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One of the many florist shops we saw this week
 in France
Welcome to the Paul Parent Garden Club 2014 Newsletter
  
Perennial Globe Thistle

 

 

One of my favorite summer flowering perennials is the globe thistle. The flowers are steel-blue, a color rare to find in the garden during the summer. The globe thistle flower is in the shape of a blue ball one to two inches across and covered with hard-pointed flower buds silvery-green in color that open to reveal a deep blue flower. The flower is bristly--you would be wise to wear gloves to pick it for an arrangement for the kitchen table. As a cut flower, it will last for several weeks and in the garden for a month or two.

The foliage looks like a dandelion growing in a rosette around a central stem. The leaf is silvery-green, deeply cut with many indentations that are pointed. Some of these points are very sharp, so you will not have to worry that the kids next door will steal the flower from your garden for their mother.

The plant will grow 2 to 3 feet tall and produces many side branches that contain 3 to 5 flowers on each stem. When the flower go by, remove them and new stems will develop on the plant with more flowers. Globe thistles will bloom for several weeks, especially if the weather is hot and dry.

The plants almost look like weeds growing in your garden at first and like most of the plants growing wild on the side of the road. Once you plant it in the garden, it will not be mistaken as weed again, because of the unique foliage. The plants are tough and requires little care once established in your garden. They also require little to no fertilizer in your garden--if you feed too often, the plant will grow tall and flop over easily.

Feed them in the spring with compost and keep liquid fertilizer away from them. Plants are drought tolerant and the thick stems will hold the flower up without staking, even in seaside gardens exposed to wind and weather.

Plant globe thistles in a garden with plenty of sun, in a soil that is well-drained and not too fertile. Clay-type soil will rot the root system, especially in the springtime or during the winter. The root of the plant is a taproot that will grow well over a foot deep and because of this, they do not transplant easily. It is best not to try to divide or move them; if you like them, buy a new plant from your garden center.

Potted plants can be planted in your garden at any time of the year but you must water weekly until the plants have established their permanent roots. Try to keep the foliage of the plant dry when you water, as fungus disease can be a problem during a hot and humid summer. Keep plants away from flowerbeds that have sprinkler systems installed in them, because globe thistle really likes a dry soil to grow.

If you have a flower bed that is in full sun, hot, dry and nothing seems to grow there, than the globe thistle will thrive there. In rock gardens, near stone walls or groupings of large stones, this plant will do very well as it will tolerate the heat that the stone brings into the soil.

The globe thistle is unique and you will always remember this plant for blue flowers that form during the heat of summer. Butterflies love the flowers when they first open. In the fall, small birds like finches and chickadees will go crazy for the seed in the flower head.

You can cut the flowers when they are in full bloom and hang them from the rafters in your garage to dry. As a dried cut flower, they are wonderful and so is the foliage on the stem, as it also dries well--so do not remove the foliage when drying the plant.

 

 

Marcello Giordani · The Flower Song · Carmen ~Bizet
Marcello Giordania The Flower Song  Carmen ~Bizet
                                 
Shasta Daisies

 

 

Have you ever picked a daisy from your garden and said: She loves me, she loves me not, and she loves me? According to folklore it all began in ancient Wales when maidens wanted to test the fidelity of their love and they, like you, gently pulled off one individual white flower petal at a time until all that remained was the yellow center of the flower. Let's hope that most of the time it came out positive for you.

Daisies suggest innocence and simplicity; in Latin the word for daisy means "beautiful ," and the Old English name for daisy was "Day's eye," referring to the way that the flowers open and close with the sun. The daisy flowers open at sunrise and close at sunset on some varieties and our ancestors noticed that, as they had no watches to tell the time of day. The Ox-Eye daisy, an early relative of the Shasta daisy, came to America with the colonists, to be planted in their gardens and seeded in their fields as one of our first imported wildflowers.

The Greeks tell this story of the daisy's origin: One morning the wood nymphs decided to dance on the edge of the forest, where the orchards began. The god of the orchards, spying them at their games, drew close to watch. One nymph in particular stung him with her beauty, and he fell instantly in love and rushed at her. But she and her sisters vanished, taking refuge in the form of the daisy, growing on the edge of the forest.

Daisies must have a well-drained soil to thrive and spread in your garden. If your soil is heavy or wet they will grow but struggle during the year, usually not returning after the first winter. Well-drained soil during the winter months is very important, as standing water will cause root rot. If your soil is heavy and you want to grow daisies you will have to condition the soil with the coarse, sharp, mason type of sand, peat moss, and compost to improve drainage. Planting in raised flower beds will also help to improve drainage in wet soils--or plant on the side of a hill or sloping garden. Wet soil is the number one reason that Shasta and other types of daisies do not survive in your garden.

