Fall flower show celebrates 50 years of blooms, designs

It’s a golden celebration. “Then and Now” is the theme for the 50th annual fall flower show sponsored by the Nevada Garden Clubs. It takes place Saturday from noon to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Nevada Garden Club Center in Lorenzi Park, 3333 W. Washington Ave.

The show features floral designs and wonderful fall foliage and blooms from Southern Nevada’s autumn season. You can bring your specimens to be judged. You might walk away with a blue ribbon. For further details, call 242-9259.

Show classes include trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, roses, cut flowers and herbs, foliage, grasses, fruits, vegetables, African violets, container plants, cactuses and succulents.

There will be a special show within a show by the Greater Las Vegas Orchid Society, and exhibits of veggies from the “Grow a Row for the Hungry,” grown here. A sale by many of the clubs will be happening on the patio — everything from garden items and plants to artwork.

And while at the show, stroll down to the Rose Garden and take time to smell the roses.

Here are some questions I recently encountered at the Springs Preserve:

Q: Why did the fruit of my big boy variety tomatoes only get the size of golf balls?

A: I strongly suspect it was not that variety or it was mislabeled. I have seen people pull labels from packets to read and then replace them on other varieties.

Q: Will a dragon tree grow in Las Vegas?

A: As soon as I say no, there will be 100 people who say they have one in their yard. It is a very tender tree, and “if someone sneezes, it freezes,” said arborist Dennis Swartzell. Yes, it grows fast, but its brittle limbs break easily in the wind. It does bring a tropical effect to landscapes, but takes a lot of water to keep the large leaves from scorching.

Q: What are the buds popping up on my cactus in a 2-inch pot in our living room and what do I do with them? Also, how big a pot do I transplant it in?

A: Chris Turner of Turner Greenhouse Nursery said those buds are potential flowers, and shouldn’t be removed.

When transplanting, move up to a pot only 2 inches larger than the current one. Roots must find their bounds before top growth takes place, even with houseplants.

Q: I have a Wonderful pomegranate and a Utah sweet pomegranate planted 10 feet apart. Will they cross-pollinate and change the flavor and color of the fruit?

A: No! Pomegranates, like any other fruit, will remain the same unless you plan to propagate them from seed.

Q: We haven’t done anything to my roses this season. What do we do now?

A: Remove the faded flowers. Don’t prune too much, in case we have a killing frost. It takes 30-plus days to produce new roses and if we get an early frost, you won’t get many roses. There are flowers opening up now, so enjoy them. Jackie Jackson of the Las Vegas Rose Society said cool weather prolongs the life of blooms, and their colors will be vivid this fall.

Q: My gardener wants to cut back my ornamental grass Regal Mist, even as they color up. When is the best time to trim ornamental grasses back?

A: Don’t you let him touch your ornamental grasses. They are out in all their glory at the Springs Preserve and across the valley. Even after grasses turn brown, they still add to the winter landscape. Tell him to prune them next spring; otherwise, you will be looking at a clump of brown grass on a stump until next year.

Q: We have a weed popping up between cracks in our sidewalks and flagstones. It is covered with white to purple blooms almost constantly. What is it and how do we get rid of it?

A: You described sweet alyssum, a durable annual. It is a prolific seeder and grows as you said: anywhere. Master gardener Denise Halverson has them all over her beautiful yard and almost cried when she heard someone wanted to eliminate it.

Q: I’m planting my first vegetable garden next spring. Do you have any tips for getting started?

A: Master gardener Don Fabbi said to start with a small garden. You will have a greater chance of success: It’s more manageable; you’ll have healthier plants; it provides a feeling of accomplishment; reduces frustration; and harvesting won’t be such a chore.

Fabbi highly recommends raised beds, because they are problem solvers. Make beds as long as you like but only 4 feet wide so you can reach both sides without walking across it.

Q: What about soil and its preparation for my vegetable garden?

A: Fabbi said the main problems with our native soil are the lack of organic matter and it is highly alkaline. Spread 3 to 4 inches of organic matter over the area; add vegetable fertilizer and soil sulfur following manufacturer recommendations. Till or spade the ingredients into the soil and level and moisten it. Finally, let it mellow until you are ready to plant next spring. This way, you take control of the soil.

“If you only have $100 to spend on your vegetable garden, put $90 into soil improvement. It’s just that important,” Fabbi said.

Q: What is causing my pecan leaves to glisten?

A: It is aphid honeydew. It creates a mess on patio floors, lawn furniture and cars and is hard to remove. Give the tree a good washing and spray with insecticidal soap until controlled.

Q: My gardener says my pigmy palm froze last winter, but there is still greenery in the crown. How do I tell if it is dead or alive?

A: Pigmy palms are susceptible to frost. The best way to tell is by attempting to pull out the crown; if it comes out, it is dead. Since you haven’t had any new growth, I suspect it is dead.

Q: What is causing the twigs on my African sumac to die back?

A: Cicadas (insects you heard during the summer) caused this damage. The female uses a sharp ovipositor to prick open the tender bark of twigs and then deposit eggs in the slits. The twig eventually dies and drops off.

SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL

Explore the steps to creating water-efficient landscapes that are simply beautiful and extend your living space into the outdoors. Join experts from the Southern Nevada Water Authority at 6 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd.

Linn Mills writes a gardening column each Thursday. You can reach him at lmills@reviewjournal.com or at the Gardens at the Springs Preserve at 822-7754.

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