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Welcome to the Paul Parent Garden Club 2014 Newsletter


 

Bearded Iris

 

I love the Greeks because they have a god or a connection to a god's name for everything that grows on this planet called Earth. The Greek goddess "Iris" is said to have created the rainbow, a bridge to connect heaven and Earth. The Iris plant family, which has hundreds of colors and many varieties, was chosen to carry her name by the elders in the heavens. Because of this accomplishment, the elders gave Iris a magic potion that when poured on the Earth would produce a flower garden of rainbow color flowers.

She was so eager to begin her new task of creating a flower garden of colorful flowers that she forgot to empty the entire vial. The few drops that remained in the vial were reds and that is why that today we have no true red flowers in our garden. It goes to show that even the gods were not perfect.

Iris plants have been growing in gardens around the world for over 4000 years. The Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all grew these plants for their flowers and for medical remedies. Pottery and art found from those periods have pictures of these flowers on them in a garden setting and its use to treat fever, chills, and coughs with its dried tubers, not recommended today as the plant is considered poisonous. So if you have iris plants in your garden or are thinking of purchasing them to add to your garden, remember this story to tell your fellow gardeners, because these are plants with a story behind them.

Because there are hundreds of varieties of iris to choose from, I have chosen the bearded iris today to tell you about, as they have the most colorful flowers and the most color combination of flowers in the iris plant family. The bearded iris is also the most popular and I think the best one for you to start with and grow in your perennial garden today. Iris plants will catch your eye when in bloom, they are easy to grow in your garden, require minimum care, and they multiply quickly and are easy to divide and make new plants. Also the foliage, no other plant has foliage like the iris.

The bearded iris will grow best in a well-drained soil that has been conditioned before planting in it. The richer the soil, the larger the plant will grow, the larger the flowers will be on the plant and the more flowers will form on the individual stems. The better prepared soil will also hold more moisture in it without being wet! This will also help the flowers last longer when in bloom.

Heavy, clay type soils or a garden that get watered daily from a sprinkler system will create problems for the plant, so keep plants out of wet areas or your plants will rot easily. Dry soils are best for this plant to grow in. If your soil is sandy or a light loam, set the rhizome in the garden and just barely cover the rhizome with a bit of soil over it. If your soil is heavy or has clay in it, be sure to just barely cover the rhizome with soil; when watered it should be completely visible and sitting on top of the ground. Plants prefer a full sun location but will tolerate a bit of late day shade.

What is an iris? An iris is a plant that grows from a horizontal growing rhizome. A rhizome is a fattened, creeping stem with grass-like foliage at one end and roots that grow underneath this stem. If you care for the plant properly, this original rhizome will make two new rhizomes at the end of each year. One new rhizome will develop on each side of the plant and the old rhizome will transfer its energy to the two new plants and die at the end of the season. The foliage is grass-like, but very wide at the base near the rhizome, 1.5 to 2 inches, and slims down to a point at the tip. The foliage will grow from 12 to 18 inches tall each spring and has a blue green color to it. This foliage will grow in the shape of a fan and spread as wide as 12 inches in the early summer. The plant looks like a foot sitting on the surface of the soil with a fan of foliage on the heel of the plant.

Plant irises in the late summer or early fall after they have finished flowering. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart between plants. Work compost, animal manure or fresh garden soil together to create a soil that will be 8 to 12 inches deep for planting. Mix in organic fertilizer and mycorrhizae before planting. Each plant should be a single rhizome with a fan of foliage at one end.

Before planting be sure to squeeze the rhizome and feel it all over to make sure it is firm all around. Soft rhizomes should be discarded as they could have an insect problem: an insect called a "borer." If you have them in your rhizomes as a soft spot cut, them out and dispose of the infected rhizome. When you re-plant your garden bed, add Bonide Lawn and Garden Eight Granules insecticide to prevent future problems in your planting bed.

The flowers immerge from the fan of foliage on a tall growing, pencil-thick, strong stem during June. Each stem can produce 3 to 5 elegant flowers that will last for up to a week each, depending on the weather and outside temperature during the flowering time. Cloudy and cool temperatures will extend the flowering time while sunny, hot weather with wind can decrease the flowering time of each flower to just a couple of days. The iris will open just one flower on the stem at a time and as one fades a new bloom will begin to open.

