Saturday, December 18, 2004


Seven men from the Corps of Discovery go with the Indians to hunt bison that are close to the Fort. The white and some of the Indians return early due to the extreme cold. The captains intervene with Chief Black Cat, who seems to have stolen one of Charbonneau's horses. Baptiste Lafrance, a North West Company interpreter, had falsely told the chief that Charbonneau owed him a horse. Black Cat gives the horse back to its rightful owner.



Winter is quickly creeping into the St. Louis area, and the care of your houseplants becomes critical. Although we grow them indoors, most houseplants are outdoor plants in their native climates. Tropical and subtropical species can be damaged by temperatures below 50 F, but being too warm in winter can also be a problem.
The air in most homes becomes extremely dry as furnaces force warm air through the rooms. It is not unusual for relative humidity (RH) inside the home to drop to 15 percent during the winter heating season. Most houseplants do best at about 35-45 percent RH.

Warm temperatures, coupled with low humidity, can cause plants to lose water quicker than they can take it up. Although the soil may hold plenty of moisture, the leaves may begin to droop and/or turn brown along the edges. Hot, dry, stale air also creates a favorable environment for spider mites to become troublesome.

The most effective way to increase RH for the comfort of both plants and people is to run a humidifier. Grouping plants together on pebble trays filled with water can also help. However, misting plants occasionally with a spray bottle adds temporary moisture but it does not effectively change the relative humidity. Keep all plants away from hot air drafts near heat registers. Ferns are especially sensitive to dry air, so take care to place them in a protected area.
Although some plants may grow more slowly during the short days of winter, dry air can cause them to need to be watered even more frequently than when they were actively growing. Monitor the soil moisture to be sure that plants are getting watered as needed.



Similar to hibernation in animals, roses and other woody plants go through a dormant (rest) period in the winter.

The first step to winterizing roses is to keep them healthy through the growing season. Gardeners should protect roses from insect and disease damage and maintain adequate fertility and moisture. After several killing freezes in late fall, plants become dormant; this is the time to put on the winter protection.

Pick up and remove debris, such as leaves and dead stems on and around the plants to prevent diseases from overwintering. If the soil is dry, give the soil a thorough soaking. Plants underneath overhangs of buildings often are very dry, even during wet seasons.
The most foolproof method of protection is to mound the soil up around the plant to protect the graft union. A 12-inch-high mound--approximately 5 gallons--of soil provides excellent protection. A soil mound will also prevent rabbits from feeding on the stems.
Prepare the plant by tying the canes up with twine, not only to prevent excessive wind whipping but also to make mounding easier as well. Begin by tying twine to a lower branch base, and wind the twine up the plant in a spiral fashion. Save pruning chores until late winter or early spring. Branches cut in fall tend to die back from the cut through winter weather.

Dig the soil for the mound from an area away from the roses, so as not to damage their roots. For further protection, pile additional mulch, such as straw or chopped leaves, on top of the soil mound.
Commercially available rose cones have been used with varying success. Some soil mounding is still advisable--about 6-8 inches to protect the graft union and to anchor the cone. Plants must be pruned to fit under the cone. And it's important to cut slits in the top of the cones to provide air ventilation, because excessive moisture buildup encourages fungus growth. A heavy rock or brick placed on top of the cone will help secure it in place.

In early spring, both soil mounds and cones must be removed as soon as plants begin new growth. Don't forget to remove the twine, and be careful not to injure old canes or new shoot growth.



In a small Southern town there was a "Nativity Scene" that showed great skill and talent had gone into creating it. One small feature bothered me. The three wise men were wearing firemen's helmets. Totally unable to come up with a reason or explanation, I left.

At a "Quick Stop" on the edge of town, I asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets.

She exploded into a rage, yelling at me, "You damn Yankees never do read the Bible!"

I assured her that I did, but simply couldn't recall anything about firemen in the Bible. She jerked her Bible from behind the counter and ruffled through some pages, and finally jabbed her finger at a passage.

Sticking it in my face she said, "See, it says right here,
The three wise man came from afar"..

Barrett Station Gazebo .......snow in St. Louis

Greenscape Gardens

Friday, December 17, 2004


The temperatures plummet from -13 F at sunrise and drop to -42 F by 8 in the evening. The captains spend much of the day with Hugh Heney, who describes the bands of Sioux, corrects the corps misunderstanding that Cheyenne is the French "chien" (meaning dog). He also helps Capain Clark plot out a map of the land east of the Missouri River to the Red River, today's North Dakota-Minnesota border.


