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Welcome to the Paul Parent Garden Club 2014 Newsletter


The hydrangea plant is the most talked about plant on the radio. Today, let us talk about the white-flowering variety called 'Annabelle'--my favorite variety. If you live in the Northeast and along the southern coast, you are in love with the blue and pink varieties. If your climate is colder like my house in Maine, the colored varieties do not do as well but the white flowering types do "VERY WELL" with the cold.

'Annabelle' hydrangea flowers every year, no matter what the weather is and how cold it gets. This variety will grow all over new England from Connecticut to northern Maine, even as far north as Presque Isle Maine or St. Johnsbury Vermont. The white hydrangea is no wimp like the colored varieties--it will grow anywhere. When you pick up this hydrangea, be sure to ask for the double-flowering variety as the flower in the shape of a ball will be much larger and more showy.

Plant the hydrangea in a location with moist soils and good fertility. I always add compost to the hole when planting to help motivate root development. To help the rooting process, add the new Plant Thrive Fertilizer with Mycorrhizae when planting. Water two times a week for the first year and prepare yourself for the show of color. The hydrangea 'Annabelle' will grow in a mound 3 to 4 feet tall and just as wide. If you keep the plant well fed, the mound will stay tight and stems upright. If neglected the plant will open up and the weaker stems will fall over with the weight of the flower. The foliage is 6 to 8 inches long and the leaf is broad oval in shape.

The flower ball is 4 to 12 inches wide and symmetrical. Each of the individual flowers of this ball will have five petals and about 1 inch wide.  When they first form on the tip of the branches in June, they will be green but color up quickly as the flower develops. The same thing happens to the flower as it finishes flowering: the flowers fade from white to pale green on the plant and then dry up. The blooming time is long--June to August--and you can cut them as a cut flower in a vase of water for the kitchen table. When the bloom is at peak for about four weeks, there is no match.

Your soils should be on the acid side and if you can mulch around the plant during the summer, the flowers will look much better and not brown up during drought seasons. In the fall remove the dead flowers to prevent heavy snow buildup on the flower from breaking the branches. The hydrangea 'Annabelle' should be pruned in the spring. If you prune the plant hard 12 to 18 inches from the ground, you will have fewer flowers but the flowers will be larger and the stems will be stronger, so the plant will bend over less. When pruning just a little to control the size of the plant you will have many more flowers but they will be much smaller. Unlike the colored hydrangea, no matter how you prune the plant will still flower.

The white flowering 'Annabelle' hydrangea will look best in groups, in a border planting, and when combined with other summer flowering shrubs. Such shrubs as spirea, rose of Sharon, potentilla and vitex. Hydrangeas will also make a nice background plant for an annual garden or perennial flowerbed.

Remember the 'Annabelle' hydrangea will also flower in the shade but the flowers will not be as white. Fertilize in the spring with Plant-Tone or Milorganite fertilizer. A must for your summer garden! 


Beach Roses

The best known and most loved type of rose in the family of roses is the beach rose. The Rosa Rugosa has it all, including a "FRAGRANT" flower that is hard to find today in the rose garden. As the flower fades, a one inch diameter orange red tomato-like fruit develops at the base of the stem where the flower once was. The fruit will color up in late July to early August and last well into the fall. You can eat the fleshy part of the rose fruit, as it is rich in vitamin E.

The Rosa Rugosa is a shrub rose and, unlike the typical rose bush you plant in the garden, has its own root system. The typical rose bush is grafted to a different root system, to make it strong enough to survive the winter where you live. Because the beach rose has its own roots, it is able to spread with underground stems that form from those roots to start new plants away from the main plant.

The beach rose has rough-looking deep green leaves that are shiny, with rounded teeth on the edge of the leaf margin. Each leaf is thick and will have from 3 to 7 individual leaflets making up the leaf. Older leaves have higher leaflet count and the leaf just below the flower always has 3 leaflets. The veins on the leaf are sunken into the foliage and very noticeable. The plant develops into a rounded mound of stems, and each of those stems is covered with flowers in June. You can grow the plant as a single mound-type rose bush if you remove the suckering branches that develop continuously around the plant.

The flowers are 2 to 3.5" in diameter and mostly single blossoms. Single flowering types have a single row of petals that are flat and number 5 petals--like a rosette. Today you can find new hybrids that are double-flowering and often resemble a carnation bloom. The flower color will range through white, pink, red and mauve. The center of the flower is filled with many yellow stamens, giving it additional color. Each flower will bloom for 2 weeks or more on the plant. If you cut a fresh bloom just opening and place it in a bowl or brandy snifter filled with water, it will float easily and bring fragrance to your kitchen table. It will last several days.

The Rosa Rugosa will grow 4 to 6 feet tall but with pruning you can keep it at any height you want. When planted on 3 foot centers in a row, they will make a wonderful hedge planting. Make the planting bed 3 feed wide to allow room for the new shoots to develop and in just 2 to 3 years your individual plants will fill in the entire bed with new shoots, creating a solid hedge. Your only maintenance will be removing the shoots that develop in the lawn area from the hedge. Cover the bed with 2 to 3 inches of compost or bark mulch to keep the weeds out.

Rosa Rugosa, or beach rose, will grow "ANYWHERE," even at the beach in the sand. If you have a sunny, well drained place in your yard that where nothing seems to grow, think about planting a beach rose. When planting, use the same method as any other plant in your garden by conditioning the hole and surrounding soil with animal manure and compost to get the plant off to a good start. I always use a soil conditioner like Soil Moist in sandy soil to help hold moisture around the roots. Soil Moist will hold 200 times the moisture in the soil that peat will, and only a couple of tablespoons are needed per plant. Think about this, two tablespoons of Soil Moist will hold 400 tablespoons of water around the roots of a plant that is growing in a sandy soil. Less watering is necessary, and once it is established it can take care of itself. Fertilize in the spring and again in June with granular organic rose fertilizer and enjoy a garden of roses all summer long. One last thing about this rose is disease resistance, unlike most other roses. Enjoy!



