At Play Calendar 9/27

September 26, 2012 in At Play, Community, Outdoors by Carey Germana

Festivals

Children’s Festival • The church will host a festival with games, snacks and an illusionist/ventriloquist. | When: Sept. 29, 2 – 4:30 p.m. | Where: Faith Baptist Church, 1640 Fry Rd., Greenwood. | Info: Call (317) 859-7964.

Fall Festival • The festival will have food, music, games and pony rides. Southport UMC hosts the event annually to bring the community together. | When: Sept. 29 | Where: Southport United Methodist Church, 1947 E. Southport Rd. | Cost: Free | Info: Call (317) 784-9508.

Waterman’s Fall Harvest Festival • The public can visit the farm for the pumpkin patch, games, activities, rides, animals, food, music and more. | When: Sept. 29 – Oct. 31 (hours at Raymond Street are 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.) | Where: Waterman’s Family Farm, 7010 E. Raymond St. and 1100 N. Ind. 37, Greenwood. | Info: Visit watermansfamilyfarm.com.

Fall Health Festival • Senior Promise will host an event geared for those 50 and older. It offers information on a variety of medical topics and health screenings, including cholesterol, blood pressure, oral cancer, balance assessment, vision, diabetes foot and lung/air capacity. | When: Oct. 12, 9 a.m. – noon. | Where: The Atrium Banquet Hall, 3143 E. Thompson Rd. | Cost: flu vaccine is $35 and pneumonia vaccine is $70 for non-Medicare enrollees and non-part B Medicare beneficiaries. | Info: Call (317) 528-6660.

Holy Name Oktoberfest • There will be a kids zone with games, food from Fireside Brewhouse, beer from Flat 12 and live music including the Flying Toasters. There will also be Monte Carlo Gaming and a $25,000 raffle. | When: Oct. 12-13, 5 p.m. –midnight. | Where: Holy Name Catholic Church, 89 N. 17th Ave., Beech Grove. | Cost: Free admission. | Info: Call (317) 784-5454 or visit holyname.cc/Oktoberfest.

Fall Festival Fundraiser • There will be a bonfire, games, rides, crafts, activities and concessions. All proceeds benefit Southport Christian Church Youth Groups. | When: Oct. 21, 3 – 6 p.m. | Where: Southport Equestrian Center, 6228 S. Rural St. | Info: Call the church at (317) 784-4431.

Social

Veterans Appreciation • A complimentary dinner for veterans will be held before the Beech Grove vs. Ritter football game. | When: Sept. 28, 5:30 p.m. | Where: Beech Grove High School cafeteria. | Info: Call Melody Stevens at (317) 788-4481 ext. 1061.

CGHS Breakfast Show • The choirs of Center Grove High School will perform their fall competition shows, as well as a variety of solos, ensembles and dance acts. Specialty coffees, beverages, sausage and biscuits and an assortment of pastries and fruit will be available for purchase. | When: Sept. 29, 8 – 11 a.m. | Where: CGHS, 2717 S. Morgantown Rd., Greenwood. | Cost: $5 per person or $4 for seniors and students. | Info: The performance schedule can be found at centergrovechoirs.org.

Breakfast and Euchre • Come for a breakfast of eggs to order, bacon and sausage gravy, biscuits, fried potatoes, cornedbeef hash and mush and pancakes. Euchre will be held after by the Ladies aux. | When: Sept. 29, (breakfast) 8 – 10:30 a.m.; (euchre) 2 p.m. | Where: Greenwood VFW, 333 S. Washington St., Greenwood. | Cost: $6 for breakfast and $5 for euchre. | Info: Call (317) 888-2488.

Basketball Tournament • The Women’s American Basketball Association will host a tournament with many former college players from Indiana on the Mid-West Diamonds team. | When: Sept. 29, (Mid-West Diamonds)1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and (Mid-West Diamonds)7 p.m. | Where: Perry Meridian Middle School, 202 W. Meridian School Rd. | Cost: Free for ages 5 and below, 6-11 is $5 and ages 12 and up are $10. | Info: Call (317) 920-WABA.

Holy Name Homecoming • All alumni, parishioners, families and students of Holy Name Catholic School are invited to Homecoming. There will be two football games, free food with paid admission to the games, face painting and balloons. | When: Sept. 30, noon | Where: Beech Grove Athletic Field (13th and Main Street) | Info: Call Mark Gasper at (317) 865-3051.

Fundraiser

Greenwood 5k Trail Trek • Participants, volunteers and cheering fans are needed for this 6th annual event, which promotes healthy lifestyles and awareness of the Greenwood Trail system. | When: Oct. 6, 9 a.m. | Cost: $18 | Info: Register and find more info at greenwood.in.gov.

