Garden Talk: June 4, 2009

From NGA Editors

New Hardier Cape Fuchsia

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Many gardeners love to grow the common fuchsia as an annual in containers and hanging baskets. The fuchsia family, though, also has soon unusual perennials in its lineage. The cape fuchsia produces upright plants with stalks of tubular flowers. Normally only hardy in warm-winter areas, now there is a new cape fuchsia (Phygelius rectus) that is hardy to USDA zone 6 and is also more compact and longer flowering than other varieties.

‘Cherry Ripe’ cape fuchsia is one of the few cape fuchsias that can survive USDA hardiness zone 6 conditions. In zones 7 to 10 it is an evergreen year-round. In zone 6 ‘Cherry Ripe’ will die back to the ground in winter, but regrow in spring. This hardy cape fuchsia features blue-green foliage and the 20-inch-tall plants are loaded with tubular, red flowers on purple stems from mid-summer until frost. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. The plant is small enough to thrive in a container or in the front of an annual or perennial flower border.

For more information on the ‘Cherry Ripe’ cape fuchsia, go to: Wayside Gardens.

Trees Can Reduce Energy Usage

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Trees are great additions to a yard for their shade and fruit depending on the type you grow. Now, research confirms trees also will help reduce summertime energy use. A recent USDA study in California showed trees positioned on the south and west sides of a house can reduce summertime energy use by at least 5 percent. Researchers studied 460 single family homes in Sacramento, California in the summer of 2007. The research also showed a mature sycamore planted on the west side of a house can reduce carbon emissions from summertime electricity use by an average of 31 percent over the 100 year lifespan of the tree. The trees not only reduced the amount of energy needed from coal- and oil-fired plants, they also sequestered carbon from the atmosphere.

For more information on this research, go to: : National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Race Car Made From and Powered by Vegetables

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Formula 1 racing has come under scrutiny from environmental groups for the amount of fossil fuels needed to create and maintain their sport cars. Now, researchers at the University of Warwick in England have developed a prototype Formula 1 race car made from and powered entirely by vegetables.

The WorldFirst Formula 3 race car features a steering wheel made from carrots and other root vegetables, a flax fiber and soybean oil foam racing seat, bodywork made from potatoes, plant oil-based engine lubricants, and a biodiesel engine configured to run on waste chocolate and vegetable oil. Even with all these veggies, this “green” race car still can do 125 mile per hour around the track.

For more information on the WorldFirst Formula 3 race car, go to: University of Warwick

New Handy Mosquito Repellent

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Summer time is mosquito time for much of the country. Whether you’re camping, gardening, or just enjoying a quiet evening on a patio or deck, mosquitoes often seek you out and ruin your fun. While there are many mosquito repellent lotions and sprays on the markets, here’s a new product that features a handy cordless, portable, butane-powered, phone-sized device. The Thermacell mosquito repellent has a botanical pesticide-laden mat draped over a warm metal grill. As the insecticide vaporizes in the air around the cartridge, it repels flying mosquitoes within a 225 square foot area. The mats can be replaced after 3 to 4 hours of usage. The vapor is safe and harmless to pets and humans.

For best results allow 10 to 30 minutes for the vapor to spread throughout the area and place the device close to the ground and upwind from any breezes.

For more information on this odorless and silent bug repellent, go to: Thermacell.

 
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