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DARK-FOLIAGE PLANTS | WOODCHUCKS | IGNORE THIS ADVICE

Bringing your garden to life

January/February 2012

HOW-TO SPECIAL REPORT

best new plants of 2012

build better beds 2011

photo contest

12 WINNERS!

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14

32

27

features January/February 2012 • www.gardeningclub.com

Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Strawberry Swirl’, a hardy hibiscus introduced for 2012 by Fleming’s Flower Fields.

COVER

LANDSCAPING

14 New Varieties 2012 This year’s new plants include a fragrant hydrangea from China, an arugula that tastes like wasabi, a Peruvian lily, and many more beautiful, intriguing varieties.

On the cover

27 Build Better Beds If you make one investment in your garden this year, build or buy a raised bed—we’ll tell you why. CONTESTS

TECHNIQUES

22 Ignore This Advice Gardening advice is valuable…unless it’s wrong. Here are eight suggestions you don’t have to worry about following.

32 Photo Contest Winners Find out who won our 2011 photo contest!

EDITORIAL QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS Editors, Gardening How-To, 12301 Whitewater Drive, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55343-9447 e-mail: editors@gardeningclub.com MEMBERSHIP OR CLUB QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS 800-324-8454 (Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central time) e-mail: memberservices@gardeningclub.com Gardening How-To (ISSN 1087-0083) is published Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/June, July/Aug, Fall, by the National Home Gardening Club, 12301 Whitewater Drive, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55343-9447. To become a Club member, send $18 annual dues to: National Home Gardening Club, PO Box 3401, Hopkins, MN 55343-2101. For Canadian membership, please send $36 Canadian funds (including 5 percent GST) for annual dues. $15 of each year’s dues is for an annual subscription to Gardening How-To. Periodicals postage paid at Hopkins, MN, and additional mailing offices. Direct editorial inquiries to Gardening How-To, 12301 Whitewater Drive, Hopkins, MN 55343-9447. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Gardening How-To, PO Box 3401, Hopkins, MN 55343-2101. Canadian GST registration number R131271496. Canadian Post Publication Mail Agreement No. 40063731. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Gardening How-To, Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor, Ont. N9A 6J5. E-mail: returnsIL@imex.pb.com. Copyright 2012, North American Membership Group Inc. All rights reserved. Produced in U.S.A. Volume 17, Number 1, Issue 92.

GARDENINGCLUB.COM 1

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what’s new

on the Web we’re on Twitter! Follow the National Home Gardening Club at www.

twitter.com/GardenMag. Find out what’s happening at the magazine, what fellow gardeners are tweeting about, and tips and ideas for your garden.

6

13

departments garden club

don’t let a week go by! We have so much great gardening information it won’t all fit in the magazine. Go to www.

5

Garden Talk

gardeningclub.com and

Read about ice damage, hollies, the American tree sparrow, and more.

8

Expert Advice

sign up for the free Extra Dirt newsletter.

10 Site Specific

Answers to your questions about silver maple roots and more.

Best dark-foliage plants for your region

13 Member Tips

36 Backyard Wildlife

Members share how their gardens have changed during the last ten years.

6

Garden Variety

Learn the secrets of woodchucks, including how much wood they can chuck.

26 Garden Giveaway Win a tiller or a trimmer/edger!

46 Garden Gear Check out some cool new products, including a flower-shaped serving bowl and a glove dryer.

40 Home Grown

52 Up Close

More than 40 years ago, an adventurous gardener sprouted a coconut tree.

Guess this plant!

Your best garden photos

42 Member Garden

44 Member Tested

46

Members report on organic seedstarting mix, cantaloupe seeds, and more.

take our iPad editions for a spin! Our iPad editions have the content you love from the print magazine, plus videos, photo slide shows, regional interactivity, and bonus sidebars. Download for free at www.gardeningclub.com/ ipad. Also available for Android tablets such as the Motorola Xoom.

48 Resource Guide

2 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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Volume 17 • Number 1 • Issue 92

Editorial Amy Sitze, Editor Elizabeth Noll, Managing Editor

Production Paula Reddy, Production Director Erin Nielsen, Production Coordinator

Elyse Lucas, Associate Editor Jenny Thompson, Web Editor Nancy Rose, Horticultural Consultant Karen Jackson, Administrative Assistant

Art Mark Simpson, Executive Art Director Tracy Walsh, Art Director

Advertising National Advertising Sales Office Gardening How-To 12301 Whitewater Dr., Minnetonka, MN 55343, 800-688-7611 Steve Clow, Senior Vice President, Advertising Scott Miller, Senior Vice President, Digital Sales Grayle Howlett, Group Publisher ghowlett@namginc.com Mindy Bretts, Advertising Coordinator mbretts@namginc.com Midwest and South Katira Cepeda, 312-346-0732 kcepeda@namginc.com

National Home Gardening Club Lori Olson, Vice President, General Manager Amy Sitze, Executive Director Laura Burkholder, Vice President, Membership Development Andrea Meester, Assistant Vice President, Member Services Kim Miltimore, Member Benefits Manager Ross Tanner, Product Test Editor Bruce Revman, Executive Director, Marketing Vivian Bernett, Marketing Manager Michael Stern, Marketing Specialist Deborah Hannigan, Research Manager

North American Membership Group Michael Graves, President Bill Miller, Vice President, Media Development & Production Kate Pope, Chief Financial Officer Betty Potasnak, Vice President, Human Resources Connie Schlundt, Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing

Detroit Metro Jay Gagen, RPM Associates 248-557-7490, jay@RPMAssoc.com Direct Response Smyth Media Group Stephanie Musella, 914-693-8700 stephanie@smythmedia.com Randi Wisner, 914-693-8700 randi@smythmedia.com Gardener’s Market Sales Linda Reznick, 952-352-7500 lreznick@namginc.com Digital Sales Kristin Capuano, 646-862-3917 kcapuano@namginc.com

Contact Member Services If you need help with your Club membership, please contact us.

VISIT the Club Web site www.gardeningclub.com

E-MAIL the Club memberservices@gardeningclub.com

CALL Member Services 800-324-8454

WRITE to the Club NHGC PO Box 3401 Hopkins, MN 55343-2101

Please include your member number when you write, e-mail, or call the Club. Member

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GARDENTALK

a simple tree

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times have you found a spindly tomato plant growing out of the compost pile and gently transplanted it into your vegetable garden because it wants so badly to live? How many times have you silently applauded the perennials in a far-off corner of your yard that thrive in the face of total neglect? Even the most hard-headed, practical gardeners I know have a soft spot for plants that just won’t give up. Maybe that’s why, during a recent visit to the new National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, what moved me the most was a simple tree. The Callery pear tree once stood in an outdoor concourse near the World Trade Center. After the buildings collapsed, all that remained of the tree was an 8-foot-tall charred trunk with its branches stripped away. It was moved to a Bronx park, where Parks Department employees spent the next 10 years nursing it back to health. They replanted it at the memorial, where it now stands 35 feet tall. It reminded me of how I felt seeing a similar tree—this one an American elm—at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. This tree, too, was badly damaged in a terrorist attack that devastated lives and families. And this tree, too, is a symbol of renewal and rebirth in the wake of a horrible tragedy. Nothing can heal the pain of losing someone we love. And nothing can help us understand the hatred and violence behind terrorist acts. But leave it to a humble tree to remind us that despite the scars we bear, life will find a way.

Amy Sitze Editor, Executive Director | editors@gardeningclub.com p.s. This is my last issue as editor of Gardening How-To. After nine years with this magazine, I’m moving on to a different job. I feel blessed and grateful to have been by your side for almost a decade, learning and growing together, and I wish you many more decades of happy gardening.

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how to handle ice When your trees and shrubs are covered in ice, should you rush for a broom or leave them alone? If the plant is shorter than 15 feet and at risk of losing major limbs under heavy ice buildup, it’s best to help it out. Here’s how: • Put on goggles and a hard hat. • Never stand underneath icecoated branches. • Don’t climb the tree or use a ladder. The ground and the tree are both slippery with ice. • Use a long pole, plastic pipe, or broom to lightly tap the ends of the branches. If ice continues to form, repeat this process. • Prune the rough and uneven breaks when weather improves. • Never try to melt the ice with hot water—if it’s too hot, it can damage the plant, and if it’s not hot enough, it can freeze on top of the original ice and make things worse. —Elizabeth Noll

PHOTO: TRACY WALSH

For more winter tips, see Resource Guide on page 48.

