Park News Feb 2013

Your Park Garden NewsTry pretty shades of pink in your garden this season with our Fondly Yours Combination!
Try a Combo Pack for Instant Color this Spring!
Spice is Right Combination

If you're like us, every once in a while you want a quick injection of perfect color for that special basket or planter — something that is already blooming weeks before the seeds you're starting are even ready to transplant. Or you want to give a flowering gift to that novice gardener you're "cultivating" — something that's easy enough for them to plant out successfully, yet different enough to set it apart from the same-old, same-old at the big box stores.

That's where Park's new annual combination packs come in!

This is something new we're trying, so you'll have to tell us what you think. The combos are all mixed pack of plants, all grown in Elle Pots so you know they have great root strength and will transplant effortlessly. You only need one pack for a big pot, basket, or windowbox, so they're easy on the pocketbook. And they are combinations you aren't likely to find at the local store, such as these standouts:

  • Pink and Ink: Midnight-black sweet potato vine offsetting bright pink petunias and nosegays of red-to-salmon verbena!
  • Fiesta Time: Tropical color from a miniature canna, a sun-tolerant begonia, and a bright petunia!
  • Spice is Right: Selected for fragrance as well as beauty, this combo features 2 plants each of purple basil, pineapple sage, and an ornamental chili pepper.
  • Dynamic Duo: A shade lover! This combo contains three plants each of a bronze-leafed begonia and a perennial heuchera. In the fall, you can plant the heuchera in the garden or let it overwinter in the pot. Either way, it will be around for seasons to come!

    ... plus many more!
Dyanmic Duo Combination

Another idea we have for our combinations is "combining the combos" - pairing multiple combo packs to create whole new looks! For sizzling intense color, try mixing Devil May Care with Gold & Bold, for instance. Or, to vary the texture while reinforcing the color, combine 2 very different looks in pink, purple, and white when you mix Serenita Angelonia with Shock Wave Spark Mix. Add Spice is Right to any other sun-loving combo for some spicy fragrance, and introduce a note of mystery to the usual bright summer colors with Black Bloom Petunia Combo!

Our combos are growing beautifully right now, and we can't wait for just the right time to ship them to you. Give them a try this season and then give us your feedback on this new venture!

10 Seeds You Should Direct-sow This Spring!
10 Seeds You Should Direct-sow This Spring

Let's all save a bundle on the garden budget and indulge one of our favorite pastimes all at once: scrabbling around in the warm spring soil! Here are 10 varieties of seeds you should direct-sow into the garden this spring after all danger of frost has passed.

Zinnia — Some seeds tolerate direct sowing, but Zinnia almost demands it! We think that Zinnias grown from transplants never seem to have the wholehearted vigor and conquer-the-world zeal that direct-sown plants show us. And Zinnia is so forgiving of benign neglect. Plant it around the mailbox, in empty spaces in the foundation, in bare pockets along the blazing driveway, and of course in big swathes in the annual beds and cutting garden!

Sunflower — As you sow this giant seed, remember the old farmer's song about planting seeds, "One for the blackbird, one for the crow / One for the soil, and one to grow." Okay, so you can probably get away with planting just 2 seeds in every hole, but there's no doubt that farmers knew what they were doing. And while it's sad to have to thin a robust, up-and-coming little sunflower shoot, it's even sadder to have gaps in your giant sunflower wall!

Beans — Beans absolutely require direct-sowing (just ask Jack of beanstalk fame!). They too are satisfying to push into the soil, and you never mislay them or worry about losing them! While you're putting out your nice rows of bush and pole beans, don't forget the ornamental runners. Hestia is a gorgeous dwarf runner that grows like Topsy in containers, and Tenderstar is a runner/French bean mix with radiant blooms. Keep the veggie patch beautiful - plant lots of runner beans!

