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Edition 10.40 Paul Parent Garden Club News October 7, 2010
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"The watering of a garden requires as much judgement as the seasoning of a soup."
~Helena Rutherford Ely


Product Spotlight

Soil Moist Granules

Soil Moist has been developed to reduce the amount of water needed to maintain vigorous plants and other green goods. When mixed in the soil, the crystals will soften and swell as water is added and absorbed. When the potting system dries, the polymer will release its water to the plant. Soil Moist acts as a water reservoir--even during periods of drought the stored water is released to the plant. The expansion and retraction of the polymer during the watering cycle helps soil aeration, which is important to all plants.

Note: Soil Moist must be incorporated into the soil at the root level of the plant/green good. Do not top dress or place on the surface. Should be kept out of drains.

  • stores over 200 times its weight in tap water
  • releases a steady supply of water as your plants need it
  • non-toxic, safe and economical to use
  • reduces plant watering by 50%**
  • reduces transplant shock
  • lasts several seasons**
**Results may vary depending on soil conditions such as salt, pH, microorganisms, and on UV light.

Daffodils,Narcissus,Jonquils

Have you ever heard the story of how the narcissus got its name? A long time ago, Greek mythology stories and writing told the story of Narcissus, the young son of a Greek god, who was led to believe by his father that a long and happy life would be his if he never gazed upon his own features. By chance, Narcissus saw his own reflection in a quiet pool of water and fell in love with his own reflection. Because of this, Narcissus soon withered away; at the spot where he died, beautiful nodding flowers sprang up and were named after him.

Greek stories also tell of the narcotic perfume smell of the flower and how it was used to stupefy those who were to be punished for crimes committed. Other writers said that the fragrance of the flower led to hallucinations and madness. The beauty of the flower has led many gardeners to madness, but the madness is about the beauty of the flower in their gardens. Judge for yourself--plant daffodils in your garden this fall and enjoy the madness in the spring.

In the early days of daffodils, they were called "Lent lilies," as these flower bulbs bloomed naturally in the garden during the Lenten holidays. Today's Easter lily blooms naturally during late June; the Easter lily is forced into bloom by your local florist to celebrate the holiday. Another name given to the daffodil was "chalice flower," because of the shape of the corona or trumpet. Look at the narcissus trumpet--it does resemble the shape of the cup or chalice used to hold the sacramental wine.

The jonquil is a member of the amaryllis family. If you look at writings from Homer and Sophocles hundreds of years ago, you will see how popular they were back then. You may be wondering why I am using three different names for this bulb--let me tell you. Daffodil is the common name for the entire family; narcissus is the Latin or botanical name. The name "jonquil" was given to hybrids that were developed from this family; it means a sweetly scented, rich, yellow species of Narcissus having a slender rounded flower stem and rush-like leaves--hybrids. So no matter what you call them in your garden you are right, no matter what name you use.

Daffodils were wildflowers many years ago, like most of the flowers we have in our gardens today. The Dutch gardeners loved them so much that they began to cross them together to develop new flower strains, and their popularity grew and grew. Dutch records show that in 1548, there were only 24 different types of daffodils, in 1629, the numbers grew to 90 and by 1948, they had grown to almost 8,000 varieties. Today there are over 10,000 varieties and new ones each year.

In Holland today there are only two unique areas where daffodils are grown commercially. One area is 25 square miles in area and concentrated, while the second area is spread out over the country side and not much larger than the major bulb growing area totaling just 50 square miles of soil where they can be grown for exporting.

As the love for these bulbs grew, the Dutch government quickly realized that it would have to act to protect the quality of these bulbs and keep them insect and disease free if the industry was to prosper. The growers and the government together set up guidelines to protect this valuable crop. Strict rules were imposed to keep the Dutch bulb industry safe and strong. Today, no bulb can leave Holland until they are guaranteed to flower in your garden, and are certified insect and disease free.

Narcissus bulbs must be planted in a soil that is well drained and rich in organic matter if you want them to re-bloom for several years to come. Wet soil with standing water or soil that contains clay will kill the bulb during the first winter in the ground, because wet soil will rot the delicate roots. Animal manure or, better still, compost is the best soil conditioner when planting.

If your soil is on the sandy side, be sure to add Soil Moist Granules to help hold moisture around the bulbs during the summer time. When planting, select a location with as much sun as possible or plant under trees that leaf out after the flower fades to allow the foliage to make and replace the energy it takes to make new flower buds for next year. If planting under evergreens, plant near the drip line or tips of the branches to insure the bulb foliage gets some sun.

