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Edition 11.32 Paul Parent Garden Club News August 11, 2011
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends."
~Kazuko Okakura

Product Spotlight

SERENADE Garden Disease Control

SERENADE Garden Disease Control, among other modes of action, elicits plant responses that trigger your flowers, vegetables and lawns to fight against diseases. Providing home gardeners with flexibility, performance and value, SERENADE Garden is a key part of any gardener's fight against diseases on flowers, vegetables and lawns.

Features and Benefits:
• Can be used up to and including the day of harvest
• No temperature or timing restrictions when applying the product
• Broad spectrum fungal and bacteria control
• Same active ingredient used by commercial farmers, Bacillus subtilis (QST 713)
• Negligible to no impact to beneficial insects, including honeybees
• Can be used on fruits and vegetables intended for canning
• Now available in SERENADE® Garden Disease Control Concentrate, Ready-to-Use and Ready-to-Spray

For more information, visit the Serenade website.

vanilla and strawberry hydrangea

If you like hydrangeas as I do, you should know that we have three main families of hydrangea to choose from for summer and fall color. The most popular--because it will grow everywhere--is the Hydrangea arborescens family, with hybrids like 'Annabelle' and grandiflora; the Hydrangea piniculata family, with hybrids like 'Praecox' and grandiflora; and the Hydrangea macrophylla family, with hybrids like 'Nikko Blue', lacecap, and 'Pia.' There are other species but these are the most popular species types grown around our homes today.

About 10 years ago, plant breeders began to look at the possibility of creating new hybrids for us and the Hydrangea macrophylla family was chosen.This family already had white, pink and blue hybrids available but most were not winter hardy for the colder climates in the northern part of the country, so the plant breeders got busy to create new varieties that could survive and flower in a colder climate. The results were the new blue hydrangea called 'Endless Summer' that is hardy all over New England and across the country. It was closely followed with 'Blushing Bride,' a hardy pink, and then the new winter-hardy blue lace cap type called 'Twist-n-Shout.' These three plants revolutionized the Hydrangea family forever and nurseries had to ration the plant, as they could not grow them fast enough to meet the demand for several years.

The success was so overwhelming that plant breeders began working on the Hydrangea arborescens family. Two new hybrids were developed with great fanfare because they were able to add pink to the flower, which was always white. The new hybrids are called 'Invincibelle Spirit' and 'Bella Anna.' They became an instant hit because of the unusual color and their ability to be winter hardy across the country. These new hybrids are also available at your local garden center today.

Plant breeders also began working with the Hydrangea paniculata family, and two years ago a new hybrid called 'Pinky-Winky' was released. This new plant is incredible, because it was able to produce a flower that started pure white during July and in August it started to turn pink, then red on the lower part of the flowers, keeping a white tip. This year a new hybrid in the same family has been introduced, called 'Vanilla Strawberry,' and there is only one word for it: "HOT."

Hydrangea paniculata 'Vanilla Strawberry' is even more exciting than 'Pinky –Winky,' but if you like hydrangeas, you will need to have both new hybrids for your garden. The plant was developed in France and the flowers are enormous, up to 12 inches tall and 6 plus inches wide. The plant develop a wonderful pure soft white cone shaped flower during early August, and when the weather begins to cool off at the end of the month you are in for a treat. The lower part of the flower begins to turn soft pink and it moves up the flower until it is all pink. By the time the top is all pink, the bottom has begun to turn red and the flowers look delicious.

If that was not enough, the hydrangea stems that hold the flowers straight up now begin to turn a deep red in color also. The foliage is deep green and the contrast is wonderful with the bright red stems. But wait...there is more, because during September the plant continues to make new flowers that are white! So now, the plant has white flowers, half white and pink flowers, all pink flowers, half pink and red flowers and all red flowers on the same plant with deep green foliage and bright red stems. This plant is SENSATIONAL, a multi-color show of flower August to mid-October. You would think that that was enough for a plant...but there is more.

The stems of the plant are stiff and strong and unlike many other types of hydrangea, the flowers can be cut from the plant and used in fresh flower arrangements without wilting in the vase! In a vase of water, the flowers will outlast most cut flowers and other types of hydrangea, staying in bloom for several weeks. You can also cut the flowers when they reach the coloration you desire, strip off the foliage and hang them upside down in your garage or tool shed to dry. The color will dull a bit but they will keep their shape and character to provide you with a wonderful dry flower for a tall vase, or you can use them to make a wonderful hydrangea wreath.

