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Botanical Latin: Calendula

Calendula (ca LEN du la) from the Latin word calendae meaning the first day of the month

calendulaThe genus Calendula is a member of the family Asteraceae and includes 15-20 annuals and herbaceous perennials. The generic name is derived from the fact that many of the genus bloom for a long time, that is, on the first day of many months. The plants have single or double daisy-like flower heads made up of yellow or orange ray flowers surrounding a center of yellow, orange, purple or brown disc flowers. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Rose Pierre de Ronsard aka Eden

Pierre-de-Ronsard3The large, cupped-shaped, flowers are full of petals and have a charming old fashioned look. They are carried singly and have a large number of creamy petals with deep pink edges, often with a hint of green. The flowers may take a long time to open and are often so heavy they nod. The bushes are compact, moderately vigorous, and healthy. They have tough, dark green leaves and stems with a few prickles. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: Food Rules

Food RulesAre you confused by “the latest” information on the benefits of consuming coffee, red wine, or butter?  Do you wonder about probiotics, folic acid, or gluten? You are not alone and Michael Pollan, in his book,  Food Rules, takes a hard look at the western diet and presents eighty three rules as a guide to eating well. The rules are based on the premise that eating a healthy died boils down to seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” [click to continue…]

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selaginella-kraussiana

selaginella-kraussiana

African club moss is also known as Krauss’ spikemoss and Krauss’s clubmoss and is native to southern and tropical Africa, the Azores and the Canary Islands. After being introduced into New Zealand it became invasive but is cultivated in the US and Britain as an house plant earning the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Several cultivars are available. African club moss belongs to the club moss family (Selaginellacea) and is often referred to as a “fern ally” because it has vascular tissue but does not produce flowers or seeds. Selaginella is the only genus in the family but is comprised of about 750 species. African club moss thrives in fertile, moist, well-drained shady habitats such as forests, shrublands, and stream banks. [click to continue…]

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Artemesia ludoviciana2Known by many common names including western mugwort, Louisiana wormwood, and white sagebrush, this rhizomatous perennial is a native of North America including most of the US. It is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisies, sunflowers, and lettuce. The white hairy stems are branched and carry aromatic silvery leaves two to four inches long, with white woolly undersides and almost hairless topsides. The margins of the leaves are entire rather than dissected like most other artemesias. The small nodding flower heads are yellowish gray and carried in narrow compound panicles in late summer. They are not considered ornamentally attractive and are usually removed as they appear. Although the foliage is very attractive and can be an asset in the garden, the plants tend to spread aggressively by seed and rhizomes and may need to be restrained. A good choice, however, for a sunny, dry difficult area where little else thrives.  The generic name, Artemesia refers to the Greek goddess of chastity, the hunt and the moon.  The specific epithet, ludoviciana, refers to the Louisiana territory. [click to continue…]

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Genus: Hellebores for the Garden

Helleborus-argutifolius 3Hellebores are herbaceous perennials that bloom early and tell gardeners that winter is giving way to spring. They are a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes clematis, larkspur, and anemone and consist of eighteen to twenty species, all of which are good garden plants. The leaves are leathery, palmately divided, and usually evergreen. The flowers are bell-shaped and nodding, and have white, rose, green, or purple sepals surrounding a boss of yellow stamens with petals reduced to inconspicuous nectarines. Hellebores can be divided into to categories based on their growth habits: one group has leaf stems with a terminal flowers (stinking hellebore, Helleborus foetidus), the other group is stemless and has flowers and leaves arising from the rootstock (ex. Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis). The second group is more commonly grown in the US at the present time.

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Plant Profile: Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)

Sorbus_aucuparia_lv frAlso known as rowan, mountain ash is a deciduous tree native to Europe, Asia and North Africa where it does best in cool mountainous areas. It is a member of the rose family , Rosaceae, that also includes cherries, hawthorns, and blackberries, and is not related to the true ash , Fraxinus, which is in the olive family, Oleaceae. The trees have smooth grayish-brown bark, a loose round crown, slender trunk, and graceful spreading branches. The fern-like leaves are five to seven inches long and pinnately compound with nine to fifteen lanceolate-shaped leaflets ¾ to inches long. The leaflets are gray-green above, paler beneath and turn yellow to orange or reddish purple in fall. In late spring small yellowish white flowers 1/3 inch across appear in large flat clusters four to six inches across and are followed in the fall by clusters of green berries 3/8 in diameter that turn orange- red in the fall and are attractive to birds. Cultivars are available with yellow or pink berries. Mountain ash is a good choice for a patio, lawn, specimen or container. The genus name, Sorbus , is the Latin name for service tree. The specific epithet, aucuparia, comes from the Latin words avis meaning bird, and capere meaning to catch, and refers to the use of the fruit as bait when hunting birds. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: A Nest is Noisy

A Nest is NoisyFrom the title of the book I expected it to be about birds so I was amazed to open the front end papers and find pictures of dozens of nests including those of hornets, orangutan, African gray tree frog, and platypus. True, there are a lot of birds too but the inclusion of these unexpected nests was a delight. Written for children ages five to eight, A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston introduces readers to many different facts about a variety of nests. [click to continue…]

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Choosing Plants for Foliage

gunnera-manicataAlthough flowers catch the eye, leaves play a very important role in the garden. Most perennials are only in bloom for a short time and when the flowers are gone the leaves have to carry the show. In most parts of the US the garden has no flowers from late fall until early spring and foliage increases in importance. Even when flowers are in full bloom leaves can add texture, form and color that can increase the impact of the flowers. Although we take the color green for granted and hardly notice it, there are many different shades of green, and many leaves that are variegated, purple, red, yellow, or silver. Choosing plants with foliage that will enhance the garden is an important aspect of garden design and involves practical as well as aesthetic considerations.
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Plant Profile: Rose Astilbe (Astilbe x rosea)

Astilbe roseaeA hybrid from a crossing of A. chinensis and A.japonica, rose astilbe has the habit of the latter and the flower color of the former. It is a herbaceous perennial and member of the saxifrage family, Saxifragaceae, that also includes Bergenia, coral bells (Heuchera), and foamflower (Tiarella). The clump forming plants form mounds of fern like basal foliage comprising two to three ternately compound leaves with sharply toothed leaflets. The small flowers are carried on arching, densely packed panicles that rise above the foliage in mid-summer. An excellent choice for a moist area with partial shade or filtered sun. The generic name, Astilbe, comes from the Greek words a, meaning without, and stilbe, meaning brightness, referring to the dull appearance of the leaves of some species. The specific epithet, rosea, means rose-like. [click to continue…]

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