29 May 2014

Muskogee Garden Tour - Leslie and Randy Scott's garden

One of the joys of attending garden tours is seeing how other gardeners’ creativity can make their yard into a personal expression. So, grab a camera and attend the Muskogee Garden Tour on June 7 and get some new ideas for sun, shade and poolside.

Homeowners Leslie and Randy Scott have spent a few years transforming their front, back and side yards into a relaxing spot for friends and family. 

“We started in the fall of 2010 with a plan by Steven Williams Landscape in Tulsa,” Leslie Scott said. “What I like about the plants he selected is that once they are established, they take little water and care.”

When you first arrive at the Scott’s, you are treated to their pleasingly landscaped front yard on a corner lot. Look for Azaleas, Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Crape Myrtle, Boxwood, Leatherleaf Viburnums, Mugo Pines and Otto Luyken Laurels.

The Otto Luyken Laurel is a dwarf variety of English Laurel that is hardy in zones 6 to 9.

“The bees like the white flower spikes and the birds enjoy the black berries on the Laurel,” Scott said. “I like to plant things that bring birds into our yard.” 

Immediately out the back door of the Scott home is an outdoor kitchen with an entertainment area and swimming pool.

“When we bought the house, the lawn was filled with 40-year old sweet gum trees that we had to remove,” said Scott.

Other structures in the back yard include the pool house and a potting shed where Leslie stores the mower, tools, pots, etc. Randy takes care of the mowing and Leslie prunes and continues to add plants. A large potting cart sits by the shed.

She said, “Having a cart like that means that I can take it wherever I’m working and keep the mess contained.”

In the Scott’s large back yard, you will see a wide a variety of shrubs lining the buildings and fences including: Foster’s Holly (Ilex attenuate), Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus Schipkaensis or Schip Laurel), Crape Myrtle, Red Sprite Winterberry (Ilex verticillata Nana Red), Knockout Roses, Dogleaf Viburnum, Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis), Butterfly bush and Eleagnus pungens.

Eleagnus pungens (Silverberry) is hardy in zones 6 to 9 and is used as a screening hedge. The wavy leaves are green but have silver scales on the top and brown scales on the underside. They like sun and need little water. Their mature size is 6 to 10 feet tall and wide.

The trees in the back include Red bud, Prairiefire Crabapple, Willow Oaks and Green Giant Arborvitae.
“I love Green Giant Arborvitae,” Scott said. “They grew quickly to provide good screening both for the front and the back.”

Green Giants have a natural pyramidal shape and dense, dark green, fernlike foliage. They are hardy in zones 5 to 8 and are planted 7 feet apart to give them room to mature. They grow 2 to 4 feet a year to mature at 40 to 60 feet tall and 10 to 16 feet wide. Plant in sun, with acidic soil; they are drought tolerant after established.

While the Scott’s do most of their own maintenance, they have been assisted with projects by Jeff Ailshie, owner of Turf Specialist in Muskogee, and Adolpho Quistian who is helping Randy install the new rock walkway.

Scott said, “I love to plant flowers. Recently I put in the Calla Lilies, Black Eyed Susans, Salvia, etc. We try to stay with the native plants because they do better. I also enjoy dividing and sharing my plants.”

The Scott’s garden is impressive for a 4 year old landscape.

Muskogee Garden Tour is Saturday, June 7 from 9 to 3
the $5 tickets include 4 home gardens plus Papilion at Honor Heights and a plant sale
Garden locations: 2501 N Country Club, 3505 Porter ST
2204 Park Place and 2604 Camelot CT
Included in the tour are Papilion and plant sale at Honor Heights Park

28 May 2014

Baby Chicks available - Tulsa

Russell Studebaker in Tulsa has some baby chicks to sell at $5.50 each. 
The chicks are 5 and 6 weeks.
Available now.

Breeds available

Dutch, light brown
White Silkie
Light Brahma
Buff Brahma
Columbian Wyandotte
Buff Orphington
White Crested Black Polish

 Contact Russell  at    russell.studebaker@cox.net

27 May 2014

Jewels of Opar is Limon talinum

Jewels of Opar have been a favorite in our garden for many years. Recently I read a gardening blog on Facebook where the contributors were complaining about its invasiveness. It does re-seed but never too much for us so either we love it that much or it doesn't spread as much in our crowded, wild space as it does in more fertile gardens.
Jewels of Opar

Either way, it is welcome here wherever it pops up. Those lime-green leaves topped with threadlike flower stems (panicles) with flowers the size of the head of a straight pin, followed by red seed capsules.

