Garden Talk: December 7, 2006

From NGA Editors

Flower Tower in Paris

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Integrating plants into building designs for aesthetic and environmental purposes has become very popular. For example, green roofs have become more common in Europe and North America as a way to reduce the urban heat island effect and add some Nature back into the city.

French architect Edouard Francois has taken the “green” element a bit further with his innovative Flower Tower apartment building in Paris. Wishing to integrate this 10-story, concrete building with the surrounding park, Francois designed 380 large containers to sit on the balconies of the apartments. Each container is filled with fast-growing bamboo and has an automatic watering and fertilizing system to support it. The effect is a building that looks like it’s sprouting bamboo. Not only does it make the apartments more livable and desirable, the greenery provides natural shade, cooling, and privacy for the residents. The building is a good example of using green design to make low-cost housing more attractive and environmentally sound.

For more on the Flower Tower and other projects by Edouard Francois, go to the press section of Edouard Francois and click on TowerFlower_Press_Guardian.doc.

New Red Climbing Rose for Cold Climates

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Many gardeners have fond memories of arbors loaded with red ‘Blaze’ climbing roses, but for gardeners in colder climates the only way to grow vigorous climbers such as ‘Blaze’ is to pull the canes off the arbor and mulch them over the winter. Now that’s changed. For gardeners in USDA zones 4 and colder, there’s a new red climbing rose that blooms all summer and survives the harsh winters without protection.

From the Minnesota breeder of the famous, hardy ‘Knock Out’ roses, comes ‘Ramblin’ Red’ climbing rose. ‘Ramblin’ Red’ features 10-foot-tall canes that have deep red, sweetly fragrant, double flowers. The bushes don’t need winter protection, even in USDA zone 3, and have strong disease resistance, too.

For more information on ‘Ramblin’ Red’, go to: Edmund's Roses.

Night-Illuminated Thermometer

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Here’s a last-minute holiday gift idea for a gardener in the family. Gardeners are always concerned about the temperature in the garden, especially when frost is threatening or winter night temperatures are dropping. This thermometer allows you to easily see how cold it is outside -- even at night.

The Solar Lit Thermometer features a bright, white, easy-to-read face and solar-powered LED bulb that illuminates the thermometer for up to 8 hours after sunset. The thermometer stands 22 inches tall and has a 2-foot-long stake to insert in the soil. When you’re away, it has an on/off switch to help save the life of the rechargeable batteries.

For more on this meteorological tool, go to: Gardener's Supply Company.

Curry May Help Stem Cognitive Decline

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Yellow curry has been known to bring a little sweat to the brow and fire to the belly. Now it appears that it may help your brain function as you age, too. Researchers at the National University of Singapore studied more than 1,000 Asian people (between 60 and 93 years old) unaffected by Alzheimer's disease. The people were grouped by those who "often," "occasionally," "rarely," or "never" ate curry. Those who ate curry once in six months were considered "occasional" eaters, those who ate curry more than once a month were considered "often" eaters. All participants were given the same cognitive tests.

The results indicate that those people who "often" or "occasionally" ate curry scored better in standard tests of cognitive functions than those who "never" or "rarely" ate curry.

Researchers theorize that curcumin in the turmeric spice that gives curry its yellow color may be the ingredient that enhances brain functioning. Curcumin is also known to be anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. More research will be conducted to determine if curcumin consumption can actually reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

For more information on this study, go to: National University of Singapore.

 
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