Bulbs need to be fertilized spring and fall for the best flowers every year. Apply Bulb-Tone fertilizer around the foliage while it is in bloom while you remember to care for the plant. Also NEVER, use bone meal as a fertilizer around outdoor bulbs as it will draw animals to the garden--and they will dig up the garden looking for possible bones left there as their food.

It is also important to remove the flowers as they fade to prevent the plant from making useless seed that will never develop properly in your garden. This way all the energy made by the plant is used by the plant for next year's growth and not wasted on unusable seeds. Use a plastic golf tee to mark the bulb cluster in your garden so you will know where to apply the fertilizer in the fall in the fall; weather will flake the paint off wooden tees.

Always plant in groups and never in straight lines as it will be easier to plant annuals around them as the daffodil foliage begins to fade. Remove the foliage to the ground ONLY when the foliage begins to turn yellow! Plant bulbs with a covering of conditioned soil that covers the bulb with twice as much soil as the bulb is high. Example: daffodil bulbs are 3 inches tall so you must dig a hole 9 inches deep! Three inches for the bulb and six inches of soil to cover it. I advise you use Bark Mulch over them for added winter protection.

If you are planting them as wildflowers and are naturalizing them, the grass will do the same as mulch to protect them. If you are mowing this area, be sure the foliage has begun to die back before cutting and NEVER use a lawn weed control product to control weeds or the bulbs will also be killed. When planting narcissus, be sure to plant the bulb with the pointed part of the bulb facing UP. Plant bulbs in groups of 5 to 7 bulbs for the best show of color; also, if the weather gets stormy, they will be able to brace each other from the wind and rain.

Check with your local garden center for information on blooming time so you can plant several types that will bloom at staggered times in your garden. Also consider height of flowers, shape of flower, flower color combinations--and look for unique characteristics of the plant. Remember daffodils are NOT eaten by animals of any type, so do not worry about voles this winter and rabbits and deer in the spring when they are in bloom. Enjoy and plant now.


Dutch Hyacinths

When I think of fragrance in the garden, there is no better flower than the hyacinth! When in bloom, the flower produce a perfume that will fill the air around the garden with unforgettable fragrance that will bring you on your knees to take deep breaths of its intoxicating fragrance. The original hyacinth is a wild flower that grows all over eastern Mediterranean, in Asia and from Syria to Persia, where it stills blooms wild.

The Dutch took this wild flower to their breeding fields in 1562, and began to hybridize the plant to what you see today. Today, this plant is known as the Dutch hyacinth all over the world. In the early eighteenth century, the plant breeders had developed about 50 varieties, but today there are about 2,000 varieties available and more coming every year. Madame de Pompadour recommended to Louis XV extensive hyacinth plantings for his palace garden. At the time each bulb sold for $500.00--I like today's prices much better.

A well-known Grecian myth tells how the hyacinth received its name. Hyacinthus was a gifted and handsome mortal youth, beloved by Apollo, the Sun God, and also by Zephyrus, God of the West Wind. Hyacinthus preferred to spend playful time with Apollo. Zephyrus became jealous and was annoyed that a mere mortal, however talented and beautiful, could command Apollo's affection and interest.

One day when Apollo had challenged Hyacinthus to a game of quoits or throwing the discus, Zephyrus let his jealous fury go. He blew strongly on the discus and caused it to strike Hyacinthus on the forehead, ending his life. Apollo was grieved and vowed the beauty of the young Hyacinthus would always be remembered. From the blood of the slain youth, he caused a path of fragrant, purple flowers to spring up and named them after the dead youth.

The original purple hyacinth has been hybridized to a wide range in colors and many shades of each color for you to choose from. Hyacinth flowers have the truest and largest variety of blues of any spring flowers. Besides blue, look for white, yellow, pink, orange, scarlet, maroon, salmon, violet and just about every color in the rainbow. Hyacinths are the easiest of all Dutch bulbs to grow in your garden. They do better if planted a bit deeper than most bulbs.

Hyacinths will flower longer than most bulbs because of short, thick stems and the way that the flowers are arranged on the stem in rows side by side and close together. This tight flower will not blow over in heavy winds or rain like tulips and daffodils do. If you do not move the bulb once planted, it will last for many years and usually outlast the time in the garden of most bulbs. Hyacinths will do best in a light soil with good drainage, a soil conditioned with compost or animal manure and a soil that is refreshed every year with fertilizer like Bulb-Tone when the plant is in bloom.

When the flower fades, remove the entire flower stem right to the ground but do not touch the foliage until it begins to turn yellow, as this foliage is making energy for the bulb for next year's flowers. Hyacinths do best when planted in a sunny garden but will tolerate a bit of shade early in the day. Plant early in the fall to give the bulb time to make big roots and get established before the ground freezes. Plant bulbs in groups so they can brace each other in stormy weather, and remember groups of colorful bulbs look better and are more eye-catching than bulbs planted in rows or scattered throughout a large flowerbed as single bulbs.

