Garden Talk: May 22, 2008

From NGA Editors

Air Pollution Reduces Flower Fragrance

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The decline of honeybee and native bee populations has been widely reported in the press, and a number of factors have been attributed to the decline, such as mites, disease, and stress. Now air pollution has been added to the list of possible causes.

Researchers at the University of Virginia found that air pollution from power plants and automobiles is destroying flower fragrance and making it harder for bees to find flowers when foraging. The result is that bees visit fewer flowers and gather less nectar. Researchers found that scent molecules could travel up to 1200 meters in the 1800s. However, with pollution, today’s scent molecules travel only 200 meters. When the scent molecules bind with common pollutants, such as ozone, hydroxyl, and nitrate radicals, the flower’s aroma gets destroyed. The bees can’t find the flowers so they go hungry and the flowers don’t get pollinated.

For more information on this research, go to: University of Virginia Today.

New Multicolored Wallflower

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Wallflowers are tender perennials that can also be grown as biennials in cold climates. This quintessential English flower features strap-like leaves and tender stems of brightly colored blossoms. Now a new variety from Wales adds more color to this popular early-summer bloomer.

‘Jenny Brook’ wallflower (Erysium ‘Jenny Brook’) produces multicolored flowers for months on 20-inch-tall, mounded plants. The purple flower buds erupt into a unique combination of mauve, apricot, and coral pink blossoms. ‘Jenny Brook’ is a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9. It makes an excellent container plant as well as a bedding plant in the front of a flower border. It grows best in full sun on well-drained, moderately fertile to poor soils.

For more information on this new wallflower, go to: Blooms of Bressingham.

Choosing Roses for Your Region

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The All-America Rose Selections (AARS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the introduction and promotion of award-winning roses. For 70 years they have trialed rose varieties across the country and bestowed the AARS-Winner label on the best performers.

Now the AARS has created a new program to help gardeners select the best roses to grow in their regions. Recognizing that rose varieties are often best suited to a particular climate, AARS has rolled out the AARS Region’s Choice Awards for different geographical areas. For 2008 they have started with three western regions and have selected some roses best adapted to those climates. For the Northern California and Pacific Northwest region, some of the top rose varieties are ‘About Face’, ‘Carefree Wonder’, ‘Cherry Parfait’, and ‘Crimson Bouquet’. For Southern California and the Southwest, choices include ‘Hot Cocoa’, ‘Julia Child’, ‘Opening Night’, and ‘Secret’. For the Rocky Mountain Region, ‘Carefree Delight’, ‘Hot Cocoa’, ‘Memorial Day’, and ‘Scentimental’ were some of the winners.

AARS is expecting to roll out Region's Choice rose selections for the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast in 2009. For a complete list of AARS Region’s Choice rose varieties for these three regions, go to: All-America Rose Selections Region’s Choice Program.

Recipes from the Garden

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Rosalind Creasy is considered a leader in the edible landscaping movement. Her famous book, The Complete Guide to Edible Landscaping (Sierra Club Books, 1982), is a bible for many home gardeners. Yet Creasy is more than a revolutionary gardener, she also loves to cook up her garden bounty. Her new book, Recipes from the Garden (Tuttle, 2008; $25), features 200 of her recipes using common and unusual plants that she has grown and cooked with for years. The recipes are simple and elegant and feature the finest qualities of each fruit, vegetable, and herb. Plus, mouth-watering photos accompany many of the recipes.

Creasy puts an unusual spin on traditional recipes, such as Caesar salad and lasagna, while introducing unique dishes, such as lavender-tinted vichyssoise and golden tomato tart. The book is organized by types of dishes and has a section on international flavors from Asia, Italy, and Mexico. And there are recipes using edible flowers and fruits in drinks and desserts.

For more information on Recipes from the Garden, go to: Tuttle Publishing .

 
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