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Garden Talk

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"GardenTalk", a regular feature for The Gazette, brings to you the combined experience and expertise of Holly Lake's dedicated gardeners and others. A continuing focus will be subjects of interest to anyone who has ever bought a packet of seeds or dug a hole in the ground for a plant, as well as the dedicated and sharp-eyed observers of nature. "GardenTalk" will not only inform you each issue but solicits your ideas and personal gardening experiences which you may wish to pass on to others. The hope is that "GardenTalk" will enrich us all as well as help make Holly Lake even more beautiful.

Hunt for wildflowers—

earn rewards

The question that arises on these hot days—though we haven't had as many of them as usual—is to ask "what about gardening...what about plants?" Some things can still be done to enhance the quality of life in the garden.

One: you can drive around the neighborhood—and we have a really BIIIG neighborhood —to check on what's blooming. You'll be surprised—if you can slow down to thirty miles an hour along back roads and maybe even stop foir a second or two on a road shoulder. You'll see meadow pinks(probably hidden in the grass), some Missouri primrose—clumps of bright yellow—loose strife and blue waterleaf if you drive along ditches full of water. The loose strife is a plume of bright magenta—made up of closely packed small flowerlets and the hydrolea is a series of isolated bright blue petaled flowers. If you are in the mood to examine more closely you'll find that the hydrolea has a sharp thorn in each leaf axis. You'll catch the bright red of the Turk's Cap in semi-shaded places, the small white berries of the Rough Leaf Dogwood, mostly along fence lines, sunflowers, early fall asters—small upright plants with yellow daisy-like blooms—Maximillian Sunflowers which are tall stalky plants with flowers close to the center stem and usually grouped at the top of the stalk but may also be linearly scattered along the stalk. You'll likely see some gallardia; sometimes your eye will catch the tall yellow ornamented stalk of a mullein rising from its bed of large soft grayish leaves, and occasionally you'll see sand verbena barely making it on the hot sand. You'll see rows and rows of bushy yellow flowers along most of the roadsides now. That's bitter weed, a distant relative of the sunflower family. Seems to me, given its prolific bloom in hot weather and the fact that it's perennial it would make a good edging for flower beds. It also has the happy quality of saying in place instead of spreading out all over. There are still clumps of horsemint which though mostly turning brown at this time, might still display some of their normal colors—purple and white. You will see liatris—white and purple—long stalks with a kind of "bottle brush" looking array of closely attached purple or white flowers. Texas Greeneyes, another tall plant with daisy-like flowers with green centers is still blooming a bit but most are offering seeds. Probably if you cast your glance to ground level you'll notice the wiry, bristly foliage of Shrankia, also called prairie mimosa whose round pink balls do look something like mimosa blooms and whose foliage is of the old "forget-me-not" school, closing up in the evening and opening in the morning. This is a good time for seed gathering—especially the plants which have just finished blooming and have set seeds—such as the tall cone flower—also called "clasping cone" for the way its grayish green foliage folds against the stalk. The cone flower has big seed heads which can be clipped off (don't pull out the whole plant) and tossed about in one of your own garden spaces.

In your garden, you may want to turn up a plot especially for the wild flower seeds you are going to gather—just broadcast a handful of them into the loose dirt, water gently and maybe next year you won't even have to traverse roadsides to find color.

It's a challenge to see beauty on the roadsides these days because the color is widely scattered, but you can be rewarded by coming across a patch of color here and there and sometimes it's even more of a thrill to come across an isolated plant that seems to represent the perfection of its species.

Anyway it's worth a trip. But drive slowly—or stop entirely if you want to experience these remnants of summer beauty.

—Lucy Germany