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Welcome to the Paul Parent Garden Club 2014 Newsletter
Happy Labor Day week-end from the Paul Parent Garden Club.
  

 

Ornamental Grass look great in a summer garden
 

If I said to you: "don't cut the grass and use it for privacy, color, and the beautiful flower it makes," you will think I have lost my mind, right? After all if you do not cut the grass all year long, the neighbors would probably call the Landscape Police and force you to mow it. You would be right if I was talking about your lawn but have you ever thought of planting ornamental grass in your garden, in a large container instead of flowers, along a fence or making a special garden just for ornamental /decorative grasses?

Ornamental grasses have wonderful arching vertical growth. The plant is graceful looking because of the foliage that moves with the slightest breeze. The plant grows in a clump that is dense but soft looking, even during the winter months when it turns brown and dies back to the ground.Ornamental grasses have a unique texture that will complement both needle and broadleaf evergreens. There is no annual or perennial flowering plant that can give your garden the character of ornamental grasses. Ornamental grass also produces wonderful looking plumes of color on top of the plant during August, changing color during September as the weather begins to cool off.

Ornamental grasses are not eaten by deer or other wild animals that live near your garden. Insect pests and diseases are not a serious problem to these plants. The only maintenance you will need for this plant is cut it down to 4 to 6 inches from the ground in the early spring so the new foliage does not grow with the dead foliage from the previous year and spoil the foliage color. When planted near shrubs that make winter berries, your garden will have great winter character and color contrast. The plants are drought tolerant and they will also give your water gardens much character all season long.

Ornamental grasses come in many different shades of green foliage, depending on the variety you select. If you want color...how about blue foliage? How about green and silver foliage, green and yellow foliage, even green and white foliage? The foliage can be a solid color or have vertical stripes or horizontal stripes on the blade of the grass. Most of the plants will turn red to purple in the fall before they turn brown when the snow begins to fall in December.

The flowers of ornamental grasses are called "plumes" and the variety you select will determine the color, shape, and size of the plume. The plumes begin white in color but change to silver, pale pink, wine-purple, reddish pink and even reddish brown in early September. If height is an issue for your garden, then you're in luck, because different plant varieties begin at 8 to 12 inches tall and will reach as tall as 5 to 8 feet tall. Some varieties stay small ,spreading to 1 to 2 feet wide but other clump varieties can grow as wide as 4 to 6 feet.

You will also find non clumping varieties that spread with underground roots/runners and make wonderful erosion control plants. You can use them near a pond, a stream or even on the side of the road where road salt can be a problem, killing many other plants. If you remove suckers that develop around the base of the plant it will not become invasive in your garden but if you don't watch out it will take over your garden. The most aggressive grass is called "Variegated Ribbon Grass" (Phalaris).

Ornamental grasses are easy to grow, even for the beginner gardener. Just plant them in a sunny garden, but they will tolerate a bit of shade. Some varieties will also tolerate salt spray from the ocean and wind locations near a pond or lake. Soil type is not a problem because it will grow in any soil--even sandy soil like on Cape Cod or the heavy clay-like soil of northern Vermont and Maine. But if you can provide a well-drained, loamy soil that has been conditioned with animal manure, compost or peat moss before planting you will be in for a real treat.

A healthy well-kept plant will attract song birds during the fall and winter months for its seeds. While the plumes are in bloom, butterflies will frequent the plant from August to September, and at any time of the year you can cut the long stems of the plumes and use them in a fresh flower arrangement or cut and dry them for wonderful dry flower arrangements.

Grow the plant in your garden for 4 to 5 years and in the spring dig up the plant and chop it into 3 inch clumps; you have now divided them to make many new plants for your garden or friends and family. Keep the soil on the sweet side and lime every spring or fall for the best growth and fertilize every spring to help motivate the plant back from winter dormancy. I use Dr. Earth Shrub and tree fertilizer with Pro Biotic or Plant-Tone fertilizer in the spring to keep the foliage healthy and encourage the plant to produce lots of plumage in the late summer.

