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Garden Ramblings, Issue #006
February 15, 2005
February 2005

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

The "Plant of the Month" is the snowdrop (galanthus nivalis)

For the scented blooms section it is Part 4 of fragrant shrubs which covers those that flower in mid to late summer.

Now that spring is approaching, the sales are over and special offers are few and far between. But I do have one or two suggestions for you.

In the resources section I have given the urls of two community gardening websites. They both have a great deal of useful information and offer members a chance to add their own hints and tips as well as providing a forum for plant exchanges and sales.

This is the sixth monthly issue of Garden Ramblings and I am planning some changes for future issues. For instance the "From the Papers" section will be dropped because I feel that the items are often rather out of date by the time they appear in this newsletter. I will continue to pick up on interesting news items in my daily blog Garden Supplies News. I would welcome any suggestions from readers as to items that you would like me to include in future issues. Just email me at [email protected]

Enjoy the issue.





Plant of the Month

Name: Galanthus nivalis or common snowdrop

Description: Late winter flowering bulb growing 4-6 inches high with narrow strap-shaped leaves. White flowers with three long outer petals and a green patch at the tip of each inner petal.

Origin: Native of Switzerland, Austria and of Southern Europe generally, it is thought that monks brought the bulbs to England in the fifteenth century. Now cultivated in Canada and the United States.

Cultivation: Snowdrops are not easy to establish, but once started need little attention. They will tolerate most soil types but grow best in heavy loams with plenty of moisture and some shade. USA cold hardiness zones 3-8. Propagate by division of crowded clumps and replant before the bulbs dry out. Snowdrops can also be grown from seeds.

Pests and diseases: Eelworms and narcissus fly maggots can sometimes cause problems. Grey mould can affect the leaves and flower stalks which are soon destroyed.

Folklore: The snowdrop is one of the most eagerly awaited wild flowers, as it heralds the coming of spring, and it symbolises purity and the cleansing of the earth after winter. It takes its name from its likeness to a snowflake, and is also known as Eve's tears, Fair Maid of February and dewdrops. It shares with other white flowers a folklore that foretells ill-luck if brought into the house. In some parts of the country single flowers especially are viewed as death-tokens. Paradoxically the Catholic Church has long regarded the pure white flowers as associated with the Virgin Mary, and given it the alternative name of Candlemas Bells because it blooms around the time of Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, on February 2nd.



From the papers

New multi-colored rose bushes

In their latest catalogue Thompson and Morgan are offering multi-colored rose bushes. Apparently this is not some new hybrid variety but rather a physical marriage where three different colored roses are plaited together and then grafted on to a 3 foot high stem. Although this is the first time that the company has sold these multi-colored rose bushes, the technique has been employed by nurserymen for thirty to forty years. So, yet again, it is a case of "new news" really being "old news" recycled. The bushes are only available in the UK where new houses have small gardens so compact plants of this type are popular.

Source: BBC

How to create an instant garden

"Are you unsure what to plant and where?" asks Marty Ross. "Pre-planned gardens take some of the guesswork out of gardening. Even if you don't know a delphinium from a day lily, garden plans and the plants that come with them are package deals designed for success. All you have to do is dig a few holes and prepare to accept the compliments." Read on..


How to protect your garden from deer

During the cold of winter when food in the wild is scarce, deer venture into gardens to satisfy their hunger. While deer are attractive animals and you would not wish to harm them, you will not relish the prospect of your precious plants and shrubs being damaged. In his article Tim Lamprey discusses the various forms of deer repellent that are available and how to achieve success with these products. One other method that he does not mention is a mechanical device that sends a squirt of water at the deer when it enters a protected area. Further details can be found here. Although this article deals with cats, the same principles will apply to deer.


A novel use for an old golf bag

Here's a novel idea if you've recently given up golf (unlikely) or have an old golf bag lying around forgotten and unused. Take out the clubs and put in some tools like a shovel or rake. In the pockets you can put your pruner and other small hand tools. Then slip the bag over your shoulder and you will have all your tools to hand as you walk around your yard. This tip comes from Anne Clapp and there's even a video too!


