Home & Garden

Gardener's almanac

Last days of summer _ The weather will be summery this weekend, so take advantage of the last official weekend of the season. Fall officially begins Thursday, and the forecast looks like it may be heading that direction, too.

Good overseeding weather _ Extension agent Bob Neier points out that people who overseeded early in September are seeing good growth of grass. Stands of grass that get the early start thicken up in time to shade out later weeds, he says. But don't worry if you haven't done this job yet; you still have time.

What is that shrub with the purple berries? _ Extension agent Bob Neier says that he's been getting questions from people who have been to the Kansas State Fair and wonder what the beautiful shrub with the purple berries is. Bob says there's a new planting of the shrubs on the fairgrounds, and the answer is: beautyberry, or callicarpa. Botanica has some plantings of beautyberry to admire in its parking lot, too, if you don't get out to the fair.

Sweet potato vines _ One of my co-workers noted with surprise that a black sweet potato vine was blooming outside The Eagle. I have heard of them blooming before, but not often. Apparently Blackie is one variety that does bloom.

People this time of year also wonder whether potatoes produced from the ornamental vines are edible, Ward Upham of K-State says. The answer is yes, but the flavor may not be as good as a potato grown expressly for eating.

Asparagus and rhubarb —Asparagus and rhubarb plants are building up reserves needed for production next year, so water during dry weather and keep plants free of weeds, Upham says. Foliage should be left until all the green is gone. It can then be removed or left for the winter to help collect snow, Upham says.

Rose show today _ The Wichita Rose Society is hosting a regional rose show this weekend at the Holiday Inn at 549 S. Rock Road, and the show will be open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m. today. Admission is free.

Plant a Row for the Hungry _ The latest number on donations of produce this summer for Wichita's needy is 68,631 pounds. The Wichita Food Bank continues to receive a lot of tree fruit this time of year.

If you have extra fruits or vegetables to donate, you can leave them at these locations during business hours: Kansas Food Bank, 1919 E. Douglas; Augusta Ace Home Center, 316 W. Seventh Ave. in Augusta; Brady Nursery, 11200 W. Kellogg; Hillside Nursery, 2200 S. Hillside; Hillside Feed and Seed, 1805 S. Hillside; Johnson's Garden Centers, 802 N. Ridge Road, 21st and Woodlawn, and 2707 W. 13th St.; and Valley Feed & Seed, 1903 S. Meridian.

Iris club dinner — The Wichita Area Iris Club will have its annual birthday dinner on Monday, and the public is invited. The dinner will be at 6:30 p.m., and the club will furnish meat and dinnerware. People who attend are asked to bring a side dish to share. Awards from this year's shows will be handed out.

Mums and Merlot — There are two more Tuesdays on the Terrace left in the year at Botanica, and this Tuesday's will have the theme of Mums and Merlot. Carrie Heiman and Dean Bradley will provide the music, and The Bar's Open will sell alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The gardens will be open until 8 p.m. The event is included in Botanica admission or membership.

Monarch migration talk — Retired Botanica gardener Elsie Neumann will be back at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about the migration of monarch butterflies to Mexico. She will give a tagging demonstration as well. Her lunchtime lecture will be from 12:15 to 1 p.m. and is included in Botanica admission. Sweet Basil will sell lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $7.

Botanica photography contest deadline — Any photo taken of Botanica since Sept. 25, 2009, is eligible for entry in Botanica's 2010 photography competition. The deadline is 4 p.m. Friday. Photos should depict the photographer's impression of Botanica. A $10 fee is charged for each adult entry, $5 for each youth entry. For a list of categories or to download an entry form, go to the website botanica.org.

Senior Expo at Botanica, museums — Adults 55 and over can visit Botanica, Exploration Place, Old Cowtown Museum and the Wichita Art Museum for free on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, go to the website www. sedgwickcounty.org/aging.

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day — If you download an admission card from www.museumdaywichita.com you will get free admission to Botanica and 17 other area attractions on Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.