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Edition 12.32 Paul Parent Garden Club News August 9, 2012
featured quote

Featured Quote:

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


Product Spotlight

Dr. Earth Organic 3: Rose & Flower Fertilizer 5-7-2

Organic 3™ fertilizer produces remarkable results because nutrients are released quickly, yet continue to feed for several months. Ultra-premium scientific formula provides optimum levels of primary essential plant nutrients, including micronutrients and multi-minerals. ProBiotic® ensures that organic nutrients are thoroughly broken down and then released in the soil for plant roots to absorb them as they are needed.

Infused with ProBiotic®--consisting of "Seven Champion Strains" of beneficial soil microbes and eight select strains of ecto and endo mycorrhizae--which contributes to drought tolerance, enhanced nutrient availability, and increased plant performance. The Dr. Earth® probiotics are a most complete "broad-spectrum" bio-active package designed to work synergistically with the raw organic nutrients that make up the Organic 3™ formula. This spectacular blend builds soil health, promotes superior flowers and roses with larger and more abundant colorful blooms.

Ideal for:
  • All Flowering Plants: English teas, hybrid teas, climbing roses, miniature roses, perennials, annuals.
  • Raised Beds: Excellent for use in raised beds during transplanting or feeding mid-season for a nutritional boost to maximize flower health.
  • Planting: Apply a generous helping as directed to existing gardens or at time of planting or transplanting. Apply any time mid-season to supply a continual nutritional supply to maximize your beautiful flower garden.
  • Containers: Feed container plants every 6 weeks to keep plants healthy and strong.
  • Compost Tea: Makes compost tea; for use as soil drench or foliar spray.
For more information, and videos, visit the Dr. Earth website.

Campanula/ Bellflowers/Canterbury Bells

Over the last few weeks, the one flower that stands out in my perennial garden is the Canterbury bells--and they are one of my favorite flowers for cutting. As a cut flower, they will last 2 weeks or more in a tall vase of water, so if you want tall perennial flowers in the garden or for cutting, this is the one for you to plant in your garden now or in the spring. These wonderful flowers come in blue, purple, pink, and white colors and they are winter hardy all over the Northeast, where some taller growing flowers have problems wintering over. The stems are strong and they are covered with many star-shaped or bell-shaped flowers, depending on the variety you select.

Here is all you will need to grow these wonderful perennials. Select a location with full sun (but they will tolerate a bit of shade late in the day or first thing in the morning). Your garden soil must be light and well-drained all year. Clay soils or areas in your garden that have a tendency of staying wet after a heavy rain will not do, as this plant will rot in wet soils. Before you plant, condition the soil with lots of compost, animal manure, seaweed kelp or the new coir product now available. The better the soil, the more stems of flowers the plant will produce and the longer they will stay in bloom during the summer. In a cold climate, the plants will do much better if your garden has 2 to 3 inches of mulch, compost or pine needles covering the garden bed. The plants will grow 2 to 3 feet tall and, once established, the plant will spread to a clump 2 to 3 feet wide.

I planted my Canterbury bells in a place where they are sheltered from strong summer thunder storms and wind. Alternatively, plant them near a fence where you can tie them up or brace them easily. A mature plant can, and will, produce 15 to 25 stems of flowers during July and early August. Each flower stem can produce 15 to 25 flowers, depending on the variety you have chosen. Some of the bell-shaped flowers can be one inch wide and 2 inches long, so the flowers are heavy on this strong stem. They will bend or fall over if the plant is in full bloom and severe weather develops. That is why they should have some protection or be planted with other tall-growing perennials for support.

The plant begins as a mound or a rosette of foliage in the spring and will spread out on the ground 12 to 18 inches wide. The flower stems will have small leaves along the length of the flower stem but most of the foliage stays in this 6 to 10 inch mound of foliage on the ground. Bellflowers do not like the heat, and prefer temperatures from 70 at night. During the summer, if temperatures get above 90 degrees they will fade and the blooming time is shortened. Knowing this, you should keep plants away from asphalt driveways or stone walkways like brick or cobblestones. They also do not like to be in a raised bed made of stone or planted near a stone wall as the stone does hold the heat around the plant longer.

