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Edition 12.41 Paul Parent Garden Club News October 12, 2012
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"In the garden, Autumn is, indeed, the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no season, save perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as from August to November."
~Rose G. Kingsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905


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  • Natural, pleasantly scented, essential oils peppermint and spearmint safely drive mice away without harm to children or pets.
  • As little as one place pack will treat a 10' x 14' room.

For more information, visit the Bonide website.


Euonymus Alatus/ Burning Bush

I want to tell you about one of my favorite shrubs, a true American plant that belongs in everyone's garden--despite being put on the invasive list in some states--the burning bush. This fall, as you drive around town, look at state and federal road projects and you will notice that burning bushes are planted around overpasses, on embankments, and along the road side by the hundreds. They are red, they are healthy, and they are beautiful.

Because the state and federal agencies planted too many of them, we gardeners are being punished for their error and not permitted to purchase them in some states (Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, so far). If these agencies had thought before planting so many of them, all of you would be allowed to plant one in your garden today. The plant does produce a beautiful red fruit with an orange-red seed that is eaten by birds and can become a problem when over-planted, as the state and federal road builders did near many highways.

The burning bush comes in many varieties; some compact varieties will grow only 4 to 6 feet tall while others will grow as high as 20 feet tall and are perfect for tall hedges. The foliage is 2 to 3 inches long and one inch wide, oval, finely and sharply serrated with a point on the end. During the spring, summer and early fall, before the cold weather arrives, it is medium green in color and has a bit of shine to it.

If the summer is hot and dry, the foliage will begin to change color ahead of time due to the lack of water. Normally, as the temperature changes, the green fades to almost a florescent pinkish-red and then changes to a brilliant and intense red. During dry summers, the colors change from green to yellow-red. The flowers are greenish-yellow and unnoticeable through the thick green foliage of the plant. When planted in the shade or partial shade, the foliage begins to change color slowly and quickly falls from the plant without the total change to vibrant red.

During the winter, the burning bush has another unique character that makes it stand out among other shrubs: four large corky wings arranged at 90-degree spaces around the stem. The dwarf varieties will have corky wings 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide, but the old-fashioned original types can have wings 3/4 to 1 inch wide. This corky wing is slate gray and grows unevenly on the stem, giving the plant much character.

Most of the plants you might see growing around town are of the dwarf variety, called Euonymus 'alatus compactus,' which have been used for years as property dividers or specimen plants. The old-fashioned or original burning bush, called simply Euonymus alatus, can grow as tall as 15 to 20 feet when trimmed for a privacy hedge. Today many new varieties are available where states did not over-plant them and these new varieties will stay under 2 to 3 feet without pruning.

Burning bush looks best when not pruned. If left alone, the plant looks like weeping branches stacked in layers, creating a soft mound of foliage. Unfortunately, most people prune them to control the size and cut them in shapes like square, oval and round balls--destroying their unique character.

When pruning this plant, do the pruning in the early spring, before the foliage has formed on the plant. Then, you can prune the plant hard, even as much as 1/2 its existing size without hurting it. Afterwards, fertilize it with Plant-Tone fertilizer or Dr. Earth shrub food and watch the new branches form in layers.

Burning bushes will grow in most soils--sandy or part clay--as long as the plant does not sit in water. As with any new plant, add compost and animal manure when planting and water weekly from planting time to the fall season.

Space on 6 foot centers when planting to form a privacy hedge; when used in groups, space 8 feet apart so plants have room to grow without pruning. The state of Maine has not over-planted this shrub and it is still available at local garden centers and nurseries here. Enjoy the fall color!


St. Fiacre

Need some help in your garden? Be sure to set aside a small space for a statue of Saint Fiacre.

Many gardeners have mistakenly thought that the statue of Saint Francis in the garden is their patron Saint but actually this honor goes to a monk from Ireland known as Saint Fiacre. The Catholic Church gave this honor of Patron Saint of Gardeners to Saint Fiacre. His day is celebrated on August 30 every year in Ireland and France where he spent many years. Since the middle ages, gardeners have celebrated this special day with masses and a floral procession from the church to the farms in the area to help insure a better harvest. The streets were planted with flowers and the Irish gardeners sang hymns written for this special Saint to help with the celebration.

Saint Fiacre was born in Ireland and was raised in a monastery. Saint Fiacre spent his days at the monastery after making a pledge of silence, and his days were filled with planting and harvesting crops as he appreciated what nature had to offer the people who worked the soil. He was drawn to the religious life and he desired to serve God in solitude. When his time came to help others he left the monastery and traveled south to the Nore River and built his home in a cave. Monks were regarded as physicians of the body and the soul in his time, so Saint Fiacre quickly set up his garden of herbs and food to help those in need. Soon people heard of his work and flocked to his garden for prayers, food, and healing. He fed the hungry and helped heal the sick with his herbs from the garden and prayed for all who came to see him.

Saint Fiacre again craved solitude and worship so he traveled to France where the Bishop of Meaux granted him land in a wooded area near the river Marne. He quickly built a house, dug a well for water, and cleared a space for his new garden of herbs, vegetables, flowers and fruit trees. Once the gardens were established, Saint Fiacre built his own monastery where he welcomed all those who sought counsel and healing. His vegetable garden and fruit trees fed the poor who came to him for help. The herb garden helped cure the sick who came to him. those who needed help for their mind and soul spent much time in prayer in the flower garden that surrounded the monastery.

Saint Fiacre died in 670 but people continued to come to his monastery, as it was believed that they would receive physical and spiritual healing--also guidance. Today people still come to the shrine of Saint Fiacre, where his relics are still believed to contain healing power. Saint Fiacre's knowledge of healing herbs and the plants that provided the best nutrition for the poor is what made him the healer he was. His monastery was built in the honor of the Virgin Mary where it was used as a hospice to care for sick and weary travelers who needed his help. When the work of the day was finished he would retreat back to the solitude of his room and pray. During the quiet days with no travelers he spent much of his time in manual labor in his gardens.

Now for the legend that made him a Saint. Fiacre asked the local bishop named Faro for more ground to plant food and herbs for the people who came to him for help. Bishop Faro told him he could have as much land as he could dig a trench around in just one day. The next morning, Fiacre knelt in prayer and began to use the point of his spade to turn the earth and dig his trench. Soon trees began to topple over, shrubs easily came out of the ground--and weeds moved out of the way in preparation for the trench he needed to dig to feed his many needy followers. Some saw this as a performance of sorcery--but not the bishop. Bishop Faro saw this as a gift from God and proclaimed it a miracle. The statue of Saint Fiacre is that of a hooded monk holding a pointed spade in front of him and is available at many garden centers in the springtime.

The word of Fiacre's miracle spread throughout Europe and more people began to flock to him for food, healing, and wisdom. Many of those people who came to the monastery soon brought seeds, and plants for his altar, and his gardens grew even more food and herbs from around the world. Because of his beautiful flower gardens and the flowers used from his herbs he also became the patron saint of florists.

Saint Fiacre also became the patron saint of taxi drivers because a small hotel in Paris rented carriages to get to his monastery and people called them "Fiacre cabs" and then just Fiacres. Soon the drivers took St. Fiacre as their patron saint and protector.

Other patron saints for gardeners are as follows:

  • St. Dorothy is the patron saint of fruit tree growers and orchard workers.
  • St. San Francisco de de Asis--Saint Francis--is the patron saint of garden birds and animals and ecology.
  • San Bernardo Abad is the patron saint of beekeepers; bees are necessary for the vegetable and flower garden.
  • Santa Barbara: is the patron of geology--for gardeners with big rocks, bad slopes and poor soils. Also the protector against being struck by lightning.
  • San Andreas: is the patron of fishing for those who have aquatic gardens with Koi and Gold fish.
  • St Patrick is the patron saint of organic gardening and, of course, the Irish people.
  • St. Valentine is the patron saint of lovers and small intimate gardens.
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary is the patron saint of rose gardeners.
  • St. Urban is the patron saint of vineyards and grape growers.
  • St. Phocas is the patron saint of professional gardeners and flower and ornamental gardening
  • St. Ansovinus is the patron saint and protector of agricultural crops.
  • St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes and desperate cases--for those of us with brown thumbs or gardeners with bad luck in the garden.
  • La Virgen de Zapopan is the protector against drought.
  • St. Werenfrid is the patron saint of the vegetable garden.
  • St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items--my mother had this statue in her garden because with 5 kids, there was always was something missing.
  • San Ysidro (St. Isidore) is the patron saint of farmers and large gardens, also sheepherders.