6 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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feathered facts

PHOTOS: SPARROW, RON AUSTING; GARDEN SPOT, COURTESY OF NORTH CAROLINA ARBORETUM; LADYBUG, COURTESY OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY

american tree sparrow Over its lifetime, this handsome but misnamed native sparrow will spend less time in mature trees than almost any other songbird. The tree sparrow nests on the open plains just south of the Arctic circle, migrates through southern Canada in fall, and winters across the United States. Tree sparrows prefer hedgerows, brushy areas, roadsides, and thickets near open fields, where they forage on the ground for seeds.

LOOK for the tree sparrow’s chestnut-colored back and cap, with the same colored stripe running through the eye. The breast is clear gray (not striped or streaked), and displays one dark splotch. LISTEN for the musical see-ler or tsee calls that members of a flock make while feeding together. ATTRACT tree sparrows all winter with hulled sunflower seeds or white millet. These ground-feeding birds will gladly clean up what other

garden spot

deck the halls (again) If you find your spirits sinking lower with each holiday garland that comes down, it might be time to visit a garden with real hollies—the kind that stay alive and colorful all year. At the NORTH CAROLINA ARBORETUM, you’ll find plenty of the glossy greens and fire engine reds of classic North American hollies, as well as many nonnative hollies. The arboretum’s even got a garden devoted to hollies: the Cliff & Betty Dickinson Holly Garden is a work in progress. —E.N.

birds drop. But you should also spread some seed on the ground specifically for tree sparrows. DID YOU KNOW that a tree sparrow will hover around a seed pod, flapping its wings at it to dislodge the seeds? Then the bird will flutter to the ground to glean its harvest. —Tom Carpenter

news of note One of the biggest discoveries of 2011 involved a tiny bug. The ninespotted ladybug, New York’s state insect, had not been seen in the state for 29 years and was believed to be extinct in the eastern United States. But in July, citizen scientists and staff with Cornell University’s Lost Ladybug Project found a nine-spotted ladybug at Quail Hill Organic Farm on Long Island. Since then, at least 20 more have been found on the farm. For more information on the Lost Ladybug Project, see Resource Guide on page 48.

For more information, see Resource Guide on page 48.

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EXPERTADVICE

in spots with rings, black streaks, or both. If you suspect this is the problem, dig up and throw away the infected plants. Don’t compost them. If you don’t think this is the problem (and it doesn’t sound like it is), you can help your struggling hellebores by cutting back the brown areas now. Keep the plants well watered until the ground freezes. The plants will probably be just fine next spring. —Meleah Maynard, garden writer and master gardener

root trouble I have a mature silver maple tree with some roots that are 3 inches above the grass. Can I remove the roots? —Joseph F. Miller, Elizabethtown, PA

brown hellebores I transplanted four hellebores this fall, but now the leaves are brown. My other hellebores are fine. Will my brown plants come back in the spring? —Jill Lemaster, Winfield, WV

It sounds like your transplanted hellebores are just going through their natural life cycle, which can include some browning and even blackening of tissue. Perhaps the transplants are experiencing some shock as they head into dormancy, while the other plants haven’t yet reached that stage. It’s possible that you could be dealing with hellebore “black death,” a serious disease caused by a virus. Affected plants have black or brown leaves and tissue before becoming stunted, deformed, or marked

University of Minnesota Department of Horticultural Science

GARDENING QUESTIONS? Send questions to Expert Advice, Gardening How-To, 12301 Whitewater Dr., Minnetonka, MN 55343, or e-mail editors@gardeningclub.com. Sorry, we’re unable to respond personally to all questions.

PHOTO: JOSHUA MCCULLOUGH

Hellebores are quite hardy and do well in both sun and shade, as long as they have well-drained soil. Pictured here: Helleborus x nigercors ‘Honeyhill Joy’.

Surface roots are typical for silver maple (Acer sacharrinum). These surface roots function in several ways. They branch and produce a multitude of smaller roots that penetrate further into the soil, pulling in moisture, oxygen, and nutrients. If you remove surface roots, your tree could have trouble dealing with prolonged heat or drought. Long surface roots also help stabilize the tree, protecting it from toppling over in heavy winds. Many people, faced with the choice between a good-looking lawn or a stately, mature tree, opt for the tree. Here are three strategies for living with the surface roots: Use a hand-held weed whip (instead of a mower) near the surface roots, mulch the area with wood chips or shredded bark, or replace the grass near the tree with a ground cover that needs no mowing. If you’re set on removing roots, you could dig out one or two of the worst ones, then wait another few years before taking out the next worst offenders. The trouble is, your fix will be temporary. Large surface roots will continue to reappear, as that is simply the way these trees grow. —Deb Brown, professor emeritus,

8 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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SITESPECIFIC What’s growing in your region—and how to care for it.

Pacific Northwest Southwest

dark-foliage plants

Midwest/Mountain Northeast Southeast

northeast ‘BLACK MAGIC’ ELEPHANT’S EAR (Colocasia esculenta

‘Black Magic’, Zones 8 to 10) is an impressive plant. The blue-black leaves are almost as big and velvety as the real thing, and they nod from side to side in the slightest breeze. ‘Black Magic’ requires rich, humusy soil, monthly fertilizing, and daily watering. Full sun is ideal except in hot climates, where partial shade is best. The plants are slow to get started, but in mid-summer they unroll a new leaf each week. Flowers are rare, but with leaves this dramatic, you won’t miss them. ‘Black Magic’ typically grows 2 to 4 feet tall. Accentuate the foliage of ‘Black Magic’ by underplanting it with golden moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’). —Kathleen LaLiberte, Richmond, VT

 

tips • Colocasia is native to southeastern Asia, where it’s known as taro, dasheen, and eddoe. Leaves and tubers are edible, but only when cooked. • In cold climates, bring plants indoors before first frost. Cut back foliage and store the pot in a cool place until spring.

• Shallots are easy to grow from seed. Plant them indoors in late winter at the same time as onions and leeks. • As the days begin to lengthen, start cuttings from indoor rosemary, bay, geranium, and coleus. Pictured here: Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’

PHOTO: JERRY PAVIA

what to do this season

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southeast MY GRANDMOTHER GREW gaudy orange canna lilies (Canna x generalis) in her Mississippi garden. Her cannas were robust, but they lacked the uniformity, refined manners, and beautiful dark foliage of today’s cultivars. Try 5-foot-tall ‘Australia’, which produces big red blossoms atop deep red foliage. Taller still is ‘Intrigue’, a very upright canna with narrow purple leaves and orange flowers. Big cannas may overwhelm a small garden—if this is a concern, try compact, 3-foot-tall ‘Pink Sunburst’, which has red and green striped leaves. All are hardy in Zones 7 to 10. In Zone 7, protect the roots in winter with plenty of mulch. Colder than Zone 7, grow as annuals or dig and store rhizomes over the winter.

tips • Buy new cannas from a reputable nursery that has a program in place to prevent viral diseases. Better nurseries propagate new bulbs from virus-free plants grown from tissue culture. • In spring, plant cannas in fertile, well-drained soil that retains moisture. Feed once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer. • In late fall, clip off old canna foliage and compost it. This important step interrupts the life cycles of several insect pests.

what to do this season • Look through your collection of seeds, and discard those that are old or not likely to be planted. • Install raised beds or repair trellises or garden structures. Pictured here: Canna ‘Australia’

—Barbara Pleasant, Floyd, VA

southwest

PHOTOS: CANNA, BILL JOHNSON; PENSTEMON, JANET LOUGHREY

TOO MUCH GREEN can be boring.

The chocolate form of white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima ‘Chocolate’, Zones 4 to 8, formerly Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’,) breaks up the monotony with dark green leaves dusted in brownish purple. White blooms appear in September. This plant gets started a bit later in summer, so mark its place. It shoots up to 3 to 5 feet tall with enough water. I placed it in the back of a partshade border because it loves some respite from full sunny days. In full sun, try ‘Husker Red’ penstemon (Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’, Zones 3 to 8, also called beardtongue) for the contrast of small white blossoms with very dark green leaves edged in red,

with red stems behind. This pretty perennial grows just 2 to 3 feet tall, but it’s a stunner. —Stephanie Hainsfurther, Albuquerque, NM

tips • Penstemons need fast-draining sandy soil. Clay will kill them. • White snakeroot needs extra moisture to grow to its full height and bloom profusely in early autumn. Mix compost into the soil to retain water.

what to do this season • In late January, cut Russian sage, heavenly bamboo, and ornamental grasses to about 6 inches above the ground to promote bushy growth in spring. • Pull out loose stems from tall sedum to allow the sun in. Pictured here: Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

