Want to live eight years longer than your urban-dwelling cousin who thinks she knows everything? Garden! According to Dan Buettner in his book, The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, gardening is one of the healthy lifestyle choices that long-lived people engage in to keep their bodies healthy. Walking helps, too, as does getting good doses of vitamin D from daily sunshine and eating a veggie-rich diet. Yet another reason to grow your own tomatoes! You can find the book at your local bookstore, or on Amazon.com.
Container Plant of the Month: Dichorisandra pendula ‘Weeping Blue Ginger’
From Brazil comes a wonderful container plant for full-to-partial sun exposure. In the tips of the lateral growth, small blue flowers dangle from pendulous stems blooming throughout most of the year. The flower bracts continue to repeat blooms over many months with flowers arriving every day. On sunny days, the flowers will close in the afternoon, but they remain open all day if it’s cloudy.
As plants mature, Weeping Blue Ginger has a unique lateral branching habit that gives it an Asian look. To maintain the plants at the desired height, top prune the rising growth. A member of the spiderwort family, it is easy to grow but only cold-hardy to USDA Zone 10, so it needs to be brought inside before the first frost. Plants in 2.5-inch pots sell for $9.95 each from Logee’s Tropical Plants. Visit the website or call toll-free 888-330-8038.
Crocuses may be the most popular of the early-blooming bulbs because they brighten up an early spring garden when many xeric plants are still dormant. These little beauties come in a rainbow of colors, from bright orange to pale yellow, from snow-white to soft blue.
“Crocuses should be used in every garden and in every grass lawn, because they welcome spring with a wonderful burst of color,” says David Salman, chief horticulturist at High Country Gardens.
Crocuses can be planted right into low-growing groundcovers, such as Veronica ‘Heavenly Blue’ or Cerastium tomentosum (Snow in Summer), for an early splash of color. Salman loves crocuses so much that his catalog offers the Spring Blooming Crocus Sampler containing 216 bulbs – 24 each of nine different delightful varieties. Crocus bulbs should be planted in the fall, so they can set roots and get ready for early spring blooming. The Spring Blooming Crocus Sampler sells for $59.41 from High Country Gardens. Vist the website or call 800-925-9387.
A cure for yucky pond water
If the water in your decorative pond is green, stinky or otherwise yucky, Mother Nature has a tip for you: add barley straw. It turns out that barley straw, when placed in water, attracts microbes. Those microbes break down the straw and also consume phosphorus that would otherwise feed algae. The result of the floating barley straw is clean, clear water that is a better habitat for fish and wildlife – and much more pleasing to humans, too. A two-pack of Summit Clear-Water Barley Straw bales (each of which contains a cork float to keep the barley near the water’s surface where it can do the most good) sells at garden centers and pond supply stores or for $13.90 on Aqua Mart Inc.’s website or by calling 800-245-5814