Garden Talk: December 3, 2009

From NGA Editors

Compact Magnolias for Early Spring Blooms

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Magnolia trees are popular for their flowers, which bloom in late winter or early spring. The trees are majestic and the flowers are colorful, with a unique sweet fragrance. However, many magnolia species are too large to grow in a small yard. From New Zealand comes a new line of compact magnolias that produce fragrant flowers with an unusual shape. Evergreen Fairy magnolias are hardy to USDA zone 7 (zone 6 with winter protection). Fairy magnolia 'Blush' grows just 9 to 12 feet tall and wide at maturity and in spring produces fragrant flowers that start out blushed pink and then fade to white. The flower's shape is more reminiscent of flowering crabapples than typical magnolias. Masses of flowers are produced along each stem. The Fairy magnolia grows best in part to full sun on well-drained soils. They look great as a specimen plant or can be pruned into a hedge, espalier, or topiary.

For more information on this new magnolia; go to: Anthony Tesselaar Plants .

New Ergonomic Kitchen Cutter

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It's important to have the right tools when you're working in the kitchen. While sharp knives are great for many jobs, chopping vegetables with a knife can be time-consuming and requires a cutting board. Now there's a simple cutter that you can use safely on the fly. Sure Grip Snips chop vegetables quickly and safely. The snips feature a contoured and textured grip with a springy, wishbone-like plastic handle. With a light squeeze the 1 3/4-inch stainless steel blade slices through the vegetable and into a grooved base. It's perfect for cutting vegetables directly into a stew or soup pot. The Sure Grip snip is easy to use, inexpensive ($10), comfortable, and safe. No more cut fingers and thumbs when chopping vegetables. It's a perfect stocking stuffer for the holidays.

For more information on the Sure Grip Snip, go to: Lee Valley Tools .

A New Way to Repair Your Dog-Damaged Lawn

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Dogs maybe man's best friends, but they certainly aren't friends to your lawn. Dogs urinating on the lawn can cause brown, dead spots. Dedicating a certain area for your dog helps, and watering the spots after Lassie has finished is a good idea. Now there's more you can do to repair damaged lawns and prevent further problems.

Rascal Spot is a new product that contains a naturally-occurring bacterium that helps your lawn recover from damage by consuming the ammonium in the urine and binding the salts it contains. It also increases soil permeability to enhance grass growth. In addition to treated damaged lawns, you can also apply Rascal Spot every eight weeks to prevent damage.

Rascal Spot can be used in all climates on all types of turf. This product is safe for kids, animals, and wildlife. A one quart bottle will cover a 5000-square-foot lawn.

For more information on Rascal Spot, go to: Natural Microbial Solutions

A Clover of a Different Color

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White or Ladino clover is usually thought of as a weed in lawns or as a forage crop for animals. However, there are some attractive varieties of white clover gardeners can grow as a ground cover. These are not as invasive as the wild white clovers, but still are easy to grow.

One of the more attractive selections is 'Dragon's Blood' white clover (Trifolium repens 'Dragon's Blood'). It features mint green leaves with white edges. In the center of each leaf is a touch of "dragon's blood" red coloring. Small, white, pompom-like flowers appear in early summer. The plant grows best in part shade and is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9. It only grows 3 to 4 inches tall and can be cut back and rejuvenated in midsummer. It does spread, but not as aggressively as its wild cousins. You can use 'Dragon's Blood' white clover as a filler in container plantings and as edging in the front of a border.

For more information on this unusual white clover, go to: Heritage Perennials

 
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