Saturday, August 20, 2011

Articles from the BC Council of Garden Clubs (BCCGC) July/August 2011

As members of the BC Council of Garden Clubs (BCCGC) the Powell River Garden Club receives The Bulletin bi-monthly throughout the year. The Bulletin contains news and information from the Council as well as informative and interesting articles submitted by Club members.

Below, please find many of the articles published in The Bulletin, July/August 2011. A printed copy of The Bulletin is available at Club meetings.

Article 1:  Bacopa by Marilyn Holt
Article 2:  Deutzia
Article 3:  Turmeric
Article 4:  Crinum Americanum...Pond Plant
Article 5:  Mini Cukes by Marilyn Holt
Article 6:  Crape Myrtle by Marilyn Holt
Article 7:  Gerbera Daisy...Wikipedia
Article 8:  Hardiness Zones of British Columbia
Article 9:  Petunia Origins...Wikipedia


1.  Bacopa by Marilyn Holt
The tiny flowers we look for every Spring, namely Bacopa, is actually Sutera cordata and should not be confused with Bacopa the species.

Sutera cordata originated in South Africa and is a tender perennial used for a ground cover or trailers in window boxes or hanging baskets. It has small dark green, heart shaped leaves and small round five-petal flowers at the tips of the stems. Flower colours are white, pink, mauve and a bluish mauve.

Recent hybridizing makes it available in small flowers as well as large flowers, both with a trailing habit. New varieties are also available with golden green leaves.
Sutera cordata lives up to gardeners expectations as it is happy in sun or partial shade. The only drawback is this plant requires consistently moist soil and should not be allowed to dry out between waterings so what you pair it with is extremely important. If allowed to dry out, blooms take a long time to be coaxed back.

When researching bacopa the spring basket stuffer, I came across information on the species Bacop. Bacopa is a genus of 70 to 100 aquatic plants belonging to the family Plantaginaceae of the tribe gratioleae. A common moniker for the species Bacopa is "Water Hyssop," which is extremely misleading as it is in no way related to the hyssop family.

Bacopa species come as annuals, perennials and either trails or is erect stemmed. The leaves are opposite or whorled. The flowers are produced solitary or in pairs from the leaf axil. Crushed leaves have a distinctive lemon scent.

Its native habitat are the Americas, namely tropical and sub-tropical regions. Most grow in moist amphibious conditions, although Bacopa myriophylloides is wholly aquatic. Some varieties are used in freshwater aquariums and ponds in warmer climates. Most are easy to grow, are slow-growing and will tolerate a wide range of water conditions. Medium to high amounts of light are required to successfully grow the aquatic varieties.

Bacopa monnieri, syn. Herpestis monniera, brahmi, thyme-leafed gratiola, moneywort, etc. is important in traditional medicine in India and has been for several thousand years. The leaves of this variety are succulent and relatively thick. This variety also tolerates slightly brackish conditions and commonly grows in marshy areas throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan and Vietnam. This variety is also found in Florida and Hawaii and other southern states of the USA where it can be grown in damp conditions by the pond or bog garden.

This variety, also classed as a herb, has a number of uses in the traditional treatment of epilepsy and asthma. It has antioxidant properties, reducing oxidation of fats in the bloodstream. Studies in humans show that an extract of this plant has anti-anxiety effects. It is listed as a drug that enhances cognitive ability. In India, this plant has traditionally been used to consecrate newborn babies in the belief that it will open the gateway of intelligence. Laboratory studies on rats indicate that extracts of the plant improve memory capacity and motor learning ability. Studies also show that this plant impacts the oxidative stress cascade by scavenging reactive oxygen species, inhibiting liposygenase acitivity and reducing divalent metals, which explains the effect that an extract in this plant reduces beta amyloid deposits in mice with Alzheimer‟s disease. 

Bacopa monnieri is a known hyperaccumulator. A plant is said to be a hyperaccumulator if it can concentrate pollutants and is used in phytoremediation (absorbing poisons in soils).

