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Kenny Chesney - Don't Blink
Kenny Chesney - Don't Blink

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Ornamental grasses for summer color 

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 Natural Alternative Protilizer 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

Brad Paisley - Waitin' On A Woman
Brad Paisley 
 Waitin' On A Woman

Hens and Chickens for your rock garden.

Did you know that hen and chicks are native to Europe? Did you know that hen and chicks were grown to prevent lightning damage to homes and buildings? Did you know that the two gods of Lightning, Thor, and Zeus, are associated with this garden perennial? And did you know that hen and chicks can grow in the worst soil in your yard and thrive even if the winter temperatures drop below minus 30 degree below zero.

Hen and chicks are low growing evergreen succulents that will thrive in a cold climate, like cold-tolerant cactus type plants for the north. These plants grow in clusters or like a mat of plants all interconnected covering the ground. The plant has foliage that grows in a rosette form; the individual leaves are thick and filled with a jelly-like fluid that helps keep the plant actively growing in the worst types of growing conditions.

The individual leaves are oval with a point on their tips, and grow up to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. This foliage develops on the plant similar to the way a rose bud opens to become a wonderful rose flower in a vase of water. The older leaves are larger and spread out flat on the ground as new foliage develops in the center of the plant from a tight bud of newly emerging leaves. Depending on the variety of the plant, each rosette can spread out to be 4 to 6 inches in diameter and grow 3 to 5 inches tall.

This is a large family of plants and the foliage can come in many colors and shades of those colors to create much interest in your garden. The newer foliage is usually darker and brighter in color than the older foliage and each clump can have plant in all stages of live and plant sizes. A mature clump of hen and chicks can spread up to two feet or more in diameter or width. The plants are slow growing, so it will take several seasons for clumps to grow this large. Plant potted clumps 12 to 15 inches apart for rapid cover or transplanted rosettes in the spring 3 to 5 inches apart.

The plant is grown for it interesting foliage, which can be in many shades of green, red, yellow, gray, purple, and many mixtures of colors on the same plants. Some new hybrids also have interesting string-like growth or silk-like hair that covers the rosette like a spider web on the plant. In the early morning this silky fiber is covered with droplets of morning dew, making the plants truly unique looking until the sun dries them off.

The many hundreds of varieties will also vary in the size of the rosette and leaf size, with many miniature rosette types growing less than one inch in diameter. Some of the foliage can be flat spreading while others can be curled like a tube. The best color and shapes are on plants grown in full sun because shade or partial shade will force plants to have more of a green color to the foliage and less detail.

Now let me tell you how the plant got its name, hen and chicks. This thick mat of plants in the shape of rosettes will spread evenly on the ground until the older plants mature. When the plants mature the rosette of foliage will stop producing foliage and in the middle of this rosette, a tall thick, 6 to 12 inch flower stem will develop. On top of this stem, a cluster of small one-inch star-shaped flowers will form and they will be brightly colored in shades of red to purple. This mature plant is called the hen and when the flowers fade the rosette of foliage will die and be replaced with new small rosettes of foliage, the chicks.

Hen and chicks are among the easiest plant you can grow in a sunny garden, no matter what your soil is like, as long as it is well drained and you never have standing water. This plant will grow in gravel, sandy or stony type soil and is often found growing in cracks of large rocks with no soil at all. If you have a lot of ledge on your property and want to grow something on it to cover the stone, just add a couple inches of top soil and plant right on top of the ledge.

My mother set up a row of concrete cinder blocks on the edge of the driveway where nothing grew, filled them with top soil and planted hen and chicks in them. In just a couple years you could no longer see the concrete blocks, just beautiful rosettes of colorful foliage. She fed them a couple times a year with a granular fertilizer, watered occasionally and they spread so fast, they even came up in the cracks of the driveway.

All she did was to pull the small rosettes from the main clump in the spring with short stems attached to them (and most of the time no roots) and just pushed them in the ground. She watered a couple times a week until they developed roots and fertilized with Neptune's Harvest or Espoma Grow every other week. She soon had enough for all our neighbors and friends--it's that easy.

In the days of thatched roof all over Europe and still today in many places, including Ireland where thatched roofs are still found, I saw hen and chicks planted in the thatched roofs. Folklore said that if your roof was planted with hen and chicks, it would protect against lightning-induced fires, due to the association with the two gods of lightning: Thor and Zeus. If a fire started in your roof and you had hen and chicks planted in it, the fire was slowed down because of all the thick fluid in the foliage of the plant and because it grew so thick, often covering all the thatch. So yes, these plants are fire resistant and they do slow down the spread of fire-- folklore is right!

If your hen and chicks are in bloom now, you will soon have many new chicks to transplant to a new garden in the spring next year. Enjoy the flowers and when the foliage dies remove it from the cluster so the new plants can form more quickly.

Hen and chicks will grow in containers as long as they are well drained, especially during the winter months. They will make wonderful plants when used as a ground cover, especially if you mix several colors and leaf shapes together in the same planting bed. Use in rock gardens to form an edge planting or in planting beds where pea stone or gravel is used in the place of bark mulch. If you build a stone wall on your property, add a few plants between the rocks you use to make the wall for wonderful special effects. Steep sloping hills where erosion is a problem is the perfect place to plant hen and chicks also.

