206 N Griffith, Suite A
El Dorado, KS 67042-2039
|Prairie Star Flowers Blog||
Located at the El Dorado Lake State Park office, the Butler County Demonstration and Research Garden is a site in south central Kansas to see a nice assortment of annuals and perennials that are well-suited for the area. The garden is planted and maintained by Master Gardener volunteers, under the guidance of extension agent Larry Crouse. It's a great example of people working to make their community a more beautiful and enjoyable place to live!
The flower garden is located east of town at the entrance to the El Dorado Lake State Park.
For gardeners interested in more than flowers, there is also a demonstration garden 4 blocks south of the Extension Office in El Dorado – half of it is vegetables, showing things like raised beds, plastic culture, K-State vegetable variety trials, etc. The other half is landscaped with a water feature complete with a 3 ft waterfall, hardy perennials and shrubs that require little care, such as 5 earth-kind rose beds, lilacs, desert willow, cotoneaster, elderberry, iris, day lilies, redbud, vitex, sedum and grasses. There is even an area with more shade adapted plants such as hostas, clematis, japanese maple, viburnums and more. It is always open to the public and it is located on the north side of the recycle center.
For more information on either garden, contact the El Dorado Extension Office at 316-321-9660
206 N Griffith, Suite A
El Dorado, KS 67042-2039
Get out the popcorn! This is a movie trailer like no other! We obtained some video footage from a drone during the K-State OHREC field day in July. It certainly offered some great views that would otherwise be hard to get! Dr. Cary Rivard (the K-State Fruit & Vegetable Extension Specialist) and his son put together some clips in this fun compilation. Check it out - very high horticulture drama!
In Hays, Kansas, the KSU Agricultural Research Center is home to one of the larger testing sites for Prairie Star Flowers. If you live in the area or are passing by on I-70, it is an educational stop to see which flowers do well there. The grounds manager, Joe Becker, does a great job of making sure the plants are properly planted, labeled, and maintained. Every year offers a different display of color!
All of the flowers are nicely labeled, and some container trials are also included. This enables us to test some cultivars like Calibrachoa, that only perform well in pots, in the western Kansas climate.
A late-summer tradition in western Kansas are the K-State Horticulture Nights. The public is invited to come hear K-State Research & Extension experts talk on lawn and garden issues pertinent to the region. The KSU Agricultural Research Center - Hays hosts one night (see the previous blog post featuring the Northwest Research-Extension Center in Colby for the other).
The 2014 Program is being held on Thursday August 14. Registration starts at 5:30, with the program at 6:00. The speakers this year from K-State Research & Extension will address the following areas:
Flowers: Prairie Star Flower Trial
Lawn: Management Issues
Landscape: Shrub Varieties
Vegetables: Tomato & Pepper
Insects: Friends of the Garden
It is always an informative and fun evening! A light hotdog supper is provided.
Otherwise the grounds are open for visitors during daylight hours on regular business days.
KSU Agricultural Research Center - Hays
1232 240th Avenue
Hays, Kansas 67601
Located in the far northwest corner of the state in Colby, KS, the Northwest Research-Extension Center is a facility primarily used for agricultural research, but is also a trial site for Prairie Star flowers. This year marks the Center's 100th Anniversary as a site for agriculture research and outreach!
With Kansas being such a big state, the climate and growing conditions for the flowers at this site are quite different from the eastern or southern parts of the state. While the days are very hot and rain is scarce, the higher elevation and drier atmosphere lead to much cooler night temperatures. Under the cooler nights the flowers store more sugars in their petals, resulting in deeper, darker, richer and more vibrant colors.
The highly landscaped grounds and flower trials are a wonderful respite for travelers. Visitors are encouraged to stop and stroll through gardens. The grounds of the research & extension center are open during daylight hours 7 days a week.
Every year in late summer, Kansas State University holds a Horticulture Field Day at the Colby station. Held in the evening hours, it's a chance for local gardeners to hear pertinent information from K-State Research & Extension.
The 2014 Field Day is on August 13 with the following schedule:
5:30 Guided tour and Welcome
6:15 Speakers begin the program:
Tree selection and care for northwest Kansas
Turfgrass selection and care for northwest Kansas
Shrub selection and care for northwest Kansas
Prairie Star annual flower trials
Attendees are encouraged to bring in samples from their home gardens for identification and diagnosis.
The Northwest Research-Extension Center is located at:
105 Experiment Farm Rd
Colby, Kansas 67701-0505
The Post Rock Extension District covers five counties in North-Central Kansas (Jewell, Lincoln, Osborne, Mitchell and Smith). The Demonstration and Research Garden graces the outside of the County Courthouse in Smith Center. When people in the community are on their way to pay their property taxes, register their vehicle or do other county business, they are greeted by a beautiful display of colorful flowers!
