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Wichita gardener’s almanac for May 23

It’s been a great hosta year. You can buy them and other shade plants along with other garden items at Hostapalooza on Saturday at the Extension Center.
It’s been a great hosta year. You can buy them and other shade plants along with other garden items at Hostapalooza on Saturday at the Extension Center. Courtesy photo

Soggy enough for ya? — Well, the forecast as I look at it is still full of chances of rain. Planting is at a standstill. Temperatures look like they may warm up later next week. I guess we can at least say that we’re getting a rest that we didn’t expect this time of year. Unless we have weeds. Then we should be out pulling. (I said: Should!) Let’s hope for some dryness for the sake not only of home gardens but market farmers as well.

Plant — If it ever dries out enough, the calendar calls for planting beans, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, okra, pumpkins (plant closer to July 4 for a Halloween harvest), sweet corn, sweet potatoes, squash and tomatoes.

Galls on pin oak — A high number of oak galls are being seen this year, especially vein pocket gall on pin oak leaves, Ward Upham of K-State says in this week’s Horticulture 2015 newsletter. Vein pocket gall causes swelling near the veins of leaves, he says. Galls are a response to a chemical that a particular insect or mite injects into the plant, Upham says, and they usually don’t cause a lot of damage. Sprays don’t do anything once the galls are noticed, so it’s usually best to do nothing about them, Upham says. Natural predators and parasites usually take care of the insects in a year or two. Stem and twig galls can be pruned out if it’s practical and necessary, he says.

Peony supports — Memorial Day is traditionally the season of peonies, and Old House Gardens gives three ways to support them:

▪ Au naturel. Peony flowers usually pull stems over when it rains. If you gently shake the water out immediately after a rain, the stems usually stand back up. Most gardeners grow their peonies without support.

▪ Cheap and easy. Supports sold for peonies can be expensive. Old House Gardens cuts a wire-ring tomato tower in half just above one of the rings, making two shorter towers. The narrower one can be used for newly planted peonies or smaller perennials, and the wider one for mature peonies. Set it over the plant, early on, leaving some stems and foliage outside the support for a natural, relaxed look. If you wait until the plant is leafed out before putting on the support, you’ll need a helper or twine to contain the foliage while you slip the tower on.

▪ The Hildene Star. At Hildene, which was the summer home of President Lincoln’s son in Manchester, Vt., they use a historic support. Five short stakes are inserted in a circle at the outer edges of the plant, and then twine is woven back and forth to create a star. Finally, the stakes are circled with twine. You can see more detailed instructions at www.oldhousegardens.com.

Garden events

Hostapalooza — What a year it has been for hostas! The Wichita Hosta Society will celebrate them and more with its annual garden party from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at the Extension Education Center, 7001 W. 21st St. Admission is free to the event, which will include garden-related vendors – including those selling hostas, other shade plants and garden ornamentation – along with a visit from “Hosta Guy” Rob Mortko, food, and a flower design show featuring hosta leaves. Tool sharpening will be offered for a fee. For more information, see the website www.wichitahostasociety.org.

Iris show — The Wichita Area Iris Club will have its late-iris show from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Botanica, 701 N. Amidon. This show will feature beardless iris (the spurias and the Louisianas) and other types as well. Admission to the show is free; Botanica admission will be charged if you want to go out into the gardens.

Concert at Bartlett Arboretum — The fiddling/harmonizing Quebe (rhymes with “maybe”) Sisters from Fort Worth will perform at 4 p.m. Sunday at Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine. Gates open at 3 p.m. Picnics are welcome, and food also will be for sale from Lyon's Den BBQ and Luciano’s Tuscan Cuisine. Tickets are $10; children get in free. In case of rain, the concert will be moved to the United Methodist Church at 124 E. 10th Ave. in Belle Plaine.

Memorial Day at Botanica — Botanica will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Memorial Day. The Delano Wind Ensemble will perform at 1 p.m. It’s included in admission.

“Establishing a Small Market Farm” — Brad Dilts of Serenity Farm will be at Botanica on Wednesday to give the lunchtime lecture on establishing a market farm. The lecture is at 12:15 p.m. and is included in Botanica admission; lunch will be for sale for $8 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Butterfly Festival — Botanica will celebrate the season opening of its butterfly house with games, crafts, music, dress-up and a scavenger hunt from 1 to 5 p.m. May 31. It’s included in Botanica admission, or $3 with a Wichita Riverfest button.

Greenhouse workshop — Ornamental plant production and marketing will be the subject of a greenhouse workshop on June 11 at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. The cost is $25; the deadline for registration is June 2. Go to the website www.hortla.okstate.edu and click on “Upcoming Events,” then “Current Challenges in Floriculture Conference.

Annie Calovich