» Archive for May, 2012

Hanging Baskets

Friday, May 25th, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • Rhododendrons are in full bloom now. Choose plants now for spectacular blooms in your shade garden.
    • Earwigs are out and about and hungry. Control them with the new “Sluggo Plus”, or diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the plants, or go out after dark with a flashlight and a spray bottle of Safer’s Insecticidal Soap. One squirt will put an end to the spoiler.
    • It’s time to plant tomatoes. Choose from the many varieties available now so you can enjoy delicious home-grown flavor.
    • When you plant your vegetable garden, why not grow a little extra to donate to the food bank this summer.
    • It’s time to put out oriole feeders. You can also attract them with fresh orange halves.

Hanging Baskets for Summer Beauty

Hanging baskets filled with colorful flowers bring outdoor living areas alive and make them a welcome retreat. Whether you have a sunny porch or a shady patio, you can brighten it up with hanging containers.

For a sunny spot, petunias, Million Bells and verbenas are perfect. The Wave petunias, Purple Wave, Pink Wave, Blue Wave, Tidal Wave and Misty Lilac Wave are ideal for hanging baskets. They grow in a horizontal habit, hanging down over the edge of the pots. Their bright colors are very eye-catching.

For the traditional colors, in red, pink, purple and white, Supercascade Petunias produce unending blossoms all summer.

Million Bells Calibrachoa makes a beautiful hanging plant. It is covered all summer with colorful flowers that resemble miniature petunias and they shed cleanly when the flowers fade. They come in bright cherry, red, rose, violet, blue, orange and yellow and grow very well in full sun.

Ivy geraniums grow well in morning sun and afternoon shade. They have a light, airy charm and come in red, pink, lavender, purple and white flowers. Their glossy ivy-like foliage is a handsome background for the bright colored flowers.

Several new Verbenas are now being used for hanging baskets. Tapiens Verbena makes an excellent flowering groundcover or hanging basket plant. They are fast growing with feathery leaves and bright-colored flowers on a neat, multi-branched plant. This is a very tough plant that is heat and drought-tolerant, thrives in full sun and even holds up well in windy conditions. Verbenas come in bright pink and purple.

Fuchsias are popular for shady areas. Their lush foliage and bright hanging flowers are frequently visited by hummingbirds. The flowers come in many shades of red, pink, purple and white and they bloom all summer if the seed pods are removed, and the plants are fertilized regularly.

Impatiens make lovely baskets for the shade, though they don’t really hang. You can plant them on the sides of a moss basket, though, to create a sphere of color by mid-summer. Add begonias and coleus for a riot of color all summer long.

You can create your own hanging gardens with combinations of colorful annuals. Impatiens, lobelia and violas provide summer-long color in shady areas. Petunias, alyssum and verbena give lots of color in sunny locations. You might also look for combination baskets already planted and blooming.

Hanging baskets should be fertilized weekly and watered daily in hot weather. Pinch off faded blossoms for continuous color all summer. Add a lovely color boost to your house or garden with hanging baskets.

Flavorful Basils

Friday, May 25th, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • Fuchsias in hanging baskets make beautiful patio plants. They bloom all summer and attract hummingbirds to their pendulous blossoms.
    • When you plant your tomatoes, put a handful of bone meal in the bottom of the hole to help prevent blossom end rot on the fruit later on.
    • Spray roses every two weeks to keep them healthy and prevent leaf diseases. Neem oil is a safe alternative to chemicals.
    • Flower seeds can be sown directly in the garden now. Cosmos, marigolds and zinnias will give you beautiful flowers all summer.
    • Mulch blueberry plants with aged sawdust and feed with cottonseed meal or an acid fertilizer.

Spice up your Cooking with Flavorful Basils

Basil is an annual herb belonging to the mint family. It is enjoyed for its rich, spicy flavor and is easy to grow in any sunny spot. There are over 40 known varieties of basil though Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown.

Basil plants are small and bushy with attractive foliage that varies from light green to deep green to purple. It is very ornamental in the perennial bed or the vegetable garden, and there are many delightful flavors to choose from.

The sweet-scented basils include lemon, cinnamon, and licorice basil which are named for their fragrances. Lemon basil has an intense lemon fragrance and is ideal for tea and potpourri. It has a very strong lemon scent if touched, and regrows quickly when harvested.

Cinnamon basil comes from Mexico. It has a distinctive cinnamon taste and odor and can be used in sauces and salads. Licorice or anise basil was originally from Persia. It has a licorice scent, dark purple flowers and a purple tint to its leaves. Its branches can be half-dried and then woven into wreath shapes, then decorated with dried peppers and flowers.

