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Plant Profile: Rose Galway Bay

This modern climber  has apricot colored buds that open to to 4″ wide flowers with petals in various shades of pink from dark pink on the outside to pale pink in the center.  The cup-shaped flowers are carried singly or in small clusters and have up to 20 petals. Plants are vigorous and have red new grown followed by medium green glossy leaves. A good choice a pillar, trellis, pergola, garden wall, or house wall.   [click to continue…]

Peruvian canna is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the Cannaceae family that is most closely related to ginger, banana, and bird of paradise.  Native to high elevations in Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica, it grows up to 16′ tall from a tuber like rhizome and has a stout unbranched stem sheathed with bluish green oblong leaves up to 2′ long.   The rosy pink flowers are tubular, about 1.5″ long, and hang in pendent racemes from late summer to fall.  Peruvian canna is unusual because of its height and pendent flower clusters and is a good choice for a tropical garden.  The genus name, canna, comes from the Greek word Kanna meaning reed.  The specific epithet, iridiflora, comes from name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow, Iris, and the Latin word flora meaning flower, and means iris-like


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Book Review:Gardening with Biochar

Everyone wants bigger, more productive, more nutrient filled plants and Jeff Cox shows you one way to have them by supercharging the soil with biochar. This soil amendment is wood and other organic matter that is roasted to black charcoal and inoculated with compost. According to Cox, it creates the perfect habitat for soil-enriching microorganisms and will and increase soil biodiversity, improve soil structure, decrease the need for fertilizers, reduce the effects of toxic heavy metals in the soil, store water and nutrients, and sequesters carbon. [click to continue…]

Common vetch is climbing annual vine brought to North American from southern Europe as a covercrop but has since escaped and become a troublesome weed in shrub and perennial beds in the eastern half of the United States and on the west coast. It likes full sun to partial shade and fertile, moist, well-drained soil, but tolerates less, and can be found in waste areas along roadsides and train tracks, as well as in meadows, abandon fields, croplands and gardens. It grows quickly on the ground or over nearby plants and can weigh them down as it covers them. [click to continue…]

Shakespeare’s Garden: Plantian

plantian commonCommon plantain,(Plantago major) is an herbaceous perennial native to Europe and northern and central Asia but naturalized in the US beginning in the time of the Puritans. It thrives in disturbed areas and can be found along roadsides, and in fields and lawns. Comon Plantain belongs to the Plantaginaceae family which also includes the garden plants Angelonia, Penstemon, and Chelone. Plants have a rosette of thick leaves, each from 2 to 8 inches long and 2 to 3.5 inches wide and with five to nine longitudinal veins. From the beginning of summer through fall, tiny purplish-green flowers are carried in dense slender spikes six to eighteen inches tall. Each plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds. Common plantain likes average, well-drained soil in sun or part shade. [click to continue…]

A native of the Caucusus Mountains, sage-leaved bellflower is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the Campanulaceae family that also includes ladybells (Adenophora), balloon flowers, and Lobelia.  It has a creeping rootstock and forms clumps of dark green  2-3″ long  basal leaves that are ovate -oblong,  downy, sharply toothed, and carried on long petioles.  The dark purplish blue flowers are bell-shaped, nodding, up to 1 1/2″ long, and appear singly or in one-sided racemes in summer on stems with small lance-shaped leaves.  Sage-leaved bellflower is a good choice for a rock garden or border.  The genus name, Campanula, comes from the late Latin word campana meaning bell.  The specific epithet, collina, comes from the Latin word collis, meaning hill, and refers to its natural habitat.  [click to continue…]

Book Review: Cooking from Scratch

ooking from Scratch comes from the Puget Consumer Co-op Community Markets, a Seattle based grocer dedicated to local producers, sustainable food practices, and healthful, organic seasonal food. The recipes are organized by meal from breakfast to dinner and include soups, stews, salads, entrees, side dishes, snacks, drinks and desserts. Some recipes are totally unique while others are classics with a twist. [click to continue…]

Native to eastern and southern Asia, mock strawberry is a herbaceous perennial that was introduced as an ornamental to the US where it has naturalized in lawns and waste areas in the Midwest and East.  It is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes cherries, lady’s mantle, and pyracantha but is not closely related to garden strawberry, which it resembles.  Because mock strawberry grows well in sun and semi-shade in a variety of soil types, is attractive, sustains moderate foot traffic, and spreads quickly, it makes a good evergreen groundcover but tends to become weedy in lawns and borders. [click to continue…]

Snake flower is an evergreen perennial and is a member of the Asphodelaceae that also includes aloe, torch lily (Kniphofia), and foxtail lily (Eremus).  It is native to southern Africa where it grows in dry, sandy or rocky areas. Plants have rhizomes that produce sprays of fleshy, gray-green leaves 8 to 12″ long and form quickly form clumps.  The starry yellow 1″ flowers appear in slender racemes from spring to summer and  have 6 tepals and  stamens with hairy filaments.  In hot climates plants may go into summer dormancy and return in the fall. Snake flower is drought tolerant and an excellent choice for xeriscaping;  it works well as a groundcover, and in borders and containers. The generic name, Bulbine, comes from the Greek word bolbos, meaning bulb and mistakenly refers to the reproductive structure of the plant which is actually a corm. The specific epithet, frutescens, comes from the Latin word frutex, meaning shrubby and refers to the appearance of the plant. [click to continue…]

Genus Asclepias for the Garden

Asclepias is a genus of herbaceous perennials and belongs to the dogbane fmaily, Apocynaceae, that also includes bluestar, periwinkle, and oleander.  Many species are native to the North America and some are valued as garden plants although others are considered too weedy.  Plants are stiffly erect and have a milky sap when picked or damaged.  They grow from a rhizomatous rootstock and their stems have leaves that are opposite or whorled .  The waxy flowers are produced  in summer in dense flat-topped terminal clusters or in rounded  axillary clusters in the leaf.  They are very complex in structure and consist of 5 backward-pointing petals with reflexed lobes and a corona of 5 erect hoods each with a pointed horn.  Flower color may be green to orange, yellow, pink, or purple.  In the fall seed pods(follicles) appear filled with numerous seeds tufted with silky hairs.  The seed pods are valued for dried arrangements.   The genusus name Aslepias honor the Greek god of medicine.

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