Happy 4th of July!

"America the Beautiful" live at Jefferson Memorial with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
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The American Elm tree our Liberty tree


The fourth of July is Saturday, and there is no better a tree to honor than the American elm! If you're reading this and are younger than 35 years old you missed seeing the most beautiful tree ever to grow in America, the American elm. The American elm grew from Newfoundland Canada to Florida and west to the Rockies. Today, you will occasionally see this tree growing on the side of the road, in the back yard of an older home and now, rarely, in your local park or on your common. The American elm was the most planted street tree in America and every city had their Main Street lined with this tree. I am not talking of thousands of trees, I am not talking of millions of trees, but I am talking of billions of trees that once graced our streets, parks, homes and forest.


In less than 25 years most all of these trees were destroyed by a single type of insect 1/8 of an inch long called the elm bark beetle. The elm bark beetle was not a serious problem to the American elm for hundreds of years and seldom killed the tree until 1930 when a boat load of diseased elm logs arrived from Europe. These elm logs were to be used for furniture but they were unknowingly contaminated with a fungus called "Ceratocystisulmi."


While these logs sat outside in the lumber yard to be cut up for lumber, our native elm bark beetles fed on them. They bored into the tree making a small tunnel about the size of the lead in a pencil; healthy trees would repair the damage made by the beetles and survive, but these infected logs contained a fungus that once transmitted from the tree to the beetle would kill healthy trees is just a few years.


When the beetles emerged from the infected logs to feed on our native trees growing the area, they quickly infected the trees with this disease. The fungus spread quickly with this beetle and to make things worse, dying trees were quickly cut down and shipped to lumber yards miles away to be used for lumber helping to spread the problem even faster. Today, 75 years later, we still do not have a way to stop this fungus! You will still see wild American elms growing but they will never have the chance to mature and show us all their beauty.


Before I tell you about this tree, let me first tell you about the history of this tree and how important it was to the formation of our country. In 1646 one block east of Boylston Station and the Boston Common, at Washington and Essex Street, an American elm was planted. It stood there for 129 years and it was known as the "Liberty Tree." The memorial of this tree is on a plank on a building marking the spot of this historic landmark, bearing the inscription "Sons of Liberty, 1766" just below the emblem of an elm tree. If you're in Boston, take the time to see it.


At the time of the Revolution, this great American elm stood there in the center of business in Boston's original South End. Several other elms grew there, and the area was known as the Neighborhood of Elms. On August 14, 1765, this particular tree was selected for hanging the effigies of those men who favored passage of the detested "Stamp Act." On September 11th, a 3'by 2' copper plate, with large golden letters was placed on its trunk bearing the inscription, "The Tree of Liberty. " Thereafter, nearly all great political meetings of the Sons of Liberty, our founding fathers, like Paul Revere and John Hancock, held their meetings in this square under the tree.


British soldiers hated this tree and often punished men thought to be against British Rule, right under its branches. This tree was the rallying point for independence in Boston. On the last day of August 1775, as the British army evacuated the city of Boston for the last time, they rallied together one more time and cut down the tree before they left. The American elm was our first symbol of freedom, because this wonderful tree bore the name "Liberty" on it trunk. The state of Massachusetts designated the American elm as its official state tree in 1941, commemorating the fact that General George Washington took command of the continental Army beneath an American elm on Cambridge Common in Boston in 1775.


I want to tell those of you who never saw this tree about it and how it grew. It was a majestic looking tree and no other tree grew like it. I still think it was the perfect tree, even better than the white pine, our great oaks, the maples, the spruces and our fir trees. The American elm grew 60 to 90 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide. The tree grew from a single trunk and its branches grew in the shape of the letter "Y" like a fluted vase. The ends of the branches seemed to weep a little bit, making the top of the tree resemble a vase filled with fresh greens.


The foliage grew 3 to 6 inches long, 2 inches wide, oval with a point on the tip of the leaf. The leaves were dark green, looked rough with thick green raised veins on the leaf like a feather pattern. Small sawlike teeth covered the edges of the leaf, with a very short stem (under 1/2 inch) attaching it to the branches of the tree. In the fall, the entire tree turned a bright yellow, like it was on fire. If you pinched the leaf it had a fragrance you would never forget.


