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April 2011 Archives

Trying to ID two plants, I came across a great website today: Minnesota Wildflowers. Great photos that will help you ID plants a well as are a joy to look at!

The two plants I ID'd today I actually discovered on our property up near Northome, MN. I felt a bit like Linnaeus (except he, of course, got to name them). Here they are:

Pyrola elliptica

Pyrola elliptica flower1.JPG

Moneses uniflora
Thumbnail image for Pyrola moneses form1.JPG

I received the following question via email from Michael in North Oaks. I couldn't ID the tree so asked Kathy Zuzek, Extension Educator and woody plant expert:

Question: I attended the university many years ago and I'm generally very good with tree identification, but this one I can't place. Leaves would help but they are not out yet. The tree is about 40 feet tall, fairly smooth light black bark and almost looks like an elm without the umbrella shape. This tree is growing in North oaks in between red and white oaks; the age of the various oaks range between 150-300 years old. I will be on the property today and will take a picture of the bark and send to you. The house was built 22 years ago and I suspect the tree is at least 30+ years old.  I would appreciate any help you can give.

Thumbnail image for IMG00165-20110414-2203.jpgIMG00179-20110426-1525.jpgThumbnail image for IMG00171-20110426-1517.jpg
Kathy's answer: The flowers look like either red (slippery)  elm or Siberian elm. Slippery elm's bark is pretty brown while Siberian elm's is gray. The two hybridize pretty freely so maybe you have a slippery, maybe you have a Siberian, and maybe you have a mutt! If the leaves are small this  summer and if the fruit is hairless later on this spring, you have a Siberian. Thanks for sending me today's tree challenge!

(Posted by J. Weisenhorn for Terry Straub, Program Coordinator
UMN Extension Master Gardener Program in Hennepin County - thanks for sharing, Terry!)

I just had to share that the MN Gardening Calendar went international today! 

I gave a presentation on volunteer recognition for an event sponsored by our state volunteer network (MAVA) and the US State Department.  There were folks from all over the world. 

To try and explain what it is master gardeners do, I thought t
Thumbnail image for MN Calendar 2011 cover.jpghe calendar would be a good example of educating others about gardening practices, so I gave folks a copy.  They were all tickled -- even those from southern and desert climates!  Heard lots of "oooos and ahhhhs" re: the photos. 

Just wanted you to know your work has gone world-wide (just in case it hadn't gone before!)  Here's the list of countries represented:

Afghanistan, Canada, Egypt, Finland, Ghana, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Republic of Montenegro, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, People's Republic of China, Slovak Republic, Zambia.

Here's a question I get often from Master Gardeners. Maybe you have the same question P1040775.JPG...!

MG Question: Our MG have been ask to plant and to maintain a couple flower beds in a town. What are the program guidelines for this type of project?  Can we count our hours as community work, but not teaching, if only Master Gardeners are doing the work?

My answer:
Just doing a beautification project doesn't really constitute teaching and thus doesn't fit the guidelines for volunteer hours. However, I am realistic and understand that sometimes a "handshake" occurs between the county and Master Gardeners. Example: The county provides free facilities / space for meetings, events, etc. and in exchange the MGs plant and manage some plantings, and yes, this would count as volunteer hours.

I recommend your group take this opportunity to turn this service-type project into an educational project. Some ideas:

  • Involve a school group or scout troop, etc. on planting day. Teach the kids about the specific plants and how to plant them. Involve them in the maintenance.
  • Label the plants so others can learn about the cultivars. Include a plant list on theP1070456.JPG county website or at the county service desk that people can pick up and lists the plants and how to take care of them.
  • Choose a theme for the garden focused on plant types (ex: natives, cold-hardy perennials). Include signage about the planting.
  • Create an edible landscape. There's a link to on my blog to the UMN Edible Landscape blog.
  • If available, combine the garden with an educational class that you offer 
You could do some or all of the above to help turn a beautification project into an education (and beautiful) project.
The Ohio State University Phenology Garden Network is facilitated by OSU and the House sparrow in redbud3.JPGUrban Forestry Institute. The Urban Forestry Institute is facilitated by MN company Rainbow Tree Care and is a collaboration between OSU and tree care companies and arborists. Participation in this project by Master Gardeners is not considered bias support and information gained from this program will be made available to the public through the website at

