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Garden Ramblings, Issue #010
June 15, 2005
June 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
- The Art of Bonsai
- New Ideas for your Lawn
- Special offers
- Useful resources




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

The "Plant of the Month" is the Rose.

The Guest Article spot returns this month with "The Art of Bonsai" by Futaba Ling.

If you are fed up with having to mow your lawn every week this next article contains some ideas that you may find interesting.

Now that the season well advanced, 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 there are just two items 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: Rose (rosa)

Description: There are some 250 species as well as many natural varieties but most are hardy deciduous shrubs which grow in a variety of forms ranging from low-growing ground covers to tall climbers, many sweetly scented.

Origin: Native to the cool areas of Europe and Asia.

Cultivation: Roses will grow in most soils but need good drainage and preferably an open position in full sun. Prepare the bed before planting by incorporating plenty of compost or other organic material. Plant at any time from October to April in suitable weather conditions.

Pests and diseases: The wild roses tend to be more resistant to pests and diseases than some other species which can be attacked by aphids. Caterpillars and sawflies can also damage the leaves. Black Spot is probably the most common disease but grey mould, mildew and rust can also be a problem.

Folklore: The rose is one of the oldest flowers known to man and is the symbol of love. Fossil evidence proves that roses have existed since prehistoric times and written records tell of cultivation by the emperors in Persia. According to Greek mythology the rose was created by Chloris the goddess of flowers. Originally a pure white flower, a red rose bush sprang from the spot where the blood of Aphrodite's wounded lover Adonis fell. The Romans believed that Venus blushed when Jupiter caught her bathing and the white rose turned red in her reflection. The early Christians made red roses the symbol for martyr's blood. White roses have always been associated with innocence and purity so became the flower of the Virgin Mary. The yellow rose meant infidelity and jealousy in past times, but today often means friendship.


The Art of Bonsai

Bonsai is the art of planting and cultivating trees in a pot and shaping for a selected color, texture and shape. "Bonsai" translates from Japanese to mean "tray planting", but bonsai has evolved over the centuries to an art form.

Bonsai trees are shaped into intricate styles - it may take years to achieve the desired shape. Once the initial shape has been obtained, the tree is continually trimmed to maintain the design. Bonsai is a fascinating hobby that takes time to perfect but is challenging and rewarding.

Before you start trimming and shaping your tree, you should have a good idea of what you want to end up with. Even the most experienced in bonsai creation start with a picture in their minds. It's important to start with a good conceptual design. Remember that your goal is to create a tiny, beautiful tree. As you increase your skills you'll be able to let some of your own personality show.

If you decide to try bonsai, prepare yourself first. Read all the information you can find and look for pictures to help you decide which designs appeal to you. You might even find bonsai shows or nurseries to visit. Purchase your supplies for as little as possible when you get ready to start your first project. Since you may have to make several attempts before you learn it correctly, you won't be throwing away a lot of money.

There are two primary bonsai styles: "koten", or classical bonsai; and "bunjin", or informal bonsai. The Koten style is a tree with the traditional wider bottom and tapering top. The bunjin style is the opposite - the bottom is narrow and the top grows wider.

When you are comfortable with the basic styles, you will be able to try other designs created by the many other bonsai artists. Soon you may even be able to create your own styles. It's a quiet yet exciting art once you master it.

Futaba Ling is the webmaster for Futaba on Bonsai, the web's premier resource for information about Bonsai. For more articles on Bonsai visit:


New Ideas for your Lawn.

Recently a new page was added to the website titled "Lawn Care Essentials" which gives a brief overview of the requirements for a lush green lawn of which you can be proud. The four main elements are Fertilize, Water, Mow and Thatch Removal as is explained on the page.

While many gardeners enjoy the regular summer task of mowing their lawns, others are not so keen. For the latter there are alternatives ranging from using different grass mixtures to giving up the lawn altogether. Low maintenance lawns are achieved by using special seed mixes which combine low-growing grasses with clovers and flowers to to add color and scent.

One company that supplies these seed mixtures is Hobbs & Hopkins Ltd. Their "Fleur de Lawn" mix includes small flowers and low-growing strawberry clover with a special variety of dwarf perennial ryegrass. They claim that this will give you a low maintenance lawn requiring little or no mowing, no irrigation after establishment, and no fertilizer after establishment. The lawn is self-fertilizing because of the inclusion of clover which produces its own nitrogen and the plants are drought-resistant so removing the need for irrigation. Their "Fragrant Herbal" mix is similar but incudes Roman Chamomile which provides the sweet fragrance whenever you mow or walk on the lawn. Mowing is limited to once every 3-4 weeks to maintain a "lawn" or not at all to maintain green cover.

For small areas it is possible to lay paving slabs or gravel as an alternative to grass. For larger areas where you are not worried about the height of the grass, you could consider establishing a wildflower meadow. This would give you the joint benefits of an attractive outlook combined with low maintenance.


Special Offers

Now that the gardening season is well advanced there are fewer bargains to be had. As always I can only repeat my suggestion that 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:

According to Brecks "If there were gardening critics, just as there are movie critics, they'd give Breck's 2005 Ultimate Iris Collections "two enthusiastic green thumbs up!" Given it's widely acclaimed status, Holland's most stunning collection of Iris varieties is making a repeat performance in America - the likes of which many gardeners in the U.S. have yet to experience." And all at 50% off too!

Dutch Gardens have a Spring Perennial Sale with up to 55% off, but their main pitch this month is "Plan Next Spring's Garden Today - Buy Now Pay Later"


Gurney's Seed and Nursery are featuring their iris collection with over 20 different varieties all at 20% off.

Last month Gardeners Supply Company offered a $20 coupon which you could use when you spent $50 but this offer expired May 26. Guess what? You can now have the same coupon this month, but only until June 26!


Useful resources

Anyone who reads my blog will have seen my piece on hydropnics - the technique of growing plants without soil. I mentioned that I had found a site which has a great deal of useful information on the subject. After a general introduction the site has information on the different systems currently in use, environmental factors to be considered, growing mediums, nutrients, propagation, pest control and more. There is even a Hydroponics Club that you can join to keep up to date with all the latest developments. Well worth adding to your bookmarks.

I am not sure how useful this next item is but, if you have not seen it before, you may find it amusing. I first heard of this some time ago, but came across it again just recently. "Store Wars: The Organic Rebellion" is a 5-minute movie featuring Cuke Skywalker, Princess Lettuce, Chewbroccoli and other organic rebels--played by real vegetables dressed as Star Wars characters. They battle it out with Darth Tater, the evil lord of the Dark Side of the Farm.

My idea of providing a toolbar containing all the links mentioned in this section is still on hold. I have been having second thoughts because I know how reluctant people are to download software for fear of viruses and spyware.


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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