Park News April 2011

Grab Your Trowel! Annual Plants are Shipping Soon!

The weather is warming, the birds are singing, and spring planting time is just around the corner! If you have ordered annual flowering and/or vegetable plants from Park, you will soon be receiving an important package! If you haven't yet, be sure to place your order soon so it can be processed for shipment.

The schedule for shipping live plants is determined by the weather, so it can change during the season. But here is the current projection for spring shipping:

When to expect your annual and perennial 6-packs

Remember, everything can change overnight, but if all goes well, you should be potting up your petunias and caging your tomatoes before too much longer!

Our Seed Horticulturist Goes Hollywood!

Making it growSeveral weeks ago our Seed Horticulturist, Stephanie Turner, appeared on the South Carolina Educational Television's Making it Grow gardening program. Stephanie talked with host Rowland Alston of Clemson University about sowing seeds and protecting young plants from unseasonable cold snaps. She showed off some Coreopsis Presto and Columbine Clementine already in bloom (thanks to Doc's greenhouses!), some Coleus just getting started, and a huge flat of (what else?!) tomato seedlings. Watch the full episode, featuring Stephanie, as well as instructions for waxing Camellia blooms and many helpful gardening tips, at (Stephanie's segment is about 22 minutes into the show).

Most Educational Television stations around the country host a gardening program similar to Making It Grow. We've found these programs to be invaluable for good gardening advice specific to the local area, as well as news about regional garden-related events. Tune in one day and see if you agree!

Breathe Easier with a House Full of Plants!

Scientists are now proving what gardeners have always known: houseplants improve the quality of the air around them. No, it's not just the elevated mood brought on by the sight of a lovely Cyclamen in the bathroom or a majestic Lemon Eucalyptus beside the window! Nor is it photosynthesis, the process by which plants release oxygen into the atmosphere. Houseplants really do clean the air around us.

Let the plants do the housework; you're needed in the garden!New research demonstrates that houseplants actually scrub contaminants from the air in two ways: 1) by leaf pores absorbing them, and 2) by microorganisms in the potting mix ingesting them. And since most Americans now spend more than 90% of their time indoors (why aren't they out gardening like we are?!) and since the EPA estimates that pollutants are present at 2 to 5 times a higher rate indoors than outdoors, finding an all-natural way to clean things up is a godsend!

The process of cleaning the air via houseplant is called "phytoremediation" (now we know it's official: it's got a $10 name!), and it is estimated that the presence of just 6 houseplants in a 1200- to 1500-square-foot home can reduce air-borne contaminants by as much as 75%. That's a lot of dust, smoke, and chemicals gone from our homes!

So if you have been considering growing a Ponytail Palm, Moses-in-the-Cradle, or Fiber Optic Grass plants this season, go ahead and plant the whole pack of seeds. You'll have enough little plants to share around with all your friends this spring and summer. And who wouldn't appreciate a gift of fresh air?!

Countdown to Flower Day 2011!

"June reared that bunch of flowers you carry, from seeds of April sowing" - Robert Browning

Vinca and Celosia seedlingsFlower Day, our annual Open House as part of the South Carolina Festival of Flowers, is June 25 — less than 3 months away! We're busy removing the last traces of winter from the garden, clearing away debris and weeding. Here's what's coming up for our 9-acre trial gardens:

It will soon be time to transplant seedlings of Rudbeckia, Monarda, Agastache, Coleus, and Salvia, among many others. Within 2 weeks we'll be sowing Zinnia, Petunia, and Marigold seeds.

And we're enjoying the beauty of the early-spring garden! Our Fothergilla, Paulownia, and Edgeworthia are finishing their gorgeous season of blooms, while the Violas are in full regalia!

And the Winner Is.... - What's Growing in Your Bio Dome Right Now? Contest

Last month we asked to see what was sprouting in your Bio Dome at the moment. We expected to see a lot of what Deretta A. described perfectly as "Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Tomatoes!", but we also had everything from Coleus to Chile Peppers. We will definitely repeat this contest sometime during the year, so keep that digital camera handy beside the Bio Dome and wait for your chance!

