Garden Talk: June 22, 2006
From NGA Editors
An Apple a Day Helps Memory
The old adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" can now be amended to include keeping your memory sharp as you age. Research at the University of Massachusetts Lowell suggests that drinking 2 to 3 cups of apple juice or eating 2 to 4 apples a day, along with eating a balanced diet, can help protect the brain from oxidative brain damage that can lead to memory loss. The researchers theorize that apples have antioxidant properties that protect brain cells.
Researchers evaluated adult mice, giving some a standard diet, some a nutrient-deficient diet, and a third group a nutrient-deficient diet supplemented with apple juice. The mice that consumed the diet with apple juice performed better in tests and had less brain damage than the other mice.
For more information on this research, go to: U.S. Apple Association.
New Colorful, Heat-Tolerant Plants
The heat is on this summer, and many gardeners are wondering which flower varieties will perform the best during these hot, sultry days. To help gardeners decide, researchers at the University of Georgia?s trial gardens in Athens have developed a line of recommended plants based on their trials. This year?s Athens Select winners all grow well in the heat and are good choices for those living in warm climates (USDA zones 7-10). In other regions, they can be grown as annuals.
Ornamental grasses have become very popular over the last 10 years, especially varieties with colorful foliage. Two new fountain grasses perform well and hold their leaf color in the heat and humidity of a Southern summer. Pennisetum ?Prince? and Pennisetum ?Princess? both have purple foliage that not only doesn?t fade in the heat, it actually becomes more purple as the summer gets hotter. ?Prince? grows 5 to 6 feet tall, and the shorter ?Princess? reaches only 2 to 3 feet tall.
Setcreasea pallida ?Blue Sue?, also known as the blue-leaved, purple-heart plant, has blue-tinged leaves with a purple margin. The foliage contrasts well with the pink flowers. This low-growing, compact plant is best planted in the front of a border or in a hanging basket or container. It grows equally well in full sun or part shade.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these and other Athens Select plants helps fund plant research at the University of Georgia. For more information on other choice heat-loving plants, go to: Athens Select.
A More Efficient Way To Water
Many gardeners keep their lawns looking green and lush by putting their sprinkler irrigation systems on a timer to automatically provide adequate water for their grass. While automatic systems are convenient, they do have some drawbacks, such as turning on even when it?s raining outside and wasting this precious resource. To prevent your sprinkler from operating when Mother Nature is doing the job for you, consider installing a rain sensor.
The Mini-Clik rain sensor is one of the newest types on the market. While most sensors have to accumulate a certain amount of water before they shut off, the Mini-Clik has special disks that expand when it rains to signal the system to shut down. After only 5 minutes of rain, the system will turn off until the disks dry out. The shutting on and off won?t disrupt the normal timing of irrigation. The Mini-Clik can be mounted in a variety of locations.
For more information on the Mini-Clik, go to: Hunter Industries.
Unique Hanging Planters
It?s not too late to plant container gardens, especially if you?re growing in hanging containers such as the handy Plug & Grow bags. Designed to hang from a ceiling, deck, or porch, each cylindrical bag has space for 12 transplants. You fill the bag with potting soil and insert your own transplants into the holes. Add water and fertilizer through the top of the bag. The hanger has a 360-degree swivel that allows it to rotate so all plants receive adequate light.
For more information on the Plug & Grow bags, go to: Lee Valley.