Dig your hole 10 inches deep; add a bit of Soil Moist moisture retention granules and Bulb-Tone bulb food, never BONE MEAL, to prevent animals from digging up flowerbed looking for real buried bones. Cover the soil and keep the garden soil well watered until the ground freezes. Space the bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart in the hole to give them room to grow. I like to cover the planting bed with bark mulch for extra winter protection.

One of the nice things about hyacinths is that they are not eaten by rodents such as mice, voles and squirrels. In addition, when the plants begin to bloom, hyacinths will not be eaten by rabbits and deer--and that is one thing less we have to worry about in the garden. All the rodents and animals we just mentioned love tulips and will eat them in the ground and above ground--but not hyacinths. Hyacinths are easy to plant and care for--and the animals that live around your home will not bother them.

For forcing--if you have an unheated garage or tool-shed, pot some bulbs in containers filled with soil and keep them watered and cool with temperatures less than 50 degrees. For the next 10 weeks, the plants will make roots and begin to think of flowering, so keep them cool.

I have used the steps that lead down into my basement from the bulkhead door with great success. Halfway up to the outside doors seems to have the best temperatures. Watering the potted bulbs is necessary during those 10 weeks of growing. After 10 weeks, bring a pot or two into the house and watch the bulbs begin to grow; enjoy the fragrant flowers in a couple of weeks. If you are going to force the hyacinth to flower, always use the biggest bulb you can find and stay away from bag bulbs--as they are too small to force.

Also look for the pre-treated hyacinths for forcing, in the special hyacinth glass that looks like an hour glass that tells time filled with sand. This special hyacinth glass holds the bulb in place and keeps the bulb in water at the right level to prevent root rot. I always buy extra bulbs and store them in the vegetable crisper to keep them cold, as they were tricked to believe that they already had winter.

When the bulb finishes flowering, toss it into your compost pile or pot it up with soil and place it on a sunny window for 4 to 6 weeks so it can make energy for next year. After the 4 to 6 week period on your windowsill, place the potted bulb in the basement and allow it to dry up. Plant in the garden in April and it will flower next fall.

If you have a grassy area or wild flower bed on your property and would like spring flowers, look for the miniature hyacinths called grape hyacinths. Grape hyacinths come in blue and white and will spread quickly in these areas as long as they receive plenty of sun.

If you have a shady area with good soil, look for wood hyacinths, which will naturalize very easily for you. Wood hyacinths come in white, pink, blue and purple. Just like the Dutch hyacinths, grape hyacinths and wood hyacinths are not eaten by rodents and other animals.

Like the Dutch hyacinths, these two beautiful hyacinths are fragrant, long lasting and spread in a soil that is well drained and fertile, so feed the when planting and every spring when they come into bloom with Bulb-Tone fertilizer.


Ireland Tour

Join Paul Parent for a garden tour of the Emerald Isle!

Tour includes the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara National Park, Brigit's Garden, Muckross Gardens, Bantry House & Gardens, Kilravock Garden, Garnish Island, Annes Grove Garden, Lakemount Gardens, Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre, Heywood Gardens, Powerscourt Gardens, Dublin Castle, Dillon Gardens and much more.

Click here for details.


trivia


This Week's Question:

Maine has a rather unusual official State Flower. What is it?

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:

The botanical family Solanaceae contains some very toxic plants, including nightshade, datura and mandrake. It also contains the potato, one of the world's most important food plants. Can you name another one (or two) well-known food plants in this family?

Last Week's Winner:
Richard Leufstedt

Last Week's Answer:
Eggplants, peppers (capsicum) and tomatoes. (Editor's note: Many people mentioned tobacco, as well. Yes, it's also related - but it's not generally considered a food plant, even though some chew it.)

Last Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Potting Mix

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!


Asian Coleslaw

What You'll Need:

  • 7 cups shredded napa (Chinese) cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped daikon radish
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Step by Step:

  • Combine first 7 ingredients (through sesame seeds) in a large bowl.
  • Combine mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients (through pepper), stirring with a whisk.
  • Add mayonnaise mixture to cabbage mixture; toss well to combine.
  • Sprinkle with almonds.
  • Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup coleslaw and 1 teaspoon almonds)

Nutritional Information:
Calories 79 (50% from fat); Fat 4.4g (sat. 0.8g, mono 1.6g ,poly 1.8g); Protein 2.4g; Cholesterol 0.0mg; Calcium 58mg; Sodium 224mg; Fiber 2.2g; Iron 0.6mg; Carbohydrate 7.6g

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