. UD Botanic Garden intern Rebecca Pineo created a how-to guide to rain gardens, which can be found online.

For more information about the Rain Gardens for the Bay program, go to the website.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

The original posting of this article can be viewed on UDaily.

 

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For the love of limas

May 5, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Pole lima beans are a Delaware staple.

April 20 was National Lima Bean Respect Day but in Ronald Dodd’s eyes, limas deserve kudos every day of the year.

The Georgetown septuagenarian has been growing pole limas since he was a boy and says that his father and grandfather grew them before he did. Dodd’s 55- by 147-foot garden, on land he owns one block off Georgetown’s Circle, features 42 to 45 hills of pole limas each season.

Come harvest time, he’ll enjoy pole limas in succotash accompanied by baking powder biscuits, just like scores of other native Delawareans.

But head a couple hundred miles from the First State, or talk to new state residents, and you may get puzzled looks at the mention of pole limas. “At conferences, I’ve met people in the agricultural industry who have never heard of pole limas,” says Emmalea Ernest, aUniversity of Delaware Cooperative Extension associate who specializes in lima bean research. “But there is a long tradition of growing pole limas here; there is a real lima bean culture in Delaware.

“As a plant breeder, the most interesting thing to me about pole lima beans is that it is still possible to find people in Delaware who are growing local landrace varieties that they have selected themselves or that have been passed down in their families.  For other vegetables, even though there are lots of people out there growing heirloom varieties, they got the seed from Burpee, not their grandmother.”

Lima beans are a big business in Delaware. Limas are grown on more acres in the state than any other vegetable crop. However, the commercial market is made up almost entirely of baby limas and Fordhooks, not pole limas. These baby limas and Fordhooks are grown for processing, which, nowadays, means flash-frozen, not canned.

If you want to eat fresh lima beans this summer, you’ll need to be on the look-out for pole limas at farmers’ markets, particularly markets in Sussex or Kent counties. Or, better yet, you can grow them yourself, suggests Ernest.

She knows, though, that some folks may need convincing that it’s worth the effort to grow limas, pole or otherwise. Maybe they weren’t paying attention on National Lima Bean Respect Day. Or, more likely, they still have vivid memories from childhood of mushy, over-cooked canned limas heaped high on dinner plates or school lunch trays.

There’s nothing worse than a soggy canned lima but these days, flash-frozen baby and Fordhook limas are tasty and have a nice, firm texture, says Ernest.

And there’s absolutely nothing better than a fresh-picked pole lima, she says. “The taste of a pole lima is delicious and the pole lima isn’t starchy, unless you leave it on the vine too long. My four-year-old daughter, Irene, just gobbles them up.”

As an added bonus, pole limas – and limas in general – are nutritional powerhouses. They’re rich in fiber, potassium, iron, copper and manganese.

In her own Ellendale garden, Ernest doesn’t bother growing baby limas or Fordhooks – “I am able to get enough of them at work,” she says. But she has devoted 400 feet of trellis to pole limas.

If you want to grow pole limas this summer, now’s the time to prepare. Pole limas have a long growing season and should be planted between mid-May and early June. Pole limas can be grown on teepees but Ernest prefers trellises because teepees can blow over in windy conditions. Pole limas can tolerate New Castle County’s heavy, clay soils as well as Sussex’s sandy conditions.

Ernest starts her pole lima plants from seed. You can buy seeds online; pole lima plants are available at some independent nurseries and farmers markets. One of the most popular varieties is Dr. Martin, an heirloom that features 16- to 20-foot-long vines bearing large, flat pods. Big Mama and King of the Garden are other local favorites. For something different, try the Christmas Lima, sporting a red and white speckled bean that has a butter-like texture and a subtle chestnut-like flavor.

Pole limas need a lot of room and should be planted four to six feet apart. To keep your pole limas happy, Ernest says to go heavy on the watering and light on the fertilizing. Keep an eye out for spider mites and stink bugs; the two most common lima pests. Pod development should start occurring in mid- to late-August, with mature beans ready to pick about three weeks later. Pods will continue to develop into September.

If you have a bumper crop of pole limas you can freeze them or, like Ronald Dodd, you can give the excess to friends and neighbors. “I have plenty of ‘customers’ who like to get some of my pole limas,” says Dodd. “But last year was not a great season; I didn’t have any extra to give away.”

Plenty of native Delawareans – and Delawareans in the know – will be hoping for better pole lima yields this growing season.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily by clicking here.

 

 

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