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Common foxglove is a biennial or short-lived herbaceous perennial that is native to southern Europe and Asia where it grows in disturbed sites such as along roadsides, in fields, and in burned or logged over areas. It is a member of the plantain family (Plantaginaceae) that also includes speedwell (Veronica), turtlehead (Chelone), and Penstemon. The genus name, Digitalis, is from the Latin word digitus meaning finger and refers to the finger-like shape of the flowers. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Canna glauca

Canna glauca is a herbaceous perennial  in the Cannaceae family that is most closely related to ginger, bird of paradise, and banana.  It is native to the West indies and  tropical  America including parts of the US where it grows in the margins of marshes, swamps, and ponds.  Plants grow 4-6′ tall from a rhizomatous rootstock and have unbranched fleshy stems sheathed by  large bluish green leaves with pointed tips and white margins.  The large slender flowers are pale yellow and appear in summer.  C. glauca is a good choice for a water garden, container, or back of the border but will have to be lifted and stored in cold climates. The roots can be eaten like arrowroot.  The genus name, Canna, comes from the Greek word kanna meaning reed.  The specific epithet, glauca, comes from the Greek word glaukos meaning grayish blue and refers to the color of the leaves. [click to continue…]

Daylily Happy-returns-n-tradescantia1Start the season with the sparkling blue of spiderwort while the day lily foliage emerges; then add the lemon yellow of the “Happy Returns’ flower and you have a very pleasing combination that will last for weeks. Even after the spiderwort declines, ‘Happy Returns’ will continue flowering and its foliage will be attractive until frost. Both plants tolerate a wide range of soils and partial shade but do best in well-drained soil and full sun. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Bulbine alooides

This spreading succulent perennial is a member of the Asphodelaceae that also includes aloe, torch lily (Kniphofia), and foxtail lily (Eremus).  It is native to the rocky flats of the the western Cape and Namaqualand in South Africa but is adaptable to most soils and situations.  Growing 18-24″ tall plants produce a basal rosette of 6-12 lanceolate leaves and one or more slenders scapes each carrying a dense narrow raceme of 1/4″ starry yellow flowers  that open from the bottom up.  Each flower has six tepals and densely bearded stamen filaments. The flowers appear quickly from seed in late winter to early spring and then plants die back.   Although tolerant of heat and drought B. alooides is not tolerant of humid conditions.  The generic name, Bulbine, comes from the Greek word bolbos, meaning bulb and mistakenly refers to the reproductive structure of the plant which is actually a tuber.  The specific epithet, alloides, means aloe-like and refers to resemblance of the leaves to those of aloes.   [click to continue…]

Book Review: Salad for President

Salad for PresidentHave you ever noticed a link between a salad and art? Probably not and Julia Sherman’s book ,Salad for President, will get you thinking about it. Sherman approaches salad making with an artist’s creativity that makes something new and wonderful out of the familiar and urges her readers think like an artist, borrow ideas, and break rules. She present seventy five of her own salad recipes along with interviews and contributions from artists such as ceramicist Yui Tsujimura, painter Madeleine Fitzpatrick, and architect Harry Gesner. [click to continue…]

Also called goutweed, this rapidly growing herbaceous perennial is native to Eurasia but has been introduced into the US where it is often used as a ground cover. It is a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae) and related to parsley, dill, fennel, and Queen Anne’s lace. Although bishop’s weed prefers full sun and fertile moist soil it tolerates shade and dry, lean soil. A variegated from is more attractive, less aggressive but still invasive in moist conditions and may suddenly revert to the green form. [click to continue…]

Known by many names including leather leaf bergenia, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the Saxifracaceae family that also includes astilbe, foam flower (Tiarella), and coral bells (Heuchera).  It is native to rocky cliffs in eastern Asia including Siberia, northern mongolia, western China, and northern Korea.  Plants grow 1-2′ tall from a stout slow growing rhizome and form rosettes of leathery spoon-shaped leaves up to eight inches long.  The leaves are evergreen in warm climates where they may turn deep pink in winter.  Dense, nodding clusters of rose purple flowers are carried on leafless stems up to 18′ tall in spring, and as early as December in warm climates.  Plants are a good choice for edgings and groundcovers, and both leaves and flowers are good in bouquets.  The generic name, Bergenia, honors the 18th century  German physician and botanist, Karl August von Bergen.  The specific epithet, crassifolia), comes from the Latin words crassus meaning thick or fleshy, and folia, meaning leaf.

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Shakespeare’s Garden: Quince

quinceThe quince (Cydonia oblonga) belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae) along with apples, pears, and almonds. It is native to southwest Asia, Turkey, and Iran where it grows on rocky slopes and the margins of woodlands. Quinces are small deciduous trees up to twenty-six feet tall with a fifteen foot spread. They bear fragrant white flowers with pinky-red stripes in spring and large, yellow, pear-shaped fruit in the fall that are fragrantly aromatic and very hard until cooked. The mid green leaves turn yellow-gold in fall. Quince is cultivated for its flowers, fruits, and fall color. [click to continue…]

A stoloniferous herbaceous perennial, running rock cress is a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, that also includes cabbage, alyssum, and candytuft.  It is native to Southern Europe where it grows in mountainous meadows, fields, and disturbed areas.  Plants form low dense mats of glossy, bright green persistent  foliage with pointed basal leaves that are smooth above and hairy along the veins and margins of the underside.  In spring, terminal loose racemes of  3/4″ white cruciform flowers are carried on stems with scattered small ovate leaves.  A variety with white-edged leaves, A. procurrens ‘Variegata’, is available.  Spreading rock cress is vigorous even in dry poor soil and is suitable for  rock or alpine gardens. [click to continue…]

Book Review: Medical Marijuana Dispensary

The mother and daughter-in-law team, Laurie Wolf and Mary Wolf offer an introduction to medical marijuana in their book, The Medical Marijuana Dispensary. As owners of a company in Oregon that makes and sell cannabis edibles, they share their experiences and knowledge about the effect of cannabis on the body, the ailments it can treat, strains of cannabis, and the various ways it can be taken. Many cannabis recipes for remedies and edibles are included. [click to continue…]