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Edition 11.26 Paul Parent Garden Club News June 30, 2011

Featured Quote:

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."
— Abraham Lincoln

Come see the Private Gardens of the Kennebunks

Join us for our 17th annual "Private Gardens of the Kennebunks" Garden Tour, July 16, 2011 from 10:00 - 4:00. Tour eight lovely gardens throughout Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. All proceeds from the 2011 Garden tour will benefit the prevention programs of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of York County, Maine. Advance tickets are $15.00 before July 1st; $20.00 July 1st through day of the event. Please call (207) 985-5975 or visit for more information!

New This Year:
A special reception on Friday July 15th, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. The Cape Arundel Inn is hosting a wine and appetizer event in a special garden for exclusive viewing the night before the garden tour. Paul will be giving a talk and a question and answer program. Only 60 tickets are available for $50 each. Call 207-985-5975 for information.

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Product Spotlight

Fertilome Blooming and Rooting Soluble Plant Food

A highly concentrated plant food that helps promote vigorous blooming, root development, larger blooms on flowering shrubs, trees, roses, orchids, tomatoes and all blooming and fruit-bearing plants.

Use on most plants as a soil application, for foliage feeding or as a rooting solution.

The American Elm/Liberty Tree

The fourth of July is Monday, and there is no better a tree to honor than the American elm! If you're reading this and are younger than 35 years old you missed seeing the most beautiful tree ever to grow in America, the American elm. The American elm grew from Newfoundland Canada to Florida and west to the Rockies. Today, you will occasionally see this tree growing on the side of the road, in the back yard of an older home and now, rarely, in your local park or on your common. The American elm was the most planted street tree in America and every city had their Main Street lined with this tree. I am not talking of thousands of trees, I am not talking of millions of trees, but I am talking of billions of trees that once graced our streets, parks, homes and forest.

In less than 25 years most all of these trees were destroyed by a single type of insect 1/8 of an inch long called the elm bark beetle. The elm bark beetle was not a serious problem to the American elm for hundreds of years and seldom killed the tree until 1930 when a boat load of diseased elm logs arrived from Europe. These elm logs were to be used for furniture but they were unknowingly contaminated with a fungus called "Ceratocystisulmi."

While these logs sat outside in the lumber yard to be cut up for lumber, our native elm bark beetles fed on them. They bored into the tree making a small tunnel about the size of the lead in a pencil; healthy trees would repair the damage made by the beetles and survive, but these infected logs contained a fungus that once transmitted from the tree to the beetle would kill healthy trees is just a few years.

When the beetles emerged from the infected logs to feed on our native trees growing the area, they quickly infected the trees with this disease. The fungus spread quickly with this beetle and to make things worse, dying trees were quickly cut down and shipped to lumber yards miles away to be used for lumber helping to spread the problem even faster. Today, 71 years later, we still do not have a way to stop this fungus! You will still see wild American elms growing but they will never have the chance to mature and show us all their beauty.

Before I tell you about this tree, let me first tell you about the history of this tree and how important it was to the formation of our country. In 1646 one block east of Boylston Station and the Boston Common, at Washington and Essex Street, an American elm was planted. It stood there for 129 years and it was known as the "Liberty Tree." The memorial of this tree is on a plank on a building marking the spot of this historic landmark, bearing the inscription "Sons of Liberty, 1766" just below the emblem of an elm tree. If you're in Boston, take the time to see it.

At the time of the Revolution, this great American elm stood there in the center of business in Boston's original South End. Several other elms grew there, and the area was known as the Neighborhood of Elms. On August 14, 1765, this particular tree was selected for hanging the effigies of those men who favored passage of the detested "Stamp Act." On September 11th, a 3'by 2' copper plate, with large golden letters was placed on its trunk bearing the inscription, "The Tree of Liberty. " Thereafter, nearly all great political meetings of the Sons of Liberty, our founding fathers, like Paul Revere and John Hancock, held their meetings in this square under the tree.

British soldiers hated this tree and often punished men thought to be against British Rule, right under its branches. This tree was the rallying point for independence in Boston. On the last day of August 1775, as the British army evacuated the city of Boston for the last time, they rallied together one more time and cut down the tree before they left. The American elm was our first symbol of freedom, because this wonderful tree bore the name "Liberty" on it trunk. The state of Massachusetts designated the American elm as its official state tree in 1941, commemorating the fact that General George Washington took command of the continental Army beneath an American elm on Cambridge Common in Boston in 1775.

