flower of the hour-purple basil combinationA lovely echo is set up in this combination between the purple eyes of Hibiscus trionum and the purple leaves of the basil. The effect is ephemeral, however, because the hibiscus leaves open only for a few hours on sunny days. This flowering habit is compensated, however, by a very long bloom time. The combination is also made difficult by the fact that the basil may lose its color. The echo is stunning when achieved, however, and well worth the trouble. Although purple basil that is grown for its foliage produces spikes of small lavender flowers late in the season. If you want to use the leaves for culinary purposes, remove the flower spikes as soon as they begin to form, otherwise enjoy the flower spikes as they add another dimension to the effect. Both plants grow well in full sun, and moderately moist, well-drained soil. [click to read full post]

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diervilla sessilifolia ButterflyThis low growing deciduous shrub is native to southeastern United States where it grows in woodlands, bluffs, roadways and stream banks. The glossy dark green leaves often have red veins, and are carried on red stems. From early summer to fall clusters of small flowers that attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are produced at the top of new growth. The sulfur-yellow flowers are tubular and attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Southern bush honeysuckle is a very tough plant and withstands wind, cold, and dry, poor soil. It has a suckering habit and is very useful for difficult sites such as steep banks where it will form colonies that curb erosion. Although it flowers best in full sun the plant tolerates some shade. [click to read full post]

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centaurea-montana-2The genus, Centaurea, belong to the Asteracea family and contains about five hundred species and includes both annuals and perennials that are useful garden plants. They can all be recognized by the overlapping scales immediately beneath the petals. Popular annuals include bachelor’s button (C. cyanus), purple basket flower (C. Americana), sweet sultan (C.moschata), and dusty miller (C. cineraria). Six perennial species are available and make a good choice for an informal garden where their attractive foliage and colorful flowers can be fully enjoyed. [click to read full post]

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chiastophyllum-oppositifoliumNative to the Caucasus where it grows on limestone outcroppings in shady mountain areas, this rhizomateous perennial slowly grows to form a low mound of large fleshy ovate leaves with scalloped edges. Upright racemes of dangling pea-like flowers emerge well above the foliage in spring and early summer. The plants are suitable for shade gardens and rock gardens, and are especially attractive when growing in walls or between flagstones. They are also good edgers and mix well with other plants in containers. [click to read full post]

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Snakes

by Karen on May 22, 2015

Snakes Gail GibbonsSnakes are not beloved by most gardeners but they play an important part in the natural world including our gardens. Gail Gibbons’ non-fiction book, Snakes, presents an abundance of information about snakes that creates a positive image and makes them less scary. Written for readers from seven years old and up the book helps young and old readers readers alike appreciate the virtues of these unique reptiles. [click to read full post]

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Heirloom Japanese Anemones

by Karen on May 21, 2015

Anemone-Honorine-Jobert

Honorine-Jobert

The common name, Japanese anemone, is used to refer to more than one kind of anemones but all of these plants have similar flowers that appear in late summer or fall on branching stems above attractive mounds of foliage. Most are fairly tall and all are low maintenance. They thrive in well-drained soil and part shade, and are generally pest and disease free. The plants are vigorous and the clumps enlarge so that they need to be divided every three to four years. Flowers are good for arrangements. [click to read full post]

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Plant Profile: Rose Lamarque

by Karen on May 20, 2015

Rose LamarqueStarting early in the spring and blooming sporadically until late fall, this climber is especially suited to warm climates. The flowers are creamy white fading to pure white on the edges and have a large number of petals with a mass of small ones in the center. They are cupped to flat and are borne singly or in cluster of three to four. The plant is almost thornless and has bright green leaves. Named for General Jean Maximilien Lamarque, a commander in the Napoleonic Wars who was known for his capture of Capri from the British and for his defeat of Royalist forces in the Vendée in 1815. [click to read full post]

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Biltmore International Rose Trials

by Karen on May 19, 2015

Miracle on the Hudson

Best in Show 2014 Miracle on the Hudson

Biltmore International Rose Trials, held at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina are the first international trials on the East Coast and one of two in the whole US. The other is in Rose Hills, Whittier, California. Most international rose trials are held in Europe and are a common occurrence with trials held in twenty different locations in fifteen countries.

The trials are open to breeders and growers worldwide and last two years. The roses are judged four times a year by a permanent jury and rated on the over all bush, not just the flowers, in regard to growth habit and vigor, buds and flowers, recurrent bloom, resistance to disease, and fragrance. Biltmore rosarian, Lucas Jack, oversees the care of the trial roses and employs sustainable care methods that home gardeners can duplicate. [click to read full post]

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Epimedium alpinum RubrumA native of southern and central Europe, alpine barrenwort is a low growing herbaceous perennial that forms attractive clumps of foliage. The medium green leaves are compound and each leaflet is heart-shaped with a pointed tip, and up to three inches long. The leaves have a pink tinge when they emerge in spring, mature to green, and take on a red tinge in the fall. Clusters of twelve to twenty flowers are produced in loose racemes above the foliage in spring. The sepals are dull red and the petals are pale yellow and slipper shaped. The plant is rhizomateous and spreads more quickly than most other epimediums.  The cultivar ‘Rubrum, has brighter red sepals and brighter yellow petals. Apline barrenwort makes an excellent groundcover or edger for a shady area. The common name barrenwort comes from the belief that drinking extracts of the plant causes infertility. [click to read full post]

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Nature photography Compete Guide rofessional Techiques for Capturing Digital Images of Nature nd WildlifeThe beauty of the natural world and the desire to preserve it in a picture have inspired people for decades to create photographs of nature. Recent developments in digital photography have changed the way this is done and Sean Arbabi’s book, The Complete Guide to Nature Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Digital Images of Nature and Wildlife, helps the beginning photographer develop the necessary skills. Combining his love of nature and expertise in digital photography Arbabi provides a compendium of information covering all aspects of nature photography beginning with the basics. [click to read full post]

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