The Shasta daisy loves to be planted in a full sun garden but it will tolerate some late day shade. In a partial shade garden, the plant will grow taller, have fewer flowers, those flowers will grow smaller, and flower for a shorter period with fewer repeating flower buds during the summer...but they are still worth all the effort to grow them. The plant will tolerate a sandy soil and will tolerate some dry growing conditions but if you can condition the soil before planting with lots of organic matter like compost and animal manures, they will thrive in your garden.

The flower of the Shasta daisy is a flat-growing flower on top of a strong stem. This is actually a flower in a flower, as the bright yellow center is comprised of hundreds of tiny yellow flowers with a ring of delicate white 1 inch elongated flower petals circulating it. The flower resembles the shape of the sun and it will brighten up any garden in your yard. As the sun begins to set, the white daisy flowers will resemble stars in the sky--and just think what a field of wild daisies would look like when planted as wild flowers during a full moon evening. The daisy flower is loved by honey bees and butterflies, as they can just sit on the flower and feed from them.

The foliage is deep green, growing 2 to 3 inches long and only 3/4 of an inch wide, with an edge that resembles a saw with tiny indentations, like teeth. The leaves grow up the flower stem but are spaced one to two inches apart, keeping the plant open and airy looking. The plant grows from individual stems and seldom branches out; each stem makes only one flower. The flowers will last on the plant for about 4 weeks if you can keep it well watered during the heat of summer.

The flowers are wonderful for cutting and will last for many days in a tall vase of water on your kitchen table. As the flowers begin to fade on the plant remove the flower back to the top set of leaves and the plant will make new buds on that set of leaves, keeping it in bloom right up until frost in most gardens. Dead-heading is very important if you want continuous flowers all summer long so always bring a pair of scissors with you when you visit the garden to cut flowers for the house and for cleaning the plant.

The plant can be propagated by dividing it into sections in the early spring or fall season. You can also allow some of the flowers to fade on the plant and dry up to turn brown. Once this happens, break up the flower head with your fingers and sprinkle the seeds in the flower head in your garden. These seeds will germinate and grow very easily making new plant that will flower the following summer in the garden.

Fertilize in the spring and again in the fall with a good organic slow release fertilizer like Dr. Earth Flower food with Pro-Biotic. When the buds form on the plant fertilize with Dr. Earth liquid plant food like to increase the size of the bloom

If you have a tall-growing variety of Shasta daisy that requires staking when in bloom, you can cut back the plant in mid-May, when the plant reaches 12 inches tall, to 6 to 8 inches to help keep the plant shorter. This pinching or cutting back of the plant will also encourage new shoots to form at the base of the plant, resulting in more flowers during the summer, keeping the plant height under 3 feet tall and less likely to topple over.

Adding bark mulch or compost as a mulch around the plant will prevent weeds from developing in the flower bed and help keep the soil moist around the plant during the heat of summer. Insects and disease problems are less likely if you give the plants room to grow in the garden and don't let them get overcrowded with other plants around them; air circulation around the plant is key.

Grow Shasta daisies as a cut flower; they are wonderful in mass plantings, mixed borders, a must for the cottage garden look, and they will look incredible if you line a walkway with them for color. Visit your local garden center and look at the wonderful selection of Shasta daisy hybrids.

Shasta daisies will grow from 2 to 4 feet tall, have flowers 2 to 5 inches across, and some semi-double and double flowering types are also available--something to fit every garden need. Plants will grow 2 to 4 feet wide, depending on the hybrid you choose. Always ask questions before purchasing so you can space the plants properly for good air circulation and plant them in the right spot in the garden so they will not shade other plants in the garden. Enjoy!

 

 


Russian Sage

With all the heat of the last month, you need to know about a perennial flower that loves the heat and will thrive in dry, sandy soil. The plant is called Russian sage but is not native to Russia; it's from Afghanistan. Until 1995 it was not a plant that most gardeners had it their gardens but the Perennial Plant Association named it the "Perennial of the Year" and today it is found everywhere. Let me tell you about this plant so you too will know the story of this wonderful perennial garden plant and why it was named the perennial of the year.

First of all, Russian sage is not in the Sage family of plants, it's actually in the Mint family--a close relative. The Genus name Perovskia was given to the plant after a Russian general, V.A. Perovsky (1794 to 1857), who was much admired by the Russian people. The plant can be found growing all over Russia today. The sage part of the name came because, like the mint plant, it has a pungent mint-like scent to it.

Let me tell you why you need to have this plant in your garden. The stems of the plant are gray-white to silver in color and they develop at the base of the plant, like wonderful outward-arching branches. The foliage is small, less than an inch long and narrow, needle-like but a unique fuzzy gray-green color. When the foliage stops growing the plant will make wonderful tall spikes of light blue flower spikes. Each flower spike will quickly develop many side shoots of spike flowers that will quickly cover all the foliage of the plant. The flowers come in clusters on these spikes and resemble tiny tubular blossoms that cover the plant, giving them the appearance of lavender blue to pale blue cloud.