Firehouse Chili Cook Off • The community is invited to taste and vote for your favorite chili cooked by local firefighters. There will also be a cornhole competition for teams of two. Proceeds will benefit the local Christmas Angel Fund. | When: Oct. 20, 1 – 4 p.m. | Where: 900 S. SR 135, across from Target in Greenwood. | Info: Register for the cornhole tournament at tournament around.com. Call (317) 885-3318 for further details.

Workshop

A Celebration of Women • Women who have impacted many lives with their selfless service will be honored during this celebration, such as IMPD Sergeant Jo Ann Moore, volunteer Bonnie Schott and Founder of Second Starts Sally Schrock. The event will include a lunch, style show and award ceremony. | When: Sept. 29, 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Where: Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center, 1402 Southern Ave., Beech Grove. | Cost: $35 each or $245 for a table of eight. | Info: Call (317) 788-7581 to register.

Community Tech Day • CDM Computers will offer a free event for all who have an interest in technology. Come for great conversations, an informal show and tell, gaming and food. | When: Sept. 29, noon – 3 p.m. | Where: Greenwood Shopping Center, 7655 Shelby St. (Corner of US 31, Shelby St. and Stop 11) | Info: Call (317) 788-7885 or email info@cdmcomputerstore.com.

Star Wars Reads Day • School-age children and teens can celebrate Star by making their own light sabers to take home, playing in a trivia competition and watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars (G). | When: Oct. 6, 10 a.m.(lightsaber), noon – 3 p.m. (trivia) and 3 p.m. (movie) | Where: Southport Branch Library, 2630 E. Stop 11 Rd. | Info: Register by calling (317) 275-4510.

Oh Baby! Showcase • Resources will be provided for individuals who are already pregnant, planning or have recently had a baby. Attendees will be able to meet south side pediatricians and family practice physicians. | When: Oct. 17, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. | Where: Community Hospital South, 1402 E. County Line Rd. | Info: Registration is required and can be made at (800) 777-7775 or visit eCommunity.com/ohbaby.

Art

Jacob Glover • This local artist will present his screen print, lithos and woodcut collages for the public. He is a Fine Arts Student at the Herron School of Art. | When: Oct. 5, 7 – 10 p.m. | Where: Funkyard Art Gallery and Coffee Shop, 1114 Prospect St. (Fountain Square) | Info: Call (317) 822-3865.

Library

Book Discussion • Adults are invited to read and discuss “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson. | When: Oct. 1, 6:30 p.m. | Where: Franklin Road Branch, 5550 S. Franklin Rd. | Info: Call (317) 275-4380.

A Beginner’s Guide to Zombie Survival • Teens ages 13-17 are invited as artists from the Indiana Repertory Theatre show how to camouflage oneself as a zombie with stage makeup All supplies will be provided, but participants are advised to bring a black eye pencil. | When: Oct. 3, 3 p.m. | Where: Franklin Road Branch, 5550 S. Franklin Rd. | Info: Call (317) 275-4380.

BG Chatterbooks • Adults are invited to read and discuss “Refuge” by Terry Tempest Williams. | When: Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m. | Where: Beech Grove Public Library, 1102 Main St. | Info: Call (317) 788-4203.

Theater

You Can’t Take it With You • This comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart will be performed by Whiteland Community High School as their fall play. | When: Oct. 5 and 6, 7:30 p.m. | Where: Whiteland Community High School, 300 Main St., Whiteland | Cost: $5 | Info: Call (317) 535-7562.

Rain relief: a break from watering

August 9, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

Like every gardener, when I heard the rain last Sunday morning, I felt a momentary sense of relief. When I actually went outside and saw over two inches of rain in my rain gauge it felt like Christmas in August.  That Grinch of a drought had temporarily let go of my garden. For at least a week, maybe longer,  I knew that I would not have to water my garden or worry that I didn’t  have time to water, which is too often the dilemma I find myself in.

Though my garden didn’t burst forth with bloom after the rain the way a desert garden blooms when it receives some long-awaited rain, I did find quite a bit to be happy about when I walked through it later in the day. Out in the vegetable garden, I didn’t think my under sized sweet corn plants would produce anything, but I found two good ears of corn ready to pick. I set a new personal best record for how quickly I harvested, cooked and ate those two ears of sweet corn. My vegetable garden is also producing enough zucchini squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers to provide me with all I can eat, plus some extra to give away.

