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Garden Ramblings, Issue #032
April 15, 2007
April 2007

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.

If you are reading the text version you will need to go online to see the videos. ***********************************************************

In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Huntington Botanical Garden
- Pest Control Breakthrough
- Delightful Dahlias For Every Gardener
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece



Welcome to the April issue of Garden Ramblings. This month I have again included articles by two guest authors.

First comes a second article from Elisabeth Mcgill who follows her previous article "Garden Insects - Not All Are Pests" with some further ideas on pest control.

Then Debbie Van Bourgondien tells of her enthusiasm for dahlias.

As usual there is a Special Offers section with all the bargains that I've managed to find this month.

But to start enjoy a tour of the Huntington Botanical Gardens.

Enjoy the issue.



Huntington Botanical Gardens




Pest Control Breakthrough in the never ending battle around home and garden
by Elisabeth Mcgill

Since I am not only an avid gardener, but also much concerned about the environment, I'm always looking for safe methods to grow plants including pest control in home and garden.

Think about pest control and how it works: We spray chemicals on plants or pests and the bugs die or stop reproducing because the chemicals are toxic to them. Unfortunately, many of these products are also toxic to humans and animals. Reading warning labels on pest control products makes you wonder why anybody would want to risk using them. Exposure to the fumes of these products can result in headaches, feelings of nausea and other discomfort Pesticide use can also results in chronic illness such as allergies, in miscarriages, sterility, cancer and even death.

We not only spray and fumigate in home and garden, we also apply bug killing toxins on our pets and expose them and ourselves non stop to a variety of chemicals to kill fleas, ticks and more.

Over the years, I have had some success with such Earth friendly things as vinegar, diatomaceous earth, garlic, cayenne pepper and Saver Soap in my never ending battle with bugs that invade home and garden. My quest also led me to pure essential oils which repel or kill bugs, yet are actually healthful to people and their pets.

Experimentation lead to the discovery that if the oils are used undiluted, they repel the pests, but if the oils are mixed with water, they often become "insecticides". In other words, if you like to repel insects from entering your home, you can do that by putting a few drops of the appropriate oil on your fingers or some other applicator and then brush or spray the oil along the line of demarcation such as a windowsill, a door jamb, or other point of entry.

To kill or disable pests, mix a few drops of a specific oil with water in a spray bottle, shake frequently and aim at the pests. For example, to discourage aphids and ants from roses and other plants, generously spray infested plants with the mix. While the pests will leave or fall off, there is no harm done to the plant itself. (Best not to do that in mid day when temperatures go above 100 degrees F.)

You can keep ticks, chiggers and fleas off yourself and your pets when in the outdoors by using the appropriate oils. Either spray on exposed areas or rub on cuffs around neck, wrists and ankles. Avoid using oils near the eyes. Should you get oils in the eyes, dilute with vegetable oil - NOT with water. If an oil should be too strong for the user, experiencing a slight discomfort, apply a little vegetable oil to dilute. For your pets, you can put recommended oils around the neck, legs and along the back, but keep oils from around the eyes and other tender areas.

If an oil should be too strong for the user, apply a little vegetable oil on the area to dilute.

The following oils have been used successfully in the elimination of pests from home and garden: ANTS: Peppermint, Spearmint
APHIDS: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Peppermint, Spearmint
BEETLES: Peppermint, Thyme
CATERPILLARS: Spearmint, Peppermint
CHIGGERS: Lavender, Lemongrass, Sage, Thyme
CUTWORM: Thyme, Sage
FLEAS: Peppermint, Lemongrass, Spearmint, Lavender
FLIES: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage
GNATS: Patchouli, Spearmint
LICE: Cedarwood, Peppermint, Spearmint
MOSQUITOES: Lavender, Lemongrass
MOTHS: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Lavender, Peppermint, Spearmint
PLANT LICE : Peppermint, Spearmint
SLUGS: Cedarwood, Hyssop, Pine
SNAILS: Cedarwood: Pine, Patchouli
SPIDERS: Peppermint, Spearmint
TICKS: Lavender, Lemongrass, Sage, Thyme
WEEVILS: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Sandalwood

I like to add these cautions about essential oils: Not all essential oils on the market are safe. Many are diluted with harmful chemicals. Many essential oils are ineffective due to the way they are processed. Please make sure that you use safe, pure, properly distilled oils.