The bark of the tree was dark gray, very rough and scaly. This large strong trunk was often covered with patches of gray and white lichen, and mosses all over it, giving it much character. The roots of the tree grew wide and they were strong, so not even very wet soil and rain could topple it over. This tree grew in any soil type, sand to heavy clay and the soil pH did not matter either--it was tough. It could grow on the side of the road and it tolerated salt from the plows all winter long without any damage to it. It continued to grow even when asphalt was applied under its branches to build roads, and trucks could drive under it and compact the soil and it still grew while other trees died under the same growing conditions.


The grain of the wood grew so twisted it had to be cut with a saw and only power equipment could split the trunk for fire wood and with great effort. I tried with a wedge and sledgehammer many years ago and that log held them in place until I rented a power splitter to free them. Elm is still used to make Hockey Sticks to give them the curl on the blade. This was on tough tree and most of the mature trees are now gone forever.


Now for the GOOD NEWS...the nursery industry has been working very hard to develop new disease resistant species of elms that are resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, with some success. These new tree varieties are called Liberty Trees and 10 years ago I purchased one called 'Valley Forge,' because I wanted my children and grandchildren see what this tree looked like. It has done wonderfully at my house here in Maine, and in just 10 years it has grown from 6 feet tall to over 30 feet tall on my front lawn. When I look at this tree I think back to my youth when every town had a park or common lined with these wonderful trees. If you would like more information about the Liberty Tree go to Elm Research Institute in Keene NH. Call them at 800-367-3567 or email: info@elmresearch.org. They have programs to plant a tree in every town in America with civic groups like the Scouts and they also sell small trees--please tell them I sent you.  Enjoy!




Red Hibiscus makes a wonderful indoor or outdoor plant


The tropical hibiscus is the number one selling flowering plant grown in southern Florida and California for gardeners across the country. Hibiscus will grow only in a climate where temperatures seldom dip down below 40 degrees, as it is not frost-hardy. The plant will not flower if temperatures routinely drop below 50 degrees, so if you want hibiscus for your home or as a potted plant on your deck, it will require special care to grow. This magical plant is well worth all the work and effort you put into it for its unique flowers. Here are a few things to know about growing hibiscus plants where you live.


In the southern or western part of the country, the hibiscus plant is a woody shrub that is evergreen and flowers all year long. So all you have to do to grow this plant where you live is copy their climate and light conditions. First of all, let me tell you about this plant because it originated in tropical Asia and it was brought to this country by gardeners, who like you, loved its flowers.

The foliage is dark green, and the leaf is shiny as long as it has enough water, but when the plants begins to dry out the shine will fade, making the foliage dull green. The leaf is oval, with large indentations or teeth on the edge of the leaf margin. The leaf will grow up to 6 inches in length, depending on sunshine, watering, and fertilization of the plant by you.


The flower resembles a flared trumpet that will grow from 3 to 8 inches in diameter, depending on the variety you choose and how it is cared for, again: sunlight, water, and fertilizer. The flower colors will range from red, orange, yellow, and pink; you may also find many new hybrids with two or more colors on the same flower and many new, semi-double, double-flowering and ruffled hybrid varieties.


The number one requirement is temperature, as the plant requires a warm location; after all it is a tropical plant. If you want lots of flowers, you will have to provide a location with temperatures that stay between 60 and 90 degrees all year. When you put the plant outside in early June and when you bring it back indoors in mid-September, expect the plant to lose leaves with the move. Even the slightest change will cause leaf drop, but the plant will quickly replace the fallen foliage.


As I said earlier, if the temperature drops below 50 degrees, the plant will stop flowering until it warms up again, so don't panic if that happens. Also expect that the flower size will decrease with cooler temperatures. In the middle of the winter, just keeping it alive is a challenge but I will help you. If you have the plant outside in a container on your deck for the summer and the forecast is for temperatures above the mid 90's, move the plant into the shade until the heat spell passes or the flower buds will drop due to the high heat.


Number two requirement is watering, as this plant requires a steady source of moisture, especially during the hot days of summer. Water the plant every day from June to September unless it rains, because the plant has a lot of foliage and flowers and they require lots of water. Never place the plant with a saucer under the pot as the soil needs to drain freely after watering. If you're away and it rains, the saucer will fill up with water quickly, forcing all the air out of the soil and root rot will quickly develop--killing the hibiscus. Always water according to the weather, less if it's cool and wet, and more if it's hot and dry.