The best small clump ornamental grass with color is Dwarf Blue fescue/ Festuca ovina var. glauca

The best and hardiest tall growing ornamental grasses:
Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus--Maiden Grass: green and white foliage - reddish pink plumes
Miscanthus sinensis 'Little Zebra' -- Dwarf Zebra Grass: green with yellow bands -wine purple plumes
Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'--'Morning Light' Maiden Grass: green and white margins- pink plumes
Miscanthus sinensisPurpurascens Purple Maiden Grass: green to red orange in fall- silver plumes
Miscanthus sinensis Zebrinus-- Tall Zebra Grass: green with yellow bands- pinkish plumes
Miscanthus sinensis Variegatus-- Variegated Zebra Grass: green and white striped- pink plumes

The best of medium growing Ornamental grasses:
Pennisetum alopecuroides-- Fountain Grass: bright green foliage - reddish brown plumes
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'-'Hameln' Fountain Grass: dark green foliage- creamy tan plumes
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Little Bunny' - 'Little Bunny' Fountain Grass: green foliage with whitish plumes
Pennisetum alopecuroides Moudry--Black Flowering Fountain Grass: dark green foliage - dark purple plumes

 

 

Red Skelton's Pledge of  Allegiance
Red Skelton's Pledge of Allegiance
                                 
Lugworth Pulmonaria great for a part shade garden

 

 

This past weekend I started to clean up my perennial flower beds and begun to remove the faded foliage and cut back the plants that looked real tired in the garden. Fall cleaning time has now arrived so when you have a few minutes, begin to clean up your gardens too. As I removed the yellow and brown foliage from the faded plants I noticed that one of my favorite early blooming perennials the lungwort was still looking great. Then I remembered that this perennial will stay looking great right up until Thanksgiving and beyond most years.

The lungworts are wonderful perennials and they begin to flower in early April, as one of the earliest flowers to emerge after a long winter. Some years there are more flowers in the garden than foliage on the plant. The flowers come out at the same time as the new growth, but they quickly open on top of the clump of foliage. The foliage is slow to spread out, and as it does begin to expand in the garden new buds continue to develop on the foliage that forms. Lungwort will spread out 18 to 24 inches wide in just a couple years from new potted plants, and then they just sit there--never crowding out other plants in your garden. I have 3 plants in the garden and I have never had to divide them in the past 12 years. The plant usually grow 10 to 15 inches tall, depending on the variety you select.

The flowers of the lungwort are small delicate clusters of bell shaped blooms, about 1 inch long; as they open up, the flower is held horizontally over the plant for all to enjoy. The flower buds are oval in shape and usually purple to blue in color giving the flower extra contrast when they open. The flowers come in shades of lavender, violet-blue, white, red and my favorite pink. I just love the blue flower buds and pink flowers on the plant early in the season. The flowers will last for 3 to 4 weeks when they open but because they open over several weeks the plant is in color from April to June.

There are many varieties of lungwort but I want you to select the varieties that have spotted foliage, not the solid green leaf types. The foliage develops as a mound and spreads as the foliage develops on the plant. The foliage is oval almost like an elongated heart with a distinct point on its tip. The foliage is medium to dark green and splashed with irregular shaped spots that are white to silver depending on the variety you select. Some of the newer hybrids have just as much spotting as they do green foliage on the plant.

Large leaves are produced at the base of the plant, 2 to 3 inches long and 1 to 1/2 inches wide. Smaller leaves that are half the size will form on the stems that hold the flower up on top of the plant. Because the plant flowers so quickly in the spring, much of the foliage is still not fully developed when it's in bloom. Most of the foliage does not reach its full size until the flowers have faded and the air temperatures warm up in late May. Once they are formed they become very strong and will tolerate the cold weather in the fall, lasting well into November most years.

Plant lungwort in partial to full shade but they will tolerate full sun in a cold climate like northern New England. The better you prepare the soil before planting, the better the plant will grow as this plant does respond to rich humus type soil. If your soil is average, be sure to mix in extra animal manure, compost, or peat moss before planting. If your soil is on the sandy side, add some Soil Moist granules, because this plant does much better if the soil stays evenly moist. If the summer gets hot and dry, water the garden and you will enjoy the foliage well into winter. If the garden dries out in the heat, the foliage will get spotty looking and fade early in the garden as it goes dormant for the year.