Bellflowers are best planted in the spring, or in the fall during September so the plant has time to get established before winter arrives. If you're planting in a rock garden this fall use extra compost to help plants get established faster and be sure to mulch around plants to help cool the roots of the plant during the summer months. Keep plants well watered for the first 4 to 6 weeks in the spring or fall planting and if possible use "Plant Thrive" the wonderful liquid fertilizer with Mycorrhizae for faster root development. When you water your new plants, water the garden deeply to encourage the roots to develop deep into the soil.

When your flowers are in bloom and they begin to fade, be sure to deadhead the plants, as this will prolong the flowering time in the garden. When the flowers are finished blooming, cut the stem right down to the foliage cluster near the ground. If your plants are happy growing in your garden, they will need to be divided every 3 to 5 years in the spring or early fall (September). Dig up the entire clump and break it apart with your hands. Discard any parts of the plant that don't look healthy--like the older growth or any side shoots that developed and look weak. Keep the best looking parts and condition the soil before planting them, as they will be in the ground for 3 to 5 years and now is the time to get them off to a good start.

Campanula has very few problems with insects and disease, a real positive trait for this plant. Your selection by variety is very wide, as there are over 300 varieties to choose from--so do your research before planting. Besides the tall growing varieties you will be able to find dwarf or low growing varieties for your garden. Bellflowers are wonderful for perennial beds, border gardens, and rock gardens; some varieties make great plants for wildflower plantings, and the low-growing types can be used as a ground cover. You could say that there is a bellflower for every area of your gardens from the front of the flower bed, medium-growing varieties for the middle of your garden, and tall varieties for the back of the garden. Some of the miniature varieties can also be planted in a wall garden and will thrive in the cracks and crevices.

Campanula flowers are tubular to star in shape and they are frequently visited by many butterflies, all types of bees and humming birds--for a real bonus with their activity in the garden. Because there are so many different varieties of Campanula, you can have bellflowers in bloom from early spring right up until the fall season. Another nice thing about the bellflowers is that they work well when combined with other flowers like astilbe, columbine, foxgloves, delphiniums, lilies, daylilies, summer-flowering daisies, and coneflowers. I have a couple clumps planted in light shade and they look great with annuals like coleus, impatiens and wax begonias.

Fertilize them every spring during April, and again in the early fall, with Flower-Tone or Dr. Earth Rose & Flower Fertilizer with Pro-biotic to help them to develop extra foliage for next year's growth and more flowers on the plant. Once you plant campanula in your garden, you will want other varieties to increase your collection because of the many different flower shapes and their length of flowering in your garden. These are great plants for your garden, they are hardy, low maintenance and trouble free. Enjoy !

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Ferns: the perfect plants for the shady areas where grass will not grow

We all have a place in the yard under tall trees where we have planted grass seed for years--and still the grass will not grow. Many of us have dug out the area and replaced it with bark mulch and a few shrubs just to make the area look presentable but it's not what we want, not another shrub garden to care for. If you have this problem then I have a suggestion for you to consider that you may like? How about a fern garden? Because ferns are perennial, so they return every year, and they spread and become larger every year. Ferns come in hundreds of varieties that will give you different heights, different colors, different textures, some are scented, with great fall color, and some even have flowers. Best of all there are no insects or disease problems and no MAINTENANCE for this new garden--just enjoyment.

The fern has been around longer than any other plant on our planet. Scientists say they have been around for as long as 220 million years and were growing under those tall shady trees even before the dinosaurs came into existence. The dinosaurs are long gone now but this plant, the fern, is still prospering from Antarctica to your yard--no matter where you live on the planet—but still, as Rodney Dangerfield often said, "They get no respect."

Ferns are soft plants with character; they look soft because of their texture as they creep across the once barren ground where only weeds once grew; their beauty in a mass planting will give you a calming effect as you walk between them. I think the ferns do for a shady garden what the grass does for the sunny lawn.

Let's compare the two and you will see what I mean: the lawn needs to be fertilized several times a year to keep it green and thick-growing. The lawn gets weeds that need to be removed or the grass looks less appealing. The lawn can have insect and disease problems which require costly chemical control to solve the problem; if not treated it will die or animals and birds will dig it up looking for these insect pests living in the soil. During the summer months you have to water the grass or it will turn brown, spoiling the appearance of your home and gardens. Your lawn must be cut weekly to look its best and that takes time from your busy day and creates more work for you in the yard. With all this negative information, our home is a better place because of the lawn growing around it.

