There are many historic garden sites in Connecticut which can be seen on the annual Connecticut Historic Gardens Day on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019 from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. From the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme to the Roseland Cottage in Woodstock there is one near you. Of the several that are located in Hartford County, one of particular note is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center historic garden, home to the late author in the last 23 years of her life, located at Nook Farm on Forest Street in Hartford.

Harriet Beecher was born in 1811 in Litchfield, CT, the daughter of a prominent Congregational minister, the Reverend Lyman Beecher. Harriet married Calvin Ellis Stowe, an ardent anti-slavery proponent, in 1836 in Cincinnati, Ohio. While in Ohio, Harriet and her husband supported the Underground Railroad, actually housing several fugitive slaves temporarily in their home. Cincinnati is located on the northern side of the Ohio River, just opposite the then-slave state of Kentucky, making it a popular stop on the Underground Railroad. These circumstances led to Harriet writing the novel for which she is the most remembered, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852, although she wrote more than 10 other novels, a book of poetry, and many works of non-fiction.

Frontispiece engraving of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (Boston John P. Jewett, 1853).Frontispiece engraving of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Boston John P. Jewett, 1853).

Do you remember that Uncle Tom was a man who kept a good garden with fruits, vegetables, begonias, roses, marigolds, petunias, and four-o’clocks? Here is an excerpt from the book: In front it had a neat garden-patch, where, every summer, strawberries, raspberries, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, flourished under careful tending. The whole front of it was covered by a large scarlet bignonia and a native multiflora rose, which, entwisting and interlacing, left scarce a vestige of the rough logs to be seen. Here, also, in summer, various brilliant annuals, such as marigolds, petunias, four-o’clocks, found an indulgent corner in which to unfold their splendors, and were the delight and pride of Aunt Chloe’s heart.

cabin Image by Charles Howland Hammatt Billings (1818-1874) for the expanded 1853 edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

In 1873, Harriet and her husband Calvin purchased and moved into a 5000 square foot painted brick Victorian Gothic ‘cottage’ at Nook Farm. Her fellow author, Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, moved in next door a year later. Harriet would spend the last 23 years of her life at Nook Farm. Also part of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is the home owned by Harriet’s great-niece, Katharine Seymour Day.

ksd-house.jpg

Harriet was an enthusiastic flower gardener and her passion was shared by her great-niece. The gardens around the homes reflect their fondness for and knowledge of the plantings of the Victorian era. Nook Farm contains eight distinct gardens including the woodland garden, the blue cottage garden, the wildflower meadow, a high Victorian texture garden, antique rose garden with award winning roses, formal color-coordinated or monochromatic gardens, and more.

The site includes Connecticut’s largest Merrill magnolia tree, a specimen that towers over and dominates the landscape. It blooms in early spring and had unfortunately gone by when we were there in early June so that we missed its large, fragrant, white blooms. However, the Collections Manager at the Center was kind enough to send this great image of the tree in full bloom as well as one of the Stowe dogwood which had also already bloomed.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Merrill Magnolia image courtesy of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT

The 100-year or older Harriet Beecher Stowe Dogwood™, Cornus Florida rubra, is believed to be from Stowe’s time, and saplings grown from cuttings are planted from Canada to Japan and even at Harriet’s home in Cincinnati.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Dogwood image courtesy of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT

In the Victorian era the dogwood symbolized endurance and sprigs were presented to unmarried women by male suitors to show interest. Should the woman return it to the suitor it meant that she was indifferent to him, if she kept it was a sign of mutual interest, the 19th century equivalent of “swiping right”.

It is fitting that these saplings are finding homes outside of Connecticut as Harriet was a proponent of trading plants with family and friends, bringing cuttings and seeds with her when she moved to a new home, and pressing blossoms into sketchbooks, a common practice during the Victoria era.

Pansies

Harriet’s gardens gave her ample opportunity to paint out of doors, a practice known as en plein air, with other local artists. Thematic and single-color gardens provided inspiration to artists then and they still do. Shade areas are filled in with hosta, Solomon’s seal, and meadow anemone, all in cool greens and whites.

Just a bit further down the walk are white-themed peonies, iris, rose, and bridal-wreath spirea.

Two plants are listed in the self-guided tour but were not in evidence as we strolled the grounds: the Elephant ears and the castor bean plants. Elephant ears have dramatic foliage that can measure up to 2 feet across can grow in sun if they get some afternoon cover or shade.

