Garden Talk: December 6, 2007

From NGA Editors

New Fragrant English Roses

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David Austin’s English roses have been gracing the gardening world for more than 25 years. These roses combine the beauty and everblooming nature of modern hybrid tea and floribunda roses with the petal shape and fragrance of old-fashioned roses.

For 2008 David Austin is releasing two new English rose varieties. ‘Janet’ features a 4-foot-tall hybrid tea-style plant and flower with peachy pink blooms that are dashed with hints of copper and yellow. It has a strong tea rose fragrance. ‘Windermere’ is a 3-foot-tall compact bush that features densely packed 3- to 4-inch-diameter cream-colored blossoms that have up to 80 petals per flower. The flowers have a fruity fragrance with grapefruit overtones. Both roses grow best in full sun and are hardy to USDA zone 5.

For more information on these new English roses, go to: Jackson & Perkins.

Sock It To Strawberry Diseases

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Black root rot disease is a menace to strawberry growers. Plants with this soilborne disease often are short lived and produce few berries. For commercial operations, fumigating the soil with methyl bromide has been a widely used option to combat this disease. However, since this pesticide is being phased out of operation, growers are scrambling for alternatives. For small-scale and organic strawberry growers, one option is growing strawberry plants in compost-filled "socks."

USDA researchers in Maryland grew strawberries in the traditional matted row system and also in 8- to 24-inch-diameter mesh tube socks filled with compost. These socks are made from material commonly used for erosion control on banks and slopes. They were laid on top of the soil. The sock-grown strawberries not only had less black root rot disease, their yields were 16 to 32 percent higher than the control strawberry patch. Researchers believe the compost-filled socks provided a protective layer between the disease-laden topsoil and the strawberry plant roots. On a scale of 1 to 5 -- with 5 being totally free of root rot -- all but one of the strawberry varieties grown in the socks was rated a 4 or a 5.

For more information on this new research, go to: USDA Agricultural Research Service.

New Award-Winning Viola

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Violas and pansies are classic cool-season annual flowers. For gardeners in mild winter areas, they bloom and provide color all winter. In colder areas they’re one of the first flower transplants in spring. Now there is a new, award-winning viola that adds to the color range of this popular flower.

Viola ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ is a 2008 All America Selections winner with excellent heat tolerance. In some trial areas it bloomed into August. ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ is the first viola with a gold face, black whiskers, and shades of plum surrounding the face. The plant grows 6 to 8 inches wide and produces 1- to 2-inch-wide blooms.

For more information on this new viola, go to: National Garden Bureau.

Milder Winter Predicted

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Predicting what the winter weather will be like across the country is always tricky business, but with modern forecasting tools many meteorologists feel more confident about going out on a limb to tell us what to expect. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released their latest winter predictions for the U.S.

Because of a strong La Nina (cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean), the NOAA predicts a 4 percent warmer winter than the 30-year norm. Drought will continue or develop in the Southwest, Southeast, and some mid-Atlantic states. The most likely areas to experience warmer winter conditions are Texas, New Mexico, and other southern tier states. Of course, these general trends won’t help you predict how much and what type of precipitation you’ll get in your backyard, but they give a general sense of the severity of this winter season.

For more information about the NOAA winter weather predictions, go to: NOAA.

 
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