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nepeta faassenii & pink evening primrose combinationFor a lovely contrast in color and texture, Nepeta ‘Walkers’ Low’ and pink evening primrose are a great choice for a late spring to early summer border. Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ produces masses of small lavender flowers on arching stems in late spring as pink evening primrose begins to pump out its profusion of flowers. The flowers of pink evening primrose are white at first and turn rosy pink as they mature. They are smooth and satiny so provide a pleasing contrast to the fine textured flowering stalks of Nepeta ‘Walkers’ Low’. The small gray green leaves of Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ helps to blend the colors of both plants. Plant in full sun and average, well-drained soil. [click to continue…]

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Hepatica-acutiloba-fl-Sharp-lobed hepatica, also called heart liverleaf, is a herbaceous perennial in the buttercup family (Ranunculaeae) and is native to eastern US where it is found in moist shady woodlands. Although plants are very small, they can form a substantial carpet when once established. The leathery heart-shaped leaves are two inches long and wide with a hairy lower surface. They have three pointed lobes and are carried on hairy stems four to six inches high. Although they are dark green and often mottled in spring they turn russet to purple in the fall and persist through the winter. The cup-shaped flowers appear singularly on upright stems before the new leaves in very early spring and are white, lavender-blue or pale pink. Lacking petals, they are up to ½-1 inch across and consist of showy bracts surrounding delicate sepals and a center of yellow stamens. Flowers can last for up to two months. A beautiful selection for a woodland garden where they will get sun all winter but shade during the hot part of the year. [click to continue…]

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Soapworts for the Garden (Saponaria spp)

Saponaria ocymoidesSaponaria is a genus of annuals and perennials in the pink family, Caryophyllaceae, native to Europe and Asia. Of the thirty to forty species in the genus, three perennials are considered suitable for the garden. The genus name Saponaria comes from the Latin sapo meaning soap plus the suffix –alis, meaning pertaining to sap. The leaves and roots of Saponaria officinalis, bouncing bet, contain saponin that produces a lather when boiled in water. The soap is a very gentle and is said to be useful for cleaning kid gloves.

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Phlox_stolonifera_Creeping phlox is an herbaceous perennial native to southeastern US where it grows in the woodlands and moist areas of the Appalachian Mountains. It forms large mats of low growing evergreen foliage that are topped by loose six inch wide clusters of blue, lavender, white or pink flowers in spring. The flowers are fragrant and have rounded unnotched petals around a yellow center. They are about an inch across and are carried on stems six to twelve inches tall. The flowers are an important source of nectar for hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies. The deep green leaves are ovate to round and differ in size with the ones on the creeping sterile stems measuring 1.2-1.8 inches long and those of the erect flowering stem measuring .72 inches. Creeping phlox is an excellent choice for a woodland garden and can be used as a groundcover. If it likes the site it well readily self-sow.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Loose clusters of lilac, purple, pink, white or blue flowers with yellow centers in spring

Size: Mat of foliage 3” H; flowering stems 6-8” H

Light: Part shade; tolerates more sun if moisture available.

Soil: Humusy, evenly moist, well-drained, slightly acidic, but tolerates less

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Care: Remove flowering stems after blooming

Pests and Diseases: Powdery mildew, spider mites, slugs

Propagation: Basal cuttings in spring, root cuttings in early autumn or winter, seed

Companion Plants: Spring blooming woodland plants such as Aquilegia Canadensis, Tiarella cordifolia, Trillium luteum, Trillium flexipes, Sanguinaria Canadensis, ferns

Outstanding Selections:
‘Bruce’s White’
‘Chattahoochee’ (sky blue)

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Outdoor Decorating and Style GuideMost gardeners look forward to getting outside and enjoying the sunshine, fresh air, and the natural environment. “Outside” may mean a balcony, porch, terrace, or garden but wherever it is, it can be a retreat where you find rest and relaxation, entertain friends and family, and enjoy nature. It is an extension of house and can be considered an outdoor room that can be beautiful as well as livable. Outdoor Decoration and Style Guide by Nora Richter Greer  shows how traditional elements of design can be used to create or enhance an outdoor room and provides guidelines for integrating natural and man-made materials. [click to continue…]

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Edible Flowers: Dianthus

Dianthus-Plumarius-Evening-StarThe genus Dianthus includes three kinds of common garden plants: pinks (D. plumarius and related species) , sweet william (D. barbatus), and carnations (D. caryophillus). They are herbaceous biennials or perennials and native to Europe and Asia. The foliage is usually gray-green and the flowers are various shades of pink with a clove like fragrance and flavor. Each flower has five fringed petals. The generic name, Dianthus, comes from the Greek dios meaning god, and anthos meaning flower. The common name “pink” lent its name to the color rather than the other way around, and the fringed petals gave rise to the name for pinking shears. [click to continue…]

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iris-cristataThis dwarf perennial is endemic to eastern US where it grows in woodlands, rocky hillsides, mountain ledges and along streams. It spreads by branching rhizomes and can quickly form substantial colonies. The light green leaves are sword shaped and about three to six inches long. In mid- spring to early summer the fragrant flowers are produced on short stems one to two inches long and are one to inches across. They are usually pale blue, lilac, or lavender with a central white patch and yellow or orange crests on the falls but white and pink forms occur. Although the bloom time is short a mass of flowers makes a memorable sight. An excellent plant for a woodland garden and a good choice for a groundcover as the foliage remains attractive all summer.
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Acanthus mollisWith tall flower spikes and handsome foliage, bear’s breeches is an outstanding evergreen perennial that makes a grand architectural statement in the garden or vase. The irregular flowers are white with purplish calyx lobes and are densely packed on the stems in mid- to late spring. The shiny dark green leaves are up to two feet long and are lobed or deeply divided. The size of the flowering stalks makes them suitable only for large arrangements, as cutting them shorter would ruin the proportions. The leaves are beautiful but unfortunately do not last well in the vase. Try pairing with hydrangea or agapanthus. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Rosa ‘Crested Moss’

Rose Crested Moss flA sport of ‘Centifolia’, this moss rose differs from its parent in having a dense, leafy, bright green growth on the edges of its sepals. The growth is especially noticeable on the buds and resembles the three cornered hat that Napoleon wore hence the alternative name ‘Chapeau de Napoleon’. The flowers have numerous medium pink petals and are carried singly or in clusters of up to seven on arching canes. The stems have lots of prickles and the leaves are coarse and droop. Pegging encourages lateral stem growth and increases flowering.

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Whats Wrong with My Vegetable GardenThere is great satisfaction in harvesting and eating fresh vegetable from your own garden but anyone who has had a vegetable garden knows about the obstacles that must be overcome. Disease, pests, and weeds as well as light, nutrients, and water play an important role in producing an abundance of good quality produce. u by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth provides a guide for growing vegetables organically by providing good growing conditions, recognizing problems, and eliminating the problems with organic solutions. [click to continue…]

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