Garden Talk: March 1, 2007

From NGA Editors

Striking BiColored Cornflower

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Cornflower or mountain bluet (Centaurea montana) is one of the staples in the midsummer perennial garden. This widely adapted plant has silver-green foliage and produces spider-like blue flowers. The flowers are a great compliment to other early blooming perennials, such as iris, and they make good cut flowers. Now, cornflowers have gotten a little more colorful.

‘Amethyst in Snow’ (Centaurea montana) features deep blue flower centers surrounded by long rays of white petals. Striking in the garden as well as in a vase, ‘Amethyst in Snow’ has the same tough growth habit as other cornflowers. Plants grow 1 to 2 feet tall and wide, prefer full sun, and are tolerant of poor soils.

For more information on ‘Amethyst in Snow’ cornflower, go to: Park Seed Company.

New Flowering Pear Tree

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The Bradford flowering pear (Pyrus calleryana) is a standard urban street tree and great small-space flowering tree in many areas of the country. However, Bradford pear has one main drawback. Because of its narrow, upright branch structure, the limbs tend to split and break during storms, deforming the tree and creating a potential hazard.

Now a new flowering pear from Korea features many of the same desirable traits of the Bradford pear with a better growth habit and branch angle to withstand heavy storms. The Korean Sun flowering pear (Pyrus fauriei ‘Westwood’) is a compact, round tree that grows 12 to 15 feet tall and wide with beautiful white flowers in spring. Korean Sun is adapted to many soil conditions, hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, and resistant to fire blight disease. The fruit is so small it doesn’t create a mess when it drops. In fall the dark green leaves turn a burgundy color. Korean Sun will be available in nurseries across the country this spring.

For more information on Korean Sun flowering pear, go to: Oregon State University.

An Easy Way to Measure Sunlight

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“Plant the right plant in the right place” is one of the mantras of garden design. One of the factors that we use in deciding where to place a plant is how much sun a particular spot can provide. However, there are many other factors, such as leaf cover, buildings, season of the year, and time of day, that can influence the amount of sun in a particular location.

A simple, handy tool can help you determine the amount of sunlight in any location in your yard. The Sunlight Calculator meter measures the duration and intensity of sunlight falling in a location over a 12-hour period. The results are indicated as full sun, partial sun, partial shade, or full shade. This battery-powered, water-resistant meter is attached to a 7-1/2-inch-long stake that you stick in the ground.

For more information about the Sunlight Calculator, go to: Lee Valley.

New Veggie Garden Planner

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Winter is the perfect time to plan out the vegetable garden. Designing a garden used to entail sitting at the kitchen table with seed catalogs, pieces of graph paper, and pencils and sketching out what goes where. Also, there’s usually a fair amount of head-scratching trying to remember how certain vegetables performed and whether you should try a different variety.

In the digital age, you can do all your planning on the computer. A new vegetable garden design software called Plangarden makes vegetable gardening a snap. This Web-based program is simple and easy to use. It has a Zoom and Planning feature that can help you create a garden as large as 5 acres or as small as a dooryard garden. You can create odd-shaped beds, container plantings, raised beds, and even square-foot garden beds. There are drag-and-drop graphics, text labels, and a journal area where you can write notes about each crop. The harvest estimator can help you stagger your harvest. You can also invite comments from other Plangarden users about your garden design.

For more information on this vegetable garden planner, go to: Plangarden.

 
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