Plant the hydrangea 'Vanilla Strawberry' in a full sun location garden, but the plant will take a bit of shade late in the day. The better you condition the soil with compost, animal manure and peat moss the more flowers the plant will make for you. The hydrangeas have a lot of foliage and require a steady supply of moisture during the summer months if they are to make flower buds, so I recommend that you also add to the planting hole Soil Moist granules to help keep moisture around the roots as it becomes established in your garden. Water the plant weekly for the first year to help the plant become established. During the summer, water as needed once the plant is established in your garden. They will grow in moist soil except soils that stay wet, especially if puddling occurs and soil ices over during the winter months.

Fertilize in the spring and again in the late summer as the flowers begin to develop to increase the size of the flowers and their numbers on the plant. Use Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth Shrub and Tree plant food with Mycorrhizae, as they are both organic and slow release. Quick releasing fertilizers like 10-10-10 will cause extra-long stems that are weak and unable to hold the flowers upright.

When you plant the hydrangea 'Vanilla Strawberry' in your garden give the plant room to grow, as it will grow 6 to 7 feet tall and spread as much as 4 to 5 feet wide. The plant is very strong and can tolerate wind and cold weather with temperatures down to -30 degrees. The one thing you must do in the fall when the flowers are all finished flowering is to remove the flowers from the plant; prune just below each flower for the winter months. The flowers are large and if you leave the faded flowers on the plant and you have an ice storm or heavy wet snowstorm, the faded flowers will catch the snow and ice and the branches will bend with the weight and possibly break the branches of the plant.

Like most hydrangeas, insect and disease problem are few, making this family of plants that I recommend for your yard the perfect plant. Hydrangeas are great when planted near a deck, patio or pool for lots of color at the time when you’re enjoying your day in the garden. They bloom for so long, it will make your other flowering plants secondary and you, like me, will crave more new varieties to enjoy in your garden. You can also plant 'Vanilla Strawberry' or 'Pinky-Winky' hydrangea as a wonderful hedge for privacy because they both grow 6 to 7 feet tall. So plant this hydrangea this summer for wonderful color in your yard right up to a hard frost in the late falls. Enjoy!

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We all enjoy the wildflowers growing on the side of the road, like the wild lupine in the spring time, the summer-flowering white daisies and Queen Ann's lace and in the fall the wild miniature flowering asters and goldenrod. Today, I want to tell you about one wildflower that you want in your garden because it is trouble free, it will grow almost anywhere and it will flower from late August into October. This very hardy perennial is called the turtlehead and it thrives from Manitoba to Newfoundland in Canada and south to Georgia and Arkansas.

The turtlehead gets its name from the flowers it makes, because they resemble the head of a turtle. The plant makes the flowers on the top of the stems and they develop as a spike flower much like the snapdragon flower. Each individual flower will grow from 1 to 1.5 inches long; it is tubular with a puffed end like the head of a turtle that will split open resembling its lips and mouth. The flowers open from the bottom of the spike and work their way up the spike slowly lasting for 6 to 8 weeks on the plant.

The flower color will range from white to pink and even shades of red. The plant will grow 2 to 3 feet tall as a single stem that develop from the base of the plant making it a wonderful cut flower for your home. The plant spreads with underground roots creating a thick clump of foliage and flowers in the late summer. Purchase the plants in pots from spring to fall and give them room to grow, as they will spread to 3 to 4 feet wide in just 3 to 4 years.

The foliage is deep green and the leaf is oval in shape, 2 to 3 inches long with tiny teeth along its edge. The foliage is also shiny and very clean looking compared to most perennials in our garden. The plant will grow very thick once established in your garden and this foliage is rarely troubled with insect and disease problems. The stems are very stiff and strong growing and seldom fall over with stormy weather; no maintenance needed to hold plants up like so many other tall growing perennials.

If you want to propagate the plant it is best to divide the plant in the spring time. Use a garden trowel or spade and split the plant into small clumps when the plant grows to 3 to 6 inches tall during May. These clumps will still flower for you in the late summer if you care for them during the growing season.

Turtleheads will grow in full sun to full shade garden, a bit taller in the shade. They love a rich soil and the better you prepare the soil the larger the plant will grow and produce more flowers for you. Condition the soil with compost, animal manure or peat moss and be sure to work it deep into the ground to stimulate a strong root system. If your soil is on the sandy side, be sure to add Soil Moist Granules as these plants love moisture, clay type soils and will even thrive in wet soils. Soil acidity is not a concern for this plant either.

This is the perfect plant for a garden in the shade and where water is a problem, as it grows wild near streams and river banks. If you have land where skunk cabbage and ferns are the only plants that grow, this is your plant to change the look of that area, but it will also grow in the average garden. It will soak up a lot of water in the ground, helping to change the character of your yard when planted as a wild flower. The foliage and flowers will add a lot of character to a wild fern growing area on your property.

