FEATURED QUOTE :
"An addiction to gardening is not all bad when you consider all the other choices in life."
~ Cora Lea Bell
Seven generations ago, when your grandfather's grandfather's grandfather was growing vegetables for food and flowers for enjoyment, the Ferry-Morse Seed Company was in the business of selling him fine seeds.
The world has changed since then, but Ferry-Morse quality is still reliable. Today, at the beginning of the 21st Century, Ferry-Morse offers a seventh generation of American gardeners fine seeds at retail lawn and garden centers all over America.
Ferry-Morse Selections include over 100 varieties of annual flowers, over 50 varieties of perennial flowers, over 120 varieties of vegetables, and over 25 varieties of herbs. Also, Ferry-Morse offers a selection of Heirloom packets and USDA Certified Organic seed.
Gardeners rely on the seed they plant. They expect it to germinate and grow into the blooming or productive plants they've selected.
If the seed is not good, their time and effort may be wasted--a risk no gardener wants to take. So it's just good sense for Ferry-Morse to continue to offer customers the best quality for their money.
They want to keep you as a satisfied customer and gardener. Their aim is to serve you honestly and not disappoint. So their seed is still the best quality available, and Guaranteed To Grow.
Look for Ferry-Morse seeds in local garden centers, lawn and garden retailers and home centers near you! Ferry-Morse's seeds are fresh and vigorous, ready to grow when you are ready to plant.
The leaves are large, hairy, medium green, and heart-shaped; the veins on the leaves seem to be sunken into the foliage, making them very noticeable and interesting.
The leaves also have a slight sheen to them--and when the plant needs water, they will almost look dull and have no sheen. This will tell you it is time to water.
The plant does drink a lot of water, because of the number and the size of the leaves on the plant. Some leaves can get up to eight inches across. The plant looks clean and seldom has disease problems on the foliage.
The flowers come in many styles, depending on variety. Look for single, semi-double, and double daisy-like blooms.
The flowers come in clusters on top of the foliage and form small flower clusters from side branches.
The daisy-like flower will be one inch or less in diameter. The center of the daisy starts off the same color as the flower petals and as it ages will turn yellow with pollen dust.
The flowers come in many colors and include some varieties with two-tone blooms.
Look for shades of pink, shades of blue, shades of purple and shades of red.
The new hybrids have a white stripe on the individual petals, creating a band around the flower. Some of the flowers may even have more white color than the original flower color.
Each individual flower will vary between white and color, even on the same plant.
Place the plants in a bright window or room with a lot of light. Because there is so much foliage on this plant, keep the plant on the cool side--50 to 60 degrees.
Hot sunny windows will shorten the life of the flowers and the plant will not bloom as long.
Water as needed to keep the plant moist most of the time; again, because of all the leaves on the plant.
But never keep them wet or standing in a saucer filled with water, or the roots will rot and the plant will die. If you have a wood or coal stove, keep them away from the hot room.
If you heat with forced hot air, keep them away from the heating vents, or the leaves will dry up here and there on the plant.
Drafty windows will also chill the plant--like all other plants. I like to keep one on the table in the middle of the room where I can enjoy it more.
Cinerarias are wonderful plants for you or as a gift. At this time of the year, when we all need a sign that spring is coming, this plant is wonderful for your mind and soul.
Let the snow fall, because I have a cineraria in my house and I don't care about the weather outside.
If you have a windy and open yard to all types of weather, then it's time you plant the hawthorn trees, which are known as a form of protection from the wind.
Also, for filtering of the wind rather than stopping it. A wall or thick evergreen hedge that blocks the wind will allow the wind it to move over it, causing a form of turbulence in your yard. The hawthorn will simply slow down the force of the wind.
The roots of the hawthorn are very strong and they will tolerate the wind at the seashore like no other tree. Do not block the wind, slow it down.
When planted close together to form a hedge they will keep out anything on the other side of it. The hawthorn has wonderful strong, long thorns which grow 1 to 3 inches long and will keep out everything from the neighbors to their pets.
Dry soils and excessive moisture will be tolerated by the hawthorn tree, but a sandy soil will give you the best growing tree. This small tree can be pruned to control its size, but if allowed to grow naturally it will grow to 25 feet tall and just as wide.