I took the photo from above, trying to capture how it looks in person but it's impossible. You just have to see it for yourself.

Mississippi State says that botanically it is Talinum paniculatum, native to the West Indies and Central America, hardy in zones 8 to 11. Here in zone 7 it returns from seed left on the ground the previous fall.. Its other common name is Fameflower, though I have not seen it in garden centers around here for many years.

They suggest that growers cut the flower stems and use them like baby's breath.

Ours thrive in a fairly dry bed with half-sun.

On the Internet, there are several seed providers. Here are links to a few.
Harris Seed - 100 seeds $16
Summerhill Seed - 10 seeds $3.25
Onalee Seeds - 24 seeds $3.50

This is a lovely plant to my eye. Maybe you'll see it in a nursery and get your first one or find some seeds to start.

25 May 2014

Garden-Worthy Penstemmons

New Plants and Flowers highlighted five strong garden-worthy Penstemons to add to our gardens.  Two have been around since 1999, one since 2007 and two more are being released to the market this year.

Why grow Penstemons?
Susan Geer's online reference "Native Penstemons in Our Gardens" says,
"In the book The Gardener's Guide to Growing Penstemons, David Way and Peter James correctly point to abundance, color, and charm.. In most species, there is a profusion of blooms which can in some cases last all season. They exhibit a wide variety of colors, especially in shading and contrasting throat colors and markings. There is also a tremendous variety in floral shape and in the stature of the plants, and a charm in their carefree attitude. While other flowers in the garden languish in the heat or struggle in difficult soils, Penstemons thrive."

These are the five varieties that Plant Select pointed to

Red Rocks - Monrovia
‘Red Rocks’ (rosy-red flowers with white throat) and ‘Pike’s Peak Purple (violet-purple flowers with white throat) are hybrid penstemons selected from crosses between Mexican and American wild penstemons. The narrow, dark green leaves form an attractive mound. These crosses were made by Bruce Meyers (White Salmon, WA). He was according to Plant Select one of the earliest and most prolific breeders of these plants. Both were introduced in 1999.

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Psmyers’ Shadow Mountain (2007) is considered as a lavender-blue cousin to ‘Red Rocks’ and blooms from late spring through the summer.

Windwalker - PlantSelect
 ‘Windwalker garnet’ (2014) Plant Select says that the unique ruby-red or garnet-colored tubular flowers with striped throats bloom nearly all summer long above narrow, glossy green leaves, forming attractive mounds. This selection is a hybrid between Mexican and American wild penstemons developed by Kelly Grummons in Colorado.

‘Carolyn’s Hope’ (2014) has rich pink buds fade to medium pink flowers with white throat’ Cheerful pink, white-throated tubular flowers and dark pink buds above narrow, glossy green are attractive nearly all summer long. This hybrid between Mexican and American wild penstemons was developed in Colorado to raise funds to support breast cancer research at University of Colorado Cancer Center.
‘Windwalker garnet’ and ‘Carolyn’s Hope’ are also among the six winning plants of Plant Select ‘that thrive in a broad range of garden situations’.

“These penstemons are actually great for most gardeners, because they bloom nearly all summer, are adaptable to a wide range of garden conditions but also do well in containers, and don’t need a lot of water to stay looking healthy and full. The added bonus is that they’re great pollinator plants, too”, tells Plant Select in its newsletter. The purpose of Plant Select is to seek out, identify and distribute the best plants for landscapes and gardens from the intermountain region to the high plains.

I want some don't you?

22 May 2014

Bletilla - Hardy Orchids you can grow in your garden

Of the 200,000 orchid species, 200 are hardy enough to grow in home gardens. Of those, many are easy to grow and add beauty and interest to the usual mix of plants.

One key to growing hardy orchids is to avoid killing them with kindness.  In general, they prefer the low fertility provided by good compost, filtered sunlight and average to low water.

The orchids that enjoy the weather found in the southern states, zones 6 to 9, are Calanthe, Chinese Hardy Orchids – the Blettilla species, Grass Pink Calopogon, White Egret Flower – Pecteilis radiate, Fragrant Nodding Ladies Tresses and Lady’s Slippers – the Cypripediums.

For beginners in outdoor orchid growing, Chinese Ground Orchids or Bletilla varieties are the best place to start.  They are reliable for spring color, attractive leaf form and when established they multiply to create colonies. Pollinators love them and despite the fact that they grow in shade, snails and slugs ignore them.

