Posts Tagged With: horticulture

Mississippi Blueberry Flower Season Has Begun

Mississippi blueberry flower season has begun. Bees are buzzing about the fields, pollinating white-ish bell-shaped flowers that dangle delicately. Even our native Vaccinium elliottii (Elliott’s blueberry) is flowering, making it one easy way to identify this edible native out from the roadsides and wooded areas along the road.

Last week I took these photographs in a couple of locations around south Mississippi. I will be collecting data on a lot of blueberry flowers later this week. The image above shows several stages at once, typical of blueberry.

Michigan State University (GO GREEN!) provides an excellent page with full color photos to assist in identifying the floral and leaf bud stages.

The image above shows all 7 stages of floral bud development: Dormant bud/no swelling, Bud with swelling, Bud with swelling and scales separating, Bud scales separate/individual flowers view-able, closed flower, open flower, and post-corolla drop. Tools such as official bud ratings for floral and leaf parts are things I use when compiling data for my supervisor’s potential plant patents and public releases for fruit crops.

Above images Stage 3 (bud swell with scales separating, tips of flowers just noticeable) and Stage 5 (individual flowers, but flower still closed). (might be more if you look closely) The University of Georgia also has a nice page with blueberry floral bud development images.

Blueberry inflorescence and floral development stages according to Spiers (1978). (A) Stage 1 – Inflorescence enclosed by bud scales (S). (B) Stage 2 – Inflorescence partially enclosed by bud scales, flowers covered by a large bract. (C) Stage 3 – Inflorescence with some bracts removed to show underlying developing flowers. (D) Stage 4 – Individual flowers expanded beyond bracts. (E) Stage 5 – Individual pre-anthetic flowers with elongate pedicels. (F) Stage 6 – Flowers at anthesis. (G) Stage 7 – Corolla dropped and beginning of fruit development. B = Bract; C = Corolla tube; F = Flower bud; K = Calyx tube; p = pedicel. Scale bars = 5 mm.

Here above is a source image with descriptions, as mentioned, from Spiers, 1978 (that’s Dr. James Spiers, who retired as Research Leader at the USDA ARS Horticultural Research Laboratory, Poplarville, MS)

In the photo above, there are several stages that can be viewed: early tight buds (greenish yellow), later pinkish buds (both at stage 5), full opened buds (stage 6) and even one post-corolla fall at stage 7 (the soon to be fruit).

Stage 2 seen above shows floral bud swelling with scales starting to separate.

 

Now that the plants are actively growing, go ahead and fertilize with an acid-loving plant fertilizer. I’ll probably hit mine at home in the next couple of weeks. If you are not a fan of eating blueberries, consider planting an native Elliott’s blueberry for all if its ornamental attributes (simply gorgeous at flowering in winter/spring and in the fall with green stems and red leaves) and let the wildlife enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 

Signing off from Mississippi (the Birthplace of Blues and BLUEBERRIES!…well, sort of…or maybe we just “do em right”)

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden
@thegardenmaiden

 

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Categories: Fruit Crops, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

ASHS-SR 2019: Inspiration to Write Again; Goodbye My Lil Dachshund Buddy

I’ve been silent. Silent with my blog, silent on social media. This will be the most difficult post I’ve ever written. And it will probably be long. Too long for some. But not long enough for others, especially dachshund lovers (yes, that’s a wiener dog joke).

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Dr. Eric Stafne receiving his personal gavel from Dr. David Reed

I just returned from the annual American Society for Horticultural Science-Southern Region conference in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a great conference (held in conjunction with SAAS), not just for the horticulture science presented in talks and poster presentations, but for the “reunion-like” atmosphere with colleagues past, present, and perhaps future. I look forward to receiving some CEU’s for my Certified Professional Horticulturist designation.

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An educational presentation from Dr. Elina Coneva

I might even get to do a little crossing of kiwi this spring because of an opportunity gleaned from a friend at Auburn University.

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Tiki in her buggy “dachshund taxi service”

I didn’t think I would make it to the conference this year for a couple of reasons, including the health of our female dachshund who will be 17 on April 21. I’m also recovering (and in physical therapies) from a tremendous amount of pain focused on the right side of my body that evolved over the holidays due to a family tragedy that built upon grief. My chiropractor said my body went into flight or fight mode. But I made it. We all made it to Birmingham: me, my dachshund (who can no longer be boarded), and my wonderful husband who served this past year as the President of ASHS-SR. The Big Cheese.

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Me and friend/colleague from the UA, Dr. Jim Robbins, the type of great folks we only get to see once or twice per year.

