Garden Talk: October 8, 2009

From NGA Editors

Weeping Blue Ginger

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Are you looking for a plant to brighten your patio this fall and indoors this winter? Why not try this weeping, blue-flowered ginger? Dichorisandra pendula is native to Brazil and thrives in full or part sun. It’s only hardy in frost-free areas, but it makes an excellent container plant and can tolerate the extremes of indoor humidity and light levels. It grows 2 to 3 feet tall in a pot.

Weeping blue ginger features small, blue flowers that arch from the stems. A member of the spiderwort family, this delightful plant produces flower bracts that continue to bloom over many months. On sunny days the flowers will close in the afternoon, but will remain open all day if it’s cloudy. It needs temperatures above 60F to thrive.

For more information on the weeping blue ginger, go to: Logees Greenhouses .

New Veggie Soup Cookbook

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Fall has arrived and that means it’s time to warm up the body with tasty and nutritious soups. If you’re tired of the same few recipes you keep using over and over, try out this new cookbook. From the author of the famous Vegetarian Epicure (considered one of the most influential cookbooks in modern vegetarian cuisine) comes a new vegetarian cookbook exclusively devoted to soups. Love Soup by Anna Thomas (W.W. Norton, 2009) provides 160 vegetarian soup recipes arranged by the seasons. Examples include sorrel soup for spring, smoky eggplant soup for summer, black bean and squash soup for fall, and curried spinach and parsley soup for winter. There’s even a whole chapter devoted to unusual broths! Thomas’ soup recipes satisfy, delight, and are nutritious, too.

There are recipes for soup companions as well. She has recipes for breads, hummus, pesto, and salads, as well as homemade desserts. The beauty of the book is that the recipes are simple and easy to make. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, you’re sure to find plenty of recipes you’ll enjoy.

For more information on Love Soup, go to: W.W. Norton & Company

Bulbs that Resist Vole Damage

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October is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs in your garden across much of the country. If you've ever planted tulips, hyacinths, and crocus, only to be frustrated when few flowers emerge the next spring, you're not alone. A common cause for poor bulb performance is that the bulbs were nibbled by mice and voles over the winter.

Now research from Cornell University describes which spring-flowering bulbs that mice and voles like the best, and which they will avoid. Most gardeners know mice and voles love tulips and avoid daffodils, but what about other bulbs? Researchers fed 30 different bulb varieties to mice and voles in the lab. Some received fresh bulbs while others received the bulbs mixed with applesauce to entice eating. They found mice and voles loved to eat all tulips. They fed on hyacinth, crocus, allium, scilla, and Dutch iris when hungry. However, they avoided daffodil, camassia, chinodoxa, muscari, fritillaria, and snowdrops. So, if vole damage is a concern, either protect susceptible bulbs with cages or place crushed oyster shells in the hole at planting time. Or just stick with the mice-and vole-resistant bulbs.

For more information on this research, go to: Cornell University.

Students are Happier in Classrooms with Plants

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It’s widely known that the presence of houseplants in rooms improves air quality, reduces eye irritation and stress, motivates employees, and even improves concentration. In one study, employees’ reaction time on computer tasks improved 12% with houseplants present. Now researchers have found that University students can benefit from having houseplants in the classroom as well.

Researchers from Texas State University and Texas A&M University analyzed three sets of two classes each -- about 385 students. One set of classes had no plants in their classroom, while the others had an assortment of tropical plants. At the end of the semester, students filled out a survey. Although there was no difference in overall grades or academic performance, researchers found students in the classroom with houseplants evaluated the course higher in instructor’s enthusiasm and organization. They generally had more positive feelings about the class than those in plant-less room. The plants had the most impact in classrooms with no other natural elements.

For more information on this study, go to: Science Daily News

 
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