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Nat King Cole sings
Nat King Cole sings "When I Fall in Love"

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Tall Growing Sedum

As summer ends, let us prepare to enjoy our fall-flowering perennials. If your garden does not contain fall-flowering perennials let me give you some suggestions. MY favorite family of tall fall-flowering perennials is the sedum family--and for several reasons. They are low maintenance all year, drought resistant, and they are so strong they will grow anywhere in your sunny garden.

I love the tall growing varieties and their unique foliage and flowers. If you are looking for special traits, you will find what you need, as this family has over 400 members and each is unique. I love the fleshy foliage--often up to 1/8 of an inch thick-- and they belong to the succulent plant family, which loves the heat and will tolerate hot and dry weather.The leaves are oval, 1 to 2 inches long, with a rounded tip. They grow opposite each other on strong stems that will mature to up to 3 feet tall.

If you cut back the plant in half on the 4th of July, your plant will stay shorter and mature at 18 to 24 inches tall. This pruning also encourages the plant to bush out, and most years the plant will almost double in size. Pruning also gives the plant a spreading shape like a mushroom cap, rather than upright and tall with minimal character. The plant will make more flowers when pruned; the flowers will be smaller but the plant will not fall over with the weight of the flower, a real plus for this plant.

When you prune the sedums in July, save these cuttings and plant them in your garden using a bit of rooting powder to help develop roots and watch them grow. I do not know of any other plant that propagates that quickly and easily in the garden. Remove the bottom 2 sets of leaves, dip in rooting powder and push into the ground in groups of 3 to 5 cuttings. Keep moist all the time and in 2 weeks you will have new plants.

Sedum is very hardy and will tolerate winter weather with temperatures -30 to -40 degrees. They love a well-drained soil and if you can add plenty of organic matter like compost or animal manure they will reward you with many strong stems covered with beautiful five-petal star shipped flowers.

The flowers on the sedums develop during August and last well into mid-October. During the summer months, they require half the amount of water that most of your perennials need--a real plus for busy gardeners.

I fertilize sedum in the spring only, with a good organic fertilizer such as Flower-tone or Garden-tone. That's all they will need for the rest of the year. In the fall, cut back plants to the ground when they are finished flowering. In the spring, you can split the plant in two or more clumps to divide and make new plants from them. One other thing to consider is that the flowers will attract butterflies and bees to your garden in the fall.

Here are my favorite varieties:

* The number one selling tall-growing sedum is called 'Autumn Joy,' with pale green foliage and large clusters of dark pink star shaped flowers 2 to 4 inches in diameter. The flower will mature to a red-brown color and last on the plant well into the spring if the plant is not cut back.
* I also love the 'Atropurpureum,' with purple red leaves all year and red flowers in the fall.
* I also planted 'Frosty Morn' because of the variegated green and white edged foliage and pink flowers.
* One last one I love is 'Mediovarigatum,' with variegated green and yellow edged foliage and pink flowers.

I love variegated foliage because the foliage gives the garden color all year, even before the flowers arrive in August. The purple-red foliage is a real bonus to the garden and it just jumps out at you. Look for these sedum this fall and bring color to the garden all year. Enjoy!
Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night
Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night

Japanese Anemones


With September just around the corner, you might be thinking of fall flowers for your garden, and I want you to consider the Japanese anemones this year. Mums and fall asters are nice but when you see the anemones in bloom in your garden, you will say to yourself, "Where were these plants when I was looking for fall flowers all these years!" Anemones will begin to flower in early September and last for 5 weeks or more in your garden, or until a hard frost kills the plant back to the ground like other perennials. The plants are hardy to zone 4 with winter temperatures down to -30 degrees and with a 3 inch covering of bark mulch around the plant. The flowers of the anemones look like windmills on tall stems and you will enjoy watching them sway back and forth with the cool fall winds.

Plant Japanese anemones in a sunny garden but it will tolerate a bit of late-in-the-day shade. Your soil is the key to grow this wonderful perennial plant in your garden. It MUST be well drained at all times and the plant will not tolerate standing water or areas where water will collect and turn into ice during the winter months. Before planting in your garden be sure to condition the soil with compost, animal manure or peat moss to increase the organic matter level in the soil, as these plants will do much better in a rich soil. Also add a bit of Soil Moist Granules to help hold moisture around the roots for the first season and a teaspoon of Osmocote slow release fertilizer to keep the plant well fed while it becomes established in your garden.

Most fall-flowering anemones will grow 18 to 24 inches tall and spread about the same width. You will also find many other varieties that will grow taller in height and the plant will grow wider also. The foliage is half of the plant's height, is dark green and stays very clean looking, as it is not troubled by insects and disease problems. The flower stems grow long and straight from the foliage during the month of August; these stems are very strong and able to hold up many flower buds and open flowers at the same time.

