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Edition 11.27 Paul Parent Garden Club News July 7, 2011
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful."
~Abram L. Urban

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 $20.00 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

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What it catches:
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If you are looking for a classic perennial flower to give your garden lots of wonderful color, a little height, and long lasting flowers during the summer, then I have the perfect plant for you --the delphinium. The delphinium is a must, if you're planning a country or cottage style perennial garden for your yard this year. If you want cut flowers from your garden, than this plant is the king of all tall-growing perennials and will outlast most cut flowers in your home. If I was to choose one word to describe the delphinium, it would be "glamorous."

Delphiniums will grow best where the summer months are moist; cool to warm temperatures but not hot like the southern part of the country, and where the winters are cold so the plant can go dormant and rest. The plants will grow best when planted in a garden with full sun to a bit of light shade at the end of the day. This plant needs room to grow so when you plant it in your garden, give it two to three feet of growing area in your garden.

Let's start with the soil, because the better the soil is, the larger and more productive the plant will be. Delphiniums prefer a rich, moist, and well-drained soil and will not tolerate heavy clay type soils. If your garden soil is just "soil," you will have to condition it before planting with compost, animal manure, or peat moss or the plant will not thrive! If your soil is on the sandy side or has clay in it, you can repair it to grow this wonderful perennial and your efforts will pay off. Lots of organic matter and garden gypsum like Soil Logic's Soil Conditioner will make any soil ready to grow this plant. A sweet soil will make for a better plant, so add lime or wood ash every spring or fall to keep the soil from getting too acidic.

Delphiniums can be planted in your garden from spring to fall if container grown. They can be transplanted from your garden easily or established plants can be divided in the spring of the year while the plants are still small and the weather is cool. I have not had good luck moving plants in the fall season here in Northern New England because the plants do not have enough time to get established in the garden before the cold weather arrives . A two-inch layer of compost or bark mulch on the garden around the plant helps with hot dry summer's weather to keep the roots cool and moist. This layer of organic matter also helps to keep out weeds and protects the roots during winters that are real cold and when little snow cover is there to protect the plant.

Delphiniums are heavy feeders, so be sure to add compost and animal manure when you plant, and apply around the plant each spring to promote strong growth. I also suggest that you apply Soil Moist granules in the hole when planting, to help hold extra moisture during hot summers. To speed up root development, use a fertilizer that has mycorrhizae when planting, such as Bio-Tone or Dr. Earth starter fertilizer with Pro-Biotic. Once the plant is established, use either of these products in the spring and again in early September to keep plants well fed and strong. If you planted new seedlings or transplants, use the new "Plant Thrive" liquid fertilizer every month to develop strong roots.

The reason I have been promoting strong roots is because of the size of the plant and its flowers. The foliage part of the plant will grow 2 to 3 feet wide and just as tall. The flowers will grow on long stems on top of the foliage that will reach 5 to 7 feet tall, so you will need strong roots to support the plant. The plant cannot always hold the large flower spikes by itself, so be prepared to stake the flower stems as they develop. If your garden is near a fence or side of the house it will help protect the plant from strong winds but if in the middle of your garden in an open area you will have to stake some of the taller flower stems or cut them to put into a tall vase for the kitchen table. Did you know that if you cut off the faded flowers or pick flowers from the plant just above the foliage it will re-bloom for you? What will happen is new foliage growth will develop at the base of the plant and in just a few weeks' new flowers will form as long as you remove the old stem right to the ground as the new foliage forms.

The foliage of the delphinium is deep green, resembles a little bit the maple tree leaf, and grows 2 to 4 inches in diameter. The leaves grow up the stem until the flowers begin to form, and each stem made by the plant will make flowers. The flower stem is a tall growing, like a spike or spire covered with individual 1 to 1.5 inch rounded blossoms that are two-toned. Each flower also has a spur in the back of the bloom for added character, and this flower develops off the main central stem from a 2 inch stem.

The plant forms all the buds on these tall stems all at once but opens them from the bottom first and slowly moves to the top. The flower stem resembles a rocket with a 4 to 6 inch base of open flowers, while the tip of the budded stem is almost pointed and narrower before the flowers open up. The flowers will last on the plant for 3 to 4 weeks, and longer if the summer is cool. The flower colors range from shades of blue, lavender, magenta, purple, pink, and white. The flower is unique because each flower has a flower in a flower--and the inner flower is usually a contrasting color; this is called a "bee." This flower is filled with nectar, and butterflies and humming birds love it and will be attracted to your garden.