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pacific northwest DRAMA UNFOLDS with the purple leaves of the ‘Prince’ calico aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum ‘Prince’, Zones 5 to 9), which grows 3 feet tall and wide. From late September into October, tiny white daisy flowers with a raspberry eye cover the purple foliage. The evergreen, dark-leaved sea thrift (Armeria maritima ‘Rubrifolia’, Zones 3 to 9) also makes an impact, but on a smaller scale. The dark red-purple grassy clumps reach only 8 inches tall, including the lollipop-like pink flowers. Sea thrift can take light foot traffic, so plant several together where two pathways intersect. Or put them in a sunny rockery or in a wide, shallow pot. —Marty Wingate, Seattle, WA

tips • Plant calico aster and sea thrift in full sun and well-drained soil. • Once established, sea thrift needs no supplemental water, but calico aster looks best when watered weekly during dry periods. • During winter, cut calico aster down to the ground. • Cut off spent flowers of sea thrift.

what to do this season • Keep an eye on the weather report and be ready to pull tender pots into the garage if freezing temperatures are forecast. • The new seed catalogs are out. For our region, choose shortseason varieties of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other heat-loving vegetables. Pictured here: Symphyotrichum lateriflorum ‘Prince’

midwest/mountain GARDENS ARE OFTEN designed

deepest color in full sun. —Cathy

to draw the eye upward. I like to draw it downward with eyecatching plants like ‘Black Scallop’ bugleweed (Ajuga reptans ‘Black Scallop’, Zones 4 to 10). Its shiny, near-black leaves are gently scalloped and cover the ground beautifully with a dense habit. In mid to late spring, 4- to 6-inch spikes of blue flowers rise above the leaves. Depending on where you live, you may see butterflies and hummingbirds flitting among the flowers. ‘Black Scallop’ is virtually maintenance free, and deer don’t bother it. It is compact (3 to 6 inches tall) and spreads slowly, so it makes a perfect edging. Although it grows happily in full sun to full shade, the evergreen leaves have the

Wilkinson Barash, Des Moines, IA

what to do this season • Get your orders in early for bare-root trees and shrubs. In addition to heirloom vegetables, look for heirloom flowers to attract pollinators. Pictured here: Ajuga reptans ‘Black Scallop’

PHOTOS: ASTER, JOSHUA MCCULLOUGH; AJUGA, BILL JOHNSON

tips • Grow bugleweed in average, neutral to slightly acidic soil. • For late winter to early spring interest, plant bugleweed with hellebores and early-blooming bulbs like snow crocus and winter aconite. It makes a charming “apron” under rhododendrons, azaleas, or Japanese maples. • Bugleweed makes the best impression planted in masses.

For sources, see Resource Guide on page 48. 12 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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MEMBERTIPS

from past to present Members describe how their gardens have changed in the last 10 years.

from bare to beautiful Ten years ago, I had a couple little garden beds here and there. My son-in-law put in a flagstone patio and pulled everything together into one big garden area with a waterfall and tall plantings that give me privacy and someplace to sit and enjoy all my hard work. —Carol Kercher, Leesport, VA

simplify, simplify, simplify Our vegetable garden used to be 1,140 square feet and required a tiller, a rake, two hoes, row markers, eight or more seed packets, 24 or more plants, and two active workers. Ten years later, it consists of one EarthBox of 2¼ square feet, a watering can, one seed packet, and two retirees. —Ruth Spencer, Penn Yan, NY

celebrating survivors Our region was hit by severe drought from 2001 to 2007. Many supposedly xeric plants died, so I let survivors take over more space in borders and beds. Perennial salvia, gaillardia, yarrow, and penstemon now abound. —Roberta Moellenberg, Idalia, CO

valuable veggies Adding to my list of veggies and changing the garden’s size and location to benefit the plants—all of these trials and errors have turned my garden into a bounty of great food. —Ann Brown, Niles, MI

PHOTO: TRACY WALSH

FOR OUR MAY/JUNE 2012 ISSUE: What plant gives you the most for your money, and why? Send responses to Member Tips, Gardening How-To, 12301 Whitewater Dr., Minnetonka, MN 55343, e-mail tips@gardeningclub.com, or visit the Club Web site at www.gardeningclub.com. Deadline is February 1, 2012. Please include your name, address, daytime phone number, and member number. Sorry, we can’t acknowledge or return submissions. Responses may be edited for length and clarity. Tips are member ideas and are not tested by Gardening How-To. Members whose tips appear in this issue will receive a copy of Bizarre Botanicals (Timber Press, 2010).

what matters most After reducing my turfgrass area, grouping plants by water needs, and installing natives, I spend less time on yard maintenance but more time out there gardening. —Laurie Carden, Augusta, GA

toiling in the soil Ten years ago, I started new garden beds. What a challenge it was working with clay. It took about six years to get the soil to what it is today. I used coffee grounds, eggshells, and mulch. Now I have a beautiful perennial garden and a lot of earthworms. —Kathy Fotherby, Sterling Heights, MI GARDENINGCLUB.COM 13

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varieties

2012

Written by Elyse Lucas, Meleah Maynard, and Elizabeth Noll

I

f you’ve been gardening for a while, you might have become a curmudgeon

about new plants. For instance, you might think there’s no way to improve on your faithful pink peony or your loyal carpet of grape muscari. Once you take a close look at the new, however, it’s hard to remain indifferent. A ligularia with no bare stem between leaf and flower; an arugula that tastes like wasabi; a fragrant hydrangea with jagged petals; a rose splashed with ketchup and mustard—what gardener doesn’t feel a twinge of desire (or a fierce yank) when faced with these creations? plants for 2012.

WebExtra To see even more new plants, visit www.gardeningclub.com and click on WebExtras.

Rosa ‘Ausimple’ Skylark

PHOTO: DAVID AUSTIN ROSES

In that spirit, we bring you 21 of the best new

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2012

annuals

2012

LEFT TO RIGHT: VAN BOURGONDIEN; BALL HORTICULTURAL COMPANY; PROVEN WINNERS

See Resource Guide on page 48 for additional sources.

Begonia ‘Odorosa’ This begonia works twice as hard as your average begonia—it fills a shady spot with flowers while filling the air with fragrance. The pink and apricot double blooms of Begonia ‘Odorosa’—which are at their best dripping down the side of a container or lighting up a shade garden—give off a wonderful scent. In addition to the perfumed petals, ‘Odorosa’ has glimmering green foliage with striking bronze accents. Sun: Full sun to full shade Soil: Rich, porous, well-drained Height: 16 inches Width: 10 to 12 inches Source: Dutch Bulbs

Osteospermum ecklonis ‘KLEOE10179’ 3D Silver This year, Ball introduces the first double osteospermum (also known as Cape daisy)—and this lovely lady can’t wait to dance. Because this osteospermum blooms all day and all night, it’s the perfect plant for your early spring containers. Wow the neighbors with a show that never stops. The 3D series is available in silver, pink, and purple. Sun: Full sun Soil: Fertile, slightly acidic, welldrained Height: 12 to 16 inches Width: 18 to 24 inches Sources: Local garden centers

Verbena ‘VEAZ0003’ Superbena Royale Peachy Keen Royale Peachy Keen verbena from Proven Winners is a sight to behold, with blooms that turn from a rich salmon color to a blush pink. Butterflies love its flower clusters. The best part? This verbena is no-nonsense about maintenance, heat, and bloom time. In fact, it won’t run out of flowers till the first frost. Sun: Full sun Soil: Well-drained Height: 6 to 10 inches Width: 24 inches Sources: Local garden centers; see Proven Winners Web site for store locator.

See Cool Wave pansies, ‘First Yellow’ geranium, and Superbells Cherry Star at www.gardeningclub.com GARDENINGCLUB.COM 15

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2012

roses

2012

Rosa ‘Ausimple’ Skylark The Skylark rose from David Austin Roses simply can’t be beat. Its semidouble cupped flowers begin as a deep pink, and later in the season they pale to lilac-pink with a white center. This tidy rose grows into a well-rounded shrub. The blossoms release a light, musky tea fragrance with whispers of clove and apple pie. Sun: Full sun to part shade Soil: Humus-rich Height: 3 feet Width: 2 feet Zones: 5 to 9 Sources: David Austin Roses. See David Austin Roses Web site for store locator.

Rosa ‘Baibox’ Music Box The Music Box rose from Bailey Nurseries’ Easy Elegance Collection is both carefree and gorgeous. Delicate pink teases creamy yellow in the multicolor double blooms, which stand proudly atop glossy green foliage. Like other roses in the Easy Elegance Collection, Music Box is disease resistant and everblooming, never stopping to take a breath. Sun: Full sun Soil: Well-drained Height: 3 to 4 feet Width: 3 to 4 feet Zones: 4 to 9 Sources: Local garden centers. See Bailey Nurseries Web site for store locator.

