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Garden Ramblings, Issue #043
March 15, 2008


March 2008

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
- The Garden, Denver
- Shrubs and Spring - Easy Beauty For Your Home
- Calculation for Purchasing Packaged Compost
- Indoor Fruit Trees: Try The Calamondin Orange
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece



Welcome to the March issue of Garden Ramblings. As usual there are two guest authors this month, but I have added a short note in between.

The first is by Kevin Hope. His survey of spring flowering shrubs and how you can enjoy them not only in your backyard but in your home as well is a reminder of just how useful these plants can be.

Our second guest author is Jim Hofman who makes the case for growing the Calamondin orange. Although it looks like a lemon, it has a sweet orange taste. And it blooms more frequently than most indoor fruit trees.

In between these two articles is a third by Robin Monarch. If you are the sort of person who is never quite sure how much compost you will need to cover your bed, here is your answer. It's easy enough when you know how and the instructions given here are clear and concise.

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

We start with a video. Just a short one this time with birdsong in the background.

Enjoy the issue.




The Gardens Denver



*********************************************************** Shrubs and Spring-Easy Beauty For Your Home

by Kevin Hope

Among the first shrubs of spring is the familiar pussy willow which, sometimes as early as February, shows glints of silver gray. In the first warm spell of the new year, prune a few branches for inside your home. Thus you can observe close up how the rows of silver catkins emerge from their red-brown skins. For several weeks they grace the room. Finally the pollen appears, touching them with golden powder. If you keep the stems in water a bit longer, pale chartreuse leaves and white roots will emerge. If you plant them outside in April, the branches will take hold increasing your supply. Most willows have a special fondness for wet land and river banks, but the pussy willow also thrives where the soil is dry, and always turns to ribbons of furry silver in the early spring sunlight.

The peepers are scarcely in full song when the Japanese quince unfolds clusters of flame-orange flowers all along its spiny branches. But don't let this keep you from gathering sprays of the tightly clustered vivid flowers. If Japanese quince bushes are set one foot apart in a row they will grow into a beautiful flowering hedge. The splendid new hybrid quinces, sometimes called cydonias, are extra hardy, prolific, and beautiful - look for them.

With daffodils comes Korean spice viburnum. The heads of clustered tiny florets are pink in bud, unfold to white, and emit a spicy sweetness. (The viburnums are in the honeysuckle family.) Dry a few blossoms on a window sill, or somewhere airy; tie them in a handkerchief, and slip the package into your clothes or linen drawer. This shrub is hardy and easy. Prune off sucker growth. And don't spray with any form of sulphur as viburnums are allergic to it.

Flowering shrubs Flowering shrubs are ideal for everyone who wants quantities of flowers with a only a little effort. Annually these bushes shower your whole outdoors with bloom, with fragrance, with interesting berries. For many kinds of shrubs, when you gather the blossom-bedecked branches you are performing almost all the pruning necessary. Even if shrubs were the only flower sources on your place, you would still live in the midst of a beautiful garden - and with hardly a care or a chore.

Flowering shrubs are basic, hardy, and self sustaining. The first year you plant them they bloom, and annually thereafter. They vary in their uses. Next to the house they soften angular lines, while their fragrance drifts through an open window. They form a splendid background for perennials. Some flowering shrubs make great hedges and screen plantings. There are shrubs that bloom in all four seasons. They provide you with large, extravagant bouquetsâ€"great sweeps of spirea tangled with flowering quince, long graceful branches of pussy willow reaching your ceiling, or one huge magnolia flower floating in a bowl on the dining room table.

Perhaps you would like to be a specialist and concentrate on one sort. Grow a lilac hedge, a bank of forsythia, a wall of mock orange, or a swoop of firethorn. Or use flowering shrubs in a small special corner feature. One kerria with blue grape hyacinths; two mock oranges with scilla and tulips nearby; three Viburnum carlesi and Virginia bluebells on the shady side. You can also mingle several together in a border along your drive or at the boundary line of your land. A tangle between you and your neighbor gives you beauty, fragrance and privacy. Lilacs, Viburnum tomentosum, butterfly bush, laburnum - all make a fine thicket and carry the blooming period through many weeks in soft shades of lavender, yellow, and white. If your place is really tiny, grow a single shrub specimen for one dramatic accent. Choose wisely, to provide a little beauty all year round.





