December Blog Post Recap

This will be a really quick monthly recap: aside from the November Blog Posts Recap on December 18, we featured just one other post in December. That’s okay, though, because it was a good one that opened the door to many additional posts on the same topic! Connie Schultz, of the Johnston County, NC Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, wrote a lovely piece about regional wreaths (Celebrating Christmas with Regional Wreaths). Appearing on December 9, this post touched on some of the huge assortment of regional items (think red peppers in the Southwest) that are pressed into service as holiday decorations. Here in the Southeast, we have more traditional evergreen foliage we can use, along with the colorful berries of plants like nandina, aucuba, and hollies. Connie concluded her post with an invitation to our readers to send in photos of their wreaths so we can all enjoy the creativity and beauty.

Traditional wreath from JC Raulston Arboretum NCSU
Traditional wreath from JC Raulston Arboretum NCSU


What’s Next?

Now that 2014 is off and running, we should have many more posts to highlight at the end of this month. Wouldn’t you like to share something from wherever you garden? We’d love to hear from you, and we’d also love you to share these blog posts with your friends and colleagues. Happy New Year!

Find us in the following spaces:
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Extension Master Gardener Blog

Blog Recap prepared by Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, NC Cooperative Extension/ Guilford County Center, Greensboro, NC


November Blog Posts Recap

With the holidays occupying so much of the available time and energy we have (there are still only 24 hours in any given day, no matter how efficiently we manage those hours), chances are good that you may have missed a post or two from November, so let’s take a look back and see what you might have missed.

The November 6 “Almost Wordless Wednesday” post from Foy Spicer, Master Gardener in Wabash County, Indiana, featured some great photos of Indiana’s plants this time of year, including the beauty below (Almost Wordless Wednesday – Fall Details in Indiana):

Hosta Maple Leaves 500
Hosta with Silver Maple Leaves

November 8 brought the October Blog Post Recap. (October 2013 Blog Post Recap) As you can see from the date the Recap was published last month, compared to today’s date, the holiday season has made a mess of my schedule, too.

November 13’s Almost Wordless Wednesday featured a terrific collection of infographics and posters about America Recycles Day and the Food Waste Challenge submitted by Connie Schultz, Master Gardener/Composter (’95 Cornell Extension) volunteering now in Johnston County, NC. (Almost Wordless Wednesday: America Recycles Day Nov. 15th & the Food Waste Challenge)  Connie is a regular contributor, and her posts are consistently colorful and informative.

America Recycles Nov. 15th

November 19 saw another post by Connie Schultz, this one about living wreaths (Living Wreaths for the Holidays). Connie gave us some valuable pointers on how to be successful in creating these beautiful wreaths, and she’s also created a Pinterest board (you’ll find that link in her original post) featuring more photos and ideas.

Flicker photo Some rights reserved by Maegan
Colorful Succulent Wreath (photo courtesy of Maegan Tintari of …love Meagan [CC by 2.0]
On November 20, the Almost Wordless Wednesday post came from Eileen Kane, Maricopa County Master Gardener, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, where their vegetable demonstration garden is still going strong. (Wordless Wednesday – Fall in The University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners’ Vegetable Demonstration Garden)

Fall in The University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners' vegetable demonstration garden, Phoenix, includes (from top left) Bitter Melon, Melokhiya (also Molokhiya), Chile pepper 'Fresno,' Rutabaga, Turnips, String Beans, Peanuts, dragonfly visitor, and a row of Chinese Cabbage 'Wong Bok,' Chinese Cabbage 'Qingdao 65,' & Bok Choy
Fall in The University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners’ vegetable demonstration garden

We’ve been following the vital role played by honeybees in our environment through posts from  Gladys Hutson, EMGV in Union County, NC for a while now. Her November 22  p0st (Bees 101 – And the Bees Were Snuggled All in Their Beds) took a look at honeybees in winter, something most of us have probably never even considered. Fascinating creatures!

Working with the bees
Working with the Bees, by Gladys Hutson

And our post for Thanksgiving Day, November 28, was a Wordless Wednesday post, just a day late, featuring a great infographic on how to give your family’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner a healthy makeover. Thanks to Connie Schultz of Johnston County, NC for this submission. (Wordless Wednesday: Have a Happy Healthy Thanksgiving)

Food infographic courtesy the USDA
Food infographic courtesy the USDA


That wraps up November of 2013. Does it seem to anyone else that this year started only weeks ago, and that it cannot be possible that we’re approaching another New Year in a matter of weeks? Be sure to check back here in January 2014 for our December Blog Post Recap, available earlier in the month than this one! One more thing: if you enjoy reading the Extension Master Gardener blog, whether it’s monthly or weekly, please share the links with your friends and families through whatever social media platforms you use. This blog is not just for Extension Master Gardener Volunteers; it’s for everyone with an interest in gardening.

