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Garden Ramblings, Issue #008
April 15, 2005
April 2005

Monthly musings on the garden scene

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

The "Plant of the Month" is the primrose.

The Guest Article this month is by Yvonne Cunnington who gives you her ideas on growing perennial plants.

After the introduction by our guest author, the scented blooms section covers those perennial plants that are famous for their scent.

Now that the season is well underway, 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 some rather different "bookmarks" for this month.

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: Primrose (primula vulgaris).

Description: A hardy perennial with a rosette of bright green corrugated leaves. Yellow flowers, one inch across, with deep yellow centers, on six inch stems are produced in March and April.


Origin: Native to the cool, moist areas of England , Europe, China , and Japan.


Cultivation: Primroses thrive in any fertile garden soil that does not dry out in spring and summer. Plant between October and March in full sun or partial shade. Keep the soil moist in dry weather.

Pests and diseases: Primroses may be attacked by aphids and caterpillars eat the leaves. Cut worms and vine weavils may attack the roots. They are also prone to various forms of rot and mosaic virus, mold and rust. Despite this lengthy list, the primrose flourishes in the wild as well as in a garden setting.

Folklore: Much primrose folklore is linked to fairies. It was said that if children ate the flowers they would see the fairy folk. Another method was to carry a primrose flower and peer over the petals in order to see fairies. It was lucky to bring 13 primroses indoors but unlucky to bring in only one. If you touched a fairy rock with the right number of primroses in a posy you would be shown the way to fairyland. The wrong number would lead to certain doom.

Posies would be left on doorsteps so that fairies would bless the house and the people in it. But primroses scattered outside would act as a barrier and keep fairies away. Some people believed that to leave a primrose on the doorstep on May Day eve would prevent witches entering.

In Ireland on May Day, primrose balls were hung on cows' tails to deter witches. Bunches of primroses would be left in cowsheds so that fairies would not steal the milk.


Guest article

You Can't Beat Perennials For Glorious Color All Season Long
By Yvonne Cunnington


When you start gardening with perennials, it's easy to think that all you have to do is get your plants into the ground, and with the exception of weeding, watering and cutting back, your garden will be done.

But here's what really happens: in the first year your new plants are underwhelming – the clumps small, the flowers sparse. By the second year, your perennials have grown fuller and have more flowers, but in the third season – watch out – your plants look like they're on steroids, and you look like an accomplished gardener.

After that, many plants get bigger each season, while the odd one confounds you by doing a disappearing act. Responding to the inevitable change is your challenge as a flower gardener.

Veteran gardeners say that no flower garden is ever truly finished. When I was starting out about 15 years ago, my husband used to joke that my plants should have been on wheels because I moved them so much.

Perennial plants are the backbone of the flower garden because they're the plants with staying power. Their leaves die back as winter approaches, but with luck, the following spring, they come back. Some plants are short-lived, but old favorites like daylilies, hostas and peonies can last for decades.


The right perennials for your garden

When you're planning your flower garden, there are many choices to make – some purely aesthetic, such as match-making with winning perennial combinations, and some purely horticultural - what grows best in your conditons.

The more closely you base your decisions on meeting the needs of your plants (in terms of light requirements, soil, moisture levels and so on) and on which plants look good together, the more likely you are to be successful with your perennial gardening.

Yvonne Cunnington is an avid perennial gardener and the author of Clueless in the Garden: A Guide for the Horticulturally Helpless. For lots more perennial gardening tips, visit her website"

Article Source:


Pick of the scented blooms.

This month it is the turn of perennials, plants that, unlike annuals and biennials, are a permanent fixture in the border and re-emerge each spring. Most are known for their exotic shapes and striking colors, but there are a few which also radiate a pleasant perfume.

Paeony. P. lactiflora from which many of the modern garden hybrids have been derived is a native of Siberia and Mongolia. Fragrant varieties are the yellow "Goldmine", the pink "Sorbet Double", the red "Sarah Bernhardt" and the white "Festiva Maxima".

Bergamot. Monarda didyma, whose other common name is bee balm, is a native of the Eastern United States and Canada. Growing to a height of 2-3 feet the plant produces bright scarlet flowers from June to September. The strongly aromatic leaves attract bees and butterflies.

Catmint. Nepeta mussini is a member of the sage family. Grows 12-18 high and 6 inch spikes of lavender-blue flowers are produced from May to September. The scent is somewhere between thyme and sage and, as its name implies, is supposed to attract cats to "tumble and wallow in it".

Daylily. Hemerocallis is a native of Japan and Siberia. There are now numerous Garden Hybrids, most of which do not have any scent to speak of. Two exceptions are the cream tinged with pink "Big Smile" and the dark purple "Night Meteor".

Phlox. P. paniculata is a native of the Eastern United States. Two 3 foot tall varieties are the red "Starfire" and the white "David", and the 18-20 inch shorter varieties include the purple "Junior Dream" and the pink "Junior Dance". All radiate a wonderful, spicy scent.

Dianthus. This comprises both border carnations and garden pinks. Since the former were discussed last month, this note will just cover pinks. Noted for their rich old clove scent, many modern varieties have been bred for showy flowers and have lost their perfume in the process. But the group known as Old-fashioned Pinks flower once only in June but retain the strong perfume for which they are so famous. Examples are the white "Mrs Sinkins" and the pale pink "Inchmery".


Special Offers

No surprise really but I can find less and less offers as the year progresses. I can only suggest that, if you have not already done so, you subscribe to the merchants' newsletters so that you will be notified direct of any offers that they do make. The latest ones that I have seen are:

Brecks are offering their cut flower collection comprising flamboyant mixed Dutch Irises, ethereal Chincherinchee, and jubilant Poppy Anemone all ready for planting. 51 plants for $17.99.

Dutch Gardens have a Spring Sale with 15% off selected items and a huge 57% off plants in the Rose Sale.

Gurney's Seed and Nursery have special offers on Sweetcorn and vegetable seeds.

Gardeners Supply Company have a $20 coupon which you can use when you spend $50.


Useful resources

Half the fun of gardening is visiting other gardens where you can enjoy the fruits of someone else's labour and compare their results with your own. With the new season well underway, now may be a good time to get out and take a look at some of the many thousands of gardens open to the public. has details of gardens and tours throughout America and around the world.

This next site reminds me of the Self Sufficiency movement of the 1970s.
Path to Freedom describes itself as an "Urban Homesteading Diary - Providing pathways for living a self-sufficient lifestyle in an urban setting". But the reason I am mentioning this site is rather more topical, namely the rocketing price of gas. Here you will find full instructions on how to produce biodiesel from used vegetable oil.

Finally I have been looking into the possibility of providing a toolbar containing all the links mentioned in this section. This is still in the planning stage at present, so instead here is a colorful screensaver calendar that I found.


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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