Funky, Fun Garden PlantsWritten by Valerie Garner
Funky, Fun Garden Plants I have a love for funky, fun and unique garden plants. Here's one to try. It's called Sea Holly, and it's actually in thistle family.
Sea Holly is a perennial garden plant, which means you plant it once and it comes up year after year, somewhat depending on your climate.
This plant never did fail to bring attention and comments from people seeing my garden. It grows about 3-4 feet high, very branchy and branches are a brilliant electric blue color. It's stunning!
The only drawback to this lovely plant, in fall you must cut it to ground and burn or compost plant. Do not let it go longer than that, casting it seeds or you'll soon discover it's family trait of being in thistle family, if you know what I mean. The following spring, it'll come back again to it's beauty.
It is an easy plant to grow and does best with full sun, or as much sun as is available to you. I live in Pacific Northwest, U.S.A. so we get a lot of rain and fairly mild summers and yet it seems to be enough for this plant.
You can search for Sea Holly seeds in seed catalogs or sometimes you can find it in some nurserys. An internet search would surely find you a source for this lovely plant.
I thought I'd let you know about one of coolest, funky plants for outdoors I've ever run across. It's called Evening Scented Stock, it is NOT common stock, however.
This is an annual plant, that needs to be sown early spring, directly into soil where it is to bloom and grow. I recommend planting it nearby windows and doors, porches, etc. This plant really doesn't look like much in and of itself, it's not a pretty plant per se..but when about 5:00 PM rolls around watch it do its stuff! This plant has a VERY powerful fragrance similar to hyacynths or lilacs. At gentlest breeze it sends a waft of fragrance to die for. This is why it's so excellent to plant near a window, door or pathway. When you open up your screen in evening, this will scent your entire house.
One place that I have found seeds for this rare plant is at Fragrant Path, PO Box 328, Fort Calhoun, NE 68023 They were about $1. a packet but price may have gone up. Please write and ask them. Enjoy!
Here's another one to try. This one is called Autumn Crocus.
Acquiring & Caring For BonsaiWritten by Sara Chute
Acquiring & Caring For Bonsai
Most bonsai trees sold at garden centers and nurseries are of excellent quality, but there are a few points to bear in mind when buying a new plant. Age and shape of tree General health Soil should be damp but not soggy, unless it has just been watered Leaves should look bright and healthy, not burnt around edges or spotty If buying a deciduous tree in winter, last year's growth should be smooth and plump, with no sign of bark wrinkling The tree should be steady in its container, which should have at least one drainage hole A white fungus in and around drainage hole is natural and harmless
Purchasing A Tree
When buying a tree from a store during summer, be sure to give it at least 2 weeks outside, avoiding heavy rain and high winds before displaying it indoors. If purchasing in winter, however, do not allow it to be exposed to frost for rest of season, as it will probably have begun to shoot. This is most important with deciduous trees, and while varieties of junipers are very hardy it is as well not to take any chances.
Most bonsai are hardy trees and shrubs whose natural habitat is out in open. They are not permanent houseplants; and even semi-tropical trees should be placed outside when weather permits. During summer plant must be able to carry out process of photosynthesis, and during winter it is resting and building up its strength for coming spring. Too long in a warm room will persuade it that spring has arrived early and it will start budding. If this happens more than once, tree will simply die of exhaustion.
Sunlight, especially ultra-violet ray, affects growth of trees. Therefore, except in special cases such as immediately after repotting, extensive trimming, etc, bonsai should be placed in a sunny location. Bright light will also work well but tree should not be placed more than 12" away from direct light source. An east, west or southern exposure works best. A northern exposure will require use of "grow lights" which should remain on up to 16 hours each day and lamp should not be more than 2 inches from top of tree. Incandescent light is too hot and will not provide various spectrum of light that is required to maintain your bonsai tree. If you do not have a window or light source that provides an east, west or southern exposure, be sure to select a bonsai tree that does well in lower lighting conditions.
Unlike a houseplant, bonsai trees use a "free draining" type of soil because their roots cannot tolerate "wet feet". In addition, they are grown in significantly less soil and, therefore require more watering. Factors such as tree location, temperature, lighting conditions, quantity of soil used, and changing seasons will determine frequency of watering. You can get to know when your tree needs to be watered by observing foliage, testing soil with your index finger just below surface, or just by weight of pot. (The drier tree, lighter it will feel.) To take guesswork out of watering, an inexpensive moisture meter which works very much like a thermometer comes in handy. Insert it into soil and movement of needle will tell you if it is time to water.
Rainwater is best for watering plants, but tap water that has stood for a few hours is adequate. In summer, trees should be watered in early morning or late afternoon to avoid midday heat. This will prevent leaves of finer bonsai from burning. In winter, water early to permit any excess to drain before night frost. Plunging pot into a bowl to soak is ideal for recently potted trees, small collections and for trees that have dried out. Be sure to drain properly, however!
All trees grow in more humid conditions than our homes, offices and dormitories. So what can we do to provide this essential humidity ? Misting tree is only beneficial for a short time, so what we recommend is to place tree on a humidity tray and add water to tray. As water in tray evaporates it creates a humid environment around tree 24 hours a day. When water in tray is gone, add more water. It's a good idea to separate pot from water in tray by adding some pebbles to bottom of tray. This will prevent any roots from sitting in water.