When I was a child, my favorite spring activity was to hunt for wildflowers in the timbered hills of my grandparents’ small farm in Iowa County, north of Marengo. My memory’s eye recalls as if it was yesterday, following my father through the dry brown fall leaves, and finding large swaths of May apples, smaller groups of spring beauty and dutchman’s breeches, and the occasional rare trillium. Although the Jack in the Pulpits were common and easy to find, I believe they were my favorite.
Although many tomato varieties are available from stores in the spring, there is nothing quite as rewarding as growing your own tomatoes from seed. Also, if you peruse spring seed catalogs, you will note hundreds of tempting varieties of tomatoes are available from seed, as opposed to the few varieties you can find to purchase as plants. I grew up in a home where seeds were chosen when the seed catalogs first arrived, planted in March, and moved from sunny window to window until hardened outside and planted in the garden. It just wasn’t spring without watching the tomatoes grow!
What is snow?
Snow! Some of us love it, some of us despise it, and some of us shrug it off as a fact of life in Iowa. Skiers and snowshoers head outside to exercise, and children of all ages plop to the ground to put their marks on untouched expanses of fresh, clean, white. Is there anything more beautiful than the sparkle of fresh snow on a clear winter night?
It’s the time of year when frost threatens the tomatoes that hang green on our plants. If you’re like me, you hate to see these fruits go to waste. On the other hand, your past attempts to coax these last fruits to ripen indoors might have been less than satisfying. Perhaps some additional information from horticulturists will lead to improved results.
This year, we have been lucky enough to welcome a passionate rosarian, Edwina, onto our gardening staff. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that our Rose Garden will be looking beautiful all season, and wow, her work has paid off! If anyone reading this has been fortunate enough to be able to visit our Rose Garden this year, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t had the time to visit this year, I strongly encourage it! Let’s learn a little more about Edwina’s background with roses, and then we’ll move on to some burning questions you may have about your own rose bushes.
“Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did”
– 17th century English writer Dr. William Butler, referring to the strawberry
Spring is upon us and as such, so is the time for planting many of the flowers and crops that our Iowa soil nourishes so well. Ironically however, although Iowa is known for its cultivating abilities many Iowans do not have the space, time, or resources needed to join in the fun of growing their own produce or blossoms. Luckily, the last few years have brought with them many opportunities for the gardener in training, many of these options being very cost effective as well as convenient. Seed libraries, community plots, and garden tool rental are all available within our community; you just have to know where to look.
These flowers we greet as a sign of spring originated as wild flowers in Central Asia, and were cultivated by the Turks as early as 1,000 AD. In 1556, Busbeq (A.G. Busbequius) noted tulips growing in the gardens of Constantinople while he was serving as the ambassador of Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
This picture was taken at The Arboretum last spring. At the time, I had never seen this flower, and have solved the mystery of its identity with the help of Arboretum friends.
“I like to think that the purpose of the African violet plant is to bolster my ego. I am very capable of growing lovely flowering and fruiting plants in a variety of outdoor settings, flower beds, raised beds and containers, for example. I was, however, completely incapable of successfully nurturing houseplants until I discovered the African violet.”
- Sarah Preiss-Farzanegan. (See source list below)