If your gardens get hot during the summer months, a thin layer of compost or bark mulch an inch or two deep will help keep the plants active and the foliage looking great during the heat. This is a great plant because it can be planted in the spring or fall season with great results. As long as you can, keep the soil moist until the plant is established--and fall plantings should be mulched to give the plant extra time to root in properly.

There are few problems with this plant but if your flower bed has a built-in sprinkler system that waters it regularly you will have problems with powdery mildew on the foliage. During a normal summer I may water the plant 2 or 3 times all summer long, so it is really trouble free and very low maintenance; just avoid frequent water on the foliage. In the spring, when it starts to leaf out, and I see flowers developing on the plant, I fertilize the plant with a slow-,release organic fertilizer like Flower-Tone or Dr. Earth flower food with Pro Biotic.

Also avoid heavy clay like soil where standing water may develop especially during the winter months, as ice buildup will kill the roots. A well-drained soil is best; if you live near a wooded area, just plant them under the trees and once they are established forget them. Lungwort makes a wonderful ground cover in a shady area, great for mass planting between and around hosta plants or in a woodland garden with native wild flowers. Use the plant in the front of your perennial garden, in a rock garden or under tall evergreens like rhododendrons or azaleas.

Lungwort will flower about the same time as bleeding hearts, lily of the valley, primrose, and many of your spring flowering bulbs like crocus, early tulips and hyacinths. I planted lungwort under some tall pines with Japanese painted ferns and blue forget-me-nots for great foliage contrast, and the pink and blue flowers bring that garden to life in the early spring.

Many nurseries and garden centers will have perennials on sale this month, so take advantage of the sale and try this plant and more while the price is right. After all, "Fall Is for Planting," the ground is warm and they will quickly get established before winter arrives. OOH, I said a bad word for us gardeners--"WINTER"--I'm sorry. So enjoy the fall and get back into the garden after this long hot summer and plant some flowers for next year's garden.

 

 

Spotted dead Nettle Lamiun

 

 

 

If you have a shaded yard and you are trying to grow ground covers, it can be expensive, and usually they are slow to fill in the area planted--until now. Sure, myrtle, pachysandra, and English ivy are nice, but it will take 3 to 5 years for them to fill in so thick that weeds are not a problem, and they require a lot of care by you those first few years. I want you to consider lamium as a ground cover for those shaded areas in your garden, under your trees--even those wet spots in your yard. If you like colorful foliage and flowers, this is the plant for you.

Lamium will grow just about anywhere in your yard; in the Northeast, it will also do well in full sun if you can water regularly if the summer gets real hot and dry. It does prefer part to full shade for the best performance, and a soil that stays moist most of the year. If you have an area where moss is growing and no matter how hard you try to grow grass, it still will not grow there for you...it's time you plant lamium hybrids.

Lamium is a creeping plant that spreads with underground stolons/ stems. When new branches or stems from above the ground touch the soil, they will also root, making the plant very strong and thick growing. These qualities make this plant an excellent weed-smothering ground cover. Each plant can spread 18 to 24 inches in all directions, so if you're planting a large area it will take fewer plants to cover the area. A good example: you would space English ivy every 6 to 8 inches apart in staggered rows, pachysandra every 6 inches and myrtle every foot in staggered rows.

Lamium is aggressive, so if you want a formal planting, this is not your plant but if you want a quick-growing ground cover in a natural setting with interesting foliage and flowers in the spring time--this is your plant. If you have a large planting bed of evergreens like rhododendrons, azaleas, or mountain laurel under tall trees that you have covered with bark mulch and you want more color, plant lamium between some of the shrubs. If you have an area that is shaded by your house or the garage and all that will grow is moss, plant lamium there and watch it bring that area back to life.

If you live on a wooded lot and you want to keep it simple--but you want color and no maintenance--plant lamium here and there under the trees to make it look like a wildflower garden. It can be difficult to grow flowers under large pines, oaks, and maples because of the many roots, but not lamium--it will adapt and thrive. Once the plants get established in a couple years and you like what you see, think about extending this shade garden. In the spring, dig up some of the plants and pull them apart with your hands, making several plants from the one you have dug. I did this several years ago for a friend and made 6 to 10 plants with each plant I dug up.