This year was my last year serving on the ASHS-SR Executive Committee, a position I have enjoyed. Not only can it be fun helping to shape the future of the Society, but its a great way to get to know other Members better too. I considered this a great honor, because as I’m often heard saying, I only have a Master’s degree, not a Ph.D., like most of the other committee members serving our Society. I have enjoyed giving back volunteering on committees on both the SR level and the national level.

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Dr. Gary Bachman presenting on the search for the Long Beach Radish

I have missed only a handful of SR meetings since I was a graduate student, which means that nearly every year, I am celebrating my birthday at our horticulture conference. This year was extra special.

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Thank you birthday dessert from Texas de Brazil Steakhouse, Birmingham

On Sunday February 3, the ASHS Southern Region President, Dr. Eric Stafne, gave his Presidential address. I sat there on the front row, feeling so proud of him, remembering sitting in the audience when Dr. John R. Clark (Dr. Stafne’s major advisor) gave his Presidential address ~2004, and saying to Dr. Stafne “someday that will be you”. That was fifteen years ago.

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Slide after slide, Dr. Stafne tasked the audience with assignments for the upcoming year, relating life-long goals and childhood aspirations to his work in horticulture (showing how your own personal aspirations can be relevant in horticulture): baseball player (Babe Ruth), detective (Eliot Ness), treasure finder (Dr. Indiana Jones), writer (Ernest Hemingway) and rock star (Pearl Jam and KISS). But it was the moment his slide showed a photo of me and our two dachshunds that I immediately went to tears.  Not only were his unexpected words kind and complimentary, but his admiration and love were felt. (afterwards we heard I was not the only one brought to tears).

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Dr. Al Einert and I at UA graduation

Following his speech, during the call for deceased Members, I proudly, and sadly stood and announced my former Bachelor’s and Master’s advisor, mentor, and dear friend: Dr. Alfred Erwin Einert, Emeritus, University of Arkansas. Dr. Einert passed away in August.  In many ways, he was like a father figure. Always supportive. Always remembered my birthday. Attended our wedding in Florida. Wrote countless letters of recommendation. Loved to “break bread” and “shoot the shit” with my husband and me over dinner and pints of beer.  An endless reservoir of advice…and stories. I will miss him greatly.

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Me, Dr. Eric Stafne, Dr. John R. Clark after Eric’s Presidential Address. Photo Credit: Dr. Jim Robbins, UA

As a student, you can only hope to be gifted with an advisor who will become such an important part of your life. John Clark is that gift to Eric.

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His final car ride home.

Five days after losing Al, we lost our male dachshund to complications with cancer. Mr. Weenie (one of his nicknames) fought tremendously since his March diagnosis when he was only given a few weeks to live. His first chest tap (at the Medvet cancer clinic in Louisiana) lasted many months, but his second tap (family vet) only lasted a couple of weeks and caused him great discomfort.

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I often told folks from spring through summer, don’t be sad for my little man, he is enjoying the best treats, and is in the best spirits, and still loves to “go” and explore and help me type on the computer. I frequently found myself thinking, they were wrong. The vets were wrong. He does not have cancer. We put him on homeopathic supplements for kidney and liver detox. We opted for no chemo. He greeted every day with enthusiasm, even after the diagnosis. But that all changed in August.

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His final trip outside.

On Friday August 24, we noticed he was having some difficulties and didn’t feel well. We decided to have the family vet tap his chest on Monday. Monday morning I told him we’d go to the vet and make him feel all better. But at the vet, it was determined the cancer must have progressed. He could barely walk for breathing difficulties and he was already maxed out on his medication. He was in distress. On Monday August 27, just five weeks until his 16th birthday and a few months away from his 6th year with us, we had to make that awful decision to have the vet come to our house and put an end our little rescue doxie’s suffering.  I took him home from the vet, without the chest tap. One final car ride. One final, albeit slow,  walk into the house. My husband and I had a few hours to spend with him. Although I’d never ate it previously, I defrosted and lightly grilled a filet mignon I’d purchased from the butcher the week prior. We cut it up and shared it with our dachshunds. I tried to tell him how much he meant to us. The vet arrived about 2:15 and at 2:30 p.m. as I held him tight, he left us.  It was the most difficult, sickening and heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do. I have re-lived that moment over and over, daily since then, questioning everything we did or didn’t do. The next day I ordered a book (which I highly recommend) called the Pet Loss Companion.

A few days after Mr. Weenie left us, my husband stopped by the vet clinic and brought him back home to us in a beautifully carved wooden box. I also purchased an ashes urn necklace.

The Pet Loss Companion book was a tremendous help (I’m getting ready to read it again) and although it is a very easy read, it took me a couple of weeks because it is so “spot on” that reading a few pages left me in tears. I’ve never experienced true grief before which makes me a very lucky person. I’ve been very sad to lose Grandparents and other relatives and friends. However, I had no idea what to expect. This book does a great job of explaining how some people will never understand your pet-loss grief and how everyone handles and processes grief differently and how pet-loss grief for a pet that loves you 24/7 for years and beyond that has required daily nursing, if not hospice-level care, will put you in a different level of grief. A grief that can be very different than that for a family member.

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My female dachshund six days after losing our little buddy to cancer.

For a month or so I had to hide my grief, not from others exactly, but from our female dachshund. We nearly lost her five days after Mr. Weenie. At the time we though she was sick. She had stopped eating or drinking that Friday we noticed Mr. Weenie having issues.  A few days after losing our little buddy, we had her in the vet overnight (she is a diabetic, with Canine Cognitive Disorder (doggie Alzheimer’s) since 2016) and after that an emergency trip back to the vet (we thought she was dying in my arms). We were told at that time there was nothing physically wrong with her, she was grieving him and that one pet will often know the time is near before we as humans know.  For days she wailed all night long, heart breaking cries like she had never made before. She moped about and was lethargic. She would lay in our arms completely like a little noodle. I had to hide my tears as I read she was probably picking up on our emotions.

On Labor Day Monday, one week after losing our buddy, we said, if she doesn’t eat by dinner, we’ll call the vet back out to the house. We took her around to all of our favorite coastal locations including Bay St. Louis. You can see her grief in the photos. One final stop was made to Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company (she had been visiting there with us since 2012) and on a whim, we ordered a Mississippi brat. Something that we would never order (dietary restrictions) and certainly not give to our dachshunds. However, she lunged at that brat and consumed it with the eagerness one might expect from any good German doxie! It was her first time to eat without being syringe-fed in a week or more. And thus began the healing with non-stop hugging, loving and keeping her close to us. We did not leave her alone. She gradually returned more to herself and we all grieved our loss together.

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Near Old Faithful Snow Lodge cabin

Miracle of miracles, two weeks later we left for our pre-planned vacation to Yellowstone. Her 4th trip since 2010 and what would have been Mr. Weenie’s third visit. We missed him greatly. In November I started journaling to him but I still could not bring myself to get back to blogging or social media. I didn’t have the stomach for it. I’m a relatively private person anyway, using these platforms to connect about plants, not display my personal life.

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In early December, I decided maybe, just maybe I could start writing again, but not without some sort of post about my silence for all these months. But how to do it? Leaving myself vulnerable for inappropriate comments from non-dog lovers, non pet-owners, and those who just don’t get it. But then on December 10, my Father was injured in a farm accident, leaving him, currently, a quadriplegic. We returned home for a couple of weeks. That’s when the pain began. But after several weeks of chiropractic, professional massage, acupuncture, stretching, and de-stress herbal supplements, I am on the road to recovery. I am hopeful, that although the road will be long, that my Father will also regain mobility and can once again return home. I think that is as personal as I want to get on that subject, as I said earlier, I’m very uncomfortable with being too personal on social media platforms, although I’m very, very appreciative and thankful for everyone who started prayers for my Dad, my Old Man (as he calls himself) on Facebook.

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Sharing a Father/Daughter love of Star Wars movies!

Part of my recovery is finding the inspiration to get back to horticulture at our ASHS SR meeting this past weekend in Birmingham. I love horticulture. I love posting about plants. Though I have to say, a break from social media is something that was refreshing and centering.

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Spunky little monkey

Mr. Weenie, Dr. Jones, Monkey Man, the Burgermeister, my Little Buddy, my Little Man will always be with me. He loved to be outside with us in the yard and garden and taking outdoor adventures with us to all sorts of places.

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Watching Krewe of Barkus parade

My little female dachshund, my Tiki-meister, lays here near me. I do not know if she will make it to birthday 17 in April. She has been with us since she was eight weeks old. I should probably at some point blog about what it is like to go through canine cognitive disorder (CCD) with a diabetic, arthritic dachshund who has lost her hearing and most of her eye-sight. Day by day, we evaluate her quality of life.

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So although part of my wants to delete this entire post, I must give back. I post this blog now not only to renew my online horticulture presence, to explain my absence, but also to perhaps help one person who is or will go through pet-loss grief. I have received so much from those who have posted online, selflessly, about their experiences with canine cancer, diabetes, and CCD. Most of the help and tips we received were from online posts and sites.  Perhaps some stories of Tiki’s journey in the coming weeks or months? I have barely been able to type or text from the pain, so I don’t want to commit myself to dates. (Sigh)  In closing, we didn’t sign on for pet ownership until it was too expensive or too inconvenient or burdensome. We signed on for love of a little companion. Loooooong live the dachshund owners, lovers, rescue adopters, and caregivers!

