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Welcome to the Paul Parent Garden Club 2014 Newsletter



Marigold Flowers



     The best and most popular yellow and orange flower in the summer garden is the marigold. Marigolds have been grown in more sunny gardens than most other flowers combined , and even a child can start a plant from seed on a windowsill. These bright and cheery flowers are easy to grow and reliable in all types of soil and weather conditions. Marigolds will flower from early June right up to frost and all you need to do is water and feed occasionally. No complicated or special fertilizers are needed, very few insects will bother them, and disease problems are minimal. Marigolds are a garden flower, not a cut flower, as the stems are too short on most varieties, but that is O.K. because you need flowers that do not stop flowering all summer long in the garden.

     Besides yellow and orange, new hybrids now come in shades of red and even in white. The flower itself can be in the shape of a ball and round, single and flat like a poppy, flat with large petals on the bottom and with small petals clustered on the top, and so on -- your choice is almost endless. The color choices are just as endless, from solid yellow, orange, red and white or combinations of two or more colors on the same flower. You may think about height, but look no further as marigolds start from the 6 inch "Lemon Drop" and range all the way up to the "Giant African," measuring up to 6 feet tall when cared for properly.

     Marigolds love the sun and when planted in full hot sun, they are at their best. Garden soils that are loose and pliable are best, but the more organic matter you apply, the bigger they will grow and flower. If you look at a seed catalog, you will see endless varieties of marigolds. Whether you are a new or an experienced gardener, plant some in your garden because once in the ground, marigolds will give you time to care for your other flowers in the garden -- they are that easy to grow. The main secret to growing marigolds is to remove the faded flowers.

     Marigolds make a lot of flowers and when the flowers fade, the plants make a lot of seed. Flowering plants have a goal to produce 50% of the weight of the plant in seed and then it can rest. If you continually remove the faded flowers, the plant does not stop flowering because it needs to make seeds, so remove the seedpods and the flowers will keep coming.

     Water marigolds as needed, especially when the weather gets hot. When the weather gets hot, the plant will grow much faster than most other plants in your garden. Fertilize every other week with  Dr. Earth flower girl organic bud and bloom booster liquid and you will be amazed with the growth the plant makes. You can also use Dynamite fertilizer slow releasing food to the plant every time you water the garden. Tall growing plants may need staking if planted in a windy location. Marigolds have a unique character and as the plant gets taller, roots will develop on the stem of the plant and grow to the ground to help stablize the plant. I know no other annual that is able to do this. 

     I love the smell of marigolds -- it is so unique and once you know it you will never forget it, so blindfold me and let me smell the flowers. My wife cannot stand the smell, so I plant them away from her windows and she is happy. Did you know that bees prefer yellow flowers in your garden? Think cucumbers, squash, melons and tomatoes plants--all have yellow flowers. This year plant yellow marigolds in your vegetable garden and the bees will be able to find your vegetable plants better. The more bees in your garden, the more vegetables will develop. Try it and you will like it -- I plant marigolds in my vegetable garden and so should you! Enjoy.






The Lawrence Welk Show: Vegetable Song
The Lawrence Welk Show: Vegetable Song
Just like Aunt Ruth used to sing to us.




Annabelle Hydrangea


     I think that most of us get very excited when spring arrives and we see our first flowering shrubs come into bloom after a long winter being indoors. Now, how about summer and the shrubs that make our yards, patio and decks more beautiful with all that color? Sitting on your patio enjoying your family with all green plants is nice, but add color and you will want to spend more time relaxing on the patio. My favorite family of plants is the Hydrangea Family, with flowers covering the plant from summer to fall. We all love the Blue and Pink varieties that grow all over Cape Cod and south but how about those of us that live in a colder climate? The Hydrangea is undergoing numerous changes right now and the new varieties are truly exciting for those of us with cold winters. The Cape Cod varieties will survive the winter for most of us, but often the flower buds are killed by the cold winter weather. If you live from Central Maine to Michigan and to Eastern Arizona your selection was limited but now we are in for a real treat of new hardy hydrangeas.

