First Czechoslovak Garden Club of America

First Czechoslovak Garden Club of America

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 Welcome to the Our Garden's Blog. 

Here Members can talk about their gardens and get advice from other members

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June 2014 Speaker - Bonsaii Trees

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on July 20, 2014 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Daniel Kosta spoke about growing Bonsaii Trees

Bonsai means 'Box Tree'.  It is an image of a full size tree in miniature.  There are two varieties in the United States: Indoor and Outdoor.  The Indoor trees are tropical trees and would not survive the American winters.  The Outdoor varities behave just like their full size counterparts and need the colde to go dormant.

Bonsaii trees are kept small with trimming.  It takes years to get a tree to look right.  Some Bonsaii trees are over 100 years old.  When trimming a tree, a plan must be made that takes in the entire life of the tree - not just how you want it to look after one clipping.  The best time to trim is when the tree is coming out of dormancy.  Use wire to shape the tree.  Place copper or aluminum wire around a branch and move the branch where you want it.  The tree will continue to grow so the wire will have to be cut an replaced before it grows into the tree. Flowers, Fruit, and leaves cannot be reduced

Bonsaii trees grow in pots.  True Bonsaii pots are very expensive but will enhance the look of the tree.  Make sure the pot drains well.  Trim the roots to help the tree grow.

May 2014 Speaker - Bee Keeping

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on July 20, 2014 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Charles and Karen Lorence gave a very interesting presentation on what it is like to raise bees. 

Bees are not native to North America.  They were present in Jamestown in 1610, however.  By 1640 there were several hives all over  the Northeast Coast.  These early hives were all in trees.  In 1851, Reverand Langstroth developed a portable bee hive.  His concepts are still the basis for the hives of today.  Reverand Langstroth created a hive that did not have to be destroyed to get the honey out. 

Chares and Karen should us some of the tools used in modern beekeeping.  One was a Queen Box.  When a person starts a new hive they are shipped the bees.  The Queen is kept separate from the workers in a special box.  She is usually not from the same hive so the bees would kill her.  It takes about 3 days for the worker bees to accept her.  They then chew out the wax at the end of the box and allow their new queen to come out.

Bees go through all of the stages of life that all insects do.  Once they are fully developed they live on average 6 weeks.  Three weeks are spen as House bees cleaning up the hive and caring for the queen.  Their last house chore is to protect and cool the hive.  They get to be at the enterance fanning their wings.  Bee hives are kept a constant temperature by their efforts.  The bees are then out in the field for 3 week.  They usually die because their wings get torn and they cannot make it back to the hive.

Honey is dehydrated nectar.    The water content is dried out until it is only 18%.  It takes the lifetime  of 11 bees to make 1 teaspoon of honey.

Bees are dying in very large amounts.  This is primarily due to the insecticides that are found in the plants on modern farms.

April 2014 Speaker - Bird Feeders

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on June 29, 2014 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Ron Zick from Birds Unlimited spoke to us about Bird Feeders and Bird Feed

Bird Feed

The best feed for birds contains high energy and high fat content seeds.  Birds use a lot of energy and hhave a very high metabolism.  Sunflower, Safflower, and Peanuts are good.  Most commercial bird feed contains Milo wheat and barley.  It is also a better bargain to get shelless seeds as 30% of the content could be shells.  Birds will sort through the seeds and throw what they don't like on the groundThis is why Most feeders end up with a lot of seeds and unwanted growth under them. 

If you want to attract specific birds you have to place specific items in your feeder.  Goldfinch love Niger Thistle.  They are very finicky about it.  They don't like it too old or too wet.  Woodpeckers love suet, especially suet with hot peppers in it.  Woodpeckers are distant relatives of parrots.  Parrot's diets in the wild contain a lot of peppers.  Hummingbirds like sugarwater in a 1:4 ratio.  They also like the color Red.  Don't put food coloring in the sugarwater just put the mixture in a red container.  Don't worry if ants get in the sugarwater.  The Hummingbirds will eat them too!  Baltimore Orioles enjoy Oranges and Grape jelly.  No other flavor of jelly attracts them as much as grape.

