NiwakiOruning Traiing and Shaping Trees the Jap wayThe trees and shrubs seen in Japanese gardens have a unique look and are known as niwaki, or “garden trees”, They are trained, shaped, clipped and pruned using a special set of pruning techniques developed by Japanese gardeners to bring out the essential characteristics of the plant. Jake Hobson’s book, Niwaki, explores the techniques used to create niwaki giving detailed information on the general principles and skills as well as specific instructions for several groups of plants. [click to read full post]

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Stonecrop ‘Purple Emperor’ and Ox-Eye ‘Loraine Sunshine’ CombinationThis dynamic combination pairs two herbaceous perennials that have both outstanding flowers and foliage. The variegated foliage of ox-eye ‘Loraine Sunshine’ and purple foliage of stonecrop ‘Purple Emperor’ provide color and contrasting texture early in the season. The flower buds of stonecrop ‘Purple Emperor’ quickly add more color and texture as they develop into compact flowerheads that open in late summer and last into fall. Ox-eye ‘Loraine Sunshine’ joins the display in mid-summer with daisy-like blooms that continue until frost. Both plants attract butterflies. They grow best with full sun in dry to medium moist, well-drained soil and tolerate low fertility as well as drought. [click to read full post]

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fuchsia-magellanicaThis deciduous shrub is native to temperate areas of southern Chile and Argentina where it grows in forest clearings and margins. It forms a bushy clump with dark green foliage and pendant tubular flowers that are red and purple, pink and lavender, or white. The flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, hence the alternate common name, hummingbird fuchsia. Plants are long blooming and give a tropical look to the garden. They are attractive in beds and borders, useful as hedges, and do well in containers. [click to read full post]

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Ornamental Grass Look-Alikes

by Karen on March 24, 2015

Plants mondo grassThe term grass is generally used to refer to plants with long thin leaves but to be a true grass the plant must be in the family Poaceae (aka Gramineae) This is a large family and includes bamboo, as well as common grains and lawn grasses. Rushes and sedges are closely related to grasses and are generally grouped with them. Several plants, however, look like ornamental grasses but are not related at all. Their common names suggest that they are grasses but once they produce flowers, their true identity is revealed. [click to read full post]

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Ruellia brittoniana Mx petunia 2This tender perennial is a native of Mexico, South America and the Caribbean but grows vigorously in southeastern United States and has become invasive in Florida where it is especially destructive in wetlands. It has green to purple erect stems that from clumps from sturdy rhizomes. The lance shaped leaves, six to twelve inches long, are dark green but take on a blue metallic tinge when grown in full sun. The trumpet-shaped flowers are 1.5 to 2 inches across, have five petals and may be blue, purple, white, or pink. Each flower only lasts one day but is quickly replaced over a long bloom period from late spring through summer. Butterflies love them. Plants readily self-seed. Mexican petunias are very adaptable, grow in a variety of conditions and are attractive in borders as well as containers. Plants can be moved indoors for winter in cold climates. Dwarf varieties are available that are less aggressive than the full sized ones and can be used as a ground cover or edging. [click to read full post]

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Rabbits Rabbits and More Rabbits Gail GibbonsBe prepared to learn many interesting facts about rabbits when you read Rabbits, Rabbits & More Rabbits a non-fiction book about these popular animals. True to form, Gail Gibbons covers many topics about rabbits that will appeal to young readers in grades K-3 and increase their awareness of the unique qualities of these much loved critters. Adults and children alike will find this book a rewarding read and return to reread it over and over. [click to read full post]

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Cutleaf Coneflower & Ninebark CombinationIf you have a large garden with plenty of space this purple leaf shrub and yellow flowered perennial make a handsome statement at the back of the border. This combination is also effective naturalized or as part of a meadow garden where the simple flowers of cutleaf coneflower can be best appreciated against the dark foliage of ninebark. Ninebark puts on a show of its own in spring when it produces large clusters of pinkish white flowers. The attractive purple foliage continues into mid-summer when cutleaf coneflower comes into bloom and provides color lasting for several weeks. When fall comes and the leaves of ninebark fall, the beautiful exfoliating stems are revealed to add interest to the winter garden. Both plants grow well in full to part sun, average, medium moist, well-drained soil. [click to read full post]

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This cool-season grass is native to Eurasia where it inhabits meadows and woodlands. It slowly spreads to form a low growing mat of light yellow leaves with bright yellow-green stripes that work especially well with spring bulbs. The leaves are about 1/8 to ¼ inch wide and four to six inches long but have a tendency to flop. The dense flower spikes are tan and appear in spring and rise six to twelve inches above the foliage. Yellow foxtail grass is attractive planted alone or in masses and can be used as a groundcover and a spiller. [click to read full post]

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lycopodiaceae-Club mosses are not true mosses and are in a different division of the plant kingdom. Unlike true mosses, club mosses have vascular tissue to absorb water and nutrients. They reproduce by spores produced in cone-like structures (strobili) shaped like clubs and do not produce flowers or seeds. They can be distinguished from other members of the Pteriodophytes by their small leaves spirally arranged around the stem. Most of the members of the club moss family have horizontal branching stems that send up erect shoots some of which produce strobili with spores. The high oil content in the spores make them anti-absorbent as well as flammable and they have been used as dusting powder and flash powder. Lycopodium dendroideum, also called ground pine, is a native of northeastern United States, and is used for Christmas greenery. Although the extant plants of the family are small, extinct species formed forests in swampy environments over 200 million years ago and significantly contributed to coal reserves. There are two genera and 450 species comprise the club moss family.

Club moss lycopodium-dendroideum-

Ground Pine

The distinguishing characteristics of the Club Moss Family are:
    1. Small leaves are spirally arranged along the stem.
    2. Spores produced in strobili

Botany for Gardeners  Pointer

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Plant Profile: Black Cumin (Nigella sativa)

by Karen on March 16, 2015

Nigella-sativa-Native to parts of Asia, this annual herb is also known as back caraway, fennel flower, nutmeg flower, and Roman coriander, but these names are generally misleading and do not suggest the flavor of the seeds that are the main reason for growing the plant. The seeds have a bitter taste and are used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine to flavor many foods including pastry, breads, vegetables, curry and cheese. They are also thought to have medicinal value in the treatment of a variety of ailments including hypertension, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and cancer. The plant has feathery foliage and delicate flowers about an inch across with five to ten blue or white petals. The fruits are large and contain numerous of seeds. The generic name, Nigella, is derived from the diminutive form of the Latin word niger meaning black, and refers to the color of the seeds. The specific name sativa means “that which is sown”, i.e. “cultivated”. [click to read full post]

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