Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
January, 2008
Regional Report

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Discovered in Mississippi, 'Minnie Pearl' phlox promises short stature and mildew-resistant foliage.

Thumbs Up From The Pros

Though we may watch our pennies, gardeners like "stuff" -- useful, attractive, fun, and interesting tools, gadgets, plants, and other gardening paraphernalia. I asked some garden professionals about their favorite finds and here are the things they'd rather not live without.

Hori, Hori Tool
Toni Ann Flanigan, owner of Philadelphia Garden, Inc., raves about her Hori, Hori knife -- a stainless steel, multipurpose digging tool. The combination knife/trowel "makes planting annuals very easy in tight container conditions. It's also great for planting bulbs."

My hardwood-handled Hori, Hori comes in handy for dividing and cutting iris tubers, daylily clumps, and perennials; cutting away plastic pots; and sawing off roots from potbound plants. The model with a 6-3/4-inch blade and sheath is available at Gempler's ( for $19.95 plus shipping. The larger 12-inch stainless steel blade and sheath for $29.50 plus shipping; and the carbon blade for $21.00 plus shipping are available at Lee Valley Tools (

Bypass Ratchet Lopper
We know that anvil pruning blades are not recommended for cutting live wood. They bruise wood rather than slicing a clean cut so the branch can heal properly, explains Rick Ray, consultant and adjunct professor at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. He's impressed with the ratchet loppers with bypass blades that he bought from Garrett Wade ( "It's a well-made tool. The beauty is not only its bypass blade, it has durable, extendable handles that click into place rather than telescope. It's also reasonably priced." This ratchet-style Heavy-Duty Arborist's Bypass Pruning Lopper sells for $39.95 plus shipping.

Handiwand Watering Tool
Going from garden to garden and hose to hose, I like the Dramm Color Storm Handiwand watering tool. Small enough to tuck in my pocket and colorful to spot, it's easy to screw on a hose end. The quick click, rotating nine-spray pattern allows me to spray soil with a gentle mist, then twist and shift to a harder spray for washing the sidewalk. The handle has an ergonomic bonus. Instead of the usual spring handle and grip, this handle has one-touch lever that moves back and forth to control water pressure. With my achy wrists, that's much easier to use. Mine's bright orange.

Sustainable Potting Soil
Organic Mechanics' premium potting soil with its compost base and worm castings (not peat) appeals to Gloria Day's "green" business ethic. "I've sought out local, sustainable products of the best quality for Pretty Dirty Ladies garden design, installation, and maintenance work." OM potting soil performed well for her landscape containers at the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association's Pennsylvania Energy Fest in Kempton. See the soil at:

Native Phlox
"I fell in love with Phlox 'Minnie Pearl' and so did my clients," says Victoria Mower, nursery manager for Octoraro Farm and Gardens in Nottingham, Pennsylvania. "Now I am growing 'Minnie Pearl', a native, 14- to 16-inch phlox discovered in Mississippi. Its beautiful clear white flowers stand high above low, mildew-free foliage." Flowers open in April and bloom into summer in sun and part sun above a spreading, ground cover-like habit.

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