The late summer blooms are starting to show up now, too. Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium sp., has started to bloom and attract butterflies. The variety I’m growing is called ‘Little Joe’ and only grows to about three feet, but has the same mauve-purple blooms of the taller native Joe Pye Weed.  Adding touches of pink are the Surprise Lilies, Lycoris sp. These flowers send up daffodil-like leaves in the spring and then die back in early summer. Just about the time you’ve forgotten about them, surprise, they send up a flower stalk and bloom in late summer.

The rain we received was wonderful, but it didn’t end the drought. We’ll need many more rains to erase the impact of this hot dry, summer. But it will help many plants make it through August and into September, when hopefully cooler temperatures will make even dry conditions more bearable.  In the meantime, at least for a while, the rain gave every gardener a welcome break from watering.

Drought tolerant shrubs to look for next season

August 2, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

The phrase “drought tolerant” means more to me this season than it ever did in the past. When I picked out plants I cared more about how big the plant would get, if it could grow in full sun, and what the flowers would look like. I barely gave a second thought as to whether or not the plant could survive a drought.

That’s all changed now that we are in an extreme drought. Now I’m looking around the garden and am happy to see that by chance, I did manage to get a few plants that seem to be unaware that we haven’t gotten any substantial rain since early May. They are green and growing and don’t have that parched look that many plants have these days.

These plants include three shrubs – aromatic sumac, bayberry, and dwarf butterfly bush.

Aromatic sumac, Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’, grows to about two feet tall, but it will spread and can become quite wide. It can be kept in bounds with some easy trimming. The leaves remind me of a related plant, poison ivy, but aromatic sumac is not poisonous. In the fall, the leaves turn reddish orange. In my garden, aromatic sumac is green and lush right now, and I’ve only watered it a few times.

Bayberry, Myrica pensylvanica, is also doing quite well in my garden. Set back in a corner, it has received no additional water, except for a little splash from a sprinkler earlier in the summer. It has dark green leaves and should keep most of those leaves through the winter. If I do nothing to it, it could grow to 10 feet tall and wide, but I’ll keep mine trimmed down to a more manageable size.

Dwarf butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii Lo & Behold ™ ‘Blue Chip’, is a nice surprise for me. I bought six of these shrubs back in the optimistic days of late spring when we thought surely it would rain eventually. These shrubs have blue flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators and should only get about two feet tall and wide. With some occasional watering, they’ve also made it through this drought do far.

Tough decisions are a gardening necessity

July 26, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

“Are you cruel enough to be a gardener?” The garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence, author of several books about gardening in the south and hundreds of newspaper columns, once posed this question to a friend who was visiting her garden. She asked this question because many gardens are so small that to grow everything a gardener wants to grow, he may have to dig up some plants and give them away or throw them out to make room for new plants.

It is true that when space is limited, every plant counts in a garden. However, when there is a lot of room, we often leave some plants alone even if they are under performing or we don’t particularly like them. We don’t have to rip out plants to make room for more plants. But whether your garden is large or small, this question about cruelty still comes to mind when you are gardening during an extreme drought with watering restrictions. You have to make some choices about which plants to water and which to leave alone.

In my garden, I’ve pushed aside a few container plantings that weren’t much to look at. It seems pointless to water them. I’ve also stopped watering plants that aren’t likely to produce much in the vegetable garden, like the green beans that have been mostly eaten by rabbits and then were attacked by bean beetles.

I’m hopeful that everything else around the garden will pull through the drought with minimal watering until it rains again. I talked to a friend who gardens in Oklahoma where it was extremely hot and dry last summer. She said everything looked like it had been baked and fried in the hot sun, but once it started to rain in the fall many plants perked up and the plant losses were less than she feared. I’m hoping it will be that way here this year.

In the meantime, to answer the question – yes, I think I am “cruel enough to be a gardener”, at least when it comes to deciding on how to use my time and water wisely in watering plants around my garden in an extreme drought. Are you?

Where are the Japanese beetles?

July 19, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

Where are they? I looked at all the usual plants that they like to feast on, including roses, zinnias and grapes, and could not find a single Japanese beetle in my garden. Purdue entomologists told us this spring to expect to see the beetles earlier than usual this season because of the warm winter and early spring, but I haven’t seen one yet.

I suspect that this year’s low number of Japanese beetles is due to the dry conditions last year when they were attempting to lay eggs in the lawn in July. I would assume and hope that with fewer Japanese beetles this year and another dry summer, I’ll see fewer of them next year, too.

The lack of Japanese beetles is one positive aspect of these dry summers. While my plants struggle to survive in record heat and under extreme drought conditions, at least they don’t also have to endure their leaves being eaten up by these pests.

