Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

This past summer TheGardenLady went to Maine with her family. The first night we stayed in a lovely Bed and Breakfast called Snow Squall Inn that my son found serendipitously on line. The owner Paul Harris is not only a professional chef, but he loves to garden. He was originally from England where, I think, gardening is in the genetic makeup of the people. We arrived later than expected, but Mr. Harris came out to greet and welcome us. Upon learning that I was interested in Gardens, he told me about a new botanical garden in the area that he said shouldn’t be missed. How right he was.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden opened in 2007 on 128 acres of pristine land with 3,600 feet of tidal shore frontage in Boothbay. They were then gifted more land adjacent to the original 128 acres so that ” Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is now comprised of 248 acres, which makes it the largest botanical garden in New England. The property boasts nearly a mile of tidal salt water frontage. It is also one of a very few waterfront botanical gardens in the United States. ”

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More about Dandelions

Dandelion Fireworks-PHOTO 183-The halfway mark by aussiegall

TheGardenLady enjoyed Christy Baker’s guest post about dandelions that is on TheGardenLady blog. I hope the readers liked reading it, too.

Growing up on a truck farm, I am proud to report that the adjacent town to my town is known today as the dandelion capital of the world. Even the New York Times had an interesting article about Dandelion growing in Vineland, NJ.

Because dandelions were so prevalent, I always wanted to try a recipe for dandelion wine. Obviously lawns, when I was growing up, were not so pristine as they are these days. No one, that I knew, used any herbicides to kill dandelions. They may have been considered weeds even then. I can’t remember, but we children always loved them and loved blowing on the seed heads, dispersing more seeds to turn into yet more dandelions. And the flowers and leaves were always healthy to eat.

Wine recipes always read as an easy wine to make.  But I never tried. However, we had the dandelion leaves for salad.  No one that I knew ever heard of arugela in those days for the bitter green in a salad.

Someone observed that the healthiest diet is the one poor people had to eat in the old days. So consider adding dandelion greens to your diet for health reasons as well as a more diverse green palatte in the salad bowl.

Save the Monarch Butterfly – Create a Monarch Butterfly Waystation

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Have TheGardenLady readers ever thought of having their garden become a Monarch butterfly Waystation? Let me explain.

Everyone knows that the Monarch follows a route of migration from Mexico up to Canada in the spring and then returns to Mexico every fall. This is a herculean task and the monarch butterfly needs lots of nutrients or places to lay its eggs to survive this rigorous flight. However, the population of monarch butterflies is deteriorating rapidly. The population is down to one-tenth of its peak in 1996. This is because of the destruction of farms and the urban building of too many houses, paved parking lots and the use of herbicide resistant crops as well as pesticides.

So how can you help? In 2005, insect ecologist Chip Taylor, of the University of Kansas in Lawrence came up with the idea of creating at least 10,000 “waystations” wherever Monarchs fly. This is how people who have a garden or flower bed can help: by planting plants that monarchs need to lay eggs, like milkweed and nectaring plants for them to drink, like zinnias; these are sun loving plants and butterflies love full sun,too. Also offer a little water in a birdbath type of vessel. Monarch butterflies can and will stop at your home for much needed sustenance. And you can have the pleasure of seeing butterflies fly in your garden.

Monarch in our yard on milkweed by rowrlm

You can get your own waystation kit online here or by calling 1-800-780-9986. Kits contain seeds for milkweeds and nectar plants. You can read more about the Monarch butterfly’s need here.

The Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata is the best perennial plant for the Monarch butterfly. Another milkweed that Monarchs like is tropical Milkweed Asclepias Curassavica. New England asters Aster novae angliae is an excellent nectar plant for Monarchs. Zinnia elegans and Zinnia lilliput are also excellent nectar plants to raise. These seeds can all be purchased here.

And having these plants in your garden will also attract other butterflies besides the Monarch butterflies.

So, please, Dear Readers, won’t you plan and plant your garden with butterflies in mind?. Make your garden a “waystation” and send TheGardenLady photos of your waystation with its visiting butterflies. Help restore the numbers of Monarchs to the environment. Thanks.

