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?
A great many people ask, “What is there to work on at the Arboretum during the winter months?”. Many also say that it must get lonely out there during the cold and sometimes bleak winter. Which is true. Our Executive Director has been known to joke that it sometimes feels like we’re part of the movie The Shining.
In the 1960’s, our culture was very different. One huge difference was in every day advertising. An example of this is cigarettes. Virginia Slims was a brand manufactured by Altria (formerly Phillip Morris Companies). The brand was introduced in 1968 and marketed to young professional women using the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” This catch phrase has worked its way into societal idioms and is occasionally still used. While thinking about the Arboretum and the fact that it is our 20th anniversary this year, I found the expression especially appropriate.
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.
It’s amazing to look back at pictures from a cold spring day 20 years ago when volunteers were planting the first trees at the Arboretum, and then to take a walk in what is quickly becoming a real forest. The growth and change is striking. Even year to year, the growth at the Arboretum is incredible. Just this year, we started a really fun new project for the Children’s Garden that is a Hobbit House and Garden. In addition, we planted over 57 new trees, created a new Buffalo Plant Sculpture (Mosaiculture), finished planting the new Master Gardeners Orchard, and created a trail through our new 4 acre butterfly meadow. It’s been a busy season!
In the past, the gardens have been extremely quiet during the month of October. We understand; the kids are back in school, the Cedar Valley has an abundance of cool fall activities, and the holiday season is just starting to begin – you’re busy! However, we would love for you to take advantage of our 35 acre oasis this fall and come enjoy walking the gardens. We promise you won’t be disappointed! Still need convincing? Keep reading for the four top reasons for you to visit the gardens this month!
First, a bit of history. When the Cedar Valley Arboretum and Botanic Gardens began, two of the largest trees in the pasture were honey locusts. It was the natural setting for planners to begin work on what is now our current Shade Garden, and the same trees still tower over the setting.
Some years ago, Lynn Kramer, an Arboretum supporter, arranged to obtain specimens of all the daylilies that had won the prestigious Stout Award up to that point. The plants came from the extensive collection at the Kansas State University Gardens in Lawrence, Kansas. In 2011, that collection was updated to replace plants that had not survived and to obtain the newer varieties that were not a part of the original grouping. Since that time new Stout winners have been added as they receive the award and become available.