About the Author
Kevin Hope is a Professional Chef and Amateur Gardener. He is fascinated by growing his own food, and wants to help you do the same. For more information on Gardening for Food and Fun, please see A Cook's Garden For Gardening tips delivered to your email, please join our Gardening Newsletter



Calculation for Purchasing Packaged Compost

by Robin Monarch

Packaged compost is one of the wonderful products now available on the market designed to help make your gardening a little easier. Knowing how to calculate the number of bags of product you need to cover an area in your garden though, can be a bit overwhelming. For instance, one of the packaged compost products is available in a 16-quart bag. Suppose you want to purchase enough compost to cover a garden area roughly 10 foot long by 10 foot wide with compost to a depth of 2 inches.

With a little calculation and conversion you can figure it out easily enough.

First, you'll need to use the mathematical formula for volume: length (L) multiplied by width (W) multiplied by depth (D) or L x W x D. Also, all of the measurements will be easier to calculate if they are in the same units. Since you want the depth of compost in inches rather than feet, convert the foot measurements of the garden area to inch measurements.

To convert the area that is 10 foot by 10 foot into inch units, simply multiply each foot by 12. This will give you an area that is 120 inches by 120 inches. Now use the volume formula from above. For mulch at a depth of 2 inches, the calculation will be 120in x 120in x 2in or 2880 cubic inches.

The compost is packaged in a 16-quart bag. Since there are 4 quarts to a gallon, the 16-quart bag would contain 4 gallons of product per bag. How many gallons will you need to cover the 2880 cubic inches?

By using an online conversion tool you can determine how many dry gallons are contained in 1 cubic inch. The result is: 1 cubic inch = 0.00372023471 [US, dry] gallons.

You're almost done.

You can round up and use a shorter figure for your final calculation: 2880 cu in x 0.0037 [US, dry] gal = 10.656 gallons of compost will be needed.

Therefore, in order to cover that 10 foot by 10 foot garden area with a 2 inch layer of compost, you'll need about 10-1/2 gallons or almost 3 bags of the packaged product.

When buying and using packaged compost, knowing the math can help make gardening easier.



About the Author
Robin, a gardening enthusiast, published and manages a website for people wanting to get their flower garden set up quickly 'n easily. Check out additional information about compost at her website: Gardening Quick 'n Easy


Indoor Fruit Trees: Try The Calamondin Orange

by Jim Hofman

Are you looking for a good citrus tree to grow indoors? If so, you have several choices. While many container gardeners are familiar with the Meyer and Ponderosa lemon varieties, another option to consider is the calamondin orange tree. The calamondin is an easy care option that consistently offers an ample crop of fruit. Calamondin oranges are quite popular in southeast Asia. For centuries, Asian cultures have used these oranges for a variety of health purposes. Malaysian and Phillipine cultures use calamondin juice as a hair conditioner and as a treatment for insect bites. It is even used as a cough remedy.

If you've never seen a calmondin orange, you might mistake it for a lemon. About the size of a lemon or lime and roughly similar in shape, a calamondin is yellow-orange in color and is usually over ripened by the time it turns completely orange. However, once you taste the fruit you'll know it's an orange. The juice is sweeter than most oranges and can be used as a beverage, marinade, or in recipes.

One of the best attributes of our calamondin plant is its fresh citrusy fragrance. With nominal care, the tree blooms often, more frequently than most indoor fruit trees. Our calamondin typically produces fruit in the winter and spring months in ample quantity.

One important tip with a calamondin involves how to pick the fruit. It's best to use clippers to remove fruit from the tree rather than hand picking. Using clippers or scissors will prevent damage to the stem side of the fruit, thereby eliminating premature deterioration.

As for care of the tree, it's really quite simple and in line with care for other indoor citrus varieties. Give it plenty of sunlight per day and don't over water. Wait until the top inch of soil is dry before watering, usually about every 10 days. Fertilize with a time release fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks.

For best results and to ensure a thriving tree, place your calamondin outdoors in warmer months. Here in the midwest, our tree spends mid April through mid October on our patio. This really helps the tree flourish, as butterflies and bees find the fragrance hard to resist.

Calamondin trees will make a wonderful addition to any living space and are readily available from online sources specializing in container fruit trees. Their cost is nominal and you'll enjoy many years of sweet delicious fruit!



About the Author
Would you like to learn more about indoor citrus trees? To find out which varieties thrive indoors and which to avoid, be sure to visit our online resource site devoted exclusively to Indoor Fruit Trees.


Special Offers


Needless to say the start of the gardening season is not the best time to find sales or massive discounts so there is little to report this month.


At Gardener's Supply Company the After Holiday Sale is over but the Outlet Section towards the bottom of the left hand menu still has some reductions.


Gardener's Supply Company







At Dutch Gardens you can still save $25 when you spend $50 or more. Click the banner.




Dutch Gardens, Inc.




Shop at for your vegetable and flower seeds!







Isao Tomita Gardens

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