Garden Talk: November 22, 2007

From NGA Editors

Houseplant With Pizzazz

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Many indoor houseplants lack the colorful foliage and flowers of the plants in our gardens. They may tolerate the lower light and humidity in the home but often they aren’t especially attractive. If you’re up for a challenge, here is a relatively rare houseplant with brightly colored leaves and flowers that command attention.

A relative of the African violet, Episcia ‘Pink Brocade’ features large, draping pink, white, silver, and green leaves. The orange-red flowers are icing on the cake. This slow-growing houseplant needs a consistent environment to thrive. It grows best with moderate light, warm temperatures, and even watering. It grows well under artificial lighting or in a terrarium.

For more information on ‘Pink Brocade’ episcia, go to: Logee’s Greenhouses.

Cozy Wrap for Compost

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Composting is a great way to dispose of yard and kitchen waste without adding more volume to our landfills. In general, the warmer the pile, the faster the composting, so in many regions the cold weather means the end of active composting for the season. A new insulating cover can help keep your pile cooking longer so you have a finished batch of compost sooner than ever.

The Thermal Wrap compost cover holds in moisture and absorbs and retains heat. The 29" x 29" x 36” black polyethylene blanket is large enough to fit over standard-size wire bin composters. It’s particularly useful in windy, cold climates where compost piles can dry out easily. The Velcro strips hold the cover together and grommets secure it to the ground.

For more information on the Thermal Wrap compost cover, go to:Gardener’s Supply Company .

Bulb Flowers For All Occasions

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Bulb flowers, both cut and potted, are popular gifts for many occasions, including first dates and dinner parties. However, many people, especially men, don’t know what flowers to bring to these occasions -- especially when they involve the opposite sex -- or how to take care of the flowers. The Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center has created a fun Web site (www.savedbythebud.com) that can help the flower illiterate to select and care for the right cut or potted flower bulbs for the occasion.

The site covers four possible scenarios -- she’s visiting you, you’re visiting her, it's a special occasion, or you’re in the doghouse -- and suggests the appropriate flower to bring and how to present it. You'll also find practical, how-to tips on caring for the flowers, and nine videos on topics such as Arranging Cut Tulips and Pots for Daffodils.

Find out more about how to impress someone with bulb flowers at: Savedbythebud.com.

The Toughest Street Trees

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Urban environments are tough on street trees. Between air pollution, lack of high-quality soil, vandalism, and pests and diseases, street trees have a tough time surviving. One of the leading factors contributing to urban tree decline is improper tree selection and planting. Planting the wrong tree in the wrong environment often results in a stressed tree that doesn’t flourish. If it does thrive, it may eventually have to be severely pruned so it doesn’t interfere with power lines or buildings.

To help with selecting the right tree for the location, the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., has teamed up with the University of Maryland and local utilities to run trials on the best tree species and cultivars to plant in urban areas. After four years they have begun to compile a list of trees that can meet the demands of Main Street while still having an aesthetic appeal.

Some of the best trees for a wide variety of geographic areas include Brandywine red maple (Acer rubrum ‘Brandywine’), which reaches 25 feet tall and has an appealing globe shape and brilliant fall foliage. Natchez crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez’) reaches 30 feet tall, has white flowers and beautiful cinnamon-colored bark, and is resistant to powdery mildew disease.

For more information on other choice urban street trees, go to: Power Trees.

 
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