The castor bean, Ricinus communis, is a highly toxic annual herb and as such, may seem like an odd choice for a garden that receives so many visitors. Reaching a height of 8 feet, it can tower over every other annual in the garden with its reddish-purple stems, large, palmate, lobed leaves, and red, prickly fruit capsules. It is within these unusual fruits that the toxic part of the castor bean lies. The seeds contain ricin, a phytotoxalbumin which can cause a fatal reaction. In fact, the broken seeds can cause a severe allergic reaction just by coming into contact with the skin. After all of that you wouldn’t think that anyone would want a castor bean plant around but it is called an ornamental annual. And yet, once it has been heated during extraction, the toxicity is deactivated and the castor oil is used in a variety of coatings, lubricants, and medicines. The image below is by Dawn Pettinelli but is not from the Harriet Beecher Stowe gardens.Castor Bean SB07

Roses are in evidence throughout but it is the lined drive with its hedges of lovely fragrant roses that is just stunning.

Here is a video tour of the rose hedges:

The side garden of the Katharine Seymour Day house has a romantic Victorian garden that boasts peonies, roses, and moth mullein with its vintage dusty peach shades.

Behind the Day house are massive examples of mountain laurel, rhododendrons and a pawpaw tree. A National Champion tree, the common pawpaw, Asimina triloba, is a native deciduous tree that produces an edible fruit with a banana-like taste leading to it also being known as the West Virginia banana or the Custard apple.

As we walked around we could also see the home of Mark Twain and I couldn’t resist a peak at the conservatory, my favorite room there.

Should you choose to visit any of the gardens on the historic tour please visit their website: Connecticut Historic Gardens.

Susan Pelton. UConn Home & Garden Education Center

 

 

Cracks in tomatoes, black rotten spots on the bottom of tomato fruit, and a hard yellow or white area on the inside walls of ripe tomatoes are all physiological problems, not caused by insects or disease.  It is a sad sight for gardeners investing so much time and energy to see the actual fruits of their labor turn into less than perfect tomatoes.

 

cracking of tomato, joey Williamson HGIC,Clemson.edu

Cracked Tomato

Let’s start with why tomatoes crack. Higher moisture levels after a dry period, such as lots of rain after a time of drought, will cause the inside cells to swell and grow faster than the outside skin will grow, resulting in splitting of the skin. To prevent cracking, keep soil evenly moist by watering, and use a mulch to prevent evaporation and keep soil cooler. Cracked tomatoes are still very edible, but not so pretty. Sometimes the cracks are deep, allowing rot to happen inside the meat of the fruit. Plan to use split tomatoes before rotting happen.

Blossom End Rot on Tomatoes, J.Allen Photo

Blossom End Rot, photo by Joan Allen.

Blossom end rot is expressed by a black, sunken area on the bottom, the blossom end, of the tomato. It is caused by a lack of calcium reaching the fruit. The soil could be lacking calcium which can only be determined by having a soil test done for nutrient levels. UConn does a basic soil test for $12.00 at soiltest.uconn.edu. New England is not usually lacking calcium in its soil, it is more likely the cause of blossom end rot is an interruption in the delivery of calcium from the soil to the fruit via water uptake. This is caused by irregular watering, letting the soil dry out, then watering or having a big rain event. Occasionally, high levels of potassium or magnesium fertilizers will compete with calcium uptake by the plants. Only use a balanced fertilizer to avoid an excess of individual nutrients and provide even water levels to the soil to avoid blossom end rot. Portions of the tomato not rotted are also still edible if you cut away the bad part.

yellowshoulder, hort.purdue.edu

Yellow Shoulders, hort.purdue.edu

Yellow shoulders disorder occurs on the top part of the tomato when areas never turn red, but stay yellow. The flesh underneath can be tough and corky. It can occur only on the top portion or can occur as a grey or white wall just under the skin around the whole fruit.This problem is caused by a number of different circumstances or combinations of them. We do know it is a problem at the cellular level that happens very early as the fruit is forming.  Cells in the area are smaller and not aligned normally, and the green chlorophyll areas do not develop red pigment. Causes are thought to be high temperatures over 90 degrees F at time of fruit formation, and possible pH levels over 6.7, and potassium, magnesium and calcium competition among each other. Again, a balanced fertilizer is needed.

tomato with white walls, yellow shoulders, photo by Becky M.

Tomato with white walls, yellow shoulders, photo by Becky M.

