Friday, November 14, 2014

Small-scale Composting for a Raised Bed Patio Garden

I want to make compost for my raised bed patio garden. I live alone, so I don't produce many kitchen scraps. I live in a townhouse with almost no yard. How can I get enough stuff to compost?

It seems to me you only need to compost on a small scale. A compost heap or bin will probably be impractical, taking too long to fill, taking up too much space, and possibly offending neighbors. I suggest you chop your fruit and vegetable scraps, pulverize egg shells, then store them in a lidded plastic container - the 45 oz. size like buttery spreads come in - until it's filled. Then bury the contents directly in one end of your patio garden. Cover immediately with a few inches of soil. The next time you have a full container, bury the contents beside the first batch. Eventually you will have a row of compost in the making. As you collect more material, begin your second row, and so forth. Within a few months, you should be able to plant vegetables or annuals directly in your first row of finished compost, then later into the second row, etc. As time goes on, you should have a very fertile patio garden.

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Must-Have Plants: Japanese Ardisia, aka Marlberry

Ardisia japonica aka Japanese Ardisia, Marlberry


Must-have plants are among the best plants for appropriate garden situations. When you need great garden plants for ground cover, naturalizing, wildflower gardens, perennial borders, butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, herb gardens, heritage gardens, cutting gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, bulb gardens, container gardens, bog gardens, water gardens, rain gardens or xeriscaping, look for the best among our must-have plants.

Name(s): Ardisia japonica, Marlberry, Japanese Ardisia.

Flower Color: White.

Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer.

Foliage: Evergreen, leathery.

Height/Spread: 6 inches to 12 inches x 12 inches to 18 inches.

Climate Zones: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil Condition: Well-drained, loamy, pH 5.1 to 6.5.

Features: White to pale pink flowers followed by long-lasting red berries, drought tolerant, deer resistant.

Uses: Massed planting, Asian plant collections, medicinal plant collections, naturalizing, ground cover, shade gardens.

Comments: Ardisia japonica, also known as Japanese Aridisia and Marlberry, produces leathery, evergreen foliage. Variegated forms are available. White flowers appear late spring to early summer, followed by long-lasting red berries. Maximum height ranges from 6 inches to 12 inches, and it spreads rapidly via underground rhizomes.

Ardisia thrives in full sun to partial shade in USDA climate zones 6 to 10. Loamy, well-drained soil with pH ranging from 5.1 to 6.5 is recommended.

Ardisia is an excellent ground cover for full sun or partial shade, massed plantings, Asian plant collections, medicinal plant collections and naturalizing.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

All-America Selections Announces the First Vegetatively Propagated AAS Winners




http://all-americaselections.org/images/winners/fullsize/Impatiens%5FSunPatiensSpreadingShellPink%2DAAS2015%2D2%2Dresize%2Ejpg
SunPatiens® Spreading Shell Pink - Image courtesy of AAS

After more than eighty years of trialing only seed-propagated varieties, All-America Selections (AAS) began trialing vegetatively propagated varieties early this year. With the 2014 trial season now completed, AAS is pleased and honored to grant the AAS Winner status to two impatiens that performed exceptionally well in the AAS container trials for vegetatively propagated annuals.

 The two Vegetative Winners are:
The truly unique genetic background of SunPatiens® Spreading Shell Pink delivers unsurpassed garden performance with season long, soft pink flowers that never slow down. Strong roots take hold quickly after transplanting and these impatiens thrive under high heat, rain and humidity. The AAS Judges loved these vigorous spreading plants that keep their shape all summer, plus, they do just as well in full sun as in shade. These low-maintenance plants are perfect for gardeners looking for impatiens that are resistant to downy mildew.

Bounce impatiens provides gardeners with shade garden confidence. Bounce looks like an Impatiens walleriana in habit, flower form and count, but is completely downy mildew resistant, which means this impatiens will last from spring all the way through fall. Bounce Pink Flame boasts of a massive amount of stunning, bright pink bicolor blooms with tons of color to brighten your garden, be it in shade or sun. And caring for impatiens has never been easier: just add water and they’ll “bounce” right back!