Different flowers are on display each year. We want to be sure that the flowers on the Prairie Star list thrive in all regions of the state - including by the Nebraska border - so this is a good site to have in the program. The plants are all nicely labeled, so if you are in the area, see what looks good to you and think about planting them in your garden!
The Garden is located at the Smith Center Courthouse:
218 S Grant
Smith Center, KS
Wouldn't it be a cheerful place to live if we all planted some sunflowers in our gardens? Kansas is the Sunflower State, after all! While sunflowers won't give you the season-long color of other annuals on the Prairie Star list, it doesn't mean there isn't a place for them in the garden. Especially if you are gardening with children, there are few plants that are so easy and rewarding to grow. There are so many varieties to choose from, that you are sure to find one to fit your needs and your space.
Sunflowers are almost always grown from seed, making them very economical choices. It's easiest to sow them directly in the ground, as the plants do better when their roots are not disturbed during transplanting. (See our previous blog post on direct seeding annual flowers for more info on that topic.) Engage your children. Let them poke the seeds into the garden. Step back and watch them grow. A semi-dwarf variety like the one in the picture above blooms with a giant flower on a plant only three feet high. Your child will be able to look, up close and personal, with the flower right at their eye level. The seeds can be eaten or the seed head saved to use as a bird feeder over the winter.
Have fun picking out what type(s) you would like to grow! There are some very dwarf types that reach heights of only 16 inches, making them good choices for small spaces or planted as a low border in a garden. Then there are semi-dwarf varieties that reach heights of 2 to 3 feet. And of course the standard and giant varieties that can grow to be mammoth sizes of 6-10 feet!
In terms of plant habit, you can choose a single stem or branching type, depending on the look you are going for. The single stem plants tend to have one large flower, while the branched ones have multiple smaller blooms per plant. The Extension Master Gardeners at the K-State Olathe Horticulture Research & Extension Center did a sunflower demonstration one year in their Backyard Garden and planted a wide variety. The picture below is a good comparison of some smaller branched varieties in the foreground vs. the larger single stem cultivars in the back.
Last but not least are the blooms! What color do you like? Because sunflowers are way beyond bright yellow. Now you can find deep red, orange, peach, nearly white, and everything in between. There are also bi-colored, semi-double, and double flowered cultivars to add even more variety.
You can use your sunflowers as cut flowers in bouquets, leave them in the garden for the wildlife to enjoy, or plant a type that is good for roasting and eating. All these activities are also great to do with children - it's the perfect flower to teach many lessons about gardening and nature!
Every year on the last Saturday of July, the K-State Olathe Horticulture Research & Extension Center has its annual Open House for the public. The event offers everyone a chance to learn straight from the researchers and Master Gardener Volunteers about how best to garden in Kansas. The site is the primary testing grounds for the Prairie Star Flowers program, so if you have ever been curious about what goes on at the trial, this is the time to learn!
This year some of the highlights in the flower trials include
- New disease-resistant Impatiens that won't get downy mildew
- Container trials of flowers and some vegetables to grow on your patio
- First-year blooming perennials
- Lantanas that stay small and uniform in the landscape or containers
- Many compact, well-branched Cannas
The educational talks vary each year, so check the Johnson Co. Extension website for a schedule.
The event runs from 8am - 3pm and is located at:
K-State Olathe Horticulture Research & Extension Center
35230 W. 135th St.
Olathe, KS 66061
Admission is $5/person and includes all education classes and bottled water. Lunch is available for purchase.
Centrally located in the state, the McPherson Demonstration and Research garden is another location where you can find Prairie Star flowers on display in Kansas. The Extension Master Gardeners have put a lot of hard work into making a beautiful brick-lined area that is well-labeled and bursting with color.
The garden has expanded over the years and now includes sections featuring Prairie Star (annuals), Experimental, Prairie Bloom (perennials), Heritage, Native, Xeriscape Berm, Shrubs, Shade, and a huge display of Daylilies and Grasses.
And when you visit you can't help but notice the bricks! We learned that they are paving bricks from Buffalo, Kansas, which were obtained when Highway 56 was redone in the downtown area. As the layers of blacktop were removed, there appeared a layer of paving bricks which are now (after much scraping, cleaning, stacking, and laying) serving as pathways and borders in the garden. The bricks were much sought after, but because the construction foreman had noticed the modest first year garden, he moved it to the top of the list and subsequently delivered 5 dump truck loads of bricks to the site! The volunteers have since acquired additional bricks to complete the project. The first year's garden was 16' x 20' and was financed by donations from individual members and from area nurseries. Since then they have added 6 horticulture programs and a garden tour. Impressive!
The garden is located by the McPherson Extension office at
600 W Woodside
McPherson, KS 67460-0308
See their website or call 620-241-1523 for more information.