The winner of this contest is Debbie C. of Wilmington, Massachusetts. Despite (or maybe because of!) the frosty temperatures up north, Debbie keeps a rotation of Bio Domes working nonstop. Here's her story and some inspiring photos:

Debbie CI have been starting seeds for about 8 years now and last year I bought my first Bio Dome system. I was amazed at how fast the seeds sprouted up and at the success rate of the seeds germinating. I have tried so many different methods of starting seeds over the past years and the Bio Dome system is BY FAR the easiest and most successful way I've tried.

I love that the seedlings get watered from the bottom. There's no more worrying that they'll dry out, just add water to the bottom of the tray and the seedlings stay just at the right moisture level. You can go for several days before you need to add more water. The vented dome is great for allowing the humidity within the Bio Dome to be perfectly adjusted. Honestly, I feel like I could do a commercial for this product. I've ordered several more bio blocks and sponges over the course of the last year. They're great to have in the summer when I want to take cuttings of plants from my gardens to root them. The Bio Dome is perfect for this. I just place the cuttings into the sponges and leave the whole tray outside on my potting bench and in no time, I have more perfectly rooted plants for my garden.

Debbie C image 2In the photos, I have lots of coleus seedlings started. I love to tuck them into shaded spots in my gardens and into pots that I can move around the gardens when I need a little extra color here and there. When these seedlings are strong enough to be moved out of their Bio Dome trays, I have lots of Sunny Lady Impatiens, Zinnias and Pentas to get started. It's been a very long, cold, snowy winter and there's nothing like the feeling I get when it's time to start my seeds. Spring will be here soon and my Bio Domes have lots of work to do!

— Debbie C. of Wilmington, Massachusetts

Debbie wins a $25 Gift Certificate and the respect of all of us here at Park who use our Bio Domes faithfully but not nearly as efficiently as she does!

All of the photo entries have been posted on our Facebook page. Remember, we'll be asking again for Bio Dome pics sometime in the future. Keep a few shots of your proud young sprouts around. You never know when they might come in handy!

New Contest - Plant Name Doodles!

This month's contest is just for fun. One of our Art Directors here at Park is always decorating the margins of paper with witty doodles, so we decided to put her pencil to work creating caricatures of common plant names. For instance, if she drew a sun with petals, a stem, and leaves, it would represent "Sunflower." Here are 3 more common plant names in "doodle" form:

Caricature 2 Caricature 1 Caricature 3

When you think you've got them figured out, send an email to: containing all 3 correct answers and the subject Plant Name Doodles. Of all the correct responses we receive, we'll pick one winner at random to receive a $25 Park Seed Gift Certificate!

Check next month's Park News for the answers and the announcement of our winner. Good luck!

April Dates to Remember - Mark Your Calendars!

April is a great time for getting involved in events that are good for the environment as well as for your intellect! There are some wonderful month-long observances, including National Garden Month and National Poetry Month — celebrations that focus on improving the overall health of the world and on bringing to the attention of individuals and the media the art and heritage of poetry.

April 1April (All) Fools Day — This day is celebrated in many countries and involves hoaxes and practical jokes of varying degrees of sophistication. Watch out for those clever co-workers!

April 18Income Tax Day — Your income taxes are due by midnight tonight ! (The deadline for this year is 3 days later than usual due to a Washington, D.C. holiday falling on the April 15.) If you haven't started them yet, well, I don't envy you! Get busy!

April 18 Passover — This 8-day Jewish holiday celebrates the exodus of the Jews from ancient Egypt, where they had been enslaved.

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22, 2011!April 22Earth Day — Celebrate the gains we have made in environmental protection and create new ideas to accelerate progress.

April 22Good Friday — Also called Holy Friday or Great Friday, it's the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and it commemorates the crucifixion of Christ and his death at Calvary.

April 24Easter — This Christian holiday celebrates the resurrection of Christ from the dead three days after his crucifixion.

April 29 Arbor Day — This nationally celebrated day encourages tree planting and care. It was founded by J. Sterling Morton in 1872 and is observed on the last Friday in April.