Just thought you would enjoy knowing that there is help for you out there from the heavens above. Enjoy.

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Save $ by fixing up that tool shed

For most of us, the garden tool shed is a wooden or metal building that is always too small to put everything into that we need to garden with during the year. Here are a few ideas to make the tool shed more effective and protect your equipment until next year. The first thing I do is to empty the tool shed of all power equipment and large pieces of equipment like wheelbarrows, fertilizer spreaders, etc. Now sweep and clear the floors, benches, and walls of all unnecessary material. Next close the door and turn out the lights (if you have lights in it) and look for daylight holes coming into the shed. These holes are where the mice can enter and cause damage to your equipment--and moisture can also enter.

Last year, I ran a bead of foam caulking along the floor and walls; it did keep out all of the moisture when we had heavy rain or snow melt when the ground was frozen. I also found a spacing where the walls met the ceiling rafters. After looking closely, I noticed a bit of chewing where mice and a family of gray squirrels had moved in for the winter. So I cut pieces of 1 by 2 strapping and placed them in-between the wall supports to plug up the holes and nailed them in place; that did the trick. The rodents had gotten into the shed in past years and ate the information books for all my power equipment--they chewed them up to make a winter nest with. They also chewed up the seat on my lawn mower to make a nest in, plus all the rubber hoses and belts on the power equipment--what a mess--so my gardening got off to a slow start the following spring. Plus, it was expensive to replace all that they ate.

If you have a metal tool shed, check for holes in the roof and walls and use the new spray-on black waterproofing sealant (available at most hardware stores) to keep the rain from coming in. I used it to plug up holes in an old gutter 2 years ago with great results also. Now, when you close the door, does it close tight so nothing can get under it or over the top of it? My door closed OK--but I did notice that the top of the door had a small gap, so I now wedge a small piece of strapping between the door and roof overlap to keep it closed tightly, or use a hook and screw eye to hold it closed. Nothing is now getting in and everything is safe again, time and money well spent.

Bring in all your long handle tools, clean of soil, and spray all metal parts with WD-40 to keep the metal from rusting and steel from weakening. I also rub all wood handles with a rag and linseed oil to keep the wood handles from drying out and keep them flexible and strong. Store tools on the side walls of the tool shed or lean them against the wall out of the way in case you need to get in during the winter. I use a 5-gallon bucket that I attach to the wall and place all the hand tools in it once they have been cleaned for the winter. A second bucket is used for watering equipment like nozzles, sprinklers, hose menders, etc.

Drain your hose of all water, coil it up, and tie it up to keep it from becoming tangled, in case you need it to wash the car of road salt during the winter months ahead. Then, if there is room, attach it to a bracket on the wall of the tool shed so you are not walking on it every time you're in the shed looking for something; it will also give you more floor space for other items. I also have a third 5-gallon bucket mounted to the wall and keep all my cutting tools in it, like hand pruners, hedge shears, and loppers. Hand saws also go in if they fit or they are attached to the wall with the long-handled tools--and if you have roof rafters you have a place to put the pole saw up out of the way until you need it again. Any rope should be coiled up and hung up out of the way; if left on the floor or on a table and mice get into the shed they will eat it or use it for nesting--it happened to me.

Spring is such a busy time of the year, I like to repair my equipment now so it is ready when I need it. My garden cart and wheelbarrow are cleaned, washed and all wooden parts are either oiled with linseed oil or painted in the fall. All metal parts of wheelbarrows, garden carts, spreaders are washed and treated with WD40 or painted with Rust-Oleum paint to keep it strong and prevent rusting. I also oil the wheels and tires to keep them from drying up so the rubber does not dry out. Look at your tires--you will be surprised.