Bird Feeders   

It is best to use a Mesh feeder as they trap less moisture.  Feeders should be cleaned out at least 3 times a year.   Tube Feeders with a tray attract more bird types.  The different holes allow more birds to get at the feeder in the way they like to feed and without bumping into each other.  Some birds are very territorial and will not allow another bird of their species to feed at the same time.  It is important - though difficult - to Squirrel Proof your feeder.  Place the feeder on a pole  with a baffle so squirrels cannot climb up the pole.  Keep the pole far enough away from trees, fences, wires, etc so they cannot jump on to the feeder.  Squirrels can jump about 12 feet.

Woodpeckers like the Suet feeders where you place ablock of suet inside them.  They then peck it out.  Getting the suet with peppers distracts other birds and squirrels.  The Baltimore Oriole feeder has spokes on the side for the orange and a small cup on the bottom for the jelly

March 2014 Speaker

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on March 23, 2014 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Dan Kosta gave a very interesting presentation about Roses.  He traced their liniage from ancient times all the way to the current cultivars. 

13th Century Roses

The Ancient European Rose was a rather bland flower.  It was grown mostly for medicinal purposes.  The rose oil and rose hips were used to cure all sorts of ailments.  The roses only bloomed once and in June.  There was one single flower with 5 petals.  There were only three colors: White, Red, and Pink

Middle Ages

In the Medieval times roses were grown for their fragrance.  The petals were tossed on the ground of castles to help remove the noxious odors of indoor Medieval living.  Because it was the petals that were popular people started creating hybrids with more and more petals.

During this time the Asian Rose was introduced to Europe.  These roses came in a multitude of colors.  There was also a variety that had many blooms (Bourban Rose).  These different cultivars were combined to create the Tea Rose and Hybrid Tea Roase varieties.

These new cultivars are very high maintenance.  They require constant fertilization and are highly suseptible to bugs and diseases.  Some of the diseases are Blackspot and Mildew.  A copper based fungicide and removing the infected leaves helps.  Some other diseases are Balling where the bud gets wet and won't open completely.  Rose Rosette is a disease which has not cure.  The plants have lots of soft thorns and misshapen flowers.  The plant must be removed and the tools sterilized.

Care and Maintenance

DO NOT USE ROSE CONES!  Instead Cover with mulch or soil 8 to 10 inches.  Remove the mulch when the plant starts growing in the Spring.  Don't trim the plant in the Fall.  Spring is the best time to transplant and trim. Shape the rose.  Do not cut to far down.   Only use sharp instraments.  Look for the first 5 leaf cluster (hybrid Tea roses).  Remove the flowers once they have bloomed to get more flowers. 

Other Rose Varieties

Rugosa - This is the hardiest species.  It is very fragrant, large, very salt tolerent, and has recurrent blooms

English or David Ausitn - This cultivar has large, quartered blooms and is very fragrant

Knockout - This is a hardy, low maintenance plant.  The blooms are not as pretty as the Hybrid Tea

Drift - This is a very low growing plantthat is good for ground cover.

June 2013 Speaker

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on June 17, 2013 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Tom Micheletti gave an absolutely fascinating presentation about Hostas.  He runs The Hosta Patch where he raises over 500 varieties of Hostas for sale. 

General information about Hostas

Hostas are a heardy perennial that can thrive in Zones 3 through 9.  They need a cold dormancy period of about 30 days so you cannot grow them indoors.  Hostas originated from the Orient - primarily Japan.  Most hostas are propogated through tissue culture.  They do not reproduce the same plant from their seed.  There are three types of growth patters for hostas: Mound, Spread, and Upright.  Hostas come in many sizes.  Their leaf size is from small to gigantic.

New Hosta varieties come about in two different ways.  The slow method is when Botanists  create new varieties by cross pollinating different varieties (Hybridization).  This can take several generations and thousands of plants. The Botanist may end up linking one of the interim cross- breads and make that a new variety and not continue with his or her original plan.  The other way new varities are created is by a mutation in the tissue culture.  Thousands and thousands of hostas are created using the Tissue Culter method of propogations.  Every once in a while a mutation occurs and new variety of plant is formed.  These mutations are called Sports. (Maybe that is were the term a "Good Sport" came from!).  If the grower can recreate the sport a new varity is created.