Bacopa monnieri also has antifungal activity against the dermatophytic fungi namely Aspergillus niger (black mold found on some fruits and vegetables and is a common containment of food), Aspergillus flavus (a fungus that infects grains), Trichophyton rubrum (fungus that causes athletes foot, jock itch and ringworm) and Microsporum (fungal infection of the scalp).

Bacopa

2.  Deutzia  (Various sources including Wikipedia)
Deutzia is a genus of about 60 species of shrubs in the family Hydrangeaceae, native to eastern and central Asia (from the Himalaya east to Japan and the Philippines), Central America and Europe. China boasts the highest diversity having 50 of the 60 species.The species are shrubs ranging from 1-4m in height. Most are deciduous, but a few subtropical species are evergreen. The leaves are opposite each other on the stem and most have a serrated margin. The flowers are produced in panicles or corymbs; they are white in most species, sometimes pink or reddish. The fruit is a dry capsule containing numerous small seeds. Identification of the species is very difficult, requiring often micro-scopic detail of the leaf hairs and seed capsule structure.

The deutzias are fairly new to gardens with the exception D. scabra, which was spotted in Japanese gardens by Engelbert Kaempfer (1712) and Carl Peter Thunberg (1784) but not actually seen in Europe till the 1830s; two-thirds of the species noted in the R.H.S. Dictionary were gathered from the wild during the 20th century.

Uses:  These great small deciduous shrubs can be shaped into a hedge or used as a foundation planting. They are covered in pink, white or pink & white blooms for a few weeks starting in April. Deutzias are hardy to
-30°C (USDA zone 5). In milder climates, like the Pacific Northwest, the early-flowering species and hybrids are coaxed into premature bloom by mild spells, then spoilt by frost. A solution in milder climates might be to site deutzia in the garden's most exposed, coldest microclimate, as is often done with early-flowering magnolias.

This plant is considered mostly allergy free and causes little or no allergy problems in most people.

Growing Preference: Moist soil, will tolerate some drought. Prefers soil that is well drained, loamy, sandy or clay with a pH of acidic to slightly alkaline (6.8 to 7.7). Plant in full sun to partial shade. If pruning is required, do so after flowering to ensure blooms for the following year. Use rhododendron or blueberry fertilizer for your Deutzia.

'Strawberry Fields' is a hybrid variety of deutzia with deep rose-pink, star-shaped, fragrant flow-ers and grows to five feet but can be successful-ly pruned to three feet. Bearing the same name as one of the old song by the Beatles it really looks like green fields with strawberries as it grows as a compact, low shrub with dense foli-age and profusion of almost strawberry-red flow-ers in June. Lance-shaped leaves are mid green with bluish shade.

The RHS Woody Trials Committee awarded Deutzia x hybrida 'Strawberry Fields' an Award of Garden Merit .

Deutzia 'Strawberry Fields'

3.  Turmeric (Varioius internet sources and herb books)
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family. It is native to tropical Southeast Asia and grows wild in the forests. Turmeric needs temperatures between 20 °C and 30 °C and lots of annual rainfall to thrive. Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, and propagated from some of those rhizomes the following season.
When not used fresh, the rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, hot peppery flavor with a mustard-like smell. It has become the key ingredient for many Indian, Persian and Thai dishes.

Although most usage of turmeric is in the form of root powder, in some regions (especially in Maharashtra), leaves of turmeric are used to wrap and cook food. This usually takes place in areas where turmeric is grown locally, since the leaves used are freshly picked. This imparts a distinct flavor.

In recipes outside South Asia, turmeric is sometimes used as an agent to impart a rich, custard-like yellow color. It is used in canned beverages and baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits, popcorn color, sweets, cake icings, cereals, sauces, gelatins, etc. It is a significant ingredient in most commercial curry powders.

Although usually used in its dried, powdered form, turmeric is also used fresh, much like ginger. It has numerous uses in Far Eastern recipes, such as fresh turmeric pickle, which contains large chunks of soft turmeric.