When you plant lamium, remember that they love a soil that is well drained but stays moist during the summer months, so be sure to condition the soil with compost, animal manure, or peat moss. If the soil is sandy it's OK, just add some Soil Moist Granules with the soil conditioners to help them get started. When you plant under the trees, the leaf canopy will help to keep the plants from drying out during the summer.

Lamium will grow 4 to 12 inches tall, depending on the variety you select--but let me tell you about the foliage. The foliage is incredible because every variety is different looking. The leaf will range from 1 to 2 inches long and 1 inch wide and the shape can be oval, rounded, elongated-oval, and even heart -shaped. The edge of the leaf can be smooth, finely toothed like a saw blade or deeply cut like a Japanese maple leaf.

Now the colors of the foliage and flowers are very different, depending on the variety you choose. Consider the following: Deep green leaf with paint brush-like strokes of silver covering half of the green leaf, and yellow flowers called 'Hermann's pride,' Silvery green leaf with deep purple flowers called 'Purple Dragon,' Pale green with deep silver covering on the leaf and white flowers called 'White Nancy,' Green and silver variegated foliage with pink flowers called 'Beacon Silver,' How about chartreuse-green and yellow variegated colored foliage with mauve flowers called 'Anne Greenway,' beautiful silvery foliage with shell pink flowers called 'Cosmopolitan'--and there are many more to choose from.

When the flowers finish blooming in 4 to 8 weeks and more, I want you to take your lawn mower or weed whacker and cut the plant back to 3 inches tall!!! That's right--cut the plant back to 3 inches and this will stimulate the plant to bush up and spread out even more. Your plant will look a bit rough at first but in just 2 weeks it will come back like it was on fire and grow like crazy but stay more compact, and thicker- growing. The flowers begin to bloom on the plant in April and last to early August on some varieties.

When you have cut back the plants, sprinkle a generous amount of Flower-Tone or Dr. Earth flower food with Pro Biotic around each plant and water well. Unless it gets dry during the summer, this is all you have to do for these plants the rest of the year. The foliage will stay beautiful well into October--even November if they are sheltered from cold winds.

If you have a wet summer, slugs can be a problem but the plant grows so fast that new leaves will quickly replace the eaten ones. Plants do not do well in areas that are irrigated with a sprinkler system on a regular basis; they will do better with dry foliage than wet. They are so hardy that you can even grow them in Canada, where temperatures reach 30 to 40 degrees below zero.

This is a good plant for areas where you cannot get anything to grow, it requires minimal maintenance and care--and the wonderful foliage and flowers and will make you a very happy gardener. This fall or next spring, plant several varieties to make your yard the talk of the neighborhood. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

If you think back about last spring, it started early after a mild winter and the spring changed to a summer that was hot, humid and dry. Now fall is almost here and the weather continues to stay mild, so entomologists from across the nation are finding that the tick population is still building--and that could mean major problems for next year. Because it got so warm so early, the ticks came out of dormancy early and have had extra time to mature, mate, and prepare for the egg-laying season for next spring.

Right now, the adult ticks are still feeding in preparation for a long winter sleep to prepare for the egg laying in the spring. Because of the mild year, few ticks have died due to weather conditions, and populations have soared to record highs. Here is the life cycle of a tick and how it can affect you and your pets this fall and next spring.

Ticks have three primary stages of development: larval, nymphal, and adult. Each stage requires a special host to feed on to move on to the next stage of growth to complete the life cycle--and that life cycle takes one year to complete. In the spring when the adult emerges from its long winter of hibernation, each female tick is ready to lay up to 3000 eggs on the ground during the spring season--WOW! When the eggs hatch,small larvae will emerge and begin to feed on small mammals and birds for the spring and into early summer.

