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Garden Ramblings, Issue #011
July 13, 2005
July 2005


Monthly musings on the garden scene

*********************************************************** If you prefer, you can view this month's issue online where you can also subscribe if this copy has been forwarded to you by a friend. ***********************************************************

In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Plant of the month
- Hummingbirds
- How to make a Flower Clock
- Special offers
- Useful resources

 

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Hi

Welcome to the July issue of Garden Ramblings your monthly window on what's going on in the world of gardening.

The "Plant of the Month" is the Water Lily.

The Guest Article spot returns this month with "Hummingbirds" by Greg Pilson.

There is a novel project for you this month - How to make a Flower Clock.

As the summer reaches its height some pre-season offers are starting to appear. Details are below.

In the resources section the emphasis is more on entertainment than usefulness this month.

If you want to keep up with all the news in the gardening world, you can read my blog Garden Supplies News.

Enjoy the issue.

Hugh

 

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Plant of the Month

Name: Water Lily (Nymphaea)

Description: There are some 50 species of hardy and tender perennial water plants with numerous varieties and hybrids. The leaves vary from round to heart-shaped and have a shiny, leathery upper surface. The cup-shaped flowers have several rows of petals. Shape varies little between varieties but some have more pointed petals than others giving them a star-like appearance.

Origin: Native to North America, Europe, Asia and some parts of Africa.

Cultivation: When planting water lilies in a garden pond you need to choose the right variety for the size of your pond. The largest varieties require a water depth of six feet whereas the miniature types only need 15 inches or less. Plant the rhizomes in early summer using perforated containers for liner ponds. The tropical species require similar treatment but need a minimum winter temperature of 50 degrees.

Pests and diseases: Generally troublefree but aphids, water lily beetles and caterpillars can be a problem. The plants can be affected by leaf spot and stem rot.

Folklore: Although botanically distinct, the water lily and the lotus are often treated as the same in mythology and folklore. The lotus is a very potent symbol in the east with examples from Egypt, India and China. Legend says that when the Buddha was born, he walked seven steps in ten directions and with each step a lotus flower appeared.

In western tradition the water lily derives its botanical name from Nymphe, the Greek water nymph and goddess of springs, as water lilies were found growing where the nymphs were said to play. In medieval Germany the water lily was a symbol of female purity and people believed that water lilies were nymphs disguised as flowers to escape the attention of over-amorous men.

Another legend tells of the Fair folk who repaid a greedy farmer by recalling their gift of cattle back to a lake. Each cow turned into a water-lily, filling the lake with water-lilies, and the farmer was left with nothing.

A Dakota legend tells about the origin of the yellow pond lily common in North America. A Star Maiden came down from the night sky and wanted to live with the Dakota. On the way to consult the tribe's advisor on the other side of the lake, the Star Maiden fell from the canoe. In the morning, the first yellow water lily appeared at the same spot.

It is reported that in Canada, natives boiled and ate the young and tender leaves of the waterlily as "greens". The rhizomes produced a dark brown dye used both by Native Americans and early settlers for cloth and other goods. A somewhat unusual herbal remedy was to cover the rhizomes in tar and then press them agaisnt the head in an attempt to reverse baldness.

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Hummingbirds

Many individuals are fascinated by hummingbirds. So much so, that they will do anything in their power to attract these petite creatures to their yards. So what is the best way to attract these wee feathered friends?

Here are some tips to help make your home a hummingbird hot spot:

What Do Hummingbirds Eat?

Hummingbirds usually feed off flower nectar and sugar water that is left out for them in birdfeeders. They also feed off of small insects like ants, slugs and spiders. If you really want to attract hummingbirds to your yard, make sure your bird feeder is always filled with nectar and sugar water.

What Should My Hummingbird Feeder or House Look Like?

It is a well-known fact that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. That being said, if the feeder you already have isn’t red get out your paint brush or stick a large red bow on it to get their attention. The best hummingbird feeders have perches for the birds to stand on while they feed. The holes in hummingbird feeders are just big enough for the little guys to fit their heads in, but they’re too small for squirrels and other larger animals so they can’t steal the food.

Refrain from painting your hummingbird feeder or house yellow because bees and wasps are attracted to these colors and also enjoy the taste of sweet nectar. You’ll want to keep insects as far away from your hummingbird feeders and houses as possible.

What Materials Should Hummingbird Houses or Feeders be made of?

Hummingbird feeders and houses are usually made of acrylic or glass. They are also available in wood and plastic; however these do not work as effectively and may cause harm to the birds (slivers and cuts). Hummingbird houses and feeders come in a variety of sizes and shapes and usually contain numerous feeding areas throughout the feeder.

Where Should I Put My Hummingbird Feeder?