Each flower will grow 4 to 6 inches tall and wide. Each flower has 3 lower petals in the shape of your tongue that will hang down with a small beard of tiny hairs running vertically in the center of the petals. Also on the flower you will find 3 upper tongue-shaped flower petals that will grow upright together like the petals of a tulip; they have no beard-like growth on them, making the overall flower very unique looking. The top and bottom flower petals can be the same color or the top petals can be one color and the lower petals another color. No other plant can produce flowers this way or with so many color possibilities.

Fertilize each spring with compost around the rhizome but not covering it. Mycorrhizae is best for the plant when blended with an organic fertilizer, and will encourage more growth and flowers. When the flowers fade in late June, remove the flower stem to the base of the rhizome to prevent seed production and encourage new rhizome development. In the fall cut the foliage in half and remove any dead foliage present on the plant.

If you have had problems with borers in the past remember that the borer moth will lay the eggs on the foliage of your irises in the late summer or early fall. The eggs overwinter on the old foliage and emerge in the spring as a caterpillar type insect and eat their way into your new foliage. As they mature they will eat their way down into your rhizome and grow to 1 to 2 inches long. Soon they will pupate in the surrounding soil and emerge as a moth a few weeks later starting the cycle anew.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to remove all the foliage from the rhizome in the late fall once the ground has frozen. By removing the foliage you remove the problem, and the plant will replace the missing foliage in the spring. An application of Bayer Systemic Tree and Shrub insecticide will also control the borer in your rhizomes when applied in the spring or fall season. Keep the plants clean at all times and dispose of dead or dying foliage, faded flowering stems and infected rhizomes. Iris plants should be divided every 2 to 3 years and checked for borers every year. By dividing every 2 to 3 years your plants will grow better and have more flowers on them.

 

 

 

 

Giverny - The Magic of Monet's Garden
Giverny - The Magic of Monet's Garden
                    Join  Paul Parent and see the gardens this July, 2014

 

 

 

Boxwood

 

 

 

America's first and most popular evergreen shrub is the boxwood. If you have ever traveled to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, where many of our forefathers lived and worked, you would notice that many of the homes and the gardens contain boxwood, a beautiful and functional evergreen that adapts well to many climates and is used for hedges, screens, foundation plantings and gardens all around the world. From coastal Maine to northern Florida and beyond, there is a variety for your garden. In Europe, many castles and large estates have used boxwood for simple-to-very-complicated hedge gardens. Why, you may ask? It is because when the flowers and vegetables were finished producing and winter arrived, the boxwood plant was still beautiful and continued to give the garden character all year.

Boxwood is a broadleaf evergreen with foliage to 1 inch long, oval shaped and medium to dark green coloring, depending on the variety. The plant is compact, growing in a mound or rounded shape and densely branched with foliage right to the ground. In the winter, the foliage does change color a bit from green to bronze in cold climate areas, but like many other evergreens greens up when spring arrives. In milder climates, the color change is less noticeable. The foliage color is different, depending on the variety, from light green to dark green and even with a bit of blue tinge to the foliage. Some foliage is rounded and other varieties will have almost oval foliage coming to a point on the tip of the leaf. Plants living in a climate with mild weather have more variation in the foliage, with variegated foliage of green and yellow to green with a white edge.

Boxwood will do best in a loamy soil that is well drained and loose. Heavy soils with clay in them are not recommended for growing boxwood, as they hold too much water, especially during the fall and spring when rain is more frequent. Like many evergreens, the boxwood develops a root system close to the surface of the soil; frequent cultivation is not recommended, as it will hurt the roots close to the surface. Boxwood will grow in full sun to partial shade with filtered sunlight. The one thing to remember when planting it is to keep it out of a windy exposed garden especially during the winter if it is in a sunny garden. When you plant be sure to condition the soil around the plant and the hole with compost or peat moss to help the plant develop roots quickly. Bark mulch or compost two inches thick around the plant will help keeps the roots healthy during summer heat and winter cold.

