Garden Talk: September 2, 2013
From NGA Editors
Fall is on its way. This is the time of the year when ornamental grasses really strut their stuff in the garden, their leaves backlit by low autumn sunlight, their panicles waving against a clear blue fall sky. But many of these grasses, while lovely, take up lots of room. A great choice for space-challenged gardeners is the relatively diminutive 'Cheyenne Sky' red switch grass (Panicum virgatum) from Proven Winners.
Growing only 30-36 inches tall and 18 inches wide, this North American native is also a great choice for container growing. Adapted to zones 4-9, it forms a dense, upright clump of blue green leaves. In early summer, the leaves begin to turn a lovely wine red, followed by purple flower panicles held above the foliage in late summer that persist through fall and winter and provide food for birds. 'Cheyenne Sky' makes an effective contrast to fall bloomers such as asters, sedums, chrysanthemums, and heleniums. Easily grown and tolerant of many types of soil, switch grass does best in full sun. Cut back plants in early spring before new growth emerges.
For more about 'Cheyenne Sky' red switch grass, go to Proven Winners.
Take a Trip to Tomatoville
Tomatoes are the number one home vegetable garden crop in America. Whether you're motivated by the wonderful flavor that only a truly ripe tomato can deliver, want to be the first on your block each summer to harvest the earliest ripe fruit, are eager to explore the myriad colors and flavors of heirloom varieties, or simply want to add nutrition and good taste to your summer meals, take a trip to Tomatoville® to find loads of great information and connect with like-minded tomato enthusiasts.
Tomatoville® is the world's largest online community of tomato growers. There you can join forums on all sorts of issues relating to everything from diseases and pests to starting from seeds, growing in containers, soil building, growing for market, and green growing strategies. As a registered user, you can post questions and share your own experiences and advice with other. There's also a section for forums relating to other garden plants, including those tomato relatives, peppers and potatoes.
To find about more about this website, go to Tomatoville.
National Pesticide Information Center
Want to find out about safe pest control strategies? Have a question about dealing with mosquitoes or ticks in your home landscape? Have questions about using pesticides as safely as possible or want information on the active and inert ingredients in a pesticide?
You can get these questions and much more answered at the National Pesticide Information Center. This website, a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency, provides objective, science-based information about pesticides and pesticide-related topics. Not only is there a wealth of information available, you can call or email the center with questions and receive assistance in a wide range of languages. Downloadable pesticide fact sheets and podcasts cover many commonly asked questions. Another section helps you locate local pesticide and pest control information for your state.
To access this helpful website, go to National Pesticide Information Center
Some plants seem to catch the fancy of plant breeders and inspire them to develop a mind-boggling array of cultivars, so many that a gardener is often at a loss when it comes to choosing among all the riches. How to decide on one variety or another, when there are so many to select from? That may be the case with heucheras these days. Every season seems to bring forth a host of new cultivars with leaves in an amazing array of hues and patterns, for they are often selected for their colorful leaves, as well as some for their delicate sprays of flowers.
To help gardeners wade through the bounty, in 2012 Mt. Cuba Center in northern Delaware began a three year evaluation of 86 heuchera cultivars that have either H. villosa or H. americana as one of their parents. As they noted, this barely scratches the surface of the number of varieties available, but it is a start in winnowing out the best of this exciting genus.
Although the trial is not yet complete, the center has posted interim ratings based on data collected in 2012 on their website. While the ratings may change as the plants are evaluated over the longer term, these initial data will give some indication of how the plants perform. Performance is based on growing conditions in the mid-Atlantic area, of course; gardeners in other areas should keep their own growing conditions in mind as they review these ratings. Some of the top rated Heuchera cultivars of 2012 included 'Apple Crisp', 'Berry Smoothie', 'Berry Marmalade', 'Cajun Fire', 'Purple Petticoats', 'Dale's Strain', 'Obsidian', 'Guardian Angel', and 'Spellbound'. And stay tuned as the data for the two succeeding seasons is gathered and posted, along with a final evaluation.
To read more about the Mt. Cuba Center Heuchera Evaluation, go to Trial Garden Research.