Delphiniums look wonderful as individual specimen plants in your perennial garden or in mass plantings. Just remember that they grow tall, so plant them in the back of your garden or flower bed. To help hold large plant together I use peony hoops to support the plant and its flowers. If you check with your local garden center or nursery, they can help you select from the many new hybrids plant varieties that will grow shorter in height. The Pacific hybrids will grow 4 to 5 feet tall, have huge double and semi-double flowers on them, and come in many colors. Century hybrids grow just as tall--4 to 5 feet--but the flowers are smaller and more delicate looking. There are some smaller varieties growing to 3 feet. Also look for the Blackmore and Langdon hybrids with extremely large flowers and mixed colors.

To avoid disease problems when growing the delphinium, give the plant plenty of room to grow and prevent overcrowding in the garden. Good air circulation around the plant will prevent possible disease problems and NEVER water the plant from above the foliage. If you had disease problems with this plant in the past, do not plant new ones in the same area, as the fungus problem can stay active for up to 3 to 5 years in your garden. If disease problems develop on the plant, use Serenade organic fungicide to control the problem.

If you have leaf miners or borers in the stems, use Bayer Tree and Shrub insecticide to cure the problem and if caterpillars find the plant, use Spinosad, an organic insecticide, to control them. This is a wonderful plant and every garden should have this plant in it for spectacular summer color. Enjoy!!!

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Did you know that the number one selling hydrangea in the country is not the blue hydrangea?r With all the talk and hype of the blue hydrangea, you would think that it was, but the white flowering hydrangea called 'Annabelle' is the most grown and planted hydrangea in America. The Latin name for this wonderful plant is the Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle.' It belongs to a group of hydrangeas known as "mop-heads."

At North Carolina State University in Fletcher, North Carolina, Dr. Thomas Ranney has been working hard for many years to develop new hybrid colors of this plant and after over 1000 crosses he has become the first nurseryman to develop a true pink Annabelle-type hydrangea. Once it was a dream of nurserymen and gardeners alike, but today it is a reality. This new hybrid is called hydrangea 'Invincibelle Spirit.'

Hydrangea 'Invincibelle Spirit' got its name this way. "Belle" was taken from Annabelle, " invinci" and "spirit" came from the "spirit" of women who have the "invincible" courage and determination to fight breast cancer. The color of the flower is the color of the ribbon logo to fight breast cancer. The American Nursery Association has joined forces with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and has pledged to raise $1 million dollars for breast cancer research. $1 dollar will be donated for every 'Invincibelle Spirit' sold to help with breast cancer research in America.

If every gardener in America purchases just one plant, it will help researches to prevent breast cancer and help find a cure in our lifetime for this terrible disease. My grandmother died of breast cancer when my mother was just 6 years old, so I never had the pleasure of meeting her. My wonderful Mother-in-law, Ruth Duncan, died in 2005 after fighting breast cancer since 1969. You can bet that my yard has the 'Invincibelle Spirit' hydrangea growing in the garden--and so should yours.

Let me tell you about this plant and how easy it is to grow in your garden. This hydrangea is hardy to minus 40 degrees below zero and it will grow from Maine to Florida and west to Kansas. The flowers begin to form on the plant in June but do not color up until July. They continue to develop on the plant until a hard frost in October. The flowers emerge a dark, hot pink color, then mature to a bright pink, and they even dry on the plant, keeping most of the pink color so you can pick them and display them in a vase for the winter months without any special treatment.

The rounded mop-head shaped flowers can grow from 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Each flower is made up of up to a hundred small individual flowers that are less than an inch wide. Each of these small flowers has four petals, less than 1 inch in diameter and they are arranged to look like a delicate bouquet sitting on top of the plant. This plant will continuously flower from early summer right up until frost--something that few plants can do in your garden!

'Invincibelle Spirit' will grow 3 to 4 feet tall and just as wide in your garden. The foliage is a dark green oval with a point to the tip of the leaf, and small saw-like teeth on its edge. The leaves will grow 2 to 6 inches long, and 3 to 4 inches wide. There is no sheen on the leaf and no fall color, as the leaves fall from the plant green. The plant will grow in a loose mound or clump and branches freely. The plant will grow fast even if you prune it to the ground every fall or early spring to control the size of the plant. 'Invincibelle Spirit' will easily reaches 3 feet tall by June and it will flower every year no matter what you do to it. The flower color is not determined by the acidity level in the soil like the blue varieties are.