Please fill out the following events as you come across them in your daily activities and/or with discussions with local partners. Feel free to share it with individuals that would be willing to call or share information in their area within the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Click here for the recording form: Phenology List 2011.pdf

Complete the form and fax it to You can fax them to 952-252- 4720. This list is just a selection of criteria we'd like to capture. If you see other activities not listed here, please share them.

You may also call our Phenology Hotline at 952-252-0552 to report the activities.

Definition source: Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

In researching an answer to a home gardener's question, I came across a great resourceJuglans regia x j. nigra fruit 2 175.jpg from the Morton Arboretum, Chicago, IL. Thought you might find it useful - jw

Gardener's Question: I have bought the U of M book on; The Best Plants for 30 Tough Sites but are now looking for something that will help me fine shrubs that can live under my black walnut tree.  Would you know of information on planting under this tree or anyone that I can contact?

My Answer: While the UMN hasn't done a lot of research on this question, other organizations have. I found a great publication from the Morton Arboretum in the Chicago area of plants tolerant of the toxin in black walnuts, julgone. Here is the link: Just Googling "shrubs black walnut" brought up a number of other publications. I recommend you use those publications from educational institutions such as the Morton and universities.

Missed me on MPR?

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I had such a great time talking about gardening with Marianne Combs last Friday! What a great way to spend an hour on a gray and cloudy Friday! The MPR staff couldn't have been nicer too!

If you missed my hour gardening show in MPR April 15th, here's the link to the podcast:

Happy gardening!
IPM3 is extending the registration deadline until 1 May for all current courses including those with Master Gardener discounts.  Visit
Posted by J. Weisenhorn from Terry Straub, Hennepin County MG Coordinator

Sorry for the short notice on this one, but thought some of you may be interested in the following:

A Permactulture Design Certification Course will be held on the farm of Sue Scofield, a Hennepin County master gardener volunteer interns. Parts of the course may count as continuing education hours for Master Gardeners. 

Today is the deadline for Early Bird Registration!

More information:

About the Sessions:

Join us in the beautiful bluff country of Buffalo County Wisconsin for a Permaculture Design Certification Course June 19 to 26, 2011, led by Wayne Weiseman. 

In this hands-on course, you'll learn about sustainable food production, renewable energy, water harvesting, natural building, earthworks, animal husbandry and much more, all geared to give you the skills to practice Permaculture on any scale, from a city lot, to suburban yard to country homestead. 

This course is rewarding and challenging for anyone from beginners to those with years of experience in sustainability, horticulture or environmental stewardship. Take it to deepen your understanding and appreciation for the environment and sustainability; forge a path to a career in sustainable food production; or to prepare for a post-carbon world.

More information at:
P1040833.JPGPosted by J. Weisenhorn for Emily Tepe

Hello Master Gardeners!

My name is Emily Tepe. I'm a Research Associate in the Dept. of Horticultural Science at the U of M. I've been working on edible landscaping the last couple years, and some of you may have even attended one of my presentations on the topic. I'm so excited about this style of gardening that I've started writing a book on the subject! There are several books out there about edible landscaping, but most are written with warmer climates in mind. This book will focus on the exciting possibilities of edible landscaping in northern climates, but maintain a wide perspective so the tips and inspiration will apply to just about any garden, anywhere. 

This summer I will be taking all the photographs to be used in the book. I'd like to get photos from a wide range of garden sizes and styles, as well as a lot of different plant combinations. I'm looking for gardeners who might be willing to let me bring a photographer out to your garden to snap some pictures, most likely in July. I'm excited about the idea of featuring Minnesota gardens in this book which will be marketed nationally. I'll be working out the details with my editor soon, but I know for sure that any garden featured in the book will be credited, and the gardener acknowledged! 

