Garden Talk: March 13, 2008

From NGA Editors

Stunning Multicolored Clematis

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Clematis are perennial climbing vines grown for their flowers that range in color from deep purples, blues, and pinks, to white. A new variety called 'Tie Dye' adds an interesting twist, with purple blooms streaked with lavender and white. No two flowers have exactly the same color patterns, giving each a unique appearance. The single, 4- to 6-inch-diameter blooms form on new wood and begin opening in early summer and continue until midsummer. ‘Tie Dye’, a sport of Clematis jackmanii, is a vigorous vine that can reach 12 to 15 feet tall in part to full sun locations. It's hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.

‘Tie Dye’ clematis makes a good companion to red roses and white, red, or pink clematis. Prune established vines lightly in early spring just above the leaf buds, and remove any dead or broken vines.

For more information on ‘Tie Dye’ clematis, go to: Wayside Gardens.

Updated Garden Primer

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Back in the 1980s, Barbara Damrosch’s book, The Garden Primer, was considered one of the bibles of general gardening. It was chock full of information on growing everything imaginable -- vegetables, fruits, roses, trees, shrubs, and houseplants. This bible just got better. The Garden Primer (Workman Publishing, 2008; $19) is a second edition of this gardening classic, with the same lively tone as the original and lots of new information.

Damrosch has updated and expanded sections on garden planning, tools, and varieties. She devotes more time to ecological issues, such as using native plants, avoiding invasive species, and selecting lawn alternatives. All her growing recommendations are now organic. The book also has more information for gardeners in the south and west, while still providing pertinent advice for cold-climate gardeners.

For more information on this new edition, go to: Workman Publishing.

New Golden Grape Tomato

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Grape tomatoes have become very popular in grocery stores and farmers’ markets. They resemble cherry tomatoes but are more elongated, less watery, and thicker skinned. While most grape tomato varieties are red, a new variety features bright gold coloring.

The ‘Solid Gold' hybrid grape tomato is an indeterminate plant that produces large clusters of up to 12 fruits 80 days after transplanting. Each 1-inch-diameter, crack-resistant, saffron-colored fruit has a sweet flavor that turns tangier as it ripens.

For more information on ‘Solid Gold’ tomato, go to: Territorial Seed .

Human Hair Disks for Containers

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First, there were smart pots, now there are smart mats. SmartGrow mats are woven disks made from human hair that can enhance growth of plants. They’re completely biodegradable, and as they decompose they release 15 percent nitrogen fertilizer into the soil. The mats also reduce the need for watering and weeding.

Tests at the University of Florida showed pots with SmartGrow mats increased yields of container-grown tomatoes by 30 percent and container-grown peppers by 40 percent. The round mats come in 6.25-inch, 9.5-inch and 14-inch diameters. SmartGrow also comes in rolls for in-ground planting and in cubes for multistemmed container plants. The mats can be placed at the bottom or top of the pot.

For more information on the SmartGrow mats, go to: SmartGrow.

 
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