"In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends."
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
• 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
For more information, visit the Serenade website
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
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!
Click to print this article.
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
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.
Click to print this article.
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
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
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
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!
Click to print this article.
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.
- 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:
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!
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.