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Edition 12.29 Paul Parent Garden Club News July 19, 2012
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful."
~e.e. cummings

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.


If you're looking to add fabulous color to your summer perennial flower gardens and you would like this plant to flower from July to September, I have just the plant for you. This plant is also a low maintenance perennial for your sunny garden and it requires a minimum of watering once established in your garden. This wonderful plant is actually a tuber that can be purchased in the early spring for as little as 25 cents each or purchased at this time of the year in 6" to 8" pots from your local garden center or nursery. Potted plants should contain 5 to 10 bulbs in them to give you optimum color during the summer.

The plant is called Liatris. Once it gets established in your garden, it will also multiply every year in numbers that increase the clump size and the numbers of flower stems on the plant. During the early summer, a course grassy-like foliage will develop in a clump growing about 12 inches tall and just as wide. The foliage is about 1/2 inch wide and deep green, with a rounded tip on the blade. From the center of the foliage in mid-June thick and strong stems, up to an inch in diameter will begin to form. These stems develop foliage that resembles the foliage of the clump that they develop from.

Once the stem reaches 12 to 15 inches tall, the flower bud begins to form on the top of the stem. The flower buds develop around the stem in clusters and the stem will continue to grow another 12 to 15 inches tall, with hundreds of these buds on it. Each open flower has small feather-like spikes of flower clusters. The flowers do not begin to open until the stem is fully grown, because the flower buds open from the top of the flower spike first, not from the bottom of the stem like most other types of flowers--very unusual in the flower world.

I actually like this, because as the flowers fade you can cut back the faded top of the flower spike and the flowers always look fresh and clean without dead flower buds on them. Just think how unsightly snapdragons and gladiolas look as they begin to age in your garden or in a vase of water. So keep the garden looking nice and use your pruning shears to whack off the tops of the flowers as they need cleaning for great color until September.

Liatris will grow best in a full sun garden but will do quite well in a garden with late-day shade. The plant will grow best in a well-drained soil that is average but if you can condition the soil with animal manure, compost, or peat moss before planting the plant will multiply more quickly, flower longer and produce more flower stocks. Once the plants are established, feed them in the springtime with Dr. Earth Flower Food with Pro Biotic and then forget them. If you fertilize them often, the flower stems will grow tall and will fall over.

Wet soils will rot the tuber, so be sure to keep them away from low spots in the garden and avoid clay-type soil, or wet soils--especially during the winter months--will kill your tubers. When you plant the tubers, set them into the ground in groups of 5 or more spaced 2 to 3 inches apart and 2 inches deep. This plant is not eaten by rodents, few insects bother it, and disease is not a problem for this unique plant.

Liatris also makes a great cut flower and will last for 2 weeks or more in your favorite vase of water--and they dry well also. The flowers come in white, rosy-purple, pinkish-purple, and purple. The one thing I have always liked about this plant is its ability to attract butterflies, beneficial insects, and hummingbirds to the garden during the summer months. Plant Liatris with ornamental grasses, daylilies, summer flowering daisies and hybrid lilies for great summer color. They also look great when planted in a field and allowed to naturalize with other wild flowers. Enjoy!

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Many years ago when I was visiting family in Florida, I noticed a lot of plants called Liriope growing in mulch beds as a ground cover; many people referred to this plant as "Zero-landscaping." It turned out that this grass plant is in the lily family, and once established in the planting areas, maintenance was cut by more than half compared to other plants used the same way.

The plant looked like clumps of grass, with narrow strap like leaves up to 1/2" wide. The plants grew in a clump of these arching leaves and resembled a fountain of deep green--or deep green with a bright white edge leaf--in mounds covering mulch beds with color. The plant grew less than a foot tall and spread over a foot wide. In time, the plants all grew together, creating a wonderful ground cover of soft-looking grassy mounds that moved with the slightest breeze.

