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Book Review: Nitty Gritty Gardening Book

Nitty Gritty Gardening bookIntroducing young children to gardening lies deep in the heart of most gardeners who want to share their passion and continue the gardening tradition. Kari Cornell’s book, The Nitty-Gritty Gardening Book provides simple, engaging ways to interest kids in gardening that set them up for success. Suggested for children ages eight to eleven in grades three to six, this book is most appropriate for the parents of young children who want to participate in gardening activities with them.
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Five Best Old Garden Roses: Chinas

Rose Pink Pet or caldwell_pinkPicking the “best” roses is an objective process and in this case, the ratings of the American Roses Society have been used. Every year the American Rose Society enlists the help of people all over the country to evaluate the roses they grow. Each rose cultivar is evaluated on a number of characteristics including garden performance which considers such factors as vigor and growth habit, number of blooms, how quickly the plant repeats, the beauty and lasting quality of the blooms in the garden, fragrance, resistance to mildew, blackspot and rust, winter hardiness, and quality of the foliage. The results of this survey are published in an issue of American Rose and ratings are published in the ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses. [click to continue…]

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Campanula glomerataClustered bellflower is a clump forming herbaceous perennial native to Eurasia where it grows in a variety of habitats including forests, grasslands, scrub, and along roadsides. It is a member of the bellflower family, Campanulaceae, that also includes Lobelia and balloon flower. The leaves are oval, toothed, and hairy. The basal leaves are up to five inches long while the stem leaves are three to four inches long, usually sessile, and more pointed than the basal leaves. The funnel-shaped flowers are ¾ to 1 inch long, upward facing, purple to violet in color, and are carried in terminal or axillary clusters of up to fifteen flowers. They are appear in the late spring to early summer and last two to three weeks. Plants spread by creeping underground stems and can become invasive if conditions suit them . Clustered bellflower is a good choice for cottage gardens, borders, and naturalized areas. Flowers are good for the vase and last up to two weeks. The generic name, Campanula, comes from the Latin word campana meaning bell and refers to the shape of the flowers. The specific epithet, glomerata, comes from the Latin verb glomero, meaning to form into a ball, and refers to the inflorescence. The common name, clustered bellflower is derived from the botanical name. [click to continue…]

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Rabbit Resistant Plants: Bulbs

Galanthus nivalis/Common SnowdropThe vision of crocuses or tulips mysteriously disappearing in spring might scare a gardener away from planting bulbs but there are many bulbs that rabbits disdain. Some, like winter aconites, are very early, others like Spanish bluebells, come later so by carefully choosing you can have flowers all spring. The most variety is offered by daffodils but the bright blue of grape hyacinths, or soft pink of Spanish bluebells have a lot to offer. All bulbs listed here need well-drained soil to avoid rot in the winter and like full sun to partial shade. There are no guaranteed rabbit resistant plants but the ones described below have long been on noted to go uneaten under normal circumstances.

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Persicaria affinis Donald LowndesHimalayan Fleeceflower is a creeping, mat forming herbaceous perennial native to the montains of Tibet, Nepal, northern India, Pakistan, and Kashmir where it grows on slopes, wet areas, and screes. It is a member of the knotweed family, Polygonaceae, that includes rhubarb, buckwheat and some infamous weeds. The botanical name, Persicaria affinis, is more recently used for this plant. The broadly lanceolate leaves are mostly basal, two to four inches long, and tapered at the petiole end. They are dark green during most of the growing season but turn bronze in the fall. The funnel -shaped, rose-red flowers appear from summer to early fall on leafless stems in terminal dense cylindrical spikes two to three inches long. They bloom over a long time, turning pink and then white as they mature. Plants do best in cool moist climates and do not tolerate drying out. They are useful as a ground cover, for erosion control on banks, at the front of a border, or in a rock garden. The genus name Polygonum comes from the Greek words poly meaning many and goni meaning knee or joint and refers to the swollen nodes on the stems of some species, including this one. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: Eat Fresh Food

Eat Fresh FoodConsidering how few moms cook for their family these days it is refreshing to see a cookbook designed to entice kids to get into cooking. Even better is the fact that this book encourages the use of healthy, unprocessed, food especially vegetables and fruits. Written for kids ages nine to nineteen, Eat Fresh Foods by chef Rozanne Gold, presents a variety of recipes that will teach kids basic cooking skills, give them an appreciation of healthy ingredients, and promote a sense of pleasure in the process of preparing tasty meals. [click to continue…]

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Lupinus Russel Hybrid 2If you grow lupines in the US the chances are great that they are the Russell Hybrids. These herbaceous perennials are beautiful garden plants but don’t tolerate heat and humidity and are short lived even in the Northeast where they are best planted as annuals. The plants form erect clumps with stiff stems and palmately compound leaves with nine to sixteen leaftets. Dense racemes one to two feet long of pea-like flowers appear above the foliage in late spring to early summer. The flowers may be in shades of white, cream, yellow, orange, pink, red, blue, and purple as well as bicolors. Plants self sow but the offspring are not usually the same as the parents. The large array of colors makes the flowers very useful for flower arrangements where they can also provide a strong linear element. Preserved seed heads are attractive in dried arrangements .They have a vase life of five to ten days. [click to continue…]

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Anemone sylvestrisSnowdrop anemone is an herbaceous perennial native to Asia and central and western Europe where it grows in meadows and dry deciduous woodlands. It is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculace, that also includes columbine, delphinium, and hellebore. The light to medium green leaves are hairy beneath and are divided into three to five toothed segments. The fragrant flowers are 1 ½ to 2 inches across and have five petal-like white sepals surrounding a center of yellow anthers. They are slightly nodding and produced singly on erect stems. Although the primary bloom is in spring, flowers may appear periodically throughout the summer and again in the fall. The fruit is white and wooly. The plants spread by creeping rhizomes and may become a nuisance but are easily removed. Snowdrop anemone is an excellent ground cover for a shade or woodland garden.  The genus name, Anemone, may come from the Greek word anemos meaning wind but more likely is a corruption of the Greek loan word referring to the lament for slain Adonis whose blood produced the blood-red Anemone coronaria.  The specific epithet, syvestris, comes from the Latin word sylva meaning forest and refers to the habitat of the plant. [click to continue…]

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Botanical Latin: Boronia

boronia-megastigma-2Boronia (bor O’ ni a) From the name of Francesco Borone from Milan Italy who was hired by English Botanist J. E. Smith as a servant to collect plants with him. He died in 1794 at the age of 25 from an accidental fall from a window. Smith praised Borone for his keen ability to discern the differences between plants and named the genus after him. [click to continue…]

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Quercus_douglasii-lvAlso known as mountain oak and iron oak, California blue oak is found only in California where it grows on dry slopes of the interior hills surrounding the Central Valley. It is a long-lived deciduous tree and a member of the oak family, Fagaceae, that also includes beeches and chestnuts. The tree is often picturesque tree with its short spreading crocked branches and high rounded canopy. The light gray bark is checkered into scales and the simple, alternate leaves are bluish-green, one to three inches long, and irregularly lobed to entire. Usually have wavy margins and are somewhat rigid. Inconspicuous male and female flowers appear on the same tree in spring., the male flowers in drooping yellow-green catkins, the females often solitary in leaf axils of the current year. The female flowers give way in the fall to light green acorns darkening to brown with a shallow cup, ¼ to 1/3 as long as the nut. Blue oaks thrive in difficult sites with high heat and dry soil and do best when not pampered. [click to continue…]

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