Once again the Greenscape Gardens website hits another high. Today we recorded our 25,000 website view. Thank you and we'll keep adding new information especially over the winter months.



Give your home the festive mood of the holidays by bringing a bit of your landscape evergreens indoors. Wreaths, swags, garlands and centerpieces can all be made from plants that are commonly found in the home landscape.

Some of the best materials to cut include, yew, holly, boxwood and juniper. Pines boughs are attractive in arrangements, but this is not a good time to prune them. Pine and fir branches are given away free at Greenscape Gardens from our Christmas Tree Sales. They are yours for the asking. Needles of hemlock and spruce drop easily and should not be used for indoor decorations.

Magnolia, privet, barberry, English ivy and rhododendron provide an attractive contrast to the needled foliage. Dried grasses, herbs, berries, cones and seed pods can help add color to a holiday display.
In the warm, dry environment of the home, cut greens will dry out very quickly, so keep the cut ends of the branches in water at all times. Sprays are available to help cut down on moisture loss and somewhat extend the life of cut greens. We highly recommend Wilt Pruf as an anti-transpirants. However, these sprays leave a slight sticky residue and should only be used if decorations will be placed outdoors or out of reach indoors.

Evergreen decorations can be a fire hazard as they age and dry. Avoid placing near fireplaces, heat ducts, televisions, candles or other sources of heat or flame. The key to keeping the decorations and your Christmas Tree fresh is by adding water or a homemade flame retardant of 4 tablespoons of boric acid, 9 tablespoons borax and 2 quarts of water can be sprayed on the foliage. Another recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of borax and 4 tablespoons Epsom salts in 2 quarts of water. These flame retardants are not foolproof, so the best precaution is to discard decorations before they become dry and brittle.



There are currently 78 people named S. Claus living in the U.S. -- and one Kriss Kringle. (You gotta wonder about that kid's parents)

December is the most popular month for nose jobs.

Weight of Santa's sleigh loaded with one Beanie Baby for every kid on earth: 333,333 tons

Number of reindeer required to pull a 333,333 ton sleigh
(plus Rudolph): 214,206

Average wage of a mall Santa: $11 an hour.
With real beard: $20.

To deliver ALL his gifts in one night, Santa would have to make
822.6 visits per second, sleighing at 3,000 times the speed of sound.
At THAT speed, Santa and his reindeer would burst into flame instantaneously.



Mike was describing a 30 pound Bass he'd caught recently after
fighting it for three hours.

Tom interrupted the story saying, "I saw the picture you took of that fish. You're lucky if it even weighed 10 pounds."

Mike replied, "Well . . . a fish can lose an awful lot of weight
during three hours of fighting."

Thursday, December 16, 2004


We don't inherit the Earth from our parents. We only borrow it from our children.


Hugh Heney, a trader for Regis Loisel, arrives at Fort Mandan from Fort Assinboine in Canada. His trip took over six days. His party included Larocque of the North West Company, and George Budge, a Hidatsa speaking employee of Hudson Bay Company.



Recycle glass bottles and jars.
Each year we throw away 28 billion glass bottles and jars--enough to fill the Empire State Building weekly.

Have your oil change only by mechanics who recycle oil
Americans use approximately one billion gallons of motor oil each year and 350 million gallons of that oil ends up in the environment.

Start your own compost pile
Each year we throw away 24 million tons of leaves and grass.

Carpool to work
If each commuter car carried just one additional person, we would save 600,000 gallons of gasoline daily and prevent 12 million pounds of carbon dioxide from polluting the atmosphere.



Many gardeners have mixed feelings about this time of year: sad to see another garden year draw to a close, but at the same time relieved to get a break from the chores of weeding, watering, pruning and more weeding. But before you hibernate, there are still a few more chores to take care of outdoors.
Winter mulch isn't necessary for all garden plants, but it can mean survival for some less hardy plants. Winter mulch has a different purpose than summer mulch. The main benefits of winter cover are to protect against wide temperature fluctuations in the soil and to prevent extreme cold temperatures from harming plants.

