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Garden Ramblings, Issue #019
March 15, 2006
March 2006

Monthly musings on the garden scene

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In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Plant of the Month
- Planting by the Moon
- Guest Article
- Special Offers
- Useful Resources



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

The "Plant of the Month" is the Camellia which puts on a fine display at this time of year as well as producing leaves that are used for making tea.

The Guest Article returns this month. Bob Roy discusses a novel way of growing orchids.

With Spring nearly upon us the merchants are doing their best to persuade us to buy plants and equipment for the new season. The Special Offers section contains a mixture of bargain blowouts, reductions if you spend more than a certain figure and new plants.

The resources section this month follows the theme of moon planting and lists a number of websites that have a wealth of information on this technique. You also have a chance to download the latest ebook from Mike McGroarty.

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: Camellia

Description: Camellias are hardy evergreen shrubs which range from six to eight feet in height with a spread of up to eight feet. Cup-shaped flowers in shades ranging from white and pink to bright red are produced from late winter to spring. Depending on the variety the flowers measure from one and a half to five inches across.

Origin: Native to southern China, India and adjacent countries including Japan.

Cultivation: Grow in lime-free well-drained soil in partial or dappled shade. A west facing position is the ideal so that the plants are sheltered from the morning sun but can enjoy the warmth later in the day. Propagate by taking half-ripe cuttings in late summer or fall. Rooting will usually take two to three months.

Pests and diseases: Camellias can be affected by a number of pests, including scale insects, red spider and bud mites, aphids and caterpillars. Diseases that affect camellias often lead to dieback, which can be controlled by pruning.

Folklore: The leaves of the variety C. sinensis are used for making tea. This universal drink has a very long history and is asscoiated with tea ceremonies in many asian countries. According to one legend, in 2737 BC the chinese emperor Shen Nung was watching a pan on the fire when leaves from an overhanging camellia fell into the boiling water. He found the taste pleasant and so tea became an established drink. In the Indian version of the legend, a Buddhist monk travelled from his homeland in India to spread the teachings of the Buddha to China. He vowed to forgo sleep for a life of meditation and teaching but after a time was overtaken by sleep. Upon waking, he cursed his eyelids, took a knife and cut the lids from his face, throwing them to the ground. There they took root and grew into the first tea plants, gifts from the Buddha to perk up his weary monk.


Planting by the Moon

The idea that the moon influences the growth of plants may be as old as agriculture itself. The practice is mentioned in the folklore of many ancient societies, ranging from the Celts in early Britain to the Maoris in New Zealand. But is there any truth in the idea, or is it just one of those old gardening myths that do not have any basis in fact?

While there is no doubt that the moon affects the height of the tides throughout the lunar cycle, there is less agreement when it comes to the effect on plants. For people who practise moon planting the case is simple. In the same way that the moon controls the tides, it also controls the level of groundwater in the soil. Consequently you should pay attention to the lunar cycle when planting or harvesting crops.

Gardeners who use the moon planting system divide the lunar cycle into four periods. The first is the new moon which is followed by the first quarter as it grows from crescent to full. The third period is the full moon which then starts to wane as it decreases in size to the crescent of the third quarter, and so on to the next new moon.

It is during the first two quarters while the moon is waxing that the effects are strongest. This is the time for planting and transplanting. The increasing force during this period encourages the seeds to swell and burst into life. Then as the moon starts to wane, the light decreases and the root growth is stimulated as the water table drops. During the third quarter growth slows and there is a period of rest as the next new moon approaches. This is the best time for pruning when the plants are at their least active.

While some people use the phases of the moon to plan their gardening activities, others take it a stage further and observe the position of the planets to calculate the best time for planting and harvesting their crops. If this sounds too complicated, there is an easy answer which is to purchase a moon planting calendar. This sets out all the information you need so that you know exactly when to plant your flowers and vegetables so that they will have the best chance of thriving in tune with the natural cycles of the heavens.

Does it really work? Many people believe that planting by the moon does improve the health and quality of your plants. There is only one way that you can prove it and that is to try it for yourself.