Make your own Concrete Leaves

Have you seen large concrete leaves decorating fountains and gardens, or have you seen photos of these unusual sculptural accents in gardening magazines? If so, you may have wondered how they're made. Pete Havekost and his wife Dianne are now providing an illustrated tutorial to show you exactly how to make your own concrete leaves. You can find it online at


5 Gardening Myths

“Everybody knows ... everybody says ...” "These are some of the most deceptive words in gardening" according to Joel M. Lerner. "Just because something is conventional doesn’t mean it’s wisdom. A lot of views “everybody” subscribes to in gardening are simply myths, and some ideas that have been accepted by “experts” have, with more time and research, proved to be wrong." Read on..


Not enough yard space? Try this idea.

"Let your garden go to pots" is the advice from Marianne Binetti who lives in Enumclaw, WA. Container gardening is the popular trend for 2005. In her article you will learn about "Black Tie" and its formal arrangements. These are contrasted with "swamp pots" which are imports from Asia which get their name from their murky green coloring. When it comes to container planting, anything goes. Read more..



Fragrant Shrubs - Part 4


Buddleia davidii or butterfly bush originates from China. It is a hardy deciduous shrub with a height and spread of nine feet or more. Fragrant lilac-purple flowers are borne in large spikes, 10-20 inches long, from July to October. As its common name implies the flowers attract large numbers of butterflies as well as bees and other insects.

Clematis flammula is a deciduous climber growing up to ten feet high and is a native of Southern Europe. The clematis genus comprises some 250 species many of which have large and colorful flowers. In contrast C. flammula bears small, pure white, sweetly scented flowers from August to October.

Clerodendrum trichotomum is a native of Japan and Eastern China. It is a slow-growing deciduous shrub which can eventually reach a height and spread of 10-15 feet. The species is slightly tender and best grown in a sheltered position. Small star-shaped white flowers with a touch of pink are borne in August and September. The fragrant flowers are followed by blue berries which make for a distinctive autumn display.

Clethra alnifolia or sweet pepper bush is a native of the Eastern United States. It is a deciduous shrub with a height and spread of six feet or more. It bears in August and September long racemes of white flowers which have a very pleasant scent.

Lupin arboreus or tree lupin is a native of California. It is a sub-shrub growing 2-4 feet high and with a similar spread. The flowers vary from yellow through shades of lilac and purple to blue and have a strong honey-like perfume. They are borne in 6 inch long racemes from June to August.

Spartium junceum or spanish broom is a native of the Mediterraneum region and the Canary Islands. This deciduous shrub grows to a height of 8-10 feet with a spread of 6-8 feet. The golden-yellow pea-like flowers are fragrant, and are produced from June to August in terminal racemes.



Special Offers

February 1st is regarded as the start of the gardening year so all the suppliers know that everyone will be looking forward to the coming season and planning their purchases of plants and supplies. So, surprise surprise, the sales are over and special offers are few and far between. My advice must be as before, subscribe to their newsletters and you will then be the first to hear of any offers that are available. It is also worth requesting copies of their catalogs since these often contain coupons and first-time purchase incentives. These four companies all offer catalogs: Dutch Gardens, Gurneys, Gardeners Supply Company and MacArthur Water Gardens.



Useful resources


GardenHere describes itself as "an Internet community for home gardeners and neighborhood garden clubs.

We make it easy for members to trade plants, seeds and flowers. Here, our members share home gardening tips and plant propagation techniques. Everyone is welcome to upload plant and flower pictures, give garden advice, ask questions or just say "hello"."


Dave's Garden (or, DG, as it has come to be known) is a website where friends share their triumphs and dilemmas in their gardens and their lives. DG is also a place for gardeners to share seeds or plants with other gardeners. We also specialize in sharing information for the benefit of other gardeners, and we use DG to make our own lives easier



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 new Blog Garden Supplies News or the original Blog Garden Supplies Advisor.

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