 

The take away message for all of these physiological problems are to have an adequate soil fertility and soil pH without over fertilizing, and have even soil moisture. Hope for summer temperatures to stay at or below 90 degrees F and your harvest baskets will be full of beautiful, delicious tomatoes.

-Carol Quish

 

 

 

Hibiscus in bloom

Hibiscus ‘Luna Pink Swirl’

Many of the perennials in our flower beds provide us beautiful groupings of color and beauty; from the sunny tulips in the early spring to the irises that maintain their showy blooms for weeks in June to the phlox and hydrangea with their masses of blooms. But there are few that can compare with the oversized outrageousness of the blooms of the Hibiscus laevis, also known as the halberd-leaf rosemallow.

Hibiscus Disco Belle

Hibiscus ‘Disco Belle’

Hibiscus are the genus of plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. Other plants that are in this grouping may be familiar to you as ornamental species such as the China Rose (Hibiscus rose-sinensis), a tropical plant that is generally grown in containers in this zone, Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), a plant that is grown as a large shrub or small tree, depending on the manner in which it is pruned, or Sterculia foetida, also known as the wild almond tree, whose name is derived from Sterculius, the Roman god of manure. The petioles of this plant exude a foul smell although the roasted seeds are edible. Makes you wonder who the first person was that thought “Yes, it stinks, but I’ll bet the seeds are yummy”.

Other more well-known edible members of the mallow family include okra (notice the similarity to the hibiscus flower buds), kola nut, and cacao. The baobabs have both fruit and leaves that are edible. A deep crimson herbal tea can be made from the sepals of the Hibiscus sabdariffa which contains vitamin c and minerals.

2011-09-27_09-54-28_27

Okra

Also in this family but in the genus Malva is the Common Mallow, Malva neglecta, whose edible seeds are high in protein and fat. It is sometimes considered an invasive weed although it does not appear on the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) current listing. I like it for its translucent delicate light pink to almost white flowers and for its foliage which has a crinkly edge.

Common mallow

Common Mallow

Great golden digger wasp on mallow

Great Golden Digger Wasp on mallow

But back to the hibiscus that grow along a sunny fence in our yard. 20 years ago I had 4 different varieties that each produced a different color flower/throat combination in shades from white to deep red. Unfortunately only two of those original plants remain to produce the 7-8” blooms that are so stunning. To say that they are the size of a dinner plate is barely an exaggeration.

Hibiscus Disco Belle

Each apical bloom unfurls its showy magnificence from a very interesting-looking bud (it almost looks like it has a decorative cage around it) for only a day and then they collapse. There are many buds in each grouping though so the flowers appear to be non-stop. I do my best to remove the spent blooms so that the plant will keep producing until September. If you don’t do this then it will put its energy into the development of large seed pods.

Buds close up

Bud close-up

I found a Grape colaspis, Colaspis brunnea, feeding on the foliage. Hibiscus is not listed as a usual host plant for this fellow but okra (which we learned is in the Mallow family) is an alternate host. I felt that it had done enough damage so I am sorry to say that it wasn’t around for very long after this video was shot.

 

Feeding damage

The larvae of the hibiscus sawfly (Atomacera decepta) are a bigger pest as they will generally be present in larger numbers and can defoliate an entire plant. Control methods should be limited to non-systemics and only applied when the flowers are not in bloom. Shown below are a fruit fly and a tumbling flower beetle that were also spotted on the hibiscus.

The foliage and some of the more tender stalks of the hibiscus will die back with a heavy frost. I usually prune back any of the older, woody stems in the early spring before any new growth appears. You may think that the plant did not survive the winter as it is sometimes late May before you will begin to see the new growth but it will quickly make up for lost time and will soon provide you with an abundance of beautiful ephemeral blooms!

Susan Pelton

 

Late March and early April in Connecticut are the time of year that we gardeners dream about through the long, cold winter. The temperatures are on the rise, the days have lengthened, the soil is workable, and even if we do receive a snowfall it generally doesn’t last for long. The Lenten Rose (Hellebore) has bloomed and the crocus, grape hyacinth, daffodils are in their glory, soon to make way for the tulips which will follow. Yellow daffodils paired with the deep purple-blue of the grape hyacinth is one of my favorite combinations.

The pussy willows have come out and the forsythia is in bloom which means that it is the anecdotal time to put down the crabgrass preventer. The pre-emergent herbicide needs to be applied and watered in before the crabgrass seeds that were dropped last year germinate. Please visit our page on Crabgrass Control for more information on this yearly bane of homeowners.

