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Magazine editor gives gardening tips

February 29, 2004|BY BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Gardening aficionados learned about more than 40 varieties of new plants Saturday at a program sponsored by the Franklin County Master Gardeners at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

Speaker George Weigel, Pennsylvania editor of People, Places and Plants magazine, presented slides of more than 40 new varieties of plants, including day lilies, shrub roses, coneflowers, celosia, petunias and begonias. A new petunia, Tidal Wave Silver, has white, lavendar-tinged blossoms and spreads up to 3 feet.

"Any petunia you get at a garden center is better than what you grew 10 years ago," Weigel said.

A new dwarf crepe myrtle, Chickasaw, is hardy in this area. Usually found in the south, it stays under 3 feet by 3 feet, and blooms rosy pink in summer.

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"The secrets to gardening are good soil and the right plant in the right spot," Weigel said. "Trimming and spraying scares a lot of people. (But) they buy bad plants and put them in the wrong space. You'll drive your neighbors crazy because you're never pruning or spraying."

Weigel said he's been gardening for 25 years, when he first planted "a little tomato seed, got a big plant and ate tomatoes all summer." "It was like a miracle," Weigel said. "I got the gardening bug. I grow anything. I even like some weeds."

Weigel, who writes a twice-weekly gardening column, said that gardening becomes more popular every year.

"Baby Boomers own their houses, they retire and they have more time to garden," Weigel said. "(Landscaping) increases the value of the house. Some people make a vacation spot at home, with fountains. There's more information available with (cable television network) HGTV and gardening magazines."

"You don't learn about gardening in school," he added. "You get out and get your own home, and that's your first exposure to plants."

Chris Mayer, coordinator for the Master Gardeners, said they are champing at the bit to get started with their gardening projects.

Affiliated with Penn State Cooperative Extension, the Master Gardeners conduct tomato trials, man a phone desk at the extension office for people to call with gardening questions, plant and maintain demonstration gardens at the Franklin County Horticultural Center, and are renovating a garden at the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Their new project is a one-third-acre wildlife habitat garden at the horticultural center, Mayer said.

"Cutting Edge Plants for Your 2004 Garden" was the first in the Super Speakers series. The next will be on March 27 at St. Paul United Methodist Church, featuring Michael McConkey of Afton, Va., speaking on "Edible Landscaping."

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