Garden Talk: January 29, 2009
From NGA Editors
New Scented Tuberous Begonia
Tuberous begonias are gorgeous, shade-loving flowers that produce large bouquets of single or double blooms in colors ranging from white to deep red. However, for as beautiful as they look, these flowers haven't had any noticeable fragrance.
Now from England comes the first scented tuberous begonia variety that can be grown from seed. ?Scentsation Mixed Hybrid? tuberous begonia produces loads of fragrant, double, 4 1/2-inch-diameter blooms in a range of pastel colors from summer until fall. The fragrances on this begonia mix range from soft lemon to rose. The plants grow 20 inches tall and thrive in shade. Gardeners who want to grow many tuberous begonias inexpensively can purchase seeds of this variety. After the first growing season, save the tubers over the winter and you?ll have this variety for years to come.
For more on this richly scented begonias, go to: Thompson & Morgan Seeds.
Honeybees as Plant Bodyguards
Most gardeners know the advantages of honeybees visiting the garden. Bees play a critical role in the pollination of many fruits and vegetables. New research from Germany shows that honeybees can also protect plants from caterpillar damage as well.
Leaf-eating caterpillars have fine hairs on their bodies to help them identify when predatory wasps are buzzing nearby. Unfortunately for the caterpillar, these hairs don?t distinguish between an insect-eating wasp and a harmless bee. If it detects some activity the caterpillar often stops feeding and may even drop to the ground to protect itself. German researchers measured the amount of damage on pepper plants grown in a tent with honeybees and caterpillars against those with just caterpillars. There was a 60 to 70 percent decrease in damage in the tent with honeybees.
When designing your home garden include a variety of honeybee-attracting flowers that will bloom throughout the growing season to help protect your vegetables and fruits. Some bee-attracting flowers to grow include agastache, California poppy, oregano, gaillardia, and cosmos.
For more information on this research, go to: Science News .
New Colorful False Indigo
Baptisia, or false indigo, is a popular spring-flowering, bushy perennial that grows 2 to 7 feet tall and wide depending on the species. There are white-, purple-, and yellow-flowered types available.
Now for a different look in baptisia comes ?Twilight Prairie Blues?. Bred at the Chicago Botanic Garden, this new variety features copper-purple flower spikes with a lemon-colored keel on the petals. Baptisia is a vigorous, native perennial with blue-green foliage that is hardy to USDA zone 4 and grows to 3 feet tall and wide at maturity. It grows in part to full sun and tolerates the summer heat well.
For more information on this new baptisia, go to: Heronswood Gardens .
Low Stress Wheeled Snow Shovel
Snow and cold is engulfing much of the country this year. While it?s great to hire someone to plow your driveway and walkways, for ?do-it-yourselvers? shoveling snow actually can be a good form of exercise. However, the tools and techniques we use often puts a strain on our hearts and backs. Now comes a new back-saving snow shovel that makes moving snow easier and safer.
The Sno Wovel snow shovel is ergonomically designed to reduce back strain and heart stress. The Sno Wovel has a metal snow shovel blade attached to a 3-foot-tall metal wheel. The handlebars are chest-high, reducing the need for bending. You can adjust the handlebars to fit your height. By simply pushing the wheel the snow accumulates in the blade. By snapping the handlebars down, the Sno Wovel throws the snow with little effort. University of Massachusetts researchers tested this tool and said it cleared snow 3 times faster than a conventional snow shovel and reduced the risk of heart and back problems.
For more information and to watch a video of this new product, go to: Sno Wovel .