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Book Review: Raised Bed Gardening

There is nothing new about growing plant in raised beds but Simon Akeroyd’s book, Raised Bed Gardening, takes a fresh look at the subject and brings together ideas from many sources.  Whether you want a flower garden, vegetable garden, or lawn, Akeroyd shows you how you can do it with one of 15 kinds of raised bed. He also includes raised bed gardens for rooftops, with ponds, and as a mini orchard. [click to continue…]

Shrub is a term that can be applied to two different types of drinks  The first goes back to 17th century England and refers to a combination of citrus juice and either rum or brandy while the other goes back to American colonial times and refers to a drink containing vinegar.  My paternal grandmother, Helen S. Wright includes two recipe for the English style shrub in her book, Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines, but does not mention the American colonial style. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Mountain Avens (Geum montana)

Mountain avens is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes cherry, almond, and lady’s mantle. It is native to the Pyrenees, Alps, Corsica and Carpathians eastward to western Russia and southwest Greece, where it grows in sub alpine meadows.   Growing from a creeping rhizome, plants are 9-12” tall and produce a rosette of 4” long leaves that are densely pubescent. The flowering stems bear 1-3 golden yellow cup-shaped –flowers that have five petals and are 1’ across.   The flowers are held well above the foliage and give way to feathery seed heads. Plants do best in cooler climates and struggle in the South. The genus name, Geum, is the classical Latin name for the plant. The specific epithet, montanum, comes from the Latin word mons meaning mountain, and refers to the natural habitat of the plant. [click to continue…]

Variegated Yucca and Honeysuckle plant combinationYear round color is supplied by this gold drenched duo. Both are evergreen and but have leaves that contrast in texture, form, and size. While the leaves of Yucca ‘Golden Sword’ are long and slender, those of honeysuckle ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ are small and dainty. With arching branches, honeysuckle ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ produces a mound in the border while Yucca ‘Golden Sword’ echoes the mounding habit with the gentle bend of some of its leaves. In mid summer, Yucca ‘Golden Sword’ sends up a 6’ stalk with cream colored flowers, adding height to the garden. Both plants grow well in full sun and medium moist, well-drained soil. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Rosa ‘White Pet’

Also known as “Little White Pet’ this Polyantha rose has large upright clusters of pink flushed buds that open to small very double white flowers with a cupped to flat bloom form and delicate fragrance. Bushes are very floriferous and bloom in flushes throughout the season but are slow to drop petals so can become tiered looking. They are small, dense, heat and shade tolerant, and grow well in containers. ‘White Pet’ is a sport of the climbing rose, ‘Felicite et Perpetue’ but has slightly smaller flowers. [click to continue…]

Book Review: Opiod Abuse

Written for teens and young adults, Opioid Abuse, introduces readers to the opioid epidemic by considering four major issues involved:  the effectiveness of opioids to treat chronic pain, the cause of the opioid epidemic, the efficacy of prescription regulation to deter their use, and the use of medical marijuana as an alternative.  The book is part of the Thinking Critically series from Reference Point Press that introduces students to current complex issues with the aim of teaching them to become discerning readers, to think independently, and to develop and use critical thinking skills. [click to continue…]

Also known as waxberry, this deciduous flowering shrub is a member of the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, that also includes weigelia, scabiosa, and abelia.  It is native to North America where it grows in dry, open woods from Alaska and the Northwest Territories south to California and Colorado, and east to Virginia.  Plants are valuable for control of soil erosion and wildlife management as they provide food and cover for birds and small mammals, and browse for livestock and large mammals. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Rue (Ruta graveolens)

Also called herb of grace, rue is an evergreen mounding subshrub and a member of the Rutaceae family that also includes oranges, limes, and skimmia.   It is native to the Balkan Peninsula where it grows on dry hillsides, often on limestone. Growing up to 3’ tall, the plant has a woody base and blue-green pinnately compound leaves 3-5” long with oblong to spatulate leaftlets. The leaflets are fleshy, dotted with glands, and are very aromatic when crushed.   The dull yellow flowers have 4-5 petals, are ¾” across, and appear in flattened corymbs in early summer. Plants are usually grown for the attractive foliage and are popular in herb and rose gardens. Historically used as a medicinal herb, the problems associated with its use have led to its cultivation as an ornamental instead. The leaves are toxic if ingested and can photosensitize the skin causing watery blisters on sensitive individuals. The genus name, Ruta, may be related to the Greek word reuo meaning to set free and refers to the healing power of the plant.   The specific epithet, gravolens,   probably is related to the Latin word gravis meaning heavy, and refers to the scent. [click to continue…]

Genus Pigsqueak (Bergenia) for the Garden

Bergenia is genus of semi-evergreen herbaceous perennials and belong to the saxifrage family, Saxifragaceae, that also includes Astilbe, Heuchera, Tiarella, and Rodgersia.  It is native to central Asia but is a popular garden plant because of  its attractive foliage and flowers. Plants have a rhizomatous root stock and form clumps of bold,  paddle or oar shaped leathery leaves that turn red or bronze in the fall where the climate is cool.  Waxy pink  cone-shaped flowers 1.4″  to 1/2″ across appear in spring in dense upright clusters 5-6″ tall.  The common name pigsqueak comes from the sound made when two leaves are rubbed together.  The genus name, Bergenia, honors Karl August von Bergen, 18th century professor at Frankfurt an der Oder. [click to continue…]

Japanese wisteria is a deciduous flowering vine native to Japan and a member of the pea family, Fabaceae, that also includes lupines, mimosa, and black locust.  The vine grows up to 35’ or more and climbs by twining clock-wise.  It can be grown as a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree or on an arbor or wall.  The bright green leaves are 12-16” long and pinnately compound with 9-19 leaflets ¾” to 2.4” long. In early to mid spring, pendent racemes of flowers  1.5’-3’ long appear.  The pea-like flowers are fragrant and may be blue, violet, pink, or white.  They  give way to brown velvety  6” long seed pods that mature in summer and may persist into winter.  Japanese wisteria has longer racemes than any other wisteria and is admired for its spectacular appearance when in full flower.  It is a vigorous vine and can damage the structures that hold it and/or become invasive.  Along with Chinese wisteria, Wisteria senensis, Japanese wisteria  is a popular subject for bonsai.  The genus name, Wisteria honors Caspar Wistar, an 18th century professor anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania.  The specific epithet, floribunda, is the new Latin word meaning producing many flowers. [click to continue…]