Pacific Northwest

October, 2005
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Diascia
One of my favorite plants is diascia (Diascia spp.) because it asks for so little from me and gives so very much in return. It should be in everyone's garden. For me, diascia blooms nonstop from May until frost (and some even after). Individual flowers are small but amazingly abundant. Diascia isn't bothered by bugs or disease. In fact, I have found it to be relatively carefree. I can go away for a long weekend and when I return, the petunias in the window boxes look like death but the diascia is blooming better than ever.

Diascia flowers range from deep pink to pale pink. Each small flower wobbles on a long, thin stem that holds it well away from the main flower stem. Each stem produces many of these singular flowers, literally covering the plant in a mass of pink. Diascia is a summer- and autumn-flowering annual, or a tender perennial in warm climates. In my Pacific Northwest garden it is an annual.

Diascia vigilis is an edging-type plant, growing about 12 inches high with an excellent spreading habit. Most plants reach about 24 inches in width. I love using these plants in containers and window boxes where they can tumble over the sides, filling the area with masses of color.

A more upright version is Diascia barberae. This plant grows 18 to 24 inches tall with equal width, making it a terrific addition to most any sunny bed.

Clever Gardening Technique

Garden Comfortably
Gardening helps you stay in shape, but if your muscles are doing tasks they're not used to, it also can lead to aches and pains. To remain pain-free, remember these 5 rules:

1. Plan your day. Being too ambitious about what you'll accomplish can lead to aches later, so plan what you'd like to finish in one day and figure on doing a little less.

2. Blend your tasks. Doing the same thing repeatedly can make the muscles you're using sore. Instead of pushing yourself to complete a large task, rotate tasks every 10 minutes (weed, then rake, then hoe, then dig, etc.)

3. Use the best equipment. The sharper your tools, the easier they are to use, which means less stress on your body. If your shovel, hoe, or pruning shears are dull, sharpen them or take them to a home or hardware center for sharpening.

4. Protect your back. Remember to bend at the knees when lifting anything, whether large or small. This will reduce the strain on your back, which bears the load when you bend at the waist.

5. Take breaks. Resting before you're tired is a good way to maintain your energy level, especially if you plan on working in the garden for several hours. Take a 3-minute break between tasks and rest for a few minutes every half hour. I like to wander away from my work area to admire another section of the landscape. When I return, I'm refreshed and ready to complete the task at hand.

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Special Report - Garden to Table

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