Pussy Willow

For me this time of year is about planning this year’s vegetable garden and starting the growing season. It starts with plotting out the area that we have allotted for our vegetable garden (its 15’ x 25’) which includes four raised beds that are 3’ x 5’ each. There are many ways to do a garden plan. The simplest way, and the way that I started some years ago, is to put pencil to paper and sketch out a rough drawing.

The next step up is to use graph paper to plot out the actual footage available. This is the manner that I have progressed to over the years. With pencil, ink, and colored pencils I draw the placement of this year’s plantings. I refer to prior year’s plans so that I can rotate varieties among the beds as much as possible although I don’t have a very large space. There are several established perennial plantings, such as asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, and chives that do not get rotated.

Chives

These crops are placed around the perimeters of the garden, mostly to the east and south, where they will not block the sun from other plantings. The asparagus spears are just starting to emerge, the chives are growing, and the rhubarb was a perfect size to divide and replant.

A recent post on our UConn Home & Garden Education Center  Facebook page shared a link to many vegetable garden planners that can be found on-line ranging from the very simple to those that allow you to enter your actual plot size, vegetable varieties and succession plantings. There is even an app!

So, plan in place, it’s time to start planting. There are so many crops that enjoy a cool weather start such as peas, spinach, kale, arugula, radishes, beets, bok choy, and carrots. I have been working with my daughter Hannah on some plans for garden beds that her early education class will be working on this spring. In doing research on some classroom-appropriate experiments I came across one that compares the growth rate of seeds germinated (prior to planting) vs. un-germinated (direct sown). I usually soak beet seeds before they are planted but this year I germinated all of the varieties that are planted in the early spring, laying the seeds out on a damp paper towel and covering them with another damp towel.

Pre-germination

Just a side note, did you know that each beet ‘seed’ is actually a hard shell that encloses 3 seeds? As they sprout you can not only see three distinct seedlings (the row on the left in the image below) but the colors reflect the variety of beet also, whether red or yellow.

2 Days Later

Within days most of the seeds were well-sprouted and I planted them in the garden in their selected spots. It will be interesting to see if this gives them a head-start and if Hannah’s class gets similar results. They will also be running an experiment that starts seeds in solutions of differing pH levels from base to acidic to see what seeds prefer. If you would like to know the pH level of your garden soil and what your crops require then a soil sample to the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory.

One thing to keep in mind when planting is done as a classroom activity is the length of the available growing season. There is little point in planting vegetables that will need care and be ready to harvest during the summer months when school is not in session. Our choices therefore were cool-weather plants that would be ready to harvest before school dismisses for the summer. Among these are snow peas that will mature in 60 days, Indian Summer spinach (35 days), Little Finger carrots (65 days), lettuce, arugula and spinach (35-40 days), Early Wonder beets (60 days) and Cherry Belle radishes that will be ready to harvest in just 22 days.

Just think about it. In a little more than a month we can be enjoying a freshly picked, tasty salad that is the harbinger of more good things to come!

Susan Pelton

All images by Susan Pelton

 

Most of us know the normal tree fruits we commonly eat this time of year; apple, peaches, plums, even the more unusual quince and pawpaw. Most trees produce seeds to reproduce. Some seeds are housed in unusual wrappings. Take a photo trip through this blog to view uncommon and perhaps under appreciated seed vessels of Connecticut trees.

Cornus kousa fruit 8-26-13, Pamm Cooper photo

Cornus kousa fruit 8-26-13, Pamm Cooper photo

Baldcypress cone. Taxodium distichum. Photo by Carol Quish

Baldcypress cone. Taxodium distichum. Photo by Carol Quish

Horse Chestnut, Pamm Cooper photo

Horse Chestnut, Pamm Cooper photo

Turkey Oak Acorn, Pamm Cooper Photo

Magnolia Seed Pod, photo by Carol Quish

Magnolia Seed Pod, photo by Carol Quish

-Carol Quish

Cyclamen, stcsc.edu

This time of year, our attention turns to the indoor plants rather than the cold outdoor ones  taking their winter respite. A favorite flowering houseplant is cyclamen, Cyclamen persicum, the species sold in florists’ shops. There are several different colors available. These florist’s cyclamen are not hardy outdoors but do prefer a cool house in which to live. Room temperatures for cyclamens should be below 68 degrees F during the day and 44 to 59 degrees F at night. Unfortunately, the night temperature requirement is not the same for humans! This leads to the eventual death of the plant. I have seen cyclamens live several years in a dentist’s office that keeps cool day temperatures lowers the night temperatures sharply. Higher temperatures sends the plant into its dormant state. Native to the Mediterranean, cyclamen likes the cooler weather naturally, but not freezing. In the heat of summer it rests without flowering.

