Monday, August 29, 2929

"A Year In My Garden" book available

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Click here to learn more and order A Year In My Garden

To see additional books by Don Sessions click here

Monday, August 15, 2929

"The Art Of The Comfort Room" book

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Monday, August 8, 2929


Friday, July 29, 2016

Flower fo the Day Trumpet Vine 7-29-16

Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) grows an a fence. It is quite aggressive  and I must loosen the roots on the large
runners or would destroy the fence. Most trumpet vine flowers in the heartland a red but we have flowers that are a creamy
delicate orange. It only blooms if I do not cut it back too much.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Don's Blog Mushrooms III 7-27-16

There were heavy rains last week and over the week-end this mushroom emerged in volume. They were coming from the ground and contained the detritus that was above their developing cap. They are funnel
 shaped and quite large and rain water has collected in their caps.
Our mushroom expert Justina and one of her mentors think this is Lactarius yazooensis. It is inedible as well as unpronounceable.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Don's Blog Mushroom Spore Prints 7-26-16

Part of the process for identifying mushrooms is to make a mushroom spore print. Our friend Justina Bricka at Innsbrook has done this recently to help identify some chanterelle mushrooms. Here are images of her spore prints:


To help understand this mysterious process here is some help.

Making Spore Prints

by Michael Kuo

While a single mushroom spore can't be seen by the naked eye, a pile of many spores can--and the color of a mushroom's spores, seen en masse, is a crucial identification feature. Obtaining a mushroom's "spore print" is therefore an essential step in the identification process.

Before going through the nuts and bolts of making a spore print at home, it is worth noting that mushrooms frequently make their own spore prints, in nature. If you have ever noticed colored dust covering a leaf or the ground beneath a mushroom's gills or pores, you have probably witnessed this phenomenon. Tightly clustered mushrooms, in fact, frequently leave spore prints on one other, since caps overlap.

In order to make a spore print at home, you will need to have a relatively mature mushroom. Buttons, young mushrooms, and mushrooms with some kind of a covering over their gills or pores (a partial veil) are not likely to drop spores in order to make a print.

Remove the stem from smaller mushrooms and place the cap, gills or pores downward, on a piece of paper or glass. For larger mushrooms, slice off a section of the cap and use only the section. Place a cup or glass upside-down on top of your mushroom, to keep air currents away.

While some spore prints can appear within a few hours, it's often best to wait overnight, just to be sure. When you remove the cup and lift the mushroom cap, you should find a "print" like the ones illustrated to the right. If you have been careful not to move the mushroom while the print was developing, you may find that the spore print reflects the pattern of the mushroom's gills or pores, since the spores fell directly downward.

Some field guides advocate using black paper for spore prints, since white prints show up more easily. Then again, brown and black prints don't show up on black paper as well as they do on white paper. I have solved this problem for myself by using glass, which can be held against light and dark backgrounds, rather than paper. In fact I usually use a microscope slide, since I will also be examining spores under the microscope--but if you are not going to be using a microscope, any (safe) piece of glass will suffice.

The color of the spore print is what you will compare with descriptions from field guides and keys. Interpreting color can be very subjective--and mycologists have tried several times to "standardize" the interpretations, without much success. But while subtle differences (like, between "white" and "creamy") may be perplexing, distinguishing a white spore print from a brown one or a pink one is easy enough, and it will help you enormously in identifying a mushroom. More information on assessing colors, of spore prints and the mushrooms themselves, can be found on the page for the genus Russula.

For mushrooms belonging to the Ascomycetes, like the morels and false morels, a spore print is obtained using a similar method. However, since these mushrooms have tiny spore jets that forcibly eject the spores, you will place a piece of the cap on the paper or glass and expect the spore print around the mushroom section (as well as underneath it, if you have placed the spore-producing side downwards).


Gymnopilus liquiritiae

Psathyrella gracilis

Agaricus spore print

Bolete spore print

Clitopilus prunulus spore print

Cuphophyllus virgineus spore print

© MushroomExpert.Com

Cite this page as:

Kuo, M. (2006, November). Making spore prints. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Flower for the Day Rattle Snake Master 7-25-16

This is rattle snake master. In case of a rattle snake bite a potion made from boiling its roots 
will reportedly produce salutary results. 