The hawthorn tree has many uses in medicine, helping the heart and circulation. In the middle ages it was planted to celebrate spring, marriages and fertility.
The hawthorn was dedicated to the Roman goddess of childbirth, Cardea, and when Zeus' wife touched the blossoms, she was able to conceive twins. So be careful when planting this tree in your yard.
The leaves look like small maple leaves-- glossy, with 5 lobes, and some teeth along the edges.
The leaves are one to three inches long and dark green in color during the spring and summer.
In the fall, look for great color from orange, red, and purplish-colored leaves.
The thorns and leaves are great but in the spring the flowers are its crowning glory. Depending on variety, look for single white or double white flowers.
The flowers develop in May and last until early June, with tiny clusters about one inch wide that cover the tree. The flowers will last up to 4 weeks, depending on the weather.
Heavy rain will knock them off, making a carpet of white petals that will last for several days.
In the fall another bonus, clusters of red fruit about 1/4 inch in diameter that are glossy and the birds love them. Because of the number of berries they will last well into the winter months or until the birds find them. The bark is brown to gray and as it ages it will peel a bit.
Plant in a full sun area but it will tolerate a bit of shade and still flower. The hawthorn will tolerate acid soils like the dogwood tree family.
When planted near large evergreen trees the fall color and red berries will stand out more, especially during the winter months. I love to see them planted near a window on the corner of the house so you can watch the birds feed on the berries.
The best varieties are:
• The'Toba' hawthorn, with fragrant double white flowers that will change to pink as they fade.
• The 'Snowbird' Hawthorn has double flowers.
• The 'Washington' hawthorn with creamy white flowers and foliage that tends to be more disease resistant.
When planting, use a lot of organic matter to get them established quickly. Fertilize them in the spring and fall when young; when they are established, feed in the spring only.
I love Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth General Purpose 4.4.4. with Pro Biotic (new to us east-coast gardeners this year but well-known on the west coast).
The blueberry is the most popular berry in the garden today and the easiest berry to grow. Blueberries are also one of very few edible and delicious blue foods we eat.
Think about that for a minute and tell me what else you eat that is blue from the garden, or in the wild?
You can eat them fresh from the plant. You can cook them in muffins, pies and cobbler. Fresh or frozen, the blueberry is number one on the kitchen table.
The blueberry is a native plant to America--not imported into the country.
From Maine to Canada, the blueberry plant in the form of the lowbush type is responsible for many jobs and widely preferred in cooking over the highbush types.
This wild plant is cultivated and managed in the wild and is a wonderful example of sustainable agriculture--like the balsam fir tree is for Christmas. When you travel during July in Maine from Kennebunk to Calais and into Atlantic Canada, stop on the side of the road and pick a few.
Wild blueberries are the king of berries and no one cares for them but mother nature.
The highbush blueberry is a hybrid of this plant, with larger fruit and more fruit to the plant, and grows in the same area. The flavor is good but not like the lowbush wild type.
Because of space restrictions, the highbush blueberry is grown more often, and is more practical, in the home garden.
Blueberries are remarkable plants as they are virtually free of disease problems and insect problems.
This means no SPRAYING is needed the entire year. The only problem this plant has is the birds and they, like us, love these berries. Netting will easily take care of the problem.
The secret to growing blueberries is in the soil. Most important is that it must be acidic all the time, so never add lime or lime products near the plant. The more acidic the soil, the better they grow. The soil must also be well drained, and never have standing water around the plant.
The more organic matter in the soil, the more fruit the plant will produce and the larger the fruit will grow. So be sure, when planting, that you use compost and a lot of it.
Mulching around the plant should be done like we do to our shrubs and trees around the house.
This will help the plant hold fruit during hot and dry summers.
Two to three inches of organic matter around the blueberry plant is recommended at all times. You can use compost, pine needles, bark mulch, wood chips, even sawdust.
Fertilizer is important; I recommend that you use the same food you give your rhododendrons and azaleas.
Organic fertilizer like Holly Tone, or Dr. Earth Organic #4 Acid-loving Plant Food should be used in the spring and in the fall. To help acidify the soil, use yearly applications of Aluminum Sulfate Soil Acidifier.
