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Garden Ramblings, Issue #002
October 15, 2004
Monthly musings on the garden scene

*********************************************************** 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
- From the papers
- Pick of the scented blooms
- Special offers
- Useful resources




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

The "Plant of the Month" is the Aster, a native of North America, but found throughout the world and known in England as the Michaelmas Daisy.

For the scented blooms section it is the turn of the rose.

There are a bunch of new special offers this month - don't miss these.

Just two items in the resources section but I think that you will find them both useful.

Enjoy the issue.



Plant of the Month

Name: Aster. A genus of some 500 hardy herbaceous perennials.

Description: The plants range in height from 6" to 4-5ft. Most are of bushy habit with large clusters of daisy-like flowers borne from August to October or until the first frosts. The flowers are mainly lavender and purple shades but there are also many white, pink and red varieties.

Origin: Most varieties are native to North America having their greatest variety and abundance in the eastern half of the United States.

Cultivation: Asters should be planted in moist well drained soil in full sun but will put up with light shade. USA cold hardiness zones 4-9. Most of the taller varieties need staking with twiggy supports. Propagate by dividing and replanting the roots in suitable weather between October and March.

Pests and diseases: Slugs eat younger plants and caterpillars feed on the leaves of older plants sometimes killing the terminal growing points. Aster wilt affects many varieties. The stems and leaves may turn brown and wither but the leaves do not fall. Protect by spraying.

Folklore: According to Greek myth the god Jupiter, angered by all the fighting and destruction by mortals on earth decided to destroy the entire race by a flood. The goddess Astraea noticed that the summit of Mount Parnassus had alone escaped the flood and planted there a seed of the flower which become known by her name of Astraea or Aster. Virgil states that the flowers were used to decorate the altars of the gods and the ancients placed great faith in the efficacy of the leaves as a charm against serpents. The American Indians have always prized these plants as a cure for skin diseases. Some were burned as a smudge to drive away evil spirits, or as hunting charms to attract deer.


From the papers

Are you having trouble with your roses? Or you're stumped on how to cut back that hedge? Or you want to turn your back yard into a butterfly garden and don't know where to start? Lucy Perry suggests that you should join a gardening club. Read more...

"Hypochondria wears many hats. There's the horticultural variety, for example. When one of my plants gets a blotch or two on its leaves, I worry. Not just fleetingly, either: I worry expansively, in several directions at once, and with an intensity out of all proportion to the severity of the affliction at hand".

This is how Louise Lubetkin starts her article but when she finds blotches on her skin, she becomes really worried. Read more...

In "Gardening on the Green Line" Frank Gustman tells a charming story illustrating how one man's fascination with an amaryllis probably saved his life. Read more...

"Save your back with 'minimal-dig' bulbs" is the title of a piece by Sarah Robertson in which she gives helpful advice on how you can simplify the task of planting bulbs. She includes the names of varieties suitable for such treatment. Read more...

If you are looking for advice on what to do with your hydrangea bushes at this time of year, or whether now is the time to transplant your camellia, or how to persuade your Christmas cactus to bloom, Nancy Brachey has the answers. Read more...


Pick of the scented blooms

Roses have always been noted for their scent but, just as there are numerous varieties, some are more fragrant than others. It is generally recognised that the Old Garden Rose type have the strongest scent but these are now rivalled by the English Roses which have been introduced in recent years by David Austin. In general the Hybrid Teas and Floribundas are not noted for their perfume but are grown mainly for the form and color of their flowers.

Old Garden roses are the predecessors of today’s roses. The oldest are the Gallicas which were grown by the Greeks and Romans. Another very old group are the Damasks which were originally brought from the Middle East by the Crusaders. The Albas date back to the Middle Ages but the Centifolias are a more modern group whose rounded flowers were often depicted in the paintings of the Dutch Masters. The group known as Mosses are generally Centifolias that have developed a moss-like growth on their sepals which produces a sticky fragrant oil. Mosses were popular in Victorian times.

The one disadvantage of the Old Garden roses is that they are not repeat flowering. They make a great display early in the summer but do not bloom again until the following year. The group known as English Roses have been developed by David Austin by crossing old garden roses with more modern roses to achieve the superb fragrance, delicacy and charm of the old-style blooms combined with the repeat flowering characteristics and wide color range of modern roses.

There is not space in this short article to list individual varieties but a site that has information about all the different rose types is Heirloom Roses. For comprehensive coverage of English Roses visit David Austin Roses.


Special Offers

A collection of 18 coneflowers for $1 each is on sale until 21st October from Brecks . They are also offering pansies at half price.

Save 66% on a fabulous Hosta collection from Gurneys.


Gardeners Supply Co have a Lilac sale with shrubs reduced from $21.95 to $14.99.

At MacArthur Water Gardens there are winter specials to help get your pond ready for Winter.


Useful Resources

At first glance My Garden Guide does not look up to much but click on the yellow folders and you will find a wealth of information. From Garden tutorials, Pocket Garden Guides and numerous articles to a comprehensive plant database. There is even a blog called "Daily Dirt".

I noticed a post on a messageboard from a lady who had recently moved house asking for help in identifying plants in her garden. 1-800-FLORALS is a commercial site but it has an illustrated Glossary of Flowers which could have solved her problem. Just go to the bottom of the page and click on the link "Meanings of Most Flowers".


Please feel free to pass on this 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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