Garden Talk: March 27, 2008

From NGA Editors

Regifting Flower Bouquets

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Bouquets of cut flowers are a sign of love and affection and are a sure way to make someone smile. Every year thousands of cut flowers decorate special events like weddings, banquets, and receptions. But after the event is over, these flowers are thrown away while still in their prime. A nonprofit organization is working to give these flowers new life by collecting and redistributing them to people who can use a little cheering up.

FlowerPower collects donations of flowers, reassembles the bouquets, and then distributes them to people in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and rape crisis centers. Currently the program is operating primarily in New York and Los Angeles, but there are plans to expand it. Since 2003 more than 2.5 million dollars worth of flowers have been redistributed to those who need them the most. Business and organizations are encouraged to make one-time or scheduled donations of flowers. Corporations, nonprofits, fashion shows, award shows, funeral homes, and private citizens have all contributed flowers.

For more information about this program, go to: FlowerPower.

Miniature Butterfly Bush

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Butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii) are the darlings of the midsummer perennial border. Their flowers form on new growth and become more numerous as the summer goes on. It’s a great delight to watch many different butterfly species alighting on the blossoms. However, one of the drawbacks of many butterfly bush varieties is their size. Some varieties reach 6 to 8 feet tall and have a very rangy appearance.

The new Lo & Behold miniature butterfly bush series developed at the Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina is the first to feature dwarf varieties, and the first variety to be introduced is ‘Blue Chip’. ‘Blue Chip’ grows only 2 feet wide and tall and stays in a compact, mounded shape all summer. The blue flowers are produced continuously from midsummer to frost. It rarely produces volunteer suckers, and the flowers don’t need deadheading. You can plant ‘Blue Chip’ in a container or in the front of a perennial border. It's hardy in zones 5 to 9.

For more information about ‘Blue Chip’ miniature butterfly bush, go to: Wayside Gardens.

Community-Based Weather Reporting

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Gardeners are keenly interested in the weather, and for good reason. Floods, droughts, hail, and snowstorms can spell disaster for many plants. While weather forecasting has become more sophisticated in recent years, there’s still a need for more data. The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) has been formed to provide it.

CoCoRaHS is a community-based nonprofit run by volunteers who measure and map precipitation patterns across the country. Volunteers use low-cost measurement tools to collect data, which they share online to help the National Weather Service, farmers, hydrologists, emergency managers, and others monitor rainfall patterns and make weather predictions. Each time it rains, hails, or snows, volunteers measure the amount of the precipitation in their yards and record the data online. There are more than 6,500 observers in 26 states, and the list is expanding monthly.

To find out more about this weather-reporting program and to sign up, go to: Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network .

All About Green Roofs

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Green roofs are becoming more popular in cities across the country. Many municipalities see growing plants on roofs as a way to reduce water runoff, summer air temperature, and pollution. Until recently, green roofs were grown mostly on commercial and municipal buildings. Now home and business owners can get into the act, too.

Greenroofs.com is a virtual portal to the green roof world. It provides information on the green roof movement, including a green roof directory of suppliers; print, radio, and video green roof news from around the world; job listings; and a forum for sharing information. The site also offers a Greenroof Depot to purchase supplies, such as planter blocks, drains, edging, and mother plants, or direct you to green roof supply manufacturers. You'll also find information on growing green walls.

For more information go to: Greenroofs.com.

 
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