2011 Plant Delights Nursery August Newsletter

After a reasonably cool spring, summer has been like a toaster oven here at Plant Delights. As you can imagine, the keys to having a summer garden are irrigation and drought-tolerant plants. While we certainly have both, I happen to be a huge fan of irrigation. Irrigation relieves many plant stresses which, once they occur, are often treated chemically. So, what’s better to use…water or chemicals?

Unfortunately, many communities have done a miserable job of managing water so it will be available for gardeners in times of drought. Water is NOT a rare or precious resource like the media and social hand-wringers like to say. It is, however, a poorly managed resource by bureaucrats. If you remember from junior high school…water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. Every time the Mississippi River floods towns nearby…how much of that water do we capture and pump to areas that need it? Zero! Where’s our water infrastructure? Where is the desalinization plant construction? Now there’s a way to stimulate the economy in two areas…agriculture and construction! Okay, I digressed…forgive me.

Gardeners have long been told the best times to plant ornamentals are spring and fall, but in fact, many plants get established much faster when planted now. Last year we installed a new 150′ long perennial border in midsummer…actually during a week when the temperatures exceeded 100 degrees F every day. Thanks to good soil preparation and reasonable irrigation, the border established very quickly, including plants that were moved from one part of the garden into the new border. I have posted a picture of the border today, 12 months from its beginning, on our nursery Facebook page

We’ve just added another 30 or so new plants to the website. Some are new, some are returning favorites, but all are in very limited supply, so if you see something that tickles your fancy, don’t delay. Added July 27, 2011

July 25 kicked off the long-awaited start of the 2011 lycoris season at Juniper Level. First out of the gate was Lycoris x squamigera, followed by its parent, Lycoris longituba. After that the proverbial lycoris flood gates will open with Lycoris chinensis and Lycoris x haywardii. As they flower we are posting photos on our Facebook page, so if this interests you, sign up to be a “friend” and visit our Facebook page!

Lycoris are members of the Amaryllis family, known by common names like “surprise lily” and “hurricane lily.” These common names arise from their flower stalks which appear almost overnight sans any sign of foliage. Lycoris can be divided into two groups…those whose foliage appears in fall and those whose foliage appears in spring. The fall foliage groups are only reliably winter-hardy into colder Zone 7 and warmer Zone 6b climates. Those with spring emerging foliage can be grown into Zones 4 and 5. While lycoris are incredibly drought-tolerant, they flower much better when provided with some moisture during their dormant period in late spring and early summer. We are currently growing 188 different lycoris in our trials and will propagate the best of these to share as fast as we can. If you want to see what’s coming down the pike, check out our image gallery.

In the meantime, we currently offer 13 great selections to get you started. Visit our Lycoris page!
July also marks the beginning of the cyclamen season here at PDN with the flowering of Cyclamen hederifolium. I’ve always been surprised that there is scant mention about their summer flowering. We’ve got a superb collection of cyclamen for sale, so don’t miss this chance to get some really special gems. Visit our Cyclamen page!

Another incredible bulb for summer bloom is the cypella. These iris relatives are little known outside of plant collector circles, but if you’re in a climate where they grow, they are a very easy, can’t miss way to add summer color to sunny parts of the garden.

Visit our Cypella page!
On July 19 we were honored to receive the 2011 Perennial Plant Association Retail Award at their recent annual symposium in Atlanta, Georgia. “The award is presented to a firm in recognition of being a commercial representative instrumental in making their operation the most progressive and successful in providing outstanding marketing and customer service in perennials.” Our outstanding staff deserves the credit for this wonderful honor.

It was quite a month for PDN in the media. We were fortunate to be profiled in an article by Dan Hinkley in the most recent issue of Horticulture magazine, July-August, 2011. Thanks to those who have already sent kind notes about the article.

As we mentioned earlier, Plant Delights will be the lunch stop on a nursery tour for the upcoming NC Nursery and Landscape Association Summer Green Show in 3 weeks (August 19). This is a meeting/trade show/tour for folks in the nursery, garden center and landscape industry. Check out the program brochure for a list of the great talks. If you haven’t made your plans to attend, we hope you will do so at http://www.ncnla.com/

A couple of months ago, I mentioned a neighboring house for sale and this month there is another on the market just across the street in front of the nursery. For potential good neighbors, the details can be found here

In case you haven’t heard, a new weed killer, Imprelis , is the suspected culprit in the deaths of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of ornamental plants across the country. The damage starts as dead or dying tree tips, often with twisted and distorted new growth. Imprelis was introduced last year for commercial applicators as an environmentally safer root-absorbed alternative for killing difficult broadleaf weeds. The most affected plants include Pinus strobus (white pine), Pinus nigra (Austrian pine), Picea abies (Norway spruce), Picea pungens (Colorado blue spruce), Picea mariana (black spruce), Picea glauca (white spruce), Metasequoia glyptostroboides (dawn redwood), Thuja sp. (arborvitae), and Taxus sp. (yew). Are we seeing a trend toward conifers…hmmm? What makes the problem so hard to diagnose is that not all of the same type of trees in a treated lawn are killed. Researchers are currently trying to determine the specific factors that cause Imprelis to go rogue, but it appears that heavy rainfall following the herbicide application may be the culprit.

The epicenter of the Imprelis damage seems to be in Ohio but reports stretch all the way to the East Coast and south into Georgia. So far, Dupont is blaming the problem on improper application of the product, but that’s getting harder to believe with the extent of the damage. In a true ironic twist, Imprelis is one of the most expensive weed killers on the market at a cost of $1100 per gallon. The EPA is investigating along with a number of state agencies and, as you can imagine, a class action lawsuit has already been filed. If you feel that you have damage as a result of an application of Imprelis, photograph the dead or dying trees, take soil samples, and then call your state Department of Agriculture.

We often hear the doom and gloom about species going extinct but rarely a story emerges about finding large numbers of new species. Well, hold onto your hat…or perhaps your shirt. The Belly Button Diversity Project, run by researchers in our own backyard at NC State University have found 1,400 different strains of bacteria including 662 which are new to science. Some of the belly button bacteria that was known had only previously been found in the ocean and one only in the soil in Japan. I’m not making this up! While I find this fascinating, I sure hope this project wasn’t funded by our tax dollars. You can find out more at http://www.wildlifeofyourbody.org/

We here at Plant Delights wish you a great summer…and remember, if it’s too hot to garden, there’s plenty of cool stuff to see on the Plant Delights website so please poke around at http://www.plantdelights.com

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