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In this Issue:
Have You Reviewed a Plant Yet?
It's Time to Divide Some Perennials!
Keeping Children Safe from Poisonous Plants
Natural Beauty Products from Your Garden
New Contest: Find the Tomato on Our Website!
Mark Your Calendars!
Fun Wallpapers from Park
Coneflowers growing in the Park Seed trial gardens
Have You Reviewed a Plant Yet?

Shell Bean Yin Yang: 5 StarsOne of the most fun and (we hope!) helpful features of our new website design is that you can now post a review of any plant you have grown!

We can't tell you how many times we've heard from people in various parts of the country that a certain plant blooms much earlier or later where they live, or that they have found a useful trick for growing a certain vegetable more effectively! Some can't wait to tell us that this is their favorite plant ever, while others may have found it really challenging. Whatever the case, we want you to be able to share your information with other gardeners — and that's where the reviews come in!

To write a review, just click beside the row of stars above the price box of the product. A box will pop up with just a few questions to answer:

  • rate the product from 1 (poor) to 5 (great) stars
  • briefly tell us why you gave the rating you did
  • tell us the name you want to use with your review on the site. (You don't have to give your real name — "A Connecticut Gardener" or "Veggie Queen" or some such is just fine!)
  • enter the state in which you garden (this part is very helpful for our records!)
  • enter your email address (in case we need to ask you a question). Rest assured: your email address will never appear on the website

That's all there is to it! We hope that very soon, gardeners across the country will be helping each other choose the very best varieties, avoid mistakes, and make the most of their garden!

It's Time to Divide Some Perennials!

Dividing Bearded Iris rhizomesAs the weather begins to cool for fall, it's time to start thinking about which garden plants would benefit from being divided. Labor Day is the traditional "deadline" for dividing Bearded Iris, but that's just a guidepost — where you live, what the weather is doing, and most importantly, how your plants are behaving are the real signals to look for!

First of all, if you're like us, you may be asking yourself, "Do I really have to divide any plants?" And while it's true that the Plant Division Police won't be patrolling your neighborhood, many perennials bloom and grow much better, and can even live longer, if divided every few years. Coreopsis is a prime example; if left alone, it can peter out after a few seasons, but if you take a moment every 2 to 3 years to pull it apart into smaller clumps and re-plant, it will thrive for a long, long time!

Here is a quick list of the perennials that benefit from a late summer to fall division:

Heuchera - Mark your calendar to divide this super-easy perennial every 3 years, removing the woody center of the plant and separating the healthy outer parts into several new plants.
Hardy Garden Phlox - Like Heuchera, this plant grows outward, creating a dead woody middle section every few years. If you divide Phlox faithfully every 3 years, not only will it live longer and bloom more fully, it will also be less susceptible to powdery mildew!
Hardy Geranium - Not every variety of hardy Geranium needs dividing, but considering what we pay for them, it's well worth it to break them apart every 2 to 3 years. They fall apart if just pulled gently — no more than a moment's work for so much beautiful color!
Astilbe - Divide it every 2 to 3 years for best flowering and most vigorous growth.
Ajuga - This is a spreader, so it takes off like lightning after you divide it. Depending on how fast you need coverage, divide it every 2 to 3 years.
Hosta - This super-easy, super long-lived foliage plant can be divided any time of year, but fall works better than spring because it leafs out late, so it can hide from you until April or May — by which time you're swamped with other garden chores! When you dig it up, you'll see that the rootball is divided up like a pie. Whack the divisions and you've got new plants!
Bearded Iris - If time is tight, divide your Iris first — it needs to be divided and re-planted at least 6 weeks before the first frost, to give it time to root securely for winter. Look at the rhizome and cut off any parts that look dead or diseased. Then cut the rest cleanly into pieces, making sure to get at least 2 to 3 eyes in every piece.
Daylily - The busy gardener's best friend, this perennial is so easy that you can divide it without even digging it up, if you want — just whack the base of the plant into 2 to 4 sections and leave it be! But you'll probably want to re-plant those new divisions elsewhere to increase your beautiful garden.... or possibly even share them with friends!
Keeping Children Safe from Poisonous Plants

We have all heard horror stories about children eating Angel's Trumpet flowers or swallowing castor beans, yet this is surprisingly rare. The vast number of children's encounters with poisonous plants produce skin irritations or other allergic symptoms, and even these are easy to prevent with a little planning.

The holidays present a number of challenges, beginning with those gorgeous purple Cotoneaster berries at the Thanksgiving table. You would have to eat a lot of them to suffer any ill effects, but still — they look beautiful and might be tempting. Keep an eye on your centerpiece!

