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Edition 10.29 Paul Parent Garden Club News July 22, 2010
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful."
~e.e. cummings


Garden Journal

Looking for a great gift for a first-time gardener? This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. The journal, autographed personally by Paul, makes a great birthday, anniversary or house-warming gift. The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a heavy-duty D-ring binder.

Also included:

  • 8 tabbed sections
  • 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags...
  • Weather records page
  • 6 three year journal pages
  • Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
  • 3 annual checklist pages
  • Plant wish list page
  • 2 large pocket pages
  • Sheet of garden labels
  • 5 garden detail sheets
  • 5 graph paper pages for layouts
  • 5 photo pages, each holding four 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Click here to order online.

Product Spotlight

Wet & Forget

For over 30 years, people all over the world with some of the biggest cleaning jobs (and the smallest) have been using Wet & Forget. It has been used on big jobs like the building exteriors at Sea World in Florida and small ones like restoring a historic bungalow.

Wet & Forget removes moss, mold, mildew and algae stains gently over time from roofs, concrete, brick, siding, tennis courts, awnings, boat sails and wood decks without scrubbing or pressure washing. For your toughest outdoor cleaning jobs, apply some Wet & Forget...then forget it.

Wet & Forget is the only product you'll need to solve all your outdoor moss, mold, mildew and algae issues. Not only is it non-caustic and non-acidic, it's also safe for all outdoor surfaces.

Wet & Forget is easy to use. Simply apply with a garden sprayer, then sit back and let Mother Nature do the rest. Wet & Forget starts to work gently over time. Results can be seen within days for those less contaminated areas and over several months for more distressed areas. Naturally.


Cleome/Spider Flower

When people first see a cleome in the garden, you will always hear "WOW, what is that flower?" It is unique and looks like no other flower that I know. The flowers are large terminal stems of small, strongly scented, four-petaled flowers that will last from summer until fall. The flowers come in shades of white, pink and purple. The pink cleome is most popular but I like to mix the colors in the planting.

The plant will begin with a main stem of flowers but quickly form side shoots or branches that will also flower. The flower cluster grows taller and flowers form on the side of the stem as it continues to grow. The new flowers open on the top of the cluster and the lower flowers fade in time. As the lower flowers fade, a seedpod will develop on the faded flower stem. The seedpod is long and narrow, up to 3 to 4 inches long and gives the plant the look of a spider. The pod color will be the same as the foliage--lime green--and as it matures, will resemble a string bean but thinner. In time, the pod will darken and dry on the plant. You can pick the pods and save the seed for next year or just let it "pop" open and new seedlings will develop all by themselves in the garden next year.

The leaves are called palmate, because they are in the shape of a hand with the fingers spread out. The size of the leaves is as large as your hand or larger and very attractive. The stems are unique and you will always recognize them among other annual flowers. The stems will grow thicker than your thumb; when you touch it, the stem will feel sticky and hairy. Just to make sure you do not forget the plant, there are short spines at the base of the plant. If you do a good job caring for the cleome--water when needed and fertilize regularly--it will grow to 5 to 6 feet tall by the fall. One final thing to note is that the leaves on this plant are a look-alike for the marijuana plant.

Bees and hummingbirds love the cleome, flowers so be sure to place a hummingbird feeder in the planting bed. Cleome seedlings love the heat and sun. They will grow best if your soil has a lot of organic matter like compost, animal manure or peat moss to hold moisture when the weather gets dry. Plant when the threat of frost is over and do not panic if the plants are not growing as fast as other annuals. When the heat arrives, the cleome will explode and outgrow anything you have in your garden. Because the plants grow so fast and tall, be sure to give them plenty of room to grow--space plants at least 2 feet apart. Purchase seedlings in the spring or start from seed in the house 4 to 6 weeks before planting in the garden.

I like to plant cleome in perennial flowerbeds as a filler plant where spring bulbs once grew. They make a great background plant for shrubbery in planting beds. If you want to create a barrier to keep people or animals out of your yard without fencing, this is a good choice. If you combine the stickiness and spines of this plant, no one will try to pick the flowers or ruin the barrier you created. Plant cleome flowers near concrete walls, stock fencing, or tall buildings to help soften their appearance. The stems are strong; the plant will grow in windy locations with some staking. Try planting in whiskey barrels for an eye-catching look.

Fertilize every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer to keep plants strong, and water as needed, or they will steal all the water from plants around them to grow. Cleomes will make good flowers for small children to plant because they grow so tall and fast. This will amaze the children--maybe they will get interested in gardening and help you in the garden--it is worth a try!


Echinacea/Cone Flowers

During July and August, there is no finer daisy-like flowering perennial than the coneflower (Echinacea)! If you do not have coneflowers in your garden now, stop reading this newsletter and drive to your local garden center to purchase several of them for your gardens.

When you think of the purple coneflower, think of butterflies, birds, and a lot of color in your garden for the rest of the summer. Purple is the original coneflower color but in the past few years the new hybrids are making your garden even more exciting with new flowers in shades of white, yellow, orange, and red. You "NEED" this plant in your perennial garden at this time of the year.

The flowers are large daisy-like blooms with a spiky central cone with side petals that droop a little bit. The center cone begins as a flattened mound and quickly swells to the shape of a strawberry, point up. As the cone matures, in the middle of the daisy shaped flower, a small whirl of yellow flowers will form on the cone. These small flowers attract butterflies during the summer. The seeds that form in the cone will attract birds such as finches and sparrows to feed on the seed heads well into the winter.

In the fall, the side petals fade and the cone turns dark black on stiff stems. The foliage is also unusual--if the flower color is dark, the foliage is darker green in color. White and yellow flowering plants have pale green foliage. The leaves are oval with a point on the end and cover the plant beautifully.

