-celosia-n-berberis-2Celosia thrives in the heat and humidity of a Southern summer and produce some beautiful combinations. One of my favorites is a crimson flowered celosia like ‘New Look’ with bronze purple tones in the leaves grown in front of ‘Crimson Pygmy’ barberry. By mid-summer the barberry leaves are many shades of crimson to purple and echo the color of both the flowers and leaves of the celosia. The barberry leaves are very small and contrast nicely with the coarse leaves of the celosia. The berry provides color from spring until late fall while the celosia adds its color echo during most of the summer. Both plants do well in full sun and average, moist, well-drained soil, although the celosia will appreciate regular applications of fertilizer to sustain flowering. [click to read full post]

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Lespedeza_bicolor bushBush clover is a loose deciduous medium sized shrub native to eastern Asia but introduced into the United States in the mid 1800′s as an ornamental. Later used for erosion control, revegetation of strip mined lands, and the improvement of wildlife habitats, it escaped cultivation and now has become invasive in parts of the Southeast. As an ornamental, bush clover offers dark green trifoliate leaves on gray to green stems and long arching sprays of five to fifteen small magenta-purple pea flowers. Bush clover is drought tolerant and grows well in infertile, medium dry well-drained soil and full sun to part shade, so is a good choice for difficult sites. Its roots fix nitrogen. In harsh climates it can be cut to the ground in late winter or early spring and will regrow to five feet tall in a single season. Two cultivars are available that are smaller and less invasive than the species. [click to read full post]

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Book Review: Seeing Trees

by Karen on July 18, 2014

Seeing TreesHave you ever considered being a tree watcher? People watch birds so why not trees? Nancy Ross Hugo’s book, Seeing Trees, will give you all the information needed to spark your interest in this fascinating activity. After reading it you will never see trees the same way again. Hugo introduces you to all sorts of intimate details about trees that you have probably never noticed but that will amaze and delight you. Hugo’s stated aim is to get people outdoors to look at the various parts of trees up close and observe the detailed features that make each kind of tree unique; her book does this in spades! [click to read full post]

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The aggressive behavior and painful sting of the red imported fire ant (RIFA) makes it an unwelcome guest in gardens, woods, and fields. In addition to the pain the RIFA can inflict on humans it causes considerable damage to crops as well as livestock and can bring about serious damage to electrical systems resulting in short circuits and fires. Once in an area the RIFA is almost impossible to eradicate but can be controlled. [click to read full post]

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Germander TeucriumThis broadleaf evergreen, creeping shrub is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Its attractive aromatic foliage forms a low mound of dark green oval leaves with scalloped margins on upright or creeping stems.The tubular flowers are two-lipped, pink to purple (occasionally white) and are produced in whorls in terminal clusters in summer. Wall germander take well to pruning and can be used as an edging or low hedge, in containers, or as a groundcover. It is popular in rock gardens, cottage gardens, and formal gardens and was common historically in herb and knot gardens. [click to read full post]

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Murraya paniculata orange jasmine flThis tropical evergreen tree or large shrub is native to southern China, India, and Indonesia. It is neither a citrus nor jasmine but is closely related to the former and has bright orange to red fruits and white jasmine-like flowers with a very strong fragrance similar to citrus trees. Only a few flowers in any cluster bloom at one time but they are quickly replaced by others as soon as they fade. The leaves are pinnately compound with each leaflet being small and creating a delicate look. The bark of young trees is pale and smooth reflected in another common name, satinwood tree, but forms ridges with maturity. Orange jasmine is best grown at a size of twenty inches or more because of the nature of the leaves but many styles are suitable; informal upright, slanting, semi-cascade, cascade, twin-trunk, clump, and group. [click to read full post]

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a name like ‘tree of heaven’ you might think that it could be a desirable resident of your garden, but keep in mind that it is also called “ghetto palm” and “tree of Hell”. In China, where it is endogenous, it’s common name translates to “stink tree”. The tree is not without some positive attributes but it also has its share of serious faults. It is an open deciduous tree with a few coarse branches and pinnately compound leaves up to 24” long. In June, inconspicuous male and female flowers are produced on different trees and the male flowers are foul smelling. Tree of Heaven is very adaptable and tolerates salt, pollution, drought, and heat. It grows very quickly and can reach a height of 100 feet but is usually only 60’ with equal spread. Old established trees can be attractive but the life span is short, about 50 years. The greatest problem with Tree of Heaven is that it can become invasive; its seed production is prodigious, suckering is common, and it resprouts after cutting. Because of its toughness and adaptability to urban conditions it was widely planted in the 1800s as a street tree and is useful in areas where little else will grow like roadsides and seasides. Beware, plants that are for sale are usually not identified as to gender and you will get either a male with stinking flowers, or a female with an abundance of seeds that may produce new trees all over your garden. [click to read full post]

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1aNo gardener likes moles but Lois Ehlert’s book, Mole’s Hill, might soften those negative feelings. Based on a folktale of the Seneca Indians, Mole’s Hill is set in the woodlands of Wisconsin and features animals and plants indigenous to the area. The story concerns the relationship between the animals as the face conflict of interest and is suitable for children from four to eight. [click to read full post]

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phlox white artemesia Powis CastleThe white flowers of the phlox are complemented by the silvery tones of the artemesia in this fragrant combo that is especially pretty in moon light. The fine texture of the artemesia gives a delicate, lacy look to the combination while the frilly appearance of the phlox’ flower heads introduce a romantic note. The rounded growth habit of ‘Powis Castle’ provides a nice contrast to the upward thrust of the flower-bearing phlox stems. By including three different phlox’ the bloom period can be extended through the summer. ‘Powis Castle’ will look good all season. Plants do best in sun and well-drained soil. [click to read full post]

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Cactus woolyOne of the most appealing cacti, Peruvian Old Lady comes from the subtropical mountain valleys of western Peru. In its natural habitat it slowly grows up to seven feet tall but raised in a pot it will reach about ten inches in ten years. Even at a very young age, the cactus displays an abundance of long wooly spines that cover and hide the body of the plant including sharp white, yellow or red spines of variable length from .2 – 1.5 inches long. As the cactus matures all the spines become darker. The stems are erect and columnar and branch at the base to form a clumps. Flowers are rare but are white, about two inches wide, and nocturnal. Berry-like fruits are produced with edible dull black seeds inside. Peruvian old lady is very sensitive to over-watering and likes completely dry conditions in winter. [click to read full post]

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