We really could use some help from our Native American brothers with a rain dance for all of our Gardens!

Footloose - Final Dance 1984 HD
Footloose - Final Dance 1984 HD

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Clethra Summersweet

 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 Holly Tone 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!
Dirty Dancing - Time of my Life (Final Dance) - High Quality HD
Dirty Dancing - Time of my Life (Final Dance) - High Quality HD

Beautiful summer flowering Gladiolus

Gladiolus is one of a few summers flowering bulbous plants that most everyone can recognize, even non-gardeners. The foliage is sword-like and develops on the side of an upright stem. All the flowers develop on one side of this spike, opposite and just above each other, are irregular in shape but in the form of an open trumpet. This type of a flower is called a tapering flower spike; the gladiolus is also called the "Sword Lily" in Europe.

Gladioulus is one of the most popular summer-flowering bulbs, just because it is so beautiful and easy to grow. And you can save the bulb after the first frost, store it in your basement and replant the following spring. The gladiolus originated in South Africa and was brought to northern-hemisphere gardeners thanks to explorers many years ago, in 1774. The bulb has gone through many changes from the original plant to today's new hybrids. Hybridization has created many new colors, color combinations, flower sizes, plant heights--and even double flower types.

Gladiolus bulbs are classified botanically as CORMS, not true bulbs but that is OK--it is easier for us to find and understand these wonderful plants. They are remarkably easy to grow anywhere in your garden, well-drained soil as long as it receives plenty of sun during the day. Plant bulbs in a garden where the soil has been conditioned before you plant with organic matter like compost and animal manure and watch the flowers grow bigger, the plant taller--and the flowers will last longer in your garden.

They will not do well in a clay type soil that stays wet after a good rain or watering, as bulbs will rot in the ground easily. If your soil is all clay-like and heavy, purchase a whiskey barrel and plant them as a container plant for midsummer color. They do grow tall but do not need to be staked as their stems are very strong and will hold the many flowers without falling over. Wind-swept areas should be avoided, when possible, to prevent damage to stems.

As a cut flower, gladioli will brighten up any room and usually last for well over a week. The flowers open from the bottom of the stem first and slowly move up the stem until most of the flowers have opened. The stem will have as many as eight to ten flowers open at the same time, making a colorful tall arrangement in a vase on your table. As the lower flowers fade, remove them and re-cut the stems to keep the arrangement looking fresh and clean. If the weather is hot, add ice every morning to the vase to help slow down the rate of opening.

Gladioli are in the same family of plants as the iris; look at the leaves of both plants and see the similarities. Gladioli that stay in the garden will flower longer that when cut and put in a vase of water. Plant in the spring when the ground has warmed up and the weather is frost-free. If you plant early and the weather is cold and wet, your bulbs could rot in the ground--so wait!

Plant bulbs three inches deep and space bulbs six inches apart to give them room to grow. I always add Soil Moist to help hold moisture if soil is sandy, and to grow stronger plants, a fertilizer that contains Mycorrhizae, like Bulb-Tone or Protolizer plant food.

In the fall when the frost kills the foliage to the ground, pull up the plant from the ground and you will notice that there are now TWO bulbs together. Remove the foliage from the top of the bulbs and discard the lower bulb. The lower bulb was the original bulb you planted in the spring and it has formed a new bulb during the summer and sent all its energy to it for next year. If you cared for it properly, the top bulb should be larger and stronger.

Store your bulbs in an old pair of panty hose and hang them from the rafters in your basement for the winter. I also add a bit of Rose and Flower Dust to them just to keep winter insects off. Enjoy.
Village People - YMCA OFFICIAL Music Video 1978
Village People - YMCA OFFICIAL Music Video 1978
Yellow foliage Tiger Eye Sumac
Most of us have seen sumac growing wild on the side of the road as a large weed. It's either 'Smooth' sumac or 'Staghorn' sumac, and just another plant that just seems to grow almost anywhere. In the fall of the year the Smooth sumac will definitely catch your eye because of the magnificent fall color of the foliage, bright red and very vibrant. The Staghorn sumac is very similar but shades of gold will blend in with the red foliage and the stems are hairy, not smooth.

In 2007 a new hybrid sumac was developed called 'Tiger Eye' that won instant recognition by winning a Gold Medal Plant Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Because sumac is a native plant in the Northeast, it did not get much press here, and most nurseries did not carry the plant. I was in Chicago a month ago and saw this plant in many gardens and all I could say is, "why isn't this plant in New England yet?" It is, but you don't know about it yet, so let me tell you about this exciting plant I found in Chicago.
The plant was introduced by Bailey's Nursery, the same nursery that developed the 'Endless Summer' blue hydrangea and many other hydrangea hybrids. Let me tell you about this plant, because the first thing you will notice is that the new foliage is chartreuse green, WOW. As it matures, it will change to bright golden yellow--but that is just the leaflet.

The leaf of the sumac is made up of a central stem with 10 to 30 leaflets on this sturdy stem. Each leaflet is 2 to 6 inches long and about one inch wide. The 'Tiger Eye' leaflet is unique because of its exotic looking cut-leaf form with many notches in it, similar to the Japanese maple leaf. Also, each leaf will grow 18 to 24 inches long from a strong upright growing stem. The stem that holds the leaflets is rosy-pink to purple-pink, creating wonderful contrasting colors. The stem that holds the leaflets will grow horizontal but a bit upright and the leaflets gently weep downwards, giving the plant a wonderful Oriental look.