Soil tends to heave when subjected to wide temperature changes, pushing plant roots up out of the ground. Heaving is most harmful to relatively shallow-rooted plants, such as strawberries and newly planted specimens of any kind that have not yet had a chance to develop solid footing. Winter mulch also prevents extreme cold damage to above-ground plant parts.
In most cases, 2 to 4 inches of mulch, such as straw, pine needles, hay or bark chips, give adequate protection. For some plants, such as roses, more elaborate protection is needed.
Timing is critical when applying winter mulch. It's best to wait until after temperatures are consistently below freezing to apply the mulch. Applying too early can smother the plant and encourage disease development.

Winterizing your landscape plants is just as important as winterizing your car. Those bright, sunny days of winter may be a welcome sight to us humans, but they can spell trouble for some landscape plants. Direct sunshine on young thin-barked trees warms the bark considerably. But when the sun goes down, air temperatures drop rapidly, and that can result in the tree's bark splitting. Other types of winter injury are also common, including breakage from heavy snow and ice, severe drying and animal feeding damage. However, you can help protect your plants by properly preparing them for the winter season.

Shading young, thin-barked trees such as maples and fruit trees on the south and west sides will help prevent bark splits from temperature extremes. The bark tends to split vertically on the sunny side of the tree, because as the temperatures drop rapidly at sundown, the outer bark cools down and contracts faster than the inner bark. Thus, the outer bark must split to accommodate what's below. Wrapping the trunks with commercial tree wrap provides some protection.

You can't do very much about excessively low temperatures. Be sure that the plants chosen for the landscape are hardy to our average winter conditions and otherwise adapted to the individual site conditions.

All plants, but especially evergreens, are susceptible to drying out over the winter. The above-ground parts, such as twigs and evergreen leaves, are very much alive and are continuously losing water through a process called transpiration. Once the ground is frozen, the plant's roots are not able to take up water to replace that which is lost through the tops. The result is drying leaves, buds and twigs. Sunny, windy conditions cause water to be lost from the tops more rapidly, further aggravating the situation. Broad-leaved evergreens are particularly susceptible since they have a greater leaf surface to lose water from.

Make sure the plants have a sufficient supply of soil moisture before the ground freezes which creates healthier specimens to fight the winter battle. Water thoroughly every seven to 10 days if fall rains are not sufficient. Shading susceptible plants from winter sun and wind also can be helpful. Burlap can be fastened to stakes, or a section of snow fencing should be adequate. Plant highly susceptible plants, such as rhododendrons, on the north side of the house or a hedge to avoid strong winter sun.
Multistemmed shrubs seem to be particularly prone to damage from heavy snow and ice loads. The intense weight of snow and ice bends branches to the ground, breaking the bark and cutting off circulation of the food manufactured by the leaves to the roots. Starving roots eventually die, which leaves the tops without a supply of water, and eventually the whole plant will die. The process could take several years.

To prevent damage from heavy loads, support multistemmed plants by bundling the stems together using burlap, canvas or chicken wire. Simply binding stems together with cord will do in a pinch. Be sure to carefully remove heavy snow as soon as possible, but don't try to remove ice. More damage to the bark probably will occur than if the ice is allowed to melt on its own.



The orthopedic surgeon I work for was moving to a new office, and his staff was helping transport many of the items. I sat the display skeleton in the front of my car, his bony arm across the back of my seat. I hadn't considered the drive across town. At one traffic light, the stares of the people in the car beside me became obvious, and I looked across and explained, "I'm delivering him to my doctor's office."

The other driver leaned out of his window. "I hate to tell you, lady," he said, "but I think it's too late!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Captain Clark and the hunting party attempts hunting closer to the fort and on both sides of the river with little luck. Arriving at Fort Mandan later in the day, Clark finds several chiefs visiting with Captain Lewis.



Charles Darwin’s theory that “only the fittest survive” is a strong foundation for tree recommendations in St. Louis. Native trees have been through the ultimate test of time and should be given strong consideration when thinking about the right tree for the right place. When you plant a native species, evolutionary history is your stamp of approval.

Availability of Native Trees

Before the sale of trees and shrubs became big business, few exotics (or non-natives) were used in common landscapes. World travelers had the privilege of collections, but most homes relied on the use of natives or near natives.

unfortunately, it is now sometimes difficult to find a good selections of natives at garden centers and nurseries. Often, it is a combination of factors which make it difficult for nurseries to carry native plants.

Fortunately, some nurseries are taking an active role in education. Species selection and recommendations are taking on a more native tone. Greenscape Gardens carries a larger selection of natives now, than 10 years ago.

