• 2015: Year of the Coleus
    Coleus has a long history of use in our gardens as a foliage plant and has gone through various phases of popularity over the past couple of centuries. The relative ease of establishment after planting combined with a wide range of selections has made coleus indispensable in the garden and popular in the container as well.
  • 2015: Year of the Gaillardia
    Some of our best garden flowers started in the New World, went to Europe for culture, then returned to great acclaim. Gaillardia is one of these. Its daisy flowers usually come in shades of red or orange with fringed rays that look like their tips have been dipped in yellow paint. Plants bloom heavily from summer through fall, don’t mind the heat, and prosper with less water than most other high-performance flowers.
  • 2015: Year of the Sweet Pepper
    Sweet peppers bring a rainbow of colors and a plethora of shapes to the table. It is easy to value them for looks and flavor alone, but the sweet pepper is a nutritional powerhouse as well. Peppers have high nutrient levels at any stage but are the most beneficial when eaten fully ripe.
 
2015: Year of the Coleus - Abbey Road

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2015: Year of the Gaillardia - Gaillardia aristata

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2015: Year of the Sweet Pepper - Admiral Yellow

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National Garden Bureau's Fundraising Effort Pays Off for Young Adults with Autism

Donations of cash, services and products from individuals and major corporations have resulted in gifts totaling $43,398 for the Growing Solutions Farm located in Chicago, IL.

In July 2014, National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the horticulture industry, announced the launch of Growing for Futures #growingforfutures, an annual philanthropic effort to benefit therapeutic gardens across the country. In the months since the launch, a flood of publicity surrounding the farm has reached millions resulting in donations of cash, seeds, trees, a greenhouse, compost and more, totaling over $40,000.

NGB’s goal was to raise funds to support the farm’s expansion, both in physical space and jobs programming.

National Garden Bureau thanks the following organizations for their cash contributions: ABZ Seeds, All-America Selections, Ball Horticultural Company, Bruss Landscaping, Caitlin, Inc., Greenheart Farms, Hem Genetics, Home Garden Seed Assn., Pen & Petal, Planter’s Palette, ProPlugger, Proven Winners, Sakata Ornamentals, Seeds by Design, Seminis and Terra Organics.
National Garden Bureau also thanks the following companies for their generous product and service donations: Bailey Nurseries, Dixondale Farms, Garden Patch GrowBox, Gardener’s Supply, GreenMark PR, Illinois Concrete Pipe Association, Irish Eyes Garden Seed, Lake Valley Seed, Park Seed and Oldcastle Lawn & Garden.

The Growing Solutions Farm is located in Chicago, Illinois and is the first beneficiary in this annualfundraising effort by the National Garden Bureau.

Click here to help us continue to fund the garden's expansion with a donation via PayPal.

 

 

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Help the Monarch Butterfly

The beautiful orange and black Monarch butterfly is one of the best known threatened butterfly species in North America. According to some of the latest surveys over 90% of the population has disappeared in the last decade mostly due to loss of habitat. No one understands how this lovely insect can remember over 4 or 5 generations where to migrate. Different populations will travel from western Canada to central California or from eastern Canada, through the midwest, and southern U.S. and ultimately to central Mexico and back again.

The life cycle of the Monarch is complex and amazing. First the female lays its eggs on the underside of the leaves of a milkweed plant. After 3 to 5 days the eggs hatch and the larvae (or baby caterpillars) feed on the leaves. Over the next 9 to 15 days the caterpillars will molt 5 times increasing in mass 2000 times shedding its skin each time it molts. It then pupates and spends 9-14 days as a chrysalis. When fully developed, the adult butterflies emerge and feed on the nectar of many different flowers as they continue to fly north during the next 2 to 6 weeks. Then the process starts all over again. The butterflies mate and the females lay eggs. The Monarchs that emerge as adults at the end of the summer are different from the adults that emerge earlier in the summer. Instead of mating they spend all their time and energy feeding on nectar, flying south and catching air currents which enable them to migrate up to 2800 miles to central California or central Mexico. When they reach their destination they hibernate through the winter in trees. After several months, when the weather warms up in the spring, they begin to move northward again and females lay eggs for their first summer generation. The migrating generation of Monarchs live 7 to 9 months.

Unfortunately, sprawling urban developments and intensive farming techniques mean fewer uncultivated margins where the milkweed species can thrive and provide habitat for the Monarch during its egg and larvae/caterpillar stages. When the females cannot find suitable habitat to lay eggs, the life cycle is interrupted and the overall population decreases. While scientists have been aware for several years of the Monarch butterfly’s life threatening situation and possible extinction, promoting public, government and industry awareness of the plight of this beautiful insect is probably the only thing that can lead to saving it.