They then fall from the host to the ground and molt to the nymph stage. While still on the ground, they look for a new host like deer, cats, dogs and yes YOU. This is the most dangerous stage for disease transmitted problems like Lyme Disease. At this stage they are the size of a poppy seed and grow very quickly in size from the fresh blood source. This stage can last from several months to a year depending on the blood supply. When they have achieved maximum growth they then fall off and molt again but this time to the adult stage. Many ticks are in this stage now, feeding and preparing to lay eggs for next spring. The female is the most active, because she needs blood to help produce eggs while the male feeds very little and is content to stay on the large host primarily for mating with the female.

Ticks are in the spider family--Arachnids--and have eight legs, which have two uses. Motion is one but the additional use is as a unique sensory organ known as the "Haller's organ" which can detect odor and chemicals on the body of potential host. This organ can also sense changes in temperature to help the tick prepare for the season ahead. Ticks prefer a climate that is warm and humid, as they require a certain amount of moisture in the air in order to undergo the three stages of metamorphosis. Low temperatures will slow down the development from egg to larva and that is why we have a problem this fall. We had a mild winter last year and mild and early spring this year, and that is causing concern right now.

Ticks prefer a sandy soil, and hardwood trees like oaks, maples, ash, and birch. They also prefer areas with streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Their favorite large host is the deer, their favorite small hosts are mice and chipmunks--and if you live in an area with most of these necessities, you can expect to have tick problems.

There are several ways to reduce the population of ticks on your property--and fall and spring are the best time to do that. If you have property that is mostly grass, with some open fields or partially wooded, I would recommend that you treat the open areas with a product like  Bonide Flea and Tick Granules and apply NOW so the rain can dissolve the product and activate the active ingredients to start killing the adults before they go into hibernation when the temperatures begin to cool off. All these products will also kill fleas when they are applied on your property, so they do not come into your home with your pets and get into your rugs and furniture.

In the spring, apply in early May to control ticks coming out of hibernation that you may miss this fall. These products should last for several weeks, killing the adults as they emerge when the weather warms up. If you have a fenced-in yard or small yard you can also use the ready-to-spray products that you apply with the garden hose, and they will also be very effective.

Now, if you want to control the problem without using a chemical application on your lawn, you can also control the nymphal stage in the spring or fall with a unique product called "Tick Tubes." This is a cardboard cylinder filled with cotton that has been treated with a mild pesticide called permethrin. All you have to do is spread these tubes around your property like near a tool shed, firewood, under a deck or on the edges of your wooded areas or fields for the mice to pick up the treated cotton for bedding. Mice and chipmunks are now (and will be again in the spring) preparing a place to live and will use this this nice, soft material. The permethrin in the product will kill the nymphs that are on these rodents without hurting the rodents. This method is 90% effective because it works on the host to kill the ticks.

All these products work very well and if you have children, pets or you spend time in the garden you might want to think about doing something VERY soon to reduce the problem now and again in the spring. These products are an investment in the health of your family and pets.

 

 

"The love of flowers is really the best teacher of how to grow and understand them."

Max Schling

Home made Zucchini Bread



 Fresh Picked Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:
3 cups of all-purpose flower
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
3 extra large or jumbo eggs
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups of white granulated sugar
1 cup of chopped Walnuts

2 cups of grated Zucchini squash firmly packed
And save the juices for added flavor.  It will take
4 to 6 young squash 8 to 10 inches long and 3
Inches thick.
____________________________________

Grease two 4 by 8 cake pans with Pam and then
Add a tablespoon of flour to cover the inside of the pan,
Dump the extra flour.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Stir the flower, salt, baking soda,baking powder and
Cinnamon in a medium size bowl.

Beat the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl.
Now add all the dry ingredients from the medium bowl to the
Large bowl and blend well.

Now add and stir the Zucchini and nuts until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or when you push a toothpick into
The center of the cake and it comes out clean.  Remove the
Bread from the pans, and cool on a wire rack until cool.

Serve when warm with a couple pads of butter or enjoy it cold.
The bread will freeze well also in freezer bags or when rapped
With tin foil.

This is a great way to use up your squash when your fed up
With cooked Zucchini squash!   Enjoy!





 

 


 

              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.

Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-985-6972

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $29.95! Limited supply!!


 
  
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  Written by Paul Parent                         Produced by Christine Parent


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