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Garden Ramblings, Issue #007
March 15, 2005
March 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
- Guest article
- 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 narcissus or daffodil.

For the scented blooms section it is the turn of annuals and biennials.

Now that spring is upon us, 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 revisited a site that I mentioned in the first issue but that has since disappeared, so I suggest some alternatives.

As I mentioned last month you will find a slight change in the contents in that "From the Papers" has been replaced with a guest article. This month the guest is Brett Fogle of MacArthur Water Gardens. If you want to keep up with all the news in the gardening world, you can read my blog Garden Supplies News.

Enjoy the issue.




Plant of the Month

Name: Narcissus commonly known as daffodil.

Description: The traditional daffodil is a hardy spring flowering bulb with yellow trumpet-shaped flowers borne on long thin stems surrounded by sword-shaped green leaves. However, since there are over 8000 named cultivated varieties, the shape and color of the flowers vary widely through many shades of yellow, pink, scarlet, orange to plain white.


Origin: Native to Southern Europe and North Africa, it is believed to have been brought to Britain by the Romans.


Cultivation: Plant the bulbs in late September to November in moist but well-drained soil. Daffodils thrive in full sun but can also be grown in part shade, especially under deciduous trees.

Pests and diseases: Daffodils are not bothered by animals, such as deer, mice and voles because the bulbs are poisonous. Eelworm, mites and fly maggots can cause problems if there is a severe infestation. They can also be affected by narcissus virus diseases which will result in a gradual decline in bulb and flower production.

Folklore: According to the ancient Greeks daffodils grew in the dark fields of the underworld. The maiden Persephone was captured by Hades after she strayed from her companions to pick daffodils.

According to another myth, a young man named Narcissus was given the gift of eternal youth and beauty by the gods, provided he did not look at his own reflection. Standing beside a lake he fell in love with his image reflected in the water. Every time he tried to touch the image it disappeared in the ripples of water, so instead he simply sat at the water's edge and stared sadly at the reflection.

The "drooping" of the daffodil symbolizes Narcissus admiring himself. Thus, the daffodil symbolizes unrequited love, vanity and excessive self-love.

In lighter vein it is said that daffodils bring good fortune to the person who avoids trampling on them, so watch where you tread. In Wales finding the first daffodil of spring is supposed to bring more gold than silver to your life and home during the following year.

The national emblem of Wales is the leek. The Welsh for leek is Cenhinen and the Welsh for Daffodil is Cenhinen Pedr (Peter's leek). Over the years they became confused and so the daffodil along with the leek was adopted as another emblem of Wales.


Guest article

How to Choose Between Goldfish and KOI By Brett Fogle

Many people have asked us over the years "Should I add goldfish or KOI (or both) to my pond? The answer is "it depends."

Goldfish are better suited to smaller water gardens and ponds, in the 50 - 500 gallon range. Goldfish are extremely hardy and easy to care for, which makes them the perfect choice for the new pond owner or water gardener.

KOI Feeding

KOI, on the other hand, require a little more knowledge and better water quality in most cases, than goldfish and are better suited to the more experienced pond keeper. KOI generally thrive best in ponds over 500 gallons (the bigger - the better.)

This is becuase KOI can grow quite large and therefore require more water in the pond for proper biological breakdown of waste. KOI are also more expensive (and harder to replace) than goldfish, so this should also be taken into account before filling your new pond full of KOI fish. More considerations...

Goldfish are an excellent choice for the average water garden that is usually also full of a variety of potted plants. Lilies, Lotus, Iris, and submerged annuals - these all do well in a water garden pond with goldfish. Goldfish will not disturb the plants, and will enjoy playing around under the lily pads without disturbing the plants.

Pond Goldfish

Japanese KOI on the other hand, and especially the larger ones, will often create a huge mess out of submerged potted plants. They seem to enjoy 'digging' in the soil of the plants and sometimes even knocking them over. This all leads to added mess in the pond, and can create a real problem for the pond owner.