If you're at all interested in participating, please fill out this short survey, at the link below. Submitting the survey does not oblige you to participate. It only allows me to contact you via email to discuss the possibility of taking photos of your garden. I hope you're as excited about this as I am! I look forward to your response!

Happy gardening!

(Thanks to Terry Straub, Hennepin MG Program Coordinator, for the following!)

It's time for that annual reminder that you're part of bigger picture, volunteerism in America! 

Just a quick "THANKS!" to each and every one of you for all of the fantastic work you do! This is National Volunteerism Week, a time to celebrate people in action -- and that's you!

 Did you know* . . .
  • the Twin Cities ranks #1 in volunteerism  (37.4% of residents volunteering) when compared to 51 other cities across the nation! Our volunteerism rate is 10% above the National average.
  • Minnesota ranks #3 in volunteerism (37.5% of residents volunteering) when compared to the other 50 states and Washington, DC.
  • In 2009, approximately 1.5 million volunteers in Minnesota contributed 160.1 million hours of service.

THANKS for ALL YOU DO from all of us in UMN Extension!

*Statistics from, a service of the Corporation for National and Community Service
I had a caller today ask about whether it was legal to own a showy lady's slipper, so I did a little research ....

Sources /
Excerpts from:
Lady Slipper Scenic Byway
Orchids of Minnesota by Welby R. Smith, MN DNR

About the Showy Lady's Slipper

The Showy Lady Slipper is Minnesota's state flower, also known as the Pink & White Lady P1020135.JPGSlipper, Cypripedium reginae (Showy Lady Slipper Orchid).

The Showy Lady Slipper is one of Minnesota's rarest wildflowers. Thriving in swamps, bogs and damp woods, they grow slowly, taking 4-16 years to produce their first flower. They can live up to 50 years and grow up to 4 feet tall. They bloom in late June to early July and there are more than 10,000 Showy Lady Slippers along the Lady Slipper Scenic Byway, between Cass Lake and Blackduck Minnesota.

Adoption as our state flower

Minnesota Senator W. B. Dean sponsored a resolution naming the wild lady slipper (cypripedium calceolus), the state's official state flower. It was passed by the legislature on February 3, 1893. However, a controversy ensued.... Read more ....

Laws protecting the Showy Lady's Slipper

Tune into MPR this Friday, April 15 from 10-11 am! I'll be talking with the host of the Mid Morning Show about .... guess what? Gardening! I'll also be taking calls (so call in with some easy questions) from callers about their gardening problems. I'm excited to have this opportunity to promote Extension and the Master Gardener Program!

P1040771closeup.JPGPLANTCETERA Get the Dirt on Growing!
2011 Plant Information Fair
Saturday, April 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The 2011 Plant Information Fair is a full day educational event featuring plant societies, garden clubs, and horticulture educators. Read more ....
Reminder about the new ONLINE Diagnostics class is now open to all Master Gardeners, industry professionals, teachers, etc.

The class fee is $10 for Master Gardeners payable via Paypal.

Follow these four easy steps:

1, Go to the website is:
2. At the Course list, scroll to Yard & Garden, and click on Master Gardener
3. Scroll down to Introduction to Diagnostics for Master Gardener Volunteers and click on the class name.
4. Set up a username and password for the moodle course site

The page will automatically go to the class site with the PayPal info at the bottom of the page.
Milkjug.jpgEver been interested in learning more about winter seed sowing in milk jugs to help with the hardening off process?

Sowing seeds in the wintertime sounds like a pretty crazy idea, but WTIP Radio Northern Gardening hosts Cook County's Diane Booth and Joan Farnam talk about this amazing trick with Sue Schiess, U of M Master Gardener from Hennepin County on this radio program and shares this resource with us for learning this technique.

I loved listening to this podcast and I got a bunch of good ideas!Thank you to WTIP for hosting this great weekly program!

Click the link below to learn more:

(Photo: WTIP North Shore Community Radio)
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