Garden Talk: February 17, 2005

From NGA Editors

New Container Clematis

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Container gardening continues to be a hot trend, and more perennial plants are being bred to grow well in these small spaces. One of the best new clematis to grow in containers is Clematis Konigskind ‘Climador’. This perennial has 5-inch-diameter, purple-blue, ruffled flowers that bloom for up to four months on vines that only grow 4 to 5 feet long. This clematis is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, although the container should be protected over the winter in cold areas. ‘Climador’ should be pruned in early spring to about 1 foot tall for best growth and flowering. There is also a rose-pink flowering version named Clematis Rose Konigskind.

Another clematis suitable for containers is the small, bell-shaped, violet-colored Clematis integrifolia ‘Fascination’. This rambling vine also only grows 4 to 5 feet long. It’s perfect for container culture or training to ramble through a shrub or rose bush. It likes moderately wet roots, plenty of sun, and an annual spring pruning to about 1 foot tall.

‘Climador’ is available through nurseries such as Park Seed Company (www.parkseed.com), and ‘Fascination’ is available through nurseries such as White Flower Farm (www.whiteflowerfarm.com).

Organic Ketchup Protects Against Cancer

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It's been well documented that the antioxidant lycopene found in tomato-based products, such as ketchup, helps protect us against cancers of the breast, pancreas, prostate, and intestines. Now researchers at the Agricultural Research Service in Albany, California, have found that organic ketchup contains more of these cancer-fighting compounds than non-organic products.

Researchers tested the lycopene levels in 13 different ketchup brands: six popular brands, three organic brands, two store brands, and two fast-food-chain brands. The organic ketchup brands contained 40 percent more lycopene than the popular brands and almost three times the amount of the fast-food-chain brands.

This is one of the first times scientists have found that organically grown products have a higher nutritional benefit than conventionally grown ones. For more on this research, go to the New Scientist Web page at: www.newscientist.com/channel/health/mg18524812.200

Learn to Graft

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If you're looking for a fun horticultural project to help pass the winter, consider learning about grafting. You can learn the techniques from the comfort of your home with this award-winning, distance-learning course developed by Cornell University. The How, When, and Why of Grafting for Gardeners teaches techniques such as chip budding, T-budding, and top-wedge grafting. Not only do you learn the principles of grafting through Web-based lectures, video demonstrations, and interactive discussions, there's a hands-on component as well. Each student receives a grafting knife, grafting supplies, and a hibiscus plant on which to practice their technique. The course starts March 1, runs 10 weeks, and costs $300.

For more information on this grafting course, go to Cornell University's Web site at: www.cce.cornell.edu/hortdl/.

Award-Winning Agastache

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From the specialists in hummingbird mints (Agastache) comes a new award-winning variety that features foot-long spikes of rose-pink flowers, a raspberry red calyx, and sweetly scented foliage. 'Ava' has won the 2005 Green Thumb award from the Mailorder Gardening Association.

The flowering starts in midsummer and, unlike other agastaches, the calyxes keep their color right until frost. After the second growing season, this perennial can reach 4 to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. 'Ava' is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10, grows best in full sun on well-drained, compost-amended soil, and is rabbit and deer resistant. Fertilize in midsummer and leave the flower stems on the plants for winter color. Cut it back in spring.

For more information on 'Ava' agastache, contact High Country Gardens at www.highcountrygardens.com.

 
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