Southern bacterial wilt of tomato is a soil-borne disease caused by the bacterium, Ralstonia solanacearum. It also affects many other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), including potato, eggplant, pepper, and tobacco and is particularly prevalent in warm areas with moist sandy soil and high humidity, such as the southern United States, Central and South America, and Africa. The bacterium can survive in the soil for long periods of time and infects plant roots by entering through microscopic wounds but can also be introduced by tools or water carrying the pathogen. Once in the plant, the the bacterial cells multiply and clog the vascular system with bacterial cells and slime so that neither water nor nutrients can be moved to all parts of the plant. Photo Credit Clemson, Wikipedia[click to continue…]
Native to Turkestan and Siberia, this deciduous suckering shrub is a member of the pea family, Fabaceae, that also includes beans, lupines and mimosa. It grows 6-10′ tall and forms clumps of slender supple branched stems that are gray green turning yellowish gray to brown with age. The dull green pinnate leaves are divided into 2-4 oval leaftlets that are up to 1″ long. From mid- to late spring bright yellow flowers appear either singly or in clusters of 2-3. They are 1″ long, pea-shaped and give way to cylindrical seeds pods 1.5″ long. Plants are tolerant of drought, alkaline soil, salt, and wind and are a good hedge plants for a xeriscape, erosion control, windbreaks and snow traps. The genus name, Caragana, is the Latinized version of the Mongolian name for the plant. The specific epithet, frutex, is the Latin word meaning shrub. [click to continue…]
This deciduous small tree is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes cherry, almond, and lady’s mantle. It’s origin is uncertain but it was extensively cultivated in prehistoric times and is probably from Central Asia and may have been introduced to Greece by Alexander the Great. The ancient Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD), calls it praecocia from which we get the common name apricot, and praises its sweet scent. He also tells us that the apricot was a recent imported from Asia and that it originally fetched 1 denarius each (according to Wikipedia, 1 denarius was the daily pay of a soldier at that time and so was about $20 in our money today). A fresco from the ancient Pompeii area now in the Naples Museum shows fruits that are probably apricots suggesting that apricots were known to the ancient Pompeiians. Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons[click to continue…]
Earlier to flower and hardier than other Japanese anemones, this herbaceous perennial is native to open grassy slopes in northern China. Also known as windflower, it is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes delphinium, clematis, and hellebore. Plants grow from a fibrous root system and form a clump of basal foliage up to 2′ tall. Each dark green leaf is 10-12″ long, palmately divided into three-lobed and toothed leaflets that are thickly covered with woolly whitish hairs on their underside. Stems are also covered with whitish woolly hairs. From late summer to early fall, cup-shaped flowers appear on 3-4′ long wiry stems. Each flower is 2-3″ wide and has a center of yellow stamens surrounded by 5 or 6 showy tepals that are pale pink with darker rose shadings. A good choice for borders, and informal landscapes such as cottage and woodland gardens. Flowers are good in the vase. The genus name, Anemone, is probably a corrupted Greek loan word of Semitic origin referring to the lament for the slain Adonis or Naaman, whose scattered blood produced the blood-red Anemone coronaria. The specific epithet, tomentosa, is the Latin word meaning densely woolly, and refers to the hairs on the stems and leaf undersides. [click to continue…]
Tyler Baras’ book, DIY Hydroponic Gardens, provides information on choosing, building, planting and maintaining over a dozen hydroponic growing system so that plants can be grown anywhere. Written for beginners as well as experienced hydroponic gardeners, the book gives step by step directions for building systems that range from simple to complex so that gardeners can customize their system to meet their own special needs. Photographs and diagrams illustrate all aspects of building and maintaining the various systems so guess work is minimized.[click to continue…]
March marigold is a herbaceous perennial native to the Northern Hemisphere where it is found growing in marshes, stream edges, and other wet areas. It is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes columbine, delphinium, and hellebore, and is not related to marigolds (Tagetes). Plants form a mound of large, glossy, heart-shaped leaves on long stalks together with hollow branching stems that bear smaller leaves and clusters of flowers. The bright yellow flowers are 1-2″ across, appear in the spring, and resemble those of the common buttercup. They are made up of 5-9 waxy sepals that look like petals, and numerous conspicuous stamens surrounding a central bundle of carpels each of which produces numerous seeds. The flowers provide nectar for butterflies and bees while their leaves provide shelter for small insects such as beetles and for other animals such as frogs. The seeds are attractive to birds and small rodents such as chipmunks and voles. Marsh marigold is an excellent choice for the wettest part of a rain garden and can also be used on the edge of ponds or streams, and in bog and water gardens.