Both are available in plant form only.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

I'm in zone 8a. Should I wait till spring to plant Asiatic Jasmine?

Good question. Here in zone 8b, I prefer to plant in fall because roots continue to develop in winter even when above-ground parts are often dormant.

Asiatic jasmine is plenty cold-hardy in your climate zone. You needn't wait until spring to plant. The temps don't drop enough long enough to be a problem. Furthermore, once planted and irrigated deeply, newly planted plants don't require as much irrigation during our cool seasons.


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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

All-America Selections Announces Winners of the 2014 Display Garden Landscape Design Contest



Three years ago, All-America Selections (AAS) launched a new contest for almost 200 Display Gardens to encourage new and exciting landscaping ideas with AAS Winners. The success of the program has been beyond expectations and continues to grow and impress every year.

2014’s contest asked participants to expand on a theme of using containers in the landscape. This contest is a landscape design contest incorporating AAS Winners, past and present. Each garden is responsible for creating and executing the design, generating publicity surrounding the contest then submitting the photos, proof of publicity and an overall description of their design. All-America Selections is extremely pleased with not only the number of gardens that participated but also the broad range of garden types: large and small public gardens, seed companies, community gardens, master gardener programs and university gardens. All-America Selections salutes all the gardens and their impressive efforts to produce an attractive display of AAS Winners.

There were three categories, based on number of visitors to the garden in one year:
Category I: fewer than 10,000 visitors per year
Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year
Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year

All-America Selections recognizes and thanks the contest judges who are industry experts in the field of horticulture and landscaping:

Jeff Gibson, Landscape Business Manger, Ball Horticultural Company
Bruce Hellerick, Senior Horticulture Specialist, The Brickman Group
Susan Schmitz, Trials and Education Manager, Ball Horticultural Company
Barbara Wise, author and Director of Floriculture, Landscape Services, Inc.

THE WINNING GARDENS ARE:
(A complete collection of photos from all contest entrants can be found on the All-America Selections Flickr and Facebook accounts.)

Category I: fewer than 10,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner: University of Wisconsin Spooner Ag Research Station, Teaching and Display Garden, Spooner, Wisconsin. “Down on the Farm” was the theme for this Display Garden, celebrating family farmers who survived through hard work and ingenuity. Using salvaged typical household items, they organized and planted garden rooms then filled and interspersed those items with AAS Winners to provide a riot of color. Judges gave this garden high rankings because of the number of AAS Winners used along with the unique props that helped tell an educational story. Then to top it off, Spooner did a fantastic job of spreading the word among their local community via Social Media, radio, newspapers, their own website, e-newsletters and with the University of Wisconsin’s Extension programs.

Second Place Winner: Noelridge Park Gardens, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Beautiful, elegant and artistic is how the judges described the AAS display at Noelridge Park Gardens. Highlighting this garden were the many structures and containers handcrafted from native willow branches—all done by their volunteers!  Multiple groups collaborated together on this project that not only resulted in a beautiful community garden but also numerous articles by local media, informational sessions by Master Gardeners and ongoing Social Media updates about the garden and events being held at the garden.
Third Place Winner: Purdue Extension Tippecanoe County Display & Idea Gardens, Lafayette, Indiana. This Display Garden used an impressive 60 different AAS Winners, including Gold Medal Winners from past years, in their 24 Idea Gardens. To garner community participation, garden planners invited the public to participate in a Container Design contest where they granted awards in each of these categories: Best Use of AAS Winners, Most Colorful, Most Unusual and Overall Best Plant Display. An Open House held in August showed off the AAS flowers and vegetables at their peak.

