Holly miniature Malpighia_coccigera 2A native of the West Indies, this is an evergreen shrub that is also called Singapore holly. It has small shiny-green leaves that have spiny-toothed edges and resemble those of holly, giving the plant it’s common names, but in fact, it is not a holly or even related. Throughout the year light pink, dime-sized flowers are produced sporadically and may be followed by pea sized red berries. The wiry branches are open and have gray-white bark. This is not an easy plant for bonsai because of its demanding requirements and its tendency to drop its leaves when the requirements are not met. All the classic styles are possible but the broom style is challenging and requires careful selective pruning. [click to read full post]

{ 0 comments }

Plant Profile: Osage Orange Maclura pomifera)

by Karen on October 20, 2014

osage orange fr n lvsThis deciduous small to medium sized tree is a native in parts of Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma but has spread widely through the Great Plains where was planted in the mid-1930′s as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Great Plains Shelter-belt” WPA project. It’s use as a windbreak gave rise to a second common name, “hedge apple”. Mature trees are arching and spreading, and branches have half inch long spines and exude a milky sap when cut. The shiny dark green leaves are long ovals ending with a pointed tip and may turn bright yellow in fall before falling later in the season than most other trees. Inconspicuous green male and female flowers are produced on different trees in early summer and female flowers give rise to conspicuous pale green fruits that are four to five inches in diameter. Each fruit has a rough chartreuse green exterior and actually consist of numerous small fruits that grow together. Female flowers may produce fruit even when not fertilized but the fruit lacks seeds. Fruit litter under female trees can be a problem. The fruits are produced in the fall and are attractive in arrangements. The fleshy roots have orange bark. The wood of osage orange is very strong and Native Americans used it for bows while ranchers and farmers used it for such items as fence posts and tool handles. [click to read full post]

{ 0 comments }

Home Outside 2A home is more than just a house; it is the landscape around the house too. With this premise author, Julie Moir Messervy, takes the reader of Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love through the process of turning the property around the house into a landscape that provides pleasure for both living and playing. She explores this idea of a landscape as a pleasure ground and explains how to organize and personalize the spaces around the house to turn them into a home outside. [click to read full post]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

celosia-n-portulaca orangeThis combination depends on identical colors with contrasting texture for its effectiveness. Here I chose identical shades of orange but shades of red, yellow or pink would work as well. The smooth, satiny petals and the small succulent leaves of the moss rose contrast nicely with the fuzzy flower heads and large coarse leaves of the celosia. These common annuals are usually in bloom when you buy them so you can easy match the colors. The combination will last all summer into fall. Both plants do well in full sun and well-drained soil. The celosia resents drying out and profits from fertilizer during the growing season; the moss rose is more forgiving towards dryness and needs no fertilizer. [click to read full post]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Dark Green Bulrush  814288This herbaceous perennial is native to North America where it is found in wet lands such as marshes, low meadows, pond and stream edges, and drainage ditches. In spite of the common name bullrush, it is not a rush but a sedge. Sedges can be distinguished from similar looking rushes and grasses by their stems that are triangular in cross section and their leaves that are spirally arranged in three ranks. Green bulrush has unbranched culms (stems) bearing up to eight linear, alternate leaves about one and a half inch long. The leaves are dark to yellowish green and tend to be floppy. Terminal inflorescences are produced on fertile culms in early to mid- summer and consist of spikelets that form irregular masses of small flowers that are greenish at first but turn chocolate brown with maturity. Tiny one seeded fruits with 5-6 bristles follow the flowers. Green bulrush is a cool weather plant and grows best in spring and fall, forming colonies by means of the rhizomatious fibrous root system. It is an excellent choice for the wettest part of a rain garden and provides important food and cover for waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds and muskrats. [click to read full post]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

bishops-weed Aegopodium podagraria Variegatum pansiesFor a spring combination that will brighten the wakening garden try growing yellow and white Johnny Jump Ups. Plant the Johnnies in the fall after the bishop’s weed has succumbed to frost, enjoy them all winter, and then enjoy the bishop’s weed as it emerges in the spring with its creamy white edges. In warm climates the Johnnies will fade by the beginning of summer but the colorful leaves of the bishop’s weed will last well into fall. It will even bloom with white Queen Anne ’s lace type of flower heads but the real value of the plant is the foliage. Beware, however, the bishop’s weed can become invasive if it likes its location; part sun to part shade and plenty of moisture. [click to read full post]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Ruscus aculeatusButcher’s broom, also known by many other common names including knee holly, is a low growing broadleaf evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean and western Europe. The thick, glossy, dark green structures that appear to be leaves are actually modified stems called cladophylls. They have spines on their tips and bear the flowers and fruits. The true leaves are microscopic. Tiny, greenish-white male and female flowers are usually produced singly or in pairs on separate plants in spring and female flowers produce attractive waxy red berries in late summer and fall. Flowers containing both male and female parts are sometimes produced but if berries are wanted both male and female plants should be planted. Butcher’s broom is tolerant of a variety of soils, is drought tolerant, and does well in part to full shade. It is an excellent choice for a wooded area and makes an attractive hedge. In the florist trade the greens are known as Italian Ruscus and are extensively used in wedding work. [click to read full post]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Book Review: Planting a Rainbow

by Karen on October 10, 2014

Planting a Rainbow Lois ElhertAs an introduction to gardening Lois Ehlert’s book, Planting a Rainbow, is hard to beat. It is written for children as young as three and begins with the statement “Every year Mom and I plant a rainbow”. From there the book follows the activities that go along with having a flower garden. As a bonus, the book is good for teaching colors too. [click to read full post]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Nematode Meloidogyne_incognitaSometimes a plant wilts easily, has a yellow appearance, fails to grow properly, and slowly dies. No signs of insect or fungal damage can be seen; fertilizing and watering does no good. The problem may be nematodes. True, there are some good nematodes that pursue such garden pests as borers, root weevils, cut worms, and wireworms, and can be bought and sprinkled on the soil in water to control these pests. But the root-knot nematode is a different species and a very real problem for many garden plants including vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals, hurting productivity and appearance. [click to read full post]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Helianthus angustifolia swamp sunflowerSwamp sunflower, also know as narrowleaf sunflower, is a herbaceous perennial native to eastern United States from the mid-Atlantic to Florida, west to Texas where it grows in wet areas such as swamps, salt marshes, floodplains, and disturbed sites including moist ditches. The flowerheads resemble those of the familiar annual sunflower but are smaller. They are two to three inches across and produced in abundance covering the plant in fall with their golden yellow ray flowers surrounding purplish or reddish brown disc flowers. Bees, butterflies, and other nectar-seeking insects are attracted to the flowers, birds to the seeds that follow. The rough dark green leaves are three to six inches long by one half inch wide and are borne on branched, burgundy stems. The stems have a tendency to lodge but cutting them back in in June will encourage bushiness and help avoid staking. The species is tall and useful for the back of the border but shorter cultivars are available. Swamp sunflower is an excellent choice for the wettest and mid-sections of rain gardens as well as for seashore gardens. Although endangered in some parts of its range, under ideal conditions it can spread by rhizomes and become invasive. [click to read full post]

{ Comments on this entry are closed }