I want to tell those of you who never saw this tree about it and how it grew. It was a majestic looking tree and no other tree grew like it. I still think it was the perfect tree, even better than the white pine, our great oaks, the maples, the spruces and our fir trees. The American elm grew 60 to 90 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. The tree grew from a single trunk and its branches grew in the shape of the letter "Y" like a fluted vase. The ends of the branches seemed to weep a little bit, making the top of the tree resemble a vase filled with fresh greens.

The foliage grew 3 to 6 inches long, 2 inches wide, oval with a point on the tip of the leaf. The leaves were dark green, looked rough with thick green raised veins on the leaf like a feather pattern. Small sawlike teeth covered the edges of the leaf, with a very short stem (under 1/2 inch) attaching it to the branches of the tree. In the fall, the entire tree turned a bright yellow, like it was on fire. If you pinched the leaf it had a fragrance you would never forget.

The bark of the tree was dark gray, very rough and scaly. This large strong trunk was often covered with patches of gray and white lichen, and mosses all over it, giving it much character. The roots of the tree grew wide and they were strong, so not even very wet soil and rain could topple it over. This tree grew in any soil type, sand to heavy clay and the soil pH did not matter either--it was tough. It could grow on the side of the road and it tolerated salt from the plows all winter long without any damage to it. It continued to grow even when asphalt was applied under its branches to build roads, and trucks could drive under it and compact the soil and it still grew while other trees died under the same growing conditions.

The grain of the wood grew so twisted it had to be cut with a saw and only power equipment could split the trunk for fire wood and with great effort. I tried with a wedge and sledgehammer many years ago and that log held them in place until I rented a power splitter to free them. Elm is still used to make Hockey Sticks to give them the curl on the blade. This was on tough tree and most of the mature trees are now gone forever.

Now for the GOOD NEWS...the nursery industry has been working very hard to develop new disease resistant species of elms that are resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, with some success. These new tree varieties are called Liberty Trees and 10 years ago I purchased one called 'Valley Forge,' because I wanted my children and grandchildren see what this tree looked like. It has done wonderfully at my house here in Maine, and in just 10 years it has grown from 6 feet tall to over 30 feet tall on my front lawn. When I look at this tree I think back to my youth when every town had a park or common lined with these wonderful trees. If you would like more information about the Liberty Tree go to Elm Research Institute in Keene NH. Call them at 800-367-3567 or email: They have programs to plant a tree in every town in America with civic groups like the Scouts and they also sell small trees--please tell them I sent you. If you would like to purchase or see larger and more mature trees for your yard to keep alive the American elm story, go to Northeast Nursery, on Route One in Peabody, Mass. as they have several sizes to choose from. The Liberty Tree--definitely worth growing.

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In 1968, I planted my first of many Clematis vines at a nursery in Scituate, Massachusetts, called Kennedy's Country Gardens. We received 200 two-year-old seedlings and my job that day was to pot these new plants in 2 gallon size pots. I had just finished blending rich top soil, peat moss, and cow manure together making a wonderful potting mixture for the new plants to grow in. My teacher at the nursery was a wonderful woman from England named Janet Burnett; she taught me how to plant and grow this plant. Janet told me many stories about how well this plant thrives in England and showed me many pictures of her gardens. One picture had clematis growing in the middle of a garden --what she called her clematis tree. I told her that I thought that clematis was a vine and could not believe that it grew into a tree.

What Janet had done was plant several clematis plants of different colors and flowering times at the base of an old apple tree that had died several years earlier and used the tree as a trellis for the plants to grow on. I can still see that clematis tree today in my mind, just beautiful. So if you have a small dead tree about 15 feet tall, don't cut it down--use it to grow clematis on. Janet told me that in England where she lived, the soil had layers of lime running through it and that was why her plants grew so well.

I had potted about 25 seedlings before Janet arrived to show me how to do it properly and she said to me how much lime did you put into each container you planted? I told her none but I had done an extra good job preparing the potting mixture. Janet had me dump all the plants out and start over because each pot had to have a cup of lime added to the potting soil mixture because clematis "LOVED" a sweet soil and only "LIME" made the soil sweet. After that experience, I always asked questions before starting the job! Janet was a wonderful teacher, and I will share with you what she taught me about clematis .