Plant this hydrangea in a garden that is located in full sun to partial shade exposure. Your soil will determine the size of the plant and the number of flowers on that plant, so before planting be sure to condition the soil with compost, animal manure and Soil Moist Granules. A rich soil that is well drained and acidic is best for more and larger flower production. If you can cover planting bed with 2 to 3 inches of compost or bark mulch when planting, it will help to hold moisture in the soil during hot dry summers helping the plant to make more flowers. The mulch will also control weeds and help keep roots protected during the cold winter months.

Fertilize in the spring, and if possible in the fall again, with an organic slow release fertilizer such as Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth shrub fertilizer with Pro-biotic. The first year I recommend that you 'use Plant Thrive with mycorrhizae monthly to help the plant get well rooted in your garden.

Pruning is easy for this hydrangea, and like the Annabelle,' it will flower on the new growth, blooms on new wood. Prune in the late fall when all the foliage has come off the plant to control the height and to help thicken the stems. Because the new growth is not strong, the plant will fall over when the flowers are matured and large. Also heavy rain can easily topple stems with large flowers on them. To prevent this, cut the plant back in half and never to the ground. By leaving the old branches on the plant, they will get stronger each year to better hold up the flowers on the plant. Less pruning will give you fewer flowers on the plant but they will be larger, while a hard pruning will encourage a lot of new growth and more smaller flowers.

You can plant hydrangea 'Invincibelle Spirit' in perennial flower beds, as a focal point shrub in front of your home, in masses or groups in your plant beds or as a hedge planting when spaced on 6 foot centers. If you want to get away from all the work that a formal hedge requires along a driveway, a walk way or along the sidewalk, this is your plant. This plant will even recover if a snow plow takes it down to the ground during a rough winter with a lot of snow.

If you remove the faded flowers as they dry up on the plant during the summer months, the plant will continue to produce more new flowers right up until the fall. Cut some of the flowers off your plant during the summer months to put in a vase of water for your kitchen table and the plant will be stimulated to produce more.

Disease and insect problems are few on this plant, as with the original 'Annabelle' hydrangea variety. This is a great plant that anyone can grow in their garden, no matter what their gardening skills are or how much time they have to work out in the yard.

This is a wonderful plant for your garden, as a gift for a friend who would just appreciate all that went into developing this new plant or for someone who is in a fight of their life against this terrible disease. Look at the flowers on this plant and you will see why 'Invincibelle Spirit' is the perfect name for this plant. Enjoy!

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Sundrops/Evening Primroses

One of my favorite perennials for a sunny flower garden is the evening primrose--and it's not even a member of the Primrose family, it's just the plant's name. I will always remember the first time I saw this plant because it started my love for gardening.

I was on my way home from the corner store with a loaf of bread for my mother when I noticed one of my neighbors working in her garden doing a bit of weeding. I went into her yard to say hello, when I noticed several large clumps of bright yellow flowers in her garden. I asked her the name of those flowers, told her how beautiful they were and remembered saying that my mom would like some for her garden, too.

We talked a bit about her garden, until I remembered that my mother was waiting for the loaf of bread, so I said goodbye and headed home. As we finished supper that night, there was a knock on the screen door and there was my neighbor with a container filled with evening primrose plants she had thinned out of the garden for my mother. She said to my mother, "Paul thought you would like some of my evening primroses for your garden, so I dug a few plants for you." My mother had a big smile on her face, and soon the three of us were in the garden planting those evening primrose plants I had admired in the neighbor's garden.

Let me tell you about this plant, and why you should have it in your garden. Evening primroses are easy to grow and love the sun, but will also grow with a bit of light shade. The plants love a well-drained soil--even a soil on the sandy side will do. I will tell you that once they are established in your garden they will tolerate dry soil and are quite drought-tolerant. I have some plants in a garden bed where the soil is not very good and often gets snow dumped there with road salt and they do just fine--real tough plants. They will not tolerate wet spots at all, though; every time I planted them along the side of the house every plant near a gutter downspout quickly died.

