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Book Review: Gardening with Less Water

Gardening with Less waterA lack of water is becoming more and more of a problem throughout the world driving up the cost of water and food. David A. Bainbridge’s book, Gardening with Less Water addresses the problem by presenting a super-efficient irrigation system that promises to increase production with less water while minimizing the time required to irrigate and weed the garden. Using lessons from the past Bainbridge has developed a system that is both low tech and low cost and can be used for any size garden from farms to containers. [click to continue…]

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Chinese hibiscus is a tropical evergreen shrub or small tree belonging to the mallow family (Malvaeceae) hibiscus bushalong with hollyhock, cotton, okra, and cacao. It is a popular landscape plant in warm climates but is planted in pots and brought indoors for the winter in cool areas. The large shiny dark green leaves and brightly colored flowers three to eight inches across lend a tropical look to any garden. The flowers are abundantly produced all through the year in warm climates but each flower only lasts a few days. Hummingbirds and butterflies love them! [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Sea Kale (Cambe maritima)

Crambe_Maritima_sea kaleSea kale is herbaceous perennial and a member of the mustard/cabbage family ( Brassicaceae). It is native to Europe and was harvested from beaches in the UK for its shoots that were lightly b oiled and served with lemon butter, béchamel, or hollandaise sauce. The height of its popularity was in the early nineteenth century but has declined since then and is now grown for its attractive leaves and flowers. The thick blue green leaves are cabbage-like, up to two feet long, and have wavy margins. They form a large spreading mound that is covered with dense flat racemes of small, white, four-petaled, fragrant, cruciform flowers ½” wide during the summer. The seed pods that follow are ¼ inch wide, spherical, and contain one seed. Plants tolerate some drought and salty soil above the high tide line.

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Narcissus for Shady Sites

narcissus-professor-einstein gpDaffodils do not like shade. They may bloom well the first year but if they do not have sufficient sun they can not store enough energy to keep on producing their beautiful flowers and they will slowly die out. Most daffodils do best in full sun but some daffodils can limp by with light or part shade (two to four hours of shade). Here are five that are known for their relative shade tolerance. If they do not do well in your site, consider replanting narcissus bulbs every year. [click to continue…]

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Codonopsis_clematidaeBonnet bellflower is a herbaceous perennial climber in the bellflower family (Campanulaceae) and native to eastern and central Asia. It has brittle slender stems and pale gray-green leaves that are narrow, pointed, and foul smelling when touched. The pale ice- blue flowers appear in summer and are nodding and 1 long by ½ inch wide. Inside they have exquisite markings in golden yellow, blue, purple, and black. The fleshy tuberous roots resent being disturbed. Plants should be sited so that the delicacy and inside markings of the flowers can be appreciated but the leaves can not be touched. They grow best through shrubs.

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Book Review: The Joy of Pickling

Joy of PicklingIf you have a vegetable garden you are bound to have more produce than you can eat at times so pickling it might be of interest. Linda Ziedrich’s book, The Joy of Pickling, provides all the information you need to turn your abundance into tasty treats that can be enjoyed long after the garden seasoning ends. From a variety of dill pickles and sauerkrauts to pickled walnuts and rhubarb chutney, the book provides so many ideas for pickling that you may find yourself getting hooked. [click to continue…]

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canna-coleus combinationYou don’t have to wait until fall to wallow in the luscious black and copper colored combination. The tall canna ‘Australia’ provides deep burgundy black leaves that contrast with its red flowers while the coleus ‘Rustic Orange’ at its feet create an echo of the canna’s flowers with its foliage. Even before the canna blooms its foliage provides a good contrast with the coleus for long season interest. Both plants grow well in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. [click to continue…]

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Corunocarpus laevigata lv frAlso known as karaka, this narrow upright evergreen tree grows in coastal and lowland forests of New Zealand. It a shrubby habit with erect or spreading branches. The large leathery oblong leaves are shiny , dark green, and 6-8 inches long by 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches wide. In spring, tiny greenish to off white flowers are produced in erect panicles. The fleshy fruits that follow in late summer are ½ to 1 ½ inches long and yellow to orange in colored when mature. The pulp is edible but the single seed is very poisonous. The generic name, Corynocarpus, comes from Greek words korne meaning club and carpos meaning fruit and refers to the shape of the fruit. The specific epithet, laevigatus, comes from the Latin word meaning smooth and refers to the leaves. The plant is a good choice for a hedge, screen, or espalier, and its foliage is excellent in flower arrangements.

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aconitum-lycoctonumA native of southern Europe, this herbaceous perennial grows in mountain woods and meadows, often near streams, in moist peaty soils. Although there is a purple flowered variety, the primrose yellow variety adds another color to the palette of tall plants available o gardeners and flower arrangers. The yellow to lime green flowers are carried on spikes over deeply lobed, dark green foliage. Like other aconites, the flowers parts are tucked under an enlarged sepal which resembles a hood and gives the whole genus the common name of monkshood. The roots were commonly used as a poison for wolves, giving rise to another common name, wolfsbane and to the specific epithet, lycoctonum from the Greek lykos meaning wolf, and ktonos meaning murder. Unfortunately the flowering period in late summer is short and the plant needs staking. Both flowers and seed heads are attractive in flower arrangements and a few stems in a summer bouquet of white and yellow flowers is enticing. Like other species in this genus, all parts of the plant are poisonous.

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Plant Profile Kaffir Lily (Clivia miniata)

Clivia-miniata1-800x600Also known as Natal lily, fire lily, and bush lily, Clivia is a clump forming herbaceous perennial belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family. It is native to South Africa and Swaziland where it grows in the dappled shade of evergreen forests. Fleshy rhizomes produce shiny, dark green, strap-shaped leaves two to three feet long and up to three inches wide that are very attractive and add considerable texture to the garden. Flower heads are carried on thick stems and are umbels composed of fifteen to twenty yellow, orange, or red trumpet shaped flowers that are long lasting on the plant and good in the vase. Decorative red berries follow the flowers but should be removed before they form as their development will inhibit flowering the following year. Since clivia is hardy only to USDA zone 9-10, but likes dry air and low light levels, it is often grown as a houseplant prized for its flowers in winter and early spring. Flowering is best when the plant is pot bound but must be divided every three to four years in late winter or early spring. When dividing, take care to untangle the roots carefully as they resent being disturbed. [click to continue…]

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