Garden Talk: September 22, 2011

From NGA Editors

New NGA Environmental Lawn and Garden Survey

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National Gardening Association conducted its first Environmental Lawn and Garden Survey in 2004. Concerns about global warming, climate change, our carbon footprint, and all things "green" have continued to increase since then. Our newly released 2011 Environmental Lawn and Garden Survey includes updated research on attitudes about the importance of maintaining lawns and landscapes in an environmentally friendly way, opinions about how environmentally friendly current lawn and landscape practices are, how knowledgeable homeowners are about how to maintain their lawns and landscapes in an environmentally friendly way, and new research about the market for chemical and organic fertilizers and insect and weed controls.

Clearly the concept of using environmentally friendly gardening practices is important to many. 79 percent of all U.S. households said that it was important to them that residential, commercial, and municipal lawns and landscapes be maintained in an environmentally friendly way. This was, however, a drop from the 89 percent who felt this way three years prior, in 2008.

But a disconnect comes when the numbers of people actually using environmentally friendly gardening practices is tallied. In both 2011 and 2008, only 3 percent of all households said they were extremely knowledgeable about how to maintain their home lawns and landscapes in an environmentally friendly way, and 11 percent said they were very knowledgeable. In 2011, 62 percent of all households said they were somewhat, not very, or not at all knowledgeable about how to maintain the lawn and landscape at their home in an environmentally friendly way, compared to 70 percent in 2008.

A representative sample of U.S. households that have a lawn or landscape to maintain were provided with a list of 12 lawn, garden, and landscape practices and asked to check which practices they plan to follow at home this year. While they were not labeled specifically as being "environmentally friendly," all of the practices are recommended methods for creating and maintaining an environmentally friendly lawn and landscape. In 2011, only 2 out of 12 practices were planned to be followed by more than 50 percent of households.

Why don't more people use environmentally friendly natural or organic gardening methods? The top reason given, by 33 percent, was simply that they had never thought about gardening this way. Others thought these methods were too expensive (28 percent); not effective enough (12 percent); too much work (11 percent); or too time consuming (9 percent).

It's clear that changes are needed on a number of environmental fronts to reduce the impact of the way we live, including the practices people use to maintain their home lawns and landscapes. NGA's view is that good environmental stewardship begins at home. That's where individuals can have a direct impact. People tell us that environmentally friendly lawns and landscapes are important to them. To help them put these values into practice, NGA is committed to providing gardeners with the practical, "doable" information they need to grow and maintain successful gardens and landscapes that enhance and protect the environment. With our comprehensive information about environmentally friendly lawn and landscape practices available in our email newsletters, Website content and school curriculums, our goal is to increase the number of gardeners who cultivating both plants and a concern for our natural world.

To find out more about all the surveys conducted by National Gardening Association, go to: Garden Research.

Reblooming Azaleas

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Azaleas have long been the glory of the spring garden, when their showy blossoms adorn the shrubs in vivid shades. Now you can have as much as 20 weeks of colorful flowers with the new Proven Winners® Color Choice™ Bloom-a-thon® evergreen azaleas. Beginning with the spring show in April, continuous cycles of bloom occur through the heat of summer, finishing with heavy flowering in the fall up until a hard frost.

Bloom-a-thon® Lavender sports large, ruffled, bright lavender flowers sprinkled with deeper rose freckles through the throat and grows 5-6 feet tall and wide. Pink Double (pictured) bears repeat flushes of double, bright pink blossoms; Red is covered with bright crimson-red flowers; both reach 3-5 feet tall and wide. The smallest of the series, White is adorned with large, single white blooms attractively sprinkled with green freckles on the upper petal on a shrub that is 2-2.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Bloom-a-thon® azaleas do best in dappled shade and prefer moist, acid, well-drained soil soil that is high in organic matter. All are winter hardy to USDA Zone 6b and AHS Heat Zone rated to 9.

For more information, go to: Spring Meadow Nursery.

Global Warming Affects Corn and Wheat Yields

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Corn and wheat are staples in the diets of many across the globe, so anything that affects their yields has an impact felt by millions. According to an analysis done by a team of U.S. based researchers, global warming has already taken a big bite out of global food production, resulting in steep food price increases, as noted in a July 4, 2011 article on the Science News website.

The researchers tracked yields of wheat and corn in countries across the globe for almost three decades. While they found that harvests of these crops have climbed steadily since 1980, in part due to technological advancements, they calculated that the increases in yield would have been considerably greater if the climate had been cooler. For corn, they estimated that the reduction in production due to higher temperatures was roughly equal to Mexico's entire yearly production. According to David Lobell of Stanford, one of the researchers, every decade of climate change set back corn yields by about a year.

Some crops fared better as the world warms. Rice and soybean yields have so far been unaffected by increased temperatures. This points out the need for more research into crops that can tolerate and thrive in warmer conditions, notes Lobell. In the face of increased population pressure, it may be the best way to prevent food scarcity as the world heats up.

To read the entire article, go to Science News.

Get Plant Savvy with Monrovia Videos

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Get some savvy gardening advice from Monrovia Nursery's garden experts when you watch Monrovia's plant savvy® Tips videos. Covering a wide variety of subjects, including fruit trees, foundation plants, choosing healthy plants, and gardening with tropical plants, over twenty short videos are full of great information and ideas. Check out the video on sky gardening to learn how to use plants with an upright structure to add interest and definition to your landscape. Or find out how to select and maintain intriguingly shaped topiary plants.

Videos of special interest for this time of year include ones on fall container gardening, decorating your patio with some unusual plant-and-pumpkin tablescapes with an updated color palette, and dressing up your front door area with dramatic fall foliage, flowers, pumpkins, and gourds.

Gardeners in warmer sections of the country may be interested in the video on Monrovia's new Angel Red® pomegranate (pictured) with its stunning red flowers in summer and luscious red fruits in fall. This new early-ripening variety has softer seeds than other cultivars.

You can also sign up to receive the plant savvy® e-newsletter for more gardening inspiration and ideas.

To view the plant savvy® Tips videos, go to Monrovia.

 
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