Here is all you have to do to grow coneflowers in your garden: provide them with good drainage and full sun. Heavy clay-like soils or soils that stay wet will rot the plant quickly. Plants in partial shade will stretch to be tall and grow floppy. If you have a hot and sunny summer the flower color may fade a bit but the plant will produce more flower buds.

The plant will grow well in most types of soils--but the better you prepare the soil, the larger the plant will grow. So add lots of compost and animal manure when you plant the seedlings in your garden. Large-growing plants will need to be watered regularly during hot summer weather, so be sure to add "Soil-Moist" granules when planting, so your plant will cope better with the heat. This will also extend the blooming season on the plant. Well-established plants 2 to 3 years old can tolerate heat and become almost drought-resistant.

Coneflowers are slow growing when young, so I always plant them in groups of three, about 12 to 18 inches apart. In couple of years, they grow together, creating a focal point in my garden. When they mature, the plants, will drop seeds in your perennial bed and many new seedlings will develop. I prefer to transplant the seedlings that form around the mature plants, rather than dividing the mature plants in the fall or spring. Most of the time the plants do not have to be staked, but if your garden is in a wide-open area and receives a lot of wind, they may have to staked.

Fertilize with Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth Flower Garden Fertilizer with Pro-Biotic in the spring and use liquid feed on plants during the summer with Miracle-Grow or Liquid-Feed a couple of times. Insects problems are minimal but Japanese beetles can be a problem, so spray the plant when the problems begin with liquid Eight garden insecticide from Bonide Lawn and Garden--found only in garden centers. One application will last for 3 weeks and will not hurt the bees. Never use Seven insecticide on flowering plant as this old insecticide is very toxic to beneficial insects like honeybees.

Coneflowers make a wonderful cut flower for the kitchen table, and the flowers will last in a vase of water for over a week. So cut them and enjoy the flower indoors as well as in your garden.


Potentilla

This summer I want you to look at one of the longest flowering shrubs for your garden, the potentilla. This plant will flower from June to frost and will survive in cold climates, windy areas, near lakes, the ocean and thrive even in sandy soils. This is a hardy shrub with top ratings that will grow almost anywhere--even in a traffic island on a busy highway. Even if the temperature drops to 40 or 50 below zero during the winter, when spring arrives the potentilla will develop green foliage and the plant will be covered with flowers by June. This is one tough plant; it will make your garden better-looking with less work all season long.

The potentilla is a small shrub growing from 1.5 to 4 feet tall and just as wide. The foliage is composed of three to seven leaflets--almost like a rose bush leaf. The dull dark green foliage completely covers the plant, turning it into a green mound early in the spring. In June, the buds begin to form and quickly open to a five-petaled flower much like a pansy bloom. The flower is flat, about one inch in diameter, with a yellow center on all color varieties. Flowers come in yellow, white, pink, red and orange. For the best flowering plant, select colors in the order I have mentioned, yellow has the most and orange the least flowers per plant. The red and orange varieties have flowers that will fade or bleach out to yellow if the weather gets hot.

Plant potentilla just about anywhere in your yard where the soil does not stay wet for long periods. Plants are extremely adaptable; potentilla will grow well in sandy type soils but not in heavy clay type soils. Plants must have full sunshine for the best flower production. If you condition the soil when planting with organic matter like compost, peat moss or animal manure they will grow even better. Keep well watered during the first year so the plant can get well established in the garden but once established it will take care of itself. Fertilize in the spring with an organic shrub fertilizer such as Plant-Tone or Dr Earth All Purpose Fertilizer with Pro-Biotic. Soil acidity is not a factor with this plant and it will not affect the blooming cycle.

Potentilla is so strong it will grow near the water's edge at your cottage on the lake and tolerate the winter winds coming off the frozen water during the winter. If you live near the ocean, it will do as well and even the occasional flooding high tide will not prevent the potentilla from growing and flowering. I have seen potentilla growing side by side with the wild-growing beach rose known as the Rosa Rugosa with very little care and doing quite well. When planted in traffic islands, the plant will tolerate road salt, sand and exhaust from trucks and cars. Potentilla will show little to no damage from these terrible growing conditions.

Plant as individual plants near the foundation of your house or in groups in large planting beds. If spaced on four-foot centers, they can be pruned and used as a low flowering hedge. Potentilla can also do well when planted on sandy slopes to help control erosion, if they are planted in a pocket of good top soil to get established first. Mulch the slopes with bark mulch or wood chips and enjoy the summer color. This plant has no problems with insects or disease, and as long as you get it off to a good start and give it lots of sunshine it will thrive and flower. So enjoy the summer color.


trivia


This Week's Question:

Kudzu, sometimes called "The plant that ate the South," is native to what area of the world?

Espoma Organic Potting Mix

This Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Potting Mix

  • Contains Myco-toneŽ mycorrhizae
  • For all indoor and outdoor containers.
  • In 4, 8, 16 qt., 1 and 2 cu. ft. bags.
Myco-tone


Last Week's Question:

Approximately how many flowers must a honey bee visit to make one pound of honey?

Last Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Potting Mix

Last Week's Winner:
Wilda Fonseca

Last Week's Answer:
Approximately 2 million flowers.

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!


Pasta Primavera

What You'll Need:

  • 1 pound fusilli, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups fresh asparagus, diagonally cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh green peas
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Step by Step:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions, adding asparagus and peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  • Drain and place in a large bowl.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.
  • Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes; sauté for 1 minute.
  • Stir in broth, whipping cream, salt and red pepper; cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  • Add tomato mixture to pasta mixture; toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and basil. Serve immediately.

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Paul Parent Garden Club
2 Blueberry Pines Dr
Kennebunk, ME 04043

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