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Red, White and Blue garden
Welcome to the Paul Parent Garden Club 2014 Newsletter


Rose of Sharon


As the warm days of summer begin to encourage our shrubs to excite us with color, let us consider the Rose of Sharon plant for your yard and garden this year. The Rose of Sharon is considered an old-fashioned flowering plant and has been planted and grown around our home for many generations of gardeners. The Rose of Sharon is a unique summer flowering plant because it can grow as a shrub, a small tree or a hedge plant. The flowers begin to open in July and continue to bloom well into September. The flowers are funnel shaped and 4 to 5 inches across. If you have a Rose of Sharon growing on your property, look at your plant when it is raining outside, because the flowers will close to protect themselves.

The Rose of Sharon grows as a multi-stemmed plant, upright-growing on stiff branches. The leaves grow 2 to 4 inches long and the leaf has three lobes. The leaves are medium green and have no shine to them--they are almost dull in appearance. The leaves start almost at the ground and continue to the top of the plant. The flower colors will range from white, pink, red, blue and purple. Some of the new hybrids have double flowers resembling a carnation. Some of the new single varieties are two-toned with a darker center called a "flower eye." The flowers will last for over a week but when a flower fades, it's quickly replaced with other flowers, keeping the plant in continuous flower. The flowers come on the new growth made that spring, so if you can prune them in March or April, you will encourage new growth on the plant and more flowers during the summer.

Pruning the top of the plant will encourage the plant to grow wider and become fuller looking. The Rose of Sharon will grow 8 to 10 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet wide, but if you prune each spring the plant can be kept smaller--as low as 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. If you plant Rose of Sharon plants on 6 to 7 foot centers, they will fill in quickly, creating a thick hedge for privacy, a noise barrier, and a wind break. Prune plants yearly in the early spring when first planted-- even if they are only 3 feet tall at the time. If not pruned, the plant will grow like a column-tall and narrow. When the individual plants are pruned regularly, the individual branches become stronger and can handle snow during the winter better. Plant a row of Rose of Sharon on your property line instead of installing a fence this year. Allow the plant to grow to whatever height you want and both you and your neighbor will enjoy a privacy hedge full of flowers the entire summer.

Rose of Sharon will grow best in a full sun area but will also flower in partial shade. The plant will grow best in a soil with good organic matter, so be sure to use compost or animal manure when you plant. Fertilize in the spring with Plant-Tone organic fertilizer or Dr. Earth Bud and Bloom Booster to keep the plant strong and encourage more flowers. If the weather gets dry and hot, weekly watering will help keep the plant happy. Soil pH does not affect the flower production or growth of the plant. Insects and disease are rarely a problem, so the only real maintenance is the spring pruning. As the flowers fade, the plant will make many seeds that can fall to the ground and start new plants next spring. These new seedlings can easily be transplanted to your garden, where they will mature and grow strong in just a few years.


Kate Smith Introduces God Bless America :: Best Quality
Kate Smith Introduces God Bless America :: Best Quality
                                  Thank you Peter Robbins



Cone Flowers 



During July and August, there is no finer daisy-like flowering perennial than the coneflower (Echinacea)! If you do not have coneflowers in your garden now, stop reading this newsletter and drive to your local garden center to purchase several of them for your gardens.

When you think of the purple coneflower, think of butterflies, birds, and a lot of color in your garden for the rest of the summer. Purple is the original coneflower color but in the past few years the new hybrids are making your garden even more exciting with new flowers in shades of white, yellow, orange, and red. You "NEED" this plant in your perennial garden at this time of the year.

The flowers are large daisy-like blooms with a spiky central cone with side petals that droop a little bit. The center cone begins as a flattened mound and quickly swells to the shape of a strawberry, point up. As the cone matures, in the middle of the daisy shaped flower, a small whirl of yellow flowers will form on the cone. These small flowers attract butterflies during the summer. The seeds that form in the cone will attract birds such as finches and sparrows to feed on the seed heads well into the winter.

In the fall, the side petals fade and the cone turns dark black on stiff stems. The foliage is also unusual--if the flower color is dark, the foliage is darker green in color. White and yellow flowering plants have pale green foliage. The leaves are oval with a point on the end and cover the plant beautifully.

Here is all you have to do to grow coneflowers in your garden: provide them with good drainage and full sun. Heavy clay-like soils or soils that stay wet will rot the plant quickly. Plants in partial shade will stretch to be tall and grow floppy. If you have a hot and sunny summer the flower color may fade a bit but the plant will produce more flower buds.