Because there are so few Japanese beetles this year, skip the beetle traps. Traps might just entice those in the vicinity to come over to your garden to feast. Even in years when we have an abundance of Japanese beetles, you should place any traps as far away from your garden as possible if you decide to use them. I also discourage anyone who wants to use an insecticide to kill off any Japanese beetles, especially if they don’t see many in their gardens. Spraying for beetles can inadvertently kill off bees and other beneficial insects. If I see any Japanese beetles, I just pick them off by hand and drown them in soapy water.

Fortunately, now that it is time for the Japanese beetles to lay their eggs again, my lawn is once again dry, dormant and a lovely shade of tan. Any adult Japanese beetles should find it difficult to lay their eggs in the sod this year, too. I will remind myself again that this is a positive aspect of the drought. If we have normal amounts of rain next year and plants are thriving in July, then the lack of Japanese beetles would be at least one consolation prize for enduring the drought this year.

Garden follies

July 12, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

Every season has the potential of subtracting something from a garden. A wintry ice storm may break branches off trees. A late spring frost may kill off a few blooms. A gust of wind (on an otherwise calm, hot, summer day in the middle of a drought) may knock over a red bud tree that was already rotting at the base (as was the case in my garden last week).

My red bud provided just enough shade for me to risk planting a few woodland flowers around its base a few springs ago. Even then, the tree was leaning and I knew it was a bit foolish to rely on its shade for too many more seasons; I named that area of the garden “Woodland Follies.”

As it turns out, it was more folly than I thought it would be. I had plans to plant a tree on either side of the red bud, let them grow some to provide their own shade and then remove the red bud tree. With the red bud gone, I’m assuming the woodland flowers may soon be subtracted from the garden as they try to survive the drought in full sun rather than their preferred full shade. I may try to move them, risking that they’ll die after transplanting rather than wither away in full sun.

This drought will likely subtract a few other plants from my garden, but it will also show me which plants can survive hot summers and long periods without rain.

I’m making notes to add more of those types of plants to my garden just in case we have another drought. In the meantime, I’m just hoping to get through until fall without too much more subtraction. After all, fall is for planting and now I have a spot open for the addition of a tree or two.

If you are seeing too much subtraction from your garden during this drought, Purdue University cooperative extension agents recently published a new website, purdue.edu/drought. On this new site, they have links to several articles on what to do around the garden during a drought. It’s good information to review, even if you’ve survived a drought before.

Coneflowers withstand drought with blooms

July 5, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

During this hot, dry summer, I am especially appreciative of the reliable coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, currently in bloom. These native plants withstand drought, and when the seed heads are left on the plants, they provide a good source of food for birds in the wintertime. They do self-sow a bit, but at least in my garden they don’t just take over everywhere.

Today, there are some new coneflowers that are almost not recognizable as coneflowers. These hybrid coneflowers were created by plant breeders who presumably wanted to take advantage of the sturdy nature of the coneflower plants while providing a wider range of colors and flower shapes.

Some of the more popular new coneflowers include ‘Hot Papaya’ with reddish-orange double blooms that have a big pom-pom of petals in the center of the flower. It stands out in the garden with its bright color and creates a dramatic focal point when it is fully mature. Another one, for those who don’t want a screaming reddish-orange bloom in their garden, is ‘Milkshake,’ which has cream-colored double flowers.

Before rushing out to buy these new coneflowers, consider if they are right for your gardening style. Some gardeners have found that these new coneflowers are not as reliable or as sturdy as the native coneflowers. They note that there are sometimes very few flowers or the plants just disappear over the winter. In some cases, the plants may grow well for a few seasons and then die off.

Fortunately, with a little more care and attention, you can successfully grow these fancy coneflowers. One of the secrets to success is to not allow the plants to flower the first year that you plant them. By removing flower buds, you will encourage the plants to focus on foliage and root growth, rather than seed production. The second year, let the plants bloom sparingly, depending on how large they are. In all years, keep the plants well-watered during dry spells to ensure they have a chance to become well-established.

Your reward for a little more patience and care with these new varieties of coneflowers will be some stunning blooms that will stand out in any garden.

Taking a gamble on sweet corn

June 28, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

When I was a kid, we always said “knee high by the Fourth of July” when we passed a cornfield in the summertime. As I recall, most of the time, the corn was actually closer to shoulder high by then and we would laugh at the idea of corn being that short on July Fourth. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been checking the sweet corn in my garden and reciting that bit of knowledge I learned years ago. I say it with a laugh, though, because this year, my sweet corn is actually going to be barely knee high by July Fourth.