Rosa ‘Wekzazette’ Ketchup & Mustard Consider yourself warned: This rose from Weeks Roses will attract attention. A lot of it. Ketchup & Mustard looks like a condiment tray gone crazy—but in a good way. Rich red petals combine with a deep yellow reverse for a bold look you’ve never seen before in a rose. This floribunda, which has a mild fragrance, offers branches full of vivid color throughout the season. Sun: Full sun Soil: Well-drained Height: 4 to 5 feet Width: 2½ to 3 feet Zones: 5 to 9 Sources: Local garden centers. See Weeks Roses Web site for store locator.

LEFT TO RIGHT: DAVID AUSTIN ROSES; BAILEY NURSERIES; GENE SASSE, COURTESY OF WEEKS ROSES

See Resource Guide on page 48 for additional sources.

See Sunshine Daydream, All A Flutter, and Sugar Moon roses at www.gardeningclub.com 16 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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2012

perennials

2012

LEFT TO RIGHT: SKAGIT GARDENS; WWW.PERENNIALRESOURCE.COM; BLOOMS OF BRESSINGHAM

See Resource Guide on page 48 for additional sources.

Agastache Nectar series A hot, dry spell can wipe out container plants quicker than you can say “water me.” That’s where the Nectar series of agastaches from Skagit Gardens comes in. Agastache ‘Apricot Nectar’ and its comrades, ‘Grape Nectar’, ‘Grapefruit Nectar’, ‘Orange Nectar’, and ‘Raspberry Nectar’, love the sun and thrive in dry soil. Plants in this series are shorter than the species, and the flower spikes are packed tight with sunset colors that hummingbirds love.

Alstroemeria ‘Koice’ Inca Ice Peruvian lilies seem too exotic to be sprouting in a North American backyard. Yet that’s what happens with this 2012 introduction from Walters Gardens. Loads of blushing peach and pink flowers with a sprinkle of freckles appear on lush, bushy plants in midsummer. These sturdy lilies don’t demand full sun, either—they thrive in part shade. Plant extra so you can bring some indoors to enjoy: their long, strong stems are perfect for cutting.

Sun: Full sun Soil: Average to dry; well-drained Height: 15 to 18 inches Width: 15 inches Zones: 7 to 10, if dry through winter Sources: Local garden centers.

Sun: Full sun to part shade Soil: Average, well-drained Height: 2 to 3 feet Width: 3 feet Zones: 5 to 9 Sources: See www. perennialresource.com for store locator.

Anemone hupehensis ‘Pretty Lady Diana’ Once you’ve seen a cluster of Japanese anemones in full flower, you don’t forget it. These fall-blooming beauties wave soft cups of pink on delicate, airy stems. Even the buds—perfect, tiny, fuzzy spheres of pink—demand attention. But the tall, leggy habit can sometimes be a drawback. Until now. Blooms of Bressingham introduces a dwarf anemone series for 2012 with ‘Pretty Lady Diana’ (single blooms) and ‘Pretty Lady Emily’ (double blooms). These anemones have a sturdier, more compact habit but still offer the same bewitching blooms. Sun: Full sun to part shade Soil: Moist Height: 16 to 18 inches Width: 24 inches Zones: 5 to 9 Sources: Local garden centers

See ‘Sweet Marmalade’ coreopsis and the Decadence baptisia series at www.gardeningclub.com GARDENINGCLUB.COM 17

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2012

perennials

2012

Geum ‘Fire Storm’ Avens is the common name for these bright spring flowers with wrinkly, geranium-like leaves. Geum ‘Fire Storm’, a 2012 introduction from Terra Nova Nurseries, is shorter than its predecessor ‘Fireball’, but shows off the same lovely traits, including semi-double orange flowers with a red picotee edge. Because it’s more compact, ‘Fire Storm’ is perfect at the very front of a perennial bed. Enjoy these exuberant blossoms from early spring to late summer.

Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’ Brakelights There’s hot, and then there’s hot. Red yucca, a desert wildflower, is hot: it thrives in heat and drought that would fry many other plants within hours, it’s got a striking form without the thorns typical of many desert plants, and its crimson flowers are a neon welcome sign for hummingbirds. Brakelights is an updated version of the original: it boasts brighter red blooms and a more compact form that’s perfect for containers or small garden spaces.

Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Strawberry Swirl’ Hardy hibiscus always make a splash with their large, colorful, dinnerplate flowers. But ‘Strawberry Swirl’, a 2012 introduction from Fleming’s Flower Fields, sweeps to the front of this boisterous bunch with its extra fancy blooms. Each 12-inch blossom is a swirl of pink and white petals anchored by a throat of dark ruby red. Lush, medium green leaves provide the perfect canvas for this sturdy beauty.

Sun: Full sun Soil: Average, well-drained Height: 20 inches (in flower) Width: 18 inches Zones: 5 to 9 Sources: Local garden centers. See Terra Nova Nurseries Web site for store locator.

Sun: Full sun Soil: Well-drained, dry Height: 30 inches (in flower) Width: 24 to 30 inches Zones: 5 to 10 Sources: High Country Gardens, Monrovia

Sun: Full sun Soil: Adaptable to most soil types Height: 42 to 48 inches Width: 36 inches Zones: 4 to 9 Sources: Fleming’s Flower Fields, Monrovia

LEFT TO RIGHT: TERRA NOVA NURSERIES; HIGH COUNTRY GARDENS; FLEMING’S FLOWER FIELDS

See Resource Guide on page 48 for additional sources.

See the Twilight Fairy crocosmia series and ‘Frostbite’ agave at www.gardeningclub.com 18 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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2012

perennials

2012

LEFT TO RIGHT: Q & Z NURSERY; WWW.PERENNIALRESOURCE.COM; CHICAGOLAND GROWS

See Resource Guide on page 48 for additional sources.

Hosta ‘Appletini’ Banish the shadows in your garden with the lighthearted ‘Appletini’, a miniature hosta that starts out bright yellow and matures to light green by the middle of summer. The wavy leaves are shiny and dense, and the pale purple flower blooms on a 9-inch scape in late summer. This little gem will spread slowly to form an attractive, diminutive clump of leaves just over a foot wide. Sun: Part to full shade Soil: Average, well-drained Height: 6 inches Width: 14 inches Zones: 3 to 9 Source: Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm & Nursery

Ligularia ‘Bottle Rocket’ Ligularias are stunning shade plants, but they have issues. One is that the flowers are held high above the foliage, leaving a lot of bare stem. Walters Gardens’ 2012 introduction, ‘Bottle Rocket’, solves this problem with a shorter stem that holds the bright yellow flower spikes just above the thick, dense, serrated leaves. It also handles heat better than its parent, ‘Little Rocket’, so the stems stay upright rather than wilting. Sun: Part shade Soil: Rich, moist Height: 28 to 34 inches Width: 24 to 28 inches Zones: 4 to 9 Sources: See www. perennialresource.com for store locator.

Veronica ‘Tidal Pool’ If your garden has a dry, sunny spot where grass struggles, turn it into a ‘Tidal Pool.’ This groundcover, bred from two prostrate speedwells at the Chicago Botanic Garden, spreads quickly, stays low, and has a high tolerance for drought. In spring, it’s covered in violet-blue flowers with cream to pale yellow centers. The rest of the season it maintains its cheerful, slightly fuzzy leaves through all kinds of weather, including heat, humidity, cold, and rain. Sun: Full sun Soil: Well-drained, sand or clay Height: 2 to 3 inches Width: 22 to 30 inches Zones: 5 to 8 Sources: Local garden centers and Lowe’s

See the Big Bang coreopsis series at www.gardeningclub.com GARDENINGCLUB.COM 19

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2012

edibles

2012

Arugula ‘Wasabi’ Arugula is already one of the tastiest greens around. But the new ‘Wasabi’ wild arugula kicks things up a notch with leaves that offer the spicy, complex flavor of fresh wasabi paste. Easy to grow and more tolerant of harsh weather, including frost, than other arugulas, ‘Wasabi’ also boasts delicate, edible flowers that can be used just like the leaves in salads, sandwiches, sushi, pasta, and barbecue dishes. Sun: Full sun (partial afternoon shade is fine) Soil: Well-worked Height: 4 to 5 inches Days to maturity: 30 to 40 Sources: Renee’s Garden, independent garden centers

Green bean ‘Big Kahuna’ This outstanding new bush bean definitely lives up to its name. ‘Big Kahuna’ got high marks for taste in Burpee’s bean play-offs and took top honors in trials in 2010 and 2011. Compact enough for containers and small-space gardens, each plant grows to about 2 feet and is packed with pods as large as 11 inches long at maturity. Beans are crisp and have a slightly nutty flavor. Sun: Full sun Soil: Moist, well-drained Height: 2 feet Days to maturity: 54 Source: W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

Tomato ‘Mandarin Cross’ If you’re looking to add a new standout tomato to your garden, you’ll want to try the succulent slicing tomato, ‘Mandarin Cross.’ Reintroduced after a long absence in the U.S., these plump, golden-orange Japanese heirloom tomatoes are not only gorgeous, they’re flavorful, tender, and they ripen in abundance on indeterminate vines. Dense foliage helps protect the 6- to 10-ounce fruit from sunscald. Support with stakes or tall wire cages for best results. Sun: Full sun Soil: Fertile, well-drained Height: 5 to 7 feet Days to maturity: 80 Sources: Renee’s Garden, independent garden centers

See ‘Rhapsody’ butterhead lettuce and Boost vegetables at www.gardeningclub.com

LEFT TO RIGHT: RENEESGARDEN.COM; W. ATLEE BURPEE & CO.; RENEESGARDEN.COM

See Resource Guide on page 48 for additional sources.

