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garden phlox & black eyed susan combinationThese two popular perennials combine to make an eye-catching combination in the mid- to late summer border. The billowing purple flower heads of ‘Laura’ provide contrast in shape, size and texture to the golden-yellow flower heads of ‘Goldsturm’ while the flower colors are complementary. Both plants produce attractive foliage from spring until they burst into bloom. The flowers of both plants attract butterflies. Give this combination full sun and medium well-drained soil.

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Sisyrinchium striatum 2This evergreen perennial is a native of Argentina and Chile where it grows in alpine grasslands, open woods, and meadows. It is not a true grass and is in the iris family, Iridaceae, that also includes crocus, gladiolus, and freesia. Plants are clump forming and have sword-shaped, gray-green leaves that are ½ to 1 inch wide and up to eighteen inches long. The creamy-yellow flowers have golden center and are up to ¾ inches across. They are cup-shaped and produced in early summer in dense erect unbranched spikes twelve to twenty-four inches long, with each spike carrying nine to twelve flowers. Each flower has six tepals veined with dark purple stripes on the underside. The leaves may yellow after flowering and can be cut back to six inches or fertilized to improve color. Plants flower better in cool climates that in the South.

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French fries, baked potatoes, and mashed potatoes are familiar meal time fare but have you thought about trying some totally new potato dish? You might consider one of the unique recipes in Raghavan Iver’s book, Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked—Fried, Too. Originally from India, Iver brings his knowledge and experience with international cooking to present a diverse collection of recipes from around the world for potato dishes that will tickle the palette and introduce new taste treats.

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Five Best Medium Pink Old Garden Roses

Rose Old Blush 5Picking the “best” roses is an objective process and in this case, the ratings of the American Roses Society have been used. Every year the American Rose Society enlists the help of people all over the country to evaluate the roses they grow. Each rose cultivar is evaluated on a number of characteristics including garden performance which considers such factors as vigor and growth habit, number of blooms, how quickly the plant repeats, the beauty and lasting quality of the blooms in the garden, fragrance, resistance to mildew, blackspot and rust, winter hardiness, and quality of the foliage. The results of this survey are published in an issue of American Rose and ratings are published in the ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Alpine Pink Dianthus alpinus)

dianthus_alpinus-2Alpine pink is a short lived, herbaceous perennial native to to the Alps of eastern Austria. It is a member of the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae, that also includes baby’s breath, Lychnis, and soapwort. The plant forms a loose clump of grass green leaves that have a prominent midrib and are one inch long and 1/5 inch wide, The scentless flowers have five fringed petals surrounding a white central disc. They are about 1 ½ inches wide and appear singly in late spring for four to six weeks. The small size of the plants make is a good choice for crevices in pavement or walls, as well as for use as an edging in rock gardens. A white variety is also available. [click to continue…]

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Rabbit Resistant Plants for the Garden: Herbs

herb gardenIt’s bad enough when the rabbits use your vegetable garden as their private smorgasbord but when they start nipping the herbs maybe it’s time to think about focusing on herbs the rabbits will leave along. Yes, there are some popular herbs that are usually ignored by our furry friends but, of course, there are no guarantees as there may be rabbits that like their lettuce or carrots accompanied by the tender leaves of fragrant herbs.
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Euphorbia wallichii 2Wallich spurge is a clump forming herbaceous perennial native the Himalayas. It is a member of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, that also includes poinsettia, caster-oil plant, and cassava. The lanceolate leaves dark green with a white midrib before turning yellow or orange in the fall. The flower-like structure appears terminal clusters in early spring and lasts for months. It is four to six inches across, lacks sepals or petals, and consists of three yellow bracts surrounding a cyanthium that is formed by the fusion of a single stamen (male) and a long stalked ovary (female). The stems are coral red and contain a milky sap that may be irritating to the skin and eyes. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: The French Country Garden

The French Country GardenMost American can conjure up a picture of an English garden but how many can do the same for a French garden, especially a French country garden. Louisa Jones’ book, The French Country Garden presents a look at eighteen gardens from all over France. Although the formal look of the gardens a Versailles may linger in our minds, there are far more styles of gardens that make up the French gardening sensibility. [click to continue…]

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kniphofia uvaria 2Also called torch lily, this herbaceous perennial is native to South Africa where it grows on damp slopes as marshy areas. Stiff, semi-evergreen, grey-green leaves up to 36” inches long are sword like and have sharp points. They form clumps that give rise to leafless stems carrying tubular flowers in densely packed terminal racemes six to ten inches long. The flowers face downward and are red when they first open, turning orange and then yellow as they mature. Red, orange, and yellow flowers are all present on the same stem at the same time giving the appearance of a torch or hot poker. Many good cultivars are available varying in color, height, and bloom time so you can have flowers in the garden and for the vase from early spring until fall. The flowers on their long stems are excellent for tall background material in arrangements. The red, orange, and yellow of the flowers goes very well in fall arrangements with flowers like orange dahlias, apricot roses, and autumn colored foliage. [click to continue…]

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Aster divaricatusA native of eastern US, white wood aster is found in open areas of the deciduous woodlands of the Appalacian Mountains from Maine to Georgia. It is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisies, sunflowers and lettuce. Wiry black stems carry long petioled , heart-shaped leaves, that are three to seven inches long and have coarsely toothed margins. Starry white flowers with yellow to red centers are ¾ inch long and carried in loose flat-topped clusters that cover the plant from late summer to fall. An excellent choice for dry shade. Plants growing in the South tend to leggy and can be cut back to twelve inches in mid June to encourage bushiness. [click to continue…]

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