Fruit Fantasy – Exotic Fruit From Around The World

tropical fruit world by mralan

Winter is the time when TheGardenLady dreams of delicious freshly harvested fruit. We are lucky to live in an age when we can buy and eat fruit all year long. But between harvesting the fruits in countries like Chile and eating them when one buys them in the Supermarket here in the Northeast during the winter, leaves a lot to be desired, tastewise. Sadly, most fruit sold is tastless.

I recently read a book about people who travel around the world hunting for exotic fruits. The book is called The “Fruit Hunters” by Adam Leith Gollner.  The book is filled with fascinating facts about fruits and about people who are obsessed with finding them. Someone said that there are about 2 trillion different types of food in the world on the 7 continents. Even if there aren’t that many fruits and vegetables, there are just a handful of fresh fruits and vegetables sold in our supermarket with very few fruit choices ( with the new Asian food stores popping up around the country, there are a few more fresh fruits offered for sale.)

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Raising Plants in the Desert

Tomato Plants in the Negev

It may be winter here and across most of the US, but I think back to the terrible drought that Texas and other parts of the Southwest had this past summer and the potential for water problems in these areas and the West in the future.

I recently read an interesting article about new desert technology that is coming out of Israel.  There at the Center for Experiments in Desert Farming “researchers joined with scientists from the Ben-Gurion University, the Vulkani Institute, and the Hebrew University to figure out how to grow tomatoes using brackish water. At the experimental station, organic tomato plants are all irrigated with salt water mixed with floodwater and recycled waste water. Using sophisticated technology, researchers carefully monitor the plants to determine the correct percentage of salt needed for each species to thrive. ” Israel produces “15,000 tons of ‘Desert Sweet’ tomatoes in 250 acres of hothouses in the desert, ranging from organic tomatoes to especially small strains of cherry tomatoes that are sold at a high price to restaurants and hotels throughout the world.”

“In addition to preserving precious freshwater in this thirsty desert region, growing tomatoes with brackish water has a pleasant, if unintended, side effect: as a reaction to the pressure that the salt exerts on its cells, the tomato plants produce more sugar, making their flesh even sweeter than those grown in central and northern Israel.”

At the Yair Agricultural Research Station in Israel’s desert they are using what they call “popcorn” soil which is ” actually a stone that gets heated to 5,000 degrees, causing it to pop and act like a sponge. When wet, it can irrigate the plant continuously and is therefore much more efficient than sand.” In Israel’s desert, “an area with an average rainfall of only 20 millimeters a year, farmers manage to raise 60%” of Israel’s produce for export.”

I think it is important to learn from other country’s successes in agriculture so that we can improve our growing methods. If readers read about new agricultural improvements coming out of other countries, please let the readers of TheGardenLady blog know about them, too. We learn by sharing ideas.

Color in the Winter Garden – Red and Yellow Twig Dogwoods

Red-Twigged Dogwood by Mr. Danport

Winter is the time of year when people who live in climates where there is a barren landscape or with snow, would like to look out the window and see some color outdoors. Unless you have “planted” artificial flowers, no living flowers will bloom outdoors at this time of year. So those lucky or smart enough will have planted plants on their grounds with color interest. If you don’t have plants with color, consider adding them to your landscape in the spring so that they will brighten the view next winter.

Two popular plants for winter interest are the red and yellow twig dogwoods.

Red twig dogwoods such as Cornus alba cultivar ‘Elegantissima’ or the cultivar ‘Argenteo-marginata’ are native to Asia.

Red osier dogwoods (Cornus sericea or Cornus stolonifera) with a cultivar like ‘Cardinal’ are native to North America.

Bloodtwig dogwoods (Cornus sanguinea) with cultivars like ‘Winter Beauty’ or ‘Winter Flame’ are native to Europe.

Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea' by Caffinara

The Yellow twig dogwood is Cornus sericea with cultivars like ‘Flaviramea’ or ‘ Bud’s Yellow’ or ‘Silver and Gold”

Some of the cultivars are more orange than red or are yellow with red tips.

Both yellow twig and red twig dogwoods are shrubs, which mean they grow about 10 feet tall. They have berries and flowers so they have all year interest, but they are both grown mainly for their wintertime twig color. Some grow in temperature zones as low as zone 2 and as high as zone 8. They like sun for most twig color but can take slight shade. These are showiest and most effective if you have a location where you can plant a few shrubs in one area that you can see out the window.