Kay Backues, president of the Tulsa Orchid Society said, “If you want to grow something you will be successful with and love, grow Bletillas.”

During the growing and blooming seasons, Bletilla orchids need rain or supplemental water. They cannot thrive in wet, heavy clay and are most likely to multiply in well-drained soil without standing water.

During the summer, they need a little water. Backeus said she waters hers the same as she waters her annuals and Echinaceas.

Avoid planting Bletilla among plants that spread by runner or by seed. In order to form clumps they have to grow without competition from plants that invade their territory.
“Bletillas cannot out-compete other plants,” said Backeus. “Mine are in a 2 by 3 foot bed and in the ten years they have grown there, clumps have been removed for sharing and they filled in the space quickly”.

As the clump grows, it can be divided but the offspring should be replanted as soon as possible so they do not dry out. Remove the soil from the clump of corms and cut the clump into pieces with two or three growing points. Dust the pieces with sulphur or let them harden off for a few days so the open cuts heal a bit before planting.

If the new pieces cannot be replanted right away, put them in bags of dry peat moss and refrigerate.
In his book, “Growing Hardy Orchids”, John Tullock calls Bletilla orchids the queen of hardy orchids (Timber Press, www.timberpress.com, 2005).

Tullock says that his first Bletillas were planted on the northeast side of his house foundation where they thrived among Hostas, ferns and a Japanese maple tree. He amended the planting area with compost, peat moss, leaves and composted pine bark.

Bletilla striata flower buds and leaves emerge at the same time and bloom in March, most years.

“Late frosts will kill the flower buds of Bletilla,” said Backues. “Daffodils can take a frost and still bloom, but hardy orchids cannot. If a late frost is predicted I throw a towel or a blanket on them.”

The standard Chinese Ground Orchid is the most hardy, purple variety, Bletilla striata. Bletilla albostriata has narrow, pleated white-edged leaves. Gotemba Stripes has narrow gold streaks on the leaves. 

Kuchibeni has two-toned purple and white flowers. Murasaki kichibi has pale blue-lavender flowers with a darker color on the lip. Alba is white and may also be called First Kiss by garden stores.

A slightly fussier and less cold hardy variety, Chinese Butterfly Orchid, Bletilla ochracea, has cream-yellow flowers with a purple and yellow lip. It likes more sun than the other varieties.

“Asian Ground Orchids are tough, pest-free and beautiful Terrestrial Orchids,” said Backeus. “The flowers are classic miniature orchids that are readily available and easy to grow.”

The American Orchid Society (www.dev.aos.org)
Plant Delights Nursery, Inc. www.plantdelights.com, (919) 772-4794
Tulsa Orchid Society, Emilie Kraft (918) 371-4723, eclicity@mindspring.com
Oklahoma Orchid Society http://www.oosorchids.org,

SouthWest Regional Orchid Growers' Associationhttp://www.swroga.org
Wild Orchid Company Hardy Perennial Orchids www.wildorchidcompany.com, (215) 297-5053

15 May 2014

Azaleas - You Can Grow Them

Azaleas grow best in mild, humid climates and for decades they have thrived in the gardens and parks of northeast OK. They have been a constant mainstay of gardens because of their exuberant spring flower show and the beautiful green leaves that persist until hard freezes arrive.

The flowers are shaped in funnel, bell or tubular forms and are often fragrant. For best flowering, they need regular, early morning moisture, particularly during hot and dry weather.

Changes in weather patterns, specifically periods of drought, will stress Azaleas. If branches look
like they are wilting, the shrub may need more morning water.

Their shallow root system demands damp but never water-logged soil. A 3-inch deep mulch, added annually will protect the roots from drying out. Azaleas are one of the few plants that can thrive close to lawn sprinklers.

Azaleas need to be protected from full sun so they are usually planted under trees. Harsh south and west winds also dry out azaleas so it is recommended that they are planted on the east and north sides of buildings and slopes.

Strong, harsh wind also causes leaf scorch and bark splitting so plant them next to buildings and on slopes, avoiding building corners. Planting evergreen shrubs such as pine, spruce and juniper the south and west of Azaleas will protect them and provide a background contrast for the flowers.

It is a good idea to plant Azaleas in groups away from shallow rooted trees such as maple, ash and elm that steal the water and food provided for the Azaleas.

