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Garden Ramblings, Issue #001
September 24, 2004
Monthly musings on the garden scene

September 2004 #Issue 001

*********************************************************** If you prefer, you can view this month's issue online where you can also subscribe if this copy has been forwarded to you by a friend. ***********************************************************

In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Plant of the month
- Noteworthy news
- Pick of the scented blooms
- Special offers
- Useful resources



Welcome to the first issue of Garden Ramblings your monthly window on what's going on in the world of gardening.

Each edition will feature a "Plant of the Month" which will place the spotlight on a particular favorite of mine and, I hope, of yours too.

Next I plan to include snippets of gardening news that have caught my eye.

Many of us choose flowers for their color, but this section concentrates on the scented blooms.

In the "Special Offers" section I will bring you details of all the best deals and offers that I have found on the web.

Finally "Useful Resources" will list products and information that is freely available on the web. This month we look at what you can find on the US Government sites.

Enjoy the issue.



Plant of the Month

Name: Sedum spectabile commonly known as Ice-plant or Stonecrop

Description: Clump forming border perennial with fleshy grey-green leaves and large flat flower heads. In late summer to fall bright rose-pink flowers emerge which attract butterflies and bees.

Origin: Native to China and Korea, it has been cultivated in the UK since 1596, originally for its healing properties rather than its ornamental value.

Cultivation: It will tolerate most soil types and is drought resistant. Does best in sandy well drained soils in full sun but will put up with light shade. USA cold hardiness zones 3-9. Sedums are easy to propagate with stem or leaf cuttings.

Pests and diseases: The name “sedum” means “live forever,” an indication of the hardiness of the plant, but it is not always free of pests, the most common of which is the aphid. Mealy bugs can be found occasionally and are more likely in potted plants. Insecticidal soap or a garden spray should take care of the problem.

Folklore: Sedums are considered Old World treasures and are associated with mythology. In ancient Scandinavia, they were called “Thor’s Helper” and were believed to drive off demons and guard homes if planted on roofs. The Romans called them “Beard of Jupiter” and planted them on roofs to guard against lightning. This myth spread throughout Europe to Ireland, where the expression “A wee cabbage sat down on my roof”was common.


From the papers

Where death bulbs grow, gophers fear to tread.

According to Maureen Gilmer nasty little rodents generally avoid death bulbs of narcissus like the plague. Rooted in its name is the legendary toxicity of the bulb, derived from "narke," the ancient Greek word for deep sleep, stupor or numbness. It is also the root word for narcotic, which in this case is a paralyzing alkaloid that strikes fear in the hearts of rodents everywhere.

So why write about narcissus as we head into September? Because this is when you should be thinking about your fall-planted bulb garden. Read more...



In answer to the question Question "What should I be doing to ensure that my garden remains lush and healthy this fall?" Sarah Robertson lists the tasks under four headings Weeding, Feeding, Grooming and Planting. For the details read more...


Sarah Robertson again on extending the summer! Well not quite but she explains how exterior lighting extends that connection to the outdoors, giving people a chance to appreciate and continue using their garden even as the seasons change and natural light is at a premium. I found this a really worthwhile article. Read more...

Liz Seymour reports on Gardening's new odd couple.

How's this for an odd couple: upscale, eco-conscious gardening retailer Smith & Hawken and the Scotts Co., which makes Miracle-Gro plant food and Ortho weed and insect killer products. The company paid $72 million to buy Smith & Hawken and its debts; the sale is set to take effect Oct 1. Read more...

Maureen Gilmer tells how nature's seed provides colorful fall bounty.

It was an old custom in rural farmlands to save a bit of the harvest for the birds. Farmers growing wheat, rye, broom corn and millet would gather up sheaves of mixed grains and tie them to fence posts, where they are not so vulnerable to rodents. Read more...

Finally here's a piece about the formation of The North American Water Garden Society which aims to look after the interests of one of the fastest growing sectors of the gardening world. Read more...


Pick of the scented blooms.

This section will cover all those plants and shrubs that are noted for their fragrance. Since September is the month when you will be choosing bulbs for fall planting, I thought that I would start with a review of spring flowering bulbs.

For nost of us the first spring flower in our gardens is the snowdrop or galanthus. Few people think of snowdrops as scented flowers but a bunch picked and held in the hand has a wonderful smell.

The real harbinger of spring, the narcissus or daffodil, has many scented varieties. Three that flower in mid spring are Thalia, Canaliculatus and Geranium. For a late spring flowering variety there is Yellow Cheerfulness. Later flowering still is Grand Soleil d'Or. For growing indoors Paper-white narcissus is recommended.

Probably the strongest scented of the spring flowering bulbs are hyancinths. The perfumed varieties are the Giant Fragrants which come in five shades with names Blue Jacket, Carnegie, Fondant, Red Rocket and City of Haarlem.

Closely related are the Grape hyancinths which make an attractive addition to the rock garden.

Tulips are mostly grown for their colour and shape but there are a few scented varieties. Apricot Beauty is a classic single, early-blooming, apricot-colored tulip. For mid-season there is Salmon Pearl which can be followed by Angelique, a late season pink tulip.

Finally there are bluebells which are best planted in a corner where they will never need to be disturbed. The English bluebell Scilla nutans has a particularly heady scent.

All the bulbs mentioned above are available from Breck's or Dutch Gardens


Special Offers

Gardener's Supply Company have a Blowout clearance Sale with up to 70% off hundreds of items. have a good selection of closeout items which are well worth a look.



Useful Resources

The United States Department of Agriculture has links to a number of useful sites.

The University of Maryland has a large selection of publications that can be downloaded in pdf format. They also have a Plants Diagnostic site to aid identification and treatment of pests and diseases.

And a Links page with a very comprehensive listing.



Penn State Pointers are a series of useful infographics or factsheets which can be downloaded.

The USDA Plants National Database is a handy resource covering the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. It includes names, plant symbols, checklists, distributional data, species abstracts, characteristics, images, plant links, references, crop information, and automated tools.

*********************************************************** Please feel free to pass on my newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to [email protected]

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog

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