Book Review: Ten Little Caterpillars

by Karen on April 24, 2015

1aCaterpillars are not everybody’s favorite critter but they are fascinating animals. Bill Martin Jr.’s book, Ten little Caterpillars, presents a peek into the lives of ten caterpillars in a beautiful and captivating way that is sure to make young readers enjoy and appreciate these denizens of the garden. Written for children from age two and older, the rhythmic, rhyming text has special appeal for younger readers, while the information presented in the text will appeal to older ones. [click to read full post]

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Podocarpus macrophyllusAlso known as Buddhist pine, southern yew is neither a yew nor a pine. It is native to Japan and China where it is a popular landscape tree especially in temple areas. The tree is an evergreen conifer and has broad dark green yew-like needles that grow in dense spirals. Fleshy, berry like cones ripen to bluish-green to purple-red. The cultivar ‘Maki’, a native of China, is slower growing than the species, and has a dense, upright habit, and shorter leaves, making it a desirable subject for bonsai. It is suitable for many styles; formal upright, informal upright, slanting, cascade, semi-cascade, literate, rock-over-root, clasped-to-rock, twin-trunk, clump, group, and saikei. The upright and cascade styles are most popular. [click to read full post]

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Heterotheca villosa 'Mound San Bruno' crHairy goldaster, is a herbaceous perennial native to North America from Canada to southern California, east to Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. It grows in open sunny dry sites forming clumps covered from summer to fall with daisy-like flower heads 1-1 1/2” inches across that are attractive to butterflies and bees. The flower heads are borne at the tips of the stems and are composed of golden yellow ray and disc flowers that produce different seeds, a unique characteristic that gave the plant its genus name, Heterotheca (hetero= different, theca=case). The gray-green leaves are narrow, alternate, entire, and one to two inches long. Both the leaves and stems are hairy, hence the specific name villosa. Hairy goldaster is variable and at least nine varieties have been distinguished. It is drought tolerant once established and is an excellent choice for naturalistic plantings. A former genus name, Chrysopsis (chysos=golden, opsis=bearing) refered to the color of the flower heads. [click to read full post]

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A native of Europe, annual bluegrass is widespread in the United States occurring in all states including Alaska and Hawaii In mild climates it grows from fall to spring and dies in early summer but in cold climates it is a summer annual. Some biotypes of annual bluegrass, however, are actually perennial. Annual bluegrass likes moist, rich soil in full sun or partial shade and is a particular problem in lawns where its flowerheads make the lawn look unkempt and unattractive. It also finds its way into flower beds and vegetable gardens where it can be a nuisance. [click to read full post]

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlso known as ‘Cuisse de Nymphe Emue’, this old alba rose has pale pink petals that fade to white on the edges. The cupped flowers are borne singly or in clusters of five or less and open flat. They are followed by long orange hips. The tall, slender plants have blue-green leaves and are almost thornless. Generally disease resistant, Great Maiden’s Blush is susceptible to rust. [click to read full post]

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Book Review: Attracting Native Pollinators

by Karen on April 17, 2015

Attracting native pollinatorsAs gardeners we appreciate the value of pollinators. Without them we would not have many of the flowers, vegetables, and fruits that we enjoy in our gardens and on our tables. In fact, about seventy five percent of flowering plants depend on pollinators in order to produce seed or fruit so it behooves all gardeners to ensure that pollinators are protected and encouraged. The Xerces Society’s book, Attracting Native Pollinators, it a giant step forward in the identification, understanding, and protection of pollinators. [click to read full post]

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tulip-common bleeding heart combinationWhat could be more romantic that pale pink tulips growing beside the dainty flowers of bleeding heart? A color echo is created by the soft pink of the tulip and the rosey pink of the bleeding heart. Contrast is provided by the difference in size and shape of the flowers and the texture and color of the foliage. Use this combination in a shady spot with fertile, moist but well-drained soil where the bleeding heart with come back year after year; the tulips, however, will have to be planted each fall for the best effect. [click to read full post]

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1aA native of North America, twinleaf is found in damp woods on limestone soil from Ontario, Canada, south to Georgia and Alabama, and northwest to Iowa and Minnesota. It is an uncommon plant and considered endangered in New Jersey and Georgia, and threatened in New York and Iowa. In spring rhizomes send up four to eight purplish leaves that gradually turn bluish green. Each leaf is deeply divided into two lobes so that it looks like two separate leaves and resembles a butterfly. The leaves grow to be six to seven inches long and may have wavy margins. The white flowers are borne on leafless stems eight inches tall and usually have eight delicate petals that fall with the slightest disturbance. The flowers are rarely visited by insects and usually self pollinate. The fruit is a capsule with a lid that pops off to release the seeds during the summer when mature. The seeds are shiny and contain fat bodies that are attractive to ants that aid in seed dissemination. Plants form attractive clumps and do especially well under deciduous trees where they get sun in the spring but are shaded in summer. Twinleaf may be confused with bloodroot which has similar flowers but can be distinguished by the unique two lobed leaves that give it is common name. [click to read full post]

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Vireo_olivaceus_Red eyed Wikimedia commonsThe vireos are a group of small to medium sized birds with dull gray to greenish plumage that allows them to blend in with the foliage they inhabit. They are easy to attract to a backyard but difficult to observe once they arrive because of both their camouflage and the fact that they dart around so quickly. They inhabit deciduous trees and shrubs where they feed mostly on insects with a side of fruit. Vireos migrate south in the fall and return in the spring following the rise and fall of the insect population, so don’t be disappointed if they are not around in winter. [click to read full post]

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Achillea ptarmica The Pesarl 2 A native of Europe and western Asia, sneezewort is a rhizomaceous perennial that spreads and naturalizes if the soil is good. The dark green leaves are finely toothed, linear to lance-shaped, and lack a petiole. The small white flowers are borne in loose clusters from during the summer. Although the species is not a desirable garden plant there are several good cultivars available that vary in the color and fullness of the flowers, height, and bloom time. Even plants that have double flowers, however, can produce up to thirty percent single flowers depending on the variety and climatic conditions. Cultivars are useful in borders, natural areas, and cutting gardens. The flowers are said to cause sneezing and the dried roots and leaves have been used as an inexpensive substitute for snuff hence the common name, sneezewort. [click to read full post]

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