The flower buds and the flowers are elegant looking on the plant, and they will bring much interest to the garden where they grow. The flowers will grow 2 to 4 inches wide and resemble the flowers of poppies, also much like the delicate single-flowering miniature dahlias or real fancy-looking daisies. The flower petals grow around a uniquelooking rounded green-to-yellow colored center that is also circled with several rows of delicate looking pollen sacks. Most varieties will have several rows of these delicate flower petals, and each flower will last for two weeks or more on the plant. The flower buds are deep green, just like the foliage, and are as round as a marble until they burst open with the flower petals.

Both the flower and the flower buds have a dusty covering on them that makes them glow in the garden on a bright sunny day, at night when the moon is full or when your outdoor lighting is on in the garden. They seem to catch the light and reflect it back to you almost like they are tiny mirrors in your garden. The plant does not look formal in your garden but more natural and almost like a wildflower.

The flowers come in shades of pink, white, rose, red, lavender, and several varieties will have darker looking petals in the center of the flower and lighter colored near the tips of the petals. The colors remind me of the pastel colors of Easter eggs in the spring time--they are so delicate.

As the flowers fade on the plant, the flower petals will fall and leave behind a round seed pod about an inch in diameter. The seed pods will give added interest to the remaining flower and buds on the plant. The plant will still have much interest when all the flowers have faded because of the many round seed pods that will remain on the plant until a hard frost turns the entire plant brown during late October. Once the plant turns brown, it is time to cut it back to the ground and clean the garden of the remaining debris.

By leaving the seed pods on the plant until frost, the seed pods will ripen, turn gray and crack open. When the winds push the flower around, the seed will scatter in your garden, and in the spring new seedlings will germinate and develop all over the garden. Or you could collect the seed pods when all the flowers have faded, and store them in a paper bag until they dry and crack open, so you can spread them in other gardens on your property.

Plant them in mixed perennial gardens, use them as a ground cover on steep hillside where mowing is a problem, or in a mass planting in front of evergreens like rhododendrons and azaleas. They will also grow great in a wildflower garden, or plant them under tall growing trees with few lower branches, allowing sunshine to hit the ground and create a woodland garden.

Japanese anemones are a wonderful plant for your fall landscape and will give your fall-flowering mums added character in the garden. Look for them at your local garden center or nursery this weekend and plant them in your garden now so you can enjoy all stages of the bloom--unique flower buds, flowers, and then seed pods this fall.

 
Dean Martin - Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime 1965
Dean Martin - Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime 1965
Silver Lace Vine


The other day, while running a few errands, I decided to take a different road to get to my first stop and came across a wonderful vine that you should know about. The plant is called silver lace vine, and it blooms from July to late September. It's not a plant that most of us talk about, I think because it flowers so late in the season and it's one of those old fashioned plants our grandparents grew before all the new hybrid flowering vines were introduced. This is a plant that you should know about if you want privacy, if you want to cover an old chain linked fence, if you have a hill-side that is difficult to mow or too steep to maintain, or even a cliff you want to protect from erosion--the silver lace vine is for you!

The silver lace vine originated in western China and is cold-hardy to -30 degrees. If you live in Northern New England, New York, west to Minnesota and south to Georgia, this is a plant that can solve many problems for you while giving you wonderful color during the summer right up to early fall. No winter protection is necessary and wind, salt spray from the ocean and deep snow will not hurt this plant.

Silver lace vine is a deciduous vine loosing its foliage in early October with no show of color, as the leaves fall from the plant while still green. The leaves form on the plant with a tinge of reddish-bronze but quickly mature to dark green. They are fine textured, in the shape of an Indian arrow head, growing 1 to 2 inches long and shiny. The plant will grow very thick, with these leaves quickly covering the vine in the spring.

The flowers develop on the new growth made on the plant from May to August, and for most plants the new growth is 1 to 3 feet ,but not on this plant. Silver lace vine will grow TEN to FIFTEEN feet every summer; can you now imagine how many flowers are on this plant during the late summer months? These flowers are small--1/5 of an inch in diameter--and form on finger-like panicles/spikes by the hundreds. The flowers develop on the top of the plant's new growth and usually completely cover the plant, almost covering the foliage when in full bloom. The plant does have a bit of fragrance close up but is not known for it. The flowers are white in the sun to greenish-white in partial shade and they will last on the plant from 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the September weather.

The silver lace vine is a twining vine and does need something to grow on like a trellis, arbor, or fence. It will NOT climb up the side of a structure or building like the Boston ivy does, as it cannot cling to a surface without support. Give it support and it will quickly grow to the top. If you're going to train it to grow on a chain link fence for privacy, set out plants on every other section of fence as it will cover two sections of fencing in just two years. For arbors 6 to 8 feet tall and wide, one plant is all you will need.

Silver lace vines will grow in just about any type of soil--especially dry soil--once they are established in your yard. They do not like wet feet, so keep them away from areas where you will have standing water during the spring and winter ice. Plant them in a soil you condition with a lot of compost, animal manure, or peat moss before panting and if your soil is on the sandy to gravely side use Soil Moist granules also. The first year in your garden, silver lace vine should be watered weekly until it is well established, and during the summer months if the garden gets hot and dry. Once established, this plant does not need any help from you.