Clematis is the showiest perennial vine you can plant in your garden. They are among the easiest vines to grow in the garden, and their wide range of colors and flower size will please everyone. With over 1000 varieties to choose from and more new hybrids coming out each year, the clematis is quickly becoming the most popular vine for today's gardens. Clematis originated in the Orient about 500 years ago and has now spread all over the world because of hybridization to fit particular climates.

Janet showed me that the clematis plant does not produce tendrils nor do its stems twist around other plants. The leaf stalk, called the "petiole," will twist around any type of support from wire, string, wood, or vinyl lattice to even small tree branches for support. All you have to do is to provide something for the plant to grow on and it does the rest all by itself. Clematis can be trained to climb fences, archways, or trellis and can even scale the wall on the side of your house as long as you provide them with some type of support to climb on. You can also plant one on top of a retaining wall and watch it climb over it and cascade down to display its beautiful foliage and flowers or even let it run on the ground as a wonderful ground cover where you have outcroppings of ledge.

Clematis prefers to grow vertically, making this plant perfect for even the smallest flower garden or on your light pole at the end of your walk way. They do not take much room in your garden, so place a pole or trellis here and there for a bit of vertical height in your garden. Enjoy these pillars of clematis flowers poking out of your once horizontal growing garden as the clematis vine reaches for the sky. This is a great vine for a more natural looking garden; train it to grow where you want it to grow but let this plant do what it wants and don't prune it heavily. Grow the clematis vine like a rambling rose, let it surprise you with all its flowers and enjoy how unpredictably it will grow in your garden.

Plant clematis in a garden that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunshine; some varieties like clematis paniculata 'Sweet Autumn' will adapt easily to partial shade garden, so check at the nursery about special light requirements. This garden should also have good air circulation around it so the foliage can dry off quickly after long periods of rain fall. Avoid overhead watering in the evening hours to keep foliage dry and prevent disease problems. Water early in the day so the sun can dry foliage quickly and keep disease problems away. Water clematis plants regularly, especially during the summer months if the weather gets hot and dry. The roots of the clematis are strong and grow deep so be sure to water s thoroughly, especially when the plant is in bloom or the flowering period will be shorter.

Clematis vines will grow best in a rich soil that is well drained and never has standing water. Always condition the soil before planting with compost, animal manure, or peat moss. To help hold water around the roots of the plant in the summer months always add Soil Moist granules when planting. Clematis is a heavy feeder and will do much better when planted if you also add an organic fertilizer like Bio-Tone with Mycorrhizae or Dr Earth with Pro-biotic to encourage quick root development.

Your soil pH is very important, and one of the determining factors of a healthy plant. The sweeter the soil is, the better the plant will grow for you, so be sure to add Limestone, Magic-Cal or lots of wood ash to the soil before planting. Also yearly application of these products will keep your soil sweet if you live in areas where pines and oak trees are native. I use 2 handfuls of wood ash every spring around my plants and they just love it. Fertilize spring and fall with Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth shrub fertilizer with Pro-biotic to keep plant actively growing.

Root and stem protection is also a determining factor for the clematis vine and it is very important to grow a ground cover or perennials around the plant to shade the soil to keep it cool during the summer months. Also place an evergreen plant--or stand up a brick or cobble stone on end--in front of the vine, facing south, to shade the bottom 6 to 8 inches of the vine during the winter months. This shading of the stem keeps it cool during the summer months and stabilizes freezing and thawing during the winter months.

If you suddenly get foliage that turns brown or black on the plant, remove it quickly and the plant will form new growth from the base of the plant to replace it. Pour a bit of bleach on pruner blades before and between cuts to prevent moving disease problems from branch to branch; bleach will sterilize the pruners. When weeding or applying fertilizer to the plant, always use your hand and never use cultivating tools, as you can damage the roots of the plant. Bark mulch around the plant is encouraged at a depth of 2 inches to keep out weeds and help cool the soil.

Pruning is always a question with the clematis vine, when and how? If you see dead or damaged growth on the plant, remove it at any time you find it. As the clematis vine begins to age you will notice that fewer flowers form on the vine, usually after 4 to 5 years. The stems are getting tired, so these older stems should be cut back to within 18 inches of the ground in the early spring and before the new growth starts on the plant, during March early April. This will encourage new stems to develop from the roots of the plant in late April and these stems will flower the same year on the plant.

