Saturday, April 21, 2007

James Underwood Crockett

I emigrated to the United States in November 1978 when I was 13 years old. My father made us leave one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, Sydney Australia. A semi-tropical gardener's paradise, everything grew so lush and the Australian native plants are unlike anything in the plant world.

So from this we moved to Lenexa, Kansas -- a suburb of Kansas City. Never having seen snow, we arrived in one of the harshest winters on record. How on earth could I create a garden in this godforsaken place. One Saturday morning, my father caught a gardening show on PBS. A rather gentlemanly soul, Jim Crockett was the host of a show called The Victory Garden. From a rather humble beginning, the garden was a small lot of land next to the WGBH studios. After each week, it became clear to me that here was my savior. Under grow lights, I began with his favorite, Black Seeded Simpson lettuce and went from there. I didn't have the lights close enough to the plants so my tomatoes and others were quite langey but they quickly made up for it in the garden.

Jim, an author of over 26 books, penned what has become a gardening classic, Crockett's Victory Garden. While some of the agri-chemicals recommendations are no longer relevant, the basics are still there. I don't know how I could have so quickly become a Midwest gardener with out it. You can pick up used copies on Amazon that could be of value to especially novice gardeners.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Torenia OCD

Well, my wife finally let me go to Family Tree Garden Center in Shawnee. I am a prone to headaches when my mind is overstimulated. So I try to "keep it in first gear" when it comes to my excitement. I was doing really well until I came upon Torenia Yellow Moon. I've always liked Torenia Clown Mix since I helped introduce it when I was handling the advertising for PanAmerican Seed Co. a division of Burpee. Also known as the Wishbone Flower for the little stamen inside the flower that looks like a wishbone. I also like it for its adaptability from shade to part sun.

So here I am at the greenhouse just wheeling along and then I saw it. A cutting propagated torenia with yellow outer petals leading to a violet throat. In my overs 35 years of gardening, please note I started at age 6, I have never seen anything like it. I immediately started thinking where I could use it in my pots. Since I don't plant anything until the first week of May, I reluctantly didn't buy it. But now I have some sort of buyers remorse and now I'm obsessively thinking about it. Well not excessive, just a lot. Like any gardener, I just can't wait to grow it. With this kind of plant OCD, can anybody help me?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Top Five New Annuals

Lavender Serena

Below are my picks for the top 5 new annuals culled from area garden pro nominations. You can find detailed descriptions in my May column in The Kansas City Gardener Magazine

Angelonia Serena - Eric Nelson of Family Tree Garden Center
Nemesia Opal Innocence - Jan Vinyard of Longview Garden Center
Zinnia Magellan -- Judy Keith of Suburban garden Center
Euphorbia Diamond Frost -- Jan Vinyard of Longview Garden Center
Torenia Summer Wave -- Judy Keith of Suburban Garden

You'll find copies of The Kansas City Gardener at area garden centers, grocery stores and where other free publications are distributed. You can receive a year's subscription to The Kansas City Gardener by sending a request to Happy reading!