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2012

trees and shrubs

2012

LEFT TO RIGHT: BUDS AND BLOOMS; MONROVIA; RANDALL C. SMITH, COURTESY OF ISELI NURSERY

See Resource Guide on page 48 for additional sources.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘BAB1183’ Summer Snow It took more than a decade of development and tests to get Summer Snow, which was bred by Doug Torn of Buds and Blooms Nursery, into the hands of eager gardeners. Prized for its sweet fragrance and abundant double white blooms, this hybrid gardenia is fast growing and sturdy, plus it boasts more cold tolerance than any other gardenia to date. Dark green foliage is pest resistant and drought tolerant, too. Sun: Full sun to partial shade Soil: Mildly acidic, well-drained Height: 4 to 5 feet Width: 4 to 5 feet Zones: 6 to 10 Sources: Local garden centers

Hydrangea angustipetala ‘MonLongShou’ Golden Crane Selected by plantsman Dan Hinkley in southern Sichuan Province, China, Golden Crane is a unique new hydrangea featuring large white and chartreuse lacecaps that bloom in late spring. Fragrant flowers open before any other hydrangea blooms. This selection blossoms on new growth, but for best spring display, pruning is not recommended after early September.

Pinus strobus ‘Niagara Falls’ This compact, weeping white pine, which was crowned Conifer of the Year in 2009, is now widely available to gardeners. This cultivar was found as a sport of ‘Pendula’ by Mike and Ken Yeager of Hickory Hollow Nursery in 1998 and dubbed ‘Niagara Falls’ because of its cascading growth habit. Bluish-green foliage is dense and branches weep gracefully, making it a stunning accent in any landscape, particularly rock and alpine gardens.

Sun: Part shade Soil: Rich, porous, acidic Height: 5 feet Width: 5 feet Zones: 6 to 10 Source: Monrovia

Sun: Full sun Soil: Moist, well-drained. May yellow in very alkaline soils. Height: 3 to 4 feet Width: 5 to 6 feet Zones: 3 to 8 Sources: Independent garden centers

See a dwarf Lebanon cedar and Spilled Wine weigela at www.gardeningclub.com GARDENINGCLUB.COM 21

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Ignore this

advice

8 common garden tips that don’t hold up. By Meleah Maynard Illustrations by Nicole Wong

h

orticulturists, master gardeners, magazines, books, neighbors—it seems like everyone has gardening tips and wisdom to share. So there have to be some bum steers, right? Absolutely. Even some of the most frequently repeated gardening advice is wrong or off the mark. In some cases, new research has changed what we know about

plants, trees, and wildlife. Or maybe the advice was never grounded in science in the first place, but it worked for some people, so it got repeated over and over as fact. To help separate truth from fiction, we’ve compiled a short list of commonly heard advice that, upon examination, isn’t worth following.

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Use gravel or rocks at the bottom of containers to improve drainage. This advice is just wrong. Soil scientists long ago figured out that water does not travel easily between soils of different textures. If you have a fine layer of potting soil above a coarse layer of gravel, what you get is soil that must be wet to the point of being soggy before water moves into the gravel layer. So the gravel doesn’t improve drainage; it actually makes it worse. Instead of putting gravel (or Styrofoam packing material, or any other filler) at the bottom of your containers, fill containers with a soilless potting mix. These mixes, available at garden centers, are specially formulated to drain well. If you’re concerned about the mess, it’s fine to put a coffee filter or a couple of pot shards over the drainage holes so soil doesn’t get on your porch, patio, or deck.

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Plant only acid-loving plants under pine trees. This bit of incorrect advice goes hand in hand with the notion that gardeners can use pine needles to acidify soil. Recent research by David Zlesak, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls, showed that there was no difference in the pH of soil directly beneath pine trees, where needles had built up, and soil nearby, where there were no needles. You don’t need acidloving plants beneath pine trees, but you do need plants that can take the dry soil and dense shade under those trees. Another option is to add a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, under the pine trees and forget about the hassle of trying to grow plants there.

Add nitrogen to soil mulched with wood chips. Despite many studies to the contrary, the idea persists that the breakdown of woodchip mulch causes serious nitrogen depletion in soil. It’s true that if you mix wood chips (or other organic matter that isn’t decomposed, like leaves or manure) into the soil, the process of decomposition could rob plants in the area of nitrogen. But when you place wood chips on top of the soil and don’t mix them in, very little nitrogen is lost from the top layer of soil as the mulch decomposes. In fact, research has shown that the decomposition of woody mulch is actually good for the soil because it enriches it with nutrients, including nitrogen, over time.

Always stake newly planted trees. Here’s a good example of a piece of advice that has changed due to new research. Years ago, staking was always recommended for newly planted trees. Today, experts say it’s best not to stake. When young trees can move freely in the wind, they develop strong, tapered trunks that offer more stability throughout their lives. Short-term staking may be needed, though, when young trees are planted in exposed, windy sites. If you do stake a newly planted tree, remove the stake within one year so the tree doesn’t become dependent on the stake for support.

Divide plants only in the spring and fall. Spring and fall are good times to divide plants because the weather is cooler and there is usually a good amount of rainfall to help plants get established. But you can move plants during less hospitable times if it’s an emergency. The key to success when dividing plants during the heat of summer is to give them plenty of TLC. Water regularly and cut foliage back by about half, so the plant’s smaller root system doesn’t have to work so hard to support greenery and blooms. If it’s extremely hot and sunny, create temporary shade for struggling plants by draping a sheet over some chairs or stakes. 24 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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Ignore this advice Dress pruning cuts to protect trees from decay and insects. This recommendation persists in large part because of companies that sell dressing products. The fact is, trees don’t really need our help dealing with their wounds. They do that just fine on their own, thank you. And their bark doesn’t heal the way our skin does. Instead, they seal off the damaged tissue. “Wound wood” eventually develops over the injured area to protect it. Dressing tree wounds keeps wound wood from forming and can actually trap moisture and cause more harm than the wound did.

Put chewing gum in mole holes to get rid of moles. This is an urban legend. The story is that gum kills moles because when they eat it, the gum (they purportedly prefer Juicy Fruit) expands in their stomachs and kills them. Gum doesn’t expand in the stomachs of moles or any other creature, and moles eat meat, not fruit, so they wouldn’t be attracted to gum anyway. What you should do with moles is leave them alone. Yes, their tunnels can be unsightly in lawns and gardens. But this activity doesn’t last long, since they spend most of their time deep in the ground in their nests and passageways. When they do come out to eat, they feast on mature insects, snail larvae, grubs, and earthworms. They’re not that interested in our plants.

Release ladybugs to control garden pests. It’s absolutely true that ladybugs are beneficial insects, and they feed on aphids, mites, and other pests that plague our vegetables and ornamental plants. The problem is, when you release them in your garden, they seldom stick around. Even if you have a yard full of aphids to munch on, those ladybugs will probably fly off to make their home someplace else. They’re not big on groups. They like to go it alone. Of course, if you do release ladybugs, you may be helping your neighbors with their bug problems, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re looking for natural ways to control pests, the best advice is to avoid the use of broad-spectrum pesticides, which kill all the insects—both good and bad—in your garden. A pesticide-free garden will give natural predators, a better chance of surviving and keeping the bad bugs under control. Meleah Maynard is a Minneapolis-based writer and master gardener. She is the co-author, with Jeff Gillman, of Decoding Gardening Advice: The Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations (Timber Press, 2011).