The plant does have nice little balls.

Friday, July 22, 2016

FFTD A walk in the gardens after a light rain this morning

I was almost out of flower images on my computer so I walked around the gardens this morning after a light rain.

This is cleome and the first dahlia.

This is rose campion which stopped blooming a month ago.


My first zinnias from seeds are coming up.


The finches are in heaven.


This is rattle snake master.


The iron weed is slowly spreading.


And - for what ever reason this is my last of a very large stand of gladiolas.
Or as Paul would sing, "Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio?"



Thursday, July 21, 2016

Flower for the Day Monarda 7-21-16

Monarda is also called bee balm and horse mint. In the wildflower gardens it has replaced the yellow crown beard. It can grow in sun and shade.

It is delicate and hardy and deer resistant.

                     Her Garden

              I let her garden go.
                           let it go, let it go
       How can I watch the hummingbird
                   Hover to sip
                   With its beak's tip
The purple bee balm—whirring as we heard
                   It years ago?

              The weeds rise rank and thick
                           let it go, let it go
       Where annuals grew and burdock grows.
                   Where standing she
                   At once could see
The peony, the lily, and the rose
                   Rise over brick

              She'd laid in patterns. Moss
                           let it go, let it go
       Turns the bricks green, softening them
                   By the gray rocks
                   Where hollyhocks
That lofted while she lived, stem by tall stem,
                   Dwindle in loss.

Donald Hall

The Selected Poems of Donald Hall
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Flower for the Day Black-Eyed Susan 7-19-16

We have two types of black-eyed susan.  Rudbeckia hirta is the most common form and has been in the front garden for thirty years. It is also called brown-eyed susan, brown betty, glorious daisy, English bulls-eye, and yellow daisy. Its eye is fairly flat.

The other type is newer to our garden and is called Rudbeckia maxima. It is taller and has a much larger eye. Incidentally Rudbeck was the mentor of Linnaeus.

Wild American Beauty: The Black-Eyed Susan

By Ray Allen, Founder of

Who was Susan anyhow? And exactly what was her relationship with Sweet William?

Ever wonder about one of America's favorite wildflowers? Who was Black-Eyed Susan? Her story is one of the grand romantic tales of the wildflowers. And beyond legend, her name graces several of our most important and popular wildflower species. (By the way, the flower's eye, or center, is not really black; it's dark brown, but that's not important.)

Black-eyed Susan

Who was she? Well, no one's sure, but the legend says it all comes from an Old English poem of the post-Elizabethan era entitled simply, "Black-Eyed Susan," written by a very famous poet of the day named John Gay, 1685-1732. (Painting above by Winslow Homer.):

All in the downs, the fleet was moored,
Banners waving in the wind.
When Black-Eyed Susan came aboard,
and eyed the burly men.
"Tell me ye sailors, tell me true
Does my Sweet William sail with you?"

There are several stanzas, explaining that her William was on board, "high upon the yardarm", and quickly scrambled down for a fond farewell with his lady love. It seems he was off to the high seas, but promised ardently to be safe and true:

Though battle call me from thy arms
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his Dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye.

This charming poem tells one of the great "Legends of Love" in our wildflowers, and every summer even today, it plays out just as the poem describes. Here's how it works:

Even though it's not a native, if you seed wild Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) with common Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), they'll bloom beautifully for you at exactly the same time. Because both are basically biennials, and her gold plus his bright reds and purples blooming together is a sight to gladden any gardener's heart.

Since Susan is a North American native, this tale tells us English colonists must have given the golden beauty her name when they arrived in the New World. However, since most all the Black-Eyed Susan species are native to the Great Plains, plant experts have wondered for years how our colonists on the east coast could have given this wildflower the name it's had for centuries. But some recent research in Maryland (where "Susan" serves as the State Flower) shows that the plant was growing there during the colonial period. So like today, Black-Eyed Susans were probably across the continent from the beginning. Today, they are common in all 50 states and across Canada.