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Plant Profile: Rose Bride’s Dream

Long, pointed pale pink buds are held singly on strong long stems and open slowly to large flowers up to 5” across with 25-30 light pink petals that mature to blush. The upright bushes are vigorous and healthy with large, matte, medium-green leaves and almost thornless stems. Flowers are good in the vase and are popular and successful exhibition roses. [click to continue…]

Book Review: Cannabis for Chronic Pain

Cannabis for Chronic PainDr. Ivker’s book, Cannabis for Chronic Pain, presents a holistic approach to pain management that includes the use of marijuana. Although the title might suggest that the book deals exclusively with medical marijuana this is not the case and the author shows how to use medical marijuana effectively as part of a pain management program. With over 50 years of experience as a holistic family doctor, Dr. Ivker shares his knowledge of medical marijuana and his experiences with using it for chronic pain. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Jetbead (Rhodotypos scandens)

Jetbead is a mounding deciduous shrub growing 3-6’ tall and is native to Japan and central China. It was introduced into the US in 1866 as an ornamental and has become invasive from New England to Wisconsin, south to South Carolina and Alabama, where it creates a dense shrub layer in forested areas, displacing native vegetation. Jetbead is a member of the rose family, Rosaceaea, that also includes cherry, lady’s mantle, and pyracantha. The medium green leaves are bright green , have prominent veins, and densely cover the plant but have unremarkable fall color. The 2” wide 4-petaled white flowers appear in late spring and give way to glossy black fruits that persist into winter. The shrub has limited ornamental value but is easy to grow, tolerates full sun to full shade and a wide range of soil conditions, and can be sheared or heavily pruned. The generic name Rhodotypos comes from the Greek words rhodon meaning rose and typos meaning type. The specific epithet scandens comes from the Latin word scando meaning climb. [click to continue…]

Dictamnus albus 2Also called dittany and burning bush, gas plant is a herbaceous perennial with a woody base and is native to southwestern Europe and Asia where it lives in forests edges, fields, and meadows. It produces volatile oils that can be ignited on hot day giving rise to two of its common names. The glossy, light green pinnate leaves have nine to eleven leaflets that are finely toothed, covered with translucent dots, and give off a lemony smell when crushed. The lemony scent is not surprising since the plant belongs to the same family as lemons (Rutaceae) but the taste is acrid rather than sour. The fragrant flowers are one inch long and white, pink, or purple with long stamens that extend beyond the petals. They are carried in terminal racemes and appear in early summer. Plants grow best where nights are cool and form large clumps with time. They are very long lived but are difficult to propagate and resent being moved. The variety purpureus has soft mauve petals with darker veins is especially attractive. The spikes of flowers are striking in arrangements and last well in water and the star-shaped seed pods are attractive in dried arrangements. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Aquilegia glandulosa

Aquilegia glandulosa 4Siberian columbine is a herbaceous perennial native to central Asia and Siberia. It is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes delphinium, anemone, and monkshood. The compact plants have biternate blue-green basal leaves, with arrow leaflets. The nodding to semi-erect flowers appear in the spring and have spreading sepals and very short reflexed spurs. The flowers are bright blue,1 ¾ inches long and give way to small dull black seeds. Plants self-seed but also hybridize easily so seed may not breed true. The variety jacunda is a bit smaller in size and has white petals surrounded by blue sepals. At twelve inches high Siberian columbine is a good choice for the rock garden as well as the front of the border. It is also useful in woodland gardens with dappled shade. [click to continue…]

Loosing prized vegetables and fruits to a variety of wildlife can make gardening very frustrating and discouraging. Tammi Hartung’s book, The Wildlife-Friendly Gardener, presents an approach to gardening that emphasizes bringing beneficial wildlife into the garden ecosystem in order to live in harmony with nature by creating a relationship of beneficial co-existence. Hartung draws extensively from her many years of experience growing organic herbs on five acres in Canon City, Colorado, located about 45 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. [click to continue…]

Collecting Seed: Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

foxglovesThere are about twenty species of Digitalis and of those about four a good garden plants. One of these, common foxglove (D. purpurea), is the most popular and the one most people envision when foxgloves are mentioned. It is a tall biennial, four to five feet in height, and has two to three inch long flowers that are usually lavender with purple and white spots. Foxgloves are cross-pollinated by insects so only one variety should be planted at a time to maintain the purity of a strain if the seeds are going to be collected. Purple flowers are dominant to white and plants bearing them can be recognized before the flowers open by the purple streaks on the stems.  Most hybrids will not breed true the exception being the short lived perennial, strawberry foxglove (D. x mertonensis), a cross between D. purpurea and D. grandiflora.  It is 3-4 feet tall and has rose colored flowers.   Foxgloves like cool temperatures, some shade especially in hot climates, and fertile moist soil. [click to continue…]

Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana)

Wayfaring tree is a large deciduous shrub growing up to 15’ tall and wide and a member of the moschatel family, Adoxaceae, that also includes elders (Sambucus). It is native to open woodland and woodland edges in Europe to western Asia but has naturalized in the US and is considered invasive from Maine and Michigan, south to Maryland and Illinois. The bold dark green leaves are 2-5” long, elliptical to ovate, leathery, thick, and toothed, and have large white conspicuous veins on the underside. Flat-topped clusters of creamy white flowers 3-5” in diameter appear in spring and have a fishy odor. Fruits are green turning to red, red-orange or red-yellow by early late summer but often fail to appear. The plants are vigorous, tend to get leggy, and can become invasive. Several cultivars are available that vary in size and foliage color. The generic name, Viburnum, is the Latin name for the plant; the specific epithet, lantana, is a late Latin name for virburnums, plants with aromatic flower clusters. [click to continue…]

damselbug  2 Navis rugosusThere are over five hundred species of damsel bugs worldwide, forty of which are found in North America. They belong to the insect family Nabidae and the most common ones are in the genus Nabis. Damsel bugs (also called Nabids) are generalist predators and are found in many crops and gardens where they stalk and ambush their prey. They are 1/4 to 1/3 inch long and usually yellow to tan-colored although there are also black ones. Their legs are stilt-like and the front legs are slightly larger than the other legs to facilitate grasping their prey. Their narrow heads have large bulbous eyes, long antennae and a flexible, needle-like mouth part that is tucked under the head and body when not feeding. They have two pairs of functional wings and some species are excellent fliers. [click to continue…]

This autumn blooming perennial is a member of the Colchicaceae family and not related to spring blooming crocus that is in the iris family, Iridaceae. It is also called naked lady because the flowers bloom without leaves but this common name is also used for other plants. Colchicum autumnale is native to Great Britain and Ireland but has naturalized in Sweden, Denmark, European Russian, the Baltic States, and New Zealand. C. autumnale has lanceloate, glossy, bright green, leaves up to twelve inches long by one inch wide. They emerge in the spring but die down before the flowers emerge in the late summer to early fall. The white to purple flowers are two to three inches long and tubular at the base. They are carried on leafless stems six to ten inches long and quickly give way to many seeded capsules carried on stalks that elongate above the foliage as it emerges in spring. The genus name Colchicum is the Latinized form of Colchis, in the area of the Black Sea where this kind of plant is found. The specific epithet is the Latinized form of the season in which the flowers appear. [click to continue…]