Garden Talk: March 29, 2007

From NGA Editors

Win a School Garden During National Garden Month

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April is National Garden Month, and for the fifth year in a row, National Gardening Association is asking every gardener to participate in and celebrate gardening during this month. We’re particularly interested in having more kids learn the joys of gardening.

To celebrate National Garden Month this year NGA has teamed up with Keep America Beautiful and Scotts Miracle-Gro Company to produce the 30 Days of Green calendar and contest. This colorful poster highlights daily gardening activities you can do with kids in your classroom and at home. The activities range from tree planting to growing your state flower to packing a litter-free lunch at school.

There is also a Learning Garden Contest where schools can win an outdoor learning garden, indoor garden, or garden kits. Teachers submit students' essays describing what green space means to them and how they would use a learning garden at their school. One grand-prize-winning classroom will receive an outdoor garden valued at $10,000. Fifteen first-prize-winning classrooms will receive an indoor garden valued at $400. Thirty second-prize-winning classrooms will receive gardening kits valued at $200. The deadline is April 23rd.

For more information on the contest and to download the calendar of activities, go to: 30 Days of Green .

Unusual Pure White Zinnia

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Zinnias are versatile, easy-to-grow annual flowers that can be planted in annual gardens, perennial gardens, and containers. Many of the large-flowered, dahlia-type zinnias also make excellent cut flowers. Although the color range of zinnias is broad -- including red, orange, yellow, pink, and even green -- pure white blossoms have been elusive.

Now there's ‘White Wedding’, a pure white zinnia with large blooms and summer-long flowers. ‘White Wedding’ produces 4- to 5-inch-wide, double, snow-white blooms on plants that grow 12 to 16 inches tall. These dahlia-type blooms hold their color well and bloom all summer until frost.

For more information on ‘White Wedding’, go to: Burpee Seed Company.

Award-Winning Dwarf River Birch

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Each year the Cary Award is given to trees and shrubs with outstanding characteristics that are not widely grown in home landscapes. Although the award is for plants adapted to New England, many of the winners can be grown across the country. This year one of the Cary Award-winning plants is a familiar tree with a new twist.

River birch (Betula nigra) is a widely grown tree that features attractive exfoliating bark in colors of brown, salmon, peach, and orange. This native tree grows from Florida to Minnesota and is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9. River birch is heat tolerant, resists the bronze birch borer, and grows well on moist, well-drained soils. It's a fast-growing tree that reaches 40 to 70 feet tall, so it's not a good choice for a small yard.

Enter the Cary Award-winning ‘Little King’ river birch (Betula nigra ‘Little King’). The ‘Little King’ river birch has all the great characteristics of the original river birch, but it only grows 10 to 12 feet tall and wide. It’s so compact it can even be grown as a deciduous hedge and planted near the house, where its colorful bark can be enjoyed year-round.

For more information on this award-winning selection of river birch, go to: Carey Awards.

Fencing Out Slugs

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Slugs are the bane of many a gardener's existence. There are many devices available to control slugs, from beer traps to toxic baits. Now there’s a new product that uses the most basic barrier available — a fence — to keep slugs away.

SlugsAway is a 24-foot-long, 5-inch-tall aluminum mesh fence that repels slugs. The key is a weatherproof power pack driven by a single 9-volt battery that attaches to the fence. When slugs try to crawl up the fence, they get a mild shock and are sent packing. The voltage is so low, however, that pets, birds, and people don’t even notice it when they touch the fence. Simply bury the fence 2 inches below the soil line (slugs can dig under fencing) and prop up the fence with the stakes provided. SlugsAway is large enough to protect a 4-foot by 8-foot bed.

For more information on SlugsAway, go to: Contech Company.

 
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