Shawnee News-Star Saturday September 8 2018 Becky Emerson Carlberg G188. Within the Plant Science Open Division, this is the category for the Scarecrow Contest. For the third year in a row, the Multi-County Master Gardeners (MCMGA) is entering the scarecrow contest sponsored by the Pottawatomie County Fair Board. The contest is open to any non-profit […]
Shawnee News-Star Saturday September 8 2018
Becky Emerson Carlberg
G188. Within the Plant Science Open Division, this is the category for the Scarecrow Contest. For the third year in a row, the Multi-County Master Gardeners (MCMGA) is entering the scarecrow contest sponsored by the Pottawatomie County Fair Board. The contest is open to any non-profit group from 4-H and FFA to Scouts, gardening and church organizations. As long as the effigies do not exceed six feet in height and forty-eight inches deep and wide, it's a go. As additional incentive, scarecrows garner the highest prize monies in the Plant Science Division.
The way my garden turned out this year, it was either help construct a scarecrow or decorate a watermelon, gourd or pumpkin. In the decorated melon contest, at least, you didn't have to grow your fruit. The pumpkin vines have been blooming for weeks, but nary a single fruit can I find. My pumpkin plant thinks it is a sweet potato vine and its only purpose is to cover ground.
The tomatoes are there, still green and growing. The ripe ones were picked by the mama raccoon, three half-grown offspring and one large male that cruise through the area each night. Or perhaps the opossum ate them. All the animals can obviously read. My property is posted as a certified Oklahoma Wildscape and National Wildlife Federation Habitat. The one lonely acorn squash is protected by a fence, but isn't fit for competition. Two pineapples are in bloom, but their spreading leaves and large pots may take their dimensions beyond the four foot height limit.
The climbing rose is alive. Period. The tropical milkweed has one Monarch caterpillar but no flowers. The top of the plant was decapitated, I suspect, by a grasshopper. The sunflowers, Cosmos and Gauras are thrilled with life and full of blossoms. Several plants are over 9 feet tall. I collected Gaura parviflora seeds from lengthy plants growing along the airport fence. This Gaura has very tiny, non-descript flowers but can tower beyond 10 feet high. One needs a pair of binoculars to see the flowers. The Gaura lindheimeri in front of my house may grow 5 feet in height, but the white with pink flowers are showy, have a beautiful fragrance, bilateral symmetry and long prominent stamens. The small Gaura growing along the road barely tops ten to twelve inches and has cute miniature blooms.
Thirteen Gaura species have been identified. Under intense molecular scrutinization by a group of taxonomists (biologists that have nothing else better to do than reclassify and rename organisms), they determined Gaura was so 'deeply embedded' within the Evening Primrose family, it deserved to be elevated to the Oenothera genus name. Oenthera covers the 145 other species of primroses. In 2013 they published their list of Gaura species and renamed everyone Oenothera. It has yet to catch on with many botanists and the public who still like to call them Gaura. Just use the common names beeblossoms or whirling butterflies.
My garden is yellow (sunflowers), white (Gauras), blue (Lobelias), orange (Cosmos) and red (Sages). The hummingbirds zing into those red flowers, but are currently fighting and defending vigorously the two nectar feeders. Judging from their behavior, it won't be long before my lot leaves, but other migrators will probably stop by on their way south.
Scarecrow it was to be. The theme for this year's Pottawatomie County Free Fair is 'The Greatest Show on Dirt.' I collected a shirt designated for Good Will, pair of well worn jeans, ancient knit panty hose and a vampire cape from a Halloween long ago. These were thrown over the back of the couch while I waited for inspiration to hit. The next day I wondered if chicken wire would work as a flexible support system for arms and legs. A small pre-packaged roll of wire from the hardware store was added to my collection along with a mop head.
Two years ago, Myrtle was the MCMGA entry. She was a beauty, with papier mache head that had been formed over a balloon, paper curls, pioneer dress, denim apron and gloved hands. She stood surrounded by her plants, a small wheel barrow full of gardening tools by her side. Last year it was BBQ Bob. He wore a blue fuzzy pajama bundler stuffed with pillows and paper, wading boots for feet and his face a plastic orange Halloween pumpkin. A makeshift BBQ grill with paper flames was positioned by his feet as he sat on a chair watching the people walk by.
After a brainstorming session over the phone, fellow Master Gardener Linda Smith came bringing paper, batting, bushel and peck baskets and 15 little garden people. The people had been in too much sun without sunblock. The paint had faded to base blue. The 4' x 20' roll of chicken wire was cut into two pieces. Each section was rolled into a cylinder. The panty hose legs were pulled over the tube, leaving the waist area to become the head. The reinforced panty hose was inserted and pushed through one arm of the shirt and into the other arm, giving bendable arms and nice strong shoulders in-between. The other roll was curved and inserted into each jeans leg. The three garments were laid on the floor. The shirt was tucked and safety pinned into the waistline of the jeans. The chest cavity and jeans were stuffed with paper and the head with soft batting. The skull was sutured closed with more safety pins.
The life-sized scarecrow was positioned on the large bushel basket. A piece of wood was shoved down its back for a backbone. An old lamp pole gave the scarecrow better posture. The cape was attached. The head was tied back, mop put on the top, and there he sat. Linda called him Henry in jest, but the name stuck and Henry he became.
The following day I renovated the garden people while Linda created a top hat. Sharpie pens gave Henry his face. He would become a ringmaster in his straw top hat, red and black cape and wield his broom to coordinate his performers, the freshly painted and varnished garden people.
Henry started his performances on Wednesday at the Pottawatomie County Free Fair and will still be around on Saturday. Check him and everything else out at the Fair. The fair ends Saturday evening.