One reason for the reluctance to carry native trees is their difficulties in transplanting. Many of the natives have a terrible track record in surviving the move from grower, to garden center, to your landscape. During the transplanting process, up to 90% of a tree’s root system may be disturbed or lost.

Native Trees to Consider for the St. Louis Area

DOWNY SERVICEBERRY (Amelanchier arborea) A small tree with elegant drooping clusters of white flowers in early spring. Typically flowers two weeks before the dogwood. A reddish-purple berry ripens in June and is a preferred food of many wildlife species. Full shade or partial sun. Good border plant. A great choice for early spring flowers.

HAZEL ALDER (alnus serrulata) A small tree that can grow by suckers and colonize an area. Excellent for difficult to plant areas that are wet and boggy. Nice show of yellowish catkins in early spring. The fruit is a very interesting, small wood cone-like structure.

BLACKGUM (nyssa sylvatica) A medium to large tree (35-60 feet) with excellent red fall color. When low branches are pruned, the tree is excellent for streets and yards as a shade tree. If the low branches are left intact, the tree becomes a wide spreading specimen that literally glows red in the fall. Found on wet sites and dry rocky hillsides. Free of serious pests.

YELLOWWOOD (Cladrastis lutea) A 30-50 foot tall tree with a rounded outline. White clusters of fragrant flowers bloom in May. The bark is smooth and grayish in color. Nice ornament for medium sized planting space.

RIVER BIRCH (Betula nigra) Found along streams, this tree also does well in urban soils. An excellent alternative to white birches because it is resistant to the bronze birch borer. For those who prefer the whitish bark of the white birches a variety of river birch known as “Heritage” is widely available. It has a very white bark instead of the brownish tinge found in common river birches. The “Heritage” variety is also native to the St. Louis area. Another variety that does well in the St. Louis area is “Duraheat”. River Birch is grown as a single trunk tree or as a multi-stemmed clump.

SWAMP OAK (Quercus bicolor) A large growing shade tree that is easier to transplant than the white oak. It requires acid soil. Grows more rapidly than white oak.

These represent a very small sampling of native trees that can be employed in the landscape. Just remember these points: First, natives make a good alternative to what has become the normal choice for most homeowners. Consider using the river birch instead of the European white birch or the serviceberry is a wise decision over the common Bradford Pear, and the list goes on.

Greenscape Gardens carries many of the Missouri native trees and will continue to stock natives whenever available from the growers.



Long, hot summer days can be hard on ornamental landscape plants and increase the demands on gardeners. To reduce the chance of damage and cut down on your own work and frustration later, it is important to send plants into summer well-prepared for the season’s worst.

Ample moisture, which is essential for good plant production, becomes critically important in the summer. Because continual water is often costly and time consuming, it pays to conserve the moisture. And with trees, shrubs and flowers, the best way to do this is by mulching. A good mulch not only retains precious moisture, but it also provides several other benefits.

Mulch insulates the soil and protects it from the drying and hard baking effects of the hot sun and winds. Mulched soils are cooler than unmulched soils and generally show less fluctuation in soil temperature. Cooler, more even temperatures and less moisture evaporation from the soil surface allows plants to grow at a more constant rate.

Mulches also break the force of rain and irrigation water and tend to prevent erosion, soil compaction and crusting. Mulch helps the soil absorb water more readily and helps prevent rain or overhead irrigation from splashing soil.

The mulch covering also prevents germination of many weed seeds. Fewer weeds provide less competition from available moisture and nutrients. Using mulches to control weeds is much safer than using chemical weed controls or risking damage to tender, newly formed roots by cultivation.

Mulches are usually applied two to three inches deep. In general, the coarser the material, the deeper the mulch should be. For example, a 2 inch layer of grass clippings will have the same mulching effect as 6 inches of bark chunks.

There are inorganic mulches such as gravel or crushed rock. Many find this attractive in the landscape, but it does little in preventing the soil from drying out and since it reflects the sun, it will actually dry the plant out quicker.

By far, the more common and better mulches are the organic types. There are many of these and the selection is usually based on appearance desired and availability at the garden center.

A few of the more widely used organic mulches include: hardwood bark (coarse or Ozark black), grass clippings, leaf mold, wood chips and compost. Your choice should be weed free, clean, and long lasting. Organic mulches improve the soil structure when they break down and decompose in the soil, providing better aeration, drainage and water holding ability.

