2006 Newsletter Archive

Newsletter 19

Week 19 (8/3/2006)


“EXTRA! EXTRA!   Over the past week it has been so hot, the Lake Edge Veterinarian Clinic reported treating several ducks on Lake Monona for heat stress.” 


While the above is a stretch of this writer’s imagination, it is true that even the ducks on the lake are seeking shade.  The heat of the last week has been intense on all living things.  And although we seldom see ducks with heat stress, we do see really stressed plants.


With cooler weather forecast for this weekend, it is time for all gardeners to come to their aid.  While the amount of rain we get will determine specific watering needs; after such a hot spell, it is good to error on the side of too much rather than too little.  All trees and shrubs planted in the last few years will appreciate a good deep watering.  And perennial plantings of all ages can be rejuvenated with water.


It’s also a good time to cut back yellowing foliage.  Bleeding heart, jack-in-the-pulpit and columbine are some of the perennials that go dormant during hot spells.  Any stems that are not green can be cut back to the ground.  This will create bare spots in your landscape, which can be filled with beautiful pots of blooming annuals from America’s Best Flowers.  Just set the pot beside (not over) the cut back stems and be ready to enjoy weeks of gorgeous bloom. 


“What happens when ducks fly upside down?  The quack up!”




America’s Best Flowers often has customers ask how to divide different types of perennials.  Beginning Saturday, August 19, we will be hosting a series of hands-on workshops designed to show just how it’s done. Dividing Iris will be discussed at this first workshop.


To provide a better learning experience and a lot more fun, we encourage you to bring along a clump of your own iris that need to be divided.  We will demonstrate how it’s done, help you do your own, and provide facilities where you can trade divisions with other gardeners who come to the workshop.


That same day, Saturday, August 19, we are also offering our Fall Container Workshop from 10 until 3 and will be serving free sweet corn for lunch. So plan to spend the day at America’s Best Flowers.  It promises to hold lots of fun for everyone.


“Where did the duck go when he was sick?   To the ‘duck’ter!”




Hosta Workshop Ed Schulz, President of the Madison Hosta Society will present a free class on the many varieties of hostas and their care. Saturday, August 12th10am.


Customer Appreciation Days August 19 and 20th Free sweet corn and popcorn.


Create an Autumn Container Ongoing Workshop  Free soil and assistance. Thursday, August 17th 5-8pm, Saturday and Sunday, August 19th and 20th 10-3pm.


DIVIDE AND SWAP How to divide your Iris – Saturday, August 19th at 10AM by Bev Wilson, Master Gardener. Bring a clump of overgrown iris and not only will we show you how to divide them, but you can trade with other gardeners and get more varieties for your garden! (see above)


ABF DOLLAR DAYS Saturday, September 9th-17th.


DIVIDE AND SWAP How to divide your Daylilies – Saturday, September 9th at 10AM. Workshop by Bev Wilson, Master Gardener. Bring in an overgrown clump of daylilies and Bev will show you how to divide them, then trade with others to get more varieties for your garden!


MAKE A SCARECROW WORKSHOP Saturday and Sundays September 23rd and 24th and September 30th and October 1st.


“SCARECROWS IN THE GARDEN CONTEST” for elementary schools. Entries will be on display to be voted on with a canned food donation for the Atwood Community Food Pantry. Entries submitted by September 21st –October 22nd. Watch for more details.


How to Winterize Roses Quick Class by our own, Sharon Stickford. Sunday, September 17th 1PM and Saturday, October 21st 10AM.


Holiday Open House Saturday, November 18th and Sunday, November 19th.  Free picture of Santa with Second Harvest Food Pantry donation.




“What did the duck say when the waitress came?   Put it on my bill!”


Perennial of the Week


Much hybridization of coneflowers over the past few decades has resulted in some absolutely stunning varieties.  This week’s Perennial of the Week features the ‘Big Sky’ series.  The beautiful ‘Sunrise’, ‘Sunset’, and ‘Sundown’ come in a range of yellows and oranges.  This series was bred by Richard Saul of Saul Nurseries in Atlanta, Georgia.  These hybrids are strong, upright plants that bring a new dimension to the reliable coneflower. These unusual plants would make fabulous gifts for that gardener who has everything.  Come see us today to get the best selection and take advantage of our special perennial of the week pricing.


“Which side of the duck has the most feathers?   The outside!”


Tip of the Week – Winning Entry


Parag, a new homeowner, has won a $10 Gift Certificate from America’s Best for the following tip. 


