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Book Review: Embroidery from the Garden

Embroidery from the GArdenInspired by the flora of South Africa, Diane Lampe’s book Embroidery from the Garden presents forty eight embroidery designs suitable for using in many varied projects. Some of the flowers are unique to South Africa but others like Birds of Paradise, gladiolus, and calla lily, are popular around the world. Designs for a butterfly and two pots as well as directions for several projects are also included along with general embroidery instructions and an illustrated stitch glossary. [click to continue…]

Also called bittercress, herb barbara, rocketcress, winter rocket, and wound rocket, this herbaceous biennial belongs to the mustard family, Brassicaceae, that also includes broccoli, alyssum, and stock. It is native to moist open sites in Europe and North Africa but has naturalized in North America where it grows in disturbed sites such as croplands, pastures, fallow fields, gardens, vacant lots, waste areas, and along roadsides. The genus name, Barbarea, is a reference to St. Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen and miners because the plants were used to treat wounds caused by explosions. The specific epithet, vulgaris, is the Latin word meaning commonplace. [click to continue…]

Also known as cenizo, purple sage, Texas barometer bush, and silverleaf, this compact evergreen shrub is native to open canyons, arroyos, ditches, ravines, and hillsides in Texas and northern Mexico but is also a popular ornamental plant. It is a member of the figwort family, Scrophylariaceae, that also includes Verbascum, Diascia, and Nemesia. Silver stems carry silvery leaves that are covered with stellate hairs. The leaves are up to 1.25 inches long, and have rounded tips and smooth margins. The pink to violet or purple flowers are bell-shaped, one inch long and wide, and appear singly in the leaf axils. The flowering of the shrub is said to be triggered by rainfall (hence the common name, Texas barometer bush) and occurs intermittently from spring to fall. The fruit is a small capsule. Plants are very heat and drought tolerant and a good choice for hedges, screens, windbreaks, and shrub borders or foundation planting in dry hot environments. The generic name Lecophyllum comes from the Greek words leucos meaning white and phyllo meaning leaf, referring to the silvery appearance of the leaves. The specific epithet, frutescens, is the Latin word for shrub-like. [click to continue…]

Shakespeare’s Garden: Barnacles

Barnacle treeAccording to The Travels of Sir John Mandeville written in the fourteenth century, the barnacle tree, also called goose tree, bore a fruit that became flying birds. These trees were known in Shakspeare’s time and Gerard the English botanist and contemporary of Shakespeare notes that in the northern parts of Scotland and adjacent islands, there are trees that produce white to russet shells that contain living creatures. When the shells mature the creatures that fall into the water become geese while those that fall on land die. Gerard provides detailed descriptions of these trees found in different area of England. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Rose ‘Marie Daly’

Marie Daly3A sport of ‘Marie Pavie, “Marie Daly has long pointed buds that open to small medium pink flowers that fade to white. The compact rounded bushes have almost thornless stems that are densely covered with small, dark green, leaves. Designated as an Earth-Kind rose ,‘Marie Daly’ is a tough, low maintenance rose and an excellent choice for a low hedge or in a container. [click to continue…]

Six seasons, you ask? Yes, because when talking about fresh produce you have to consider that the summer must be divided into three parts, early, mid-and late, because of the abundance of different crops that roll in then. In his book , Six Seasons: a New Way with Vegetables, Joshua McFadden provides information and recipes for over thirty five different vegetables with the goal of encouraging and energizing cooks of all skill levels to enjoy seasonal, local food. The recipes highlight the uniqueness of vegetables at their peak and although some are not vegetarian they could be adapted to meet the needs of a vegetarian diet. [click to continue…]

Collecting Seed: Sunflowers (Helianthus spp)

Sunflower_music_boxThe large genus of Helianthus includes bth annualas and perennials but the most commonly grown is an annual, Helianthus annus. The plants are usually tall and bear very large showy flowerheads of yellow, orange or cream ray flowers surrounding a center of dark disc flowers that produce the seeds. A single flowerhead may produce a couple of thousand seeds, all tightly packed in the center. Sunflowers are cross-pollinated by insects so only one variety should be grown at a time if pure strains are wanted for seed collection. Alternatively, different varieties can be planted 1000 feet apart. Even with these precautions insects may cross your sunflowers with wild sunflowers. Hybrids and cultivars will not breed true. [click to continue…]

Buttonbush, also called honey-bells and button-willow, is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to wetlands such as swamps, marshes, riverbanks, and floodplains from New Brunswick and Minnesota south to Florida and Mexico, west to California. It is member of the madder family, Rubiaceae that also includes coffee, gardenia, and Pentas. The The glossy oval leaves are up to six inches long, and emerge late in the spring. The tiny white flowers are tubular, five-lobed, and sweet-smelling. They appear in spherical dense clusters up to 1.5” in diameter in early to midsummer and have long styles that give them a fuzzy appearance. Butterflies, bees , and hummingbirds are attracted to the nectar. The fruit is a spherical hard cluster of nutlets that are attractive to birds.Wood ducks use the plant for nests and deer browse the foliage. Plants are adaptable to a variety of soil conditions except dryness . It can tolerate flooding and can even be used in standing water so is a good choice for wet areas and pond margins as well as shrub borders and woodland gardens. The generic name Cephalanthus comes from the Greek words cephalo meaning head, and anthos meaning flower. The specific epithet occidentalis is the Latin word meaning western.

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Eryngium-giganteum-Giant sea holly is a short lived herbaceous perennial often considered a biennial, and is native to the Caucasus and Iran. The first year it produces a basal rosette of spineless heart-shaped gray-green leaves that is followed in the second year by a flowering stem up to six feet tall with spiny leaves. In summer the small blue gray flowers are carried in closely packed cone-shaped umbels three to four inches long and subtended by eight or nine rigid, toothed silvery bracts. This is large plant and a good choice for the back of the border in a place protected from wind. Although it is short lived it usually self seeds. The flower heads add both texture and form to arrangements and are especially beautiful with gray and pink plant material. They can also be preserved for use in winter bouquets. [click to continue…]

Also called wolfsbane and helmet flower, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes columbine, hellebore, and delphinium. It is native and endemic to western and central Europe where it grows in moist areas of pastures and mountains. Growing two to four feet tall from a tuberous taproot the plant has hairless dark green leaves two to four inches across that are so divided that they appear linear. The indigo blue to dark purple flowers are up to an inch long and appear in summer in terminal racemes up to eight inches long. They have an upper sepal that develops into a large helmet that resembles the hood of medieval monks, leading to the common name of monkshood and helmet flower. Plants grow best where nights are cool. A pink flowered cultivar, ‘Caeneum’ is available but fades where evenings are warm. All parts of the plant are poisonous and the common name, wolfsbane, comes from the use of the plant to produce a poison to kill wolves. The derivation of the generic name, Aconitum, is disputed but may come from a Greek word that refers to the invincibility of its poison. The specific epithet, napellus, is the diminutive of the Latin word, napus, turnip and refers to the appearance of the root system. [click to continue…]