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Edition 12.43 Paul Parent Garden Club News October 25, 2012
featured quote

Featured Quote:

"Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter."
~ Carol Bishop Hipps

Product Spotlight

All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil

All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil by Bonide

All Seasons Horticultural Spray Oil is a superior type paraffinic oil that may be used as a growing season spray, dormant spray (no leaves) or delayed dormant (green tip) spray to control overwintering eggs of red spiders, scale insects, aphids, bud moths, leaf roller, red bug, codling moth, blister mites, galls, whitefly, mealy bugs and other insects.

Highly recommended for use on fruit trees, shade trees, shrubs, ornamentals, roses and vegetables. Safe and pleasant to use.

For more information see the Bonide website.

Common Snowberry/Symphoricarpos Alba


Many years ago, on a crisp fall morning of exploration, I found a planting of white berries growing on a very steep hillside. I was thirteen and just beginning to find my love for plants. This plant was one I had never seen before. I carefully picked a small branch tip with leaves and berries on it and quickly took it home to show my mother. We took out the book of native plants of Maine, looked carefully for this plant and--to our surprise--we found it; it was the snowberry.

My mother and I walked back to the area where I found it growing so she could see the plant for herself To our surprise, we met the man who had planted them on the steep slope to help hold back the soil and prevent erosion. He told us he had planted several snowberry plants many years ago and they were highly recommended by a local nurseryman.

Snowberry would grow in the shade and would spread quickly to hold back the soil on his hill. Snowberry spreads quickly with suckers; he told us to come back in the spring and he would give us some to plant for our yard. We did and the snowberry became a wonderful part of fall color in our yard.

The snowberry will grow 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. The plant will grow bushy, with a rounded shape. It grows upright shoots that will droop over with the weight of the berries. When the foliage has developed, the plant is dense looking and filled with slim twigs that give the plant a solid matte appearance. The foliage looks like a miniature oak leaf, 1 to 2 inches long, dark blue-green, with no fall color. The flowers are pale pink and not very showy. However, the fruit is spectacular and deserves your attention.

The fruit is bright white, has a shiny skin and the center of the berry feels like popcorn. The berries grow to 1/2 inch in diameter and on the bottom of the berry are the remains of the flower, making the berry look much like the shape of a blueberry. These white berries grow in clusters on the tip of the branches and their weight makes the branches weep.

The fruits form during the summer and color up in late August, lasting well into November. If the weather does not get too cold, it will last through December, but cold weather with ice will turn the fruit brown and it will then fall apart quickly. The snowberry fruit is not eaten by the birds, but these beautiful fruits are enjoyed in the fall for their wonderful color.

Plant snowberry in the spring. I would suggest that you talk to your local Garden Center or Nursery to order them for you, as they are not readily available. The snowberry plant is an old-fashioned plant introduced to gardeners in 1879 and not readily available today but many plant catalogs that you get in the mail in the spring sell them. The plant will grow in most soils, even clay-type--as long as you lime the soil regularly to prevent acidity.

Plants will grow in full sun to moderate shade. Once the plant is well established, it will produce many suckers every year, which can easily be transplanted the following spring. If you have a steep slope, plant 3 feet apart in staggered rows and watch the plants fill in quickly--usually in just 3 years.

The better you condition the soil when planting, the faster the plant will get established and begin to produce suckers. Compost and animal manure will do a great job. If the soil is sandy be sure to use Soil Moist to help hold water in the soil on steep banks. This plant is great to prevent accidents where mowing is a problem.

Prune in the spring to control size and stimulate new growth that will produce many berries. Fertilize with Plant-Tone in the spring when you prune the plant or in Early May. The plant is very hardy, and it will grow from Nova Scotia to Virginia, where it is a native plant. If you're looking for a good hybrid with large fruit, and more fruit on the plant, ask for Symphoricarpos albus v. laevigatus.

