Witches broom is characterized by abnormal growth in a tree or shrub that results in multiple stems growing from a common point forming a mass of twigs that resemble a bird’s nest or witch’s broom. The problem is especially common on conifer and deciduous tree species but also occurs on shrubs. One or many witch’s brooms can occur on a single plant usually without significantly damaging the plant but often hurting the appearance of deciduous trees and shrubs in the winter when the leaves have fallen. [click to continue…]
Laborador tea is a braodleaf evergreen shrub native to Alaska east to Greenland, south to New England and northern areas of the US where it grows in cold bogs and montane coniferous woods. It belong to the heath family (Ericaceae), a large family that includes blueberries, huckleberries and rhododendrons. Upright stems with coppery-orange to reddish-brown bark carry spreading branches of gray-green oblong leaves that are glossy, thick, two inches long, and have recurved margins and woolly brown undersides. The small white flowers have prominent stamens and are carried in terminal clusters up to two inches across from May to August. Good companions included heather, pieris and dwarf conifers. [click to continue…]
Climbing roses can transform a garden. They can block a poor view, cover unwanted structures, or become a focal point on a wall, fence, or trellis. Modern climbing roses are especially valuable because unlike old climbers, they bloom more than once. Choose a red modern climber and you have a real eye catcher that will provide a dramatic backdrop for white, blue, lavender, or yellow flowers accompanied by their green or gray foliage. [click to continue…]
Also known a rock rose and gum cistus, this flowering evergreen shrub is native to the western Mediterranean region. It is a member of the Cistaceae family, a small group of shrubs and semi shrubs that do well in dry, sunny locations with poor soil. The whole plant contain a sticky resin called labdanum that is fragrant and scents the air when the sun shines hot upon it. Labdanum has been used from ancient times to sweet the air and is still used in cosmetics, aromatherapy, and potpourri. In early to mid-summer the fragrant flowers appear each up to four inches across. They have five tissue-thin white petals, usually with a deep red spot at the base, and a mass of golden stamens in the center. The dark green leaves are fragrant, lance-shaped, and one to four inches long . Plants need a protected place and do not like to be transplanted but tolerate drought and maritime conditions.
Asters are a traditional fall favorite but what about bulbs? We rarely think about fall blooming bulbs and, in truth, there are not a lot of them. This combination for a sunny spot combines a late blooming aster with a fall blooming blub to create a monochromatic color scheme in shades of blue and lavender. Contrast is provided by the differences in size, shape and texture of the flowers. Both plants are easy to grow in average, medium-moisture, well-drained soil. [click to continue…]
The botanical names for plants are often unfamiliar and challenging to pronounce so many gardeners avoid them. Sterns Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners is a giant step towards becoming comfortable with botanical names by providing the meaning and origin of 6,000 botanical names that are most likely to be encountered by gardeners and horticulturists. Help with pronunciation is provided by general comments on pronouncing Latin words as well as specific syllable stress information for all words.
If you are both a gardener and a cat lover you might want to share your garden with your furry friends. Ideally, this garden would be an enclosed or contained space so they would not be able to roam and find their way into danger. Alternatively, if you have docile cats, you might be able to enjoy the garden together as a supervised garden visit. Certainly making the garden especially appealing to cats will entice them to stay in the garden rather than seek pleasure elsewhere.
Japanese quince is a low growing, long-lived deciduous shrub that is a member of the rose family (Roseaceae). It is vigorous, densely branched, and thorny making it an excellent choice for a hedge. The broadly oval leaves are coarsely-toothed and up to two inches long. The orange-scarlet flowers with five petals and white stamens are 1.5 inches across and appear in early spring before the leaves. They are followed by hard, round, greenish yellow fruits 1.5” across that are fragrant when ripe and edible when cooked and made into jelly. The generic name Chaenomeles, comes from the Greek, chaimo, to gape, and melon, meaning apple in the mistaken belief that the fruit split open when ripe. Flowers are good in the vase and plants can be used for bonsai, as well as ornamental in the garden.
Some people clean-up their garden in the fall, some in the spring and still others do both. There are good reasons for a fall clean up, and equally good ones for a spring clean up but the best practice is to do both, focusing on different plants depending on their needs, problems, and what to off in the way of winter interest. Some plants provide winter interest and food or cover for wildlife; these are the ones to leave alone until spring. Others are prone to pests and diseases; these form a group that need a fall clean up. [click to continue…]
Alexanders is a biennial herb native to the Mediterranean region and known to the ancient Greeks. It grows wild in many parts of Europe and was introduced into England by the Romans about 2,000 years ago and was used as a potherb, vegetable, and medicianal herb. Although widlely grown in ancient, medieval and Renaissance times it is rarely grown now. Alexanders belongs to the carrot family (Apiaceae) and is related to dill, fennel, parsley, celery,and, queen Anne’s lace. The thick, furrowed stems grow up to sixty inches tall abd ae solid when young but become hollow as they mature. The glossy dark-green leaves are divided and bluntly toothed. The small yellow-green flowers are produced in umbells and the small seeds are black when ripe. The mild flavor is between that of celery and parsley, and roots, leaves, stems, flower buds and seeds are edible. The common name alexanders refers to the association with Alexander the Great. The generic name, Smyrnium , comes from the Greek word smyrnion meaning myrrh, suggesting that the scent of Alexaners is myrrh-like. The specific name olusatrum comes from the Latin olus-, meaning garden herb, and -ater meaning black, referring to the color of the seeds and giving rise to another common name, black lovage. [click to continue…]