Turtleheads love water, so remember that if the summer weather gets to be hot and dry, you will have to water them regularly--especially the first year you plant them in your garden--to encourage flower production in the fall. Fertilize in the spring only to help it get started properly and the plant will take care of itself the rest of the year without much care. Once the plants are established they are almost self-sufficient.

Plant turtlehead perennials this summer in your perennial garden for late summer to fall color. The plant will look great when planted along the edge of tall trees or along a wooded area. If you live near the ocean, a lake or beside a river edge, this is a wonderful plant because it will tolerate rough weather where wind is a problem. Turtlehead will tolerate winter temperatures to minus 30 degrees below zero without any type of winter protection. You can also plant turtlehead near drainage ditches, along the side of the road or in front of cattails as a border planting for summer color in places where it is difficult to grow flowers.

In the fall collect the seed pods from the plant once they turn brown and break them open so you can scatter the seeds in a meadow to add to the wildflowers already growing there now. Seedlings will flower the second year they are planted. The pink flowering types of turtleheads will flower the longest time in your garden or in the wild.

You can also plant the turtlehead as a ground cover to prevent soil erosion or on a steep slope where mowing could become a problem. This is just a nice plant for your garden with many uses, so get out this weekend and plant some. Enjoy.

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hen and chicks

Did you know that hen and chicks are native to Europe? Did you know that hen and chicks were grown to prevent lightning damage to homes and buildings? Did you know that the two gods of Lightning, Thor, and Zeus, are associated with this garden perennial? And did you know that hen and chicks can grow in the worst soil in your yard and thrive even if the winter temperatures drop below minus 30 degree below zero.

Hen and chicks are low growing evergreen succulents that will thrive in a cold climate, like cold-tolerant cactus type plants for the north. These plants grow in clusters or like a mat of plants all interconnected covering the ground. The plant has foliage that grows in a rosette form; the individual leaves are thick and filled with a jelly-like fluid that helps keep the plant actively growing in the worst types of growing conditions.

The individual leaves are oval with a point on their tips, and grow up to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. This foliage develops on the plant similar to the way a rose bud opens to become a wonderful rose flower in a vase of water. The older leaves are larger and spread out flat on the ground as new foliage develops in the center of the plant from a tight bud of newly emerging leaves. Depending on the variety of the plant, each rosette can spread out to be 4 to 6 inches in diameter and grow 3 to 5 inches tall.

This is a large family of plants and the foliage can come in many colors and shades of those colors to create much interest in your garden. The newer foliage is usually darker and brighter in color than the older foliage and each clump can have plant in all stages of live and plant sizes. A mature clump of hen and chicks can spread up to two feet or more in diameter or width. The plants are slow growing, so it will take several seasons for clumps to grow this large. Plant potted clumps 12 to 15 inches apart for rapid cover or transplanted rosettes in the spring 3 to 5 inches apart.

The plant is grown for it interesting foliage, which can be in many shades of green, red, yellow, gray, purple, and many mixtures of colors on the same plants. Some new hybrids also have interesting string-like growth or silk-like hair that covers the rosette like a spider web on the plant. In the early morning this silky fiber is covered with droplets of morning dew, making the plants truly unique looking until the sun dries them off.

The many hundreds of varieties will also vary in the size of the rosette and leaf size, with many miniature rosette types growing less than one inch in diameter. Some of the foliage can be flat spreading while others can be curled like a tube. The best color and shapes are on plants grown in full sun because shade or partial shade will force plants to have more of a green color to the foliage and less detail.

Now let me tell you how the plant got its name, hen and chicks. This thick mat of plants in the shape of rosettes will spread evenly on the ground until the older plants mature. When the plants mature the rosette of foliage will stop producing foliage and in the middle of this rosette, a tall thick, 6 to 12 inch flower stem will develop. On top of this stem, a cluster of small one-inch star-shaped flowers will form and they will be brightly colored in shades of red to purple. This mature plant is called the hen and when the flowers fade the rosette of foliage will die and be replaced with new small rosettes of foliage, the chicks.

Hen and chicks are among the easiest plant you can grow in a sunny garden, no matter what your soil is like, as long as it is well drained and you never have standing water. This plant will grow in gravel, sandy or stony type soil and is often found growing in cracks of large rocks with no soil at all. If you have a lot of ledge on your property and want to grow something on it to cover the stone, just add a couple inches of top soil and plant right on top of the ledge.