Want A View? Start Growing Orchids On Trees

by Bob Roy

Do you live in Southern Florida or California? If you do then you can really enjoy orchids year round. Growing orchids on trees can be a blast. It can enhance any surrounding. Beautiful, colorful orchid plants will make your outdoor area very inviting.

The trees..

Imagine the expression on the faces of your guests when they see orchids growing on your trees.

First, though, you will need a tree that does allow some sunlight to beam through. Trees like palms and citrus are some prime examples. Oaks may even be candidates. To be sure that you are in a suitable area look on an agriculture climate map and if you live in zone 11 you can do this successfully. Remember there are micro-climates that could allow you to plant these further North.

Some orchid candidates..

You will need to pair the right orchids with the right amount of sunlight that is available. In a really sunny area vandas would be a good choice to start growing orchids on trees. In shaded areas phalaenopsis or cattleyas are a great choice. If you need help an orchid grower will be helpful.

How To...

The first rule you should follow before attaching orchids growing on trees is to attach it during the time the orchids are growing their roots. For example, if you are attaching a cattleya you would do this during the months of January or February. If you choose two months before the orchid plants will bloom you're in the right timeframe.

Attach the orchids with either cotton twine or a monofilament like fishing line. Wrap the plant firmly but not to damage the roots and pseudopods to the tree. It will usually take several times around to do this.

It will be important to successfully start growing orchids on trees to mist the orchids almost daily unless there is rain. This needs to continue for about two months until the roots attach themselves to the tree.

Also, don't forget the fertilizer. By the time this occurs your orchid plants should be blooming and really enhancing your landscape. Orchid plants will brighten any area indoors or out. But, to have orchids on your trees is such a beautiful "back to nature" experience.

Did you know that in our store we are selling orchids which are growing on wood bark and cork. These are all ready rooted and it will make any surroundings take on a lovely view. Take a look at our examples of growing orchids on trees.

Get a free e-book "All About Orchids " Plus a 10% discount on an orchid plant. Just sign up for our Orchid Newsletter


Special Offers

This month we are looking forward to Spring so, apart from a couple of $25 off if you spend $50, most offers are for new varieties rather than large reductions.

Brecks Bulbs have an Astilbe collection which comprises six plants for $19.99 and two unique lavender plants included as well. They are also featuring the Toad Lily Blue Wonder as their "Plant of the Month".

Dutch Gardens have a special offer - $25 off when you spend $50 or more. They are featuring Carefree Container Plants to enliven your deck or patio with Kong Rose Coleus heading the list. Other suggestions are fragrant Double Freesias, Calla Lilies and Mignon Patio Dahlias. There are fifty more on their list, so plenty of choice. Click the link to see them all.

"Gurney's is holding a mega-sale of our best fruit trees for as much as 40% off our regular prices. These disease-resistant fruit trees are guaranteed to bear the best fruit you've ever tasted! But you have to hurry-this sale ends March 27th and our supplies are limited!" Unfortunately you have to subscribe to their newsletter to receive this offer, so follow the link and then sign up so that you will hear about future specials direct.

"If You Can Throw, You Can Grow!" according to Gardener's Supply Company. "When Native Americans sowed their crops, they didn’t use tractors or ploughs. To keep valuable seed from blowing away or being eaten by birds, they often hid it inside little balls of clay. The same method works well today: just scatter these seed balls on prepared soil and water well." Click the link to learn more.


Useful Resources

Following on from my article on Moon Planting I have included a couple of items that you will find useful if you wish to try this technique.

Gardening by the Moon has a lot of useful information and you can buy a Moon Calendar.

R J Harris is a professional head gardener who looks after the Tresillian Estate's gardens in Cornwall in the UK. As you will see, he is a firm believer in the virtues of moon planting. A great site with lots of fine photos.

Back in January 2005 I mentioned a Moon Phase Display that you can add to your own website. You just have to add a small piece of HTML code. If you don't have a website, you can bookmark the link to achieve the same result. Here is the link.

On a different topic I mentioned in my blog the other day that Mike McGroarty, author of Easy Plant Propagation, has written a new book called "The Secret Gardener's Handbook". Click the link to obtain your complimentary copy.


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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