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Book Review: Seasonal Flower Arranging

If you feel that the flower bouquets  from supermarkets or FTD are repetitious and boring you might find Ariella Chezar’s book, Seasonal Flower Arranging, a welcome surprise.  With a commitment to the farm to vase movement, Chezar makes use of local plant material to make floral creations that reflect the essence of the season that produces them.  As a professional floral designer the author uses blooms along with branches and foliage to create her distinctive designs in the tradition of English maven Constance Spry and shares detailed instructions for creating 39 of her floral works of art. [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. [click to continue…]

Also known as cutleaf daisy and trifid mountain fleabane, this herbaceous rhizomatous perennial is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisy, sunflower and lettuce.  It is an Arctic and alpine species found in western US from the Pacific Coast to the Dakotas, Colorado, and New Mexico where they grow on cliffs rocky slopes and talus, as well as in woodland edges, meadows and plains.  Plants have a stout taproot and spread by rhizomes to form small clumps.  They grow up to 10″ tall and have thick unbranched green or red hairy stems bearing a clump of hairy 2″ long leaves that are finely divided  into linear lobes. In summer, flowerheads are carried singly on almost leafless stems and consist of 20-60 white, pink or blue ray flowers around a center of several dozen yellow disc flowers. Two or three rows of green or purple bracts covered with white hairs surround each flowerhead. A good choice for a rock, alpine , or native plant garden.  The genus name, Erigeron, comes from the Greek words eri meaning early and geron, meaning old man, referring to the early appearance of the type species and the hairiness of the plant parts that suggest the beard of an old man.  The specific epithet, compositus, is the Latin word for compound, and refers to the divided nature of the leaves. [click to continue…]

goldenrod-mum combinationMid-summer into fall can be a difficult time in the garden but not with this combination. Although most mums bloom in the fall, ‘Clara Curtis’ begins its show early and continues up until October. Its flowers have salmon pink petals surrounding a fuzzy yellow disc that is echoed by the bight yellow wands of the fuzzy goldenrod flowers as fall arrives. The combination lasts well into fall filling the garden with color and attracting butterflies. Both plants prefer full sun and average, well-drained soil. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Chilean Avens (Geum quellyon)

Also known as scarlet avens, double bloody Mary, and Grecian rose, this evergreen to semi-evergreen herbaceous perennial is native to central Chile. It is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes apple, almond and lady’s mantle. Growing from thick rhizomes, plants produce a rosette of hairy, pinnately divided, coarsely toothed leaves 6-12” long with the terminal leaflet up to twice the length as the laterals. The single or double scarlet flowers are 1-1.5” wide and are carried in loose panicles on wiry stalks well above the foliage in late spring and early summer. Flowers give way to fluffy seedheads. Plants do not tolerate high temperatures or humidity, or dryness in winter and are short lived even under good conditions. Many cultivars are available that vary most significantly in color and number of petals, from single to double. ‘Mrs. Bradshaw is in old cultivar with semidouble scarlet flowers. [click to continue…]

Book Review: Container Gardeners Handbook

If you like plants you will probably need or want at least a few containers filled with plants no matter where you live. Francis Tophill’s book, Container Gardener’s Handbook presents a good introduction to container gardening plus 41 projects to enhance any area from a windowsill to a full sized garden. [click to continue…]

Also called whiskey grass, broomsedge is bunch grass native to southeastern US but has expanded its native range and can be found in the Midwest, Northeast, California and Hawaii.  The common name, broomsedge, is misleading as the plant is not a sedge but a true grass and member of the Poaceae family that also includes bamboo, rice, and corn.  Broomsedge grows well on infertile  moderately moist soil in full sun and  can be found in abandon sites and waste areas.  It inhibits the growth of other plants by producing persistent herbicidal chemicals as it decomposes. [click to continue…]

