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Gardener's almanac

Spring is getting closer _ Robins are hopping around, the days are growing much longer, daylight saving time dawns in two weeks, and the garden show starts on Wednesday. It feels good! Now if we can just get some sunshine in here...

Remove iris foliage _ Remove last year's leaves and other debris around your iris plants before new leaves come up. The dead stuff can harbor a fungus and borers that damage irises, Ward Upham of K-State says. He has these other tips for growing irises: Keep iris beds uncrowded, don't water them from overhead, remove and dispose of spotty leaves and/or borer-infested rhizome parts at other times of the year, and initially clean up iris beds in late fall.

If your irises had severe leaf spot last year, start spraying when this year's leaves appear and repeat every seven to 10 days, for a total of four to six sprays, Upham says.

K-State recommends either of two active ingredients: myclobutanil (in Immunox) or chlorothalonil (in Bravado Fungicide, Fertilome Liquid Fungicide, Ortho Garden Disease Control, GardenTech Fungicide Disease Control, Bonide Fungonil, Bravo Flowable Fungicide, Gordon's Multipurpose Fungicide).

"You have to include a spreader-sticker in the spray to ensure good coverage, because iris leaves are waxy," Upham says. "Some gardeners use dish soap for this purpose, but it's not as effective as a commercial spreader-sticker applied properly.

"It's sort of like a glue that also helps keep spray droplets from beading up. Since these products are not water- soluble, once the fungicide dries, it will tend to be more resistant than soap to rainfall wash-off, too."

Horticulture job postings _ The Extension Service will have a jobs board at its booth at the Wichita Garden Show featuring job openings in horticulture.

"We are doing this as a service to local businesses in recruiting employees and for our show visitors that are looking for work in this industry," extension agent Bob Neier says.

Neier is asking local businesses involved in horticulture to submit job openings. The openings will be posted on a fence of the Extension Service booth, which will be in front of the stage in Convention Hall (the center hall of Century II). The garden attached to the booth will feature a display of EarthKind roses.

The garden show runs from Wednesday to March 7 at Century II.

Spotlight on trident maples _ Project Beauty chooses a tree each year to sell and celebrate, and this year it's the trident maple, an ornamental shade tree that has beautiful fall color. Project Beauty will sell seedlings of the tree for $7 at the Wichita Garden Show, at the master gardeners' Tree Festival and at the city's Arbor Day celebration.

The garden show is Wednesday through March 7 at Century II, the Tree Festival is March 27 at the Extension Center, and Arbor Day will be April 30 at a yet-to-be-determined Wichita public school, where a trident maple will also be planted.

The trident maple's botanical name is Acer buergerianum. Here's how Project Beauty describes it:

It adapts well to our soil and climate and to urban conditions. It is a medium-sized tree with a rounded crown. It reaches a mature height of 25 to 30 feet and a spread of 20 to 30 feet. It has a slow to moderate growth rate. It prefers well-drained soil and tolerates full sun.

It has dark green leaves that turn yellow, orange and red later in the fall. The bark exfoliates, revealing gray, orange and brown colors.

"This ornamental shade tree is an attractive patio, lawn or street tree and is a valuable addition to our community," Project Beauty says.

The seedlings, from Ada, Okla., will have to be planted as soon as possible after purchase.

Art at the garden show _ While you're at the garden show, don't forget that an exhibition of fine art, needle art and quilted wall hangings that feature flowers and plants will be on display.

Mulch talk _ Retired biology instructor James Taylor of Hutchinson will be at Botanica on Wednesday o talk about the many kinds of mulch and the pros and cons of each. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15, is included in Botanica admission. Sweet Basil will have lunch for sale for $7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Clean your closets _ If you have garden books or magazines, cookbooks or garden tools in good working order that you'd like to donate for Botanica's plant sale April 24, you can take them to the front desk at Botanica from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. If an item is assigned a dollar value, a tax-deduction letter will be given for the donation.

History Alive Speaker & Dinner Series _ A talk and dinner on the theme of "Do, Make Do or Do Without: Daily Life in Kansas (1861-1961)" will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Botanica. Tickets are $12. Call Kathy at 316-264-0448 by Monday for reservations.

Basics of Photography: Exposure class _ Botanica will offer a photography class focusing on exposures from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. March 14. How to use shutter speeds, f/stops (aperture) and ISO to create properly exposed images every time will be taught. Fee is $45, $35 for Botanica members. Call Karla at 316-264-0448 to register.

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