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Ornamental Grasses for Cold Climates

schizachyrium scoparium2Ornamental grasses are more and more popular as garden styles are changing and a natural look is developing. They have a lot to offer a gardener because they can play many different roles in the garden, look good over a long period of time, and are relatively pest free. Gardeners in cold regions like USDA zone 4 need not give up on growing handsome grasses because of low temperatures as there are many that do well even when temperatures drop to –25 F. [click to continue…]

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Asphodeline luteaThis evergreen clump-forming perennial is native to the eastern Mediterranean, north Africa and Turkey, where it grows in scrubby meadows and rocky slopes. It produces whorls of grassy gray-green foliage in spring. In summer, stout leafy stems produce yellow star-shaped flowers in dense terminal racemes with conspicuous buff to reddish brown bracts. The flowers are one inch wide, fragrant, and open at uneven intervals along the stem after midday over a period of several weeks. Green, marble-sized fruit maturing to brown follow the flowers and are showy. Stems with dried flowers or fruits are valued for flower arrangements. [click to continue…]

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Botanical Latin: Pogonia

Pogonia (puh GOH nee uh)  derived from Greek pogon meaning beard
Pogonia_ophioglossoides_Wikipedia
Pogonia is a genus of terrestrial orchids that includes four species native to temperate regions, mostly in Asia. The generic name is derived from the fact that the lower lip is densely bearded with white to yellow bristles near the throat. Only one species, P. ophioglossoides, is found in North America. It is found in eastern US were it grows in wet areas such as bogs roadside ditches, and acidic The flowers are fragrant and white to pink in color. Other names for this plant are beard flower and snake-mouth-orchid. [click to continue…]

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Arum italicum fruitsA native of the Mediterranean region and other parts of Europe and the East, Lords and Ladies has naturalized in Argentina and some places of United States. In fall the arrow-shaped gray-green leaves appear with their white to mid-green markings. In warm climates the leaves last all winter; in cold climates they may die back but reappear in early spring. The leaves vary in the beauty of their markings which take a couple of years to develop but careful selection of desirable plants is worth the effort. In early summer the white to yellowish-green spathe and spadix emerge with the spadix bearing tiny yellow flowers. Red berries follow the flowers on the spadix as the spathe and leaves disappear. Hosta and ferns are especially good companions for Lords and Ladies since they will produce new leaves as the foliage of the Lords and Ladies disappears for the summer. A good choice for a woodland shade garden; valuable for winter arrangements. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: A Greener Life

A greener llifeThe appeal of producing your own food has never been more popular in recent times and is still on the rise. In their book, A Greener Life, authors Clarissa Wright and Johnny Scott share their insight into living in a more self sufficient way. They show that healthy organic living is within the reach of most people and that a large lot is not necessary for a more natural and harmonious way of life. [click to continue…]

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1aThis long lasting combination begins in summer when purple coneflower opens its daisy-like pink flowers. A short time later Russian sage’s gray stems produce small light blue flowers producing a blue cloud in the garden. The two plants continue blooming through most of the summer with Russian sage lasting into fall. The contrasting flower size and shape as well as the difference in texture adds to the appeal of this lovely combination. Both plants grow well in full sun, moderately moist well-drained soil and can tolerate some drought. [click to continue…]

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arisarum-proboscideumThis native of Spain and Italy where it grows in shaded woodlands and marshy areas, is a herbaceous perennial related to Jack in the Pulpit. It’s common name comes from the resemblance of its flowers to the hindquarters and tail of a mouse. The flowers are borne on a stem like structue (spadix) inside a purple and white hood-like structure (spathe) which gradually tapers to a long thin “tail” about six inches long . On the tip of the spadix is a tissue that looks like a fungus. It attracts fungus nats that enter the spathe through the opening in the tip of the “tail” to lay their eggs but pollinate the plant at the same time. The flowers usually lie out of sight below the green, arrow-shaped, six inch long leaves so placing the plant in an area where it is accessible is essential to enjoying it. The plants go dormant after flowering but make good companions for spring bulbs. Mouse plant spreads by rhizomes and slowly naturalizes. [click to continue…]

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Amsonias (bluestars) for the Garden

Amsonia hubrectiiAmsonias, also known as bluestars and dogbane are subshrubs or perennials belonging to the Apocynaceae, or dogbane, family. They are native to North America and represented by about twenty species. Of these, three are good garden plants grown for both their attractive flowers and foliage. All have light blue star-shaped flowers borne in terminal panicles in spring and narrow to ovate leaves that turn yellow in the fall. Stems contain a milky sap. Amsonias like full sun or partial shade and average, moist, well-drained soil. Plants can be propagated by seed, division in spring or fall, and terminal cuttings in spring to early summer. [click to continue…]

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Araujia-sericiferaAlso known as moth plant and white bladderflower, this fast growing creeping vine is a native of Argentina and Brazil where it grows in forest margins, river banks and disturbed sites. It is considered a weed in Australia and New Zealand. The gray to gray-green twining stems exude a milky sap when broken and carry leathery dark green leaves with an elongated triangular shape. The pale pink to creamy white bell-shaped flowers are fragrant and produced in clusters of few to many in the axils of the upper leaves. They bloom over a long period from summer into autumn and are pollinated by moths, trapping them by the tongue until late morning when they release the moths unharmed. The pear-shaped fruits are three to four inches long and bluish- or grayish- green when young. They turn brown and woody as they mature and open to release black seeds with a tuft of long silky strands. [click to continue…]

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Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines

Old Time Recipes for Home Made WinesWhen going through old books belonging to my family I cam across this one written by my paternal grandmother, Helen S. Wright, a very straight-laced lady from Washington D.C. and western Massachusetts. As a wine enthusiast I found the book of great historical interest. Published in 1901, it is a collection of recipes from many different sources that reflect the customs, styles, and tastes of a by-gone era. [click to continue…]

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