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Credit: National Garden Bureau

As gardeners prepare for the season ahead, this is the time of year when many organizations unveil their annual selections, and the National Garden Bureau (NGB) is celebrating 2004 as Year of the Dianthus. Dianthus is in the family Caryophyllaceaea; its name derived from the Greek for clove tree, a reference to the often clove-scented blooms. To encourage continuous blooming or reblooming, deadhead regularly. The range of available colours makes it easy to find just the right hue for your garden. There are bright, solid colours such as white, red, rose, dark red, lavender, pink and the elusive yellow (D. knappii), as well as bicolours, "eyed" blooms with dark marks at their centres and multi-coloured blooms. In the veggie patch, the NGB focuses on the pea for 2004. While they are tasty to eat, peas also give back to the soil. With the help of a bacterium that lives in a symbiotic relationship in nodules formed on the roots of the plants, the plants "fix" the nitrogen. The nodules store any excess nitrogen and, as the roots decay, release it into the soil. Plant disease-resistant varieties and rotate your pea crop on a three-year cycle so that you do not plant peas in the same bed each year. The All-American Daylily Selection Council also recently announced its winners for 2004. In the landscape category, the fiery red-orange beauty, 'Lady Lucille,' won top honours, while 'Chorus Line,' a beautifully formed pink daylily, won in the exhibition category. The pest and disease-resistant 'Lady Lucille' boasts large, showy 12- to 15-centimetre diameter blooms from summer into fall. 'Chorus Line' has fragrant, well-formed round flowers with ruffled petals that bloom early in the season and rebloom in some areas.