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Edition 11.33 Paul Parent Garden Club News August 18, 2011

Featured Quote:

"Gardens are a form of autobiography."

~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture Magazine, August/September 1993


Product Spotlight

Espoma Holly-tone® and Plant-tone® 5-3-3

For the past 80 years, Espoma Tones have defined the naturally beautiful garden. From our famous Holly-tone® to our newest product, Flower-tone®, each is a complex blend of long lasting natural ingredients, enhanced with our Bio-tone® microbes.

Each Tone has been carefully developed in conjunction with nursery and horticultural professionals to produce outstanding flowers, shrubs and vegetables. No fillers, sludge or inert ingredients are ever used. And since every ounce of every Tone is manufactured in our own plant under our strict supervision, quality is guaranteed.
• Long lasting natural organics break down slowly for steady, continuous feeding.
• Contains Bio-tone® microbes.
• Adds organic matter to soil.
• Safe. Low in salts so it won't burn.
• Safe for people, pets, & the environment

Holly-tone® 4-3-4
• Formulated for acid-loving plants: hollies,azaleas, dogwoods, evergreens, and rhododendrons.
Plant-tone® 5-3-3
An all natural, all purpose premium blend.
Excellent starter plant food.
For more information, visit the Espoma website.

Japanese Anemones

With September just around the corner, you might be thinking of fall flowers for your garden, and I want you to consider the Japanese anemones this year. Mums and fall asters are nice but when you see the anemones in bloom in your garden, you will say to yourself, “Where were these plants when I was looking for fall flowers all these years!” Anemones will begin to flower in early September and last for 5 weeks or more in your garden, or until a hard frost kills the plant back to the ground like other perennials. The plants are hardy to zone 4 with winter temperatures down to -30 degrees and with a 3 inch covering of bark mulch around the plant. The flowers of the anemones look like windmills on tall stems and you will enjoy watching them sway back and forth with the cool fall winds.

Plant Japanese anemones in a sunny garden but it will tolerate a bit of late-in-the-day shade. Your soil is the key to grow this wonderful perennial plant in your garden. It MUST be well drained at all times and the plant will not tolerate standing water or areas where water will collect and turn into ice during the winter months. Before planting in your garden be sure to condition the soil with compost, animal manure or peat moss to increase the organic matter level in the soil, as these plants will do much better in a rich soil. Also add a bit of Soil Moist Granules to help hold moisture around the roots for the first season and a teaspoon of Osmocote slow release fertilizer to keep the plant well fed while it becomes established in your garden.

Most fall-flowering anemones will grow 18 to 24 inches tall and spread about the same width. You will also find many other varieties that will grow taller in height and the plant will grow wider also. The foliage is half of the plant's height, is dark green and stays very clean looking, as it is not troubled by insects and disease problems. The flower stems grow long and straight from the foliage during the month of August; these stems are very strong and able to hold up many flower buds and open flowers at the same time.

The flower buds and the flowers are elegant looking on the plant, and they will bring much interest to the garden where they grow. The flowers will grow 2 to 4 inches wide and resemble the flowers of poppies, also much like the delicate single-flowering miniature dahlias or real fancy-looking daisies. The flower petals grow around a uniquelooking rounded green-to-yellow colored center that is also circled with several rows of delicate looking pollen sacks. Most varieties will have several rows of these delicate flower petals, and each flower will last for two weeks or more on the plant. The flower buds are deep green, just like the foliage, and are as round as a marble until they burst open with the flower petals.

Both the flower and the flower buds have a dusty covering on them that makes them glow in the garden on a bright sunny day, at night when the moon is full or when your outdoor lighting is on in the garden. They seem to catch the light and reflect it back to you almost like they are tiny mirrors in your garden. The plant does not look formal in your garden but more natural and almost like a wildflower.

The flowers come in shades of pink, white, rose, red, lavender, and several varieties will have darker looking petals in the center of the flower and lighter colored near the tips of the petals. The colors remind me of the pastel colors of Easter eggs in the spring time--they are so delicate.

