Garden Talk: May 6, 2010

From NGA Editors

Primal Scream

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Daylilies are popular plants because they are easy to grow and come in an incredible array of colors, sizes and bloom times. One way to help make a selection from among the many offerings at nurseries, garden centers, and on-line and mail-order sources is to visit the website of the American Hemerocallis Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and improving daylilies and encouraging public interest in their genus. (Hemerocallis is the name of the daylily genus.) The site includes information on growing and exhibiting daylilies, a searchable daylily data base and a list of sources by region.

There is also a Popularity Poll section, again by region, so you can find a listing of the most popular daylilies in your area. The poll is based on votes cast by AHS members from across the country. So it was interesting to note that in two-thirds of the 15 regions, a daylily called 'Primal Scream' was rated among the top 4 choices (and was number one in 6 instances). It was also the highest rated cumulative winner when all regions of the country were considered.

So what is this daylily that gets such rave reviews? As you might expect from its name, 'Primal Scream,' with its 7 1/2" electric orange blossoms on 34" scapes, adds an intense jolt of color to the garden. In addition to its fiery color, its flowers are unusually shaped "spiders", with long, narrow, twisted petals. Introduced in 1994, this mid to late season bloomer has won a number of awards, including the prestigious Stout Medal in 2003. Imagine vivid 'Primal Scream' blossoms against the cool purple-blue haze of Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) in the late summer garden or set in front of the deep reddish-purple of a 'Royal Purple' smokebush (Cotinus coggygria). No matter how you use it, 'Primal Scream' will add some zest to your garden.

To see the complete 2010 Daylily Popularity Poll results for all regions, go to: American Hemerocallis Society.

Award Winning Roses

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It's never too soon to start planning ahead in the garden. Eager rose lovers will be happy to learn that All-America Rose Selections has already released the names of its two 2011 award winners! AARS winners are roses that have excelled in an extensive 2 year trial program conducted in 23 gardens nationwide. Plants are judged on characteristics such as disease resistance, flower production, color, fragrance and the ability to thrive when given average home garden care.

One of this year's winners is the aptly named floribunda 'Walking on Sunshine,' which bears tight clusters of 3 to 3 1/2-inch, bright yellow blossoms on a four-foot tall, upright, rounded shrub. Its excellent disease resistance, profuse flower production and vigorous growth make it a great choice for both beginning and experienced rose gardeners. The blooms of this Jackson and Perkins introduction have a moderate, anise-like fragrance. Although no hardiness zone rating is given, most floribunda roses are hardy to Zone 5, even Zone 4 with some protection.

For more information on 'Walking on Sunshine,' along with the other 2011 AARS winner, the grandiflora 'Dick Clark,' as well as a link to a listing of the best roses for different areas of the country, go to: All-America Rose Selections.

Landscape to Save Energy

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As the cost of energy increases, we are all looking for ways to save. Energy-Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for your Home and Garden by landscape architect Sue Reed (New Society Publishers, 2010, $29.95) is a great resource that describes the many ways home gardeners can reduce the energy needed to heat and cool their homes through the thoughtful choice and placement of landscape plants.

The first sections of the book explain ways you can keep your house cooler in summer by shading it, cooling the air and ground around it, and directing winds with plants in the landscape. She then elaborates ways in which your plantings can help you take advantage of the sun's heat in winter and minimize the chilling effects of wind.

But she goes beyond these topics to discuss the ways in which we can reduce the amount of energy we consume in the landscape itself, covering topics such as using water in our gardens efficiently, reducing lawn areas, choosing energy-efficient landscape lighting, installing plants and garden structures and maintaining our gardens in energy-efficient ways, all the while keeping function and aesthetics in mind. She points out, for example, that we need to keep in mind the amount of energy that is used to produce and transport the materials we use in our gardens, not just the energy we use directly.

The sections on constructing new homesites and situating new homes with energy in mind would be invaluable to anyone planning on building a new home. And for those who are really interested in maximizing their savings, there is a section on generating energy in the landscape from the sun, wind, flowing water and the heat of the earth.

Filled with lots of specific, practical, how-to information, this book will help you shrink your energy footprint while designing a beautiful, environmentally sound landscape.

For more information on Energy-Wise Landscape Design, go to New Society Publishers.

Nurturing Community Gardens

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For the many people who want to garden, but don't have a place of their own on which to plant, community gardens are a great solution. If you're interested in starting a community garden in your area, or in encouraging the success and longevity of an existing garden, the American Community Garden Association is an excellent resource. This non-profit organization, dedicated to enhancing community gardening and green spaces across the United States and Canada, works to promote and support all aspects of community food and ornamental gardening, along with urban forestry and the preservation of open space.

Their website is loaded with information on starting and maintaining a community garden program. There is a community garden database you can search to find a program near you, information on events and training workshops, an on-line store with publications related to community, urban and kid's gardening, and an action section with advice on how you can promote community gardening in general and protect the continuation of existing gardens.

Atlanta, Georgia is the site of this year's annual conference on August 5-8, which will focus on "A Holistic Approach to Building Sustainable and Healthy Communities" and "Growing Healthy Children-From the Ground Up."

For more information the American Community Garden Association and their annual conference, go to: American Community Garden Association.

 
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