Fertilize every spring with Plant-Tone or  Protilizer. If you want to control the size of the plant, prune the plant back by as much as 75% every spring, before the new growth begins to develop--during March or April. If not pruned back, it will continue to grow, reaching a height of 20 to 30 feet high or long on a fence. This is a wonderful vine to plant at the base of a sparse-growing evergreen tree like spruce or pine; in just a couple of years it will fill in all the open areas on the plant, but won't kill the tree.

Silver lace vine will grow faster in full sun than shade but it will do quite well in a part-shade garden. Disease problems are minimal and never a problem, but if you have a summer with many Japanese beetles in your yard, they may be a problem. Just spray the plant with Garden Eight from Bonide Lawn and Garden if there is a problem, or use Tree and Shrub systemic soil drench in the spring for year-long insect control.

Plant silver lace vine at the base of all types of fences and let it run across the top of the solid wood or vinyl fence for additional height to the fence and wonderful summer to fall color. Open wire fences like chain link will quickly become solid during the summer months but in the fall all the foliage will drop, letting light into your yard for the winter. This vine will give you quick privacy during the summer months around a pool, patio, or deck with little maintenance needed by you.

Use this wonderful vine as a ground cover in problem areas where nothing else will grow. This vine will quickly cover unattractive gravel slopes, piles of rocks or where garden debris has been disposed of. I have seen it planted on the top of a steep slope, and as it runs down the hill it will root on the ground and quickly cover the soil and protect it from erosion problems. Just set the plants out in 2 foot by 2 foot pockets of good soil to help them get established and watch them take over the problem area with a blanket of green foliage and white flowers during the summer.

In June, prune back a few 6 to 8 inch tip branches from the plant and dip them in rooting powder like you would use for rooting geraniums or coleus plants. Pot 3 cuttings in a 6 inch pot filled with fresh potting soil and keep in a shady location until they root (in just a couple of weeks). Keep them moist with plenty of light but no direct sun until they root. You can make new plants that easily--or if new shoots develop around the plant, just dig them in the spring before the foliage develops and set them out.

When you prune them in the spring, wrap the long vines around a container to make a wonderful looking twig wreath for your front door. Winding the vine in and out of the wreath will give it extra character also.

The house I saw the other day had planted morning glories at the base of the plant and the blue trumpet flowers look wonderful with the small white flowers of silver lace vine wrapped around them. If you want fast coverage and flowers, no other vine can do what this plant does! Enjoy.
"Adam was a gardener and God made him see that half proper gardeners work is done upon his knees"
 
Rudyard Kipling
    
 
                                    
                                               
Your Summer Garden Minestrone Soup

Right now your vegetable garden is in top production with tomatoes ripening, and many other vegetables such as summer squash, zucchini squash, peppers, green and yellow beans, garlic, celery, carrots, onions, Swiss chard, corn and fresh Herbs. This recipe will use everything from your garden or any missing vegetables try your local farm stand. Your family will love this soup and all you will need to add, is a loaf of fresh crusty bread and a glass of wine, for the perfect Summer soup.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil or truffle oil for a bit more flavor
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into inch rounds
2 celery stocks, coarsely chopped
5 cups of chopped ripe plum tomatoes around 15 to 18 tomatoes
6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon fresh oregano chipped
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves chopped
1 large stem of fresh basil, chop leaves in half and a few leaves to garnish the soup
Sea or regular salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cups of small shells, bow tie, penne, or tortellini pasta
12 to 15 green beans or use half yellow and green for additional color, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded, and cut into 1 by 1 inch squares
1 medium red onion chopped coarsely, 1 leek cut into in pieces white and tender green foliage
2 ears of fresh corn with the cornels sliced from the cob
8 to 10 stems of Swiss chard, cut stems and leaves into 1 inch strips
1 12-inch Zucchini squash cut into 1 inch rounds and then cut in half or quarters
1 12-inch yellow summer squash cut into 1 inch rounds and then cut in half or quarters
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 package of shredded Parmesan cheese or shave your own as a garnish with the basil

Directions:
1} Warm your oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add your garlic and cook for 1 or 2 minutes to soften. Now add your carrots, celery and corn and cook for 2 minutes to start the cooking process. Add your tomatoes, 5 cups of broth, oregano, thyme, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan, bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

2} Increase the heat too high and bring the soup to a brisk boil. Stir in your pasta, and sugar followed with your bell peppers, leeks, red onion, and green and yellow beans. Cook briskly over medium heat, stirring often to blend everything together for another 3 to 4 minutes.

3} Reduce the heat so the soup can simmer and add you summer squash, zucchini squash, and Swiss chard. If your soup is to thick add additional broth to your likening. Return to simmer and cover the pot. Continue to cook the soup for an additional 5 minutes, until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Serve immediately or make it in the morning and refrigerate until ready to serve and reheat.

 Sometimes it is better when it has time to set and blend all the flavors together. Garnish with cheese and fresh basil leaves and serve. 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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