The Liriope got its name from Greek mythology; it is said that Liriope is the mother of Narcissus, who became the daffodil flower. The common name is turf lily or lilyturf; the root system grows from tuberous roots and spreads in the planting bed with rhizomes. In a warm climate, the plant spreads very quickly but--to my surprise--this plant is winter hardy in a cold climate. It just does not grow as fast. The plant will produce a small blue flower that resembles a grape hyacinth in late summer to fall--and sometimes small round black berries.

Plant Liriope in a partial to full shade garden with soil that is rich and well-conditioned with animal manure, seaweed kelp, or compost before planting. Your plants will grow best in a well-drained soil and makes a great woodland plant with hosta, ferns, and wildflowers. These are tough plants. Once they are established in your garden, they will last for many years.

These plants are also very easy to grow and require little to no care, once established. This unusual plant will also tolerate growing directly under large trees and roots from the trees are not a problem with their development. These plants will also tolerate heat, humidity, drought conditions--and will even tolerate salt spray and wind.

When you plant, it is very important that you care for them until they are well-established. That will take a year, but once they are established in the garden just forget about them and they will thrive under most any condition. Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart when planting in staggered rows to create a full planting bed or use them in a single row as an edging or border along your walkways.

In the early spring, cut the plant right back to the ground to remove the winter-damaged foliage and the plant will replace it with all new foliage in just a few weeks. The spring is also the best time of the year to divide the plant if the clumps are getting to be too large and are outgrowing their place in your garden. Fertilize the plants in the spring with Plant Tone fertilizer or Dr. Earth evergreen plant fertilizer with pro biotic. One feeding a year is all your plant will need to grow strong and flower for you.

 Mulching around the plants or the planting bed will help plants grow larger in size and better cope with cold winters with little snow cover, less die back on the new plants. Insects and disease problems are minimal once established, giving this plant additional value.

Now for the name "Zero-landscaping" title that was given to this plant... it is used in the south in many situations because of the following features:
Unlike a lawn it does not need to be mowed; it will grow in the sun if watered weekly or in the shade where water is minimal.
Once established, no weeding is needed like a lawn, and there are no insect or disease problems on the plant, so the cost to maintain large areas of these plants is minimal.

If you would like to try this plant in your garden look for the Liriope spicata, as it is hardy to zone 4 (20 to 30 degrees below zero). Try 'Silver Dragon' with the variegated foliage for extra interest. Enjoy!

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It's Hot  and Dry but the Gardens Are in Peak Summer Color. Lets Enjoy Them!

For the next few weeks, let's enjoy the gardens we planted this past spring--but remember there are a few things for us to do to keep them looking beautiful. Many perennials are now in bloom and more are coming, our summer flowering shrubs are just beginning to develop full color and that color will increase in the weeks to come also. What we have ahead of us now in the garden is enjoyment but a challenge to keep our plants happy and productive. Here is what you will need to remember to do in the weeks ahead.

#1 Let's begin with watering the gardens, our shrubs and trees--and decide what to do with the lawn. Most of our gardens can go 3 to 4 days between watering and sometimes longer, depending on the temperature--if you do it right the first time. The secret to watering is to water deeply, so the roots of the plant have to grow down into the soil for the water. This will build a larger root system for the plant and if the roots are deep in the soil, that soil will be cooler than on the surface. Frequent watering for short periods of time will force the roots of the plants to actually grow near the surface where the water is. Plants with shallow roots are always under stress, especially when the weather is hot and dry, so water for longer periods of time and less often.

Use mulches, compost, pine needles, or even your grass clippings to cover the soil and help retain moisture. The best root development fertilizer on the market today is "Plant Thrive" and the Mycorrhizae it contains will double your roots in just a couple of weeks to help the plant pick up moisture and fertilizer from your garden soil. The best time to water the garden is in the morning! Never during the mid-day sun as most will evaporate with the heat of the day and if you water at night when things cool off, you will run the risk of encouraging foliage diseases on your plant.

