The Growth of an American Legend

ponderosa lemon webThe American Wonder Lemon is the biggest lemon tree most people have ever seen. The 117-year-old tree fills an entire greenhouse at the Logee’s plant nursery in Danielson, Connecticut. But what is most impressive isn’t the size of the tree—it’s the size of the lemons that grow on the tree.

The typical supermarket lemon weighs about three to four ounces. The lemons that grow prolifically on the American Wonder Lemon Tree can weigh up to five pounds. Every year the enormous tree produces a new crop of fruit, and some of the giant lemons are the size of small melons.

Over the years, as the tree grew bigger and bigger, so did its fame. Visitors from the neighboring area started to make special trips to see the tree. By the 1950s, the American Wonder Lemon Tree had become a tourist attraction. Thousands of visitors from across America and throughout the world come to see the famous tree each year. Those who have made the pilgrimage include actress Audrey Hepburn, illustrator Tasha Tudor and TV maven Martha Stewart.

 

A Mail Order Beginning

The American Wonder Lemon tree dates back to the year 1900. William D. Logee, who had founded a flower business a few years earlier, had a passion for collecting rare and exotic plants. He ordered a Ponderosa Lemon tree from a mail order company in Philadelphia. The plant traveled by train to northeast Connecticut, and with great anticipation it was picked up at the train station and brought to the Logee’s greenhouse by horse and buggy.

The potted lemon tree thrived in the warm, moist greenhouse, and its root system soon grew through the pot and into the dirt floor. “In effect, the tree planted itself in the greenhouse,” says Byron Martin, the third generation owner of Logee’s. The tree has been growing in that spot ever since.

The tree that began as an ordinary Citrus limon ‘Ponderosa’ and is now called the American Wonder Lemon Tree has thousands of offspring growing all over North America. Every year, cuttings are taken from the tree and the small plants are sold in the Logee’s mail order catalog and on www.logees.com. A small American Wonder ‘Ponderosa’ tree in a five-inch pot sells for $24.95, and the supply sells out every year.

 

125th Anniversary

Ponderosa Lemon Tree webThis year, as Logee’s celebrates its 125th anniversary, the American Wonder Lemon Tree continues to be the star attraction. Many additional greenhouses were built on the property as the company grew more and more plants. But the building everyone wants to visit in Danielson, Connecticut (about halfway between Hartford, CT and Providence, RI) is the old greenhouse where the American Wonder Lemon Tree planted itself.

Logee’s nursery is a destination greenhouse for anyone who loves fruiting plants, tropical plants or rare plants. The retail store is open daily. On June 17th, the company will host a special celebration called Logee’s 125th Anniversary Celebrating Fruiting, Rare and Tropical Plants. For more information about the store, special events and the hundreds of unique plants the company sells, visit www.logees.com. Also visit explore.logees.com to see “what’s growing on at Logee’s.”

_____________________________ 

Five Landscape Superstars that are Guaranteed to Add Sparkle to Any Yard

Landscape shrubs are a lot like movie actors. The “extras” fill space, but they are hardly noticed. The “stars” are dramatic, and they bring flair to their landscape roles. And then there are the “superstars”—the rare beauties that command attention because they are distinctive, colorful and impossible to forget.

Most yards seem to be filled with shrubs that are dull, boring “extras.” During the growing season they are green, and they do a nice job of filling in the bare spots next to the house or fence. But they tend to be so boring that everyone refers to these shrubs as “bushes.”

The stars are the plants that are most familiar. Rose bushes, lilacs, azaleas and other flowering shrubs are widely recognized as landscape stars. Sadly, many landscapes have no superstar shrubs at all. There is nothing to command attention, and there is certainly nothing in the yard that takes your breath away.

Here are five shrubs that can claim the title of superstar. Place these impressive shrubs in the right location and they will be the topic of conversation with the neighbors. Who knows, putting a superstar plant in the right place might even stop traffic.

 

Cherry Explosion Hydrangea

Cherry Explosion Hydrangea webMany hydrangeas are landscape stars. Hydrangeas make terrific foundation plants, and you can add a little “bling” to your house by placing one near your front door or by your back patio where everyone can watch its spectacular display of colorful flowers.

