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Welcome to the "Ask Janet Carson" portion of our website. Here you will find Janet Carson's current "In the Garden" Questions and Answers found weekly in "The Arkansas Democrat/Gazette" Saturday edition. Have fun reading these pages and check back with us weekly. This page is constantly updated and new questions are added on Monday following their appearance in the paper. So stay tuned...

All of the Questions & Answers that Janet writes for all publications are archived.

In the Garden with Janet B. Carson

 

November 26, 2016

Question

This bush came from Texas.  It is about 15' tall.  It is an evergreen and blooms in the spring and again in the fall. The bees and butterflies love it. It is aromatic and you get a pleasant odor when you get within 10-15 yards from it. What is this plant?

    Picture of loquat                          

Answer

The plant in the picture is a loquat.  This tree is not common in Arkansas, but can be grown.  It blooms in the fall and sets its edible fruit in early winter to mature in late winter.  A well-established loquat tree can withstand temperatures to about 10 degrees without serious injury, but the flowers and fruit are killed at temperatures below about 27. Since they blooms in late fall to early winter and must mature its fruit during the winter months we would rarely ever get any fruit in Arkansas, since our average winter low is usually around 15 in central and southern Arkansas and 10 in north Arkansas.


Question

You have probably received many emails from your readers telling you about the unusual things blooming in November in Central Arkansas.  Here are some that have bloomed or are currently blooming in my West Little Rock backyard: forsythia, violets and dandelion. I also have clematis that had died back but is now 2 feet tall. There is also a Southern Magnolia with blooms on South Shackleford Road across from Cracker Barrel Restaurant. What causes this?

 

Answer

It is not unusual to see a few errant blooms in the fall on spring blooming plants, but this year I expect to see more, if we ever get a decent rain.  Spring blooming plants set their flower buds in late summer to early fall. As dry as we have been, many plants have really slowed down and gone into a semi-dormant stage.  If we get a good rain, coupled with mild temperatures, they thing spring has sprung, and a few flowers open.  Typically it is not the full show, just a few flowers.  Enjoy them if you have them, as there is nothing you can do to prevent it, other than keeping your plants watered when it is dry.


Question

Is Cyclamen just not suitable for the winter season in Arkansas?  We're in NY this week and they are planted EVERYWHERE.

 

AnswerThere are two plants that are showy blooming cyclamens—the hardy cyclamen Cyclamen hederifolium, is winter hardy outside in Arkansas and blooms in the fall in the shade garden. The foliage is pretty throughout the season.  The florist cyclamen Cyclamen persicum is not winter hardy and must be grown as a houseplant.  It is still a showy plant, and comes in shades of pink, purple, white and red.  It would not be hardy in New York either, so I am assuming you have seen the hardy cyclamen, albeit it is a bit late in the year for it to still be blooming.


Question

How do we get rid of these huge mushrooms in our yard?  I am growing mostly Zoysia grass and it gets plenty of sunlight, even though it is under a popcorn tree.


AnswerYou must be watering or you would not have mushrooms. Mushrooms are growing from decaying organic matter and spores in the soil.  When they receive ample moisture, they grow. They are not harming anything and actually helping in the decaying process.  You can simply knock them down as soon as you see them.  Once the decomposition is completed, you won’t see as many mushrooms. 


QuestionCould you please shed some light into what type of dogwood tree I have that produces this fruit? Are they edible?

 

Picture of the Kousa dogwood fruit

Answer

The fruit you have is from the Kousa dogwood—Cornus kousa. In a mild growing season they can become quite large and showy--much showier than the berries on our native dogwood.  The fruits are edible, but I have never eaten them so cannot describe the taste

 


 

The Arkansas Master Gardener year-round gardening calendars for 2017 are now available. The calendars give you monthly gardening tips, plus outstanding garden photos taken by Arkansas Master Gardeners in Arkansas.  To order a calendar, stop by the Little Rock State Extension Office (2301 S. University Avenue).  Or you may choose to have the calendar mailed to you.  Calendars for pickup are $1.00 each or $3.50 per calendar if mailed.  Please contact Holly Beason at 501-671-2237 to order calendars.

Picture of the 2017 Arkansas Master Gardener Calendar 


 

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