Favorite or New Plant
Because spiderworts (Tradescantia species and cultivars) readily reseed, there was always an abundance scattered about my mother's garden. I rather took them for granted until one year when fixing bouquets of fresh flowers for a farmer's market. I discovered that the long, narrow foliage was a great filler, and the blue-violet flowers blended readily with most other colors in the bouquets. Although each three-petaled flower only lasts a day, the abundance of buds in a cluster provided flowers for many days. My newfound respect for spiderworts extended to the garden as well, both for the grasslike foliage and the flowers, which bloom for many weeks in summer. There are about six spiderwort species native to the United States, but most of the ones grown in the garden are hybrids. They are very adaptable plants, surviving both sun and shade and just about any soil. Once flowering is done, plants can be a bit scraggly, so they are best cut back, which will give rise to fresh, new leaves and, sometimes, renewed flowering. Most cultivars are in shades of purple and lavender, with a few pink and whites. 'Sweet Kate' is unique with it's chartreuse leaves. Spiderworts readily propagate from seed, cuttings, or divisions.
Tool or Gardening Product
Echo String Trimmer
Most people who have the energy and strength to use a string trimmer are also able to pull-start one. Unfortunately, I only fit into half that category as pull-starting tools are my nemesis. This spring I went on a quest to find one that I could actually use, manufacturer's claims notwithstanding. The one I chose was the Echo SRM-210, with an advertised 30 percent reduction in starting effort. This straight-shaft trimmer is considered rugged enough for medium-duty commercial applications, with a 21.2cc Power Boost Vortex engine, commercial-grade air filtration, die-cast fan cover with heavy-duty vibration reduction system, padded front handle, and an assortment of cutting heads and specialty attachments available. Although at 11.4 pounds, the 210 is not the lightest trimmer available, the balance in the design makes it feel lighter. All Echo trimmers have a two-year consumer warranty. For more information about Echo trimmers, visit http://www.echo-usa.com.