Evening primroses, contrary to their name, flower during the day time, not at night, but I have been told that there are some varieties that do flower at night. These plants open up their buds at sunrise and close at sunset, each flower lasting only one day, but the plant will produce flowers for 6 to 8 weeks in a well-kept garden. The flower buds are 1 to 1.5 inches long, resemble a closed umbrella in shape--long, and narrow--and are a soft red. When the flower buds open, you're in for a real treat because the flower petals are bright yellow, look almost like silky sateen, with a bit of sheen to them and in the shape of the poppy flower. Each flower has 8 petals and the center is filled with bright yellow pollen sacs, making this 1 to 2 inch flower very unique looking.

The foliage of the evening primrose is lanced-shaped, 3 to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide, with a point on the tip of the leaf. The leaf closely resembles the leaf of the zinnia garden flower and it does have a bit of sheen to it as long as there is moisture in the soil; when the soil is dry the sheen fades.

The new growth will have a bit of red on the stems and foliage when it first develops. If you rub the mature leaf you will feel a slight fuzzy hair growth on it also. The plant will grow 12 to 24 inches tall, depending on your soil and available moisture. The plant will spread with its fibrous roots very easily, so it can be divided in the spring or fall for friends and family. The plant also starts new seedlings with the many seeds pods the flowers produce during the summer months. When you plant evening primroses in your garden, give them room to grow as they will spread from 1 to 2 feet wide.

The evening primrose is very hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to 30 degrees below zero. If you can apply a thin layer of bark mulch or compost on the garden bed 1 to 2 inches thick the plant can grow almost anywhere in the country. Your soil quality will determine the height of the plant and the amount of flowers on the plant during the summer, so prepare it properly before planting. If you can add compost, animal manure or peat moss with Soil Moist granules when conditioning the soil, your plants will thrive and the flowers will continue to develop from late June right through August.

Fertilize spring and fall with Flower-Tone or Dr. Earth Flower fertilizer with Pro-Biotic. When the plant is in bloom fertilize every other week with Fertilome Blooming and Rooting Soluble Plant food 9-59-8 or Miracle Gro 20-20-20 to encourage bigger and more flowers on the plant. The plant is drought tolerant but if the weather gets hot and dry watering weekly will help keep plant more productive and in constant flower.

Insect and disease problems are rare and the plant is usually pest and insect free all year long, a real plus. In the fall cut the foliage of the plant to the ground and if it's beginning to get out of control, dig up and remove what you do not want. Fall is also a great time to transplant or divide the plant for friends and family. Pick the seed pods from the plant in the fall and place them in a paper bag to dry. As the pods dry they will explode, ejecting the seeds, and the paper bag will catch the seeds. Scatter the seeds in open fields to create wildflowers living in the tall grasses. Honey bees and butterflies love the flowers and they will be drawn to the garden all summer long. Also some varieties of the evening primrose are fragrant.

Plant evening primroses in rock gardens or as perennial borders, use as edging along a walk way, as a ground cover in soils that are not rich or thick in depth, and in containers. If you have a sloping hillside and are having a problem with erosion, plant evening primroses every 18 inches and apply bark mulch 2 inches thick. In just a couple of years the plants will fill in the area and your hillside will not move again, and you have the bonus of yellow flowers all summer long. Don't forget they will tolerate road salt, so plant them along the road for a unique roadside garden flower.

The Latin name of this family of plants is Oenothera fruticosa--common sundrops, not to be confused with the common garden primrose called Primula. This is one of the reasons that all plants have both a Latin name and English name, to prevent confusion, as the same plant can have several common names depending on where you live.

Evening primroses have many new hybrids available today and your local garden center will have pink, white and yellow colors available in their perennial flower section or you can purchase seeds from seed catalogs or on the internet. Plant the seeds directly in the garden in the early spring, and most of the time they will flower the first year, even in infertile soil. You must try this plant. Enjoy!

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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:

Every August, the small Spanish town of Buñol hosts a festival called "La Tomatina." What happens at this festival?

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
What genus are ladybugs?

Last Week's Winner:
Mary Pinkos

Last Week's Answer:

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!

Warm Chicken and Mango Salad


  • 1/3 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves--cut into strips
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped mango
  • 1 cup sliced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 8 cups torn romaine lettuce


  • In a small bowl, blend vanilla yogurt, lime juice, mango chutney, rice vinegar, honey, cumin, coriander, and paprika.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Place chicken, ginger, and garlic in the skillet. Cook 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
  • Mix mango, red bell pepper, and green onions into the skillet. Cook about 5 minutes, until pepper is tender and mangoes are heated through. Stir in the vanilla yogurt mixture. Spoon over romaine lettuce to serve.

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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