In this issue:
A Trio of Exciting Newcomers!
2013 is the Year of the Watermelon, Gerbera, and Wildflower!
Holiday Gifts Gardeners Love!
Well, there are always new tomatoes to try, and most of us have yet to find the perfect cherry. Could new Nectar be the one?! Possibly... especially if you like your tomatoes sweet and tender! Unlike most cherries, which look great but aren't bursting with rich flavor, Nectar is a honey-sweet treat you'll find yourself craving. Very high in sugars, low in acids, it's also early to mature and very productive. What more could we ask?!
While you're in the vegetable patch, give new pepper Candy Bell a try. We know — nothing beats Karma as a green bell. But Candy Bell is a green bell with the nutritional wallop and sweet flavor of a red bell. You pick it green, but it's got extra nutrients — 50% more vitamin C, for instance — and a luscious sugary bite.
And just to have something pretty to look at while you eat your veggies, toss a few seeds of Zinnia Tudor into the sunny annual bed. This variety is very heat-tolerant and offers big 3½-inch double blooms of boldest magenta-purple. They look so formal, yet grow so easily! Pick up an extra pack and scatter Tudor in the vegetable patch for good measure. You'll have the prettiest garden in town — not to mention overflowing vases packed with royal color!
Each year the National Gardening Bureau (NGB) raises public awareness of particular flowering and vegetable plants, and 2013 has been designated as the Year of the Watermelon, the Gerbera, and the Wildflower.
You may wonder what the purpose of this is, and who exactly the NGB represents. Well, it turns out the NGB was founded in 1920, in the wake of the ravages of World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic. Americans were leaving farms and moving to the cities and suburbs, and concerns were raised about the population losing touch with the art of farming and even home gardening. The NGB was founded as (and remains) a non-profit organization composed of horticultural specialists.
But the NGB didn't really become influential until World War II, when it participated in the Victory Garden campaign. With food rationing in place and the future uncertain, ordinary Americans had a very definite interest in learning how to grow their own vegetables. And after the war, as thousands of families moved to the suburbs, the NGB participated in a popular beautification campaign that encouraged new homeowners to plant flowers and landscape their properties.
Today, the 12-person Board of Directors at the NGB selects flowering and vegetable varieties for their "year of the..." campaigns based on the following criteria:
The choices for 2013 are particularly appropriate. No vegetable seems more true-blue American than the watermelon (though the plant is native to southern Africa). Whether you're looking to grow an heirloom variety such as the splendid Moon and Stars or one of the new-fangled special types - such as the mini Charleston Jr., the creamy-rind Faerie, or the wonderfully sweet Shiny Boy - there is a watermelon variety waiting for you. All you need is sunshine and space to grow this giant, delicious fruit!
Gerbera daisies are a good example of how improvements in breeding have brought more varieties into today's smaller home gardens. Not so long ago, Gerberas were giant-leaved plants that needed a lot of room and produced only a few blooms. They were truly a cutting-garden variety, because the massive rosette of foliage simply wasn't appealing enough out of bloom to be placed in most borders and beds. But today's latest varieties are much more compact, with smaller leaves and more flowers than ever before. Gerbera Crush can even be grown in containers! And Jaguar is quicker and easier to grow than older varieties. If you haven't given Gerbera seed a try in a few years, you'd be surprised at how it's changed!
And finally, wildflowers have a special place in every gardener's heart. They are the ancestors of all the cultivated varieties we love so well, and are often the reason we became gardeners in the first place. California Poppies, Lupines, Columbines, Purple Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Beard-tongue, Blanket Flower, Purple Sage, Milkweed, Evening Primrose - to grow these native American species (or their cultivated descendants!) is to welcome bees, butterflies, and "good bugs" back into the garden, to banish most pests and diseases, and to rediscover the natural beauty of the landscape.
As you plan your 2013 garden, give a thought to the NGB's varieties of the year. Each is worthy of planting in gardens across the country!
We know that every moment spent holiday shopping is a moment away from gardening... and yet you want to find just the right thing for all your gardening friends and family. This year, why not stay out of the car and the mall completely, finish your shopping in no time, and get back to potting up those Amaryllis and plotting out that spring vegetable garden?! Shop online at parkseed.com, get everyone just what they want, and then put on your gloves and brave the chilly garden weather!
When you visit our website, you'll notice a new tab on the far right side of the homepage: Holiday Gifts (it's red instead of green). This contains not only our full selection of gardening goodies, but the exquisite, upscale collection of our friends at Jackson & Perkins. Now you can get those Bio Dome refills and decorated living Christmas trees in the same place, saving time and shipping fees!
Here are a few quick gift ideas for gardeners: