May 23, 2008

Rock The Garden

" The Current" radio station and the Walker Art Center present Rock the Garden
Saturday, June 21, 2008 4-11 p.m. in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Featuring Andrew Bird, The New Pornographers, Cloud Cult, and Bon Iver.
Singer-songwriter Andrew Bird and band top a Rock the Garden bill that also features Canadian indie-rock supergroup The New Pornographers (featuring A.C. Newman, Blaine Thurier, Dan Bejar, John Collins, Kathryn Calder, Kurt Dahle, and Todd Fancey) and the eco-conscious Twin Cities favorite Cloud Cult

Opening the event is Bon Iver, an emerging soulful lo-fi folk solo artist from northwest Wisconsin who was one of the major hits of the South by Southwest Festival this month.
This all-ages, rain-or-shine street party will feature live broadcasts from DJs of 89.3 The Current, an array of outdoors summer food (including crepes from Vincent and fresh food from Chipotle), and beer from Summit Brewing Company!! The party starts at 4 pm.

This is the Cowles Conservatory on the grounds of the Sculpture Garden.Tickets to Rock the Garden are sold out!!!

May 19, 2008

Give Me Pearls

The University of Minnesota has developed many many hardy plants for our zone 4 climate. Thanks to the U of MN, we have great apples such as 'HoneyCrisp' and a series of Azaleas called 'Northern Lights'. One interesting plant that not many people know about is: Exochorda serratifolia,
common name: Pearlbush 'Northern Pearls'.

This variety was released in 1995. At first glance, you'd think it's a mockorange, but there's no fragrance, and the Pearlbush has PEARLS! The flower buds look like a string of pearls. The flower shape is strange too- not the same as Mockorange.
The woody shrub grows to 8-10 feet tall. The flowering is on the top, like a mockorange or lilac. The best time to see it is right now, when you have bud and bloom at the same time.

May 12, 2008

I'm Not That Desperate

Gardeners are crazy in the spring...In St. Paul Minnesota, there's a plant sale each spring, put on by "The Friends School", a Quaker school in St. Paul. About 90% of the students are non-Quaker. This plant sale is so huge, it's held at the State Fairgrounds...and even then, it's totally packed...hundreds of crazy gardeners show up with wagons, carts, and wacky contraptions to hold the plants they plan to purchase.

Luckily, the organizers have developed a very smart system of lining people up, using wrist bands, and moving huge crowds into the sale, but even with all that, I waited with my mother for 1 hour in line before even going inside. It was my Mom's idea to check out this sale...and I have heard about the long lines...but an hour waiting outside was too much for her. She has a bad knee, and metal plate inside her addition to being over 70. So, we just had to leave without even getting into the sale.

It is a very impressive event, and I'm sure a lovely school, but I don't think I'll go again. Shopping for plants should not be an experience like that. I have only waited that long for Prince tickets. There are many other nice little plant sales around town where you don't have to subject yourself to cattle herding. If you go next year, bring a folding chair, and a picnic lunch. Do not bring small children-- they would freak out waiting that long.

May 11, 2008

When You Look...

You Find

This is a plant I find rather boring and cumbersome...a yellow-flowering Lonicera- Honeysuckle vine. I took a closer look to see if it has any hidden beauty.

And this is one of those boring old burgundy-leaf maples...maybe "Royal Red" or some other.
This is his shining moment...take a good look.

May 10, 2008

My Ratty Plants...or...Save The Rats...or...Who Gives a Rat's Ass

I tell my daughter that when she's digging in the garden there are many things you'll find under the soil. There are earthworms, beetles, ants, millipedes, and many other surprises. My next advice will be to always wear your gloves.

The other day, I was working on a job, planting several large planter pots for a business. I was removing old plant material from the pots, and one pot had more twigs and leaves and fluff than the other pots. I was reaching in (with gloves on) and something moved under my hand.

I pulled up some of the dried grass and leaves and uncovered 3 baby Rats, curled up in a hole in the potting soil inside the pot. They were fairly large, but still seemed blind, and were rooting around but stayed curled up together in a ball. They were not pink like baby mice I've seen, they were grey.


I just stood there looking at them, and looked around to see if anyone noticed my discovery. All I could think about was the movie, Ratatouille, and Ron Weasley in Harry Potter, and the cute rats I've seen in pet stores. I know Rats are generally hated in the world, and they can spread disease and all that...(But humans probably spread just as much disease).
I felt like I was put in an awkward position, having accidentally unearthed this little nest.
After a couple minutes of pondering...I covered the little creatures up again with the bedding material, sprinkled some fresh compost on the soil, and threw some flower seeds in the pot.
Life is life. ron and scabbers
By the time the flowers grow, the Rats will be out.

May 3, 2008

Swimming With The Bees ...(Bees Rock!)

Finally, bees have arrived to beekeepers in Minnesota. If you read my blog last month, you'll remember that an entire truckload of bees coming from CA was lost when the trailer crashed in a North Dakota snowstorm. (California drivers should NEVER attempt North Dakota in the winter season).

Now, a new load of bees have arrived and beekeepers spent the weekend picking up their ordered packages of bees to take home to hives around Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

This beekeeper is using a flashlight to check the Queen in each package. He has apparently lost his bee suit...or just doesn't care anymore.

This is the distributor's building holding all the boxes of bees until beekeepers come to pick up their orders. They were shipped from California to Minnesota, and about 200 beekeepers will come to pick up their bees within 48 hours.

Extra Queen Bees are individually packed in small wood boxes. There are many other bees crawling around on the Queen boxes.

Personally, I love honey bees and I was not afraid to photograph them. I work around bees all the time in the garden, and don't remember the last time I was stung. It annoys me frequently when I am working on a gardening project for a client, and they tell me they want me to try to plant things that "don't attract too many bees"!! ....I think we need to do exactly the opposite...What is the paranoia about bees? I think it's just mis-information. When bees are collecting pollen, they are very "busy" and do not bother people. The creature that invades picnics and gets in your pop (soda) can is a wasp- not a honey bee. Very few people are really allergic to bee stings. (Sorry if you're one of them) But honey bees are usually not the problem.

Because of the recent problems affecting bee colonies, people are starting to notice their importance, and bees are becoming "fashionable".

Bee Aware of issues affecting honey bees. And if you want to be hip in your community, plant flowers that attract bees and provide pollen. The best choices are often plants that are native to your area. Here are a few ideas:

Asters, Basil, Bee Balm (Monarda), Black-eyed-Susans, Clover, Cosmos, Fruit Trees, Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium), Marigold, Mint, Purple Coneflower, Rosemary, Salvia, Sedum, Sunflower, Zinnia.