If you are interested in these shrub dogwoods, check out the best nursery in your area. See which cultivars they recommend for your area. You don’t have to buy the plants at this nursery; but you will get an idea of what the best nursery recommends. Then see what the lower priced nurseries have available. See if you like what you see. The price might just be lower because they sell a smaller tree. Google up the Latin name of the plant with the cultivar and see if you have the best environment on your property for the plant.

If you plant the yellow and/or red twig dogwoods, please send TheGardenLady blog a photo of the colored twigs next year in the winter. The photo would be especially appreciated surrounded by snow- like most of the country is getting this year.

Excellent Flowering Plants for Your Garden and Garden Containers

Flossflower – photo is courtesy of ProvenWinners

In planning your garden for next year, TheGardenLady wants her readers to consider a brand of plants that is sold under the Proven Winner label.  The Proven Winner brand calls themselves “the leading brand of high quality flowering plants in North America.”

The Proven Winner company was founded in 1992 and is owned by “three leading U.S. plant propagators” and “together with 3 licensees in Canada” produce top quality plants. They also sell a complementary brand, “Proven Selections®, which consists of regional favorite varieties.” Proven Winner plants are sold in almost every garden center in North America.  Proven Winner plants can also be purchased around the world. There is a Proven
Winners Europe
, Proven Winners Asia and Proven Winners Aussie.

Proven Winner’s  goals ” are to introduce the best, most unique, high performing plants, to produce them under the highest quality standards, and to market the plants innovatively. Proven Winners brand plants claim they are unsurpassed in terms of flowering, growth habit, disease resistance, and garden performance.” This GardenLady has been delighted with her Proven Winner plant purchases and always looks for the Proven Winner label when she goes shopping for plants. Many of the best nurseries in TheGardenLady’s area carries this brand.

For 2010 Proven Winner lists 166 new plants with photos and information about each plant. Place the cursor over the photo area and more info about each plant will come up. Proven Winners is not quite finished putting all the photos of the new plants on their site- but they promised TheGardenLady that all the pictures are going up. Proven Winner also has lists of the other plants they have introduced over the years. Their excellent website has answers to both gardening and container gardening questions. And there is even a place for you to contact them with your personal plant questions.  The website also lets you know where you can buy Proven Winner plants in your zip code area.

Spring Basket – photo is courtesy of ProvenWinners

Flower and Garden Shows Around the Country

Now is the time to mark your calendar so that you won’t forget to buy tickets to attend the flower and garden shows that are coming to your area. Or if you want, you can travel around the country attending wonderful flower shows before you start planting your own gardens. Here is a list of some of the Flower and Garden Shows in the US in order of the dates they are happening. It is incomplete so let TheGardenLady know of shows that she missed that will be in your area.

Rochester garden show 2009 by savage gardener

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show
– Seattle, Washington, will be held Feb. 3-7, 2010.

Southeastern Flower Show Atlanta – Georgia  Feb.4th-6th

The Yard, Garden & Patio Show – Portland, Oregon, Feb. 12-14, 2010.

The NJ Flower and Garden Show is Feb. 18th through Feb. 21st

The Rhode Island Spring Flower and Garden Show Feb. 18th through Feb. 21st

Connecticut Flower and Garden Show Feb. 18 through Feb.21

The Philadelphia International Flower Show is Sunday, February 28th through Sunday, March 7

Epcots International Flower and Garden Festival March 3 -May 16

Wichita Garden Show – Kansas March 3 through March 7th

Nashville Lawn & Garden Show. March 4 – 7, 2010

Southwest Flower and Garden Show March, 5,6, 7 Phoenix, Arizona

Chicago Flower and Garden Show by Jim Frazier

The Chicago Flower and Garden Show will be at the NAVY PIER | MARCH 6-14, 2010

Gardenscape – The Rochester Flower Show March 11-14

San Francisco Flower & Garden Show March 24-28

Boston Flower & Garden Show March 24-28, 2010.