Muskogee Azalea grower, Ray Wright at Green Country Landscaping (918-261-0854) said, “You need a $5 hole for a $3 Azalea. They need soil that has been amended to have low pH of 5.0 to 5.5. The best way to plant them is to dig a hole 4-feet wide and 18-inches deep. Mix that soil with baled Canadian peat moss and plant the shrub high so water drains and sinks down.”

Wright also said that an acid mulch of ground pine bark, pecan shells, pine needles or cedar mulch will help maintain the acidic level the roots need.

Fertilize them now, in the spring, at half-strength and then at full-strength after the flowers fade.

Look for a product that is formulated for acid-loving plants with iron and Sulphur. Slow release products work well.

It is rare that they need to be pruned but if they need shaping, it is best to do it immediately after spring flowering and never after the summer heat hits after July 1.

Azalea problems can come from a variety of insects and diseases. Azalea Stem Borers, Oberea myops and Rhododendron Borer, Synanthedon rhododendri, can attack, killing portions of a plant, giving the impression that it is dying.

Plants attacked by borers can be saved by cutting off the area where the borer has caused damage. The shrub will regenerate from the roots. The shrub will die only if the borer is in the primary trunk near the root.

Old plants with weak immune systems can be attacked by soil-borne fungus, Armallaria which occurs naturally where oak trees grow and Phomopsis rhododendri. Remove any dead branches with loppers dipped in 10-percent bleach solution (1-part bleach to 9 parts water) between every cut made.

Plants can be rejuvenated and propagated. Peg a low branch to the ground in a shallow trench and anchor it. A new plant will root in the trench and grow from the leaf stem left out of the trench.

The thick mulch should eliminate any need to weed under Azaleas and you should never cultivate around their shallow roots with hoes or power equipment such as a lawn edger or mower.

12 May 2014

Edibles gardening Mid-May in zone 7

The goals and the hours of work in the garden are endless at this time of year. There are so many tiny seedlings to get into the ground, weeds to pull, winter messes to clean up, pruning to get done.
A lady beetle taking care of business on the new plum tree.
Every spring I have more compassion for people who have even more land than we do since I cannot imagine caring for more than 2.5 acres of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables.
Blackberry canes in flower on the right, clover for the honey bees in the center,
grapes on the left, vegetable garden center in the distance.

We don't bother to grow lettuce and tomatoes since our farmers' market is so good. We grow things we want to preserve and a few items that are expensive or difficult to obtain such as the chard varieties we prefer, herbs, blackberries, figs, and other fruits. We buy local blueberries once a year and freeze them to use all winter.
The vegetable garden facing south - lemon balm in front of the fence
snow peas on the trellis inside the fence where the bunnies can't get to them.

Snow peas are a must and after experimenting with freezing them in the past we learned that our preference is for chopping them fresh into salads and steaming them into stir-fry. Lots of them are eaten directly off the vines as gardener snacks.

11 May 2014

Audubon Habitat Tour Tulsa May 17-18

Tulsa Audubon Society's
21st Annual Habitat Garden Tour & Plant Sale

Sat. May 17, 2014 9-5  & Sun. May 18, 2014  Noon -5
Admission donation $5 Children under 13 Free
Begin the tour at any garden       

Garden Addresses            Vendor at each location       
12441 E. 35th St     Missouri Wildflowers Nursery
4508 E. 55th St      Utopia Gardens & WING-IT
3931 S. Evanston Av  Wild Things Nursery&Oxley Nature
3022 E. 38th Pl      Bird Houses by Mark
2423 E. 37th St      Pine Ridge Gardens

Map & info www.tulsaaudubon.org or call 918 521-8894.

I'm volunteering on Sunday at the Evanston AV garden. Stop by and say hi.

08 May 2014

Peony Garden Open and loaded with flowers!

http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/features/x1535594409/Peony-patch-gets-ready-for-Mother-s-Day-visitorsChotkowski Gardens Open
Annual Mother’s Day Party May 11 from 1 to 5
16142 Pin Oak Rd, Fayetteville AR
Information (479) 587-8920 and hchotkowski@cox.net

Henry Chotkowski, the Peony Man, is holding his annual Mother’s Day party, Sunday  from 1 to 5. He and his wife Karen open their acre of blooming peonies to the public for the day, providing refreshments to the hundreds of visitors who come to enjoy peak peony season. Their garden is in the rolling hills 10-miles west of Fayetteville AR. 

Before shopping for peonies, it is a good idea to know a little bit about what you want for your garden.

