Garden Talk: May 24, 2007

From NGA Editors

Award-Winning, Fragrant Daylily

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For the last 13 years the All-American Daylily Selection Council has awarded unique and outstanding daylily varieties the prestigious "All-American Daylily" award. Their testing program helps gardeners decide which of the more than 13,000 daylily cultivars in the commercial trade would be the best ones to grow in their gardens. The test plots are located in five different hardiness zones so they offer a broad range of growing conditions. The daylilies are evaluated for 50 different growth characteristics such as disease resistance and length of flowering time. While most daylilies will bloom for two to three weeks in summer, top performers will bloom for 90 days in USDA zone 4 gardens and up to 300 days in USDA zone 9 gardens.

This year’s winner is ‘Lavender Vista’. This variety produces 5- to 6-inch-diameter, fragrant lavender blooms with a green throat. The plants grow 18 inches tall with evergreen foliage. This variety bloomed for an average of 88 days in trials and flowered in the shade better than other varieties.

For more information about ‘Lavender Vista’ and past All-American Daylily Selection Council winners, go to: All-American Daylily Selection Council.

Quieter, Lighter Reel Mower

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Gas-powered reel mowers cut grass cleanly with a scissor action, but although they are still used by some golf course professionals, the home garden versions of these mowers were heavy, unwieldy, and hard to use. Now there's a new, lightweight, cordless reel mower for home gardeners.

The Cordless Reel Mower is a battery-operated mower that produces the same clean cut as the professional models, but it's quiet, nonpolluting, and requires little maintenance. It weighs only 25 pounds, runs on a 24-volt rechargeable battery, and can mow a 2500-square-foot lawn with a single charge. The battery and charger are included. The Cordless Reel Mower is great for small lawns and will cut any grass except Bermuda and zoysia. Other than oiling and occasional sharpening, the Cordless Reel Mower requires little maintenance.

For more information about this mower, go to: Mantis.

Gardeners Fight Global Warming

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Gardeners are naturally concerned about the environment, and one of the major environmental concerns on gardeners’ minds is global warming. The issue seems so huge that people may feel paralyzed about what to do. To empower gardeners and enlist their involvement in working on the problem, the National Wildlife Federation has just published the Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming: Challenges and Solutions. Not only does the guide suggest steps anyone can take in their garden to help, it also discusses the impact that global warming is expected to have on plants in different regions of the country.

Some of the suggested steps for home gardeners, such as reducing their use of gas-powered machines and tools, composting to reduce the amount of waste sent to the local landfill, and installing drip irrigation to reduce water use, are straightforward and not new. However, other suggestions, such as building a rain garden to capture storm water runoff from roofs and paved surfaces, and planting green roofs to reduce the need for air conditioning in summer, are newer approaches that are more involved.

According to NGA horticulturist Suzanne DeJohn, who contributed to the report, "Individual gardeners may think they can't make a real difference. But imagine if all – or even half – of the estimated 91 million gardeners nationwide took steps to reduce their energy consumption."

To see the entire report on how gardeners can help combat global warming, go to: National Wildlife Federation.

A Dwarf Joe-Pye Weed For Small Gardens

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One of the best perennial plants for growing in moist soils is Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum). However, this native can grow to 7 feet tall at maturity, taking up lots of space in your perennial border. A newly discovered Eupatorium species has the same easy-to-grow characteristics and attractive flowers as the tall Joe-Pye weed, but it only grows to 4 feet.

‘Little Joe’ (Eupatorium dubium ‘Little Joe’) Joe-Pye weed was discovered by a Pennsylvania nurseryman. The plants have dark green leaves, and by midsummer they are topped with dome-shaped heads of lavender flowers. Not only does the plant grow to a manageable size in the garden, the dwarf stature keeps the butterflies that love to feed on the flowers at eye level for our enjoyment. ‘Little Joe’ is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 and grows in full or part sun.

For more information about ‘Little Joe’ Joe-Pye weed, go to: Plant Delights Nursery.

 
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