Friday, March 03, 2006

Coming soon:

The rebirth of the Frisco Station in Kirkwood. Agape Construction has taken on the most interesting project. Renovating the Old Frisco Station into a residence. This project is actually KMOV's Showcase Home. We will keep you updated on this incredible project.

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Just when you thought you heard it all. Believe it or Not.... A DUI on a Lawn Mower

A man was arrested and charged with DUI for riding a 1968 Cub Cadet lawn mower on a Vermont highway.

If you think a riding mower isn’t legally considered a motor vehicle, you might want to check your state statutes. A Hydeville, Vt. man was recently arrested and charged with drunken driving for allegedly riding a 1968 Cub Cadet lawn mower on a city road while intoxicated.
The 47-year-old man was already facing his fourth charge of drunken driving and was previously released on the condition that he stop drinking. His lawyer, Katie Smith, told the Rutland Herald that Jensen was “not aware that a lawn mower rose to the level of a motor vehicle.”

According to the Vermont DUI statute, “A person shall not operate, attempt to operate, or be in actual physical control of any vehicle on a highway…when the person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more.” Tests revealed Jensen had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16. The moral of the story:

If you’re kicking back with a few cold ones, leave all the keys at home.

Prior to the chestnut blight, one in four hardwood trees in Pennsylvania was a chestnut, according to the American Chestnut Foundation. Mature chestnuts grew to 100 feet tall, and many specimens reached 8-10 feet in diameter. Wildlife including birds, bears, squirrels and deer depend on the tree's abundant crop of nutritious nuts.

Tree expert Tim Phelps is confident that blight-resistant chestnuts are not only possible, but almost here. Blight wiped out virtually all American chestnut trees in North America after it showed up in New York in 1904. Now, seven decades of crossing blight-resistant Chinese chestnut trees with American chestnut trees, and then repeatedly back-crossing the progeny with other American chestnuts, has created 200 hybrids. The trees are now being tested in the Arboretum at Penn State with inoculations of the fungus that causes chestnut blight—with promising results.

Phelps, of the College of Agricultural Sciences and president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, is supervising the project. He explained how the years-long process works. “After a thorough screening process, the trees that show total resistance to the blight will be selected as parents of the seed that will be used to reintroduce American chestnuts into the forests of the Mid-Atlantic region,” Phelps said. “All the progeny of the trees selected after inoculation will be blight resistant. We are that close.”

The process starts with small wounds made on the test trees, using a spatula to apply blight-causing fungus from a Petri dish. The wounds are then taped to be sure the fungus stays moist and active. Young trees that are not blight resistant will begin exhibiting signs of decline in a month or so.

Final tree selection at the arboretum will occur in May. After five generations, one of every 64 young trees at the arboretum exposed to the blight should be highly blight resistant. Seed from trees selected after those inoculations around the Mid-Atlantic region will eventually be planted in The Arboretum at Penn State until the orchard numbers more than 30,000 hybrid chestnut trees.

These trees are the direct descendants of a 1935 cross between a Chinese and an American chestnut. The first-generation back-cross to American chestnut was made in 1946.
The chestnut was a superb timber tree. It grew straight and often branch-free for 50 feet or more. Loggers tell of loading entire railroad cars with boards cut from just one chestnut tree. Straight-grained, lighter in weight than oak and more easily worked, chestnut was as rot resistant as redwood. It was used for virtually everything—telegraph poles, railroad ties, shingles, paneling, fine furniture, musical instruments and even pulp and plywood.

In North America, pollen records from the latest interglacial period show that the American chestnut tree, Castanea dentata, was present on Long Island 30,000 to 50,000 years ago. American chestnut trees were once found all along the Appalachian mountain range, from Portland, Maine to northern Georgia. In the last 150 years it has been planted outside its range in favorable spots (Michigan, Wisconsin) where it has become a forest tree, protected from chestnut blight disease by geography until only recently.

More and more communities are asking the question. Are pesticides and herbicides safe for residents and the environment?

On Jan. 1, 2005 the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, banned the pesticide diazinon for residential use. Manufacturers had called the chemical safe for many years, but accumulating evidence suggested otherwise.
New research is calling into question similar claims for herbicides. Landscape maintenance people have long been attracted to the chemicals, which zap weeds that invade space between bricks and other material. The most common herbicide used by landscape workers is glyphosate, usually sold under the trade name Roundup. Glyphosate is the subject of new interest among researchers. Called “practically nontoxic” by manufacturer Monsanto, recent studies suggest links between the substance and reproductive problems in humans and animals.

Published this August, two new studies show that relatively low levels of glyphosate kill most tadpoles in affected ponds. The research was conducted by Prof. Rick Relyea of the University of Pittsburgh.

“The most striking result from the experiments was that a chemical designed to kill plants killed 98 percent of all tadpoles within three weeks,” Relyea said.

Landscape workers who choose to use glyphosate-based herbicides should follow all manufacturer instructions carefully.

Interesting, other studies suggest that the herbicide glyphosate itself isn’t to blame. An accompanying “surfactant” in Roundup, which helps the herbicide penetrate leaves, seems to be responsible.

Previous studies, one from Canada and one from France, suggest that an increased risk of human reproductive harm exists in communities where glyphosate compounds are heavily used. Other research is not tied directly to glyphosate or Roundup, but suggests that higher cancer rates accompany landscapes where chemical use is high. At least one study found elevated cancer rates among golf course superintendents (who oversee hundreds of pounds of chemical applications each year). Another study (Purdue University, 2004) found higher rates of bladder cancer in dogs whose owners used the most lawn chemicals.