If you have a "drop spreader," be sure to wire brush the holes at the base of the spreader where the fertilizer and weed killer come out of the spreader to remove all rust and fertilizer build up. Now spray-paint the holes on the spreader outside and inside of the spreader with Rust-Oleum paint to keep the holes from becoming larger. Rust over the years will make the holes larger and you end up applying more product than needed to do the job properly--and it costs you more money to do the job. If you ever had a lawn with stripes in it after fertilizing, it could be from over-applying the product because of defective equipment.

Now the power equipment is all cleaned, the oil changed, air filters are exchanged for a new one, and the blades are sharpened or replaced for next year. If sharpened make sure they are treated with WD40 to keep them rust-free. Disconnect the battery to prevent it from draining power. Now gas can be done two ways with power equipment; drain the tank completely or fill the tank to the top with gas and use a gas treatment product added to the gas to keep out water from winter condensation. I always keep gas in the tool shed during the winter just in case the car needs a quick fill, but I do treat that gas with a winter gas treatment. If you have several pieces of power equipment that use different types of gas treatments, be sure to label each container so you do not mix up and put the wrong product in the equipment. Just gas and gas and oil mixes do not work in the same equipment. If you have a chain saw, do you have a sharp blade, a spare blade, bar and chain oil and gas to run the saw? Try starting up the chain saw now and make sure that it is in working condition--remember last October's 16" snow fall; are you ready?

"WARNING" I just learned something yesterday that might interest you. Today, many gas stations are selling gasoline that contains "ethanol" in it and if you do not use a fuel stabilizer in that gas you will eventually have problems with your carburetor and engine problems. PASS this information on to your friends and neighbors.

One last thing--after you have put everything away for the year, sprinkle the new animal repellent granules from Shake-way around the perimeter of your shed and some on the floor just before you close it up for the season. Bonide Lawn and Garden also have a wonderful product call Mouse Magic that will keep animals out of your tool shed when you close it up. I always reapply after the holidays just to be sure they are out and stay out. Both products are natural and work by creating a fear barrier and smell that is so strong the animals will not stay in the building. Made up of peppermint and spearmint plus essential oils, it will make even your eyes water if you stay in the shed with the door closed for some time.

This is a good rainy day project and you will thank me next year--or the next time you need tools to take down fallen trees or need to get into the shed without tripping over everything.

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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
Which of these ancient philosophers was killed by poison made from the hemlock plant?

  1. Aristotle
  2. Plato
  3. Pythagoras
  4. Socrates
  5. Xenophanes

This Week's Prize:
Wilt-Pruf®
...The Safe Way To Reduce Moisture Loss When Plants Are Under Water Stress due to:

  • winter kill
  • windburn
  • drought
  • transplant shock

Click here for more information about Wilt-Pruf.


Last Week's Question:

The General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park was declared a National Shrine by President Eisenhower on March 29, 1956. What species of tree is it?

Last Week's Winner:
Albert Filosa

Last Week's Answer:
Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

Last Week's Prize:
Wilt-Pruf®

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.


Rickey's Pumpkin Soup

This recipe makes an incredible presentation and is quite tasty as well! Enjoy!

What You'll Need:

  • 1 large pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, diced small
  • 1 Granny Smith apple [peeled and diced small]
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 lbs. of acorn squash seeded, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 cups chicken broth (optional); substitute a vegetable broth if on vegan diet
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • chopped scallions for garnish

Step by Step:

  • Remove pumpkin meat from pumpkin and discard seeds (or save them to roast).
  • Put the pumpkin meat in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the butter and sauté the onions, apple and oregano with pumpkin pie spice for 7 - 10 minutes.
  • Add the acorn squash and the pumpkin meat and sauté for another 5-10 minutes to ensure squash is softened.
  • Stir in the stock (vegetable or chicken), along with the pepper and salt.
  • Place on low heat for 20 - 25 minutes.
  • When the squash begins to fall apart this is done.
  • Using an immersion stick blender or food processor, blend until smooth.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In the pumpkin shell, add the cream and the purée.
  • Bake for 30 35 minutes, covering the top of the pumpkin with foil.
  • When ready to serve, garnish with scallions and serve the soup right out of the top of the pumpkin.

Hint: for a nice twist, serve with cheddar cheese grated over it.

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

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