Generally, it's best to not have submerged plants in large pots, when also keeping KOI. The ideal KOI pond is much deeper than the average water garden, so the necessity for plants to help with water quality and shade is reduced.

However, if you still do want to keep potted plants in your KOI pond, we recommend wrapping netting over the tops of the pots, to keep the fish from digging in the pots. Another thing you can do is to top the pots with 1" of pea gravel, and then larger river stones or similar over that. The KOI will not be able to get past the larger rocks.

As far as mixing Goldfish with KOI, this is fine and very common, we've just tried to highlight the most important differences between the two and between the average water garden and KOI pond. Feel free to experiment with both, and then decide which fish is more to your liking.

************************************************** Brett Fogle is the owner of MacArthur Water Gardens and several other pond-related websites including MacArthurWatergardens.comand He also publishes a free monthly newsletter called PondStuff! with a reader circulation of over 9,000. To sign up for the free newsletter and receive our FREE 'New Pond Owners Guide' visit MacArthur Water Gardens today!

Article Source:


Pick of the scented blooms.

This month I am covering annuals and biennials which can be grown from seed and planted as soon as the ground has warmed up sufficiently. Most annuals are not noted for their perfume but there are a few that are worthy of a mention. All the varieties mentioned in this section are taken from Thompson & Morgan's seed catalog which is available online at

Sweet peas. A native of southern Europe, the first seeds to reach the UK came from Sicily in 1699. Plant breeders increased the range of colors and size of the blooms over the years often losing the scent in the process. However fragrant varieties are still available and T&M lists "Anthea Turner", "Antique Fantasy Mixed", "Floral Tribute" and "Painted Lady".

Stocks. The summer flowering ten-week stock is a half-hardy annual with a clove-like scent which is very strong and pleasant. Examples are "Appleblossom" and "Cinderella Series Mixed". The "Night Scented Stock" has small insignificant flowers but in the evening they open their pale purple petals and give out waves of the most delicious heady fragrance.

Wallflowers belong to the same family as stocks. Fragrant varieties are "Blood Red", "Cloth of Gold" and "Siberian Glasnost Mixed".

Nicotiana or tobacco plant is probably equal to stocks in the strength of scent. The white varieties are the best in this regard. Two from the catalog are Nicotiana x sanderae "Dwarf White Bedder" and "Fragrant Cloud".

Carnations. The annual variety have a rich and clove-like scent. Two that are noted for their perfume are "Giant Chabaud Mixed" and "Victoriana".

Other members of the Dianthus family are Sweet Williams and Pinks. Of the former, two that are recommended for their fragrance are "Excelsior Mixed" and "Auricula-eyed Mixed". Pinks are divided into Old Fashioned and Modern, and scented varieties are "Ipswich Pinks Mixed", "Sonata" and the white "Dianthus Albus".


Special Offers

March is little better than February for those of you looking for bargains. Here are one or two items from merchant's recent newsletters:

Dutch Gardens claim savings of up to 23% when you buy one of their Complete Gardens.

Gurneys, promise to save you 35% on their Butterfly Perennial Garden.

Gardeners Supply Company have a 3 for 2 offer on selected items.

Breck's "brings you top-performing, drop-dead beautiful perennials for as low as $6.99!"


Useful resources

In the first issue of Garden Ramblings I mentioned the USDA Plants National Database at Unfortunately this site has disappeared so I have been looking for a replacement. I have not been able to find a single site with such a comprehensive coverage but here are four sites that between them cover a large area.

Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series contains separate databases of woody and herbaceous plants with advice on landscape design and layout.

University of Connecticut contains a database of Trees, Shrubs and Vines.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a comprehensive database of Wildflowers with lots of other helpful information.

Guide to Poisonous Plants is a fully illustrated database of those plants which should be treated with respect and never eaten.



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 Garden Supplies News

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