As the flowers fade on the plant, the flower petals will fall and leave behind a round seed pod about an inch in diameter. The seed pods will give added interest to the remaining flower and buds on the plant. The plant will still have much interest when all the flowers have faded because of the many round seed pods that will remain on the plant until a hard frost turns the entire plant brown during late October. Once the plant turns brown, it is time to cut it back to the ground and clean the garden of the remaining debris.

By leaving the seed pods on the plant until frost, the seed pods will ripen, turn gray and crack open. When the winds push the flower around, the seed will scatter in your garden, and in the spring new seedlings will germinate and develop all over the garden. Or you could collect the seed pods when all the flowers have faded, and store them in a paper bag until they dry and crack open, so you can spread them in other gardens on your property.

Plant them in mixed perennial gardens, use them as a ground cover on steep hillside where mowing is a problem, or in a mass planting in front of evergreens like rhododendrons and azaleas. They will also grow great in a wildflower garden, or plant them under tall growing trees with few lower branches, allowing sunshine to hit the ground and create a woodland garden.

Japanese anemones are a wonderful plant for your fall landscape and will give your fall-flowering mums added character in the garden. Look for them at your local garden center or nursery this weekend and plant them in your garden now so you can enjoy all stages of the bloom--unique flower buds, flowers, and then seed pods this fall.

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Sedum

If you're looking for the perfect, trouble free perennial plant for your sunny garden, look no further than the tall-growing sedum family. If you have a garden with a bit of shade and your soil is well drained, the sedum family is still for you. If you're a beginner gardener or you want to introduce an easy to grow plants to your children, the answer is still the tall-growing sedum. Now, if you want colorful foliage in shades of purple, yellow, white, several shades of green and bi-color foliage from April to October, and even flowers in the fall, the answer is the same: tall-growing sedum.

The sedum family of plants has hundreds of species, some are ground covers, but my favorite is the tall upright growing varieties. Another great thing about this tall-growing sedum is that they can tolerate wet weather while the low-growing varieties cannot. If the spring is cloudy or they receive a bit of shade, the plant will grow taller than normal, but you can solve this problem easily by pinching the plant back in late June to early July to control the height. When the plants are new to your garden, small in size or young starter plants, this early summer pinching will easily double the size of the plant by the time they are ready to flower in mid-August.

All the tall-growing sedums have thick stems to better hold the foliage upright and the flowers upright on top of the plant. The oval foliage will grow 2 to 3 inches long, and 1 to 2 inches wide with a smooth edge. The leaf itself is rather thick, like all succulent type plants, and because of this wonderful character the plant can tolerate long periods of hot weather without much rainfall, and still thrive.

Recently, a good friend saw my tall-growing sedum plants in my garden and she calls them "frog belly" plants, to my amazement. As a child her mother would remove a large leaf from one of the plants and with her thumb and index finger would gently rub the leaf in between her fingers. The skin of the leaf has tough cellophane-like covering and when you gently rub it with your fingers it will separate from the fleshy center. Take your time and rub the leaf until you feel it separate. Where you broke the leaf from the stem of the plant, gently blow into the leaf and watch the leaf blow up like the belly of a frog. Keep rubbing the leaf until it has all separated from the fleshy center and watch your children go crazy as you blow into the leaf with a pulsating burst of air. Thanks, Daphne!

The tall-growing sedums will grow 18 to 24 inches tall in your garden, depending on the amount of sunshine the plants receive--shorter in the direct sunshine. The plant will spread 18 to 24 inches wide if your soil is well drained and you fertilize them once a year with a granular organic fertilizer like Flower-Tone or Dr. Earth flower fertilizer with Pro-biotic. When you plant tall-growing sedum in your garden, be sure to condition the soil with compost, animal manure and peat moss to help get the plant get established quickly. I always use Soil Moist granules to help retain moisture around new plant when planting and so should you, it will help hold water around the new roots when you forget to water.

The plants form their flower buds during late-July and the plants begin to bloom in mid- August. The flowers will last on the plant well into October, resembling tiny stars about 1/2 inch in diameter in a cluster 2 to 4 inches wide. The flowers range from soft pink to pinky purple, and as they fade will turn brown and dry on the plant. Bees of all types just love this flower, especially the bumble bees.

