Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fall planting

I'm an answer person periodically on a call-in radio program for our university's Your Day Public Service Radio feed that goes throughout the state.  It's fun, and I'm glad to encourage gardeners of whatever knowledge level to learn more and have fun doing it.  I pitched in today as a last-minute guest for my friend and colleague, Bob Polomski (and substitute for a much more well-known gardening 'personality') - Felder Rushing, whose Mississippi radio base needed to switch their focus to Hurricane Isaac.

Today's calls were typical, from ornamentals to vegetables.

I'm always reminded (and try to encourage folks) that learning about plants is fun, and rewarding.  Before adding landscape plants, learn about them.  Vegetables, ditto.   If you've  inherited an overgrown landscape, learn about what you have and prune things back judiciously.

Talk to your extension agent, too. He/she often knows a lot about what you're interested in planting.

(This was a duplicate post from my blog, Natural Gardening).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A pileated woodpecker

Behind my office is a Southern red oak in decline.  Limbs have been trimmed and the top has already broken, although we're not inclined to take it down just yet.

My colleague pointed out to me this morning that a pileated woodpecker was busily working a cavity high up on the trunk - what a great sight.  This is a blurry image from early morning (cropped, of course!).

It's probably a feeding cavity based on my bit of research, although I'm hardly an expert on bird behavior.  Not the time of the year for a nesting cavity, certainly, and pileated woodpeckers forage in dead and dying trees in search of a favorite prey item, carpenter ants, according to All About Birds, Cornell Ornithology Lab's online field guide site.

(This is a duplicate post from Natural Gardening).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hunt Cabin Open House

The Hunt Cabin is a historical treasure located in the Botanical Garden.  Over the past year we have been opening the Cabin to the public at least one Saturday a week.  So many people have peered through the windows over the years and are delighted to have the opportunity to come inside and look around.

Our plan is to interpret life in the mid nineteenth century when there were ten inhabitants of the Cabin, and three enslaved African-Americans who lived on the property.

Age in 1850 Census
Ransom Hunt 46
Martha Hunt 47
Grandma Mary  Dalton 89
Charles Hunt 22
Harriet Hunt 18
Samuel Hunt 16
Emeline Hunt 14
William 10
Melissa/Matilda Hunt 7
Mary  Elizabeth Hunt 4

Who lived on the property
Female slave 18
Female slave 14
Male slave 1

We began in January 2012 beside a roaring fire.  People were drawn to the Cabin by the smell of wood smoke and the colorful and beautiful quilts displayed on the porches.  Jennifer Bausman a renowned local storyteller and former Garden employee joined my daughter Chloe and I dressed as costumed interpreters for the period.   Jennifer told stories, encouraged everyone to dance and as we got more used to the cabin, Jennifer started to cook over the open hearth  To date we've had popcorn, warmed apple cider, hoe cakes and yummy  beans.

One day we talked about fiber production and clothing.  Chloe demonstrates an early and rare hand cotton gin in the photo above, and a student from PRTM, Paul Nelson, took us through the stages for preparing flax for linen production.  Look for flax to be planted in front of the cabin in the Spring (I hope!) In September 2012 we will again focus on fiber production and fiber arts and give the opportunity for people to experience carding and weaving , and other such practical crafts, and learn about clothing in this period. 

Visit the Garden's calendar for more information on upcoming programs.