A little tip for you, when feeding your plants always use mycorrhizae fungi to help the fruit taste sweeter.
Mycorrhizae fungi help with the uptake of phosphorus to the plant for better root growth.
Mycorrhizae will help with the breakdown of organic matter to generate nitrogen for the plant and to make "sugar" for the plant. Together the fungi and the plant make great tasting berries. Look for Plant Growth Activator or Bio-Tone.
Plants grow best in full sun to a little bit of shade. Water regularly when in fruit to keep berries full of juice.
Pruning is done to the plant to remove dead or damaged branches. Prune when the fruit is picked from the plant and then up to one third of the old branches to promote new growth for next year.
If you are looking for an old fashioned or heirloom-type shrub, look no further than the Kerria japonica. When I first saw this plant in the nursery, I was NOT impressed.
It looked like a container filled with lime-green twigs, no real character. As spring arrived, the kerria began to develope small one-inch golden-yellow flowers on the first twelve inches of every branch. My interest in this plant began to increase.
Then one day, on the way to my son's soccer game, my interest exploded when I came across a large planting in a wooded area.
After the soccer game, I stopped to take a closer look and I was hooked on this plant. The small, unimpressive Kerria plant had grown up.
The forsythias had just finished flowering and the kerria was filling up the flowering plant gap time before the azaleas started.
The kerria is a graceful upright growing shrub with tips that weep a little bit, growing almost like a forsythia with many new suckering branches developing at the base of the plant to keep it full looking when the leaves develop when the flower finish blooming.
The flowers looked like tiny yellow carnations, double flowers and bright looking. The flowers will last 3 to 4 weeks before the foliage develops. The leaves are small, two to three inches long and 1 inch wide, almost like a birch tree.
The twiggy branches have a bright lime green color that I would later see in the winter as beautiful with snow cover. The branches are a winter treat, on those cold days.
In the fall the foliage turn bright lemon yellow, with those bright green stems a great treat.
If the plant likes where it is growing it will also develop a few flowers during the summer. Not many--just a few to tell you that it is in your yard.
It loves growing in a shady area but will grow in a sunny location. In a sunny location, the flowers seem to get sunburn, turning a little bit white; that is what happened in the nursery when I first saw it.
In the shade, it will grow five to six feet tall and just as wide. Plant it up against a fence, near some evergreens, but if you have a backyard with many trees, plant it here and there to naturalize the area.
This is a plant for all seasons--with spring flowers, summer foliage and twig color, bright fall foliage and interesting twig formation during the winter.
Kerrias will grow where many plants have not survived. They will grow in any soil, as long as there is no standing water.
Acid or neutral, sandy or clay will all be fine, but the best growth will be in soil with a lot of organic matter or a woody-type soil rich in humus.
Fertilize with Plant Tone or Dr Earth 4.4.4. General Purpose with Pro-Biotic--new to the east coast gardener.
Plants are insect- and disease-free, a real plus. Also, when the plant get to be too big and overgrown just cut it back in half or to the ground when it finishes flowering.
Kerrias also come with a variegated foliage, but the blooms are better on the all green types.
This Week's Question:
What American singer who owns a theme park also has a rose named after her?
This Week's Prize:
One bottle of Vacation.
Last Week's Question:
In the Victorian era, many people sent 'Vinegar Valentines' - what were they?
Last Week's Prize:
One bottle of Vacation.
Last Week's Winner:
Last Week's Answer:
'Vinegar Valentines' were greeting cards that were insulting. They were often printed on cheap paper.
One winner per question - we choose winners from the list of those who answer correctly. Winners must be newsletter subscribers. We'll ship you your prize, so be sure to put your address in the form in case you win!
What You'll Need:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 ounces red food coloring
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ounces water
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Step by Step:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners.
- Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Add eggs and blend well.
- Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring and add to the butter mixture.
- Sift flour and salt together into this mixture.
- One at a time, add the following ingredients: buttermilk, vanilla, and water.
- In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and the baking soda. Fold it into the cake batter. Make sure it's incorporated, but don't beat it.
- Pour the batter into the cupcake cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and onto a rack to finish cooling completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Blend together the following: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.