Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Master Gardeners at Venice Ashby Community Center in Bristol


Master Gardeners Karren Cherrington, Elaine Hagey, Ann Eidson, and Cathy Raupp focused on "Autumn" as their theme for a project with the children at the Venice Ashby Community Center in Bristol. They played "Autumn Bingo" with the kids and discussed all the wonders of the season like pumpkins, colored leaves, apples, scarecrows, etc. Thanks to Karren who donated the fruits of her labor, they decorated gourds by adding eyes, hair, bows, ribbons and lots of smiles.  As the photos show, a good time was had by all!
Submitted by Master Gardener Cathy Raupp

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Leonid - a Zone 8 Shrub in Bucks County?

On an early summer trip to Long Island, I picked up an interesting plant called Lion's Tail (Leonotis leonurus) in a 4-inch pot. The plant tag said it was a 3-4' tropical shrub that blooms in one year. The photo showed amazing orange flowers. SO I brought it home. It bloomed in late August - amazing tiered flower stems! - and was all set to continue until frost before Gary Dunbar saw it on a recent visit. Knowing Gary has a small greenhouse, I offered it to him and the Lion's Tail now resides there. Now that it's cozy it might bloom all winter!
- Photos and story submitted by Master Gardener Sue Schneck

Mums and Bees

I noticed a lot of honey bees on the giant mums hanging on my front porch this week. With all the hype about Africanized bees I wondered about the species, so I took some photos and asked our (very) local bee expert Scott Guiser about them.  Here's what Scott told me:

"- These are honey bees. I can say this is a honey bee because it is hairy and just the right size and still working on a vegetarian diet in November.

- No honey bees are native to North America. Europeans brought them.

- Based on gross morphology, it’s difficult to distinguish western honey bees native to Europe (Apis mellifera mellifera) from African honey bees (A. mellifera scutellata). African honey bees look just like western honey bees. It’s the stinging and not the buzzing that distinguishes Africans from their cousins (among other things).

- These are probably A. mellifera ligustica, the Italian subspecies, but I could not distinguish one sub-species from the other … there are Carniolans (Apis mellifera carnica), Caucasians (Apis mellifera caucasica), etc., etc., even Spaniards (Apis mellifera Iberica)! These are all geographic subspecies or races that have minor but interesting and sometimes important differences.

- Now I know where my bees are probably getting yellow pollen. I could not imagine what they were working on. Perhaps someone has mums in Bedminster?"

Photos and story submitted by Kathleen Connally