Boxwood has very few disease and insect problems. I have seen some minor problems with mealy bug (a white cottony material on the new growth), aphids (a green insect in large numbers on the tips of the new growth), or psyllid (which causes the new growth to curl and makes the leaves look cup-like). All these problems can be easily controlled with All Season Oil from Bonide Lawn and Garden or Tree and Shrub Garden Drench from Bayer Lawn and Garden. If you should have a winter with little snow cover, the foliage could be almost yellow when spring arrives. This condition can be easily corrected with a product called "Ironite". Fertilize in the spring and fall with Holly-tone or Acid Adoring from Dr. Earth.

Prune in the spring before the new growth develops, because when you prune you will cut into some of the foliage leaving half leaves on the plant. These cut leaves will have a brown edge but when the new growth develops, this trimming is covered with new growth of whole leaves. Trimmed plants can be easily kept at 12 to 15 inches tall or when not pruned, 3 to 4 feet tall. Boxwood is a wonderful small and slow-growing evergreen for your garden. Enjoy.


 

 




Japanese Beetle Grubs

 

The last problem for this month is to prepare for the Japanese beetle grubs that are in your lawn now from last year and the new grubs that will arrive during July and August. The white grub is an insect stage of the Japanese beetle, that tunnels into your soil and eats the roots of your lawn. He is quite fussy and will only eat the roots of grass--and only good grasses, not weedy grasses like crabgrass, quack grass, or even bentgrass. The grub will not eat roots of broadleaf weeds like clover, dandelions or chickweed, only the good stuff. Right now, they are large, one to one and a half inches long with a brown head and black rounded tail, usually found in the soil curled up like the letter C.

The grub right now is beginning to change to a stage called a pupa, a sort of mummy where it will change to a coppery hard-shell flying and eating machine. The Japanese beetles that will emerge from the ground in just a few weeks, traditionally around the fourth of July, are a major pest of your gardens, shrubs and trees, not the lawn. At this stage the coppery colored, hard shelled, one-inch beetle has two goals in mind: eat several times its weight in plant foliage each day, and mate like crazy to produce eggs for next year.

Japanese beetles love most deciduous plants from vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees and will not bother most evergreen plants. Their favorite plants include rose bushes, grapes, mountain ash trees, and most flowering trees--especially flowering plum. As the Japanese beetle matures and prepares for its egg-laying cycle it will dig into your well-kept lawn and deposit eggs in the ground where they will hatch in just a few short weeks. This destructive stage is best controlled with the new Bonide Lawn And Garden Beetle Killer that comes in a ready to use bottle sprayer that you just attach to your hose and spray. Bayer Advance has a Complete Insect Killer as a liquid or powder and Ortho has Bug-B-Gon Max.

As the eggs hatch and develop into tiny fast growing grubs, they will eat the roots of your lawn and if you have many eggs in your lawn, they will destroy and kill your lawn during the late summer months and the fall season. This is the best and easiest time to kill this insect because they are all together in the soil, not flying around your yard from tree to tree. You have three methods to control them in the ground: first with a soil insecticide like Season Long Grub Control from Bayer or Grub-Ex from Scotts applied at this time of the year or in the early spring, April and will last right into the fall months.

If you have never had grubs in your lawn before and do not treat your lawn, that's great; there is no need to apply a pesticide if you do not have a problem. If in the fall you find a problem with animals digging and you find grubs have come to your lawn, ask for a grub insecticide called Dylox. This is a new concentrated grub killer that releases all it power in 24 hours, killing every grub in your lawn, for fall use only, as it will not protect your lawn during the summer months when grubs are most active. 

The newest, all natural, and fastest acting product attacks the grub in the soil with a predator called a nematode. These nematodes are microscopic worm like creatures that live in our soils but many die during our cold winter, so we must re-introduce them each spring or summer to the lawn. This creature will tunnel thru the soil looking for grubs to feed on, and once found will pierce the skin of the grub and feed on his innards. While feeding it will also mate and reproduce itself so new emerging nematodes can move out of the grub and look for their own food source. The nematode is very effective and will kill all soil stages--even the very large and mature grub that most of the chemical granular products will not control.