Hostas come in many colors.  Hosta leaves can be streaked (or veriegated) with Yellow or White.  The whiter the leaf the more sun the plant needs.  There is no chlorophyl where the white is.  The streaks in the leaves will eventually disappear.  The plant mst be divided periodically to keep the streak.  Separate the part that turned all green from the rest of the plant to keep the color.  Blue hostas have a blue wax on the leaves.  As summer, and the heat, progresses, the blue melts off the leaves and the plant turns green.  There currently is not a Red Hosta but botanists are working on one.  It might be ready in a few years.

Hostas are usually not know for their flowers but some have been bred to have striking flowers.  Each flower lasts one day and is very perfumy.

The best  time to divide a hosta is when it is cool.  This can be in the Spring when the plant is first coming up or in late August or September.  It is the roots that make new plants.

The biggest problem with Hostas are slugs.  They eat holes in the beautiful leaves.  unfortunately there is no panecea for these pests.  Iron Sulfate works a litte and offers good nutrients to the plant.  When you fertilize hostas, lookf for fertilizer that has a higher first and last number.  An even mix will also work.  Make sure not to touch the leaves as they will burn.

Most of all........Enjoy your Hostas!

Bill Puckett Presentation 2013

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on January 13, 2013 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Bill Pucket gave a two part presentation called Behind the Big Picture.  He is quite the accomplished photographer and took pictures of things you don't normally look for in gardens.

Some of the items he has picture of are

  • The different parts of a flower
    • Nectary (partthat attracts the pollinator)
    • Anthem (the Male portion, the pollen)
    • Ovary (The female portion, where the seeds are)
    • Sepal (the outer part that protects the petals, or Nectary, until the plant blooms)

Some interesting facts he presented

  •  Petals on plants are usually found in Fibinacci Number counts
  • 97% of the pollination is done by other than Bees
  • Most of the insects you see that look like Wasps are not Wasps and cannot sting you
  • Most of the Wasps and Hornets won';t even sting you
  • Plants with multiple flowers do not bloom all at once in order to get the most ovaries pollinated

All of these facts were from his First presentation in January, 2013.  I can't wait until his February show!

March 2012 Speaker

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on April 19, 2012 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The March Speaker was Judy Wherley.  She gave us a calandar of activities for us to do during the Spring.  

March is a good time for pruning and cleaning up the Winter debris.  Wait until the new growth starts before cleaning...but don't get rid of all of the debris until after the threat of frost is over.  When it comes to pruning, use the 3 point cutting method for larger branches.  This will prevent the bark from tearing and damaging the plant.  Cut off the suckers that grow around the trees and any other invasive trees that are growing in your garden.  Pinch off the 'Candles' (young buds) from the Evergreen bushes.  Do not cut Pine bushes past the green leaves because the greenery will not grow back.  Do not prune pines after September.  Check for damaged or dead plants and start planning what to replace them with. 

April is good time to start planting cool season flora. Also look for diseases while finishing cleaning up last years dead growth.  Some of  the diseases to look for are:  Bag Worm and Spider Mites.  Divide perennials before the bud breaks.  Try not to step onlawns and garden beds when the soil is wet as the ground will get compacted.

February Speaker

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on February 12, 2012 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Beth Botts gave a presentation called "The Tired Garden and the Tired Gardener"  She gave some ideas on how to spruce up your garden and how to make gardening easier.

The first suggestion was to decide who you are and what you want your garden to be like.  It should reflect the "you" that you are now.  You should design your garden around your current life.  You do not need the same garden you did 15 years ago.  Some examples are:  You don't need to plant 10 tomato plants if there are only two of you; You don't need a vast grassy area for your grown-up 30 year old kids - and the grandkids don't come around enough for you to set aside a large space for them;  You don't need to plant the red geraniums on the flower box because the neighbors expect it.