“Here’s my tip.  I learned the hard way.  If you are building a new home, finish your landscaping before seeding the lawn.  If that’s not possible, mark your property for landscaping borders and avoid seeding the marked areas.  I am spending a lot of time removing grass from areas of my lawn I want to landscape.  If you do not do this, be prepared to pay for rental of a sod cutter.  This tip will $ave you lots of $$$.  Used $aved money for buying plants from America’s Best Flowers.”


“What’s another name for a clever duck?   A wise ‘quack’er!”


Do You have a clever idea????  Please submit.  We are looking forward to sending you a gift certificate too.


$$$Last Chance to Win $10 Gift Certificate to ABF$$$

See Details Below


This is the final week America’s Best Flowers will recognize a winning “Gardening Tip of the Week” with a $10 gift card. To enter, submit your gardening tip to ed@americasbestflowers.com

Please put “Attn: Bonnie – Gardening Tip” in the subject line, and submit by 5:00 PM Tuesday, August 8. Explain in detail how your tip or trick works. Be sure to include your address and phone number so we can contact you. The winning tip will be published in our newsletterThe winner will receive a $10 gift card from America’s Best.


Your tips can help everyone enjoy gardening more.


“Why don’t ducks like to get mail?   They already have bills!”


Garden Resolutions


“I will buy myself a new watering wand!”


My wonderful roommate and I have this ongoing dispute regarding the use of his favorite pistol grip spray nozzle.  Every time I use the hose to water my flowers or fill a sprinkling can, I remove the nozzle and put it on the shelf beside the hose.  When I’m done, I roll the hose back up, but intentionally leave the ‘I-would-just-love-to-blast-any-plant-from-its-soil’ nozzle, on the shelf.  But somehow this ‘great-remover-of-mud-from-wheels’ miraculously reattaches itself.  Every time!  Not just when the wheels get washed, or the spiders get sprayed off the house, or the gravel from the driveway; but every time I use the hose. 


I’ve hinted about the wonderful selection of Dramm watering wands that America’s Best Flowers carries.  I’ve made a point out of breaking a nail while unscrewing the nozzle.  I’ve bragged about how much easier it is to water at work even though there are tons more plants.  But still this destructor-of-all-blossoms remains firmly attached.


So I am going to take the assertive approach.  I will buy myself a beautiful 16” red rainwand with the C400 quality head; or maybe a bright yellow Touch ‘N Flow Revolver Spray Gun with it’s nine different spray patterns; or maybe both.  And then I’ll hide the brass wonder in the garage.


“What do ducks watch on television?   ‘Duck’ umentaries!”


Question Corner


“A few years ago, I planted several different irises.  They aren’t blooming as well as they did at first.  What am I doing wrong?


Your plants probably need to be divided.  Irises are among the many different types of perennials which do best when they are divided every three to five years.  Irises grow outward from a central rhizome.  As they get larger, they continue this outward growth pattern, causing the innermost rhizomes to get crowded.  In Wisconsin, iris should be divided during the first half of August.  This allows them their full six weeks of growth after their bloom period but still gives them enough time to become established before frost.


To divide, dig around the outside of your clump, keeping the digging fork or spade well back from the edge of the plants.  Gently loosen the rhizomes from the soil.  Using a clean knife cut through the rhizomes, leaving three to five inches per plant.  Your goal is to have nice ‘Y’s of rhizomes with strong foliage and roots attached.  The bloom for next year will grow out of the inner point of the ‘Y’.  There will be rhizomes in the center of the clump that don’t have roots or foliage.  These are the old rhizomes and should be thrown away.  There will also be smaller pieces of rhizomes with lesser amounts of roots and leaves on them.  These are fine plants, but will probably not bloom for a year or two.  You can give these to neighbors or friends who have remarked they would like a start of your irises. 


To replant your iris – dig the area thoroughly. Choose the best three, five, or seven plants and place them in a triangle or circle with the rhizome toward the middle and the foliage toward the outside, spacing them about 8 inches apart.  Cover the roots and the top half of the rhizome with soil.  Firm well and water gently.


A word of caution, if you should happen to run across some totaling disgusting worm-like creatures in the rhizomes or the surrounding soil, you have iris borers.  These need to be destroyed.  A good way to do this is to drop them in a half-full bottle of rubbing alcohol.  There is a lot of information on iris borers and their control available through the web.


If this sounds complicated, consider attending our Iris Workshop on August 19.  See Upcoming Events earlier in the newsletter for details.


“What did the duck say when he dropped the dishes?  ‘I hope I didn’t ‘quack’ any!’”


“If I see another earwig on my kitchen counter, I’m going to scream.  Is there any relief in sight?”


