Book Review: Frogs

by Karen on April 18, 2014

FrogsWhen spring arrives and ponds come alive male frogs can be heard croaking and frog eggs may be seen floating in the water. What better time to introduce young readers to the life cycle of frogs? Gail Gibbon’s book, Frogs, provides that and more. Written for children in kindergarten through second grade, the book describes the life of frogs from egg to adult. [click to read full post]

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Green Roses

by Karen on April 17, 2014

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'Green Rose'

A true green rose is hard to come by but there are several roses that might be worthy of note.  Keep in mind that most of the roses that claim to be green are actually white, pink, or yellow with a touch of green some time during flowering. Some roses may have a touch of green in the bud, others as the roses fades. There is only one rose that is green throughout its bloom period but its petals are leaf-like structures. ‘Lovely Green’ is a florist rose and best grown in a greenhouse. American Rose Society ratings are given when available to provide a guide to the success of the rose in the garden; ratings of 6.7 and below indicate an inferior rose. [click to read full post]

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Guave pineapple Feijoa sellowianaA native of subtropical South America, pineapple guava is an evergreen multistemmed shrub or small tree that is especially suitable for difficult places in warm climates. It is tolerant of heat, poor soil, maritime conditions and drought, although appreciates occasional irrigation during long dry periods. The oval leaves are dark gray-green with white undersides. The unusual flowers are about one inch across and feature a thick cluster of red stamens surrounded by fleshy pink and white petals that are edible. The egg-shaped green fruits are one to three inches long and have a delicious greenish white pulp that tastes of pineapple and mint. The fruits do not change color with maturity so harvesting when ripe is difficult. Fruit production is best in areas where winters provide some chilling and summers are moderate and long enough for fruits to form. If fruit is the primary concern, pick cultivars that are known to do well in your area. Plants may be espalier or pruned to form excellent hedges. [click to read full post]

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Hyacinths blueA summer border featuring salvia, delphinium, Russian sage, wishbone flower, aster, and Browallia all in shades of blue to violet is cool and refreshing. The foliage, of course, adds the color green and sometimes gray, white, or yellow. But what plants are blooming in early spring before these beauties come into flower? Bulbs are a great way to provide color for a blue/violet themed garden from early spring into summer. [click to read full post]

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Horsechestnut Red Aesculus x carnea 2This small to medium, deciduous, flowering tree is a hybrid between Aesculus hippocastaneum, native to southeastern Europe, and Aesculus pavia, native to Southeastern United States, probably originating in Germany in the early nineteenth century. The tree is outstanding in mid-spring when it bears showy upright pink to red terminal panicles five the eight inches long. The flowers are followed by capsules 1 to 1½” in diameter with prickly brown husks, usually containing two to three poisonous nuts. The large palamately compound leaves have five leaflets and are dark green, turning brown in the fall. The tree is pyramidal when young and becomes broadly rounded in maturity. Red horsechestnut is a beautiful tree and can be used as a lawn or shade tree. Because it is subject to leaf scorch it does best in moist cool environments and should be protected from wind. More disease resistant and drought tolerant than A. hippocastaneum but both leaves and fruits can cause a litter problem. [click to read full post]

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Book Review: The Rain Garden Planner

by Karen on April 11, 2014

Rain Garden PlannerSince the 1990s rain gardens have increasingly attracted attention as a way of managing water quality in an ecologically responsible way. Terry Wallace’s book, The Rain Garden Planner, provides you with the information and details needed to design, install and maintain a rain garden that restores the natural processes for filtering and returning water to groundwater reservoirs. Such a rain garden is well within the reach of any gardener and can reflect a variety of needs and aesthetic tastes.
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A native of Europe and Asia Minor, shepard’s purse is a winter or summer annual that has spread throughout the United States including Alaska and Hawai. It is a member of the mustard family and related to broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, and cabbage. Shepherd’s purse prefers full sun, medium to dry conditions, and tolerates many different soils. It is common in highly disturbed sites where the soil has been exposed and may be found in gardens, lawns, abandon fields, hedge rows, and various waste areas such as vacant lots, construction sites and along road sides and train tracks. Shepherd’s purse serves as an alternate host for beet leafhoppers that carry curlytop virus to beats, beans, and tomatoes. [click to read full post]

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magnolia-little-gem-3-stages-of-flowersNative to the coast of southeeastern United States, these tall broadleaf evergreen trees grow in moist wooded areas, along riverbanks as well as in parks and gardens, and along streets. Their stately presence is a common sight where their leaves and flowers are treasured by many. The oval leathery leaves have a glossy, dark green upper surface, and a brown hair-covered lower surface. They are especially prized for Christmas decorations. The cream-colored flowers are cup-shaped, very fragrant and up to twelve inches across. They are borne singly in spring and periodically throughout the growing season. The cone-like fruits that ripen in autumn are four inches long and bear bright red seeds that are attractive to birds. Southern magnolia is most often used as a specimen tree but can be grown as espalier, a hedge or screen. Leaf drop, however, can create a litter problem in gardens or on lawns. Many cultivars are available varying in several characteristics including size, hardiness, and age of first bloom. [click to read full post]

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White flowers in the garden have many virtues. They make the garden look bigger and create a sense of spaciousness. They go with flowers of all other colors and can be a transition from one color to the next. Placed next to a plant with pastel colored flowers they soften the effect; placed in a dark area, they brighten it. If you want to make a plant “pop” put white flowered plants next to it, or if you enjoy your garden most at night use lots of white flowered plants and see how they almost glow in the moonlight. [click to read full post]

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Percallis SenettiThis herbaceous perennial is a native of the Canary and Maderia Islands but is grown in the United States as a potted plant or annual. It is a cool weather plant that does well in spring and fall in warm climates, taking a siesta in the summer, but blooms all summer in cool climates. Plants form an attractive mound of medium to dark green foliage consisting of large triangular or heart shapped flowers. Masses of bright colored daisy-like flowers cover the plant during the bloom period. The Senetti series features hybrids with especially vivid blue or magenta petals arranged around a dark eye. Bicolors are also available. Plants are not frost tolerant and are best grown at temperatures between 55o and 72o F. They stop blooming at 80o F. but can be cut back by 50% to encourage rebloom when cool temperatures return. Although they need plenty of moisture, plants can be hurt by over watering or wet feet. [click to read full post]

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