Even though peat moss can be an excellent conditioner when worked into the soil, it often makes a poor mulch because it draws up moisture and tends to pack and crust over the upper soil. Wood chips and sawdust will often rob the soil of available nitrogen, which is essential for plant growth. If you do use wood chips or sawdust, it is advisable to replenish the nitrogen source.

Proper mulching is a wise investment choice for the vitality of your trees, shrubs, flowers and general landscape. As well as protecting the tree from injuries from lawn mowers and nylon weed eaters. The bottom line is simple, mulch your landscape to create healthy plants.



On the twelfth day of Christmas my human gave to me:

Twelve bags of catnip!
Eleven tarter Pounce treats,
Ten ornaments hanging,
Nine wads of Kleenex,
Eight peacock feathers,
Seven stolen Q-tips,
Six feathered balls,
Four munchy house plants,
Three running faucets,
Two fuzzy mousies,
And a hamste-e-er in a plastic ball!!



A man came down with the flu and was forced to stay home one day. He was glad for the interlude because it taught him how much his wife loved him.

She was so thrilled to have him around that when a delivery man or the mailman arrived, she ran out and yelled, "My husband's home! My husband's home!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


The temperature has risen to a balmy zero. Captain Clark and a group of hunters travel 18 miles down the Missouri River. The only bison they encounter are too scrawny to kill, but they bag two deer. They stay outdoors overnight and an inch and a half of snow falls during the night.



The past couple of years, we have seen an excessive amount of mortality among the urban white pines. Reported causes range from ozone and winter damage to root rot. The actual causes are not known because too few cases have been verified and many are inconclusive.

Among the possible contributing factors are growing conditions such as poorly drained soils, compacted soils, high pH or heavy clay soils, coupled with severe weather. White pines are intolerant of poor growing conditions. Trees growing on marginal sites, develop poor root systems which reduces their ability to tolerate stress. Minor stresses such as abnormal fluctuations in temperatures and precipitation can deplete food reserves and lead to decline. Although declines are thought of as slowly developing syndromes, they can also be characterized by sudden deterioration. The "straw that broke the camel's back" may be so inconsequential as to be unrecognizable.

Some pines looked perfectly healthy last year declined and died in one year. There appeared no signs of disease or insect activity, simply decline and death in one season. However, the growing conditions and care were questionable as well as a heavy clay soil in the area did not help the situation.

Similar disorders, also called declines, are the result of both biotic and abiotic factors. The abiotic factors are the same as described above, poor growing conditions. But to these are added, weevils, bark beetles and root rot pathogens. Two weevils, pales weevil ((Hylovus pales) and the pine root collar weevil (Hylobius radicis) have been found associated with declining white pine. Both weevils are also known to transmit the root pathogen Verticicladiella procera.

If present, the adult weevils emerge during warm periods of the winter and by early April are actively feeding. They feed on bark, buds, and needles of healthy trees. In the process they can introduce the fungus into feeding wounds. The adults mate and lay eggs in early summer in fresh cut stumps or in the base of stressed trees. They require these dead or dying trees to reproduce successfully and these provide the exposure of fungus. The larvae are small, maggot-like grubs that feed in the crown area, producing extensive damage.

The fungus produces spores in wounds, on infected roots in the soil and inside insect tunnels. The spores which are sticky, readily adhere to the pupae and emerge as adult weevils. The spores are carried from infected trees to healthy trees. There the fungus colonizes phloem tissue and kills the cambial layer. The infected portion becomes resin soaked with black streaks. These streaks can extend up to 18" above the soil line. Signs of streaking and excess resin production at the base of symptomatic trees indicate infection.

Early symptoms of infection may be limited to reduced growth and last for several years. When root damage becomes extensive or the crown becomes girdles, the top declines. Browning may take a season or two or as little as a few months. In later cases an apparently healthy tree may be dead by mid summer.

Other pathogens can cause resin soaked lesions, for instance Valsa (perfect stage of Cytospora). But Valsa cankers are usually associated with wounds higher on the trunk or lateral branches.

Phytophihora root rot can also cause similar symptoms, but instead of resin soaked wood with black streaks, roots will be black and mushy. Rarely does Phytophihora extend above the soil line, unlike Verticicladiella.

Surveying the situation is necessary in determining the role of these various factors. However, all are associated with stressed trees, usually resulting from poor growing conditions. Avoiding or correcting poor soils with inadequate drainage will help reduce future losses.



