New Flowers, Books, Apps And Devices For The Garden - 27 East


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New Flowers, Books, Apps And Devices For The Garden

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Christy Wilhelmi’s Grown Your Own Mini Fruit Garden should be available early in the spring with a review in March

Christy Wilhelmi’s Grown Your Own Mini Fruit Garden should be available early in the spring with a review in March

Alan Armitage’s fourth edition of

Alan Armitage’s fourth edition of "Herbaceous Perennial Plants" is a must-have for serious gardeners who just dabble or are serious perennial growers. This is the best text and reference on perennials, but it is pricey.

Christy Wilhelmi’s

Christy Wilhelmi’s" Grow Your Own Mini Fruit Garden" should be available early in the spring, with a review in March.


Digitalis "Firebird" is a new introduction from Plants Nouveau will start to appear in garden centers this year. It offers a new flower color with heavy flowering. Hardy to zone 7m it’s not clear if will be a tender perennial or if it will overwinter out here.

This new English rose from David Austin Roses grows to about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. With good disease resistance, great color and fragrance, it should do well in Hamptons gardens.

This new English rose from David Austin Roses grows to about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide. With good disease resistance, great color and fragrance, it should do well in Hamptons gardens. COURTESY DAVID AUSTIN ROSES

"Growing Plants and Flowers" will be a welcome primer for new gardeners and is due out early in the spring. Watch for a review in March.


Hampton Gardener®

I’m sure you’ve seen pots at garden centers with the Proven Winners logo on them. Proven Winners has proven to be a major force in new plant introductions, but there’s another kid on the block that goes by the name Plants Nouveau.

This year Plants Nouveau is introducing a new Digitalis named “Firebird” (Digitalis x valinii “Firebird”). Firebird is just arriving in the United States from the United Kingdom and Europe. It’s similar to the variety “Illumination” but with more saturated color. The plants boast better branching and a more vigorous habit with more flowers, and it’s said to be a rebloomer without the need for pinching. It’s noted as being hardy to zone 7. It may be a challenge out here as a perennial, but it seems to be one of those plants worthy of taking the risk. The flowers are a rosy red with a creamy peach-colored throat. It will not self-seed and will grow to about 36 inches.

David Austin Roses has two interesting introductions for this year in its English rose group. The one that really is striking is “Gabriel Oak,” which has a stunning deep pink petal color with a silky sheen that has also been described as being “mulberry purple framed by dark green foliage.” These roses are noted not only for their fragrance and hardiness but also for their disease resistance and overall performance in the garden. You can ask for this rose at local garden centers that sell the David Austin line or you can buy them online at

If you find it difficult to gauge the sun and shade in your garden a new app may be able to help you out. The Sun and Shade Analyzer will only set you back $5 and may actually come in handy as it will predict the average hours of direct sunlight over any number of days at a given spot in the garden. The app uses your device’s GPS and the camera to scan an area, considers the date range you enter and then takes into consideration the shade cast by objects near the planting spot.

The bad news is that this app is not available as an iOS version so I haven’t been able to use it or test it. So, for those of us who live in the Apple world, we’re out of luck. It is available through the Google Play app store, and if you happen to try it please let me know what you think.

In 1989, Allan Armitage, a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia in Athens published his first edition of “Herbaceous Perennial Plants.” Armitage was already well known and well regarded in horticulture circles for his teaching as well as his breeding and research work that has brought us many wonderful plants. “Herbaceous Perennial Plants” quickly became one of the sourcebooks, if not the sourcebook, for information on all the aspects of growing perennials in our modern gardens, and became a college text for teaching perennials and a leading reference text for anyone who studied or grew perennials. It soon replaced less professional texts on the subject including several from Europe and Great Britain.

The fourth edition of “Herbaceous Perennial Plants” brings the subject matter up to date, and at an astounding 1,091 pages I think it’s the most complete book available on the subject. The new version includes updates on many of the plants, the inclusion of a few new ones, pages and pages of pictures and new comments from Mr. Armitage on climate change, hardiness, invasive plants as well as personal comments from his and his family’s gardening experiences that make this so much more than just a text. The book is available in hardcover and paperback, and at nearly $90 it isn’t cheap, but it will be the new bible for those of us who adore perennials, and I’d highly recommend it for your library or as a gift.

There are a few other garden books that will be out later this spring that I will review in late March or April. One of these books is “Grow Your Own Mini Fruit Garden” by Christy Wilhelmi. I’m looking forward to this book as gardeners are forever trying to do more and more in less and less space. Being able to do this with fruits, and a book giving us the know-how, could be a boon to those who don’t have acreage or estates but may have decks, patios and small yards.

The second book I’m looking forward to is aimed at those who have just discovered gardening and need a helping hand. It’s been estimated that just last year alone over 21 million people started to garden for the first time and this year probably more. Garden pros Sean and Allison McManus, who do the podcast “Spoken Garden,” will give step-by-step instructions and advice on how to select, plant and tend to your outdoor plants. The galleys I’ve seen look great, and the pictures are very helpful. The book is “The First-Time Gardener: Growing Plants and Flowers,” and I’ll have a more detailed review in a few weeks.

I follow the weather very carefully, and as a gardener it’s important for me to know what the weather is, what it was and what it’s going to be. For years I’ve had a weather station, a Davis Vantage Pro 2, that gives me weather data on a console in my office that it gets wirelessly from the station 100 feet away in the garden. It stores the weather data and also posts it online. But the Pro 2 is a mechanical station with moving parts like a tipping scale for rain and spinning (or not) wind cups to gauge the wind. Mechanical weather stations, with moving parts, can jam, freeze and get junk in them like leaves and bugs.

Well, there’s a new weather guy in town, and it’s the Tempest Weather System (by Weatherflow). It has no moving parts and is incredibly easy to set up — in 10 minutes, I had it up and running. Not only does it measure wind, wind direction, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, but it also measures rainfall and solar radiation and detects lightning strikes within about 25 miles. Unlike the Davis station, the Tempest information is viewable on my phone, and the Tempest will post data to most weather services that make the data available to others. It also has notifications like the rain notification so if I’m away it tells when the rain starts, stops and how much has fallen. All this in a unit with no mechanical parts and a solar panel and battery that will last for 10 years.

Last week I was embarrassed to find the dreaded damping off disease (more here on the soil of one of my early seed flats. Once established in the flat it’s virtually impossible to stop but since the seeds hadn’t germinated yet I thought I’d try to kill the fungi with sodium hypochlorite (aka bleach, aka Clorox). This has long been a good sanitizer, and we’ve been taught to use a 10 percent solution of bleach and water — 1 part bleach and nine parts water. Problem is that the bleach formulation on many of the products has changed so the ratio for sanitation use needed to change as well.

A quick email to my lab buddies and a new solution. If the bleach you’re using is the old 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite then still use the one part bleach to nine parts water ratio. However, they suggest that if you have the newer, more concentrated 8.25 percent bleach then your new water-bleach mix should be 14:1. Never put this on anything you don’t want to kill. Get rid of the fungus but, keep growing.

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