While thinking back on news and events from this past year, Leonard Perry recalls some of his top gardening tips and ideas towards making your fruit or vegetable garden more bountiful and landscape more beautiful this coming year.
Some of these topics from the 60 Green Mountain Gardener articles during 2012 included ones on fruits, vegetables, native plants, and new plants-flowers, shrubs and trees.
New annual flowers featured were recent winners in the All-America selections program-ones you may want to try this coming year. ‘Black Olive' is an ornamental pepper with shiny black fruit, both ornamental and hot when eaten. ‘Summer Jewel Pink' is a scarlet-sage type of salvia, with long stalks to 18-inches high of pink flowers.
New vegetables included two new All-America Selections winners. ‘Cayennetta' is a mildly-spicy chili pepper, with elongated red fruits about 3-inches long when mature. ‘Faerie' is a watermelon with small fruits, only about 8-inches long and 4 to 6 pounds when mature. More winners can be found on the All-America Selections website (www.all-americaselections.org), and performance of these and many other new flowers in our Burlington, Vermont display garden on my website (perrysperennials.info/aaswp.html).
Among the new trees and shrubs are the Cary award winners-those voted by a team of professionals as tops for New England. This past year's two winners were Adam's needle or yucca, and the popular series of Knock Out roses. The former is mound of long, sword-shaped leaves with sharp tips. There are several selections, often with gold striping, good for Spanish-style gardens. The roses are relatively hardy, disease resistance, and long blooming. Knock Out is actually a group of 7 different named selections with flower variations of pink or yellow.
New perennials voted as choice among many professional nationwide are all hardy to at least USDA zone 4. The upright ‘Northwind' switchgrass, to 4 feet tall, with bluish-green leaves is attractive summer into much of winter. ‘Hot Lips' is a great name for this choice turtlehead, with pink flowers in late summer resembling turtle heads (with mouth open). For spring bloom in part shade (sun is fine in the north if in a moist soil), with white bell-shaped flowers hanging from arching stems, is the Variegated Solomon's Seal. It is even hardier (USDA zone 3), as is the ‘Angelina' sedum. The needle-like leaves of this low sedum groundcover start out a pretty chartreuse in spring, then turn golden yellow in the full sun it really needs.
A series of articles this past year covered native plants for wildlife, shrubs, perennials, and trees. An example of some good native evergreen trees are the white pine, white spruce, balsam fir, hemlock, and white cedar. For large, deciduous (losing their leaves in winter) trees consider maples and the red oak. Smaller, deciduous native trees include the paper birch, striped maple, musclewood, pagoda dogwood, and American mountainash.
Other plant-based articles included ones on coralbells, garden phlox, bugloss, and bearded iris for perennials. Winterberries, serviceberries, and crabapples were articles on good, multi-functional small trees for landscapes. Vines, while of great landscape value, often have been ignored in landscape plans because many gardeners fail to realize their potential. Examples include the Dutchman's Pipe for screening, the native trumpet honeysuckle as a shade groundcover, or the clematis for its showy flowers.
Articles in 2012 on vegetables included horseradish, potatoes, and culinary herbs. Horseradish is an easy root crop that pretty much grows by itself, but needs its own space as it can spread aggressively. Potatoes are another root crop that is easy to grow at home, either in the ground or "grow bags" if space is limited. Growing your own you can know they're free of chemicals, and you can get varieties not available in stores and markets.
Favorite culinary herbs you might consider growing at home as annuals next summer include basil, parsley, and dill. Perennial herbs include mints (site carefully or grow in pots, as they can spread), chives, thyme, and rosemary.
Several articles from 2012 covered specifics of home fruit growing, including a review of my book released early this past year. The Fruit Gardener's Bible was a total revision of Lewis Hill's former Fruits and Berries for the Home Garden from 1992. In it I cover major small fruits, tree fruits, less common fruits, and all aspects of culture from siting to soils to storage of the harvest. You can learn more on this, additional information, and ordering details from my website (homefruitgrowing.info). Other fruit articles included those on choosing brambles, pruning berry bushes, apple pests and diseases, fruit terms, and harvesting and storing fall fruits.
Then there were articles on a range of other topics, including gardening for cats, scents in the garden, allergies, garden railways, gardening in a drought, reclaiming a flooded yard or garden, wood chips as mulch, beneficial nematodes, and fall care of summer bulbs. More on these and other topics can be found online, and searched by season or by topic (perennialsperennials.info/articleS.htm).
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