Turmeric contains up to 5% essential oils and up to 5% curcumin, a polyphenol (antioxidant).

Turmeric (coded as E100 when used as a food additive) is used to protect food products from sunlight. In combination with an-natto (E160b), turmeric has been used to color cheeses, yogurt, dry mixes, salad dressings, winter butter (butter made from winter milk when the cows are few hay and not fresh grass) and margarine. Turmeric is also used to give a yellow color to some prepared mustards, canned chicken broths and other foods (often as a much cheaper replacement for saffron).

Turmeric is currently being investigated for possible benefits in Alzheimer's disease, cancer, arthritis, and other clinical disorders. As an example of preliminary laboratory research, turmeric ameliorated (make better or more tolerable) the severity of pancreatitis-associated lung injury in mice.

As of 2010, the U.S. National Institutes of Health currently has registered 19 clinical trials underway to study use of dietary turmeric and curcumin for a variety of clinical.

Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent and remedy for gastrointestinal discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. 

Raw turmeric strengthens cartilage and bone structure. It is traditionally taken in warm milk at night before sleep. Some may use turmeric in skin creams as an antiseptic agent for cuts, burns and bruises. It is popular as a tea in Okinawa, Japan.

Turmeric paste is traditionally used by Indian women to keep them free of superfluous hair and as an antimicrobial.

To try this, mix 1/2 cup of turmeric with enough milk to make a thick paste. To try this remedy and judge the effectiveness for yourself, mix ½ cup of turmeric with enough milk to make a thick paste. Spread this on your legs in the direction of hair growth and let it dry. Using your hand or a dry washcloth, scrub your legs in a circular motion, removing the paste and hair along with it. Repeat the treatment every few days or as you see hair growth. After using this remedy for a few months you may notice the hair is finer and takes longer to grow back.
Turmeric powder sold for cooking leaves your skin with a yellowish tinge. If you have access to an Asian or Middle Eastern market, look for kasturi turmeric, which may be sold as kasturi haldi or kasturi manjal. It is lighter in color and may not leave such a stain. If you can't find the lighter turmeric, regular turmeric powder is fine. Lessen the discoloration by dipping a cotton ball in milk and rubbing it all over your lip, chin, legs or wherever you used the paste.

You can feel safe using this method of hair removal since it has been used on babies in India for centuries. Some babies are born with excess hair all over their bodies. For aesthetic and cleanliness reasons, some mothers want to remove this hair. They begin rubbing turmeric on the baby's skin as early as a month old. After a couple of months, the baby may be practically hairless.

Turmeric paste, as part of both home remedies and Ayurveda (alternative medicine), is also said to improve the skin and is touted as an anti-aging agent. Turmeric figures prominently in the bridal beautification ceremonies of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Staining oneself with turmeric is believed to improve the skin tone and tan. Turmeric is currently used in the formulation of some sunscreens.

In gardening situations, turmeric be used to deter ants. The exact reasons why turmeric repels ants is unknown, but anecdotal evidence suggests it works.

Curcumin is a pH indicator. In acidic solutions (pH <7.4) it turns yellow, whereas in basic (pH > 8.6) solutions it turns bright red.

Turmeric


4.  Crinum Americanum … Pond Plant
Crinum Americanum, aka Seven Sisters, Swamp Lily, Bog Lily and String Lily - hardy to Zone 8.

Found from South Carolina to Texas, these wonderful flowers are listed alternately as members of the lily and amaryllis family. There really doesn‟t seem to be any consensus as to which family they belong.

Swamp lilies are erect plants that grow in small clumps. The leaves grow directly from the bulb and are 2–4 feet long and 2–3 inches wide. The flower stem is about 1 inch in diameter, 2–3 feet tall, with 2–6 flowers forming a showy umber at the top. The fragrant flowers are white, sometimes marked with pink. The sepals are 3–4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. They are joined at the base, forming a long tube, but curve back-ward at the end to form a ball-shaped blossom. The upper half of the stamen is purple, with purple anthers extending out from the blossom as the sepals curve backward.