Cyclamens grow from flattened round tubers. Place cyclamen in bright light from fall through early spring. Once the sun becomes more intense in mid spring, move it further away from the window. Water should be given to keep the plant when the soil surface feels dry. Don’t wait until the plant shows signs of becoming limp. Do not water the center of the plant or the tuber may rot. Soak the plant, draining off any excess water, then do not water again until the soil is partially dried out again.

Fertilize cyclamens with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer at half the recommended strength every three to four weeks during the fall winter and spring, not during its resting period of the summer. Too much fertilizer will only produce leaves at the expense of flowers. Meeting the needs of the plant will ensure a long flower display and a healthy houseplant for several years.

-Carol Quish


Passion Flower

It’s a good idea to protect fall plantings of trees, shrubs and perennials with a layer of “insulation” to get them safely through the winter. Transplants have compromised root systems and containerized plants have roots which are limited by the size of the pot they were grown in. Both are vulnerable to ‘frost heaves,’ where alternate freezing and thawing of the ground can cause the root ball to pop out of the ground. Plants installed in the autumn won’t have time to develop fully established root systems, so protection is recommended. For hardy varieties, a thick layer of mulch, such as pine bark or cedar, is sufficient. (Keep mulch from coming in direct contact with the stem(s) of trees or shrubs.) Delicate species will benefit from additional protection.

Camellia

For smaller shrubs and perennials, a simple and old-fashioned method is a peach basket full of oak leaves overturned on the plant. Oak leaves are preferred because they are rigid enough to remain intact through the winter season, providing a layer of insulation without matting down. They’re readily available and can be had for free. Set a stone or brick on top of the overturned basket for stability. For larger plants, fashion a ring of wire fencing around the plant, and pile in the oak leaves. The leaves need not bury the plant entirely; half to two-thirds coverage should provide ample protection from desiccating winter winds. Plants that are larger still, particularly evergreens, can be loosely wrapped in burlap and tied with twine.

This method can also be used to extend the range into central Connecticut of some plants hardy to Zone 6b-7. Until a selection of rosemary that’s reliably hardy in Connecticut is introduced, the plant can be overwintered using the peach-basket-cum-oak-leaves method. Experiment with stretching the hardiness zone of desirable, but marginally hardy, plants such as Camellia sp., Ficus carica (Edible Fig), Aucuba japonica (Gold Dust plant), Begonia grandis (Hardy Begonia), Passiflora sp. (Passion Flower), Poncirus trifoliata (Hardy Orange) and Osmanthus fragrans (Tea Olive).

Don’t rush it. Wait until the weather is reliably cold and plants have gone completely dormant (mid-December) before tucking them in for the winter. In Southern New England, protection can be removed around St. Patrick’s Day.

Text: James McInnis

Photos: Leslie Alexander

The arrival of fall brings the end of warm weather crops in the vegetable garden and some yearly chores to accomplish. The list below gives some guidelines and reminders of items happen before the snow falls!

1.     Soil Test – Fall is the best time to soil test. Labs are slower, receive results faster. Amendments applied now have all fall and winter to work. Lime takes 6 to 9 months to fully react, causing a change in pH.  UConn Soil Test Lab, www.soiltest.uconn.edu $8.00 fee provides levels pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, micronutrients, organic matter level and soil texture plus recommendations for plants growing in that soil.

2.     Clean up – Remove all brown plant material; leaves, stems, fallen fruit. Exceptions are seed heads that provide wildlife seeds as food. Removing last year’s top growth removes disease and insect hiding places. Many insects overwinter on plants where they fed. Bury diseased plants in compost pile or discard in the garbage.

3.     Cultivate Soil – Turn over the soil or scratch soil up with a hand fork or hoe to expose pest insects to birds and cold weather. Try to disrupt the top inch or so of soil to wreck overwintering insect’s cozy homes.

4.     Use a Mulch – After Thanksgiving, pile chopped leaves or other natural mulch around plants. By now the ground is frozen and rodents have found other winter homes. If mulch is put on earlier, chipmunks and mice think you put it there for them! Placing mulch on frozen ground insults the soil keeping it from freeze and thaw cycles. The goal is stop the plants from heaving out of the ground not to keep the plants warm.