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She wears glasses and hats to help with post-cataract surgery & CCD light sensitivity.

Thank you Dr. Eric Stafne and all who attended the ASHS SR 2019 conference in Birmingham. I hope to see everyone next year in Louisville for our next SR conference or at our annual national conference for ASHS this summer.

Yours in Gardening and in love of little paws that dig those gardens!

The Garden Maiden

PS It took me several hours to put this together. Written half in tears, I am sure there are errors which I will attempt to go back and correct. Please forgive!

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden
@thegardenmaiden

Categories: garden dogs, horticulture conferences, Other Inspirations, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Prey of the Praying Mantid

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Before I get into the garden horrors of this afternoon, let’s recap. Last week you may remember I put a few photos on Twitter about the praying mantid (Mantis spp.) I discovered in my Garden of Goods and Evils. I was working on one of my patios, watering some plants in a raised bed. It was hot. Very hot. And humid, although we were in need of rain. That’s why I was was watering with the hose. It was late evening and the mosquitoes were bugging me (yeah, that’s good) to the point where I just wanted to get back in the house. It was at this moment that something caught my eye. A flittering. A fluttering. A rapid movement under the topside one of my arbors covered in vines.

“What in the world is that?” I said to myself out loud. (I do enjoy a good conversation with myself). It looked like a moth that was really enjoying something on my Aristolochia vine. But there were no open flowers. I finished watering, put the hose down on the ground, and walked over the arbor. I stared up in amazement, nay, shock and awe.  The moth was not enjoying itself. A praying mantid was enjoying the moth. The taste of the moth. The head to be exact.

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I exclaimed for my husband to get back outside. “You won’t believe what I am seeing!” I yelled toward the house. I ran inside, grabbed my old cell phone and my Canon 60D (only cell phone shots on this blog post). I should have grabbed my tripod too, but I was in a rush.

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Back through the sunroom and out into the yard, I slowly crept up to the arbor. She was still there, feasting. The first images were blurred by the wings of the moth flapping as he tried to escape. Or perhaps it was just nerves twitching as the brain was being quickly eaten by the praying mantid.

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Even after the moth ceased to move, the praying mantid would dip her head into the neck cavity of the moth, grab a juicy bite, raise her head, and turn to look at me. I was interrupting. Nonetheless, it made it tricky to get a clear photo in the fading light, under the arbor. It was difficult to look away, though it should have been easy.

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I continued to take photos with both cameras until I could no longer stand to be eaten myself, by mosquitoes of course.

A few days later passing back through the patio, my husband said to me, “Whoa, check this out, a good photo opportunity.”

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Indeed, another (or the same?) praying mantid was hanging out on the flowering stems of my potted chives. Back into the house I ran for my camera and phone.  I was really wishing I had grabbed my extension tubes for my 50mm so that I could practice some macro photography with the little dude. But alas, my time was once again shortened by the constant slapping of mosquitoes on my arms and legs.

Today I was walking across the patio to dump my compost bucket out back when I saw a beautiful monarch butterfly gently nestled in the stems of my chives. OH, wow, I thought. It is just sitting there in the light rain, perhaps taking a break from flying. I went ahead and made a deposit into the compost pile and returned to the patio garden area.

I again looked in on the butterfly. But the more I stared, the more I really began to look, I realized it wasn’t moving at all. And there was something odd about the wings. The wings were all backwards or upside down. Pointed in the wrong direction. No! No! No! Could it be? I slowly peered down into the chives into the wings of the monarch. I shook my head (which was more than the butterfly would ever do again for its head was missing) and stepped back. Did I see that correctly? I stepped back up to the pot of chives and looked down again among the stems. Indeed, the butterfly’s head was gone. I quickly looked up and down the chive stems for the praying mantid. Who else is currently in my garden eating heads? I don’t want to draw from stereotypes, but lets face it. Who was recently eating the head of a moth and was recently seen on the chives? A praying mantid. I once again ran back into the house (hey, with all this running why am I so behind on losing weight?), grabbed my phone and returned to the scene of the crime.

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I took a few photos in the rain.

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Then I began to look again for the culprit. Any culprit.

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There she/he was…hanging out calmly on a sage plant about 18″ away from the chives.

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I would say she looked guilty, but considering how extremely creepy they look anyway, who knows? Is this enough to convict the praying mantid? Perhaps not.

Well, you just never know what lurks ahead or above in my Garden of Goods and Evils. Perhaps there is something lurking in your garden as well. Take time to observe and you never know what you will find.

Good links with information about the Praying Mantid (Mantis spp.) from Iowa State University Extension and the University of Kentucky College of Ag

 

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Yours In Garden Horror,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

Categories: Garden Insects, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , , , ,
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