To be sure, glyphosate and other products on the market have been extensively tested and are unlikely to cause immediate harm to users. But the new research suggests there are consequences to using the substances.
In response, many communities are putting together local ordinances that ban or restrict residential chemical use. Some landscape maintenance companies are even starting to market their services as “organic” or “chemical-free.”

Wisconsin’s Jim Sommerfeld, for example, runs a business called Happy Lawn that avoids pesticides and herbicides and uses corn gluten meal in the place of industrial fertilizers.

To go chemical-free, customers have to accept a few dandilions, Sommerfeld told Madison, Wis.’s Capitol Times.
“A lot of people still have the mind-set that they want a perfectly-green, weed-free, golf-course type of lawn,” he said.
At least one organization is spreading word of the benefits associated with chemical-free landscapes. The group is called

The BP web site offers a number of practical tips to keeping a garden healthy without chemicals. Regarding lawns, the group says that a lawn kept healthy will tend to keep pests and weeds to a minimum. In short, keep your lawn aerated and pH-balanced, and it will have fewer weeds.

Greenscape Gardens is now retailing a new line of natural organic lawn care products. If you're concerned about the environment, these new products are well worth looking at.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Once again the rave in the St. Louis gardening scene...........Ornamental grasses. We are growing more than 20 different varieties of perennial ornamental grasses. In another couple of weeks (normally St. Patrick's weekend) I highly recommend cutting back the spent shoots from last year. Cut the plants down to within 3-4 inches from the soil. This will make the plant much more attractive for this year. One of the tricks that we use at the garden center is to put black plastic over the plants and secure the plastic with bricks in the corners to secure the plastic. Wait 10-14 days and take off the plastic. This will warm up the soil around the grasses and they will grow much quicker in the early spring. Posted by Picasa
The greenhouses are starting to show signs of spring. The last couple of weeks, the planting team has planted over 10,000 perennials, 1000 hanging baskets, 1300 Knockout Roses, and some of the best looking container gardens in St. Louis. We're open during the weekends. Come by and say HI!  Posted by Picasa
New Herbicide Targets Wild Violets

Wild violets can quicly take over lawns in the St. Louis area. Give this weed an inch and it'll take a yard. A relatively new herbicide can be used on turf to control wild violets and many other hard-to-control broadleaf weeds. It’s called carfentrazone. This material is rain-fast in three hours, and you can reseed the treated area two weeks after application. For violet control, it needs to be used in early to mid-April, when the violets are just starting to grow.

Sold as SpeedZone, it has been used in the professional lawn-care industry with exceptional results. It’s now available at Greenscape Gardens. We used the product at the garden center last year and had great control on some hard to control wild violets. “While low levels of chemical residue may occur in surface and groundwater, the risk to non-target plants or animals is low,” the EPA fact sheet on the substance states. “Carfentrazone is considered to be practically non-toxic to birds. The chemical is moderately toxic to aquatic animals.

The best time to apply SpeedZone is when the wild violets first reappear in early spring. One application normally will eradicate these unwanted weeds. It is heat sensitive. We highly recommend its usuage in early spring before temperatures reach into the 80's. Finally a herbicide that eliminates violets.
The Society of Municipal Arborists has named the Kentucky coffee tree its 2006 Urban Tree of the Year. The tree won votes from members across the U.S. and Canada with its combination of low maintenance and attractive limbs. According to member Nina Bassuk of Cornell University, “the pods are the only drawback… the tree is quite striking in winter with the gothic appearance of its limb structure.”

This tree is twice pinnately compound with leaves up to three feet long. Each compound leaf is composed of about 70 leaflets.

Kentucky coffee tree grows on a wide variety of sites and soils. It prefers rich, moist soils in floodplains, terraces, ravines, coves, and lower slopes. Its most common associates include maples, ashes, hackberry, black walnut, butternut, honeylocust, and bitternut hickory. On better sites, its growth rate is moderate (1 to 2 feet per year). Kentucky coffee tree is only moderately tolerant of shade and requires openings for successful regeneration. It is one of the last trees to leaf out in the spring; new leaves are often tinged with pink as they change to dark green. Fall color for this species is yellow to brown. The seeds used to be used as a substitute for coffee and were called coffee-nuts.

This very rough, coarsely branched tree grows to a height of 40-60 feet with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. The bark is very rough, very light or dark brown, with thin scales. The dull deep green leaves are doubly compound, with about 9 broad oval-shaped leaflets that are pointed and toothless. They are alternate and there is a pair of single leaflets on the base of the main stalk. There are male and female trees, which produce their flowers in white, nodding clusters, and bloom in May to June. The fruit is a broad, leathery, dark brown pod, 4-9 inches long, pulpy inside with several seeds, and stay on in the winter. The seeds used to be used as a substitute for coffee and were called coffee-nuts. Kentucky coffee tree should be used more in the landscape. It will grow on a wide range of soils from limestone, clay, and soils which may be droughty. It is relatively free of insect and disease pests.

The Kentucky coffee tree is found in the St. Louis area in only a handful of locations. If there is sufficient interest in the tree, we will procure some for the upcoming season. Contact us at

Wednesday, March 01, 2006