Garden Talk: April 26, 2007

From NGA Editors

Shasta Daisies Offer Something Old and Something New

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Shasta daisies are perennial garden favorites because of their large, pure white flowers and easy-care growth habit. Now a rediscovered old variety and a recently bred new one add unique flower types and colors to the traditional daisies.

‘Fiona Coghill’ Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum superbum ‘Fiona Coghill’) was first bred and introduced in England in the 1960s. It was lost from cultivation until recently when it was rediscovered in a home garden in Ireland. Now it’s available for the world to grow again. ‘Fiona Coghill’ features large, shaggy, creamy-white, chrysanthemum-like blossoms that open from yellow buds. The 30-inch-tall plants have sturdy stems, so the flowers are ideal for cutting.

‘Goldrausch’ (Leucanthemum maximum ‘Goldrausch’) is a new, petite Shasta daisy that can be grown in a container as well as in the garden. The plants grow 12 to 14 inches tall and produce sunflower-like blooms that are 3 to 4 inches in diameter. The flowers have widely spaced outer white petals surrounding an inner ring of shorter, slightly twisted petals of yellow and gold with an amber gold cone. ‘Goldrausch’ reblooms after deadheading and makes a great cut flower.

To learn more about ‘Fiona Coghill’ Shasta daisy, go to: Jung Seeds.

For more info on ‘Goldrausch’ Shasta daisy, go to: Wayside Gardens.

Dirt, the Natural Antidepressant

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Gardeners know that playing in the soil is good for lifting the spirits, and now it seems there’s a biological reason for it. Researchers from Bristol University and University College London found that naturally occurring "friendly" bacteria found in soil may affect the brain in a similar way as antidepressant drugs. Previous studies have linked childhood exposure to bacteria to protection against allergies and asthma. Now it seems it helps with depression as well.

Researchers first became interested in Mycobacterium vaccae bacteria after hearing that cancer patients treated with the bacteria reported increased vitality and cognitive function and a decrease in pain. The scientists theorized that Mycobacterium vaccae might stimulate serotonin production. Low levels of serotonin are linked with a number of disorders including anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder. Researchers treated mice with Mycobacterium vaccae and found that it did stimulate the part of the brain that produces serotonin. Researchers commented that it sounds like we all can benefit from a little more time playing in the dirt.

For more information on this research, go to: Medical News Today.

Enticing Yellow Shrub Roses

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Yellow is a coveted color in roses, especially in shrub roses, with their carefree growth habit and ever-blooming nature. Now gardeners have two new choices from a series of roses called Easy Elegance introduced by award-winning rose breeder Ping Lim at Bailey Nurseries.

‘Tahitian Moon’ (Rosa ‘BALoon’) features fully double, yellow blossoms on an 8-foot-tall bush adorned with dark, glossy foliage. This shrub can be trained as a climber in warm regions. ‘Yellow Submarine’ (Rosa ‘BAline’) has clusters of lemon-yellow blossoms that age to creamy white on a 2- to 4-foot-tall shrub. Both shrubs are disease resistant and hardy to USDA zone 4.

For more information about these and other Easy Elegance roses, go to: Easy Elegance.

Blast Bugs Away

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Knocking pests like aphids, white flies, mealybugs, and spider mites off plant leaves with sprays of water is a widely used pest control technique. However, the effectiveness of using blasts of water is dependent on the coverage of the spray nozzle. Common garden nozzles don’t completely cover the plant leaves -- especially the leaf undersides where many insects hide.

A new water nozzle packs more punch when it comes to killing these insect pests, and it cleans plant leaves at the same time. The Bug Blaster wand attaches to normal garden hoses and sprays a 360-degree vertical wall of water. The 4-foot-long wand is angled for reaching the undersides of leaves, and it will knock soft-bodied insects off the plant without damaging the leaves. Spray every 3 to 5 days for two weeks to eliminate heavy pest infestations. Another benefit is the nozzle uses 60 percent less water than a traditional hose nozzle.

For more information on the Bug Blaster, go to: Bug Blaster.

 
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