5.     Sow cover crops in empty vegetable and annual beds to prevent soil erosion. Cut back and till in the soil in early spring. Winter wheat, oats and rye are good choices.

6.     Clean Tools – Oil wood handles, clean and oil metal parts with vegetable oil. Drain hoses and nozzles, freezing temperatures will crack them. Service mowers and blowers. Store all for winter.

7.     Grow Garlic! – Hard necked garlic can be planted in October, mulched with straw, harvested next June. Plant single cloves one inch deep and three apart.

8.     Cut back iris and discard leaves even if green to eliminate iris borer eggs laid during the fall. September is also the month to divide peonies if needed.

Enjoy the slower time of autumn in the garden now that the work is done.

photo from UConn Brand plant database

_Carol Quish

Rhododendron Leaf Curl

Checking the winter landscape recently, I noticed the rhododendrons looking most distressful. Their leaves were curled under into green bean looking tubes droopily hanging from the branches. It was during the very cold weather experienced here in Connecticut last week. I have seen this other years in the same plant so I know they will recover. The evergreen leaves will uncurl and perk up once the temperatures rise to about 35 degrees F.

I did a little research to find rhodies are ‘thermotropic’; sensitive to temperature changes and respond with leaf movement. Charles Darwin wrote a book in 1880 titled ‘The Power of Movement in Plants’ in which temperatures causing movement is covered. As air temperatures drop below 35 degrees, the curling and drooping begins. The lower the temps drop, the tighter the curl and more vertical the hanging leaf. Some people have come to recognize the actual temperature by how far their rhododendron leaves have curled and drooped. Different species of rhodies curl at varying temperatures, so you will have to watch your particular plant and the thermometer to develop this talent!

Rhody leaf curl is widely thought to be a protective measure taken by the plant to ward off the drying winter air and winds causing moisture loss. The rhododendron’s leaves have tiny valve openings on the undersides called stomata. This is where the plant releases moisture. When the leaf curls, the stomata are concealed. The vertical drooping catches less wind than a horizontal leaf, resulting in less drying.

Another theory proposed goes into more detail saying the curling is to protect the leaf from the sun. Rhododendrons naturally grow in part shade but in winter the deciduous trees are lacking leaves exposing the evergreen rhodies to more light than in summer. This causes the leaf temperature rise, thaw out and make food in the leaves. When night comes, the temperature drops, freezing the leaves and water in the leaf. Water expands as it freezes, forming ice crystals in the leaf cells, cutting the cell walls. Leaf curling reduces the amount of leaf tissue exposed to the sun therefore reducing the amount of photosynthesis taking place. It is the daily thawing and freezing causing the damage.

Time (and research) will tell which theory proves correct. Or, it may end up being a combination of the two. Either way, they both say that Rhododendron’s leaves curl in below freezing weather to protect the leaves from being damaged. I will watch them for a little sign of spring as I wait for them to uncurl and stay there!
-Carol

Rhododendron leaf curl - Carol Quish

Rhododendron leaf curl - Carol Quish

Knowledge To Grow On……..Ladyblog – 2009 Week One

 

Every New Year brings with it new possibilities and new challenges. Just as we can’t predict how well our gardens will do this next growing season, we venture into the coming year not knowing what we might behold. Events over the last few years, especially over this last one, have many seeking a simpler, more responsible and sustainable path.  As educators, we want to provide you with research-based, unbiased information so that you can make informed choices. Our focus, obviously, is horticulture. But, when you think about it, all life begins with the soil. A plant’s health and well-being is essential for our health and well-being. As more and more details are discovered about global climate change, it becomes clearer that every part of the global ecosystem is connected. Chemicals we use or have used in our daily lives, residences, offices, factories and so forth are found in the bodies of polar bears inhabiting the Arctic! 

 

We, as gardeners, have the ability to transform the world. Bit by bit, slowly but surely, row by row. Not only can we put food on the table (often having enough left over to share) but we can become good stewards of our little patch of land. We have many opportunities to spread the word about gardening practices that tread lightly on the landscape. Our goal is to provide you with the information necessary to do so. Check out our blog each week for thoughtful conversation, tips, helpful information, resources, rants and raves, and what the scientists in our College of Agriculture and Natural Resources are working on. We welcome your comments and suggestions. DP

 

Happy Horticultural New Year!

 

UConn Home & Garden Education Center Staff

Dawn Pettinelli, Leslie Alexander, Carol Quish and Joan Allen