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The Perkins Journal
Perkins, Oklahoma
December 6, 2012     The Perkins Journal
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December 6, 2012

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Home Thu--d., .o..b.,6 ,O,. &Garden 40t S. Main St. Stillwater 405,372"1647 ' 800-671 love for camellias Many moons ago I visited sustain my love. Hearst Castle in northern Experience helped me coastal California. I had to identify the differences yet to become fully infatu- between the two principal atel :with plants, nor had species of Camellia, C. !!i!i !!!!ii: ";:.: '': , By LeeAnn ] r !:i!i!i! I determined to pack my Volvo and change resi- dency. However this tour- ist spot played its role of temptress both botanically and geographically. One of my most vivid recol- lections was of bright, fra- grant camellias throughout the castle grounds--it was love at first sight. This was in.the late 1970's and I doubt anyone in Oklahoma attempted to grow camel- lias. They were a plant for the Deep South and temperate climates like California. Fast-forwarding a decade, as I began to work and eventually manage nurser- ies in northern California, my love for camellias had not waned although every variety that came through .'the nursery lacked fra- grance. I read and visited ,with more experienced nurserymen than myself and all agreed, I must have misidentified the plants at Hearst Castle for camellias were scentless. By that time the mere beauty of the shrub and flowers were enough to japonica and C, sasanqua. The first is what comes to most gardeners' minds when the topic of camel- lias arises. C. japonica is a huge shrub with large flow- ers; 100-year-old plants may reach 20' x 20' with flowers 4-5" across. Shades of red, pink, white or varie- gated flowers bloom in one of six forms: single, semi- double, peony, anemone, rose or formal double...the last being the picture of symmetry. Humid climates and spring rains occasion- ally cause japonica's flow- ers to blight, spot, mold or drop; still my torrid love continued. This species cold tolerance falls some- where between zones 7 and 8 (10 & 20F). Recognizing its limitations, I discovered another camellia that grew into my favorite. C amellia sasanqua has a leaf that is less broad and slightly darker green in color than her popular sister. The flowers form is usually less formal and more open and smaller (2-3"). It blooms earlier. Flowering from November to January, C. sasanqua has earned the nickname Christmas Camellia; this "early" bloom period helps avoid blossom diseases associated, with warming temperatures and high humidity. Additionally, C. sasanqua will take temper- atures from 10-0F. This made it my "go-to" camel- lia when I lived in northern California, but still failed in a couple attempts to grow the beautiful 'Yuletide' when I first moved back to Stillwater. I suppose once bitten by the camellia bug, a gardener will always be infected. Three years ago as I shopped in Tulsa I came across a "hardy" camel- lia named 'Snow Flurry'. Those who know me, are aware of the caution I use when reading words like "hardy" or"perennial" on a plant's label for those terms are relative to your location. I want temperature ratings or USDA zones at the least! Nevertheless, I purchased this sasanqua and planted it next to the house for a little added protection. It lived through the summer, opened five blossoms in mid-December and actu- ally grew some the follow- ing spring (camellias are relatively slow growers). The following February (2011) you may remem- ber temperatures reaching A hardy camellia named 'Snow Flurry' -25F. So much for the camellia, I thought. Yet brushing away mulch as temperatures warmed I saw one lone branch alive on the bush. I was impressed. That summer's 115 peaks added strain to already strained plants, but 'Snow Flurry' hung in there. This year it holds one lone bud, but I am just as excited as ever. Gardener's may know that this year the USDA revised their zone map. Reviewing data from 1976-2005, our area's zone was changed from Zone 6 to Zone 7a. Overall, the new map reflects the warming trends that we see each summer, but I wonder if that strange fluke of -25 would have affected our zone in any way. Possibly not, but more than a straight diagnosis of global warming, I believe as gardeners and farmers we have to prepare for extremes not only for heat and cold, but for drought, wind and storms. All of that to say, when purchas- ing plants, keep that in mind. In closing, a few morn- ings ago I reached for a small book acquired at the Stillwater Library book sale entitled  by Nell Warren Outlaw. The author highlights a flower and listens for its "voice" or message it brings the world. Searching for a column idea, I turned to Camellia, noticed the pencil drawing of a formal double flower and thought, "Perfect!" A few paragraphs in the author writes, "It seemed to say: 'My word to the world is not a heart mes- sage. It is more of a heart's yearning, and that yearning is for perfection." Aha! I knew it, I thought. She continues to draw analogies between the camellia and our seeking spiritual perfection. A few pages over she states that it failed to reach perfec- tion because .... it had no fragrance! By this time I was smiling; a woman of like mind. She goes on to assert the camellias (as we) will become perfect in Heaven and there will be fragrant. However I know the flowers at Hearst Castle were camellias and they were fragrant. A brief search on the internet con- firmed there are fragrant camellias--a little piece of Heaven on earth? Much to my dismay I found none that were fragrant and hardy, but I'll keep looking for breeders will keep breeding. O'lahoma State Univer- sity Extension has several opportunities coming up for advanced training on a variety of horticultural G:ift Ideas for the gardener on your Christmas list begin in January for our of weekly sessions begin'- may be of interest. The in Perkins. Cost for this trogram, contact Stepha- Payne County Master Gardener volunteer pro- gram. This year we are offering the community an opportunity to partici- pate in the horticultural training without requir- ing a commitment to the volunteer program. These sessions consist of a series topics. With Christmas