Q: I planted a creeping rosemary last fall, and it has little blue flowers on it. Are they edible?
-- Lou dell Printz, email
A: Joyce Cotter, president of the Chattahoochee Unit of the Herb Society of America, says rosemary flowers are quite edible. She advises that you remove the green, leaflike calyx at the base of the flowers and then scatter the petals lightly on hors d'oeuvres or salads. The flower taste is more intense than rosemary leaves. The herb society welcomes new members. You can get more information and recipes at www.cuhsa.org.
Q: I have been told by a local garden center that garden impatiens, except the New Guineas, have a disease this year and should not be planted. Is this the case or a gross exaggeration?
-- Mel Berss, DeKalb County
A: It is true that garden impatiens have been hit hard by downy mildew in some parts of the U.S. in the past couple of years. Large growers have had to practice scrupulous inspections to be sure they don’t ship infected plants to garden centers. Downy mildew causes the plant’s leaves to yellow. As the disease progresses, both leaves and flowers drop. White spores form on the underside of leaves and thus may go undetected until it is too late to save the plants. Once the disease infects impatiens in a flower bed, the soil remains infected for several years.
I'd plant impatiens sparingly and see what happens. Mildew tends to be worse in locations where leaves stay wet for extended periods of time, in very dense beds, and in beds receiving overhead sprinkler irrigation, because the foliage does not dry quickly. I have more information and a list of impatiens substitutes at xrl.us/impatiens.
Q: I have a significant weed issue in my backyard. My wife is against Roundup. A friend of mine says lime would keep the weeds under control. Is this true?
-- Robert Leingang, Dallas
A: Lime will have no effect on the weeds. For natural, semi-organic weed control, check out Bayer Natria (chelated iron), Burn Out II (clove oil and citric acid), and the acetic acid products, such as Nature’s Glory and Weed Pharm. Remember, a vigorously growing lawn grass is your best weed control. If you have the right grass for the site, with soft soil underneath, you can simply fertilize and water appropriately and get good weed control. You’ll only need to do a bit of spot spraying occasionally.
Q: I live in a courtyard home and use resin containers for all my plants. I have noticed that some of my older containers now produce a yellowish-brown water when I water them deeply. Are the containers breaking down inside and producing the discoloration?
-- Pat Darrow, Newnan
A: I think something is breaking down, but not the containers. As plant roots and potting soil decompose over the years, I could easily imagine drain water would be yellow or brown. This is much the same as the brown water of the Okefenokee Swamp, resulting from tannins produced by rotting organic matter. I'd replace the potting soil if the plants seem to be declining.
Listen to Walter Reeves 6-10 a.m. Saturdays on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Fan Page at xrl.us/wrfacebook for more garden tips.