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garden Win a great prize!

giveaway

teeraway En G n iv Garde ! onnlcienaeday at m

o o Enter eningclub.c d r a r u .g yo www prove

Enter and win! To win a terrific prize from the National Home Gardening Club, simply enter online at www.gardeningclub.com between January 1, 2012, and February 29, 2012, or send us your name, address, and phone number on a postcard. (See official rules below.) Drawing will be held March 15, 2012.

and im in! es to w chanc

cordless trimmer The GT 10-inch 20V Trimmer/Edger ($119) from WORX easily converts from a powerful grass trimmer to a wheeled precision edger. The MAX Lithium 20V lithium-ion battery provides plenty of power, and an adjustable handle and telescoping shaft allow for easy work. Other features include a flower guard, to protect plants and lawn furniture, and an automatic line feed. For more information on this product, visit www.worxtools.com or call 866-354-WORX. 5 winners

The 36V Cordless Tiller ($399) and 8.3 Amp Electric Tiller ($249) from BLACK & DECKER offer higher torque and lower speed to tear up ground more easily and to dig deeper. The 36V Cordless Tiller features up to 86 foot-pounds of torque, a lift-in lift-out battery, and a key to remove rocks without adjusting the tines. The 8.3 Amp Electric Tiller has a removable ballast that holds up to 15 pounds of sand and provides up to 96 foot-pounds of torque. For more information on these products, visit www.blackanddecker.com or call 800-544-6986. 2 winners (may choose between tillers)

Official Giveaway Rules

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Making a purchase will not improve your chances of winning. See official rules at www.gardeningclub.com. Submit your entry at www.gardeningclub.com or send a postcard with your name, member number (if available), address, and phone number to: Garden Giveaway, CRID #3934, P.O. Box 3428, Minnetonka, MN 55343.

PHOTOS: COURTESY MANUFACTURERS

tillers

26 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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build

better

beds Want better soil, fewer weeds, and an end to backaches? Add a couple of raised beds to your garden this year. By Veronica Lorson Fowler

PHOTO: SAXON HOLT

e

ven though I live in a region where people brag about how incredible their soil is, I have raised beds. When I put that incredible soil into raised beds, it gets even better. That’s because raised beds are the miracle workers of garden landscaping. They provide excellent drainage, which is critical to many favorite garden plants. Because they drain so well, the soil thaws and warms up faster, giving cold-climate gardeners a faster start in spring. They’re also great for your body: since they’re higher, there’s less stooping and bending. And unlike in-ground beds, they prevent weeds GARDENINGCLUB.COM 27

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from creeping into your garden from lawns and surrounding paths. Because raised beds can be installed directly on pavement or on patios and decks, they’re especially useful for apartment or townhome dwellers who want to enjoy fresh veggies straight from the garden.

Fill the beds with a blend of compost and top-quality soil—the more compost, the better. For small projects, make your own compost or buy it in bags at the nursery. Buy in bulk from a landscaper for larger projects, but inspect it carefully when it’s delivered to make sure it’s good quality soil. Be prepared to turn it down if it’s not what you want. The height of your raised beds depends on two things: the quality of your soil and the type of plants you’ll be growing. If you have excellent soil, your raised bed can be just a few inches taller than the surrounding soil. If you have moderately good to poor soil, dig plenty of compost into the existing soil to help any roots that get that far, then build a raised bed that’s about 6 inches tall. If your soil is really awful, or you’re building raised beds on a hard surface such as concrete, make the beds 1 or even 2 feet tall. Also consider the type of plants you’re growing. Most annuals, from petunias to tomatoes, need

PHOTO: JERRY PAVIA

How high can you go?

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MATERIALS FOR RAISED BEDS You can make raised beds out of a variety of materials. Each option has pros and cons.

Pressure-treated lumber

Brick

What it is: Boards treated with chemicals so

What it is: The classic garden choice. Advantages: Gorgeous, natural, classy.

the wood doesn’t rot. Advantages: Can last 20 years or more, even when in contact with soil. Inexpensive. Disadvantages: Concerns with chemicals leaching into soil (see sidebar, page 30) Tips: Wear dust mask and goggles when cutting. Wash hands immediately to prevent ingestion. Don’t burn scraps.

Versatile; can be used in making round or curving raised beds. Disadvantages: Can be pricey. Takes time and skill to install well. Tips: Look for salvaged brick from demolition sites or landfills. Always use brick fired for outdoor use.

Rot-resistant woods

Boulders, natural stone

What it is: Cedar, redwood, and other wood

What it is: Usually flagstone or redstone pavers; boulders can be of any local stone, such as granite. Advantages: Flat flagstones stack easily. Rounded boulders can be stacked low in just one or two courses. Free if you collect them from your own or a friend’s property. Very attractive. Disadvantages: Heavy and difficult to haul. Soil tends to sift through the stone, so put a strip of landscape fabric on the inside to keep soil in place. You can also mortar the stone. Very expensive at stores. Tips: Best for low beds just several inches high.

that’s naturally rot-resistant. Advantages: Beautiful, long-lasting. Disadvantages: Can be expensive and hard to find in needed dimensions. Tips: Consider treating with deck sealer to prolong life even further.

Landscape timbers What it is: Once made from old railroad ties. These days they are made from wood cut to resemble ties, so there’s no stinky, potentially toxic creosote to worry about. Advantages: Big and heavy—just set directly in place. Easy to stack. Disadvantages: Can be expensive for larger projects. Tips: Need to reinforce multiple courses with rods.

Raised bed kits What it is: Available primarily by mailorder, these kits provide the hardware and joinery; in general, you provide the wood. Advantages: Makes assembling raised beds a no-brainer. Disadvantages: Pricey for what you get; easy to create something similar with common hardware store supplies. Tips: If you’re into square-foot gardening, look for kits made especially for this gardening method.

Concrete block What it is: The old classic used in foundations and buildings. Advantages: Inexpensive, easy to set in place. If you value utility first and foremost, this is a good choice. Disadvantages: Not very attractive. Tips: Use metal rods to keep multiple courses sturdy.

Landscape block What it is: Comes in the shape of bricks or cut stones. Also available in pie-shaped pieces for curving beds. Advantages: Inexpensive, easy to use. Comes in many shapes and colors. Disadvantages: Less attractive than the stone or brick it mimics. Tips: Consider including the cap pieces to give your raised bed a finished look.

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Building basics

Many homeowners are concerned about using chemical-soaked pressure-treated wood in their gardens, particularly around plants they’ll eat. In 2003, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the sale of pressure-treated wood that had been processed with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) because of concerns that the arsenic might leach into the soil. Since then, new compounds have been used instead. It’s interesting to note, however, that no pressure-treated wood is allowed in the growing of certified organic food. So should you use pressure-treated wood for your raised beds? As with any decision about what chemicals to take into your body, it’s complicated. Risk is probably minimal, but if you don’t want to take any risk at all, use naturally rot-resistant redwood or cedar or a nonwood material like concrete block.

just 12 to 18 inches of decent soil to grow well. The roots of smaller shrubs need at least 2 feet of soil, and large shrubs and small trees need closer to 3 feet. (Think of those giant raised planters you see on city streets, planted with small trees.) Most raised beds should be at

least 18 inches wide. But don’t make a raised bed so wide that you’ll have difficulty working the center of the bed while standing to the side. That means a raised bed should be no wider than 3 feet if you have access from only one side and no wider than 5 to 6 feet if you can reach into it from multiple sides.

Try at least one small raised bed in your garden. In my current garden, I’ve found they make such a huge difference in the health and maintenance of my garden that I’m working toward every single bed being a raised bed. They’re that good. Veronica Lorson Fowler is a garden writer in Ames, Iowa.

PHOTO: MARK TURNER

a word on pressure-treated wood

How you assemble your raised beds depends on the materials you use, but in general, be sure to seat even the lowest beds 1 to 2 inches into the soil. This prevents the walls of your bed from shifting. The taller and more permanent the raised beds, the more preparation and anchoring you’ll need. Low landscape block and stone raised beds need to be set into the soil about 1 inch deep. Most lumber raised beds no taller than a few inches are fine with similar seating. Brick raised beds will need to be set into a bed of sand or gritty gravel about 1 to 2 inches deep. A raised bed of landscape timbers about 2 feet tall will need good prep and anchoring. Set timbers into trenches filled with 1 to 2 inches of sand so the first timber is about 2 inches into the ground. Then add subsequent timbers, securing with reinforcement rods.

