Volunteer Highlight: Steve Buckles

Steve BucklesHere at the CVABG, we are so lucky to have dedicated volunteers who work hard to help the Arboretum grow and change. To celebrate their efforts we’re highlighting the volunteers who help pull weeds, provide a friendly smile, and who do everything in-between! This month’s volunteer is Steve Buckles.

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Snow in April? The Common Snowdrop

snowdrop-523667_960_720By now many gardeners would be distraught if they found snow in their gardens, however, maybe finding snowdrops wouldn’t be so bad. The common snowdrop is often the very first to be found, and can even flower in winter before the vernal equinox (March 21). In Black Hawk County it was in full bloom by mid-March of this year–weeks before the crocus popped.

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Let’s Talk Trees: The Bald Cypress

Iowa City Landscaping Bald CyprusIn Iowa, we have a large variety of trees, native and non-native. One such non-native species is the Bald Cyprus tree which can grow to be 50 feet tall. It is a popular ornamental tree, grown for its light feathery foliage. The spring foliage is a bright yellow-green becoming sage green in summer. It is a deciduous tree and ends the season with rich, russet-brown leaves which fall attached to 2-3 inch long shoots. Most members of its family Cupressaceae do not lose leaves, hence the name “Bald” Cypress for this variety.

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Jack in the Pulpit

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.

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How To Grow Tomatoes From Seed

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!

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You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

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.

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