Her next topic was about making life easier for the "Tired" Gardener.  Some ideas she gave were:

Plant Raised Beds.  You don't have to bend as far

Plant the Right plant for the Right Location and Conditions

Perennials are Low Maintenance not "No' Maintenance

Understand YOUR Garden.  Just because something looks great at the store or a magazine does not mean it will grow well - or at all!  Research what will grow in YOUR Garden.  It will save a lot of frustration

Native Plants do not mean you can leave them alone and they will all grow.  You have to plant the Right Native Plant for the conditions in Your Garden.  However Native Plants will attract Native Wildlife and make your garden more interesting.

Plant the right shrubs.  You do not have to line your house with shrubs.  Be Creative.  Layer the height and size of the shrubs.  Allow enough space for your shrub.  Try Native Shrubs.

Tulip bulbs will typically not turn perrenial.  If you bulb does not bloom it is not getting enough sunlight.  Bulb plants originated in the mountains where there are cold winters and a short season

Lower Your Standards.  It is not the end of the world if you have some brown spots or bugs.  Also don't be afraid to get rid o plants that don't work


Don't Be Afraid to try different things

June 2011 Speaker

Posted by First Czech Garden Club on August 6, 2011 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Our speaker for June was Nick Janakas. He is a Master Gardener who specialized in Plumeria. Plumeria are tropical plants that are used to make leis. There are many varieties and colors. Each color has its own fragrance. Nick has a 14 foot Plumeria plant which he adopted. It took 3 people to move it to his house! Here are some tips Nick told the club: Plumeria are tropical plants that can grow outdoors in Chicago from June to about September. Then they must be dug up and placed in either a greenhouse or your house. Plumeria can be grown from seeds or cuttings. The plants only seed by the ocean. The seeds take a lot of heat and light (they are tropical) and flower in 5 years. It is much easier to get a cutting. When you get a cutting cut of a small part at the end and dip it in a hormone mixture. Nick liked Super Thrive with a vitamin hormone mixture but you cannot get it any more with a fungicide. The next best thing is Rootone (a root hormone powder). Put the cutting in a pot with mushroom compost and water with Miracle Grow. For more information got to

April 2011 Speaker

Posted by Geoffrey Lacina on April 24, 2011 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The April speaker was Beth Botts. She is the Senior Editor of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine. She gave us a slide presentation on how to grow vegetables in very small or unusual places.

She showed us a slide of a person growing lettuce in gutters placed on the side of her house. She also showed us a picture of the first certified Organic Farm on the Roof of a building! Beth has a thriving vegetable garden on her back porch.

Beth discussed Intensive Gardening practices. This involved sowing two different vegetables in the same space. When the first one is finishing up, the second vegetables are just starting.

Beth also recommended Raised Bed farming using the Lasagna Gardening method. Raised Beds are gardens that are not flat on the ground. They could be dirt built up from the ground and kept in place by wood planks, cement, or rocks. If you use wood, the bottom will eventually rot, Cement walls can cause the garden soil to become more acidic as the cement releases lime in the dirt.

Lasagna Gardening uses layers of organic material and manure to build up the dirt. Leaves, Grass Clippings, and other yard waste can be used. The soil is not tilled or mixed. The new plants and seeds are sowed right into the organic matter. The organic matter slowly decomposes and feeds the plant's roots with its nutrients. The non-decomposed material on the top keeps weeds to a minimum. So does not tilling. When one tills they are bringing the weed seeds to the surface where they quicly start to grow (as I have experienced often!)

Beth talked to us about self watering containers. These containers have a reservoir of water on the bottom with a gap between the water and the soil. They are not entirely self-watering but they do cut down on the amount of watering that is needed. Beth showed us how to make our own and some tips on buying one.

When selecting plants, make sure to select ones that are for containers. They should say Patio, Bush, Dwarf, Container or Short Internodes. Not having this variety can make it difficult to harvest or control your plants.

Beth also showed us a Micro-Sprout garden. Theses gardens have very little space or dirt. The plants are only allowed to sprout before they are harvested.