What’s Next?
Please stay tuned for next month’s blog recap. Until then, we’d love to hear from you about what’s going on in your area as we head into winter, so stay in touch!
Find us in the following spaces:
Here –
Extension Master Gardener Blog

Blog Recap prepared by Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, NC Cooperative Extension/ Guilford County Center, Greensboro, NC

October 2013 Blog Post Recap

For gardeners in many parts of the country, the growing season is winding down with the fall harvest; for others, things are still incredibly busy. Regardless of your location, the blog was chock-full of outstanding information during October! Let’s see what you might have missed if you weren’t able to read regularly . . .


On October 1, we were celebrating Native Plants (Celebrating the Native Plant), which can form the backbone of a great garden no matter your location. While the natives may vary from region to region, they are all hard-working plants ideally suited to local conditions; many believe we should give more emphasis to natives and be very discriminating in our introductions of non-native species into local ecosystems. Here are a couple of the highlighted plants:

native 1
Aster – Nebraska – Zone 5
Sumac - Nebraska - Zone 5
Sumac – Nebraska – Zone 5

Mary-Jean Grimes, of Grays Harbor-Pacific Counties in Washington State, had a great post October 2 about the Lake Sylvia Native Plant Project (Wordless Wednesday – Lake Sylvia Native Plant Project), including photos of families being introduced to the local plants at the park:

End of walk- Still using id sheet
(Photo by Helen Hepp)

October 3 featured a plant profile of the Desert Four O’Clock (Mirabilis multiflora), native to the southwestern states, by Susan Buffler of Cache County, Utah. This fascinating plant grows from a large tuber, which makes transplanting difficult; it’s a beauty, well worth whatever trouble it may be to establish!

Close up picture of magenta Desert Four O'Clock flowers
Photo Credit: Bryant Olsen
Flickr CC BY –NC 2.0

On October 5, we learned much more about the Native Plant Projects from Two Washington Counties. This post, from Mary-Jean Grimes, went into detail about the Lake Sylvia Park project, which included the development of plant identification cards for the native plants, and the Discovery Garden project in Ilwaco, which entailed the renovation of an overgrown planting at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum. (As a North Carolina gardener, it’s particularly fascinating to me to see what our most distant gardening neighbors are up to.) Both projects look absolutely terrific!

#1 welcome
Informational Signage at the Discovery Garden


October 8 brought us a listing of Favorite Natives of WA Master Gardeners; the top five plants were trillium, red flowering currant, evergreen huckleberry, vine maple, and Oregon grape. The results were tabulated from the participants in the Grays Harbor-Pacific Counties MG and the Washington State Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference in September. The overall listing included more than 50 plants, as well as a link to more information about all of them.

natives for blog

Wordless Wednesday: Farmer’s Markets & Fall Festivals for October 9 brought some gorgeous photos from North Carolina: Johnston County’s Connie Schultz highlighted just a few of the many Farmers Markets that have popped up statewide in recent months as the interest in locally grown food has virtually exploded. Combine the colors of ripe produce, beautifully displayed, with the background of a crisp, clear October day, and the results are sure to be captivating!

October 11 brought my first Monthly Blog Recap (EMG Blog Learning Notes – Recapping September 2013); if you feel you missed anything from September, here’s where to start tracking it down.

On October 12, we took an in-depth look (Native Plants, Native Foods: Ramps) at a native food plant that some Americans may never have heard of: the ramp (Allium tricoccum). Just as the Southwest has chili peppers, and the Northeast has maple syrup, the Southeast has ramps. This odiferous wild leek grows in Appalachia, and its history as a “spring tonic” is fascinating, as is its place in society today, with annual ramp festivals devoted solely to its cultivation, lore, and use. If you love both history and horticulture, this post is worth every second of your time: go read it right now!

Ramps ready to eat. Photo: dano272,

Permaculture was the topic for our October 14 post (Work With Nature Rather Than Against It – What is Permaculture?), featuring a new campus permaculture garden at Utah State University. Since permaculture – which essentially means working with nature rather than against it to create sustainable landscapes and ecosystems – is very much in the news lately, this is an extremely timely post, accompanied by beautiful photos. Susan Buffler, of Cache County EMGs in Utah, provided links to additional permaculture information, as well, and the post even includes a brief video at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute.