Also called doubtful knight’s spur, rocket larkspur, this herbaceous cool weather annual is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes anemone, hellebore, and columbine.   It is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean area and is grown as commercially as a popular cut flower in the US.  Plants grow up to 4 ‘ tall and have deeply divided palmate leaves and racemes of spurred flowers, usually blue, sometimes pink or white.  Flowers appear in late spring and bloom well into summer in cool climates. Larkspur is very easy to grow and reseeds itself readily.   Most of the larkspur grown in gardens to day are hybrids and many good cultivars are available that differ in color and plant size.  The genus name ,Consolida, comes from the Latin word consolor,  meaning comfort or alleviate, and refers to the use of the plant to heal wounds.  The specific epithet, ajacis, honors the Greek hero of the Trojan War, Ajax. Plants are considered poisonous.

Type: Herbaceous annual

Bloom: Racemes of blue, white, or pink flowers in late spring

Size: 2-4′ H x 1.1.5 W

Light:Full sun

Soil:Moderately fertile, consistently moist, well-drained

Hardiness: N/A

Care:Deadhead to prolong bloom time.

Pests and Diseases: Powdery mildew, fusarium , especially when stress by wet soil or heat

Propagation:Seed (sow in fall in warm climates)

Companion Plants: Opium poppies, blue flax, bachelor’s button

Outstanding Selections: 

‘Carmine King’ (3-4′ tall; carmine-rose)

“Cloudy Skies’ (3′ tall; blue, purple, white, silver flowers)

‘Imperial’ (4′ tall; purple, blue, pink, white flowers)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia




 Also known as swine’s snout, Irish daisy, puffball, and peasant’s cloak, dandelion is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisy, yarrow, and lettuce.  It is native to Europe and Asia but has naturalized throughout the temperate regions of the world including North America and now can be found growing in  disturbed soils in all 50 states.  The plants grow 6-12″ tall  from a long, milky unbranched taproot that is white on the inside and dark brown on the outside.  The 2-12″ long dark green leaves have jagged  or lobed margins and form ground hugging rosettes that send up 1-10 solitary golden-yellow flower heads 1 1/2- 2″ wide on smooth hallow stems  2-26″ tall beginning in late spring.  The flower heads are composed of 40-100 ray flowers that give way to puffy round seed heads containing up to 200 dry, one seeded fruits (achenes).  Plants are hardy in zones 1-13 grow well in full  sun to part shade and almost any moderately moist soil and are generally considered to be weeds. The common name, dandelion, comes from the Medieval Latin name for the plant , dens lionis, dens meaning tooth and lionis meaning of the lion , and refers to the jagged edges of the leaves.  The genus name Taraxacum may come from the Arab word Tharakh chakon meaning bitter herb, or from the Greek word taraxis meaning trouble.  The specific epithet, officinale, is the Latin word meaning of shops, and is given to plants that have a real or imagined medicinal value. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

Also known as the bluebell of Scotland, harebell is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial and a member of the Campanulaceae family that also includes ladybell (Adenophora), balloon flower, and Lobelia.  It is almost circumboreal in distribution and found in many of the cooler regions of North America and Europe where it grows in dry, nutrient-poor grasslands , savannahs, prairies, and heaths, often in rock crevices, cliff faces, and dunes.  Plants form a basal rosette of 1″ wide rounded toothed leaves  on long petioles but these leaves often disappear before the flowers bloom.  Several unbranched wiry flowering stems arise from each rosette bearing 2-3″ long  grass-like leaves and carrying  terminal flowers singly or in clusters throughout the summer.  The  bell-shaped  flowers are nodding, blue, and 1/2 to 1″ wide.     Harebell does best in cool climates and is a good choice for a rock garden or edges of a woodland garden. The genus name, Campanula, comes from the late Latin word, compana, meaning bell and refers to the form of the flowers.  The specific epithet, rotundifolia, comes from the Latin words rotundatus, meaning round, and folia meaning leaf, and refers to the shape of the leaves.


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