The author has a Home and Garden Decor business. She is also an avid gardener with many years of experience and likes to share her knowledge with others. Find great value here:

For more information on pure organic oils: which offers a free report about the use of essential oils:


Delightful Dahlias For Every Gardener
by Debbie Van Bourgondien


Delightful Dahlias For Every Gardener Sometimes the sheer audacity of a flower grabs your attention and simply won't let go. The first time I saw a dahlia, I was stunned. Not only is their size larger than life, but also the colors are absolutely amazing! The intricacy of petal structure, the huge array of shapes, oh yeah, did I mention the COLORS! In short, I was mesmerized.

In the intervening years, not much has changed, except of course, there are better selections of these incredibly immense dahlias. Stronger stems, better foliage, brighter colors are all thanks to the hard work and intuitive genius of many hybridizers.

I know several people who have devoted their entire garden to growing dahlias. Some people might say it's a sickness. I don't agree - if dahlias are your passion, live it! On the other hand, not everyone can - or would want to -- devote a large amount of time and effort to one kind of plant. But, seriously, there's room in just about any garden for a few of these show-stopping flowers.

Besides border dahlias, there are decorative, dinner plate, karma, powder puff, tree, collarette and a huge number of unique dahlia shapes available. Flower sizes range from under 2 inches wide to more than 10 inches in diameter. While the colors include everything under the rainbow with a few surprises in between. That's a lot to choose from; I'm certain there is more than one for your garden.

One of the best reasons of all to grow dahlias is their flowering time. They begin to bloom usually in late July and continue unabated until frost, a time when many other perennials are finished blooming and there's not much else going on in the garden.

Dahlias are native to the mountainous central region of Mexico and Guatemala. Spanish settlers in Mexico sent the first dahlia seeds and tubers back to Spain in the 18th century. Spanish botanists at the Royal Botanical Garden in Madrid sent seeds and tubers to botanists in other parts of Europe, and the dahlia began to spread across Europe. The first varieties with large, double ball-shaped flowers were bred in Belgium in 1815 and within a few decades nurserymen had expanded the combinations of colors as far as they thought they could be. Most turned their attention to other projects, and dahlias languished.

Then, in 1872, a box of dahlia roots from Mexico arrived in Holland. All the roots had perished except one, which produced a brilliant red flower whose shape was distinctly different. It was combined with earlier varieties and the resulting babies became the parents of today's diverse hybrids. Thanks to the skill of breeders in England, Holland, Germany, Australia and America, dahlias come in a range of sizes and colors unmatched in the world of garden flowers.

There are some spectacular dinner plate sized dahlias that grow 36-48 inches tall. How about 'Emory Paul', biggest of them all in orchid lavender; maybe 'The Big Wow', with enormous bright, scarlet red flowers. What about checking out 'Ferncliff Illlusion', fabulous in white with violet tips or 'Kelvin Floodlight', immense, dazzling, deep, clear yellow. Any one would be perfect for creating a dramatic display in your garden.

There are more demure dahlias that come in powder puff shapes and grow 24-40 inches tall. Most of these large flowers have a petticoat of regular petals with a puff of smaller, ruffled petals in the middle. Try 'Blue Bayou' in lavender-blue; or 'Soulman', in a rich, deep maroon, a color very rarely seen in the horticulture industry.

You can mix it up with Karma dahlias for an array of different shapes and vibrant, iridescent colors. These tall dahlias (36-44 inches) were developed for the Dutch cut flower market and have long, very sturdy stems. The colors are truly magnificent. For an amazing effect in your garden, try 'Karma Sangria' with a rose center, and golden yellow petals tipped in salmon rose. Single colored flowers include 'Karma Prospero', in soft lilac-pink with a golden center and 'Karma Ventura', a dazzling lemon yellow the perfect contrast to the pink petals of 'Prospero'.

Like I said, there are delightful dahlias for every gardener! You just have to find the one that suits you best.


Since 1893 Van Bourgondien has been providing the finest quality Dutch bulbs and perennials in the horticultural industry. See all of the dahlias mentioned in this article by visiting the author's website: Van Bourgondien articles/bulblady/plantProfiles/delightfulDahlias.vm&utm_sou rce=ArticleSubmission&utm_medium=article&utm_content=dahlias


Special Offers

According to Gardener's Supply Company the next 10 weeks are the peak selling season so you have to hunt for any reductions. Right at the bottom of the menu under "Other Ways to Shop" you can find their "Spring Clearance" which has been extended to April 27.


Gardener's Supply Company

At least Dutch Gardens have their sale link at the top of the page - look for the yellow "SALE".


Dutch Gardens, Inc.

Nature Hills Nursery have a huge selection on their site and reduced shipping costs.









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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