My mother set up a row of concrete cinder blocks on the edge of the driveway where nothing grew, filled them with top soil and planted hen and chicks in them. In just a couple years you could no longer see the concrete blocks, just beautiful rosettes of colorful foliage. She fed them a couple times a year with a granular fertilizer, watered occasionally and they spread so fast, they even came up in the cracks of the driveway.

All she did was to pull the small rosettes from the main clump in the spring with short stems attached to them (and most of the time no roots) and just pushed them in the ground. She watered a couple times a week until they developed roots and fertilized with Miracle-Gro every other week. She soon had enough for all our neighbors and friends--it's that easy.

In the days of thatched roof all over Europe and still today in many places, including Ireland where thatched roofs are still found, I saw hen and chicks planted in the thatched roofs. Folklore said that if your roof was planted with hen and chicks, it would protect against lightning-induced fires, due to the association with the two gods of lightning: Thor and Zeus. If a fire started in your roof and you had hen and chicks planted in it, the fire was slowed down because of all the thick fluid in the foliage of the plant and because it grew so thick, often covering all the thatch. So yes, these plants are fire resistant and they do slow down the spread of fire-- folklore is right!

If your hen and chicks are in bloom now, you will soon have many new chicks to transplant to a new garden in the spring next year. Enjoy the flowers and when the foliage dies remove it from the cluster so the new plants can form more quickly.

Hen and chicks will grow in containers as long as they are well drained, especially during the winter months. They will make wonderful plants when used as a ground cover, especially if you mix several colors and leaf shapes together in the same planting bed. Use in rock gardens to form an edge planting or in planting beds where pea stone or gravel is used in the place of bark mulch. If you build a stone wall on your property, add a few plants between the rocks you use to make the wall for wonderful special effects. Steep sloping hills where erosion is a problem is the perfect place to plant hen and chicks also.

Because of the many hybrids of this plant be sure to ask your local garden center or nursery for hardiness of the plants you select the plants in your garden. If the plants are in the nursery perennial flowers display it should be hardy but if it is the greenhouse it is most likely an indoor variety and will not survive the winter if your climate is cold. If you order unusual varieties on line, be sure to check the plant zone map for hardiness and stay with plants that are hardy from zone 1 to 5 and not 5 to 10. 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:

If there were a mosquito buzzing around the room, why might you be forgiven for hoping it's a male, and not a female?

This Week's Prize:
Dramm Revolver Spray Gun

  • Nine spray patterns for any outdoor activity involving water (washing cars, bathing dogs, watering plants)
  • Quick change patterns
  • Ergonomic insulated grip
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Lifetime guarantee

Last Week's Question
Helianthus annuus is more commonly known as...?

Last Week's Winner:
Greta Kahn

Last Week's Answer:

Last Week's Prize:
Dramm Bypass Pruner

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!

Luscious Grilled Chicken

Summer is perfect for grilling! This quick marinade makes flavorful, juicy chicken ready for the grill in less than 30 minutes. Serve with homemade potato salad and grilled vegetables for a great summertime dinner in less than an hour.


  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/3 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed coriander seed
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper or 1/3 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1/3 cup olive or peanut oil
  • 6 chicken breast pieces with ribs
  • 1 zipper-style plastic bag, one-gallon sized

Step by Step:

  • Open one-gallon size zipper style plastic bag.
  • Add spices: onion, garlic and chili powders, paprika, ground cumin, crushed coriander seed, salt, and black pepper (or crushed black peppercorns); mix together in plastic bag until well combined.
  • Add 3 teaspoons liquid smoke to spice mixture and drizzle with olive or peanut oil.
  • Knead mixture through plastic until thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from refrigerator and rinse under cold water, patting dry with paper towels. If chicken breasts are large, cut in half with chef's knife or butcher knife so that pieces are uniform.
  • Place chicken into zipper style plastic bag. Seal zippered bag and thoroughly toss chicken in marinade until it covers all pieces.
  • Push air out of the bag and seal, placing into a bowl in the refrigerator (in case bag leaks) and allowing to rest for 15-20 minutes.
  • Clean rack and turn grill to high, closing cover until grill is hot.
  • Prepare clean grill rack by oiling lightly or by removing rack with potholders, moving away from fire and spraying with nonstick spray.
  • Remove chicken from bag and place onto grill breast side down, allowing chicken to sear on both sides over high heat, about 4 minutes per side.
  • Turn off one burner and transfer seared chicken to this side of grill, cooking over indirect heat and turning often, about 18-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 F.

Yield: 6 servings.

Recipe courtesy of "Cooking for Pleasure" by Jeanine Harsen.


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

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Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM

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