30 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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11/23/11 3:48 PM


2 0 11

photo contest WINNERS

1

st Life Member Matthew Pomajbo, Butler, PA Ant on peony bud

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS of the eighth annual National Home Gardening Club photo contest! It was a delight to look at and consider thousands of member entries. Each year, it’s difficult for us to select only 12 winners. The photos that appear here have all the qualities we were looking for: technical precision, creative perspective, and intriguing subject matter. Thank you for sending such beautiful, captivating, and unique photos. —The staff of Gardening How-To

32 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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2

nd

Life Member Jimmy Huie, Greenwood, AR Iris

prizes 1st Prize: Echo Pro Attachment Series combo kit and CS-310 chain saw, www.echo-usa.com. Value: $500

2nd Prize: Fiskars Momentum reel mower, www.fiskars.com. Value: $200 3rd Prize: Burpee gift card, www.burpee.com. Value: $100

Honorable Mention: Perky-Pet top fill hummingbird feeder and prize package, www.woodstream.com. Value: $50

Life Member Carol Bochert, Stafford, VA

3rd

Magnolia seed pod

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Photo Contest.indd 33

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2 0 1 1

photo contest HONORABLE MENTIONS A

B

C

A

Hibiscus by Life Member Rose Risso, Manteca, CA

B

Blue jay by Member Cathy Hennessy, Milton, FL

C

Blades of grass by Member Vita Otrubova, Seattle, WA

D

Dogwood bud in ice by Member Jennifer Watson, Cincinnati, OH

E

Sunflower by Life Member Kristin Trevino, Ridgefield, WA

F

Hummingbird by Life Member Blair Shamel, Poway, CA

G

Garden sunrise by Life Member Patricia Gibbs, Dow, IL

H

Golden retriever puppy by Life Member Candy Schraufnagel, Oxford, WI

I

Green metallic bee on chrysanthemum by Member Laura Bower, Portland, OR

WebExtra For more of our favorite entries, visit www.gardeningclub.com and click on WebExtra.

34 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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D

F

E

G

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BACKYARDWILDLIFE

the great groundhog These cute critters are easy to spot, fun to watch, and generally helpful for your yard and garden. BY DAVID MIZEJEWSKI

Groundhogs are fairly easy to spot, because they’re diurnal (active during the day). You may even see them giving your lawn a free trim.

whistlepig—holds a special place in our culture. No other animal has an entire holiday named after it or is the subject of a popular tongue-twister. Many of us have wondered since grade school how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. (The answer, of course, is none, because they don’t have much interest in wood. They’re members of the squirrel family and not related to beavers.) Groundhogs are found from southeast Alaska across much of Canada and south throughout the eastern half of the United States. The name woodchuck comes from a mispronunciation of wuchak, a Native American name for the animal. The other two common names clearly come from their chubby appearance and the fact that they live in burrows in the ground and make high-pitched whistling noises. Here’s what you need to know about living peacefully with these interesting mammals: It’s quite common to see them. Unlike their cousins, the marmots, which live in mountainous wilderness areas, groundhogs are quite comfortable living in the patchy woods and fields that make up much of rural and suburban North America. That, coupled with the fact that they are diurnal (active during the daytime), makes them one of the most easily observable wildlife species. Groundhogs do good things in the garden. Groundhogs don’t stray far from the protective shelter of their burrows, which typically have at least two

PHOTO: BILL JOHNSON

THE GROUNDHOG—also known as a woodchuck or

36 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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PHOTO: ALTRENDO NATURE /GETTY IMAGES

the truth about groundhog day Groundhogs do often wake up from their hibernation and emerge from their burrows in mid to late winter, but they’re not looking for their shadows. A male groundhog emerges to check out who’s snoozing in nearby burrows. He makes the rounds, introducing himself to the local females, so he’ll have a head start on mating once spring finally arrives.

entrances so they can escape out the back door if a predator comes calling. These burrows help air and water reach plant roots. Groundhogs bring some plant material into their burrows to serve as bedding and food, where it adds organic matter to the subsoil. Other animals, such as foxes, often move into old groundhog burrows, giving you even more interesting wildlife to watch. It’s easy to attract groundhogs. Groundhogs feed on grasses and other herbaceous plants, along with fruits, nuts, and occasionally grubs, snails, and insects. As long as there are nearby woods or fields where they can dig their burrows and hide from predators, groundhogs are quite comfortable quietly grazing in your yard, even on a lawn that most other wildlife shuns. There’s nothing cuter than seeing a plump groundhog and her fuzzy babies outside quietly helping you cut your grass. Use more than one deterrent. If you’re a vegetable gardener or have a highly ornamental garden

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coming up in our next issue

design and live in an area with lots of groundhogs, you might need to deter these cute but voracious animals. As with deer and rabbits, no deterrent is foolproof. Try scent- and taste-based sprays made up of ingredients such as hot pepper, garlic, and eggs. Scarecrows, plastic owls, and even shiny pinwheels can be effective if used sparingly and moved frequently. Fencing is one of the more effective deterrents, but keep in mind that groundhogs are in the squirrel family and are excellent burrowers and climbers. Motion detector sprinklers are probably the most effective way of keeping groundhogs out of your garden. If all else fails, simply plant enough to share with the groundhogs and enjoy watching these cute critters in your garden.

HOW-TO

Learn about beetles

Affordable Healthcare!

Discover how to keep your garden colorful all summer Get tips on container vegetable gardening Grow your own mouthwatering watermelon

David Mizejewski is a National Wildlife Federation naturalist and author of Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife (Creative Homeowner, 2004).

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11/23/11 3:49 PM


HOMEGROWN

1

Life member Phyliss Smith

of Warsaw, KY, was delighted to discover a bird’s nest in her hanging plant. 2 A late-season snowfall blankets the Corinth, VT, garden of Member 1 2

3

Julia Hisey. 3

Member Terry Dwiers’

granddaughter, Maeve, proudly displays the first cabbage picked from the family’s garden in Oak Hills, CA. 4

Thomas, son of Life Member Carol Yerdon of Redfield, NY, digs up a crop of huge carrots. A curious squirrel makes a new friend on Life Member Norman Dunn’s porch in Jacksonville, FL. 5

4

5 6 Member Sharon Forberg

of Bemidji, MN, captured this beautiful sunrise breaking through the fog in her garden. 7 An exquisite osteospermum (O. ‘Margarita White Spoon’) takes center stage in the Hayden, ID, garden of Member Tina Gates.

PHOTO CALL! 6

7

We love to see what’s growing in your garden. Send sharp, clear photographs (not photocopies) with your name, address, phone number, member number, and the names and relationship of anyone pictured to Home Grown, Gardening HowTo, 12301 Whitewater Dr., Minnetonka, MN 55343, or e-mail photos to elyse@ gardeningclub.com. We can’t acknowledge or return submissions. Members whose tips appear in this issue will receive a $25 gift card from Lee Valley Tools.

40 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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12/5/11 3:42 PM


MEMBERGARDEN

the life and times of a coconut After nine months, Member Nadean Burns became the proud mother of a coconut sprout.

2

3

In 1970, Member Nadean Burns poured water over this coconut every day for nine months, until it finally sprouted.

THIS IS A STORY FROM 1970, when my sister-in-law

took a trip to Hawaii and bought me a coconut in full husk. She told me what the sales lady told her about rooting the coconut. I was to put the coconut in a large shallow bowl, supported by rocks, and keep it wet. I had rooted many types of plants before, but not a coconut! I put the coconut in a bowl and faithfully watered it each morning. (See Photo 1.) I often picked it up to see if

anything was happening. For nine long months, each time I picked it up there was nothing. Finally, one day there was a tap root showing from the bottom of the coconut. I kept watering it, and before long, leaves began to show from the navel end. I planted it in a 5-gallon bucket. (See Photo 2.) I was so thrilled with this event that I named the coconut Murray and created a birth certificate for it. Coconut Murray kept growing and putting out more and more leaves. It outgrew the 5-gallon bucket and had to be transplanted into a 20-gallon plastic trash can. (See Photo 3.) It grew until it touched the ceiling. There was a local flower show, so I decided to enter Coconut Murray, just for the heck of it. I went to see how it was rated the next morning, and to my surprise, there was a blue ribbon on it. At this point, the local newspaper heard about it and decided to do an article on it. They sent a crew out to interview me and take pictures of Coconut Murray. The pictures were in black and white, and I still have them. After three years, I gave Coconut Murray to my brother in Washington, D.C. It lived two years, but then it died. WHAT’S YOUR GARDEN STORY? Send your 500-word essay to: Member Garden, Gardening How-To, 12301 Whitewater Dr., Hopkins, MN 55343 or e-mail elizabeth@gardeningclub.com. Please include your name, address, daytime phone number, member number, and at least one clear color photograph (not photocopy) of you in your garden. We’ll pay $200 for stories we publish. Sorry, we can’t acknowledge or return submissions.

