Garden Talk: November 9, 2006

From NGA Editors

Eat Walnuts for a Healthy Heart

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With Thanksgiving approaching, many Americans are planning special holiday meals, which often are high in fat. Fat molecules have many deleterious effects on the body, including causing inflammation of the arteries and reducing their elasticity. New research indicates that eating walnuts with a high-fat meal may help reduce the damage to your arteries.

Researchers at the University of Barcelona, Spain, recruited 24 nonsmoking individuals with normal blood pressure and weight. Half of them had normal cholesterol levels and half had moderately high levels. They were all put on a low-cholesterol Mediterranean diet for two weeks prior to the study and during the study. The individuals were split into two groups, and each group was provided with two high-fat meals, eaten one week apart. One group was given olive oil with the high-fat meals, the other group was given 40 grams of walnuts (about 8 shelled walnuts) with their high-fat meals.

The results indicated that eating walnuts with the high-fat meals helped preserve the elasticity and flexibility of the arteries and protect them from inflammation and oxidation, regardless of the individual's cholesterol levels. It’s believed that arginine amino acid in the walnuts is responsible for this healthful effect. While it appears that walnuts can protect your heart from the damaging effects of high-fat meals, it’s not a carte blanche to indulge in poor eating habits. The researchers advise eating walnuts as part of a healthy diet.

For more information about this research, go to: American College of Cardiology.

Well-Timed Amaryllis

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The holidays will be upon us soon, and one of the flower stars this time of year is the amaryllis. The large, vibrant flowers are always a welcome sight, yet they never seem to last long enough, and they might not be in full bloom for your special party.

One way to extend the flowering season is to pot bulbs every 2 weeks in fall. An easier method for staggering amaryllis bloom times is to select varieties that flower at different times. Some varieties bloom within 5 to 6 weeks after planting, while others may take up to 12 weeks to bloom. By selecting a number of different amaryllis varieties, you can have flowers blooming for months in winter.

The Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center has organized some amaryllis varieties by the number of weeks from planting to blooming. Here’s a sampling:

Early-Season Blooms (5-8 weeks): 'Apple Blossom', 'Minerva', 'Mary Lou', 'Roma', 'Vera', 'Mount Blanc', 'Aphrodite', 'Pasadena', and 'Scarlet Baby'.

Mid-Season Blooms (7-10 weeks): 'Lemon Lime', 'Liberty', 'Red Lion', 'Picotee', 'Blossom Peacock', 'Royal Velvet', 'White Peacock', and 'Papillio'.

Late-Season Blooms (9-12 weeks): 'Las Vegas', 'Clown', 'Piquant', 'Toronto', 'Vlammenspel', 'Happy Memory', 'Charisma', 'Promise', 'Dancing Queen', 'Flaming Peacock', and 'Andes'.

For more information about growing amaryllis bulbs, go to: Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center.

Grow Up With Stacking Planters

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One of the prime benefits of container gardening is being able to squeeze gardens into small spaces. Now a new line of pots makes container gardening even more space-saving. The Stacking Planters system consists of 13-inch-diameter, 16-inch-deep, cloverleaf-shaped pots that stack neatly on top of each other. A stack of three pots allows you to grow nine plants. The polypropylene pots contain UV inhibitors to resist fading and cracking. They come in a range of colors including terra cotta and hunter green.

Small plants such as lettuce and pansies, or cascading plants such as petunias and thyme work best. You can stack up to nine pots on top of each other and secure them with a metal rod running through the center of the pots. Stacking Planters can also be adapted into hanging containers.

There are other versions of Stacking Planters, as well. The Self-Watering Planters have a unique water-wicking system to keep soil moist, and the Stacking Tubs allow you to grow large plants in portable containers on wheels.

For more information on Stacking Planters, go to: NJ Supply.

Who Does Your Garden Grow?

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Have you ever wondered where plant varieties get their names? Have you ever pondered the background of common plant names, such as the Russell lupines, Shasta daisies, or Shirley poppies? A new book from English author Alex Pankhurst called Who Does Your Garden Grow? (Mackey Books, 2006; $16) helps answers these questions. The author explores the history of plant names and profiles the individuals the plants commemorate. She tells fascinating stories and includes anecdotes and trivia in profiling more than 100 well-known varieties. The book will help you bone up on your horticultural knowledge during these long days of winter and impress your gardening friends next spring.

For more information on this entertaining book, go to: Mackey Books.

 
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