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Three Little Spring-Flowering Bulbs with a Big Show of Spring Color

After a long winter of cold weather, snow, wind and no flowers in the gardens, I look to three small, inexpensive and very hardy spring flowering bulbs to cheer me up. This threesome, made up of the Scilla S. siberica (Siberian squill), Chionodoxia (glory-of-the-snow), and the Muscari (grape hyacinth) is your answer.

These three bulbs are guaranteed to relieve all symptoms of cabin fever at the first sighting of flowers in your garden. All you have to do is plan, like getting a flu shot for winter colds, to plant these bulbs now.

All three bulbs are left uneaten by rodents and will grow in sun or part shade. Best of all, these three types of bulbs will multiply in your flower garden, rock gardens, in wild flower gardens or even in your lawn. If you have a sloping bank, plant them near the top this fall and watch them reseed gradually all the way to the bottom of the slope, like water running down the hill--but it's flowers. Think about this, flowers growing in your yard starting in February or early March!

The first to bloom is Scilla siberica or squill, native to Russia and the mountains of Turkey. These plants grow naturally in a soil among rocks, scrub and woods, so just imagine how well they will grow in your garden that has good soil to grow. The flowers grow on spikes 4 to 6 inches tall, and each spike produces 3 to 5 bell shaped, nodding, bright blue flowers about 1/2 inch across.

The flowers face down, so you are looking at the top of the flower that develops in a cluster of deep green foliage that is one inch wide and 4 to 6 inches tall. Each flower has a deep bright blue line running down the center of the top of the petal for extra color. When the wind blows, you can almost hear them ring the arrival of spring. Larger nurseries or bulb catalogs will have white, pink, lavender or purple varieties available, but the blue is the most popular and found everywhere. Flowering time is February to April.

The second to bloom is the Chionodoxia or Glory of the Snow. Native to the open mountainside and forest of Crete, Turkey and Cyprus, it is related to the Scilla. The flowers develop on stems 4 to 6 inches tall; each stem can produce 7 to 10 star shaped, upward facing pale blue flowers. The flowers contain six petals that grow to one inch across, and the tip on the petals bends over to show off the center of the bloom and a white trumpet-like center.

Unlike the squill, which grows on stiff stems, these stems are soft and the flowers are loose, making the clump of flowers look like a bouquet in the garden. The deep green straplike foliage grows 1/2 inch wide and 4 to 6 inches tall.

The foliage will die back as soon as the flowers fade, unlike sqill, which will last for several weeks after the bloom. White, pink, and deep blue are available in bulb catalogs. Chionodoxia are more showy than the squills but the squills flower in colder and more stormy weather conditions. Flowering time February to April.

The third to flower is Muscari or grape hyacinth. It is a native plant of the Mediterranean to South Asia. This spring-flowering bulb is a miniature of the giant Dutch hyacinth that we all love for its beauty and fragrance.

The grape hyacinth gets its Latin name "Muscari" because of a slight scent of musk to the flowers. The flower stem will grow 4 to 8 inches tall, and this single strong stem will bear 30 or more small bell-like flowers 1/4 of an inch each in diameter. The tiny bells are arranged around the stem in the shape of a poker.

The flower is medium blue with a white edge at the bottom of the bell. The foliage of the grape hyacinth is deep green, 1/2 inch wide, and will grow 6 to 9 inches tall. The flower clump is very stiff looking compared to its two counterparts but it will spread much faster in the garden and is perfect for wildflower gardens, rock gardens or naturalizing under tall trees. White grape hyacinths are readily available at most garden centers, but they do not spread as fast and grow shorter. Flowers time is from March to early May.

The flowers of all three of these spring-flowering bulbs can be cut for a short vase for a small-scale flower arrangement. All should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep in a soil that is well drained, and conditioned with compost. Plant 3 to 5 bulbs together for the best color and show. Use Bulb-Tone fertilizer when planting and reapply in the spring to help make viable seed and more plants.

