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Book Review: Cultivating Chaos

cultivating-chaosDoes a meadow of  colorful flowers make your heart sing?  Does a forest  filled with ferns and spring ephemerals take your breath away? With help from the book, Cultivating Chaos, your yard can capture the beauty of these natural landscapes.  Authors Jonas Reif, Christian Kress and Jurgen Becker, provide inspiration and guidance for producing an eye-catching naturalistic garden with plants that self-seed. [click to continue…]

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Viola tricolor 2

Viola tricolor

These three members of the genus Viola are spring blooming plants known for their pretty five petaled flowers. The common violet (V. odorata) also known as sweet violet is a perennial native to Europe and Asia where it grows in forest edges but is widely grown in North America. It is four to six inches tall and and consists of a basal rosette of heart shaped leaves and very fragrant dark violet or white flowers. Johnny jump up (V. tricolor) also called hearsease and love-in-idleness, is sprawling biennial or short lived perennial native to Europe. It has small flowers about a half inch wide but is the ancestor of the large flowered hybrid pansies, V. x wittrockiana with three to three inch blossoms. [click to continue…]

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claytonia-perfoliata-minerslettuceMiner’s lettuce is a rosette-forming annual native to Western North America from British Columbia to California and Mexico where it grows is moist disturbed areas. It is a member of the Montiaceae family and known by several names including winter purslane. The dark green leaves are united into one circular leaf and are carried on petioles up to eight inches long. The tiny pink or white flowers have five petals and appear from late winter into spring in clusters of five to forty. The leaves are often eaten in salad or cooked and retain their flavor even when the plant flowers, but become bitter in hot weather. Plants readily self seed and are often grown as a ground cover in partially shaded sites. The generic name, Claytonia, comes from the name of the eighteenth century English botanist, John Clayton, who came to America and became known as the greatest American botanist of his time. The specific name, perfoliata, refers to the characteristic of the leaf embracing the stem. The common name,Miner’s lettuce, refers to the fact that the  California Gold Rush miners at the leaves as though they were lettuce. [click to continue…]

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Amaranthus spinosus plSpiny pigweed is an annual native to tropical America but has spread into the eastern US and California where it inhabits disturbed areas including cultivated fields, roadsides, and lawns. In nitrogen-rich soil the plants may concentrate nitrates in their leaves which can cause health problems if eaten. The stems, leaves, and seeds are edible and considered tasty; various parts of the plant have been used medicinally for the treatment of a variety of ills,and for green and yellow dye. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Eiryngium maritimum (Sea Holly)

eryngium-maritimumSea holly is an evergreen herbaceous perennial and a member of the carrot family (Apiaceae) that includes Queen Anne’ lace, dill, and parsley. It is a native to Europe where it grows on the sandy shores of the coast lines. The blue-green leaves are stiff and leather. They are two to four inches long and three lobed with large spiny teeth. The pale blue flower heads appear in the summer and are burr-like. They are surrounded by a few broad, silvery bracts. The roots are very long and plants resent being transplanted but are very drought tolerant once established. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: When Spring Comes

When Spring ComesWhen the leafless trees, gray skies, and cold temperatures make winter days seem bleak and endless, the prospect of spring is joyous even though the wait may be long. Kevin Henkes book, When Spring Comes, explores the transition from winter to spring in terms that little ones can understand. Appropriate for children ages three to five, the lyrical text is enhanced with brightly colored illustrations that capture the spirit of the season. [click to continue…]

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Vicroy openThe viceroy can be found through out most of the US, southern Canada and northern Mexico where it inhabits moist open or shrubby areas such as land around lakes, along streams, swamp edges, marshes, and wet meadows. The wings are 2.5-3.4 inches across and are orange with black veins and white spots along the edges. Viceroys resemble monarch butterflies but are smaller and have a black line curving across the veins of the hind wings. [click to continue…]

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amsonia-tabernaemontana-var-salicifoliaNative to eastern US from New Jersey to Florida and west to the Mississippi River , this herbaceous perennial is a member of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) that also includes perwinkle, oleander, and frangipani. It forms a clump of dark stems that bear medium green, laneolate, willow-like leaves that turn yellow in the fall. The five petaled starry flowers are ½” to ¾” across and carried in loose terminal panicles. They are light blue with white throats and appear from mid- spring to early summer.

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Six Best White Old Garden Roses

Rose Mme Alfred CarrierePicking the “best” roses is an objective process and in this case, the ratings of the American Roses Society have been used. Every year the American Rose Society enlists the help of people all over the country to evaluate the roses they grow. Each rose cultivar is evaluated on a number of characteristics including garden performance which considers such factors as vigor and growth habit, number of blooms, how quickly the plant repeats, the beauty and lasting quality of the blooms in the garden, fragrance, resistance to mildew, blackspot and rust, winter hardiness, and quality of the foliage. The results of this survey are published in an issue of American Rose and ratings are published in the ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses. [click to continue…]

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vinca-majorvariegataThis trailing perennial vine is native to the Mediterranean area where it grows in woodlands and hedgerows as well as on river banks. It is a member of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) that includes oleander but few other plants familiar to American gardeners. The dark green evergreen leaves are smooth, glossy, and l ½” long. The bright blue flowers with five petals appear in spring and are .75-1” across. Several cultivars are available providing white or pink flowers, and variegated foliage. The flexible, arching stems add a graceful line to arrangements or containers and the variegated form is especially valuable in winter when the cream markings of the leaves brighten mixed green arrangements. Perwinkle is a valuable ground cover for shady areas where it quickly fills in to form dense mats. [click to continue…]

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