Thai basil has a sweet and spicy flavor and aroma. With its reddish-purple stems and pinkish-violet flowers, it is very attractive in planters or in the garden. It is good in both Thai and Vietnamese cooking and is used in salads, soups and curries.

Spicy Globe basil makes a small, dense plant, about 8 inches tall, with tiny leaves that scent the garden day and night with their spicy fragrance. Use the leaves of this flavorful variety just as you would any other sweet basil.

Genovese basil, often sold as Sweet Basil, has extra-large leaves that are easy to harvest. It is one of the best basils to grow because it yields 7 to 8 cuttings and makes excellent Italian pesto.

Dark Opal or Purple basil has beautiful dark foliage that accents any herb bed and makes a lovely garnish. It is recommended for flavoring oils and vinegars. Purple basil combines beautifully in the garden with green and silver-leaved plants.

Holy or Sacred basil, know as Tulsi by Hindus, makes a delicious tea and is attributed with many healing properties. This clove-scented basil is used in Ayurvedic medicine and in salads, drinks, and tea.

Basil is very easy to grow from seed, either started indoors or broadcast outside in the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Basil is very tender and sensitive to frost injury. Fertilize basil sparingly as this decreases the fragrant oils. To encourage a bushy, healthy plant and to maximize production, prune basil every 2 to 3 weeks. Pinch off the flower buds as soon as they begin to emerge since the flavor in the leaves is reduced when the plants go to seed.

Enjoy fresh basil in your salads and pesto this summer, and be sure to dry some for use all winter.

Eddie’s White Wonder

Friday, May 25th, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • Mother’s Day is the perfect time to give a gift of a living plant. Rhododendrons, lilacs, hanging fuchsias and ivy geraniums are sure to please her.
    • Plant an herb garden in a container near the kitchen door for convenient fresh spices like basil, oregano, parsley and thyme.
    • Thin fruit trees now while fruits are still small. Thin apples to 6 inches apart and peaches to 4 inches apart. On Asian pears leave 1 fruit per spur.
    • Dahlias, lilies and begonias come in a variety of colors. Plant the roots now for flowers this summer.
    • Calibrachoa, or Million Bells, are a trailing, miniature petunia. Plant them in full sun for a profusion of 1” wide flowers from spring to frost.

Eddie’s White Wonder

It’s a wonder that more people don’t grow and enjoy ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ Dogwood. It has been commercially propagated and available in the trade since 1955, ten years after it was discovered by Henry M. Eddie, a Vancouver, B.C. nurseryman.

The “white wonder” part of the name refers to the prolific, attractive white blossoms that the tree produces in spring. The big, beautiful white flowers grow to more than four inches in diameter. Composed of four to six large, rounded and overlapping bracts, these blooms create a striking display.

Its dark green foliage is handsome throughout the summer months, and in the fall, it turns a brilliant, rich red. Small red fruits decorate its branches in winter and attract robins, mockingbirds and cedar waxwings.

Dappled sunlight illuminates the showy blooms of ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ dogwood. A hybrid of the Pacific Northwest native dogwood, Cornus nuttallii, and the Eastern dogwood, Cornus florida, it grows taller and has larger flowers than Cornus florida. It is also easier to grow, more resistant to anthracnose, and generally more adaptable than its other parent, Pacific Dogwood.

Upright and rather pyramidal in form, with slightly pendulous branches, ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ grows to a height of about 25 feet with a spread of 15-20 feet. They grow naturally in partial shade, but will also grow in full sun with ample summer watering. Too much shade will cause them to produce fewer flowers.

They prefer well-drained, acid soils high in organic matter and like evenly moist soil conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. Be sure your site is well-drained even in the winter.

Dogwoods are low maintenance trees. They should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season’s flowers. Careful thinning will enhance the horizontal branching pattern but improper pruning can ruin the lovely layered effect. Remove crossing limbs when in flower and use the lovely cut branches for house decorations.

The flowering of ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ is somewhat dependent upon the previous years summer weather. After a long hot summer, the spring flowering will be magnificent, so they generally bloom very well in our area.

‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ is a fine specimen tree planted in a prominent corner of the yard. It looks lovely planted with Lily-of-the-valley shrub, Pieris japonica, variegated holly bushes and evergreens. And you can surround it with lush, bold Hosta plants, which will form a ground cover and act as a living mulch.

Dogwoods have special interest every season of the year – in spring with beautiful flowers; in summer with attractive, healthy foliage; in fall with brilliant red berries and vivid autumn color; in winter with their picturesque horizontal branching pattern. Find a place for ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ in your landscape.