If your plant looks like a tangled mess of live and dead stems wrapped around your light pole or trellis, it is time for a major pruning of the plant. Try and save as much of the new and fleshy looking growth as possible but remove the older looking vines of the plant in the early spring.

If you have never grown a clematis vines before, this is the year for you to plant one in your garden. The vine has wonderful flowers that will last for many weeks, the flowers come in many colors, and the flower size varies from less than one inch in diameter to over 6 inches wide. Try one this summer, and next year, once the plant is established in your garden, you will thank me over and over again. Enjoy!

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Tips to begin a new month

I'm sure we are all glad to see June come to an end with all its rain, cloudy skies, and cold weather. The gardens have not done what they are capable of doing so far this year, and the flowering time of our shrubs and trees was shortened by the wet weather, but on a positive note the lawns are real green and thick. So here is to July, the month we have all been waiting for, the month that will make our gardens look like they should be at this time of the year. Here are a few quick things for you to do to keep everything looking great in your gardens. So grab a cup of coffee, your notebook, and a pen to make notes of what needs to be done in your garden as you look over your property.

If you have fruit trees, blueberries, raspberries, grapes or other fruiting plants in your gardens it is now time to reapply your fruit tree sprays, as all the recent rain has washed off the protection off the foliage and fruit. Whether you use a natural or organic spray on your plants, these products protect your plants from insects and disease problems and they must be applied every 2 weeks during the growing season or more often during periods of heavy rains. Fungus and insect problems are more active when the weather is wet, your fruit and berries are young and more vulnerable at this time of the year, so keep them protected with a good spraying now. Organocide Spray, from Organic Laboratories and Fruit Orchard spray from Bonide are natural products that will keep all your plants safe when used on a regular basis.

Tall growing perennials like delphinium, lilies, and hollyhocks have grown taller than normal this year due to all the cloudy weather. As the flowers begin to open the plants will become top heavy and fall over, so you might want to stake some of the plants that are beginning to show signs of this. Large clump plants like daisies, tall phlox, and coneflowers will spread apart as the flowers form on the plant so be prepared to tie the clump together so they do not topple over on other plants in your garden.

Some of your annuals, perennials, and vegetables are prone to develop a disease called powdery mildew when the weather stays wet and cloudy. Check your tall phlox, bee balm, zinnias, roses, and vine crops like cucumbers and squash for a white film developing on the foliage. At the first sign --or better still, just treat them now with Serenade organic fungicide to prevent this problem for developing this year.

If you purchased a hanging basket this spring, it would be a good thing to fertilize it again now and regularly every 2 weeks, to keep it more productive. Clean up the plant of the dead flowers and foliage also. If you purchased a fuchsia hanging basket this spring, I want you to look for burgundy fruit that has developed where the flowers were on the plant earlier. This fruit is forming seed on the plant and when this seed is mature, your plant will stop flowering, so please remove seed as it develops to keep your plant flowering. Also, do not be scared to cut back the long branches that form on your hanging baskets, as these branches will get even longer and all the flowers will form on the tip of these branches, not on the foliage near the pot. Pinching these branches back in half will promote new growth to develop from the center of the plant, keeping it bushier, encouraging more flowers on the plant and preventing those long branches from breaking from their own weight.

Your spring flowering bulbs are finished flowering now. You should remove the seed pods that are forming where the flower once was on the plant, so the energy made by the foliage can be used to make new flowerbuds in the bulb for next year. Fertilize them NOW, while you know where they are in your garden so they have more energy to make flowers for next spring. The foliage should be removed at the ground level as soon as it begins to turn yellow or brown, not when this foliage is still green. Once you prune the plants back, this is a great time to dig them up, if you want to relocate them to another garden.

If you have pine trees on your property and they are not as thick as you want them to be, now is the perfect time to encourage a thicker plant. All you have to do is cut the new growth in half, right now. The new growth looks like candles and if you cut them in half now, the plant will make more buds for next year on the new growth that remains. This is the method used to make Christmas trees thicker, because the plant makes less growth during the season but produces more buds for next year. You remove the terminal bud of the branch and that branch stops growing longer but side buds that normally stay dormant wake up and begin to grow making more side shoots for a thicker plant.