Ideally, a hummingbird feeder should be hung near a garden with bright flowers and plants. A flowery location is most likely to attract the attention of hummingbirds. For your viewing pleasure, you may want to hang your feeder in a place that can be easily seen from your home. For example a hummingbird feeder hung in front of a window can be admired all day.

How Much Do Hummingbird Feeders Cost?

The styles and designs differ so much that it’s difficult to determine a specific price. Hummingbird feeders and houses can cost anywhere from $10 to $50 - depending on the style, design and features.

Greg Pilson is an avid bird watcher who also dabbles in freelance photography of his favorite subjects. When he’s not working full time in the engineering industry, he writes as a freelance writer for http://www.birdfeedersdirect.com – a site that offers information about various types of bird feeders and bird houses.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/
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How to make a Flower Clock.

Make your own flower clock - it's one of those ideas that I have come across from time to time and thought that it might be fun to give it a try. In theory it's quite simple - choose twelve flowers that open or close their petals at the appropriate hour and plant them in a circle corresponding to a clockface. Then all you have to do is look to see which plant is blooming and you will know the time (within half an hour either way).

Carl von Linnaeus, the venerable botanist, who is responsible for the system of plant classification which we still use today, was the first person to suggest the design of a flower clock. It is unlikely that he ever planted one himself but he recorded the data to prove that it was feasible.

If you make a search on Google for "Flower Clocks" you will find that these timekeepers have been constructed in public parks all around the world. But look further and you see that these are merely circular flowerbeds with mechanical hour and minute hands to show the time. To find out why there are so few flower clocks of the type proposed by Linnaeus in public parks (I have only found a reference to one and that is in his home town of Uppsala in Sweden), you only have to look at the list of plants he suggested. These include Goatsbeard, Rough Hawkbit, Smooth Sow-thistle and Dandelion all of which would be regarded as weeds in any other context.

Should you decide to plant a flower clock yourself, you will need to choose flowers that are suitable for your area. In his "Horologium flore" published in 1751 Linnaeus included a table with nearly 70 entries to cover the hours from 3am to 8pm. Here is a simplified list which covers the twelve hours from 6am to 6pm:

6 a.m. Morning glory (opens)
7 a.m. Dandelion (opens)
8 a.m. Proliferous pink (opens)
9 a.m. Gentian (opens)
10 a.m. California poppy (opens)
11 a.m. Star-of-Bethlehem (opens)
Noon Passion flower (opens)
1 p.m. Childing pink (closes)
2 p.m. Mouse-ear hawkweed(closes)
3 p.m. African Marigold (closes)
4 p.m. California Poppy (closes)
5 p.m. White water lily (closes)
6 p.m. Evening primrose (opens)

If you wish to extend further into the evening then, Icelandic poppy closes at 7pm, Day lily at 8pm and Nicotiana, the flowering tobacco opens between 9:00-10:00 p.m.

This information has been gleaned from various different sources not all of which agree as to the times of opening and closing of the flowers involved. So if you do decide to plant your own flower clock, you will need firstly to find plants that suit your local area and then check that they do actually open and close at the stated time.

Although I do find the idea of being able to tell the time of day just by noticing when certain of your flowers open or close their petals is quite intriguing, I have to confess that I have yet to undertake the experiment myself. I personally feel that the humble sundial is a simpler alternative although, as that old cynic Hillaire Belloc once said:

 

"I am a sundial, and I make a botch
Of what is done far better by a watch"

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Special Offers

As we approach the height of summer there is now a pre-season sale. As always I can only repeat my suggestion that you subscribe to the merchants' newsletters so that you will be notified direct of any offers that they do make. The latest ones that I have seen are:

Brecks are offering a French Perfume Bulb Collection which they describe as a "Treat for the Senses for only $24.99". 15 Sun Disc Daffodils, 5 Red Rocket Giant Fragrant Hyacinths and 3 Stargazer Oriental Lilies is what you will get.

Dutch Gardens are featuring Alliums with special prices for their bulb collections.

Gurney's Seed & Nursery had an Independence Day special which has now finished, but the link takes you to their Perennial Pre-season Extravaganza with 20% off their regular prices.

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Useful resources

If you have been reading my blog recently you will have seen the mention of the "Dog Days of Summer" and the suggestion that the best place to be was indoors out of the summer heat. Here is an excuse to do just that. Rather than finding practical web links for you this month, here are a few virtual garden tours that you can enjoy at the click of your mouse.

These are all English gardens:

First are the gardens at Great Dixter, home of the famous author Christopher Lloyd

Next is Exbury which is famous for its rhododendrons and azaleas.

 

The Lost Gardens of Heligan have several panoramic viewers although some of them were not working when I checked:

The Eden Project is a fairly recent addition to the English gardening scene:

 

If you enjoy roses the David Austin Rose Gardens are well worth a look:

 

And last, but by no means least, The Plantation at Monticello where there is a new multimedia viewer.

 

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Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to: [email protected]

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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