SONY DSCThis middle of the border combination of white on white features a delicate white cloud of baby’s breath and the large, sturdy daisy-like flowers of white cone flower. Although the color is the same the contrast provided by the difference in texture and size makes the combinations eye-catching. The cone flower begins blooming before the baby’s breath makes its appearance and may continue after the baby’s breath finishes. Both plants like full sun and well-drained soil. [click to read full post]

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lemon-Meyers 2Meyer lemon is native to China where it is a popular patio and container plant. Brought to the United States in 1908 by Frank Meyer, it is believed to be a cross between a lemon and either a mandarin or common orange, and is commercially grown in Texas, Florida, and California. The plant can be either a shrub or small tree, is evergreen, and attractive all year long. It has glossy dark green leaves and fragrant white blossoms in spring. The fruit is rounder, sweeter, and less acidic and has a thinner skin than standard lemons. It is egg yoke yellow with a tinge of orange, and has dark yellow pulp with a complex citrus taste. Fruit production continues all year but is heaviest in the winter. Meyerii lemons make excellent patio or container plants and can be grown inside during the winter in cold climates if sufficient light is provided. The lemons are excellent for cooking. The originally trees brought to the United States were symptomless carriers of Citrus tristeza virus, a deadly disease that has destroyed Citrus crops all over the world but an “Improved Meyerii lemon” that does not carry the virus was released in 1975 by the University of California. [click to read full post]

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Tall buttercup is a perennial weed native to central and northeastern Europe and is now found in most of the United States where it is considered a noxious weed in Montana and Minnesota. It thrives in moist soil with full sun to part shade and can be found in a variety of habitats including wet lowlands, rich woodlands, moist pastures and meadows, and along roadsides. It invades lawns and flowerbeds where it looks beguilingly attractive in spring when it blooms. Also known as blister plant because it contains an oil that irritates and blisters the mouth of grazing animals but is usually avoided by them due to its unappealing taste. [click to read full post]

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Helicotrichon_sempervirens_Saphirsprudel blue oat grassA native of high elevations in Chile and Argentina, blue wheat grass is a cool season, clump forming perennial grass. Its metallic blue foliage is outstanding and may be the best blue of any grass. The leaves are 8-12 inches long and one to 1½ inches wide. The plant is evergreen in mild climates. Bluish green flowers emerge in early summer, mature to straw color, and are attractive in fresh and dried arrangements. Blue wheat grass makes a fine accent in a perennial border and goes well with most other colors. It is especially attractive when paired with purple flowering plants or those with bronze foliage. [click to read full post]

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Book Review: About Fish

by Karen on February 27, 2015

About Fish SillIf you are lucky enough to have a stream or pond on your property you might have fish that add to the life and interest of the place. Fish certainly attract the attention of young children and Cathryn Sill’s book, About Fish, is an excellent introduction to these aquatic beauties. Written for children from pre-school to grade 2, the book presents basic facts about fish and provides a look at the diversity of the group. [click to read full post]

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Blue Oat Grass and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ plant combinationFor a combination that last all through the growing season consider blue oat grass ‘Saphirsprudel’ and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’. The pair get going early in spring as new growth emerges. The blue-green color of the fleshy leaves of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ echo the color of the thin blades of blue oat grass ‘Saphirspurdel’ but contrast in shape and texture. As the season progresses Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ produces tiny green buds that slowly open to pink before turning brick red in the fall. The pink color and fuzzy texture of the flowers provide further contrast with blue oat grass ‘Saphirsprudel’. Winter interest is provided by the foliage of blue oat grass ‘Saphirsprudel’ and the flowerheads of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ that dry on the plants and persist. Grow in full sun and medium-moist, well-drained soil. [click to read full post]

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Thornless Roses

by Karen on February 24, 2015

Rosa_VeilchenblauRoses that lack thorns (actually, prickles) are rare but very desirable. They are especially good choices for areas where children play and along walkways and paths where people pass by. Pruning thornless roses takes on a whole new character as does flower arranging. Who really likes working with plants that grab at your clothes and claw you hands, arms, and legs? Some types of roses, like Polyanthas, have less thorns than most, and a small number of roses are almost thornless. An even smaller number are classified as thornless [click to read full post]

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Plant Profile: Caracalla Bean (Vigna caracalla)

by Karen on February 23, 2015

Vigna caracallaA native of South America, this tropical vine is also known a corkscrew vine, climbing shell vine, and snail vine. It is a tender perennial, tropical vine that climbs by twining. The flowers are fragrant, range in color from white to purplish pink and appear as early as spring but more commonly in late summer. They have the typical pea form with a hooked keel but are spirally twisted. The fruits are pods up to seven inches in length. The leaves have three leaflets and are about three inches long. Caracalla bean is very vigorous but must be given a support to climb. It can be controlled by cutting back or withholding water. In cold climates it is grown as house plant or brought inside for the winter. [click to read full post]

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1aThe coastal redwoods of Northern California inspire awe in those who have seen them because of their incredible height and size. What we see are tall wide trunks that soar into the sky with an evergreen canopy. Who thinks about what the canopy holds? Richard Preston for one and his book, The Wild Trees, explores the subject in a most enjoyable way.

The Wild Trees presents the story of a group of young people that climb coastal redwoods and explore their canopies. The book is non-fiction and can be enjoyed on two levels. One is the human interest aspect. Preston develops the stories of several climbers, Steve Sillet, a Reed College student from Pennsylvania, Marie Antoine, an Oregon State University student, and Michael Taylor, the son of a wealthy land developer. These three main characters share a love for the tall trees with each other and other people they encounter as they live out their dreams and agonies. The climbers develop new methods for climbing and share their joy as they explore the tree tops.

The second level of the book’s interest is the nature of the tree canopy itself. The young climbers find that the canopy forms a unique enclosure of sorts and has a thick layer of soil and is very rich in plant species including many different kinds of lichens, ferns, and mosses. As the climbers probe their leafy environment they realize how complex and different their environment is and we, as readers, gain from their experience.

The narrative style combined with the intimate view of a natural environment results in an informative and heartwarming book. The text is simple, yet personable, and is enhanced with a few drawings. Photographs of this fascinating and remarkable environment would greatly increase an understanding and appreciation of the coastal redwood canopies and the problems associated with visiting them.

To buy The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring from Amazon.com click here.

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Verbena canadensis ‘Homestead Purple’ & Frikart’s Aster combinationHere are two long blooming perennials that will bring color to the border throughout the summer. Verbena ‘Homestead Purple begins flowering in spring with its rich purple phlox-like flowerheads and is joined by the lavender-blue flowers of Frikart’s aster ‘Monch’ in mid-summer. The plants are vigorous and produce a profusion of flowers into fall. Plant Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’ at the feet of the taller Frikart’s aster ‘Monch’ in full sun and medium moist, very well-drained soil. [click to read full post]

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