There are two types of Peonies or Paeonia: The herbaceous type that dies to the ground every year and the woody type that has shrub-like branches and stems.

Three-feet tall is typical for peonies but there are some that are under 2-feet and others that grow 4 or 5 feet tall.

Peony flower colors range from white to deep red with many pinks and corals in between.

Peony flower forms include saucer or bowl shaped singles with whorls of 5 to 10 petals; semi-doubles with two or three layers of those whorls; doubles have with narrower overlapping petals and Japanese or anemone form with single or semi-double flowers in which the stamens are replaced by petal-like petaloids or staminodes.

Hardy from zones 3 to 8, they are fairly easy to grow if the right conditions are provided.

“Tree peonies like some shade in the afternoon, and most of the dark colors fade in full sun,” said Chotkowski. “You can have six weeks of peony flowers by planting early, mid-season and late-blooming varieties.”

Chotkowski Gardens has 1200 cultivars to enjoy on a visit. His interest in peonies began in 1988 when he assisted a grower in Manassas VA where he and his wife were living at the time. When they moved back to Arkansas in 1996, they brought 600 plants with them and that was the beginning.

When putting in new plants, Chotkowski recommends digging a hole 18 by 18 by 18 and filling it with a combination of soil and compost. If the ground around the planting hole is particularly heavy, some sand can be added to the mix to improve drainage.

“I’ve heard that adding wood ashes is good for them but I have never used it,” said Chotkowski. “Also, a little fertilizer can be added but only the smallest amount at the dripline after the plant is in the ground two or three years. The best time is just after they emerge in the spring."

“We never water the garden,” Chotkowski said. “The amount of rain during the previous summer is what makes this year’s flower buds. The plants suffered during the two-year drought and we lost a few”.

Peonies need a minimum of six hours of sun for best flowering in our area. Farther north, 8-hours of sun is the recommended minimum.

Some of the flowers we saw last week included Phoenix White, Baiyu which is a double white, Shimanishiki Tree Peony with pink and red flowers, and, Golden Wings with large peach flowers.

One of Chotkowski’s mid-season beauties is Red Charm and the late season varieties he suggested are Myra McRae and Pink Radiance. 

Many basic growing questions are answered on the American Peony Society  website (www.americanpeonysociety.org) and there is a helpful site called Peony Bloom Date (peonybloomdate.com) where the cultivars are listed by bloom date.

Chotkowski Gardens is an acre of peonies and irises that visitors are free to wander. It is worth the trip.

“Normally people can come look and select the plants they want and then come back to pick them up when they are dug in the fall,” Chotkowski said. “This year we are selling only the ones that are already in pots.”

05 May 2014

Container Gardening workshop in Muskogee on May 8

As part of OHCE week, the local Oklahoma Home and Community Education group is sponsoring a free gardening session on Thursday, May 8th in the OSU extension building at the Muskogee fairgrounds.  

The public is invited to hear OSU Consumer Horticulturist David Hillock give tips about raising plants in containers.  

Spring to summer - a garden in transition

It has been in the 90s here in zone 7 this week, reminding us that spring is ending and summer is about to cook the garden. 
The show put on by the redbud and native plum trees, viburnum, flowering quince, flowering almond and daffodils has ended. The flowers of irises, snowball bush, dianthus, rue, mock orange and baptesia have taken center stage

These are the days we spend every minute possible outside. We weed, water, plant and anticipate the next season of the garden.

In the vegetable bed, the snowpeas are flowering, the beets have true leaves and the kale has enough mid-size leaves to use in salads.

The blackberries are blooming, the grape vines are covered with clusters of tiny fruit, there are a dozen apples on the new trees and the figs are sprouting from the ground. The harsh winter killed the figs to to the ground this year.

Perennials are returning, sending up shoots to remind us of where they are. Hydrangeas, verbena, the umbrella trees, weigelias, peonies, lavender, are emerging or have buds ready to pop open.

I make time every day to be in one of the hammocks despite the press of garden tasks on my list. Looking up into the tree tops while the breeze blows gives respite to my aching hands.

03 May 2014

Blue-eyed Grass is Native Prairie Iris or Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed grass is blooming everywhere right now and what a pretty blue show!

At the center of each flower a seed capsule forms and is dropped onto the ground for next year's flowers.

They are cold hardy in zones 3 to 8, need well-drained soil and thrive on thin, infertile soils. Their native range is FL, TX, and OK to New Foundland and Quebec in Canada.