I set up my sprinkler the night before and set a water timer on the outside faucet to start watering the garden at 6:00 am. The $30.00 I spent on the water timer has paid for itself many times over. At 7:00 AM, I am up and move the sprinkler and again at 8:00 and 9:00 AM and that gives me 3 good hours of watering before things get hot--and all the water gets into the ground for the plants. You can also set your water timer for an hour and head off to work and it will turn off all by itself when you're gone. Try it this summer; you will love it and so will your plants.

#2 Fertilizing is also important to keep the plants growing and to make new foliage and the flowers buds develop on the plant. Annuals, perennials, and vegetables should be fed every 2 weeks with liquid products, monthly with granular products and every 2 months with time release products. Several years ago I learned from a good friend that time release products are used up faster by the plants when the weather is hot and we water more often than the label states. A time-release fertilizer that claims to last 3 months will last 3 months if the temperatures stay around 70 degrees--but when the temperatures rise to 80 or even 90 degrees the product is used up faster because we water more! My good friend Dana Whitman showed me that even though you see the small BB-like pellets of fertilizer on the ground they may be empty, so squeeze them and check for product in the fertilizer covering.

#3 Inspect plants for insect and disease problems when you're in the garden, and check often--especially when it gets hot. The warmer it is outside, the faster the insects and disease problems develop and create a big problem for you and your plants. Apply insecticides or fungicides in the early morning before it gets too hot out; this will prevent possible foliage burn and it will allow the product to dry before the beneficial insects get active, making it safer for them. Read the label, FOLLOW the directions, and never increase the recommended rates of application. You may kill more insects but the ones who survive will become even stronger and their offspring can become immune to the products you are using.

#4 Deadhead or remove the faded flowers from the plants often, so they cannot make seeds and your flowering plants will make more flower buds to replace the ones you removed. Pick flowers for your house and enjoy them indoors as well. The best time to pick fresh cut flowers is early in the morning before it gets too hot out--less stress on the cut flowers--and if you can add several ice cubes every morning to the vase they will also bloom longer for you on the kitchen table. When you put the stems in the water, make sure there are no leaves on the stems under the water to prevent fungus development and shorter flowering time. Be sure to give flowers to your friends and neighbors, they will love it and take pictures of your flowers and garden so you can enjoy them during the winter.

#5 In the vegetable garden, pick often, and pick when the vegetables are young and ripe for better taste and to keep them producing. If plants make fruit that has fully ripened or are oversized, the plant has changed to making seeds for next year not new fruit or vegetables for the future, so pick often to keep plants producing. Enjoy your garden--the season is much too short and we are now beyond mid-July. In mid-August you can plant your fall crops but you must get your seeds now before they are sent back to the grower--do this now!

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This Week's Question
Which of these flowers caused a financial panic in the 1600's and made many people bankrupt?

  1. daisies
  2. lilies
  3. roses
  4. tulips
  5. violets

This Week's Prize:
Liquid Plant THRIVE

Soil Conditioner & Mycorrhizal Root Stimulator--perfect for seedlings and growing plants of all types.

The hottest gardening product for 2012! From existing plants to seedlings--THRIVE helps plants get off on the right "root." The beginning is often the most important part of your plants' lives. Maintaining soil quality for them to grow is imperative. Liquid Plant THRIVE contains a concentrated dose of the microbes already found in nature that will ensure a strong root system, require less watering and help you do your part for the environment.

For more information, see the THRIVE website.

Last Week's Question:

What do you call the red pigment responsible for the color of (most) ripe tomatoes?

Last Week's Winner:
Vivian Esswein-Leary

Last Week's Answer:

Last Week's Prize:
Liquid Plant THRIVE

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!

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.

Pasta Primavera

What You'll Need:

  • 1 pound fusilli, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups fresh asparagus, diagonally cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh green peas
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Step by Step:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions, adding asparagus and peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  • Drain and place in a large bowl.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.
  • Add bell pepper, onion and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes; sauté for 1 minute.
  • Stir in broth, whipping cream, salt and red pepper; cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  • Add tomato mixture to pasta mixture; toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and basil. Serve immediately.


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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