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Archive for October, 2011help

Book News!

Sunday, October 9th, 2011language

 

Gardening Tips

Mentors in the Garden of Life, my garden memoir, is a Finalist in the 2011 Connecticut Book of the Year competition!  It’s a contender in the Memoir category, one of the 5 groups including Fiction, Non Fiction, Poetry, and Children’s.  The awards are administered by the  Connecticut Center for the Book, part of the Hartford Public Library. The Center is affiliated with the National Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Many of my fellow nominees are multi-book published, and write for such august entities as the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.  I’m thrilled and honored to be among them.

The awards banquet will be Sunday, October 30th, and Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone  {an Oprah’s Book Club choice},  I Know This Much Is True, et al.), will be our keynote speaker.

Mentors in the Garden of Life is a linked series of stories ranging from the 1950′s, when I was a girl in upstate New York, to present day. Each chapter chronicles a person who taught me life lessons such as responsibility, fortitude, and friendship. Each chapter ends with a primer on a particular plant, flower, tree, vegetable or herb associated with the person profiled. Mentors has received glowing reviews, and seems to resonate with women gardeners of a certain age. This is actually the 4th award the book has won…it’s been previously honored by the Connecticut Press Club, the International Book Awards and the USA Book News.

Makes a great gift!  Order it here on my website, (where I can sign it for you) or from Amazon.

 

 

Sumptuous Sedums

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

October 2, 2011

 

Gardening Tips

Sedum with Japanese forest grass and lamb's ears

It’s autumn in the garden. Leaves are drifting downward, the annuals are drooping, and in general things look a bit tattered.  Your flower bed needs some color, structure and interest. Try sedum, also known as stonecrop.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ was selected as 1991’s Perennial Plant of the Year, and introduced a generation of American gardeners to this stalwart group. The horticulture industry continues to churn out exemplary cultivars of these late-blooming, sturdy, deer resistant perennials.

‘Autumn Joy’ remains a favorite, for its dependable rusty-pink color, 18 inches height, three-season appeal and its performance as a cut flower. ‘Brilliant’ a similar, smaller plant, has bright pink blooms.  Then there’s ‘Vera Jamison’, a trailing cultivar whose stems ending in long-lasting purple blossoms cover ground in sun or light shade. A perfect edger to a perennial bed.

Another favorite is ‘Frosty Morn’, with green and white variegated leaves all season. Its flowers are pink.  ‘Matrona’ grows 15-20 inches tall, offer gray-green leaves with rosy pink edges, and mauve-pink flowers.

The only difficulty you’re likely to have with this perennial is choosing a cultivar. Now’s the time to plant; many of these cultivars are available at local nurseries.

One more suggestion. Sedum acre, that lovely, naughty bright green wanderer, is a tiny-leaved small plant which blooms yellow in midsummer. It’s fine to use in controlled situations; I let it soften the edges of the steps down to my backyard, but pull it out when it strays.

Sedums are succulent, and therefore drought-resistant. Slugs don’t give them a second thought. They like oodles of sun, but will grow and bloom in semi-shade, though they’ll lean towards the light.  As with all perennials, start them out in a decent-sized hole with a helping of compost.  To get them established, water every few days for a week if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.  They’re not heavy feeders; a yearly sprinkling of granular fertilizer is sufficient. Spray with deer repellent if those hoofed invaders are a problem.

Sedum are extraordinarily easy to propagate. Simply snip off 2-3 inches of growing tip prior to blossom set, and stick in potting soil. They’ll root in a couple of weeks. And tall garden sedum makes an excellent cut flower. Gather stems of several cultivars to provide contrast in the vase and fill out with tansy for green, and perhaps some cleome for an airy filler.

And remember, sedum, along with asters and buddleia provides an important nectar source for butterflies in the waning days of the gardening season.

As if it didn’t have enough attributes, sedum also dries well. For a winter bouquet, simply cut stems, strip off lower leaves, and place in a chosen container with astilbe fronds and hydrangea. They’ll dry rapidly and retain much color. Or tie a clump of bloom stalks and hang upside down until firm. Either way, sedum makes a long-lasting, attractive winter bouquet, one that will help your enforced garden withdrawal, which in Connecticut often lasts until April.

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