Ferns once planted and established are self-sufficient! They need no fertilizer and their thick canopy will block all the sunlight from reaching weeds--and the weeds die off all by themselves. Insect and disease problems are rare to nonexistent with most of the ferns. Ferns adapt to moisture in the soil and can even survive a drought; some varieties even prefer a dry soil to grow in, while others grow on the side of the road and tolerate road salt during the winter months. Unlike most shrubs and trees, the ferns are not eaten by animals like deer who can destroy your plantings in just a few nights of feeding on them. One more thing...ferns are able to reproduce themselves without your help, as they are able to produce millions of spores each year to start new plants where some ferns have died out. It's a no-brainer, so let me tell you about some of the best ferns for your shady areas under those tall growing trees--and you can forget about planting grass seed this fall.

#1 MY favorite is called the Hayscented Fern; it will thrive in part sun to full shade. This fern will grow in moist to dry soil and will tolerate acidic soil under your pines and oak trees; also in rocky soil. If you have a large area to cover this is your fern, because it has the ability to spread quickly in just a few years. It got its name from the scent it releases when the foliage is crushed--fresh cut hay. It is aggressive and makes the perfect plant to control erosion problem areas, and it will also cover other plants growing in the same area, quickly taking over the area and creating a thick blanket of soft foliage. This feat is accomplished by its dense root system and the fronds it produces, choking out everything of its same size quickly. Don't mix this fern with other plants as it will spread over a foot in diameter every year and smother weeds and valuable plants at the same time. The plant is delicate and will break easily if you walk through it frequently. You can dig them up and divide them in the spring or fall in 12 inch clumps. Condition the hole with organic matter like compost, animal manure seaweed kelp and the new coir products for quick development. Plants grow 15 to 24 inches tall and 3 to 4 feet wide.

#2 The Maidenhair Fern is one of my favorites because it is so delicate-looking and has unusual foliage. Like all ferns they grow with underground rhizomes and spread slowly in damp soil and will even grow through thick moss clumps giving your planting area two levels of plants growing together in harmony. You will love the foliage because when it first develops it will have a pinkish-brown look; then it turns coppery bronze and then bright green before settling down during the summer months to a dark green color. This fern loves dampness and will do great near water or wet areas where it is difficult to get plants to grow. Keep the plants moist for the first couple of years to give them a good chance to get established in your garden. Plants can be divided in the spring. Plants grow 12 tall and 24 inches wide.

#3 Ostrich Fern is the fern that everyone must have in their fern garden as it grows 2 to 4 feet tall and will spread 3 to 6 feet wide. This is another fern that will naturalize easily and makes a great background plant for the garden. The Ostrich fern is the plant that many of us eat in the spring and is found in the vegetable case as the "fiddleheads"-- my favorite spring delicacy from the wild. If you never eaten fiddleheads, they are young ferns still curled up in a tight spiral and when steamed till tender and seasoned with salt, pepper, butter and a bit of vinegar, you are in for a wonderful once-a-year treat. The taste is like a combination of asparagus, spinach and broccoli blended together. The plant also does great when planted along the side of the house, as it does grow tall and helps to hide the concrete foundation of the house or plant it along a raised deck to hide the lattice work and what you store under the deck. The plant also produces many tall growing fronds that are filled with spores and are chocolate brown all winter long before breaking open in the spring to release the many spores to make new plants during the spring and summer months.

#4 Beech Fern is a wonderful wild-growing fern found growing in the woods of New England to a height of 12 to 14 inches tall and which spreads to 3 feet wide. The fern foliage will grow in the shape of a triangle on a strong dark brown stem, almost like individual plants rather than a clump like most ferns. It does not grow thick and full but rather in patches with spaces in between the individual leaves but it does smother weeds easily. This fern keeps producing foliage right up until frost and the ferns always look like it has fresh new foliage developing in the clump. It is easy to grow and it does very well in light to deep shade if the soil is moist. Divide in the early spring before it begins to grow fast. The foliage is pale green and it can be used in flower arrangements to give them a classy look.