Look at your lawn now for possible brown, white, or red spots 3 to 5 inches wide forming init; this is fungus due to all the moisture. Most of the time all you have to do is rake the lawn in those areas “hard,” with a bamboo or plastic leaf rake to lift and separate the blades of grass. This will help the air to better move around the infected grass to dry out the fungus. Keep the sprinkler OFF for a week until things dry up. If the problem redevelops, treat the lawn with a granular lawn disease control product made from Scotts Fertilizer Co. or Bayer Advanced or the new liquid Lawn Disease control spray made by Agra Quest called Serenade Turf Fungicide. not panic, because mushrooms will develop everywhere in your lawn now; it's just because of all the wet weather of late and they will disappear when the sun stays out for a few days. Mushrooms in your lawn are a good sign, a sign that you have a soil with a lot of organic matter in it, so don't panic.

You may also find a yellow fungus developing in your old” Black” bark mulch. It will look like an animal was sick and threw up there; just take a flat shovel, and scoop it up for the trash. If you leave this yellow growth in the mulch, it will spread and if it contacts your flowers it will kill them. The real dark mulch is bark mulch that was on the bottom of the pile and is almost soil. When it was spread over your garden, exposed to the sunshine and air, some of the spores that help decompose the bark we activated by all the rain, don't panic just scoop it up and dispose of it.

If you have grass growing in the shade all this cloudy, cool, and wet weather will help moss thrive in your lawn, so get some lime, or Jonathan Green Magic-Cal and apply it to help neutralize the acidity there. If the moss is real strong you might want to purchase a Moss Killer like Moss Max for lawns made by Bonide lawn and garden at your local Garden Center “also” to kill the moss while the soil is being sweetened with lime products. In the fall you can plant fresh seed in the areas where the moss was growing.

If your lawn is thin and you have open areas in it look for Crabgrass seedlings now coming in very strong trying to fill in the open areas. Crabgrass will be pale green in color and the blade of grass will be very pointed looking. Do not wait to control this weed or your lawn will have even more thin spots by the fall. Use Bayer Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer or Bonide Crabgrass and broadleaf weed killer now or the heat of summer will speed up the growth of the weed and it will quickly choke out your good grass.

This is also the week for you to prune back or pinch your fall-flowering mums, Montauk daisies, tall growing sedums and fall-flowering asters to control their height in your garden, increase the amount of buds on the plant and set the plants clock to flower in the fall season or they will flower in early August due to the cloudy weather this May and June. Cut plants back by 30% to 50%, depending on how tall they are in your garden, as they should be no taller than 15 to 18 inches tall right now!

One last thing, keep an eye on the foliage of your perennials, annuals, and vegetable plants for holes in the foliage, because all this wet weather has greatly increased the population of slugs living in your gardens. Your local garden center will have the next generation of slug bait, much safer than the old methaldehyde products. The new active ingredient is iron phosphate, something that occurs in our soil, and it will naturally kill those pesky slugs.

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Garden Journal

Are you looking for a great gift for a gardener (or yourself)? This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed personally by Paul, makes a perfect gift for gardeners. 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.


This Week's Question:

What genus are ladybugs?

This Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix

  • Contains Myco-toneŽ mycorrhizae
  • For all seedlings and cuttings.
  • Promotes Root Growth.
  • In 8 and 16 qt. bags.

Last Week's Question
Sunflowers get their name partly from the fact that sunflower buds track the movement of the sun throughout the day. What is this habit called?

Last Week's Winner:
Robert Boushell

Last Week's Answer:
Heliotropism. (Editors note: We said buds, not flowers - the buds are heliotropic. As several of you noted, the flowers are not.)

Last Week's Prize:
Espoma Organic Seed Starter 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!

Independence Day


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Click here to read the entire document.

Big Fat Greek Salad

What You'll Need:

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, cut into 1 inch ribbons
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup cucumbers, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 (15 ounce can) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 20 kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 cup herbed croutons

Step by Step:

  • Whisk together vinegar, oil, oregano, and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Add lettuce, carrots, cucumber, tomato, beans, and feta; toss.
  • Either divide into 4 small bowls or keep in one large one.
  • Top with olives and croutons.

Yield: 4 servings


Contact Information:

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(207) 985-6972
(800) 259-9231 (Sunday 6 AM to 10 AM)

(207) 985-6972

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

Regular Phone Hours:
Mon.-Sat. 8 AM to 6 PM
Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM

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