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF NADEAN BURNS

1

42 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

Member garden.indd 42

12/2/11 3:08 PM


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MEMBERTESTED 6,000 National Home Gardening Club members tested products valued at $13,940 for this issue. ROSS TANNER, PRODUCT TEST EDITOR

organic seed starting mix Ferry-Morse Seed Co., 800-283-3400, www.ferry-morse.com MEMBER RATING: 8.4

BEST FEATURE: EASE OF USE

Jiffy’s Organic Seed Starting Jiffy-Mix ($3.99 for a 4-quart bag) is a professional mix of nursery-grade Canadian sphagnum peat and amendments. It’s guaranteed weed- and disease-free and is designed to meet the nutrient needs of seeds and plants. Available in three bag sizes. TERESE BENGE, WHEELING, IL “The Jiffy Organic Seed Starting Jiffy-Mix made my job much easier. The seed germination was excellent.” EDWIN LEHSTEN, BUFFALO, NY “Over the years, I’ve used a lot of planting mixes, but this is the best! It’s organic, plus every seed came up and grew quickly.”

cantaloupe seeds Ferry-Morse Seed Co., 800-283-3400, www.ferry-morse.com MEMBER RATING: 7.3

BEST FEATURE: EASE OF USE

Ferry-Morse Santon (Charentais) cantaloupe seeds ($1.99) mature to fruits that are 1¾ pounds to 2 pounds—an excellent size for one person. The cantaloupes have deep orange, tender flesh that is mildly sweet. Ready to harvest in 70 to 80 days, once the skin has faded to a tan to yellow color. “The Ferry-Morse Santon cantaloupe seeds were easy to grow and produced a large number of melons. The flesh was some of the sweetest I’ve had.” ROBIN MCCLAIN, NIANGUA, MO “The cantaloupes are a nice size that is neither too small nor too large with a flesh that is firm and pleasing.” CYNTHIA LEWIS, RED BLUFF, CA

This seal is awarded to the products on these pages, which our testers recommend to fellow Club members.

See the Deals & Discounts section of www.gardeningclub.com for special offers from these companies.

ABOUT THE TESTING PROCESS These products were tested and recommended by fellow National Home Gardening Club members. The Member Rating is based on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the highest. To become a product tester, you must complete a Product Test Profile form, available at www.gardeningclub.com or by calling Member Services at 800-324-8454.

44 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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carrot seeds Ferry-Morse Seed Co., 800-283-3400, www.ferry-morse.com MEMBER RATING: 7.2

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Ferry-Morse Parisian carrot seeds ($1.99) germinate within 8 to 12 days and mature in as few as 58 days. They produce a uniform, 1-inch round carrot that is perfect for home gardens. The crisp, sweet, fine-grained flesh of the carrot has a deep red-orange color, which holds even when frozen. “Germination was at least 90 percent, and they harvested early in the season with an easy-to-pull size and shape. The carrots were compact but had a sweet and delicious taste.” MARGARET DANLEY, NEWPORT, WA “My family loved the Parisian carrots! They had thin skin, looked great on a veggie tray, and were even better than baby carrots to eat.” RUTH HINKEL, ALBUQUERQUE, NM

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The GREENLAND GARDENER SEED PLANTING KIT ($15) provides everything you need to plant your own vegetable and salsa garden. The easy to use planting templates are held in place with pins and show you where to plant seeds. This kit helps promote germination, eliminate weeds, and conserve water. Each kit includes two fabric planting templates, seeds for each template, and pins. Greenland Gardener, 877-5862376, www.greenlandgardener.com

GARDENINGCLUB.COM 45

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GARDENGEAR

banish the winter blues Brighten up your home and keep dry with these fun finds. A botanically inspired serving bowl adds easy elegance to the dinner table. Choose from four shapes: aster, hibiscus, lily, and rose. 15-inch flower shape L Bowl, Julia Knight Collection, $195 Raspberry Lily

Brew a cup of hot tea with tea leaf infuser. this artful te We love its pretty potted design and ease of flower desi use. Arta Tea T Leaf Infuser,

Too small, too big, too wide, too narrowâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;finding the right vase can be a problem. Use a geometric flower frog in a perfectly fitted vase to keep your cut flowers upright. Roost Flower Frogs & Glass Vases, aHa! Modern Living, $42

For sources, see Resource Guide on page 48.

Soggy gardening gloves are a hassle. Try this clever glove dryer, which uses flannel-covered inserts stuffed with cedar to wick water away from gloves overnight. Glove Dogs, GO Gloves-Online, $12

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF MANUFACTURERS AND TRACY WALSH

Wayfair, $16.99 $1

46 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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RESOURCEGUIDE Garden Variety, page 6 How to handle ice For more tips on protecting your garden from extreme weather: Weatherproofing Your Landscape: A Homeowner’s Guide to Protecting and Rescuing Your Plants, Sandra Dark and Dean Hill (University Press of Florida, 2011) Garden Spot North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, NC, 828-665-2492, www.ncarboretum.org News of Note Lost Ladybug Project, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, www.lostladybug.org, ladybug@cornell.edu

Site Specific, page 10 Resources for Northeast Avant Gardens, Dartmouth, MA, 508-998-8819, www.avantgardensne.com Logee’s Greenhouse, Danielson, CT, 888-330-8038, www.logees.com Resources for Southeast To buy virus-monitored cannas ‘Australia’, ‘Intrigue’, and ‘Pink Sunrise’: Florida Hill Nursery, Debary, FL, www.floridahillnursery.com Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, NC, 919-772-4794, www.plantdelights.com To read about the canna virus: Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama A&M University and Auburn University, AL, www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ ANR-1315/ANR-1315.pdf Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, NC, 919-772-4794, www.plantdelights.com. Click on Plant Articles, then “Canna, canna, canna.”

Resources for Southwest Sooner Plant Farm, Park Hill, OK, 918-453-0771, www.soonerplantfarm.com Summer Hill Seeds, Whittington, IL, 618-248-2010, www.summerhillseeds.com Resources for Pacific Northwest Goodwin Creek Gardens, Williams, OR, 800-846-7359, www.goodwincreekgardens.com Joy Creek Nursery, Scappoose, OR, 503-543-7474, www.joycreek.com Resources for Midwest/Mountain Bluestone Perennials, Madison, OH, 800-852-5243, www.bluestoneperennials.com

New Varieties, page 14 Nurseries, retailers, and mailorder sources: Dutch Bulbs, Burlington, VT, 888-821-0448, www.dutchbulbs.com Fleming’s Flower Fields, Lindsay, CA, 559-920-1476, www.flemingsflowers.com High Country Gardens, Santa Fe, NM, 800-925-9387, www.highcountrygardens.com Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm & Nursery, Avalon, WI, 800-553-3715, www.songsparrow.com Renee’s Garden Seeds, Felton, CA, 888-880-7228, www.reneesgarden.com W. Atlee Burpee & Co., Warminster, PA, 800-333-5808, www.burpee.com.

Forever & Ever Hydrangea, www.foreverhydrangea.com Monrovia, www.monrovia.com Perennial Resource, www.perennialresource.com Proven Winners, www.provenwinners.com Terra Nova Nurseries, www.terranovanurseries.com Weeks Roses, www.weeksroses.com

Garden Gear, page 46 Raspberry Lily Bowl: Julia Knight Collection, Minneapolis, MN, 800-388-1878, www.juliaknight.net Arta Tea Leaf Infuser: Wayfair, Boston, MA, 877-929-3247, www.wayfair.com Glove Dogs: GO Gloves-Online, Cary, NC, 877-456 8313, www.gloves-online.com Roost Flower Frogs & Glass Vases: aHa! Modern Living, Eugene, OR, 877-704-3404, www.ahamodernliving.com

Up Close, page 52 For manila hemp seeds: Georgia Vines, Claxton, GA, 912-342-3762, www.georgiavines.com

Store locators: To find plants from these specific companies, go to the sites below and enter your ZIP code in the store locator (sometimes called a retail locator or simply “where to buy”) for a list of local garden centers that are likely to carry the plant. Bailey Nurseries, www.baileynurseries.com David Austin Roses, www.davidaustinroses.com

UPCLOSE answer (see p.52)

Manila hemp (Musa textilis, Zones 12 to 15) has the traits you’d expect from a relative of the banana tree— small boats for leaves and a very tall, thick stem in place of a trunk. Showy, yellow-orange flowers with hot pink bracts appear on mature plants at various times of the year. You won’t find manila hemp for sale at your local garden store, but then again, you probably couldn’t fit it inside your house, since it grows about 12 feet tall. For sources, see this page.

PHOTO: TRACY WALSH

tropical ties

48 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 | GARDENINGCLUB.COM

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UPCLOSE

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Oddly, the stunning flower of this tropical plant is not its most striking featureâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;its gigantic leaves are. The species name refers to the use of the fibrous stem to make rope and, more commonly now, paper products.

PHOTO: TRACY WALSH

tropical ties For the answer, see page 48. 52 JANUARY/FEBRUARY JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 2012 || GARDENINGCLUB.COM GARDENINGCLUB.COM 52

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Gardening How-To - January/February 2012