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Questions - Oriental Melon, Crabgrass & Colour in Winter

Do you know anything about Oriental Melons; how to get Dimension for crabgrass control; and what to plant now for colour up until winter!
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

August 19, 2012

Above, two shots of his Oriental Melon from Bryan Jolly; and two shots of crabgrass Below, a mound-shaped aster (Michaelmas daisy); and a taller-growing, specifically pink cultivar, both growing in our garden here. Author photos.

Over the past week, or so, I’ve had a number of interesting inquiries—perhaps the most interesting came from Bryan Jolly in Mount Forest (near Kitchener) Ontario.

Bryan wrote, “I would love for you to identify this plant growing in my garden. We bought some McKenzie Seeds for sunflowers, this is what we have. I contacted Donna Dawson and she thought maybe some sort of cucumber, but it has many fruits on it with a 'furry' texture like a kiwi fruit.”

I wrote to Bryan and advised that while I did not recognize the furry textured fruit, I would canvas some friends who I thought would be able to identify it. He then responded: “The closest I have come to identifying my 'so-called' sunflower is an Italian cucumber/melon. The one and only fruit that is growing is approximately six inches now (the other fruits keep dying). Keep in touch.”

I sent the photos (alongside here) to Larry Sherk in Toronto, and he came through so here is what I wrote to Bryan: “As I thought, my Toronto friend, Larry Sherk, retired horticulturist from Sheridan Nurseries, was able to identify your vine/plant. He suggested it might be an Oriental Melon; so I ran that through Google Images and sure enough that is what it is. Don’t just check the Google listings, be sure to punch up Images, and you’ll see all kinds of photos of them.”

Larry added that he has seen similar plants growing in various gardens in an area of many Asian families in his part of the City of Toronto.

The next question came from Danny Yung in Richmond Hill Ontario. “I read an old article of yours on and you mentioned Dimension as being a good way to prevent crabgrass.

“Since you are from Toronto, I have to ask: where do I get this stuff?”

My first temptation was to write and advise Danny that due to Ontario’s retrogressive Pesticide Law, products such as Dimension were no longer available in a number of provinces, including Ontario. As I often do, I was going to suggest that he attempt to pick up some of the product when he was visiting across the border in the U.S. But then, I decided to check just a little bit further. Since the product is now banned in Ontario, I knew I would not see it listed on any of the suppliers’ websites, but decided to check directly with the manufacturers—Dow Chemical. I called their customer information number and was referred to the Ontario Sales Manager, Jim Olmsted. He happened to pick up as I was leaving him a long message.

Suffice to say that it was an interesting 35-minute conversation as we discussed the many problems being caused by the McGuinty Government’s ridiculous Pesticide banning legislation passed three years ago. But the interesting point that came out of the chat was that Jim had just recently spoken with his counterpart in Québec who had pointed out that Dimension was still for sale legally (both to golf courses and to homeowners) in that province.

That fact prompted me to write Danny as follows: “I have good news for you. Dimension is still available for both golf course and home lawn use in the Province of Québec. So, I don’t know if you need to go to Montréal, or whether you might be able to pick it up at a small garden supplies store just inside the province. In talking with the Dow Chemical folk, we do not think this will be allowed for much longer, but currently it is available there.

Some readers may know that I also answer garden questions on the Website 1Q9A ( The site has new questions weekly (on Fridays) on over 80 topics. My category, of course is “Gardeners”. For each question there are usually nine answers by different experts, although not always do all experts supply an answer to the questions. Answers are not written, but rather recorded video responses which ads considerable interest. The current question, on which I seem to be the only answerer, came from Sarah Gilad of Cork in Ireland. Here it is: “The wet summer has left my flower borders and veg plot with lots of gaps. What do you recommend filling these spaces with?”

In my answer, I first mention planting some extra vegetables, such as lettuce and perhaps spinach, and possibly also crops such as beans which might have time to produce at least some small, tender beans before the end of the season. Then I go on to mention the addition of numerous herbaceous perennials which can still be pur-chased in nurseries and garden centres, often in larger pots for larger plants.

Planted into your garden now, garden Chrysanthemums will provide brilliant colour all through September, October and into November. There are also several other perennials which provide good flower colour in the autumn, and in addition to giving you some additional colour this fall, you will also have a gorgeous display next and subsequent autumns.

The most widely varying perennials for autumn bloom are the asters or Michaelmas daisies. There are both tall-growing varieties which provide masses of bloom at the back of a border, or along a fence; as well as dwarf forms which provide mounds of colour somewhat similar to garden mums. The colours range from white through several pinks to a bright red in the taller cultivars, and white, pink, blue and purple in the dwarf ones.

The other genus of plants that will provide good colour in autumn are the Sedums or stonecrops. The most prolific and colourful one in autumn is Sedum spectabile, which has on more than one occasion been included as one of the ten best of all herbaceous perennials of the multitude available. Its flowers are deep red and the plants grow to 60 centimetres or two feet in height.

Something that grows much taller, and blooms well in September is Helen's Flower, or Helenium. It has masses of daisy-like yellow flowers at the top of the tall plants. And, there are ever so many others. Visit a good garden centre.

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