The plant will grow well in most types of soils--but the better you prepare the soil, the larger the plant will grow. So add lots of compost and animal manure when you plant the seedlings in your garden. Large-growing plants will need to be watered regularly during hot summer weather, so be sure to add "Soil-Moist" granules when planting, so your plant will cope better with the heat. This will also extend the blooming season on the plant. Well-established plants 2 to 3 years old can tolerate heat and become almost drought-resistant.

Coneflowers are slow growing when young, so I always plant them in groups of three, about 12 to 18 inches apart. In couple of years, they grow together, creating a focal point in my garden. When they mature, the plants, will drop seeds in your perennial bed and many new seedlings will develop. I prefer to transplant the seedlings that form around the mature plants, rather than dividing the mature plants in the fall or spring. Most of the time the plants do not have to be staked, but if your garden is in a wide-open area and receives a lot of wind, they may have to staked.

Fertilize with Plant-Tone or Dr. Earth Flower Garden Fertilizer with Pro-Biotic in the spring.  Insects problems are minimal but Japanese beetles can be a problem, so spray the plant when the problems begin with liquid Eight garden insecticide from Bonide Lawn and Garden--found only in garden centers. One application will last for 3 weeks and will not hurt the bees. Never use Seven insecticide on flowering plant as this old insecticide is very toxic to beneficial insects like honeybees.

Coneflowers make a wonderful cut flower for the kitchen table, and the flowers will last in a vase of water for over a week. So cut them and enjoy the flower indoors as well as in your garden.





One of my favorite annuals is the celosia. I know that when you plant them in your garden, you will feel the same way. My love affair with this plant began many years ago when my family took a summer vacation to Washington, D.C. and Virginia. The celosia was in the gardens at the homes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The tour we took of the property was wonderful and the tour people told us that they were trying to plant flowers and vegetables that were grown at the homes in the Presidents' lifetimes. My mother bought seeds from the gift shop and the following year we had celosia in our garden--just like our former Presidents. I have grown celosia at my home ever since and I will give you a hint why--unusual and unique.

Celosia flowers are feathery and brightly colored, and never need to be deadheaded. The celosia flower comes in shades of bright yellow, orange, pink, salmon, deep red, scarlet and cream. The celosia leaves are a medium green color, oval to lance shaped and 3 to 6 inches long. The new hybrids have red coloration to the foliage and stems--just beautiful in your gardens.

The celosia is broken down in two families: the plumosa group (feathered amaranth), with flowers that resemble thick feathers, and the cristata group (cockscomb), with flowers that resemble the top of a rooster. The cockscomb flower is tightly rounded; its curled blooms resemble a rooster comb--a piece of colorful cauliflower. This variety is the result of a mutant gene.

Plant celosia in full sun for the best flowers but the plant will tolerate a bit of late-in-the-day shade. These plants love hot weather; when you first plant them, they seem to just stand still until the weather gets hot and humid--then watch out! The better the soil, the larger the plant will grow and same for the flowers.

The soil should be well drained and kept evenly moist. Wet soils will kill the plant quickly with root rot. Use compost, animal manure or peat moss to condition the soil before planting seedlings. The plants will grow 8 to 20 inches tall, depending on the variety, and spread to 12 inches. The plant's growth habit is upright, so space plants about 12 inches apart in the garden or 6 inches apart in containers and watch, then fill in.

The Celosia plumosa group has one main flower 3 to 4 inches wide and 6 to 10 inches tall in the center of the plant. Around this main flower, the plant will develop many side shoots with smaller flowers 2 to 4 inches tall and one inch wide. The plant looks like a bouquet of colorful feathered flowers surrounded with nice foliage. The flowers never fade; they just get larger well into the fall.

In the fall cut the plant at the ground and pick off all the leaves. Now, hang the plant upside down in your garage, it will dry beautifully, making a beautiful dry flower for the winter arrangement without drying aids. Best of all the colors will not fade in the drying process. The Celosia cristata group has a main flower 6 to 10 inches tall and shaped like the letter "Y." The top of the flower could be 4 to 6 inches wide but only one inch thick. These other varieties dry very well also--use the same method as with plumosa.

Fertilize celosia with a granular organic fertilizer like Flower-Tone or Dr. Earth Flower Fertilizer with pro biotic when planting.  I love these plants in planters with other types of plants or all by themselves. Mixed colors are eye catching and the new red foliage types are extraordinary. Enjoy!