The bulbs and leaves of String Lilies are poisonous to hu-mans and should not be eaten. However they are the favorite food of Lubber grasshoppers.

String Lilies are one of the first wildflowers to grow back after a marsh is burned by fire.

Crinum americanum


5.  Mini Cukes by Marilyn Holt
There are two cucumbers that have come to my attention, both produce fruit that are perfect for lunchbox size snacks that can be eaten straight from the plant without peeling. 'Cucino' and 'Picolino' both produce crisp, flavoursome mini-fruits prolifically throughout the season indoors or in a sheltered position outdoors.   Both enjoy full sun are are very adaptable to unseasonably cold or warm climates, and are very easy to grow. They require no pruning and their fruit is a fat-free source of potassium and vitamin C.  'Picolino' seeds are available as an organic seed and plants have good powdery mildew resistance.

'Cucino' Mini Cucumber
6.  Crape Myrtle...Marilyn Holt
Lagerstroemia indica, also known as Crape (or Crepe) Myrtle, is a deciduous specimen tree that is sadly overlooked in North America.   The genus comprises 50 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs native to the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia and northern Australia.

This beautiful specimen is multi-stemmed with a wide spreading, flat topped, open habit when mature. The bark is a prominent feature being smooth, pinkish-gray and mottled, shedding each year. Leaves are small and dark green changing to yellow and orange in autumn.

Flower colours vary from white, pink, mauve, purple to reds. Blossoms have crimped petals in panicles up to 9cm. 'Red Rocket' is the most glorious, true red as hinted at by its name. Crape Myrtles are extremely cold hardy, thriving in Zones 6-9, are highly mildew resistant and drought tolerant once established. They will grow to 6 metres with a spread of the same.


7.  Gerbera Daisy...Wikipedia 
Gerbera, named in honour of the German botanist and naturalist, Traugoff Gerber (1743), is a genus of ornamental plants from the sunflower family Asteraceae, originating in South Africa. Gerbera is also commonly known as African Daisy, Transvaal Daisy, and Barberton Daisy.  It has approximately 30 species in the wild, extending to South America, Africa and tropical Asia. The first scientific description of a Gerbera was made by J.D. Hooker in Curtis's Botanical Magazine in 1889 when he described Gerbera jamesonii, a South African species.

Gerbera species bear a large capitulum (flat cluster of small flowers) with striking, two-lipped ray florets in yellow, orange, white, pink or red colours with some centers showing dark brown or black. The capitulum, which has the appearance of a single flower, is actually composed of hundreds of individual flowers. The morphology of the flowers varies depending on their position in the cluster. The flower heads can be as small as 7cm (Gerbera mini 'Harley') in diameter or up to 12cm (Gerbera 'Golden Serena').

Gerbera is very popular and widely used as a decorative garden plant or as cut flowers. The domesticated cultivars are mostly a result of a cross between Gerber jamesonii and another South African species Gerbera viridifolia. The cross is known as Gerbera hybrida. Thousands of cultivars exist. They vary greatly in shape and size.

Gerbera is also important commercially. It is the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, and tulip). It is also used as a model organism in studying flower formation. Gerbera contains naturally occurring coumarin (a fragrant flavouring chemical compound, namely benzopyrone.)

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. This plant is resistant to deer. If planted in sheltered locations, they are susceptible to mildew. To avoid this, plant in open areas where the breeze can keep the leaves dry. 

To make sure the plant doesn't die prematurely when planted out, ensure the crown of the plant is above the surrounding soil level as new growth and flowers come from the central crown, which MUST be above ground.

The vividly coloured daisy blooms stand proud on bare stems shooting out of deeply lobed, lanced-shaped leaves. Potted gerberas will flower continuously for with proper care. Bright light locations are preferred as well as moderately moist soil. Water thoroughly when soil surface is dry to the touch but do not allow plants to stand in water.   Gerberas are listed in the top 12 'green' air cleaners by NASA.

