Monthly Archives: June 2011

Dragon Wing™ Red Begonia

will reach a maximum height of 14 to 16 in.

Dragon Red Wing Begonia will reach a max height of 14 to 16 in. photo Patsy Bell Hobson

The early show in the garden this year is Dragon Wing Red Begonia. I planted them in two places, a hanging basket of three plants and three more in the planter near the mailboxes. At first the 3 begonias in the planter looked lonely. But the plants filled in and are looking better every day. I’m promised these begonias will still be here till first frost this fall. I think they would add drama and color to a mixed annuals container.

Place these bold beauties in pots, baskets and beds. I would use Dragon Wing Begonias again as an informal bedding or border plant. These exotic looking Begonias hve loose loose clusters of Red stop-and-look-at-me blooms. Glossy green, wing-shaped leaves support the beautiful Chinese red flowers. My plants are healthy and thriving in a full sun environment, but they will take part shade. Everybody looks better and does better with a little shade in summer, including begonias.

I’ve never been much of a begonia fan. A free trial plant would not be enough to convert me to a fan. You should know, if a plant survives the summer at my house, it must be hardy and thrive on neglect. Sure I plant them (home of the famous $10 hole for the $5 plant) and irregularly water.

They are :

Drought tolerant

No deadheading requied. Dozens of flowers bloom in Chinese Red all summer. photo Patsy Bell Hobson

  • Shade Tolerant
  • Heat Tolerant
  • Drought Tolerant

Thanks to Dragon Wing™ Red Begonias, I am now a fan of this plant.

Dragon Wing™ Red Begonias have their own webpage.

They are in good healthy soil, but I seldom fertilize my plants. Ball Horticulture says that they do best  in partial sun to partial shade. Me too. But my mail box planter is in the full sun all day. I’ll write more later in the summer and let you know how they are doing.

For now, they are bright, beautiful, and attracting attention with their red floppy flowers. No deadheading needed. These Dragon Wings are thriving  on the heat and humidity of my zone 6 southeast MO  patio and mailbox planter.


How To Use Homegrown Arugula

My neighbor came over this morning and said, “OK, Patsy Bell, I grew arugula. How do I use it?” Here’s what I had to tell my neighbor.

The English call it rocket; the French call it roquette, from the Italian rochetta. Native to the Mediterranean, arugula is a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae). Its peppery mustard flavor makes it a favorite of mine in salads and mesclun mixes. I also use it in lettuce and cold pasta salads. In Italy, it is used as a pizza topping.

Add arugula to any summer salad. Photo courtesy Renee's Garden.

Add arugula to any summer salad. Photo courtesy Renee's Garden.

Pick the leaves while young. The flavor gets stronger as the leaves get older and larger. Home gardeners have the advantage with arugula because it is quite perishable. Arugula is used fresh or steamed in the way you might use spinach. Keep it close to the kitchen, so you can easily pick a few leaves for sandwich greens or add a bit to homemade pesto and salad dressings.

Arugula is slower to bolt than spinach. Add to pasta salads or homemade pesto.

Rich in nutrients, such as iron and vitamins A and C, and low in calories, your culinary imagination is its only limit in the kitchen. Because arugula is so versatile and comes in many varieties, don’t limit yourself to one variety or package of seed.

Arugula is said to have aphrodisiac powers. I’d like to know what you think about that.

Arugula is ideal for succession planting. Photo courtesy Renee's Garden.

Arugula is ideal for succession planting. Photo courtesy Renee's Garden.



Broccoli tastes sweetest when it matures in autumn, when nights turn chilly. I'll replant again late this summer for fall harvest.

I picked up a four pack of cabbage plants and broccoli plants this spring. I have horrible memories of trying to grow broccoli in my early garden days. The little broccoli colored worms turned me off of home grown broccoli for years.

There was no room in the veggie garden for  the four pack of broccoli or cabbage. So I panted them in and around the herb bed and flower borders. Those evil cabbage worms made Swiss cheese of the cabbages.

If you notice white butterflies, they are the source of the green worms. Broccoli or cabbage worms, which are  green caterpillars or the larvae of white butterflies.

The broccoli is disease and insect free and growing bigger and prettier every day in the flower bed. Tucked in next to Heuchera (Coral Bells) it looks goofy, but the broccoli will be out of the garden any day now.

I think the secret to beautiful, insect free plants is just dumb luck. (Or, a floating row cover.) It’s the first year to have cole crops anywhere on the property. My theory is the loopers, imported cabbage worms, just weren’t looking for broccoli.

Those disgusting green worms would probably show up in the garden if I grew a lot of broccoli every year. That is one of the reasons why gardeners suggest crop rotation, to keep those worms guessing where in the garden the broccoli is.

Preparing Broccoli for Freezing.

If your broccoli  does have worms, cut and trim off all leaves. Soak the heads in a sink cold salt water for 30 minutes. Weigh the heads down with some plates to keep them under water. (Use about a 1/3 or 1/2 cup of salt in this sink of cold water.)

You have one more chance to check for worms, when you cut up the broccoli heads before blanching and freezing.

By the way, the smaller leaves on the broccoli plant are tender and nutricious. Add them to cooked greens such as chard, spinach or mustard greens. The large leaves are tough and bitter.

broccoli plant

Broccoli does best when set out as transplants rather than planted from seed.



All about Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth buds

Queen Elizabeth came home with me last summer. I found her on the discount shelf at Loews. Actually, I found a pair of Queen Elizabeth roses.

This solid pink rose was created in the United States in 1954. Second only to the “Peace” rose, Queen Elizabeth is the second most popular rose ever.

Queen Elizabeth was the first grandiflora rose whose flowers bloom singly on one stem, similar to hybrid tea roses. Grandiflora class represents the first true melding of hybrid tea and floribunda characteristics. From its hybrid tea parent the grandiflora inherits flower form and long cutting stems; from the floribunda side come increased hardiness and prolific, clustered blooms. Most grandiflora roses, although not all, are taller than either hybrid teas or floribundas.

The Queen in full bloom and fragrance.

Bred in the United States and introduced in 1954, ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was the first grandiflora rose introduced. The award-winning, pink-flowered cultivar is probably the second most popular rose of this century, after ‘Peace.’

Queen Elizabeth is truly royalty in the rose world. First of its class, known for its clear pink, double bloom, 4′ – 5’+, exhibition rose, AARS 1955, Portland gold medal 1954, ARS gold medal 1957, Golden Rose of The Hague 1968, World’s Favorite Rose 1979.

My Queen Elizabeth roses are planted in large platic containers. It’s not the most attractive planting, but it allowed me to remove them from their root-bound nursery containers. Once I find the perfect permanent home, they will be transplanted a final time.


Queen Elizabeth in the last days of bloom. Petals are rippled and pale.

So far, they have not had and insect or disease problems. Earlier, I neglected my pruning duties, so they are rather unwieldy in full bloom. Perhaps when the flowering stops, I’ll do a little pruning.

These clear pink blooms may be the perfect addition to your landscape. I found them by accident. But, now that I know how elegant thse blooms are, I am tempted to buy more.

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