Cherry Explosion Hydrangea takes these deciduous shrubs to a new level. Like most hydrangeas, this new variety has a rounded growth habit with dark green elliptic leaves that provide the perfect backdrop for its showy flowers. But it’s the flowers that make Cherry Explosion Hydrangea a superstar. Cherry red is a perfect color to liven up those dull areas of a garden, and nothing delivers with as much punch as this new variety. The super hardy macrophylla is covered with cherry red florets (one of the brightest reds available in any hydrangea) surrounding a profusion of tiny light pink star-like flowers in the center. The flowers cover the shrub from top to bottom.

Chery Explosion does well in a variety of conditions, but it likes protection from the hottest afternoon sun. Like most hydrangeas, the color is highly influenced by the soil. If the soil is too acid, the flowers will turn lavender.

Not to be outdone by the flowers, the foliage puts on a nice show too. Forrest green most of the year, the leaves turns a lovely burgundy in the fall with the onset of cooler weather. Cherry Explosion only grows to 3-4 feet high and makes an impact throughout USDA Zones 4-9. Plants in 1-gallon containers sell for $29.75 from www.naturehills.com.

 

show_off_forsythiaForsythia Show Off Starlet

There’s no better way to get early spring off to a colorful start than with a forsythia bush. The bright yellow flowers which cover every stem of the plant are a sure sign that warmer weather is just around the corner.

Forsythia Show Off® Starlet is an especially prolific bloomer. It has a compact, upright habit that reaches 2-3 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Its dark green lance-shaped leaves turn a delightful shade of bronze in the fall.

Show Off Starlet is air pollution tolerant and deer resistant. It prefers a good, loose soil and is very adaptable. Prune after flowering if needed. If you wish to maintain a smaller plant, remove a few of the oldest stems at ground level.

 

Oso Happy Candy Oh Rose

candy oh plant webYes, the name is a mouthful, but Oso Happy ‘Candy Oh!’ Rose is a genuine landscape superstar. ‘Candy Oh’ is an easy-to-grow landscape rose that keeps producing red flowers throughout the growing season

This sweet shrub rose reblooms all summer and into fall—even without deadheading the spent flowers. During the summer, the plant is covered with large sprays of candy-apple red flowers. The single-petaled flowers look like wild roses, boasting red petals with a yellow center. Oso Happy ‘Candy Oh!’ Rose has a dense, mounded habit and is very low maintenance.

Cold hardy throughout USDA Zones 4-9 and disease resistant, this is a perfect choice for adding color to perennial borders or foundation plantings. What could be better than a rose bush that looks this good and needs no special care? Plants sell for $28.90 from www.naturehills.com.

 

Pink Pinnacle Vitex

Pink Pinnacle Vitex webPink PinnacleTM Vitex is an ornamental shrub that looks right at home next to a front porch or as a specimen shrub in the backyard. Wherever it’s planted, Pink PinnacleTM Vitex is a star in the summertime when long pink flower spikes cover this shrub. The long panicles of delightful pink blossoms gradually open from the bottom and extend outward above the vibrant, green foliage. Simply clip off the spent blooms and the floral show will continue all summer long.

As the season progresses, the flowers yield to dark berries that give the shrub an additional decorative touch. Even the foliage is beautiful, with green compound palmate leaves. Each large, aromatic leaf consists of several 2 to 4-inch leaflets that feature silver-toned undersides.

Pink PinnacleTM Vitex reaches a mature size of 4 feet tall and wide. It has a compact, rounded habit with a slightly bushy nature. With its similar bloom to lilacs, Pink PinnacleTM Vitex is an excellent choice for lilac-lovers who reside in warmer climates (where lilac trees would struggle). It’s even insect and disease resistant, and deer tend to pass it by.

This tough shrub thrives in full sun throughout USDA Zones 6-9. It is moderately drought tolerant and grows best in well-drained soil. A 3-gallon plant sells for $55.95 each exclusively from www.NatureHills.com.

 

Bloomerang Purple Lilac Tree

bloomerang tree webLilac bushes are well-known for producing stunning displays of lilac flowers. What makes ‘Bloomerang’ Purple Lilac Tree a landscape superstar is the tree form and the repeating blooms that come in the spring and then again throughout the summer.