Honorable Mention, “Best Inspiration” Garden: Kenosha County Center Demonstration Garden, Bristol, Wisconsin. Judges just couldn’t let this year go by without giving an extra special shout out to this first-year Display Garden in Kenosha for their many inspiring garden ideas. In one small plot, they used a rattan chair frame, a wicker wastebasket, a wire trellis, a palette as a vertical garden and other household items to support their theme of “Inside Out.”

Honorable Mention, “Most Creative” Garden: Jennings Park, WSU Master Gardener Demo Garden, Marysville, Washington. The first word used to describe this garden is “Creative” and thus, a special award to Jennings Park for their outstanding creativity. Garden planners used a number of ideas and items to make this garden come alive with color as well as signage that helped show the beauty and usefulness of AAS Winners.

Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner: The Arboretum - State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. Located next to the University of Kentucky’s All-America Selections trial bed, this display made great use of the 2014 container theme. With multiple large, square containers lining the main walkway, and numerous other containers positioned in strategic spots, thirty four AAS Winners gracefully filled the containers and borders with glorious color. Adding edibles to the garden showed how containers, edibles and flowers can seamlessly work in harmony in a well-designed garden.

Second Place Winner: Jardin Daniel A S├ęguin, Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. With a theme of urban ag, this AAS Display Garden took advantage of the opportunity to promote urban agriculture to their visitors as well as to the general public with their public relations work. By using nineteen AAS Winners and strategically placed container gardens, the garden transformed rigid linear flower beds into beautiful spaces showing how flowers and edibles can peacefully co-exist in an urban garden.

Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner: Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, Wisconsin. Rotary knocked another one out of the ballpark with this year’s “Pollinator’s Paradise” theme using almost 90 AAS Winner varieties and repurposed containers for an overall earth-friendly theme. The contest was promoted in the garden’s blog an amazing 17 times, in addition to radio show talks, press releases, local garden magazine stories and more. Judges raved about the creatively designed short, medium and tall containers and the excellent use of color in three separate ways: drifts in the landscape, in the many containers and as solitary specimen varieties.

Second Place Winner: Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado. Set among the many beautiful areas of the Denver Botanic Garden is the aptly named “AAS Garden” where landscape designers chose AAS Winners in colors to reflect the time of day. The first Sunrise Bed features hot colors that light up as the sun appears. The second Sunrise Bed features vegetables and annuals with a large container as the centerpiece. In the garden area where weddings are held, guests are able to reflect on the Twilight Bed with cool-colored annuals. Lastly is the Sunset Bed where a symphony of colors plays their last hurrah as the sun sets.

Third Place *TIE* Winner: Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington, Ontario. RBG took a formerly flat grassy area and transformed it into an AAS paradise with three large arching beds accented by four creatively designed and placed container gardens. The middle of the AAS Display Garden featured the newest AAS Winners, flanked by two equal sized beds that featured AAS Winners from past years. Artfully positioned in and around these three beds were various containers featuring additional AAS Winners spilling over to make a beautiful floral statement.

Third Place *TIE* Winner: State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. The State Botanical Garden took a sensual approach to the garden emphasizing flowing lines and the visual impact it makes when standing on a nearby overlook. AAS Winners were planted in both waves and circles to create a soothing appearance as well as a mix of textures. Judges liked that approach as well as the handouts the garden created for visitors that explain the AAS Mission and trialing process.

Honorable Mention, “Most Artistic” Garden: Norseco at the Botanical Garden of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec. This is the first year that horticulture company Norseco has had their Display Garden in such a high-traffic location such as the Botanical Garden of Montreal. This means a new opportunity to educate a large number of visitors about AAS Winners. They accomplished this with multiple beds artistically designed then named by the dominant colors in that area. Garden designers used some older, taller AAS Winners to provide that visual interest with height.

Each of these contest winners are profiled on the AAS website, under “Display Gardens

For more information about the contest winners or how to participate in 2015, contact Diane Blazek, All-America Selections at dblazek@aas-ngb.org.