I’ve never had such slow growing sweet corn. Yes, I planted it late, over the Memorial Day weekend, but it seems like it should still be much taller. In fact, if this corn doesn’t start growing faster, then this may be my last year to attempt to grow sweet corn in a small plot. It’s always been a bit of a gamble, anyway.

To be successful with sweet corn, you need a large enough stand of it to ensure good pollination of the ears as they develop. Corn pollen is spread by wind from the tassels to the emerging silks of the ears. You have to plant a lot of corn, not just one or two stalks or even a dozen stalks, to ensure good pollination. Without that pollination, the ears of corn will be half-formed, with a lot of gaps between the kernels. My sweet corn plot is about as small a plot as you would want to try, measuring about four feet by eight feet.

If you do get good pollination and fully filled out ears of corn, then there is nothing sweeter than sweet corn cooked within minutes of being harvested. There is no time for the sugar in the corn to turn to starch, which is what happens when sweet corn is stored for any length of time. I’m hopeful that if my corn is knee high by the Fourth of July, then I’ll eventually get a few ears of sweet corn to enjoy. If not, then there’s always the farmer’s market, where I’ll be looking for sweet corn picked the same day it is sold.

Garden fairies cause early blooms

June 21, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

It’s as though I have a little garden fairy sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear saying, “It’s going to be a dry summer. There’s no rain in the forecast. Keep watering.” Those same garden fairies must be talking to some of the plants, too, encouraging them to bloom early and set seed before they dry up and die.

I have so far noticed earlier than normal blooms on asters, sneezeweed (Helenium), goldenrod and tall phlox. Under normal conditions, I would not expect to see the first flower buds on these plants until late July. But something, maybe the drier than normal conditions, is giving them cues to bloom now and set seed. After all, that’s the goal of flowering plants – to flower and set seed to make sure their species continues. That is why when some flowering plants are under stress, whether from drought or poor growing conditions, they will sometimes bloom earlier than normal.

Gardeners can use this knowledge to their advantage to force plants to bloom. For example, we can hold back on high nitrogen fertilizers, which keep many plants “fat and happy” and flush with foliage, but does little to encourage blooms. Or, we can let a plant get pot bound, which can help to trigger it to bloom more fully, or we can hold back on watering, as long as the plant gets enough water to stay alive.

There’s nothing I can do now about the early blooms on these late blooming plants except water them and enjoy the flowers. One of my favorite flowers, which shouldn’t be blooming now, is a dwarf goldenrod, Solidago hybrida- ‘Little Lemon.’ I planted it on the edge of a garden border that is filled with plants that are all supposed to be in peak bloom in August.

Fortunately, ‘Little Lemon’ should continue to bloom over a long period of time, so it may still be in bloom later in the summer when the flowers around it make their appearance. Or the flowers around it may also bloom early, depending on the weather and what those little garden fairies tell them to do.

Gardeners can break rules too

June 14, 2012 in Outdoors by Carol Michel

I broke a rule in gardening this past weekend. I glanced around as I was breaking the rule and no one seemed to notice or care, so I kept on breaking it. For those who didn’t know there were gardening rules, I assume you’ve never read “The Horticulturist’s Rule-Book” by L. H. Bailey, first published in 1895, in which he lists “Loudon’s Rules for Gardeners.”

In particular, I broke Loudon’s first rule, “perform every operation in the proper season and in the best manner,” when I planted out some new shrubs on a hot day this past weekend. In my defense, I’ll argue that we really aren’t that far past the spring season for planting; we are just a little past one of the prime times. I will also point out that I did plant in the best manner. I dug a nice hole, made sure the roots were loosened from the root ball, watered the plant well, and then surrounded it with a nice layer of mulch.

If you decide to plant now, as I did, remember to keep the newly-planted plants well watered, just as you would if you planted them a month ago. If you don’t trust yourself to keep them well watered, then hold off buying more plants until fall, which is generally the best season for planting most trees and shrubs.

If you’ve already purchased plants, but have no time to plant them or places prepared to plant in, group the plants in their containers together in a sheltered area and keep them well watered. If they are in small pots, you may need to pot them up to larger pots to keep them from drying out during the day. Then plant later when you have time.

Loudon’s 19th century list of rules for gardeners included eight other rules. Am I breaking any of those other rules? No comment, but I’m not worried about it because breaking those rules isn’t going to ruin my garden. I am happy to report that anyone can be a successful gardener without rules just by following some basic guidelines, like keeping newly-planted plants well watered.