Tree topping is a crime against nature. Our trees are tremendously valuable, but frequently ignored and often abused, community asset. We all need to take proper care of our trees. Doing so makes common sense. Unfortunately, many of the so called professionals to whom the public looks for guidance are not in the tree service business but rather the tree abuse business.

The "bad boys" of arborculture are not really bad. They are simply unaware or underestimate the deleterious effects of improper pruning and other improper tree care practices. And yet, bad pruning has serious adverse effects, not only on trees but for homeowners as well.

Here are the three basic categories of bad arborists:
* "Ralph's Tree Service" is usually a one or two person outfit with an old pickup truck that solicits work door to door. These operations prey on people's fear of large trees and recommend topping or removing trees for safety reasons.

These outfits usually work outside the law, assuring customers they are insured, even if they are not. If one of their uninsured workers get hurt on a job, they can, and do, sue the property owner. Always ask your tree service for proof of insurance.

In addition "Ralph" underbids everybody and leaves behind a mess.

* "Butcher Tree Experts" have been in business for 20 years or more and are listed in the Yellow Pages> These companies have clean shaven crews and fleets of pickup and bucket trucks.

Although these companies are perfectly legal, few of their crew members know how to prune properly. They talk a good story but usually do whatever the customer requests and recommend whatever is fastest.

They know that topping is bad, but they do it anyway. Or they use "drop-crotching," a nicer method of tree topping that is also bad for trees and usually unnecessary. These companies often top or drop crotch to appease tree owners who understandably, have no idea what real pruning entails.

* "Art the Treeshaper" knows enough good pruning techniques and Latin to be truly dangerous. He fancies himself as an artist or sculptor and has perfected long, drawn out ways to tortue trees.

Art is an expert at separating wealthy customers from their money. Art may not even top trees, but he will often prune them into odd shapes. His work may force the owner into an expensive battle with suckers or waterspouts that diminish their trees' healthy and beauty over time.

PROFESSIONALS do not do unprofessional work. Good arborists do not top trees, and they do not use spurs to climb trees. They do not cut into branch collars or rely on wound paints or seals to stop rot. Overall, good arborists do what they can to please their customers without harming trees.

Summary: St. Louis has an abundance of quality, professional arborists. Take the time to consult with prospective arborists to determine the quality of work they perform. The value of a trees is priceless.....take the time and it will pay a handsome dividend.

Editors note: I wrote this article for the May 1993 issue of St. Louis Outdoor Lifestyles and I am still appalled with the abusive tree topping which still occurs in St. Louis.



The Christmas shopping season
Has officially begun,
And post-Thanksgiving shoppers
Are now all on the run!

Pushing and shoving,
There's a SALE to get to!
I'm telling you, it's crazy,
The mall's become a ZOO!

Kiddies of all ages and temper
Some wide eyed with glee
Others squawking and screaming -
Make this a joyous shopping spree!

Santa's here for photos today
So even baby's been dragged along
To pose for holiday pictures -
Or to cry and scream for mom...

The merry Christmas carols
Have now all been drowned out
By multitudes of bratty children
Chaotically gallivanting about.

Grumpy hubbies and boytoys
Are forced to follow in tow
Because the misses won't stand
To hear them answer "No."

They're whipping out their wallets
And carting loads of gifts,
Then muttering to themselves
As they assess all the debts.

It's sure to cause a headache
And a pair of sore feet too...
What a lousy, painfull thing
We're putting ourselves through!

Actually though... You know what?
I think I can preserve my holiday cheer...
Because I'm gonna say "Forget it!
I'm doing my shopping online this year!!"

Monday, December 13, 2004


Morning temperature is once again cold at -20 F. A sparkling new coating of frost covers the river ice, old snow and bare ground. No visitors from the surrounding Indian villages today.



Snow provides moisture as well as protection from cold and wind.
Snow is an excellent insulator against low temperatures and excessive winds. The extent of protection depends on the depth of snow. Generally, the temperature below the snow increases by about 2 degrees F for each inch of accumulation. In addition, the soil gives off some heat so that the temperature at the soil surface can be much warmer than the air temperature. One study found that the soil surface temperature was 28 degrees F with a 9-inch snow depth and an air temperature of -14 F!

Snow brings welcome moisture to many landscape plants, which will in turn help prevent desiccation injury. Even dormant plants continue to lose moisture from twigs in the process known as transpiration. Evergreen plants, which keep their leaves through the winter, are at even greater risk of injury.