Of all the berries you have to choose from to plant in your garden this spring, think about the raspberries. Think of the aroma and the flavor of this summer time berry: sweet but not too sweet, stimulating to your palate and truly a fruit sent by the Gods. I hope that all of you have raspberries in your garden or are considering planting them this year. A 10 to 20 foot long row of these berries will give the average family enough fruit to enjoy for several weeks during the summer. Plan ahead this year and place extra berries on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Once frozen, place them in a freezer bag and hide them in the freezer for a cold morning when you can mix them with blueberries and make a wonderful dessert, muffin, or jam.

Begin by selecting a location that is sunny all day. The soil must be rich and well drained. Raspberries will respond to a soil conditioned with a lot of compost, animal manure or peat moss. If you can spread compost or animal manure around your plants every spring, your plants will give you more fruit and taste sweeter. Water is also important, but not too much. I water every week by hand or use a soaker hose. Overhead irrigation will wet fruit and flowers, encouraging fungus to rot the fruiting parts. In the spring as the growth begins use 1 to 2 inches of water a week, during the summer 2 to 3 inches of water to help form juicy berries. The ground should be kept moist 6 inches deep at all times.

I use fresh STRAW, never HAY, around my plants to help hold moisture in the ground during the summer. Apply it about 3 to 4 inches thick and make it fluffy, not packed down. This is also great for keeping weeds out of the garden. By next spring, the straw has rotted and turned into rich organic matter. Now repeat compost spring and straw during the summer every year. Do not use bark mulch around plants, as it is too dense and heavy and will slow down shoot development.

Set plants 2 feet apart in a row and make the planting bed 3 to 4 feet wide. This will allow room for new shoots to develop. Raspberries can grow tall and are best if staked so they do not take over your garden. Besides saving space in the garden, it will be easier for you to pick the berries.

Use a metal fence post every 10 feet down the row of plants. I use a 6 feet tall post hammered a foot into the ground, as this will give me 5 feet to tie plants up. Because raspberries are a permanent plant in the garden, I use aluminum wire to run between posts and it will last forever. Run wires at 3 feet and 5 feet above the ground from post to post. Use garden string to tie up plants and keep them straight.

Summer and fall raspberries are pruned differently, so be sure you know what type of plant you have. Both types need to be pruned only once a year; pruning them at the wrong time could mean little to no fruit. Summer-fruiting raspberries will make fruit on shoots that grew at the base of the plants the year before. This growth is known as old wood. Last year's new canes will produce fruit this year. When you finish picking the fruit, cut the stems to the ground to make room for new plants for the following year. Leave the new shoots alone, as they will make fruit during next summer. In early spring if your canes are taller than 6 feet you can cut them back to 5 feet and the fruit will not bend over canes.

Fall-fruiting raspberries fruit on the new canes that develop this year. When the season ends, cut everything to the ground and it will restart the next spring with new canes and fruit in the fall of the year.

Fertilize in the spring with the new garden fertilizer such as Espoma Biotone, Dr Earth Fruit Tree Food with pro biotic, or the new Plant Thrive with mycorrhizal fungi. One last thing, be sure to cover the plant when the fruit comes if you have birds--or they will beat you to the harvest. The soil pH should be 5.5 to 6.5 and you will have to test soil yearly so it does not get too acidic.



Join The Paul Parent Garden Club for The Grand Tour Of France July 31 through August 12, 2014. With special 70th Anniversary tours of the Beaches of Normandy and Monet's Garden.


     Nana's Quick and Easy Chicken Pot Pie

If you ever get home late from work and want to make something good and easy for the family, here is a recipe from my mother in Law that everyone will like. This Chicken Pot Pie will be ready to eat in less than hour and it is easy to make.

You will need;

A box of pre made pie crust, 2 crusts per package.

2 cans of sliced potatoes, drained

2 cans of sliced carrots, drained

2 jars of pearl onions, drained

2 cans of small sweet peas, drained

2 cans of Cream of Chicken soup, no water added

2 to 3 large chicken breast

A few pads of butter

2 teaspoons of chicken base

Cut up your chicken breast in bite size cubes and place in a pot of boiling water with 2 teaspoons of chicken base to add flavor to the chicken. Cook until chicken is fully cooked about 15 minutes and then drain the pot of liquids and empty the hot chicken cubes in a large bowl.

Start your oven at 350 degrees and place the sliced carrots, sliced potatoes, pearl onions, and sweet peas in bowl with the hot chicken and mix well. Now add the 2 cans of cream of chicken soup to the mixture and mix well, do not add water. Pour the fixings in a Pyrex dish 9 by 13 or a casserole dish of the same size. Place several pads of butter on top of the mixture and cover with the premade crust. Cut the crust to fill in the open spaces with the extra pieces of crust. Fork the crust on the edge of the dish and add a bit of milk on the crust to make it golden brown when cooked. Cut 4 or 5 air vents on top of the crust with a sharp knife and put it on a cookie sheet so if it spills the oven will stay clean. Cook for hour or until the crust has turned golden brown and serve. Its quick and easy and a good hardy meal on a cold day for supper. A bit of cranberry sauce on the side and you're ready to go. Enjoy!


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