Native to Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey, France, and Spain, this rosette-forming herbaceous perennial is a member of the parsley family, Apiaceae, that also includes dill, celery, and Queen Anne’s lace. It grows 1-2′ tall from a taproot and has stiff well branched stems bearing palmately divided gray-green leaves that are up to 2 inches long and have silvery white veins. From mid summer into fall, terminal flowerheads appear. They are up to 1″ across and 3/4″ long, consists of a cone-shaped structure bearing tiny blue-green to silver-blue flowers, and are subtended by long silvery bracts up to 2″ long. The plants are tolerant of lean soil and drought and are a good choice for a xeriscape, border, and rock, cottage, and cutting gardens. In addition, the flower heads add both texture and form to fresh and dried arrangements. The genus name, Eryngium, is from the Greek word eryngo that refers to the prickly or spiny nature of the genus. The specific epithet, bourgatii, honors Dr. Bourgat, an 18th century French physician and plant collector.
Native to maritime habitats of Europe and western temperate Asia, asparagus is a herbaceous perennial and member of the Asparagaceae plant family that also includes yucca, hosta, and spider plant. It has been cultivated since 3000 BC and pictures from the tombs of the ancient Egyptians suggest that spears of the plant were used as gifts for the gods. The Greeks enjoyed wild asparagus but the Romans developed special gardening techniques to ensure a good supply because they valued the plant for both its medicinal and culinary attributes. A collection of recipes from the lst century AD includes one for asparagus, and the ancient Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD), notes its use as a diuretic and aphrodisiac. He also lists many ailments that can be treated by using remedies made from the seed, roots and stalks of the plant, ranging from stomach upset and chest pains to elephantiasis. A fresco from the House of the Vettii shows a bundle of asparagus with a small donkey and rush baskets filled with ricotta.[click to continue…]
Summer savory is an annual and a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, that also includes rosemary, thyme, and beebalm. It is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. The plant has a well-branched root system and is bushy and highly aromatic with a sweet scent. It grows 1 to 1 ½ feet tall and has finely hairy stems and soft hairless linear leaves about an inch long. The leaves are gray green at first but develop purple hues by late summer or early fall. They grow in pairs from the stem without petioles. The flowers are white or pale pink and two-lipped. They are ¼ inch long and are produced in clusters of three to six in upper leaf axils from mid summer to frost. Summer savory has been grown from ancient times for the peppery thyme/mint flavor it can add to many dishes and makes a good addition to an herb garden. The genus name Satureja is the Latin name for the plant and, according to the ancient Roman writer Pliny, is a derivative of the word for satyr because the herb belonged to the mythical creatures. The specific epithet hortensis comes from the Latin word hortus meaning garden and refers to the cultivation of the plant in a garden. [click to continue…]
Florist, Jill Rizzo, explores the world of miniature arrangements in her book, The Little Flower Recipe Book. With a love of the natural garden look, she presents 149 examples of these charming designs for imitation and inspiration. The book covers a wide range of plant material, floral projects, and essential information for making arrangements, so provides an excellent beginning point for anyone wanting to try their hand at this creative and challenging art. A special section shows details for making a wreath, creating a twig garland, making a paper cone for a container, and gluing, wiring, and stringing plant material.[click to continue…]