Garden Talk: July 16, 2009

From NGA Editors

New Hybrid Rudbeckia

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Rudbeckias, also known as black-eyed Susans, are great for brightening up gardens with their yellow blooms. In recent years breeders have developed several new varieties of both annual and perennial rudbeckias with different heights, flower forms, and petal and center cone colors. Now, a recently introduced annual hybrid promises even more abundant flowers.

‘Tiger Eye’ rudbeckia features 3-inch-diameter blossoms on 24-inch-tall plants. The plants not only produce more flowers than other rudbeckias, but also are more tolerant of powdery mildew, a disease common on rudbeckias, so they bloom nonstop all summer long. ‘Tiger Eye’ is available from seed, so if you’re looking to grow lots of rudbeckia, try this new hybrid.

For more information on ‘Tiger Eye’ rudbeckia, go to: Burpee Seed.

Produce More Raspberries in Cool Climates

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It’s raspberry season in many parts of the country. If you love red raspberries and want to get an even bigger crop, consider using a technique developed by researchers in Norway. They grew two red raspberry varieties in greenhouses and outdoors. Plants were grown the first season, then moved to cold storage until the following spring. All of these second-year plants were tip pruned to a height of 5 feet on June 1st and planted either in an open plastic hoop house or outdoors. The highest yields (up to 8 pounds of berries per cane) were achieved on raspberries grown in the plastic hoop house. Yields of plants grown outdoors were lower.

Researchers believed of all the factors influencing production, the tip pruning height was the most important. For gardeners in northern climates, growing raspberries in hoop houses and tip pruning second year canes to 5 feet might be the ticket to higher yields.

For more information on this pruning and growing system, go to: Science Direct.

Return of American Chestnut Can Help Reduce Global Warming

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American chestnuts (Castanea dentate) were prized trees in North American forests until blight wiped them out in the last century. Researchers have been trying to breed a disease-resistant variety to replace this noble species. Not only are chestnuts great trees for producing wood for furniture and food for wildlife, American chestnuts could also help reduce global warming because of their fast growth rate.

Researchers at Purdue University compared a few remaining American chestnuts growing in the wild with other deciduous tree species, such as northern red oak and black walnut. They found American chestnuts not only grew faster than these other tree species, but had up to 3 times the biomass of other trees at the same age and sequestered more carbon. The American chestnut could be a key species in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and mitigating global warming. Breeders are working on a blight-resistant chestnut variety by crossing the few remaining American chestnuts with the blight-resistant Chinese chestnut. They have developed trees that are 94% American chestnut, yet still have the resistance gene.

For more information on American chestnut, go to: Science Daily

Revised Book on Deer-Proof Gardens

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Deer are capable of decimating a garden overnight and are the bane of many gardeners’ existence. There are countless books, articles, Web sites, and products available to help control this pest. Other than a very tall fence, no single technique has proven 100% effective; usually a combination of deterrents works best. Now you can arm yourself with the latest information in your battle against Bambi with this newly revised book.

Creating a Deer Proof Garden, (Peter Derano, 2009; $40) covers the basics on deer control, including fencing, barriers, and repellent sprays. However, the bulk of the book is devoted to profiles of 117 plants the author has grown without significant damage from deer. Unlike other books that just give lists of deer-resistant plants, this book profiles the plants, complete with color photos. While the author acknowledges that no plant is completely deer-proof, he shows how you can minimize deer damage by using a combination of deer-resistant plants and deterrents.

For more information on this book, go to: : Creating a Deer Proof Garden

 
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