  The new hybrids are coming from the Hydrangea Paniculata side of the family. Hydrangea Paniculatas have flowers that grow more cone-shaped 6, to 12 inches tall and 4 to 6 inches wide at the base of the blossom. The traditional blue and pink are more rounded and ball-shaped. The flowers begin to form in late June and last well into the fall. All the new varieties will dry well and you can use them in dry arrangements. The individual flowers on the cone have four petals 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide and are sterile. Some of the new varieties have fertile small flowers under inches wide on the same flower, giving the flower cone much character. Along with hardiness, the plant breeders have added color to the new plants. Dazzling white, pinks, red, and bi-colors pink and red combinations will grace your yards this summer.

   Plant these new hydrangea varieties in full sun to half a day of shade gardens. Cape Cod hydrangeas want full sun for the best flowers. Soils should be well drained and fertile, so be sure that when planting you condition the soil with compost or animal manure. The better you condition the soil, the better it will grow and make more flowers for you. They will not tolerate wet soils at all. Fertilize in the spring with a general-purpose shrub fertilizer such as Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth shrub fertilizer. No other fertilizer is needed to alter the color of the flower like the Cape Cod Hydrangea needs. I love to use a mycorrhizae fertilizer on all summer flowering plants to help build a stronger root system because the stronger the roots the more water they are able to collect, and the flowers last longer and are larger. So add Bio-Tone plant food a couple times a year. The new hybrids will grow 4 to 6 feet tall and just as wide, but if you prune them in April before the foliage develops you can control the size of the plant and not hurt the flowers. When the weather gets hot, water plants often when newly planted until the plant get well established.

     Look for these and more new hydrangea varieties at your local nursery. Hydrangea 'White Diamonds,' with brilliant white flowers and a bit of yellow in the center of the bloom, is truly dazzling looking in a perennial bed or plant border -- you must have one! Hydrangea 'Limelight' sports a full head of flowers with a stunning hint of light green in the flower. Hydrangea 'Pinky Winkey' is an incredible two-tone flower of cream and red colored petals on the same flower. Hydrangea 'Quickfire' is a real breakthrough, with cream, pink and red flowers on the same flower cluster--and it will bloom earlier than most varieties. Enjoy your summer garden this year with hydrangea varieties that are hardy where you live.




Snap Dragons

     Summer is here and so are Mother Nature's best flowers for your garden. One of my favorite flowers is the snapdragon because of its hardiness in the garden, along with the amount of time the plant stays in bloom. Snapdragons love the cool weather and are planted earlier than most annual flowers in the garden for early flowers during the summer that will continue to bloom well into the fall. I plant snapdragons early in the spring, about the same time as the cold weather crops such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Most other summer annuals will not tolerate the cold soil and air temperatures but snapdragons love it, so plant them early when time in the garden is less demanding. Also in the fall when most annual flowers are falling apart with the shorter days and cooler temperatures, the snapdragons come alive after the heat of summer with more flowers, and the plant will tolerate some frost.

     Snapdragons have glossy dark green to chocolate colored foliage in the shape of an elongated oval coming to a point. The leaves grow in a whirl around the stems from the ground right up to the flower spikes. The individual flowers grow on a tall stem or spike in a whirl so individual flowers are visible all around the spike. The flowers resemble the head of an animal, and if you pull down the bottom half to view the inside of the flower it will snap back to its original position in a snap. The flower is tubular in shape almost like an open-throat and hummingbirds love it as well as butterflies.

     Plant them in a garden that receives full sun most of the day--and the more organic matter in the soil the better. Slightly acid soil that is well drained and fertile is best. Snapdragons love fertilizer so be sure to feed them often with a liquid fertilizer such as Miracle Grow or the new Plant Thrive for more flowers. If you are growing the taller growing varieties, extra fertilizer will help produce stronger and thicker stems to support all the flowers. Tall-growing varieties will grow best when grown out of the wind and near a fence or building for protection; you may have to stake them in a more open garden. For the first 4 to 6 weeks water the plants by hand to keep moisture off the plant when possible, as fungus disease can cause the plant to wilt and die. Avoid overhead watering young plants from sprinklers, but once the plant develops and matures, overhead watering is O.K.

     When you plant seedlings, it is best to pinch every shoot on the plant back on the tip to promote the plant to bush out and produce multiple stems rather than a quick single tall stem with flowers. This pinch will delay the bloom by 2 to 3 weeks but the plant will develop multiple flower spikes and much more color in your garden. The flower spike with its many individual flowers will open from the bottom first, making them look better as the flower matures. You can remove the faded flowers to keep the flower spike clean looking. Snapdragons make a wonderful cut flower and will last for a long time on your kitchen table.

