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Plants speed post-surgery recovery

Therapeutic growth — Study shows potted plants or flowers boost post-operative healing. © iStockphoto

Therapeutic growth — Study shows potted plants or flowers boost post-operative healing. © iStockphoto

A recently released university study affirms what we already seem to know intuitively and that is that plants are good for us.

In fact, people recovering from surgery in hospital rooms with plants felt better, reported less pain and registered lower blood pressure and heart rate, according to the October 2008 issue of HortTechnology, a journal published by the American Society for Horticultural Science .

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Shade-brightening Japanese forest grass garners top perennial award

Fall color — ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass late-season hue blends nicely with the autumn color of a foam flower (Tiarella) ‘Crow Feather.’ © Photo courtesy Walters Gardens

Fall color — ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass' late-season hue blends nicely with the autumn color of a foam flower (Tiarella) ‘Crow Feather.’ © Photo courtesy Walters Gardens

A lovely ornamental grass has been named the 2009 Perennial Plant of the Year.

‘Aureola’ is a golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra), a perfect plant for softening the front edge of a border, working as a ground cover or adding a bright spot in the perennial bed. It also can be used as a container plant for summer color and transplanted to the ground in fall, if desired.

Hakonechloa macra is native to Honshu Island, Japan. Hakon refers to the Japanese region and chloa is the Greek word for grass, according to the Perennial Plant Association , a not-for-profit organization made up of educators, plant breeders, growers and others. Each year members make nominations and vote on their favorite perennial. Previous popular winners include ‘Mainacht’ or May Night salvia, ‘David’ phlox and ‘Husker Red’ penstemon.

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New plants earn high marks in summer garden trials

Winning performance — ‘Scarlet Star’ verbena thrives despite drought and neglect. Photo courtesy Proven Winners

Winning performance — ‘Scarlet Star’ verbena thrives despite drought and neglect. Photo courtesy Proven Winners

Two new plants that were on trial in the summer garden passed muster with high marks.

Just about any plant in my landscape has to survive on benign neglect. No prima donnas allowed.

Verbena ‘Scarlet Star’ lost its luster in a large container during a long dry spell with no water. The flowers dried up and turned brown, but the foliage stayed dark green.

However, with a soaking from the hose and a shot of liquid fertilizer, the plant revived to carry on through the season. This verbena has large, dense, red flowers with a white eye or star. It is hardy to about 15 degrees F, so it still looks great as I write this in early November.

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Right Plant, Right Place

Conservation: It’s in the Bag