fast approaching, perhaps one of these opportunities might be just what the gar- dener in the family needs. Training sessions will ning January 18 th and con- tinuing through April 5% Classes will meet at The Botanic Garden at OSU on Fridays from 1-5pm. Cost of this program is $100.00. Contact Keith Reed in the Payne County Extension Office for more infor- mation on this pl;ogram. Keith.reed@okstate.edu or 405-747-8320. The Department of Hor- ticulture and Landscape Architecture will also be offering two classes that 2013 Oklahoma Grape Management course is offered to familiarize present and potential Oklahoma grape growers with grape management requirements throughout the growing season. This class will meet for a series of sessions throughout the year giving the participant an opportunity to learn based on real-time grow- ing conditions. This class will meet at the Cimarron Valley Research Station program is $250.00. Also being offered is the 2013 Fundamentals of Pecan Management course. Much like the grape course, this course involves 8 meetings over the course of the grow- ing season and covers all aspects of pecan manage- ment. Cost and meeting place for this course is the same as the grape program. For more information on either the Grape or Pecan nie Larimer at Stephanie.1 arimer@okstate.edu or by calling 405-744-5404. For more information of this or any other horticul- tural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticul- turist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6 th in Stillwater. Christmas trees are safe if properly maintained By Sean Hubbard We have all heard the warnings and seen the clips of Christmas trees bursting into flames and mining someone's holiday season. Unfortunately, the differ- ence between fact and fiction regarding Christmas trees is not well defined. "Christmas trees are often made the culprit for causing fires during the holiday season," said Craig McKinley, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension forestry expert. "A Christmas tree cannot cause a fire any more than your sofa, your couch, or your waste basket." Oftentimes in the video clip warnings, a "live" tree has been set aside and dried for long time before being ignited. "The media often let the tree lay out in the hot sun for two months before they try to torch it," said Chuck Tauer, retired OSU forest genetics professor and Christmas tree grower. "The truth of the matter is that if you take a fresh-cut Virginia pine and you stick it in a stand with water, you'll have a hard time getting that thing to burn." McKinley recalled a public service announcement on the news in another state several years back in which the news reporter tried to light a Fraser fir with a match. When the tree wouldn't go up in flames, a small torch was used. "The reporter couldn't get the tree lit. You could then see they cut the film, and 'wooompf,' they had a tree fire," McKinley said. "The reporter then said, 'Remem- ber, a small spark such as this could destroy your Christ- mas.'" McKinley couldn't believe his eyes and wanted to clear Christmas trees of any wrong- doing. "It's real easy for the fire marshal to go bum one and show it on TV," McKinley said. "Obviously, we sug- gest safety first at all times, but often, the potential danger of Christmas trees is exagger- ated." A very small percentage of the time the tree was the first item ignited, according to McKinley. However, when the rare occasion a tree does catch on fire, we will hear about it. "Christmas time is a time of joy, with lots of presents and good times, so it is a dramatic story when a fire occurs," McKinley said. The number of fires involv- ing Christmas trees has gone down in the United States since the use of lit candles on trees has diminished. That tradition continues in parts of Europe, but those trees have much more space between branches to allow for that type of decoration. "We've learned that candies on trees are not a good idea, even if they are used in Europe," McKinley said. "Trees can be a fuel source, and should be treated as such. But, a number of other items can also be fuel for a fire. Simply.stated, trees don't cause fires and are not inher- ently dangerous." Aside from lit candles in Christmas trees, much con- cem had been raised in the past about how hot the lights on the trees would get. With new regulations on lights, that is no longer a threat. "The lights these days stay rather cool," Tauer said. "That might be why Christmas tree fires are such a concern to people, because tree lights used to become quite hot." With that said, McKinley did offer a warning about Christmas trees. "One of the dangers you are going to have with a Christ- mas tree is getting gouged in the eye with a pine, fir, or spruce needle," he said. "So be careful." While Christmas trees are safe in the house, if taken care of properly, McKinley advises consumers to be smart and cautious about keeping open flames away from trees, and anything else in the house. Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes. Some are harvested and used for just one season, while others are purchased with a longer time frame in mind. No matter which tree you choose for this season, it is sure to add to everyone's holiday spirit. To keep that spirit alive year round, or to just add to the landscape, purchasing a live ball-and-burlap tree is a good option. Many Oklahoma tree growers offer the ball-and- burlap method of sales, but many do not, so check that out before visiting a farm. "Some people buy a potted or balled Christmas tree with roots intact in the hope of having a new landscape tree come spring," said David Hillock, Oklahoma State Uni- versity Cooperative Extension consumer horticulture special- ist. "This is very difficult to do successfully, but your chances of success increase if the tree is treated right." First and foremost, keep in mind which species of tree is best suited to survive Oklahoma's weather. "Be careful what species you choose, because Vir- ginia pine doesn't make a nice yard tree," said Chuck Tauer, retired forest genetics professor in the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources atOSU. "It requires way too much care." ............. "-' ........ . . . --.2:.7 ....  5 ; ' ............................................