Various vegetables in a permaculture garden
Photo credit: Milkwoods
Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

October 16 featured another Almost Wordless Wednesday post, this one focusing on some Southwest farmers markets (Wordless Wednesday: Southwest Farmers Markets Fall). Thanks to Eileen Kane for a lovely glimpse at the glory of fresh produce. It’s fascinating to see how the produce shown in her photos differs from the veggies in Connie Schultz’s earlier Wordless Wednesday post about North Carolina farmers markets.

Southwest Farmer's Market in the fall (photo credit Eileen Kane)
Southwest Farmer’s Market in the fall (photo credit Eileen Kane)

For those of us who are orderly and disciplined enough to keep records of their gardens, the post from October 17 will be particularly fascinating. Carla Albright, of Tillamook County, Oregon, created a wonderful piece on maintaining a consistent and useful garden journal (7 Steps for Keeping a Consistent (and Useful) Garden Journal). With the simplicity of incorporating digital photography into computerized documents, journaling is easier than it’s ever been . . . if you make the time to do it! This is an excellent, illustrated primer on the topic that will make it easy for you to get started. So what are you waiting for?

Garden Journal page
Garden journal with plant tags, August 3

October 19 brought us an outstanding post from Lisa Tompkins, Chair, Southern Piedmont Chapter, North Carolina Native Plant Society, on the top ten native plants of North Carolina (North Carolina’s List of the Ten Top Choices for Native Plants). This article highlights some of the plants that can form the foundation of a great garden in the Southeast, including photos and essential horticultural information about each of the plants.

American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana
American Beautyberry, Callicarpa Americana (photo courtesy Lisa Tompkins)

Eileen Kane, of the University of Arizona Maricopa County EMG program, provided the October 22 post on Low Desert vegetable and herb gardens in the Southwest (Southwest Autumns Feature Herbs and Vegetable Transplants and Seeds). This piece provides real insight into just what is going on this time of year in Southwestern gardens; it’s fascinating to compare and contrast it with what’s happening where I garden in the Southeast.

Fall Demonstration Garden
University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Demonstration Vegetable Garden


October 23’s Wordless Wednesday highlighted the North Carolina Food Corps Salad Days for kids at school gardens (Almost Wordless Wednesday: Salad Days for Kids at School Gardens with North Carolina Food Corps). It’s amazing to watch school kids carrying bunches of freshly-harvested greens down the hallways at school, bouquet fashion, munching as they walk . . . especially when you realize that some of these children have never eaten fresh vegetables in their lives.

Salad Days for NC Food Corps (photo courtesy NC Food Corps) Gaston County
Salad Days for NC Food Corps in Gaston County, North Carolina (photo courtesy NC Food Corps)

And on October 24, FOOD DAY, we posted an infographic about the American Diet, provided by Food Day. Fascinating to see how well – or how poorly – the average American eats.

food day 2013 infographic
Food Day 2013 infographic The American Diet (courtesy Food Day)

On October 25, the blog post featured an absolutely outstanding iBook created by Mary Free, an EMG in Northern Virginia (Consumer Horticulture iBook Publication Contest Winner Announced). Mary won the Virginia Cooperative Extension 2012 consumer horticulture iBook publication contest with her creation, “For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats.” It’s also available in PDF and ePub formats on the VCE publications website, and it looks absolutely wonderful – visually appealing and packed with good information.

For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats.

October 27 featured another look at school gardens: Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth – Can we prove the benefits of school gardens?. Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension, sent in this article on the benefits of school gardens and attempts to prove those benefits through a pilot research project in her four-state area.

The plight of the honeybee was the topic of the October 29 post from Gladys Hutson, Union County EMGV in North Carolina (Bees 101 – 2013 – WOW a Tough Year on Honeybees!). She outlined some of the trials and tribulations beekeepers faced during 2013.

Three of our Four Hives
Three of our Four Hives

And the October 30 Almost Wordless Wednesday showcased photos from Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County EMG Coordinator, taken at a number of area school gardens (Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth-Almost Wordless Wednesday). In a time when food insecurity is an increasingly obvious issue in this country, school gardens are receiving more and more focus as an attempt to help our children learn about proper nutrition and where food actually comes from.

Photo by Linda Mathews
Photo by Linda Mathews


What’s Next?
Please stay tuned for next month’s blog recap. Until then, we’d love to hear from you about what’s going on in your area as we head into winter, so please stay in touch!
Find us in the following spaces:
Here —
Extension Master Gardener Blog

Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, NC Cooperative Extension/ Guilford County Center, Greensboro, NC