To help hold water in the soil add Soil Moist Granules when repotting the plant. If it is a new plant for you, make several holes in the soil ball with a pencil 3/4 of the way down in the pot and add a good pinch of product in the hole. Soil Moist will retain 200 times its volume in moisture in the soil, so check direction to determine the amount needed for your container, and never use a container without drainage holes in the bottom. When the temperatures cool, cut back on the watering, as the plant will require less water and-again--wet roots will cause root rot!


Number three requirement is fertilizing the plant to keep it healthy and flowering. Because most of us are busy, we will forget to fertilize this plant so I encourage you to use a time-release fertilizer like Dynamite or liquid food like blooming and rooting from FertiLome. During the summer months especially, the plant is growing fast and flowering heavily with the hot weather, so give the plant extra fertilizer every week; I like Fertilome's Blooming and Rooting with trace minerals or Neptune's Harvest fish and sea weed fertilizer. If the plant stays well fed, the foliage will stay deep green and the plant will flower all year long.


Number four requirement is insect control, and on hibiscus you will have two insects--aphids and red spider mites--on the new foliage and on the flower buds. Both can be easily controlled with a systemic insecticide such as Tree and Shrub insecticide or Systemic Granules applied every 4 to 6 weeks. If problems develop, spray the plant with All Season Oil--a natural product that will smother the insects on the plant--and repeat applications 2 times, spaced 7 to 10 days apart. Always turn the plant upside down and spray under the foliage as well as on top of the leaf, as insects tend to hide under the leaf.


During the winter months, it's important to keep the plant as warm as possible at all time and ALWAYS avoid drafts. Hibiscus is a tropical plant that will do very well in a northern climate if you keep it warm--always above 60 degrees in your home. If the weather gets cold, especially at night, pull the plants away from the windows and move them to the center of the room to keep them warm. If your windows are a bit drafty, keep them back 3 feet from the glass on those cold and windy days. Keep plants away from doors that open and close often, so temperatures stay uniform and warm.


During the winter months, water as needed and keep plant moist but not wet. Poke your finger into the pot as deep as you can and feel for moisture. If it's moist, leave it alone as plants will do better indoors during the winter a bit on the dry side--but never let plants wilt. Always use warm water when watering the plant, never cold or you will chill the root system and hurt the roots, causing leaf drop.


Fertilize with time-release fertilizer when you bring the plant inside for the winter and repeat every 2 months. When the plant comes into bloom, also use a liquid food like Fish and Sea fertilizer by Neptune's Harvest every 2 weeks; food equals flowers! The more direct sunlight the plant receives, the more it will flower.


Every week spin the plant around so the front of the plant now faces inside the room and the back faces the window. This sequel sunshine will keep all the foliage on the plant , not just the foliage on the front of the plant. Once the plant is in place do not move it from its location or you will have additional leaf drop. It should stay there until spring arrives and you're ready to put it outside again.


One more thing, repot in the spring when you put the plant outside for the summer, as the plant will grow faster and need repotting. Increase the pot size by 2 inches when you change the pot size. Always use a good potting soil--never cheap stuff--or the roots will suffer and so will the plant, giving you fewer and smaller flowers.


Oh, yes, one more thing...pruning. Prune to control the size of the plant especially when you bring it indoors for the winter. Prune 1/3 of the branches every two weeks until all the branches have been all pruned , that way you do not lose your flowers and the buds. Pruning will stimulate growth; I also prune the plant when I put it outside in the summer the same way. Enjoy!




Star Spangled Banner As You've Never Heard It
Star Spangled Banner As You've Never Heard It
Summer flowering white Shasta Daisy
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 Flower-Tone or Natural Alternative, All purpose organic 5-5-5. When the buds form on the plant fertilize with a liquid plant food like Fertilome Blooming and Rooting Fertilizer 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!