Marigold — And while you're beautifying that veggie patch, don't forget to surround your tomatoes (and everything else) with nematode-fighting Marigolds! Another easy seed to direct-sow (it's comfortably large and looks like no other!), Marigold sets neon-bright blooms that stand out anywhere. The scent helps repel pests too (nobody will ever market a Marigold perfume, but it's very useful in the garden!). There's a variety specifically made to combat nematodes (Golden Guardian), but any of the French, African, or New World varieties will do just fine. And Marigold is a splendid addition to the sunny annual bed. Easy enough for children to grow, and so lovely!

Squash — Squash is a vine that takes off like a bullet and regales you with big, delicious blooms as well as plenty of fruit. Most folks grow it in "hills," which sounds needlessly confusing. All it means is that instead of spacing the seeds in rows, you plant a handful of seeds together, in a single spot. You can scatter the "hills" in any pattern, or no pattern, throughout the garden. (Now, some people mound up soil when planting squash, so that they improve their drainage and protect the seeds from washing away during heavy rains. This is also sometimes called "hilling," and can be very beneficial if you live in a wet climate or have drainage problems. If your climate is dry and your garden usually thirsty, you might benefit from planting the seeds slightly below ground level, so that excess water runs their way. When in doubt, don't worry about it and plant at ground level. Experience will answer all questions!)

Corn — Don't shy away from planting corn just because your garden is small or set right in the middle of a suburban (or even an urban!) street. Corn is tall and rangy, but you don't have to plant a field of it. And there's simply no easier vegetable. It's so satisfying, especially if you're new to gardening, to sow a few kernels one nice April day and 3 months later gaze out at a row of 8-foot plants set with delicious fruit! All it needs is sun, water, and good soil drainage.

Morning Glory — No garden should be without this luscious vine. And how easy is it to grow? Here in the deep south, you find it growing wild in ditches alongside the highway, scrambling merrily in the sunshine! Today's newest varieties are really exciting, and nothing beats the classic Heavenly Blue lolling over a wall, threading itself through a rusty chain-link fence, or blanketing an old stump.

Radish — We all need one "instant gratification" plant, and radish fulfills this obligation in gardens everywhere. Scatter these seeds in early spring and within a month you can yank up fully grown, beautifully pink to red radishes - moist, peppery, and ready to eat!

California Poppy — Like many native plants, this beautiful annual prefers to sprout directly in the place it will grow, and doesn't approve of transplanting. Luckily, it's easy and rewarding to direct-sow the seed, and you can do it in early spring, for blooms just 2 months or so later. Give this sunshine and well-drained soil, and let Nature do the rest!

Cucumber — Second in popularity to tomatoes in American vegetable gardens, cukes are a direct-sow home run. Think of them as a moister form of squash - they are that easy to grow, that productive, and certainly that delicious! Choose bush varieties if you don't want to have to plant them along a fence or up a trellis. So tasty, so succulent, so yummy when pulled right from the soil and eaten!

Valentines for Gardeners

If you love to give gifts from your garden, Valentine's Day can be a frustrating holiday. In most parts of the country, avid gardeners are just beginning to sow seeds indoors in mid-February! No chance of a big bouquet fresh from the garden. But that's okay — it just encourages us to be creative! Consider these less traditional (but more fun!) Valentine's Day gifts:

Many of us have started sending Valentine's Day cards instead of Christmas cards. The season is slower, so we actually have time to write a message in each card, and recipients are delighted to receive something special in February (or March, depending on how much time you have for writing!). Consider tucking a packet of seeds into each card to make the gift "garden special"! We even have some varieties that deliver a Valentine's Day message right in their name:

Falling in Love Poppy Seeds

If the spirit is willing but the piggy bank is empty, write that special Valentine a note expressing your love and promising to help with a specific spring gardening task, from transplanting the seedlings started indoors to putting down mulch, getting out the hanging baskets and planters to be filled, or marking rows for the vegetable patch. Never has the gardener been born who would turn down this kind of help!

Share the love with your feathered friends! Now is a good time to set up a new birdfeeder, set out a shallow dish filled with pebbles as a birdbath, and refill the hummingbird feeders. Spring will be here before we know it, and you want the birds to make your garden their very first stop!

And from all of us here at Park Seed, Happy Valentine's Day and best wishes for a speedy and beautiful spring!