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Canna hybrids are the most commonly grown garden plants.  They are herbaceous perennials in the Cannaceae family that is most closely related to  ginger, banana, and bird of paradise.  The parentage of the hybrids includes C. glauca, C. speciosa, C. iridifolia, C. warscewiczii, and C. flaccida.  The result of various crosses has produced numerous cultivars that vary most significantly in height, foliage color, and flower color.  Height varies from 1.5′ to 9′, leaf color from green to bronze, purplish and variegated,  and flower color from red, to yellow, cream, orange and pink.  Cannas are excellent plants for the border although in most climates they have to be lifted after the first frost and stored for the winter.  They  are good in containers and add a tropical look any garden or patio.  The genus name Canna comes from the Greek word kanna meaning reed.  The specific epithet generalis is the Latin word for normal; hortensis  is the Latin word meaning pertaining to the garden.  See below for a  list of some of  some of the outstanding cultivars. [click to continue…]

Genus Asters for the Garden

Aster is a large genus of herbaceous perennials and are members of the family that bear their name, Asteraceae, that also includes daisy, sunflower, and lettuce.  The genus includes weeds as well as outstanding garden plants that are valued for their summer and fall bloom.  Plants grow from creeping rhizomes and range in height from 6″ to 8′.  The leaves are alternate, undivided, and narrow.  The daisy-like flowers heads are carried singly or in cluster and consist of ray flowers surrounding a center of disc flowers that are usually yellow.  The ray flowers may be purple, lavender, pink, rose, red, or white.  The common name and genus name, Aster, comes from the Greek word aster meaning star and refers to the shape of the flower heads. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Rose St. Patrick

Green buds open slowly to flowers with exceptionally long petals with a golden yellow base and a touch of green on their edges that becomes more prominent in cool weather. The flowers hold their color well and last a long time on the bush or in the vase. The vigorous plants are bushy and have medium green, leathery, matte foliage. They are heat tolerant, disease resistant, and are especially suited for hot dry climates such as Southern California. The green buds gave this yellow rose gave it its name, St. Patrick. [click to continue…]

Book Review: The Leafy Guide to Cannabis

If you want to embrace a marijuana life style The Leafly Guide to Cannabis is a good start.  Written by the Leafly Team, the book begins by giving a brief history,  describing the anatomy of the cannabis plant, differentiating between cannabinoids and terpenes, presenting the 20 best cannabis strains and the 10 strongest strains, providing tips for beginners, and providing a quick guide to consumption methods.  The bulk of the text details the methods of consumption from smoking to vaporization, to edibles, topical, oils, and concentrates.   Final chapters present buying and consumption tips, and suggestions for troubleshooting when the experience is not what was expected. [click to continue…]

Written for pre-teens, Marne Ventura’s book, The Debate About Legalizing Marijuana, present the pros and cons on the subject. The author begins with a short history of marijuana use and legalization, and then explains in more detain 3 arguments for the legalization and 3 arguments against legalization. The pro arguments are marijuana’s medical value, the use of tax revenues generated from marijuana sales to benefit the public, and the possibility that law enforcement would focus on violent crimes rather than those involving marijuana use. The con arguments are: negative mental and physical effects of marijuana on minors, dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana and the role of marijuana in more harmful drug abuse. [click to continue…]

Also called sneezeweed, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes sunflowers, daisies, and lettuce.  It is native to eastern and south central  US  from Massachusetts to Florida west to Missouri and Texas where it is found in cultivated fields, abandoned fields, pastures, woodland margins, marshes, and waste areas.  Although dogfennel grows best on moist well-drained soil in full sun to part shade, it tolerates most soil types and is drought tolerant. [click to continue…]

Also called  golden lily, leek lily, wild onion, yellow onion weed, and native leek, this succulent perennial is a member of the Asphodelaceae that also includes aloe, torch lily (Kniphofia), and foxtail lily (Eremus).  It is endemic of Australia where it grows in dense colonies in a variety of habitats including forests, grasslands, rock crevices and areas where the soil is seasonally inundated. Plants have a bulblike corm that produces a tuft of narrow basal  gray-green leaves up to 16″ long .  The stary 1′ flowers are fragrant, bright yellow  and carried  in loose racemes of 50 on a slender scape up to 24″.  Each flower has  6 tepals and densely bearded stamen filaments.  Although each flower only blooms for a single day the plants remain in flower over a long time. Bulbine lily is a good choice for a cottage garden, rock garden, and containers.  It may be poisonous to livestock if eaten in large quantities.  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 corm.  The specific epithet, bulbose, also refers mistakenly to the reproductive structure. [click to continue…]

Balm is a herbaceous perennial and member of the mint family, Labiatae, that also includes basil, rosemary, and ajuga.  It is native to the Mediterranean area, North Africa and central Asia but has naturalized throughout much of the world including the US. The 3-4′ tall plant is floppy and has coarse, ovate, toothed leaves that are lemon scented and 1-3″ long.  The white to yellow, 2 lipped flowers are 1/2″ long and appear in leaf axils from mid-summer into fall.  Balm is hardy in zones 4-9 and is easy to grow in average, well-drained soil in full sun but tolerates some shade.  It is easily grown from seed and  germinates best in light. The genus name, Melissa, is  the Greek word meaning honey bee.  The specific epithet, officinalis, is the Medieval Latin word for organisms, mainly plants, used in medicine and herbalism. [click to continue…]

Also known as  spiral and earleaf bellflower, this rhizomatous herbaceous perennial is a member of the Campanulaceae family that also includes ladybells (Adenophora), balloon flower, and Lobelia).  It is native to the mountains of Europe including the Pyrenees, Alps, and Carpathian where it grows in the cracks in the rocks.  Plants form spreading mats of bright green nearly round leaves and produce clusters of nodding 3/4″ diameter blue-violet flowers on wiry stems in summer.  Fairy’s thimble is an excellent choice for the front of the border, containers, along pathways, or in a rock garden, wall garden, or cottage garden.  The generic name, Campanula, is the diminutive of the late Latin word campana meaning bell, and refers to the form of the flowers.  The specific epithet, cochlearifolia, comes from the Latin words cochlear, meaning spoon, and folia, meaning leaf, and refers to the shape of the leaf. [click to continue…]

Book Review Cool Cities

Book Review Cool CitiesGlobal warming is of great concern to many people who are concerned about the changes  that they experience all around them with increasing frequency.  Benjamin R. Barber’s book, Cool Cities, takes a bold look at the problem of climate change and presents new and unique measures for dealing with it focusing on the role of cities.   In the author’s words, “The science is clear but the politics is decisive,” and Cool Cities is a book about politics. [click to continue…]