"Good gardening is very simple, really. You just have to think like a plant."
Barbara Damrosch


Red Skelton's Pledge of Allegiance
Red Skelton's Pledge of Allegiance


Wonderful climbing morning glories




The morning glory is the best-known summer flowering annual vine in the garden today. This twining vine is an old-fashioned plant that produces trumpet-shaped blooms in shades of violet, purple, blue, pink, red and white with a contrasting-colored throat. The blue is the most popular color, grown on light poles, trellises or arbors in the front of many homes today. The flowers usually come in clusters throughout the plant and when one flower fades, another bud is ready to open and replace it on the plant. The morning glory is also a wonderful plant to attract butterflies and hummingbirds into your garden. The flowers will grow 3 to 4 inches wide and resemble a trumpet with a different colored throat.


Morning glories originated in Mexico and Central America and seeds were brought to European gardens by early explorers where they prospered in English gardens. These flowers do best in full sun but will tolerate a bit of shade during the heat of the day. Plant in a well drained soil that is rich in organic matter such as compost, peat moss or animal manure. Soil moisture is important; dry soils produce fewer flowers on the plant. During July and August water weekly, to encourage flower buds to develop and to keep the plant in bloom. For bigger plants and more flowers,fertilize weekly with Miracle-Gro or Blooming and Rooting fertilizer.


Plant morning glories at the base of a trellis, arbor or post with supports such as string to help the vines climb and provide support to grow on. Prepare growing structures before you plant the seeds or plant seedlings in the garden. Morning glories will also do very well in window boxes or planter on a railing and you can allow them to cascade down to the ground creating a waterfall of color. I have also seen them planted in hanging baskets, where they develop twining branches that grow in all direction from a hanging bracket or plant hook. When planted in containers morning glories need more water and fertilizer, as they may dry up quickly during hot weather. Use Soil Moist Granules in all containers to help keep the moisture in the containers and plants strong. Fertilize with Dynamite when planting to help promote new growth and flowers.


Plants seeds in pots on your windowsill indoors for a head start on the season. or buy plants at your favorite greenhouse. I have better luck starting seeds if I soak them in water overnight before planting them, as the seed coat is very hard and the soaking speeds up the germination. Because the morning glory is a vine, I recommend that you plant several seedlings around the post or at the base of the trellis or arbor. The plant does not bush out much, so it will take several plants to make the structure it is growing on look good. Do not plant in the garden until the nights are frost-free, as the plant will not tolerate cold weather. If the garden soil is cold, the plant will just stand still and not grow for you, so wait until it warms up.


Morning Glories do not flower early in the garden as most other plants do, so be prepared to wait until July to see flowers--but those beautiful flowers will last well into the fall or first frost. If you like flowering vines in your garden look into other plant varieties such as Black-Eyed Susan vine, orange trumpet flowers with a black center. Also nice is the balloon vine with greenish white flowers and fern-like foliage. The hyacinth bean vine has pinkish-purple flowers and maroon-purple seedpods. Even the scarlet runner bean vine is different--it has scarlet flowers and edible beans later on. Try something new in your garden this year. Enjoy!



Rhubarb - Strawberry Muffins



Some of you have Rhubarb and some of you have Strawberries.  How about getting together and making the best fresh perennial fruit and berry muffins fresh from the garden.  These will be a real treat for you and your family so let's get together and share the harvest from the garden so all can enjoy! Yum Yum !




1 cups of all-purpose flour

cup of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of baking powder

teaspoon of salt

 1 Egg, beaten

cup of milk

1/3 cup of corn oil or olive oil

1 cup of fresh rhubarb, skinned and chopped into inch pieces

1 cup of fresh strawberries, slices inch thick

2 teaspoons of grated orange peel, one orange, and eat the orange slices

Granular sugar for topping your muffins before cooking


Cooking directions:


1} Preheat your oven to 400 degrees


2} In a large bowl, mix the flower, sugar baking powder, and salt.


3} In a second bowl mix the egg, milk, and oil and blend well; Empty this mixture into the first bowl and blend well


4} Stir in your Rhubarb, Strawberries, and grated Orange peel until mixture is nice and moist.  Spoon into greased or paper- lined cups muffin pan.


5} Sprinkle tops lightly with granulated sugar.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a rounded tooth pick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.  Remove from your muffin pan; cool a bit on a wire rack and serve with real butter.  A glass of fresh cold milk for the kids and fresh hot coffee for the adults and you're in Heaven.  Enjoy!


"America-Why I love her" John Wayne



Garden Journal

        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 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!        Supplies are now limited!


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