If you would like to grow them in your sunny garden, direct sow the seeds in October. The seeds will cold stratify over the winter. The seeds germinate in the spring.

If the weather is hot and dry in the spring, the planting will have to be watered.

If preferred, the seeds can be started indoors in flats after they spend 6 weeks in the refrigerator for their needed cold stratification. They will germinate best at 50-degrees so most houses will be too warm.

Interestingly, though all of our flowers are blue, there are also white ones.

Varieties: Prairie Blue-eyed Grass is Sisyrinchium campestre, Sword-leaf Blue-eyed Grass is Sisyrinchium ensigerum, Mountain Blue-eyed Grass is Sisyrinchium montanum, Dotted Blue-eyed Grass is Sisyrinchium pruinosum and Lucerne or Stout Blue-eyed Grass is Sisyrinchium angustifolium 'Lucerne'.

By the way, Blue-eyed Grass isn't a grass at all but is named for its foliage that is spear-like, similar to the garden Iris we all know.

We have extended the original patch of Blue-eyed Grass by not mowing that part of the yard. Over the years, the colony has increased from half a dozen to hundreds of plants. 

If the plants become too thick and stop blooming, they can dug and divided.

Prairie Moon is one nursery that offers both seeds and plants for shipment.

01 May 2014

Making Better Plant Choices

Spring is here and our gardens are ready to be spruced up for enjoying the summer outside. 

Most of us will be wandering the garden centers over the next few weeks, shopping for colorful annuals to put in container and borders. Then we need a few vining plant or two for the trellis and maybe to cover a fence. If old shrubs look bad or a new tree is needed for shade and shelter, those decisions have to be made.

Gardeners who have a few years of experience know now what works and what was a disappointment some plants can be because they did not last through a season, never did fill out or bloom like the ones in the photos, or spread so fast that it became a nuisance.

Some of the problem trees include:
Bradford pear or Callery pear tree because it makes hundreds of babies all over the garden and break in storms. If a fast growing tree is needed, try Autumn Blaze Red Maple. It has two native maple tree parents so it will not seed profusely. Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry is another choice.

Eastern Cottonwood or Poplar is a popular landscape tree but not only is it weak and prone to early death but it sends out suckers and creates problems for gardeners. Tulip Poplar is a fast growing tree with more durable stems and branches.

Native Redbud trees are beautiful when they bloom in the spring but they live short lives replacing themselves a hundred times over with seedlings all through garden beds. The newer hybrids have been improved. Look for Floating Clouds, Merlot and Rising Sun selections.

Shrubs considered problem plants include:
Barberry shrubs, while planted in landscapes everywhere, are thorny as well as invasive. In their place choose Coppertina Ninebark which has the red leaves but not the  issues. Its peeling bark is beautiful in winter.

Firethorn or Pyracantha is another popular plant that is appealing to homeowners until they have tried to prune its thorny branches or their plant is killed by fireblight. Viburnums make better choices. Koreanspice Viburnum has berries for the birds as well as beautiful scented flowers in the spring. Linden Viburnum has spectacular red berries in the fall.

All of the suggestions and information above came from a recent book, “Plant This Instead: Better Plant Choices”, written by garden designer Troy Marden and published by Cool Springs Press. It is a 190-page paperback with dozens of suggestions with explanations and color photos.

Marden urges gardeners to grow plants that are more resistant to pests and diseases, are less aggressive, require less effort or are more attractive than the varieties commonly seen in landscapes.

Since he gardens in Nashville, Marden’s recommendations work well in our area.

For flowers, Marden recommends skipping Million Bells or Calibraihoa because they have special soil requirements and may not survive a summer. Instead, look for Supercal Calitunias which are less demanding. They require no deadheading, can take full or part sun.

Instead of Impatiens which developed virus problems a few years ago, Marden says to look for SunPatiens and New Guinea Impatiens instead.

When shopping for Petunias or Wave Petunias, consider Supertunia Vista Bubblegum, Pretty Much Picasso, Picasso in Pink or Tidal Wave Petunias instead. They have the same willingness to bloom all summer no matter how hot and humid it becomes.

The ever popular Bishop’s Weed could be replaced with Shuttleworth Ginger or Strawberry Begonias (Saxifraga stolonifera. Shuttleworth is a native groundcover with heart-shaped leaves.  Strawberry Begonias are beautiful under trees as ground cover.

The book is an easy-to-use, helpful, reference that can help us  plan and make improved choices for our gardens.