It is commonly agreed that one solution is for all aspects of our society to plant more milkweed seed to assure continuous pathways of habitat from Canada to California and Mexico where the Monarch migrates for the winter months. There are over 120 species of milkweeds (Asclepias) and several are readily available. Two species are particularly colorful, Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed/Bloodflower) is bright red, and A. tuberosa (butterfly milkweed) is orange. Some sources express concern when using A. curassavica as outlined here but the North American Butterfly Association says it can be used as a carefully managed garden plant as instructed below. A. tuberosa is a perennial that has been widely used in conservation and reclamation plantings. It can take 2-3 years to form a tuber before blooming. Other native species commercially available include: A. incarnata (prairie or swamp milkweed), A. speciosa (showy milkweed), and A. syriaca (common milkweed). These species have white, pale or deep pink flowers and are the most important food sources for the caterpillars to keep the butterflies healthy according to Dara Satterfield of the University of Georgia. Her studies indicate the tropical species, Asclepias curassavica may be a source for a higher rate of the butterfly parasite, Ophryocyctis elektroscirrha. Also, if A. curassavica is planted, it should be cut down in the fall to prevent the butterflies from staying too long and interrupting their normal migration schedule. Other species should be included in any tropical milkweed planting. Since showy and common milkweed are rhizomatous, they should be planted where their fast spreading habit is acceptable.

Most milkweed species are easy to start indoors from seed. The seeds are flat, brown and oval (ovate) shaped seed 1/4 to 1/2 in. long. Plant the seed indoors (4-6 weeks before intended transplanting to the garden) in a tray or pot of a light weight peat/soil/sand potting medium with good drainage and cover with 1/8 in. of the mixture. Keep well moistened in a cool sunny window or greenhouse; the seed will germinate in 10 - 14 days. Transplant seedlings into 3 to 4 in. pots until they have a well established root system. The plants can gradually be hardened off and planted outdoors in the spring or when daytime temperatures are between 60 - 70 degrees. Seeds of perennial species can also be planted directly in the ground in late summer or early spring when the soil can be tilled. Since Asclepias species do not like their roots to be disturbed, transplanting is more successful with well established plants in pots. It is a good idea to plant a mixture of other nectar producing plants with or near the milkweed to provide a food source for the emerging butterflies. Any wildflower or garden flower mixture designed to attract butterflies will serve this purpose as will annuals such as alyssum, marigold and zinnia.

The big question is how to get significant amounts of habitat re-established in appropriate parts of the country before it is too late and the Monarch becomes extinct. Everyone, including children, can help by planting more milkweed plants. Click here for an article about Children's Butterfly Gardens.


The National Garden Bureau thanks Applewood Seed as the author of this article.

  • Beet Avalanche AAS Winner

    For any non beet-lovers, this might just be the variety to change your mind! At least that’s what happened with one AAS Judge who previously, pretty much despised beets. Now he states, “This beet has made me a believer!” Avalanche exhibits a mild, sweet taste with a uniform root shape and no reddish tinge, making for more attractive produce. Judges raved about the raw eating quality when they discovered there was no earthy beety taste, nor any bitter aftertaste. As for garden performance, there’s hardly any vegetable easier or quicker to grow and in just 50 days, you too can have delicious white beets.

  • Tomato Supremo

    Supremo is a dual-purpose performer — maturing quickly even in hot summer weather. The extra-large, tasty, blocky fruit are wonderful fresh and easy to peel for sauce, salsa or canning. This productive hybrid sets loads of 5-6 ounce fruit on compact, determinate, disease-resistant plants. Plants have a concentrated maturity convenient for cooking. The fruits have nice flavor, are firm, and turn bright red at maturity.

  • Lettuce Valley Heart

    Valley Heart is a fast-maturing, uniform variety that is well-suited to use in a chopped salad or for lettuce cups.  The medium dark green romaine color combined with large, slightly savoyed leaves just add to the overall appeal of this variety.  Valley Heart also has good bolting tolerance, which makes it widely adaptable to multiple growing locations.

  • Gerbera ‘Landscape Redwood®’
    Large plant provides flowers that can be cut and enjoyed in a vase. The plant continues to bloom and will produce more than 40 flowers. Large 3 to 4 inch blooms are red with yellow edge. Tall upright plants reach 36 inches and spread 24 to 36 inches. This annual will add color to a part sun location.
  • Corn, Ornamental 'Japonica Striped Maize'

    Beautiful ornamental pop corn from Japan, grows 5-6 feet tall, variegated leaves striped with green, white, yellow and pink, dark purple tassels, burgundy kernels, better color development when plants are widely spaced, listed in the 1890s as 'Striped Leafed Japanese Maize.'  Bonus - The black/purple small ears are an edible pop corn to be enjoyed by the birds.  

 

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