Summer Flowering Clethra

If you think about all the trees and shrubs around your home, how many of them have a fragrance? Most of the plants we grow around our home were selected by us for their flowers and foliage but few for fragrance. I hope that after you read this you will make a change.

The plant I am suggesting you look at is the summersweet or clethra. During July and August your yard will be filled with the sweet floral scent of the summersweet and the fragrance can be noticed 50 feet or more from the plant. The plant itself is not eye-catching until it flowers. For most of the growing season, it almost looks like a wild shrub, which it is in New England, as it is a native plant. So plant this shrub on the edge of your property line, near a deck or patio so you can enjoy the fragrance when you are relaxing.

Summersweet will grow like many of our spreading-type shrubs but is more rounded in appearance. Once established in your yard, the summersweet will make many suckering branches from the base of the plant, helping it to fill in quickly and grow larger. The plant will grow 3 to 8 feet tall and often wider, but you can prune it in the spring to control the overall size of the plant.

The foliage is elongated, oval and comes to a point; it is 2 to 4 inches long, with little teeth on the edge of the leaf. The leaf is dark green and has a sheen to make it look lustrous but not striking. In the fall, you are in for a real treat as those dark green leaves turn to a pale yellow then to golden yellow.

Summersweet is now in bloom all over the Northeast with spike-like flowers that will grow from two to six inches tall and almost one inch wide. The flowers open from the bottom first and move up the spike slowly to give you enjoyment for 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the weather. Each cup-like individual flower is loved by butterflies and hummingbirds.

You will see this plant growing along country roads, near streams or along rivers. Summersweet prefers acid soil, a soil that is moist but it must be well-drained; the plant will grow in full sunshine or up to half a day of shade. This plant is amazing, because it will adapt quickly to where you plant it. Another reason it is a native plant in the Northeast. The summersweet is also heat and drought tolerant.

In the spring you will have to remember that the summersweet is slow to leaf out and many gardeners fear that it has died during the winter, but be patient and the leaves will come. Hold off the pruning until your see the new growth forming, unless you are pruning to control the size of the plant. To control size, prune while the plant is dormant in early April. Once the new growth begins you can remove any dead branches but this plant is very hardy and little pruning is needed. The plant is winter hardy to 20 to 30 below zero and will tolerate and thrive in windy locations.

Fertilize with acid- adoring fertilizer from Dr Earth or Plant-Tone in the spring to help increase the number and size of the flowers. When the flowers fade, a small seedpod will develop where the flower was and, like the foliage, will turn golden-yellow in the fall.

Summersweet is a wonderful plant for a woodland garden, in plant borders with perennials, near a pond, lake or river edge to help hold the ground firm. If you have a steep slope and have erosion problems, this is your plant. Visit your local garden center and look at the new hybrids with pink flower buds called 'Pink Spires' and the new 'Red Spice' with deep rose-colored flowers. I also like 'Hummingbird,' as it is more compact and covered with white flower spikes. Aroma, fragrance and the smell of summer is now possible with the summersweet/clethra shrub. Enjoy!





Strawberry Pie



Fresh Picked from the Garden Strawberry Pie


2 cups of crushed shortbread cookies
1/3 cup of melted butter


6 to 7 cups of fresh picked Strawberries, hulled
Cut in to quarters and cleaned.
1 cup of granulated sugar.
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


 2 cups of sweetened whipped cream.


Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees


Mix all crust ingredients in a bowl.
Press mixture onto bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate.
 Bake for 7 minutes and then remove from oven to cool completely


Mash 1 and 1/2 cups of cut up Strawberries and add a bit of water 1/2 cup.
Mix sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart sauce pan.  Stir in mashed strawberry mixture.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickens and comes to a full boil,
About 15 minutes.  Boil for one minute and remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla extract and salt.
Cool for about 10 to 15 minutes.


Place the remaining strawberries into the pie crust. Now pour the cooked strawberry mixture
 Over the strawberries in the pie plate.  Refrigerate until thickened it should take about 3 hours.
Once the pie has cooled and thickened and your ready to serve cover the pie with the
Sweetened whipped cream and serve. You can also add fresh strawberry half on top of the
Sweetened cream as a garnish before serving.  If there is any left over cover pie with plastic wrap
And refrigerate for a late night treat.


Serves 6 to 8 people.





"Gardening is an art which is learned by practice, experience and sensible advice"

Jules Oravetz, Sr.


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  Written by Paul Parent                         Produced by Christine Parent

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