Boise, Idaho Flower and Garden Show March 26-28

The Cincinnati Flower Show April 17th -April 25th

The Cleveland Botanical Garden Flower Show is supposed to be on Memorial Day Weekend

2010 Award Winning Flowers

Happy New Year- 2010. This is the time of year that plant associations are choosing the best of the best new plants for the year.

AAS the All America Selections has chosen 4 plants for 2010 that they count as award winning. They recommend these plants for gardeners to plant in their gardens.

Mesa Flower

The first is a Gaillardia x grandiflora  or blanket flower called Gaillardia F1 ‘Mesa Yellow’. This is the first hybrid blanket flower that has a controlled plant habit that does not get tall, loose and floppy; starts blooming a few weeks early and blooms all summer; and is relatively maintenance free.

Twinny Peach

The second AAS Award winner is Antirrhinum majus Snapdragon F1 ‘Twinny Peach’. It is a snapdragon without the jaws that snap- what they call a double or butterfly flower form. It is a blend of peach tone colors that are unique. These snapdragons are easy to grow, will flower all season with little care and has exhibited some heat tolerance.

Endurio Sky Blue Marien

The third AAS winner is Viola cornuta F1’Endurio Sky Blue Marien”. This delicate looking, spreading/ mounding sky -blue flowering plant AAS says is tough as nails.

Zahara Starlight Rose

The last AAS winner is the Zinnia marylandica ‘Zahara Starlight Rose.’ This is a bicolor zinnia that has resistance to leaf spot and mildew- two diseases of zinnias that are ugly and can kill the plants. Try to always buy disease resistant plants. Besides being disease resistant, Zahara Starlight Rose provides generous color all season, is heat and drought tolerant, easy to grow in gardens. AAS says that this is a ” perfect plant for the novice or experienced gardener because it is so undemanding with a maximum number of blooms.”

Baptisia australis blue false indigo

The Perennial Plant Association has chosen Baptisia australis blue false indigo as the perennial plant of 2010. This native American plant is an excellent choice for sunny gardens all over the continent. It attracts butterflies and makes a great cut flower.

First Frost

The 2010 Hosta of the year is called ‘First Frost.’  Hosta First Frost features intense blue-green leaves with irregular, jetting, yellow margins that turn white in summer. A beautiful plant that looks great until the first frost, thus the name.  The Hosta Society also has named the Hosta of the year for 2011. This is called ‘Praying Hands.’

Planning for the Planting Season – A Problem with Some Gardening Catalogs

Fragrant Viburnum

It’s that time of year again. The time to be dreaming and planning for the planting season.

The first of the plant and seed catalogs arrived in my mailbox already and this GardenLady has been going over and over the plants in it deciding on what should be planted come spring. I would like to order plants from this first catalog. But Caveat emptor! This catalog leaves something to be desired: Latin names are missing. The catalog only has a common name for most plants; though they do have some trade-marked names. How can buyers be sure that they are getting what they want or if they are getting the newest plants without proper classification of plants? When purchasing any plant, there should be the genus, species,and at least the plant cultivar. This way a buyer can check out the plant he or she is buying to see if it is really what is wanted.

For example, I would like to buy a viburnum. There are more than 150 plants in this genus. The one this catalog sells is called White snowball viburnum. So Is the viburnum in the catalog I received a Viburnum macrocephalum -Chinese snowball viburnum or Viburnum x carlecephalum – the fragrant viburnum that I would love? Or is it some other kind of viburnum? The catalog says the viburnum it is selling is fragrant. But other descriptions in the catalog don’t match with what is written about Viburnum x carlecephalum.

DSC_0819 Abelia x grandiflora shrub by debsteinberg

Another shrub I would love to own is a fragrant abelia. This catalog lists one for sale. There are about 15 to 30 species of abelia, so how is a buyer to know which one is being sold in the catalog? Are they selling one of the recommended varieties?

If only the catalog would add the proper plant classification this GardenLady would feel more comfortable ordering. I think their sales would increase. Unless they are selling overstocked or outdated plants and don’t want people to know. Still, because they are offering a special coupon for the order so that you are basically paying just for shipping, people will buy. But customers still want to know what they are getting; even to just let their friends know what they have planted.

If you want to start receiving gardening catalogs in your mailbox, here is a site for you to contact to get the catalogs you want.