Yes!!  In this area of the country the earwig’s life cycle runs from June to August.  So the good news is that they should soon be gone.  Earwigs, while generally harmless, are one of the creepiest crawling creatures around.  These half-inch long insects have ugly pinchers protruding from their backside.  According to UW Extension entomologist Phil Pellitteri, as quoted in a recent Wisconsin Journal article, “Until the Asian lady beetle showed up, I considered earwigs the most hated insect in Wisconsin.  They act like a cockroach, hiding under things and scurrying around.”  One redeeming characteristic of earwigs is that they are one of the few insects who actually nurture their offspring.  This could explain why there are so many of them.  According to Pellitteri, he has seen a 20% increase in earwigs over last year.


“How do you get down off an elephant?   You don’t, you get down off a duck!”


“Every year I decorate my front entry with your beautiful mums.  When are they going to be ready.?”


The early ones are ready to go right now.  The heat of the past week has really brought them along nicely.  We have several varieties just beginning to pop with exciting fall color.  America’s Best Flowers grows their own mums in big, deep pots, which results in the best mum plants anywhere.  Many of them will measure more than two feet across at peak. If you’ve never seen our plants, prepare to be surprised by their size and vigor.  Come on out today to get started on your fall decorating. 


If you have gardening questions you would like addressed in this newsletter, please e-mail them to ed@americasbestflowers.com

Please put “Question for Newsletter” in the subject line.  Otherwise it may not

reach my desk.


“What do you get when you cross a cow and a duck?   Milk and ‘quack’ers!”.”


Bonnie’s Kitchen

Gazpacho w/Creme Fraiche


There is such satisfaction in making that first bowl of gazpacho with ingredients straight from your garden! This one has a little something extra.

Serves 4 as main course or 8 appetizer portions


4 lg. tomatoes, seeded and chopped (4 cups)

2 lg. red bell peppers (3 cups)

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped (2 cups)

2 medium celery stalks, diagonally sliced (1 cup)

8 green onions (1/2 cup)

4 cups tomato juice

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2-3t red pepper sauce

½ t freshly ground pepper

½ t Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

Basil Crème Fraiche (recipe below), optional

½ c herb flavored croutons, optional


Mix all ingredients except Crème Fraiche and croutons.  Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. Stir before serving. Top with Crème Fraiche and croutons, if desired.


Basil Crème Fraiche

2/3 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 2t dried basil leaves

Mix ingredients


The above recipe is easy and very good, and I make it a lot; but I like this one even better—though it takes a bit more effort!  


Gazpacho #2


3 slices day old French bread, crusts removed

2 pounds vine-ripened medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 small Kirby cucumbers, coarsely chopped

1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups tomato juice or water

1 T sugar

1 T Spanish paprika

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup sherry wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

½ lemon, juiced



Chopped tomato

Chopped cucumber

Chopped bell pepper

Chopped onion

Chopped hard cooked egg

Lemon wedges


Soak the bread in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes, and then squeeze out the excess water. Place the bread in a blender or food processor, add the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  Puree until almost smooth, leaving a little texture.  Pour the vegetable mixture into a large bowl; stir in the tomato juice, sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, parsley, and lemon juice until well combined. Refrigerate the soup at least 2 hours until very well chilled; the flavors will develop as it sits. Season the gazpacho again with salt and pepper before serving. Serve in chilled bowls or tureen, and top with desired garnishes.

                                                                        Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence, from Food TV.


Now we know, Summer has truly arrived!!!!!!!!


 “What did the detective duck say to his partner?   ‘Let’s ‘quack’ this case!’”


The website ‘duck jokes’ receives 57 searches per day for the term ‘duck jokes.  Who would have thought?.  So, since the topic seems to be so widely loved, here’s a few more…….


“Why does a duck never swim on an empty stomach?   ‘Cause it’s easier to swim in water!”


“At what time does a duck wake up?   At the ‘quack’ of dawn!”


“Why did the basketball player bring a duck to the game?   She wanted to shoot a ‘fowl’ shot!”


“Why was the teacher annoyed with the duck?  Because she wouldn’t quit ‘quackin’ jokes!”


And for those of you who love really bad duck jokes:


Why do ducks have webbed feet? 

          So they can stomp out fires!

                   Why do elephants have flat feet? 

                             So they can stomp out burning ducks!

Carol and Ed Knapton, owners of Americas's Best Flowers You’ll Love Your Garden … It’s Our Promise! May the Holy Spirit Guide You! God Bless
Edward Knapton says Keep on Smiling!
Sec – Treasurer Berry Hill Farms, Inc.
DBA Americas Best Flowers Garden Center
4311 Vilas Hope Road
Cottage Grove, WI 53527
608-222-2269 Fax 608-222-1234 Cell 608-698-5627