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E-Garden Almanac: October 2006

E-Garden Almanac

The E-Garden Almanac is the push-button, real human journal of Kelly D. Norris. All errors, grammatic grievances, and opinions are that of the author. Kelly is a freelance writer and Master Gardener from southwest Iowa. His passion and obsession with horticulture, plants, and gardening embodies nearly every function of his life. The E-Garden Almanac serves as the web extension of his columns, articles, and lectures.
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Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Dawning of a New Day in Echinaceas

Echinacea 'Sunrise' is a good plant. Such a blunt and lackluster statement bears further explanation. Much excitement surrounds the genus Echinaceaat the moment and why wouldn't it with such a tremendous effort in expounding on its natural diversity? However, one need bear in mind a vow of temperance when evaluating the outputs of these breeding programs. The only way we will come to capitalize on the genetic offerings within a genus is to breed throughouly, thoughtfully, and keep in mind that an advancement in one program may be just the beginning in another. Yet we cannot pass judgement on the former for not meeting the goals of the latter. Here sets the stage for discontentment between breeders of coneflowers when evaluating each others work. Some would argue that Echinacea 'Sunrise' warrants improvement. Indeed it may but its worthiness of as a garden plant is hardly diminished by the stray petals often seen adorning the flowers. Call it a flaw or call it character.

Echinacea 'Sunrise' comes to us from the Saul brother, Richard and Bobby, and their nursery ItSaul Plants. 'Sunrise' was the first of many coneflower introductions and the cone craziness of this dynamic, brotherly duo can be witnessed here.

In my southern Iowa garden, Echinacea 'Sunrise' is a great performer. It blooms for the better part of five weeks and the color is unbeatable. No matter the weather, a sunny day is always in store when this plant is utilized in the herbaceous border. Paired with Weigela 'Wine & Roses' and a colony of ornamental kale it makes a great dinner companion in its sunny home in my garden. Even first year plants perform as if they've been established for seasons. My first year plant put up stems to fill a hefty Iowa farmer's armload and continues to form a hearty clump.

Go out and find an Echinacea 'Sunrise' in addition to the many other great coneflowers being produced by American breeders these days. Why not add a little sunshine to your garden?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

November Brings Herbaceous Perennials to Iowa State

As November approaches and thoughts of fall give way to those of winter, an annual event sponsored by Iowa State University’s Department of Horticulture takes place that no gardener should miss.

Herbaceous Perennials Weekend is an nine year tradition that features headliner horticulturists from around the country and gardening experts from the Midwest region. The information packed, fun filled event for all gardeners, novice to serious, will take place Saturday, November 11 at the Scheman Education Building on the campus of Iowa State. This year’s lineup features noted author and plantsman C. Colston Burrell as the keynote speaker.

Herbaceous Perennials Weekend began in 1998 featuring Allan Armitage as the keynote speaker. Top horticulturists, extension educators, and researchers have spoken at Herbaceous Perennials weekend including Allan Armitage, Michael Dirr, Tony Avent, Tracy DiSabato Aust, and Nancy Rose to name a few. This event culminates into “the” Midwest gardening symposium offering participants the latest information in landscape horticulture with generous helpings of good food, fun, and networking opportunities with professionals, Master Gardeners, and avid enthusiasts alike.

The event is coordinated by Dr. Cindy Haynes who recommends the following websites for those interested in attending the event or learning more: You may also contact her directly at or by phone at (515) 294-4006.