These colors stay beautiful on the plant right up until the fall season but when the cold weather arrives the foliage will begin to change to shades of yellow, orange and deep scarlet on every leaflet and leaf stem of the plant. The main stems are strong and covered with a fine fuzzy hair, giving them extra character. The plant does grow upright but the foliage will give the plant a more rounded appearance.

On the top of the plant, a flower cluster will form during the late summer in the shape of a spike that will grow 4 to 8 inches tall and is yellowish-green. In the fall this flower will change to a hairy, dark red fruit cluster that is still spike shaped. This is truly a plant that changes color every season.

'Tiger Eye' sumac will grow 6 feet tall and just as wide with many side branches that will develop on the plant. Unlike the common wild sumac, it is not aggressive and will not become invasive in your garden. The plant will spread with suckering branches that develop from the base of the plant that are easily controlled with pruners. The plant will stay compact without much pruning by you.

The 'Tiger Eye' is a slow-growing plant and should make 12 inches of new growth every year, unlike the 'Smooth' or 'Staghorn' types that can grow 3 to 5 feet every year. The plant is winter hardy to minus 20 degrees, making it a Zone 4 to 5 plant. I would suggest that you do cover the soil with 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch or compost to insulate the soil around the plant if your garden is in a windy area or snow cover is limited. Plants do not like stone mulches or gravel. The roots are strong and wide-spreading so it may be difficult to grow flowers under them when they mature in 3 to 5 years.

Always plant 'Tiger Eye' sumac in a garden soil that is well drained, rich, and never has standing water on it during the winter months. The better you condition the soil with compost, animal manure, peat moss and a bit of Soil Moist granules, the better the foliage will color up for you. In dry soil the coloration of the foliage will not be as bright as in a well prepared soil. Sandy soil will require more water if the summer gets hot and dry--and mulches do help, also. If you have to select a plant that will tolerate a dry sunny location in your yard, this is the plant to choose.

A sunny garden is best location for this plant but it will tolerate a bit of late day shade. The plant will also do better out of the wind, because the foliage is so large it could be damaged. Plant the 'Tiger Eye' sumac in the front of a dark background to make the pant stand out even more in your garden. Evergreen plants like hemlock, spruce, and pine will have wonderful foliage contrast to reflect the bright shades of yellow, orange, and red foliage of the sumac during the year.

Fertilize with Plant Tone or Plant Trust tree and shrub fertilizer, spring and fall. Lime is not necessary as the plant will do very well in acid soils. This type of sumac is not poisonous to your touch and, believe me, all your neighbors and gardening friends will want to touch this plant. Be sure to plant the 'Tiger Eye' sumac in front of your house for all to see, because it will draw much interest to your yard and garden. People will stop to ask you about this plant if they see it, because it is that unique.

Plant as a focal point plant in your garden, or in groups in front of dark leaf shrubs or trees. It will look great near the house as a foundation plant but not near windows; also near a water feature or fish pond. Place this plant where you will enjoy it when you're out in the garden like your deck, patio or near a swimming pool. You can also plant several of them in a row to create a wonderful privacy hedge. If you allow them to make suckers at the base of the plant, it will thicken the hedge, or you can remove the suckers and train the plant to become a single-stem tree-like plant. You can also plant 'Tiger Eye' sumacs in large containers like whiskey barrels and place them on your driveway or on your deck.

"There are always newer, easier, and better ways to grow a good garden, and I've spent a lifetime trying to find them."
Dick Raymond

Zucchini Squash Fritters with Dill Tzatziki

Your zucchini Squash should  be coming in strong right now and I thought you would like a different way to enjoy them while they are fresh and tasty. This can be served as a vegetable side dish or appetizers with a glass of white or red wine, even a cold beer. Pick your squash when small 6 to 8 inches long so the seeds do not get a chance to mature and the skin is still tender.

1 pound of fresh Zucchini squash coarsely grated
Sea salt and Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup of Ricotta cheese
2 extra-large or jumbo eggs
4 tablespoons of all- purpose flower
6 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
Medium handful of fresh basil, chopped
Medium handful of parsley, chopped
Light olive oil or even better truffle oil for frying
4 tablespoons firmly chopped fresh dill
2 cups of Greek-style, plain yogurt
Juice of 1 fresh lemon not squeeze type lemon juice

1} coarsely grate the squash and place on dish towel, and squeeze to get out excess moisture. If your using large squash grate and place in a sieve with one teaspoon of salt, mix and let drain for one hour and squeeze dry.

2} in a bowl, whisk together the Ricotta Cheese, eggs, and flower. Add 4 of the crush and chopped garlic cloves, the Basil, and Parsley and season well. Mix in the grated Zucchini squash.

3} Add the oil to your frying pan to a depth of inch and place over medium heat. When hot, fry a mounded tablespoon of the batter and level, without crowding for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain the fritters on paper towels.

4} While the fritters are cooking make the Tzatziki sauce. Mix the remaining cloves of crushed Garlic with the dill, some salt and fresh ground pepper and your Yogurt. Add half of your lemon juice and taste, if you need more add more lemon juice and serve immediately while the fritters are hot. Have your guest add a teaspoon of sauce over the fritters, to their taste. Enjoy!

Days to look forward Too!

August 3 - National Watermelon Day
August 7 - Friendship Day
August 7 is also National Lighthouse Dad
 August 10 - National S'mores Day
August 19 - National Women's Day
 August 26 - National Dog Day
 August 30 - National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Keep records will make you a better gardener!!


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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