The plant itself is woody looking, and also looks like a shrub, because it will grow 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. If you want to control the height of the plant you can pinch the tips of every stem in the spring when the new growth reaches 12 to 15 inches tall. Each of these flower spikes can grow 2 to 3 feet tall on the plant. The flowers are long-lasting on the plant, usually lasting from June to September. If the blooms should end early, cut back the plant by removing all the faded flowers and one third of the foliage of the plant. Fertilize with a granular fertilizer like Flower-Tone or Dr. Earth Flower food with Pro Biotic and the plant will bloom again, lasting until the first hard frost in the fall.

Russian sage will grow best in a soil that is well drained; average to poor soil is best and never clay-like or heavy. This wonderful plant will tolerate a dry soil, sandy soils, acid soil, and open areas with a lot of wind like the seashore, making it the perfect plant to grow in a seaside garden or at a lake front garden where most plants fail. If your soils are heavy, make a raised flower bed or create a mound of soil to grow the plant on, as this will keep the crown of the plant and the roots out of the water especially during the winter months and early in the spring when the ground is wet.

Plant in a garden located in sunshine all day long for the best flowers on the plant. If you have a location that gets real hot during the summer and where watering can be a problem, this is the plant for you. If you plant in a partial shade or shade garden they will not do very well for you and will not flower. This is one plant for which conditioning the soil when planting is of little importance but you must keep the plant well watered the first year until is it well established and able to find its own water. Mulching around the plant is helpful in holding water in the soil during the growing season (along with weed control) but in cold climates like Northern New England mulch also helps to protect the root system.

In the fall, you can leave the plant as-is and enjoy the unique plumage-like winter branching or you can cut back the plant to 12 inches. This is a woody perennial and the new growth will develop on the branches that remain from the previous year's growth. New shoots do not develop from the base of the plant but from the woody branches.

In a cold climate, never cut back the plant right to the ground or it may not develop in the spring. If your climate is cold, be sure to build a mound of mulch 4 to 6 inches deep around the base of the plant to protect the plant just in case snow falls lightly to protect the plant from winter wind and frost heaves. The plant will tolerate temperatures that drop to minus 30 degrees when mulched in the fall.

You can plant Russian sage in containers like whiskey barrels as long as they have good drainage; you can also lift them off the ground with bricks or pot feet to encourage good drainage during wet weather and the winter when they freeze. If you're growing in clay or ceramic type pots, bring the pot into your tool shed or garage for the winter months and do not water until you move back outside in the spring; around March.

Put several plants in your cut flower garden for unique textures and the long flower spikes will be the most talked of among your fresh-picked bouquets on the dinner table. These flower spikes will outlast all of your cut flowers used in the arrangement. Blue is difficult to find in cut flowers and this flower will replace baby's breath or statice in your arrangement.

In a mixed border the Russian sage should be planted in the back of the garden or on the end of the bed, as the plant will get tall--3 to 5 feet. Give it room, as the flowers will develop from the ground up to the top of the plant. In a rock garden they will thrive with all the heat the rocks draw to the garden, and in a stone mulch garden they will outlast most plants in the garden.

I like the plant when planted in mass or in groups to create a splash of color in the planting bed for summer color. Mix with blue mophead type hydrangeas to create different textures in the garden. You can plant just one on the end of a fence to soften the hard surface, and if you live on a street with a rotary or traffic island, it will make the perfect maintenance-free plant; use instead of grass that needs watering and mowing. Create a garden on a slop or steep hill where mowing could be a problem or the soil is not very good.

You will like planting Russian sage in flower beds with daylilies, coreopsis,r udbeckia daisies, Oriental lilies, fall-flowering sedum and, in the late summer with an under planting of flowering cabbage or flowering kale for wonderful contrast. They will also flower at the same time as perennial hibiscus, rose of sharon, butterfly bush and all the new types of hydrangea--P.G. hybrids--for wonderful summer color near your swimming pool or patio. If you're spending a lot of time outdoors this summer, the Russian sage is the plant that will give you more color than any other perennial plant in your garden today.

Fertilize in the spring with a granular organic fertilizer, once a year and then forget it. Russian sage has no insect or disease problems to worry about and butterflies love this plant. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Turtlehead - A Great Summer Perennial

 

We all enjoy the wildflowers growing on the side of the road, like the wild lupine in the spring time, the summer-flowering white daisies and Queen Ann's lace and in the fall the wild miniature flowering asters and goldenrod. Today, I want to tell you about one wildflower that you want in your garden because it is trouble free, it will grow almost anywhere and it will flower from late August into October. This very hardy perennial is called the turtlehead and it thrives from Manitoba to Newfoundland in Canada and south to Georgia and Arkansas.