     Snapdragons come in all heights from the 'Floral Carpet' variety that is 6 to 8 inches tall to the 'Rocket' variety (my favorite) that can reach up to three feet tall. Some varieties have flowers that are more open and tubular looking, some are single or double flowering but all will cause excitement in your garden. No Insect problems and few disease problems make them easy to grow and trouble-free. Snapdragons come in every color in the rainbow and many multi-colored flowers are available, so plant some and enjoy.



                                 One of varieties of summer flowering Spirea

     During the summer, we spend a lot of time outside enjoying our yard and gardens around our homes. Make your enjoyment more colorful with a family of plants knows as the Spireas. Summer-flowering spireas will flower all summer and well into the fall, if you remember one thing: "deadhead" the flowers when the flowers fade! When you remove the faded flower, new flowers will develop and cover the plant again in just three weeks. It is possible to have three blooming periods--almost continuous blooms on the plant--if you keep the faded flowers off the plant.

     The flowers are clusters of small individual blooms that can grow 2 to 6 inches wide on strong short or long stems, depending on the variety you choose. When removing the faded flowers from the plant it is best if you remove one to three inches of the stem with the flower. Side shoots will quickly develop from those cut stems and the flowers will form in just a couple of weeks. The flower clusters will last for 3 weeks or more on the plant. This pruning also keeps the plant more compact and encourages more foliage on the plant. In the early spring, before it starts to grow prune it back by as much as 1/3 to keep the plants under control so it does not outgrow its space in your flower or garden bed.

     Spirea will grow best in full sun all day but will also tolerate a bit of shade late in the day. Spirea will look beautiful in foundation plantings around your home, in perennial flower borders and wonderful in groups or in mass plantings. Some of the low growing varieties are also be used as ground covers on embankments. Plant in a garden and condition the soil with organic matter such as compost or animal manure. A loose, well-drained soil is best. The plant will not tolerate a heavy clay soil that stays wet for long periods. If the summer should be hot and dry, watering the plants regularly will help to keep them flowering. As with many plants, heat and dry weather can put them into dormancy for a short period of time, so water them as needed. To help the plants get off to a good start, add Bio-Tone fertilizer or the new Plant Thrive food with mycorrhizae to stimulate the roots and produce more flowers.

     Spirea varieties will differ in height and will grow as short as 6 to 12 inches tall and as high as varieties growing 4 to 6 feet tall. Most varieties will spread from 4 to 6 feet wide but both height and width can be controlled with annual pruning in the spring. Fall pruning is not recommended, as harsh winter weather can cause plant dieback. Spirea can grow in climates with winter weather that gets down to 30 below zero without hurting the flower buds. No special protection is needed like with some other summer flowering plants.

     The foliage is oval, 1 to 4 inches long and narrow, with smooth or tiny teeth on the margins of the leaf. The leaf color is traditionally green, kelly green to dark green, and some of the new varieties are gold to yellow. If the weather is cool, the color will be more intense. Some of the varieties have new growth that begins as russet-orange to bronze red before turning green. In the fall, the foliage turns red to copper in color, making the plant stand out in your garden. Insects and disease are not a problem with this plant--another reason to plant spirea in your gardens. I like to fertilize in the spring to help get the plant off to a good start and make a lot of foliage. The flowers begin to develop in early June. Remember if you keep the faded flower off the plant; the flowers keep coming all summer long ,well into the fall. Fertilize with Plant-Tone fertilizer or Dr Earth shrub and tree food for slow continuous feed all spring and summer long.



"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides."

W.E. Johns



Nana Ruth's Chicken Cassadea dinner


 1 package corn tortillas 

1 pound Chicken Breast

1 pound grated Mozzarella Cheese

 1 pint Sour Cream


 Salt & pepper to taste

In a pan cook chicken breast with salt and pepper till cooked through

In the same pan on medium high lay a tortilla sprinkle cheese add chicken more cheese another tortilla cook ten seconds the flip and cook for 20 seconds. Remove from skillet and cut into quarters. Serve with sour cream and watch everyone devour them!





              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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