On the other hand, some evergreens can suffer from too much snow load. The weight of snow and ice can bend or even break branches, particularly on multi-stemmed shrubs such as arborvitae. Snow should be gently removed by brushing away with a broom. Do not try to remove ice since it is more likely that you will break the stems. Multi-stemmed shrubs that are known to be susceptible to breakage can be bound with twine to hold branches together.



You are accused, Mr. Santa Claus, alias Saint Nick, alias Kris Kringle, age unknown, of no fixed abode, with the following charges:

** Crossing the Canadian-USA border illegally on December 25 of each year as far back as records go

** Failing to operate a union toy shop, and not paying your elves and dwarfs the minimum wage, provide paid vacations and wages at time and a half for more than 40 hour work weeks, or meeting the standards of the Worker's Compensation Boards

** Failing to transmit unemployment insurance payments, income tax deductions to the proper authorities on behalf of your employees

** You are accused of the illegal entry of millions of on December 25 of each year

** Failing to file a flight plan for your travels

** Failing to equip your vehicle with seat belts or properly fitting your reindeer with emission control devises

** Not declaring as taxable income the cookies and milk left for you by millions each year

** Illegally competing with the Post Office, and possible breaking drug laws by administering an unauthorized drug to Rudolph to make his nose light up

** And finally, parking in a no parking zone, namely rooftops, and having no record of either a driver's or pilot's licence ever being issued to a Mister Claus.

Faced with all these accusations and understanding their severity, have you any statement to make before I . . . wish you a . . Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and dismiss these charges?

Sunday, December 12, 2004


The morning temperature hovers at -21 F. The captains send three horses and a messenger to the hunters instructing them to return to Fort Mandan as soon as possible with whatever meat they have processed. Floating ice particles in the air is so thick it looks like fog.



Deicing salts can save you from serious injury, but they spell disaster for landscape plants. Whether the salt is sprayed on the plants from passing traffic near the road or is shoveled onto plants near the sidewalk, the salt can cause damage.

Salts can adversely affect plants in several ways. Salts deposited on the surface of twigs, branches, and evergreen leaves can cause excessive drying of foliage and roots. They can be taken up by plants and accumulate to toxic levels. Salts can also cause a nutritional imbalance by changing the chemistry of the soil and can directly harm soil structure.

The most apparent damage from salts is death of buds and twig tips as a result of salt spray. As the tips of the plants die, the plant responds by growing an excessive number of side branches.
However, accumulation damage is more slowly manifested and may not be noticeable for many months. Sodium salts are the most common type used for deicing while calcium salts are used to a lesser extent. Effects usually appear as stunting, poor vigor, die back of growing tips, leaf burn or leaf drop. Winter and spring rains and large amounts of snow can help prevent accumulation by diluting the salt and helping to wash it out of the root zone. Supplemental irrigation is advisable when natural rainfall is scarce.

Protect roadside plants by constructing burlap or durable plastic screens to shield them from traffic splash. If screening from traffic is not practical, try to use salt-tolerant plants such as Juniper, Siberian pea shrub, Russian olive, poplar and honey locust.

Avoid throwing sidewalk residue on nearby plants, including shrubs and ground cover. Use alternatives such as clean cat litter, sand or sawdust to help improve traction on ice.

If salt damage is impossible to control this simple trick will reduce potential damage. Apply gypsum into the area adjacent to salt prone problems. This will counter react the effects of salt damage by neutralizing the salt before it causes damage to the turf and potentially to the trees and shrubs in the area.



On the 12 days of Christmas, my true love gave to me

12 pack of Bud
11 rasslin' tickets
10 tins of Copenhagen
9 years probation
8 table dancers
7 packs of Red Man
6 cans of Spam
5 flannel shirts
4 big mud tires
3 shotgun shells
2 huntin' dawgs
and some parts to a Mustang GT.



A pretty young woman visiting her new doctor for the first time found herself alone in a small waiting room. She began undressing nervously, preparing herself for the upcoming examination. Just as she draped the last of her garments over the back of a chair, a light rap sounded on the door and a young doctor strode in.

Coming to an abrupt halt, the doctor looked his nude patient up and down carefully and with considerable appreciation.

"Miss Jones," he said finally, "it seems quite obvious to me that until today you have never undergone an eye examination."