Cotoneaster berriesWith Christmas come holly, ivy, poinsettia, mistletoe, and yew — all poisonous! The danger of poinsettia has been perhaps too well publicized: poison control centers report very few calls about this lovely winter houseplant. But everything is pretty and tempting at the holidays, so make sure your greenery (especially if it is fruiting!) is well out of reach of little ones!

Many houseplants can cause allergic reactions if ingested, so teach children early not to eat or rub the foliage on their skin. Umbrella Tree, Ficus, Jade Plant, African Violet, Calla lily, and Caladium are among the plants that can create reddening, inflammation, and pain.

Outdoors, Jack-in-the-Pulpit can be a temptation, as can Rhododendron and Oleander. And many plants in the Solanum (nightshade) family are quite toxic, though others are edible vegetables, including potatoes and eggplants.

If you have poisonous plants already present in your garden and do not wish to or cannot move them, take simple precautions to make them less accessible to curious children. Remove any branches within a child's reach, if possible. Prune back fruiting hedges before they set berries. And if you have a large toxic plant, such as a yew tree, make your problem into a virtue by surrounding it with deep flowerbeds or thick shrubbery so that it can't be approached!

If something does go wrong in the garden, take quick action. If a child comes into contact with poison oak, ivy, or sumac, wash the skin at once and at length with lukewarm water and plenty of soap. If you suspect that a poisonous plant has been swallowed, immediately call 9-1-1 or a Poison Control Center. Resist the temptation to give the child ipecac or to induce vomiting — it can cause more harm than good.

The best cure is always prevention, so teach children from a very young age never to put anything from the garden into their mouth unless a trusted adult has offered it. After all, by far the most common complaint about poisonous garden plants at Poison Control Centers nationwide is.... hot peppers! A searing chili pepper fresh from the plant can cause severe pain and inflammation, so bear in mind that "non-toxic" doesn't mean "good to eat," and instill caution in even the youngest gardeners!

Natural Beauty Products from Your Garden

Turn that late-summer garden into your own ready-made spa by harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, and even avocadoes for their beneficial effects on your skin!

The acids in tomatoes are excellent for your skin, especially when combined with sea salt or organic sugar for texture. Toss a few tomatoes in the blender (a great way to dispose of those less-than-perfect ones that sometimes arise in late summer!), sprinkle in some sea salt, and carry the mixture into the shower with you. It's a great invigorating body scrub!

Cream the flesh of an avocado, then add just a dollop of olive oil to hold it all togetherCucumbers have long been recognized for their cool, soothing properties, and you should use them freely on your skin. Cut slices to put over your eyes, of course, but also peel the cuke, then pulverize it in the blender for a soothing face mask. Keep it on about 10 minutes, then wash off. Your skin will feel pleasantly refreshed!

Should you be lucky enough to grow avocadoes, you have a homemade wrinkle cream just waiting to be applied! Avocado is rich in vitamin E, which has great healing properties for skin (it is often applied to scars). Cream the flesh of an avocado, then add just a dollop of olive oil to hold it all together. Smooth it gently over those laugh lines and crow's feet, and leave in place for about 10 minutes before washing off. Mmmm — the heavenly smell is another benefit!

What other beauty aids can you make from your vegetable and herb garden? When you start to think about dream pillows and infusions, the list seems endless! Have fun and save money by staying beautiful through gardening!

New Contest -- Find the Tomato on Our Website!

Find Me!Ah yes, Labor Day is here, the kids are going back to school, autumn is (almost) in the air.... it's time for the annual Find the Tomato Contest on Park Seed! For those of you who haven't participated in the past, it's very simple:

We've placed this drawing of a tomato somewhere on our website. If you should happen to run across it, click on it. You'll be taken to a screen where you will be given instructions on entering our drawing for a $25 Park Seed Gift Certificate! On Wednesday, September 28, we will randomly select one random winner from all who have spotted the wily little veggie fruit, and send them their gift certificate. Good luck and happy hunting!

September Dates to Remember - Mark Your Calendars!

September 5 — Labor Day — the first American Labor Day was observed on September 2, 1882 in New York City
Welcome Fall!September 8 — International Literacy Day
September 11 — Patriot Day
September 11 — Grandparents Day — Honor your gardening grandparents with a gift certificate from Park Seed!
September 16 — International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
September 16 — National POW/MIA Recognition Day
September 21 — World Alzheimer's Day
September 21 — International Day of Peace
September 23 — Autumn Equinox — First Day of Fall!
September 28 — Rosh Hashanah (begins at sundown)

Fun Wallpapers from Park
Scabiosa 'Fama Deep Blue' Rudbeckia Denver Daisy™ Globe Amaranth All Around Purple