That’s right—two seasons of bloom, not just the spring flowers that most lilacs are known for. This lilac tree does go through a rest period during the heat of the summer, but the wait is worth it. As temperatures start to cool down, the tree becomes covered once again with lilac flowers. Bloomerang’s fragrant flowers continue until the first frost. This tough plant is very cold hardy—it thrives in USDA Zones 3-7.
Trained into a tree form, this compact beauty makes a great ornamental tree for any landscape. It works great as a specimen plant where it commands attention, or use it as a foundation plant near the house. Because of its tree form, it can also be used in a large container on a patio. Plants sell for $139.95 from www.naturehills.com, but order early before they sell out.
For more information about superstar shrubs and the wide variety of shrubs and trees available for growing in the US, visit www.NatureHills.com.

_____________________________ 

The Dangers of Mold in a Home

Mold problems can strike any home in any climate. Household mold poses a serious health hazard, especially for children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. That’s why it’s important for renters and homeowners to be aware of mold risks, how to test for mold, and how to safely remove mold once it’s found.

Happy familyWhy Worry about Mold?

Mold is a broad term for certain kinds of fungi that grow in damp places. In closed, humid environments, mold thrives and quickly spreads. As it grows, mold releases millions of tiny spores into the air, and these spores can be harmful if breathed in. While no mold is deemed safe, over 30 identified species of indoor mold are identified as toxic, wreaking havoc on the body’s cells—especially in the lungs, throat and sinuses.

Mold exposure has been linked to asthma, allergic reactions, nervous-system disorders, and chronic sinusitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold exposure can also lead to skin, throat and eye irritation, and it can interfere with the body’s ability to fight off diseases. For sensitive individuals, even small amounts of mold exposure can trigger serious health problems, sometimes requiring hospitalization.

Causes and Signs of Mold

Widespread mold problems make headlines in hurricane-prone areas, but they can strike in drier regions, too. Common causes of mold include sewage backup, cracked or broken water pipes, flood damage, water damage from a leaky roof, and poor ventilation in bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements

Sometimes mold is easy to spot. Usually, however, mold lurks in hard-to-see places such as behind drywall, in the seams of cabinets, or under the fridge. Common signs of mold in the home include:

  • The appearance of dark green, blue or black spots, especially around vents, on walls, in cabinets and on curtains
  • Sudden unexplained onset of asthma or other respiratory distress symptoms
  • A damp, musty smell in the home
  • Obvious signs of water damage, especially on the walls and floors

mold-test-webA mold test is required to determine if toxic mold is present in a home. Until recently, do-it-yourself mold test kits needed to be sent to a lab (often requiring an extra fee), and results were not available for weeks. Fortunately, a new mold test called 5-Minute Mold Test Kit from Healthful Home displays results in minutes.

Using a small sample of household dust from the floor, cabinet or other surface, this test kit can detect the presence of over 32 different types of harmful mold spores including black molds (while ignoring harmless molds like mildew). The 5-Minute Mold Test Kit is the only fast-acting DIY mold test kit on the market, and it has been licensed by the CDC. The kit lists for $44.99.

How to Treat Mold

HH-cleanerAfter harmful mold has been detected, it’s possible to clean up many mold problems without the help of a professional. For localized mold issues, Healthful Home’s eco-friendly Mold and Bacteria Cleaner starts killing mold right away, and the mold-fighting effects can last for up to 6 months. It’s odorless, safe to use around children and pets, and 100% biodegradable. The product lists for $21.99.

For a more widespread mold problem, the Fog-U Mold is a fast and extremely effective way to treat an entire room. Like the Mold and Bacteria Cleaner, it contains the same all-natural ingredients and keeps working for months. It’s ideal for hard-to-reach places like crawl spaces and ventilation systems, and it even treats carpets and upholstery. The product lists for $21.99. All Healthful Home products can be found exclusively at Ace Hardware. For more information visit www.myhealthfulhome.com.

Once mold is identified, don’t forget that it is important to fix the source of the problem–whether it’s a poorly ventilated laundry room or bad water damage. Once the problem is fixed, improve air circulation and reduce indoor humidity to make sure the mold doesn’t have a chance to come back.