#5 The Christmas Fern is the most adaptable of all the ferns and it grows in a nice tight vase shape like a clump. It is wonderful for gardens, as it will not take it over and smother everything in its way. It is also evergreen and stays upright until heavy snow fall. This fern loves growing under tall pine trees and even hardwoods like maples and oaks. It will grow in any type of soil from a loam to even clay type soil and is considered one of the best ferns for a mixed fern garden. Dry or moist and acidic to neutral soil--this is a must for your garden. The plant will grow 15 to 24 inches tall and just as wide. Because it is evergreen, you can pick some of the foliage for your holiday arrangement if snow does not cover the ground.

#6 The Massachusetts Fern is a great fern for part sun to full shade and moist to wet soil that is acidic. It will grow from 15 to 30 inches tall and spread about 2 feet wide. The fern foliage is unique because it looks like a "ladder" or a skeleton of the plant with small thin foliage growing in horizontal branches opposite each other; these branches have a 1 to 2 inch space in between them. The individual fern stems look spindly and have character to them. Most of its growth happens in the late summer and the plant is filled with a surge of new growth like green ladders. It is a long-lasting fern but spreads slowly compared to most other ferns. If you live in Massachusetts this is your State Fern, and a must for your fern garden.

Feed your ferns in the spring with Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth Shrub food with Pro-biotic to help thicken the clumps of ferns. If your soil is on the sandy side, always condition the hole before planting with compost or coir fibers to help hold moisture during the hot days of summer (like this year). Once planted, cover the fern garden with an inch or two of bark mulch to help hold the soil moisture in and control the weeds until they become established. Enjoy.

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 Lemon Verbena and Lemon Grass are Indispensable Herbs for the Kitchen!

Lemon verbena originated in South America, the country of Peru and especially in the Andes mountains. It is still used there and now around the world for its incredible flavored tees known in France as "Verveine"--used as a skin wash and included in cosmetic ingredients. Lemon verbena is also used as an accompaniment for meat dishes, in syrups, salads and in stuffing for both fish and meat when used fresh-picked from your garden. It can also be used to bring out the flavor of drinks and fresh fruit in season, because of its wonderful citrus flavor when the foliage is chopped into fine pieces and sprinkled over your fruit or beverage. The fragrance is also a very strong point of this herb plant; if not used for cooking it is often used in potpourri

Lemon verbena is a hardy perennial plant that can grow up to 10 feet tall in a protected area if it has support like a trellis or wooden fence to attach its tendrils to. It does best in a full sun area of your garden where the soil is light and well-drained. When planting, be sure to add lots of compost, animal manure, seaweed kelp, and coir fibers to the soil to help hold moisture in the soil and keep it fertile. Clay type soils or soils that have standing water during the winter will not support this plant, and it will quickly die out during the first year in the garden. The stems are rounded and very ridged; when young they are a medium green in color but later mature to a reddish color and by the end of the growing season become woody and very strong.

The leaf is the plant strong point and the main reason it is grown. The foliage is long, pointed, and oval shaped, often growing one inch wide and up to six inches long. The leaf is also covered with many sunken veins that run off a strong mid rib in the center of the leaf. The leaves also grow in a cluster of 3 leaves around the stem, something very unusual in the plant kingdom. Normally leaves are opposite each other in pairs or alternate each other with spacing between leaves. The month of August is the best time of the year to take stem cuttings from the tips of the branches. Cuttings should be 3 to 4 inches long and a rooting hormone powder should also be used when rooting the new cuttings. The new plants should also spend the first winter indoors on your window sill until spring arrives before planting in your garden if you live in a cold climate like the northeast.

The plant is deciduous and will lose all its foliage during the winter months. In the spring cut the plant back to one foot tall in the garden. When the new growth begins to develop in the spring on the plant, remove any dead wood or branches that died during the winter months. You can also remove any side shoots that develop on the plant to control the size of the plant during the summer. During the summer the plant will make flower clusters of tiny flowers almost in the shape of lilac flowers on the tips of the branches. These flowers are pale pink, sometimes even yellowish in color. As the flower matures it will become fringed with white or purple colors giving the flowers extra interest.

Pick the fresh leaves in the summer months to use fresh or to extract the essential oils. This is also the best time to harvest the leaves if you're using them in potpourris or sachets. If you are going to use the oil on your skin treat a small area first, as many people are sensitive to it when in the sun. Lemon Verbena has many medicinal uses, but before you use them check with your doctor for possible side effects with medication you are currently taking.