Because of the many hybrids of this plant be sure to ask your local garden center or nursery for hardiness of the plants you select the plants in your garden. If the plants are in the nursery perennial flowers display it should be hardy but if it is the greenhouse it is most likely an indoor variety and will not survive the winter if your climate is cold. If you order unusual varieties on line, be sure to check the plant zone map for hardiness and stay with plants that are hardy from zone 1 to 5 and not 5 to 10. Enjoy!
Billy Currington - People Are Crazy
Billy Currington
 People Are Crazy
 
Perennial Hibiscus - Rose Mallow 

If you are looking for a tall perennial plant for your garden that will bloom during late July to September, look no further than the rose mallow plant. These plants grow 3 to 8 feet tall and spread to 3 to 4 feet wide, much bigger than any perennial plant you may have in your garden. The leaves are also large--six to twelve inches wide--and come in the shape of a heart, also with deep lobes or even lanced, lacy-shaped foliage. The stems can grow to one to two inches thick and usually are able to support the flower the plant makes. If your garden is open to the wind, the stems should be staked just in case of heavy rains or winds.

The flower is enormous--6 to 12 inches in diameter--shaped like a funnel and can be as large as a dinner plate. The flower resembles the tropical hibiscus we grow in pots on our deck or patio that has to be brought into the house for the winter months. This plant is winter hardy from Maine to Georgia, will tolerate -20 to -30 degrees. The flowers will last for a couple of days each, but the plant produces an endless supply of buds lasting well into the fall.

The rose mallow will be the talk of your garden this summer--do not be surprised if someone stops in front of your house, rings the bell and asks you the name of this plant! Plant them in front of a stone wall, on the side of a garage, at the end of your swimming pool--or plant several plants in a row for a bit of privacy. Rose mallows love the sun and heat and the more they receive the taller they will grow. They also love a moist to wet soil to grow in; they will tolerate average to dry soils but will not grow as tall. If the weather gets hot and dry, you will have to water regularly to help plants grow tall and large.

The better the soil is, the larger the plant will grow, so use plenty of compost and animal manure when you plant new seedlings. If your soil is average, the plant will grow and flower but stay smaller. If you can fertilize every other week with during the summer the plants will explode with flowers all summer long. In the early spring, I feed them with Dynamite fertilizer to get them off to a quick start and this feeding really works well.

The large flower comes in shades of red, pink, white and there are several varieties with bi-colored flowers. There is also a new hybrid with red foliage and a red flower, making the plant quite striking. If these plants are too tall for your garden, ask for the dwarf 'Disco Belle' types, as they will stay 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.

If you work in an office with several people, bring a soup bowl to work with you and when you get there place a fresh cut blossom in the bowl of water and watch the faces of people near you. Cut the flower just as you leave for work and place in a bowl of water on the floor of your car so it will not dry up. The flower will last one day in the bowl of water and bring you many comments.

In the fall, the plant will die down to the ground, and I always cut the stems to 3 to 4 inches from the ground. In the spring, feed in April with Dynamite and be patient as this plant is ALWAYS late to wake up and start growing. Most years I say to myself, the plant died and I will have to replant but once it starts growing it will grow quickly. When the plant gets large, it will spread into a large clump that can be divided in the spring to make additional plants. Use a shovel and dig out a piece of the clump to make new plants--it's not easy but is well worth the effort.

Many nurseries have well-established plants at this time of the year that you can plant directly into your garden. This is a must-have plant for the beginner or seasoned gardener. Rose mallow will give you big plants, big flowers and big comments about your perennial garden. This is the time to plant some in your sunny garden and watch the butterflies and hummingbirds go crazy for the flowers. You will not be sorry you planted the rose mallow!
"Once you understand what make plants tick, you'll understand what need to do to help them grow"
 
Barbara Dammrosch
    
 
                                    
                                                Summer Squash Casserole

The Summer Squash is developing like crazy now and some of us are wondering if we can eat any more of it. We have waited all winter for this wonderful tasting squash, but the neighbors won't even take any more from our garden. I look forward for the arrival of some of the wonderful varieties of winter squash for a change in taste. What are we to do with all this Summer Squash? Let's make it into a casserole and not tell anybody until supper is ready and watch their face as they enjoy this wonderful vegetable side dish.

Ingredients:
2 pounds of young Summer squash about a foot long, and sliced about inch round slices
1 can of condensed cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, no milk added.
1 mounded cup of sour cream
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 small package of sliced mushrooms, if you like them
1 8-ounce package of herb-seasoned stuffing mix
cup of butter, melted
1 3-inch medium onion chopped, I like red for a bit of color and more flavor
A couple of fresh leeks from the garden if you have some and even a couple shallots from the garden sliced thinly.

Directions:
1} in a sauce pan cook sliced squash, chopped onions, leeks, and shallots in salted water for about 5 minutes and pour mixture in colander to drain well. In a medium mixing bowl combine your cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup 'NO milk added" with the sour cream. Fold in your shredded carrots and sliced mushrooms and when well blended add your cooked and drained squash and onions mixture.

2} Combine stuffing mix and melted butter. Spread half of the stuffing mixture in the bottom of a 12" by 7 1/2" by 2" baking dish. Spoon your vegetable mixture on top and level in your baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the stuffing over the vegetables and dot with small pieces of butter. Dust lightly with Paprika for a bit of color and added flavor.
3} Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. It should serve 6.

4} If you like Parmesan cheese sprinkle some over the vegetable mixture before you cover with your stuffing mix. If your using fresh Parmesan cheese shred over the vegetables to cover the vegetable mixture evenly before covering with stuffing mix for even more flavor. Enjoy!


Days to look forward Too!

August 26 - National Dog Day
 August 30 - National Toasted Marshmallow Day
Sunday, September 4-Newspaper Carrier Day
Monday, September 5-Labor Day
Saturday, September 17-National Eat an Apple / Apple Dumpling Day
Monday, September 26 - Johnny Appleseed Day 
Wednesday, September 28 - National Good Neighbor 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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