Your tall-growing sedum make wonderful cut flowers and last for a long time in a vase of water. The plant is very strong growing and will also grow very well in large containers like whiskey barrels. Because it loves the sun and heat, the plant will thrive in a planting bed that has stone mulch instead of bark mulch. Use this wonderful plant in perennial borders, rock gardens, as a ground cover in hot spots in your yard where watering is a problem like steep slopes, or on top of a cement wall where plants dry up fast. I like them is groups, mass plantings or in large planting beds with large evergreen trees or broadleaf evergreens shrubs.

The tall-growing sedum that most of us know is called 'Autumn Joy.' It is the most popular of this family but if you like style, character, and colorful foliage please consider the following three varieties for your gardens.

The first to consider is sedum 'Frosty Morn.' This wonderful plant has a deep green center to the leaf with bright white edges and, like the other tall-growing sedums, it will grow 18 to 24 inches tall and just as wide. The stems are not a strong and they do not grow as upright as 'Autumn Joy' but the plant's bi-color stems and foliage make it stand out in your garden. The plant does grow more openly and if it gets some shade it will stretch for the light and lay over a bit. The flowers are pale pink, so this wonderful plant has three colors when in flower; deep green and white foliage with 2 to 3 inch pale pink flower heads. During a full moon or if this plant is near outside lighting it will literally glow in the dark for you; great near a walkway.

The next variety for you to consider is called sedum 'Mediovariegatum,' and this variety of tall-growing sedum has a bright yellow center to the leaf and deep green edges. It will grow 15 to 18 inches tall and just as wide, making this plant a bit smaller growing than than the others varieties. It will grow more open, also less compact and often does lay down if not pinched back in late June. The flowers are medium to deep pink, and when in bloom the unusual deep green and bright yellow foliage make it stand out in any garden setting. Like the 'Frosty Morn' sedum, it is very showy in the moonlight or when planted near outdoor lighting. The flower heads are smaller, only 2 to 3 inches wide but the plant is very showy from the spring to fall season.

The third variety to consider is called 'Purple Emperor.' It is so unique it was voted the most outstanding perennial plant of the year in 2002 by the International Hardy Plant Union. This amazing plant has dark purple leaves and stems that grow 12 to 15 inches tall and spread 15 to 18 inches wide. It is a member of the tall-growing sedum family but it must be pinched back in late June to keep it growing compact and full looking or it will grow a bit more open and fall over a bit as the flowers begin to open on the plant. The flowers are pinky-purple and with the deep purple foliage it makes a wonderful contrasting plant in your garden. In the early spring, this plant will have two-tone deep green foliage that will mature to deep purple foliage as the sun begins to warm up the ground. By mid-June, the entire plant will be purple except where it gets a bit of shade.

I have all four of these varieties in my garden and I love the color contrast of the foliage and flowers from June to October. All varieties are very hardy and will tolerate winter temperatures that drop to minus 30 degrees. Split these plants every 3 to 5 years, in half or quarters, and in no time at all they are back just as large as before you split them. Visit your local garden center or nursery for these wonderful tall-growing sedums and give your garden a bit more character this summer and to the fall.

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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.


trivia


This Week's Question:

What is a dibble?

This Week's Prize:
Drammatic® "K" 2-5-0.2

  • For an extra boost for lawns and gardens, this liquid fish formula contains kelp.
  • All-natural product that is people and pet friendly.
  • (NOP) compliant and OMRI listed.
DRAMM

Last 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?

Last Week's Winner:
Don Lamothe

Last Week's Answer:
Because the male does not bite.

Last Week's Prize:
Dramm Revolver Spray Gun

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!


Cold Cucumber Soup

What You'll Need:

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 12 to 16 cucumber slices for garnish (optional)
  • 6 to 8 mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  • Combine cucumbers, onion, sour cream, chicken broth, parsley, salt, white pepper and nutmeg in a blender.
  • Process mixture just until well blended. Pour cucumber soup into a large bowl.
  • Chill, covered for 2 hours or longer.
  • Ladle soup into individual soup bowls.
  • Garnish with cucumber slices and mint sprigs if desired.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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

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