Lemongrass was only grown in India and China for many years until it was brought to the western world relatively recently. It became popular because of the popularity of Thai and Indian cooking. Lemongrass is used for the unique and particular delicate flavor it adds to these ethnic dishes. The plants are not hardy for most of us; if temperatures drop below 45 degrees the plant will die. This herb is a tropical herb and available in the spring at some nurseries and garden centers. It will do well in your garden until the temperature begins to cool off, so consider growing it in a container and bringing it indoors for the winter by early September, when the temperatures begin to cool off.

Lemon grass is a tall-growing clump of grass; humidity and heat determine the size of the plant. With all the heat and humidity this year so far it could grow as tall as 3 feet even in New England, but it's usually under 2 feet tall in the Northeast part of the country. The foliage grows in a linear fashion like a common looking clump of broadleaf grass, and when matured it will produce a strong lemon-scented leaf when crushed.

The plant does best in a very well-drained garden soil but requires moisture at all times. If you're potting the plant use a soil like Black Gold Waterhold Potting Soil with coir fibers in it for the best results. The richer the soil is, the better and more productive the plant will be; also the healthier the plant is, the more lemon scented aroma-chemical the plant will produce. In the garden, be sure your soil has no clay in it or the plant will rot with the first heavy rains. Condition the soil with compost, animal manure, seaweed kelp and coir fibers to help retain moisture and improve drainage at the same time. Fertilize the plant every 2 weeks during the growing season and monthly during the winter months indoors, with a liquid food like Ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting or Miracle-Gro.

Plants grow best in full sun--no shade at all--or the plant will stay smaller in size and have less fragrance. The plant can be used fresh or dried, but you want to use the base of the grass stems as they are more piquant; the part you are using will look like a scallion you purchase at the supermarket or grow in your own garden, almost like a long and skinny bulb, not the green grass blades of the plant.

This plant produces several essential oils like citral oil, limonene oil and citrus oil, just to name a few. These oils are extracted from the plant by steam distillation for commercial uses but when you cook with it use the fresh chopped lower stems for flavoring only! It will make refreshing lemon teas or use it to add a distinctive flavor to Asian or Indian style of cooking. Chop from the base of the stem and work your way up and you will see that the base of the stem has more flavors and the piece you make will look like small onion ring. Also good in flavoring and giving your rice and curries the zest that your palate will appreciate.

The foliage is best used in potpourri and sachets. Lemon grasses have wonderful properties to them such as adding a bitter taste to some foods; they are known to have calming and cooling effects on you and they also have properties that are antifungal and antibacterial but before you use these traits check with your doctor so it does not interfere with medicine you are taking. When you're cooking and using herbs new to your diet, stop before using and read up about them before you use them as many of the uncommon herb plants do much more than give flavor to food, as many are used in medicine. Rather safe than sorry--so do your research ! Enjoy

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Alaska trip
Paul Parent will be hosting a tour that includes:
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Butchart Gardens--55 acres of floral display!
  • Cruising the Inside Passage:
  • Ketchikan
  • Icy Strait Point
  • Juneau
  • Skagway
  • Hubbard Glacier Cruising
  • Seward
  • Scenic Drive to Anchorage
  • Denali National Park
  • Fairbanks City Tour, a tour of the Gold Dredge # 8 and a cruise down the Chena river on the Riverboat Discovery Sternwheeler.

Click here for more information.



trivia

This Week's Question
This flower is named after a mythological Greek youth. The myth is that this youth was beloved by Apollo, who turned him into a flower when he died. This flower is available in several colours, has one of the sweetest scents around, and is most often grown as a potted plant.

  1. Hellebore
  2. Hyacinth
  3. Iris
  4. Narcissus
  5. Oleander
Plant THRIVE

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:

Some plants that grow on other plants are non-parasitic--and some are parasitic. Which of the following is parasitic?

  1. Bromeliads
  2. Mistletoe
  3. Orchids
  4. Spanish moss
  5. Staghorn fern

Last Week's Winner:
Beverly Gordon

Last Week's Answer:
Mistletoe

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.


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.


Ingredients:

  • 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.

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