You must apply nematodes each spring or summer but they do a wonderful job in your lawn. Nematodes have been around for a long time but before last year the garden center was not able to keep them alive until you were ready to use them. A new company from Canada, called Environmental Factor, has found and hybridized a new much hardier species that, if refrigerated, can stay dormant for up to 90 days. Today's garden centers will store the nematodes in recyclable containers while under refrigeration to keep them alive until you're ready to apply them to your lawn. Just pour the carton of nematodes in a hose- end bottle sprayer, spray them on your lawn, and water well. Go to www.environmentalfactor.com for more information and a dealer near you. If you want to stay organic this is the product for you.

 

           
                                        
   The Winter Moth                         

From Cape Cod, Rhode Island and Connecticut to the North Shore of Boston, a tiny caterpillar is raging war on our leaf trees, shrubs and flowers this spring and his name is the winter moth. The winter moth start to cause us problems as it emerges from the cold soil during late November and can stay active into January. These male moths are attracted to bright lights and you may see them around porch lights from Thanksgiving to New Years.

The male moth is small, less than an inch wide and light brown in color. The female is gray, has no wings and cannot fly, so she sits at the base of trees waiting to mate with the male moth. Once the mating cycle is finished she will begin to deposit egg clusters on the tree trunks and crawl up the tree to leave egg clusters on branches, in the crevices of the bark and anywhere she can hide them. When the eggs are all deposited both the male and female die and the eggs sit on the trees waiting for spring to arrive.

When the air temperature reaches 50 to 55 degrees, the eggs begin to hatch. Newly hatched larvae or caterpillars climb high into the tree, feed on buds, and produce a long silken fiber to help make them buoyant; when the wind begins to blow, off they go, moving from tree to tree like in a hot air balloon. They feed on flower buds especially fruit and flowering trees, but when these buds are devoured, the larvae or caterpillars move on to leaf buds and newly sprouting leaf clusters.

The caterpillars feed in the leaf clusters during the day and as they grow in size and mature, move out on their own to feed on young foliage on the tree. In time, they will create a new balloon silk strand and take off to feed on shrubs and perennials on the ground. They are not fussy eaters and as long as the foliage is soft and tender they will eat it. The caterpillar will grow to one inch and is pale green with white stripes running down each side of the body. They eat until middle to late June, depending on the weather, then crawl to the ground where they will dig into the ground and go into a pupa cycle until they emerge in November and start the cycle all over again.

The best product to use is Captain Jack Caterpillar Killer from Bonide; it is a natural pesticides from soil microbes and considered organic and bio-rational. These products are safe to use around pets and children once dried on the plant. These products are more effective that the traditional Bacillus thuringiensis or B.T. and will kill much larger types of caterpillar insects; also the product is more easily absorbed into the foliage and does not wash off plants as easily. Both products can be used in the vegetable garden and will control tomato hornworms, cabbage lopes, and the dreaded Colorado potato beetle.

Treat your garden plants and trees now if you have holes in the foliage, to prevent them from stripping or damaging your plants any further--and to prevent them from moving into the soil to pupate. They will not kill the tree or shrub the first year but if it happens 3 years in a row your trees and shrubs could die, perennials will fail to flower and your garden will look as if it has been invaded and scarred.


  

"You're only here for a short visit.  Don't hurry, don't worry, and stop to smell the flowers along the way."

Walter Hagen

 

 

                       

                       Fresh from the garden Fiddleheads
           
                         

 

 

Fiddle Heads the spring time treat

 

1 pound of fresh fiddle heads
2 tablespoons of Olive oil
2 clove of garlic minced
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
Cider vinegar to taste
Butter to taste

 

 

Wash Fiddle Heads well in cold water and remove a black ends on the stem.
Place Fiddle Heads in a medium sauce pan and cover with cold water.
Bring pot to a boil and boil for 6 to 8 minuted and then drain well.
Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan, over medium heat, when oil is ready add Fiddle heads and garlic.
Saute for 2 to 3 minutes and turn over to heat well both sides of the fiddle heads. 
Then add lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Serve when cooked and enjoy.
Add cider vinegar to taste and butter for extra flavor.

 

The season is right now so ask for this unique green at the supermarket or if you live in northern New England
Look at farmers markets or pickers who sell them on the side of the road.

 

 

 

 


  

 

 

              Traveling with the Paul Parent Garden Club

 



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.

   

 
  
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