The turtlehead gets its name from the flowers it makes, because they resemble the head of a turtle. The plant makes the flowers on the top of the stems and they develop as a spike flower much like the snapdragon flower. Each individual flower will grow from 1 to 1.5 inches long; it is tubular with a puffed end like the head of a turtle that will split open resembling its lips and mouth. The flowers open from the bottom of the spike and work their way up the spike slowly lasting for 6 to 8 weeks on the plant.

The flower color will range from white to pink and even shades of red. The plant will grow 2 to 3 feet tall as a single stem that develop from the base of the plant making it a wonderful cut flower for your home. The plant spreads with underground roots creating a thick clump of foliage and flowers in the late summer. Purchase the plants in pots from spring to fall and give them room to grow, as they will spread to 3 to 4 feet wide in just 3 to 4 years.

The foliage is deep green and the leaf is oval in shape, 2 to 3 inches long with tiny teeth along its edge. The foliage is also shiny and very clean looking compared to most perennials in our garden. The plant will grow very thick once established in your garden and this foliage is rarely troubled with insect and disease problems. The stems are very stiff and strong growing and seldom fall over with stormy weather; no maintenance needed to hold plants up like so many other tall growing perennials.

If you want to propagate the plant it is best to divide the plant in the spring time. Use a garden trowel or spade and split the plant into small clumps when the plant grows to 3 to 6 inches tall during May. These clumps will still flower for you in the late summer if you care for them during the growing season.

Turtleheads will grow in full sun to full shade garden, a bit taller in the shade. They love a rich soil and the better you prepare the soil the larger the plant will grow and produce more flowers for you. Condition the soil with compost, animal manure or peat moss and be sure to work it deep into the ground to stimulate a strong root system. If your soil is on the sandy side, be sure to add Soil Moist Granules as these plants love moisture, clay type soils and will even thrive in wet soils. Soil acidity is not a concern for this plant either.

This is the perfect plant for a garden in the shade and where water is a problem, as it grows wild near streams and river banks. If you have land where skunk cabbage and ferns are the only plants that grow, this is your plant to change the look of that area, but it will also grow in the average garden. It will soak up a lot of water in the ground, helping to change the character of your yard when planted as a wild flower. The foliage and flowers will add a lot of character to a wild fern growing area on your property.

Turtleheads love water, so remember that if the summer weather gets to be hot and dry, you will have to water them regularly--especially the first year you plant them in your garden--to encourage flower production in the fall. Fertilize in the spring only to help it get started properly and the plant will take care of itself the rest of the year without much care. Once the plants are established they are almost self-sufficient.

Plant turtlehead perennials this summer in your perennial garden for late summer to fall color. The plant will look great when planted along the edge of tall trees or along a wooded area. If you live near the ocean, a lake or beside a river edge, this is a wonderful plant because it will tolerate rough weather where wind is a problem. Turtlehead will tolerate winter temperatures to minus 30 degrees below zero without any type of winter protection. You can also plant turtlehead near drainage ditches, along the side of the road or in front of cattails as a border planting for summer color in places where it is difficult to grow flowers.

In the fall collect the seed pods from the plant once they turn brown and break them open so you can scatter the seeds in a meadow to add to the wildflowers already growing there now. Seedlings will flower the second year they are planted. The pink flowering types of turtleheads will flower the longest time in your garden or in the wild.

You can also plant the turtlehead as a ground cover to prevent soil erosion or on a steep slope where mowing could become a problem. This is just a nice plant for your garden with many uses, so get out this weekend and plant some. Enjoy.

 

 

 

Cherries Jubilee

 

 

Fresh Picked Cherries Jubilee

 

1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of fresh orange juice , not concentrate
3 to 4 cups of fresh picked cherries, cleaned,
 Washed and pitted.
1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated orange peal

 

 

1/4 cup of brandy, optional for dramatic flame
1/2 a gallon of French Vanilla ice cream
------------------------------------------------------------------
Mix sugar and cornstarch in a heavy sauce pan.
Stir in water and orange juice until well blended.
Cook and stir constantly, until thickened. Add the
Cherries and orange peal and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat.

 

Gently heat your brandy in a small sauce pan.
 Pour over cherry mixture.
With a long handle lighter flame the brandy IF you desire
To impress your guest and stay back from sauce pan to
Prevent flash burn, dramatic  and showmanship.
Stir gently and ladle over Ice cream when the flames die down.

 

Serves 8

"Growing a garden and staying out in the fresh air after office hours seemed to give me the strength to meet all problems with greater courage "

Jim G Brown

 

              Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.

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6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
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Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

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  Written by Paul Parent                         Produced by Christine Parent


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