If planting under trees, deciduous types are best because of early sunlight in the spring due to the absence of foliage. When planting under evergreens be sure the bulbs are facing south and out of heavy shade. If planted in the lawn do not mow lawn until foliage begins to turn brown--and never use a lawn weed killer in that area.

Early honeybees love these flowers for their pollen and nectar. In addition, insect and disease problems are seldom found. This fall, plant all three of these bulbs for continuous color from February until May, you will enjoy the arrival of spring more than ever!

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The History of the Pumpkin

Pumpkins are thought to have originated in the ancient Americas, although the pumpkins of that time would probably not be recognizable as such today. Related to squash, gourds and melons, the early pumpkin had a crooked neck and was particularly valued because it stored well. Archeological digs have shown that pumpkins were cultivated by Native Americans along river and creek banks along with sunflowers and beans.

Pumpkins helped sustain Native Americans through many a long, cold winter. They prepared the sweet flesh in a variety of ways including roasting, baking, parching, boiling and drying. But the flesh was not the only part of the fruit that was used; the blossoms were added to stews and pumpkin seeds were consumed and also used for medicinal purposes. In addition, dried pumpkin was often ground into flour.

The pumpkin was used for non-food purposes as well. The shells were dried and used as bowls and containers in which to store grain, beans and seeds. Dried pumpkin flesh was also pounded thin and cut into strips, which were then woven into mats that were later used for trading.

Christopher Columbus encountered the pumpkin when he visited America. He transported some seeds back to Europe with him. The seeds were used to feed pigs, but not as a human food source at that time.

Most of us are aware of the story of how the Native Americans introduced the Pilgrims to many local foods which helped sustain them through the subsequent--sometimes brutal--winters. Pumpkins were one of these foods; they proved a valuable resource because of their ability to be stored for long periods of time without spoiling.

Pumpkins were served at the second Thanksgiving celebration, but not in the pie form so popular today. The Pilgrims cut off the top of the pumpkin, scooped the seeds out and filled the cavity with cream, honey, eggs and spices. The top was then replaced and the pumpkin was buried in the ashes of a cooking fire. The custard-like contents were then eaten along with the cooked flesh.

Another popular Pilgrim recipe was pumpkin beer, which was a fermented concoction of persimmons, hops, maple sugar and pumpkin.

The hollowed out shell of the pumpkin was used as a template for Pilgrim haircuts. As a result of this practice, New Englanders were sometimes called "pumpkinheads."

Today, one of the primary uses for pumpkins is as carved jack-o'-lanterns during Halloween. It was not always so. The earliest jack-o'-lanterns were carved from turnips and potatoes (by the Irish and Scottish) and beets (by the English). Lumps of coal were lit on fire and placed inside the hollowed-out vegetables. When European settlers came to America, they found a new favorite for this practice--the pumpkin. Pumpkins proved far superior to their earlier counterparts by virtue of their strong walls and large hollow cavity.

Today, pumpkins are available in all colors and sizes, further expanding their uses as a decorative element as well as a food source. From miniatures to huge specimens, there is a pumpkin to fit every need.

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We hope you have a happy and safe Halloween!

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.


This Week's Question
Pumpkins are members of the family Cucurbitacae, which also includes:

  1. Broccoli
  2. Corn
  3. Cranberries
  4. Peas
  5. Watermelons

This Week's Prize:
...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:

If you've lost your secateurs, what are you missing?

  1. aerator shoes
  2. gloves
  3. knee pads
  4. pruning shears
  5. sunglasses

Last Week's Winner:
Mildred Foss

Last Week's Answer:
D. pruning shears

Last Week's Prize:

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.

Pumpkin Muffins

What you need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • Cooking spray

Step by Step:

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flours, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin-pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Combine pumpkin, buttermilk, egg substitute, canola oil and applesauce in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 16 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 375° F for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched in center.

Cool muffins for 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove muffins and cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 16 muffins


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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