Colourful Gerbera daisy


8.  Hardiness Zones of British Columbia
Hardiness Zones are mentioned on plant labels to help gardeners spend their money wisely. Well, not really I guess as there are many plantaholics who are willing to push the envelope and create the conditions their latest purchase needs to survive happily in their garden.

Don't think so? Think about strings of Christmas lights on balconies in various parts of BC with plants snuggled up to the railing and the three or four rows of lights enclosing it. These lights (if not the new LED lights) will raise the temperature by about three degrees.   Weaving clear plastic in and out of the rails raises the temperature by another few degrees.
So, you may live in zone 8b but by doing the above two things you have raised the zone to 9.   I know people in colder areas who bury their pots into the compost piles in order to insulate them from winter.

Mulching also helps to raise the hardiness of plants. By mulching I refer to straw, sawdust or leaves; basically anything that can be mounded around the base of plants to help insulate the root systems for winter. In colder parts of BC snow mimics mulching, insulating the plants and keeping them dormant longer.

The major disadvantage of living in the Pacific Northwest is our variable and ever changing winter weather. Plants are dormant but unfortunately when we have a week of warm weather like we did this last February, followed by colder temperatures and snow in March, most zone 8 borderline plants suffered and died. Unfortunately in February the plants thought winter was over and started coming out of their dormancy, some even pushing leaves and sprouting branches. Then in March the weather got cold, it snowed and killed all the new buds that emerged, moving down the stems and eventually killing the root systems. My five year old Rosemary plant fell victim to this cycle.

If you have a borderline plant, place it in the most exposed location on your property so it is less likely to start coming out of dormancy too soon only to be killed by a late frost.

**Note:  On the chart listed with this article, Powell River is considered Zone 9a**

9.  Petunia Origins...Wikipedia
Petunia is a widely cultivated genus of flowering plants of South American origin in the family Solanaceae and is closely related to tobacco, tomatoes, deadly nightshade, potatoes and chilli peppers. The popular flower derived its name from the French word 'petun', which means tobacco. Most petunia varieties seen in gardens today are hybrids.  The origin of Petunia x hybrid is thought to be a hybridization between Petunia axillaris (the large white or night-scented petunia) and Petunia integrifo-lia (the violet flowered petunia).

P. axillaris bears night-fragrant, buff white blossoms with long thin tubes and somewhat flattened openings. The species was first sent from South America to Paris in 1823.

P. integrifolia has a somewhat weedy habit, spreading stems with upright tips, and small lavender to purple flow-ers and was discovered in South America by the explorer James Tweedie, after whom the genus Tweedia is named. Mr. Tweedie sent specimens to the Glasgow Botanical Garden in 1831.

Many open pollinated species are also gaining popularity in the home garden as they encompass a wide range of colours, sizes and shapes.  
Some botanists place the plants of the genus Calibrachoa in the genus Petunia. Petunias are generally insect polli-nated with the exception of Petunia exserta, which is a rare, red flowered, hummingbird pollionated species. Most petunias are diploid with 14 chromosomes and are infertile with other petunia species.

Grandiflora petunias have the largest flowers, up to four inches in diameter. Of all the petunias, these have the widest variety of forms and colour but are most likely to be damaged by heavy rain.

Hedgiflora petunias (spreading petunias, sometimes called groundcover) are characterized by their low height, usually about six inches, but a large spread of about three to four feet. They will cover a large area provided they have adequate water and fertilization. 'Purple Wave' was the first introduced cultivar of spreading petunias and grows to a height of four inches. 'Surfinia' petunias are another type of spreading petunia and is propagated by cuttings.

Multiflora petunias, when compared with grandiflora, are half the size (two inches in diameter), are not easily damaged in heavy rain and tolerate more sun.

Milliflora petunias are the smallest of the petunias (1 inch across). These are commonly mixed with other plants in containers and in garden beds. Milliflora tolerates harsh weather better than grandiflora and multiflora petunias.

Colourful Petunia

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