Middle South

July, 2010
Regional Report

Shows & Events

Mountains in Bloom Garden Festival
The 2010 Mountains in Bloom Garden Festival in Highlands, North Carolina, will be held July 8 - 11. The event includes a tour of five gardens in the Bowery Road area on Friday and Saturday, with shuttles departing from Highlands High School at 9 and 10 am, and 12 and 1 pm. Tickets are $80. Other highlights include a flower show, several art exhibitions, a lecture by noted author and designer Beverly Reese Church, and a home and garden market at the Highlands Civic Center Gymnasium. For more information, visit the Web site at www.mountaisinbloom.com.

Favorite or New Plant

'African Blue' Basil
I grow many kinds of basil but my favorite is 'African Blue' (Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum 'Dark Opal'). Though the scent and flavor of this plant is more clove-like than sweet basil, it can be used for culinary purposes. I like it best, however, for the bees that flock to its blooms throughout summer and into fall. When cultivated as a companion plant with beans and other vegetables, 'African Blue' can significantly boost pollination. It also repels nuisance pests, such as flies and mosquitoes, making it a great selection for patio containers.

'African Blue' is a shrubby type of basil that grows into a 2 to 3-foot mound. Foliage is especially beautiful, with purple-veined leaves and purple-red stems. Flowers, which bloom on a spike above the foliage, are light purple.

Unfortunately, 'African Blue' is sterile and doesn't grow from seed, but make the effort to find this plant. It is easy to propagate from cuttings, like all basils, but is more drought tolerant and winter hardy than other types.

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