Monday, July 9, 2012


Most gardeners appreciate pushing the garden limits by adding a little of the tropics to the garden.  This might mean a few Canna and maybe a Bougainvillea but it almost always means Hibiscus.  Adding a few tropical wonders to the landscape can take you right back to paradise. 
There are basically three types of Hibiscus: Tropical, Perennial (or Rose Mallow) and Rose of Sharon.  In fact, the flowers and the leaves are very similar on all three. 

Today on WFSB's Better Connecticut, I brought two special guests with me, a Tropical and a Perennial Hibiscus. Click HERE to watch me talk about them. Both are from Revay's Garden and Gift Shop in Broad Brook, Connecticut.  It took me a ridiculously long time deciding which plants to pick.  There is a huge selection on Perennial Hibiscus in shades of pink from light to dark and even a white with a bright pink throat.  Each had more buds than the next. Be sure to support your local Mom and Pop Garden Shop if you need your tropical fix. I support Revay's Garden Shop because they are the chic garden center close to me with awesome plants.    

One of the things I love about Perennial Hibiscus is that they get fired up (in terms of flowers) right when all of your other perennials are done flowering.  Give these tall ladies a lot of room because they can get pretty big, sometimes reaching 6-8' tall.  They will command more attention in the back of a perennial boarder with bloom that can reach 12" in diameter.

Remember that Tropical Hibiscus really are, well, tropical.  If you have cold winters like I do in Connecticut, these exotics need to stay cozy and protected in your house over the winter.  You can also treat them as annuals and just replace them every year.  I guess it just depends how deeply you fall in love with them.  When I bring mine in, I will walk you through the process step-by-step. 

Again, click HERE to watch my video clip on Hibiscus!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Basil feast!
My friend Peter who is the camera man for my Better Connecticut TV stories often teases me about being a plant nerd.  I've thought this myself, but never more than tonight.
Beetles emerge from the ground at night
Something has been munching on my basil plants... for that matter my Coral Bells, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias and many others... but I never see ANY bugs around.  Some bugs have vampire tendencies in that they only come out in the night time. Tonight I put on my L.L.Bean spot light hat and went out on a bug bust.  Well, well, well look who I found! The Asiatic Garden Beetle.  These devils look almost identical in form to a Japanese Beetle except for their coloring as they are all brown rather than green.  They are also master defoliators, often just leaving the mid vein of a plant leaf.  Most of my basil plants are mere skeletons! Gasp! Why did I wait so long?
A basil plant chewed to almost nothing

The trouble maker
Leaves with signs of leaf chewing- can you spy the beetles?

Best hat for night bettle busting
 Upon my discovery, I quickly grabbed an empty bottle, squeezed in a teaspoon of dish soap, added some water and then headed to the garden adding a pair of gloves to my ensemble.  I removed every beetle from each basil plant, adding each one to the bottle for a quick death in detergent.  There was a lot of beetle hanky panky going on, so I was especially pleased to have interrupted baby beetle making.  My husband came out to the garden wondering what the heck I was up to- he looked at me like I was nuts when I explained what I was doing and then added, "But I can't leave them here eating my plants! I have to do something!"  So Peter, it's confirmed.  I am a complete plant nerd and also a serial beetle murderer!
My organic beetle control, hand picking
Many beetles met their fate in my detergent solution