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Wichita gardener’s almanac for May 7, 2016

Robin Macy as the Statue of Liberty, at Bartlett Arboretum.
Robin Macy as the Statue of Liberty, at Bartlett Arboretum. Courtesy photo

Sweet spring — This has been a turning-point week, with sustained warmth, sunshine and nighttime temperatures finally out of the 40s. The days have been gorgeous, the evenings pristine. The fragrance of iris floats on the air, and it’s stunning to see combinations such as china-pink roses interposed with white irises, or a stand of yellow irises where no color existed before. The garden fever is definitely picking up with the temperatures, and Herb Day, and Mother’s Day this weekend.

Fescue fertilizer — Cool-season grasses such as fescue and bluegrass can be fertilized in May if you plan to water through the summer. Otherwise, the grass will probably go through some dormancy and won’t need this fertilization, Ward Upham of K-State says. Slow-release nitrogen is the best, which is found most commonly in Milorganite. “Apply enough to give the lawn one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet,” Upham writes in the Horticulture 2016 newsletter. “For example, if the fertilizer is 6 percent nitrogen by weight, you will need to apply almost 17 pounds of fertilizer product per 1,000 square feet. Summer lawn fertilizers that contain at least a portion of the nitrogen as slow-release are fine to use as well. Be sure to follow label directions.

“If cost is prohibitive, you can use the less expensive quick-release (i.e., soluble) sources, but split the application into two doses.” Apply enough to give the lawn 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in May and then in early June, Upham writes.

Plant — Beans, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, okra, pumpkins (plant closer to July 4 for a Halloween harvest), salsify, sweet corn, tomatoes, squash.

Riverside Community Garden starting — A community garden is in the works at 917 W. Riverside. The plan is to have raised beds and to start planting in the fall. Organizers have applied for grants and are raising money for supplies. There will be a kick-off party from 6 to 8 p.m. May 24, with a food truck and live music. Reservations also will be taken then for plots, which will cost $25, plus $50 for water. The garden has a Facebook page: facebook.com/riversidegardenwichita.

Garden events

Moms get in free at Botanica — Mother’s Day is a free day for moms at Botanica, and the hours are extended for a Sunday — from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch will be for sale, and there will be live music and flower shows and sales as described below. Regular admission will be charged for other non-members.

Rose Expo — The Wichita Rose Society will have a Rose Expo from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Botanica. It will be part of the Mother’s Day festivities at the gardens that includes free admission for moms. The expo will feature displays of cut roses and arrangements using roses, and there may be a few rose bushes for sale depending on whether any are left over after Herb Day on Saturday at the Extension Center. Rose experts will be on hand to answer questions.

Iris show — The Wichita Area Iris Club will have its annual judged show Sunday at Botanica. Visitors can watch the judging, but the floor will not be open for a close look at the flowers until judging is complete — usually around noon. Botanica hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Mother’s Day, which is free for moms.

Daylily sale — The Prairie Winds Daylily Club will have its annual sale of daylilies in many colors and varieties from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Botanica. Plants will be both potted and bareroot.

Mother’s Day at Bartlett Arboretum — More than 80 models will wear fashions spanning the decades from 1910 to today at “Who We Were and What We Wore: A Century of Gardens, Music and Fashion” on Sunday at Bartlett Arboretum, 301 N. Line St. in Belle Plaine. A live band playing music from the different eras along with commentary by Bonnie Bing – playing Mary Poppins – will accompany the fashion show. Gates open at 3 p.m., and the show starts at 4. Vintage-clothing collector Pat Watt will lead a conversation at 3 p.m. The cost is $10; children get in free. You can bring a picnic or buy food from vendors. Bring a chair or blanket. If the weather looks iffy, the event will be rescheduled for May 15; see bartlettarboretum.com for updates.

Meeting at peony farm — The Suburban Garden Club will meet at 10 a.m. Monday at Chisholm Creek Flowers/Sunnydale Peony Farm at 2801 E. 101st St. in Valley Center. Flower growers Randy and Debbie Jackson will talk about the operation. The meeting will be followed by lunch for those interested at Cracker Barrel in Park City.

History of the Wichita Rose Society — The Wichita Rose Society will meet next at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Botanica, starting with refreshments and then moving into an educational meeting featuring a presentation on the history of the society. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Kansas City-area garden tour — The Johnson County Extension Master Gardeners have a garden tour every other year, and this is the year. Six gardens in Overland Park and Lenexa will be on the tour May 20 and May 21. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; tickets are $15. The Hosta Guy will be on hand with a large selection of unique and popular hosta varieties for sale. Hand-made concrete garden leaves and other hand crafted garden art will also be available for purchase. For more information, go to the website www.johnson.k-state.edu or call 913-715-7000.

The Sedgwick County Master Gardeners’ annual tour will be June 3 to June 5 in Wichita.

Paul James at Wichita Art Museum — “The Gardener Guy” Paul James, who used to have a garden series on HGTV, will be in Wichita on May 16 to give a talk at a spring luncheon at the Wichita Art Museum. James, who lives in Oklahoma, was last here in March at the Outdoor Living & Landscape Show. The luncheon will be at noon, James’s talk at 1 p.m. The cost is $25. Tickets can be purchased through May 10, at wichitaartmuseum.org/events.

Memory talk — Teresa Hatfield, a family and consumer science agent, will be at Botanica on Wednesday to give the first of two parts of a program on improving your memory. The lunchtime lecture, at 12:15 p.m., is included in Botanica admission.

Annie Calovich

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