Garden Talk: September 15, 2005

From NGA Editors

New Colorful Echinacea

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Earlier this year we reported about new fragrant echinacea varieties -- ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset’ -- that have recently been introduced to the public. The parade of new coneflower introductions continues with Echinacea ‘Harvest Moon’ and Echinacea ‘Twilight’. Not only are these two echinacea also fragrant, they produce uniquely colored flowers.

‘Harvest Moon’ and ‘Twilight’ are part of the Big Sky echinacea series. These hybrids from Georgia are a cross between Echinacea paradoxa and E. purpurea. They produce large, full flowers, toothed leaves, and wide flower petals. ‘Harvest Moon’ has an earthy, golden color with a golden-orange cone. ‘Twilight’ features vibrant rose-red blossoms with a deep red cone. Both grow 24 to 30 inches tall and are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9.

For more information on these new coneflowers, go to the Perennial Resource.

Ivy of the Year

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Topiaries are all the rage in the gardening world. Not only do they make great outdoor plants, many can be brought indoors in fall and enjoyed in winter under the proper lighting conditions. Each year the American Ivy Society crowns an “ivy of the year,” and this year the honor goes to ‘Misty’ (Hedera helix 'Misty'), a standard ivy variety used commercially in topiaries.

‘Misty’ is easy to grow, hardy, lush, and not invasive. ‘Misty’ is also beautiful, with variegated, bird’s foot-shaped, miniature leaves. The leaf variegation remains intact even under shady conditions. In cool weather the white leaf margins turn a faint pink. ‘Misty’ is also winter hardy to USDA zone 5, making it a great choice for outdoor topiaries in most regions of the country.

For more information on ‘Misty’, go to the American Ivy Society.

Vole Control Bait Station

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With the onset of fall’s cool weather, animals are making plans to overwinter in your yard. Voles are one of the main rodents that love to hang around and feed. There are many species. Some will tunnel underground to feed on plant roots and bulbs. Others will stay near the surface to feed on shrub and tree bark and grass roots. Whatever the type, voles can wreak havoc on your plants.

There is a new product that will bait and trap them to reduce their numbers while being safe for other animals. The Vole Control Bait Station contains a fruit-based poison bait that the voles love to eat. It can be set up as a “tent” station among your plants to control aboveground voles, or as a “mulch” station, buried under mulch to control belowground voles. The station is designed to attract only voles, and the poison bait is kept hidden and dry so children and other animals can’t reach it. Simply set up the station in an area where voles are active and check every few days to see if the bait has been taken or eaten. Keep replacing the bait until no activity is noticed, then move the bait station to another hot spot. It may take four to six weeks to control the voles in an area. One station controls voles in about a 1,200-square-foot area.

For more information on the Vole Control Bait Station, go to: Vole Control.

Apples for Better Health

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The old adage “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” is gaining more validity as Cornell University researchers find more health benefits from eating fresh apples. Recent research suggests that eating apples may help prevent breast cancer. This is the latest in a line of health benefits attributed to this popular fruit. Apples have also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer and increase brain functioning, including memory and learning.

In this recent study, researchers fed the human equivalent of 1, 3, and 6 apples a day to rats infected with cancer tumors in a laboratory experiment. Apples are one of the many fruits that are known to contain phytochemicals to help prevent cancer. In this test the rats consuming apples had a greater reduction in the incidence and number of breast cancer tumors than those not fed apples.

For more information on the health benefits of eating apples, go to the: U.S. Apple Association.

 
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