Plant Profile: Western Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)

by Karen on December 22, 2014

Linum lewisiiThis short-lived long blooming herbaceous perennial is native to western North America where it is found on ridges and dry slopes as well as in mountain meadows and grasslands. It is upright, clump-forming, and has an abundance of blue, lavender, or white flowers from late spring through summer. Each cup-shaped flower is about 1 1/2″ across, has five petals with prominent veining and last for just a day, opening fully only on sunny days. The leaves are blue-green and needle-like giving the whole plant a delicate wispy look. Although it readily reseeds, plants do not transplant well. Suitable for beds and borders as well as wildflower gardens. [click to read full post]

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World ChangingThe gloom and doom journalism that we read constantly in the media can be unnerving but the book, Worldchanging, provides hope that these problems can be solved. A companion to the eco-friendly website by the same name (www.worldchanging.com) the book is a collection of articles that discusses the problems facing the environment and offers ways that individuals can use to help in solving those problems. The articles do not lecture but they do make you think and may inspire you to take part in building a better future. [click to read full post]

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Also known as creeping Charlie, ground ivy is native of Europe and Asia that was brought to North America by early settlers for its medicinal and culinary value. It has become a weed, however, all over the United States except in the Rocky Mountains. It thrives in shady moist sites but can be found in full sun and dry soil. It is especially troublesome in lawns. [click to read full post]

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Plant Profile: Rose ‘Mrs. B. R. Cant’

by Karen on December 17, 2014

Rose Mrs B R CantThe cupped flowers are borne on long stems singly or in small clusters and come in generous flushes throughout the growing season beginning in late spring and ending with the first frost. They have silvery pink petals with darker petal backs and occasionally have a quartered center. The vigorous bushes are prickly and have medium sized dark green leaves. Disease resistance is good but plants do not like heavy pruning. They tolerate some drought, poor soil, and heat but grow best with better conditions and often produce the best flowers in the cool temperatures of fall. Easy to propagate from cuttings. [click to read full post]

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How to Care for Bonsai: Satsuki Azalea

by Karen on December 16, 2014

Azalea sastsukiThere are hundreds of kinds of azaleas but the most popular for bonsai are the Satsuki. Satsuki azaleas are evergreen shrubs native to Japan where they have been hybridized for at least 500 years and are considered so special that some bonsai enthusiasts devote all their efforts on them. Their colorful flowers appear in mid-May and June and are especially noteworthy. The flower color varies from white to pink, peach, red, orange and purple with many different color patterns available. The same plant can bear flowers with many different color patterns that vary from year to year. With its small leaves, quick growth, and ability to take hard pruning and shaping these plants are very good subject for bonsai. Any style except broom is appropriate. [click to read full post]

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pachysandra_procumbensThis native of eastern United States is a slow growing perennial and forms attractive clumps that are evergreen in zones 7 and warmer. The bluish green leaves are mottled with silvery dots and have scalloped margins that are coarsely toothed. Spikes 1-4 inches of small pink to white fragrant flowers appear in mid spring with male flowers at the top and female flowers below. Stems are fleshy and the root system is stoloniferous. Much less invasive than its cousin, Asiatic Pachysandra terminalis. Allegheny spurge makes an excellent groundcover for a shrub border or massed in a woodland setting. [click to read full post]

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Incredible Vegetables from Self Watering ContainersThe thought of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and corn from the garden appeals to most gardeners but only some have the garden space to grow their own vegetables. Lack of space is no longer a problem according to author Edward C. Smith who has written two books on container gardening with vegetables. His most recent book, Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Pots, deals with self watering pots which Smith claims can produce as good or better vegetables than a traditional earth garden! In addition, he notes that self watering containers require less work and can be used with organic and sustainable gardening methods. [click to read full post]

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Botanical Latin: Dentata

by Karen on December 11, 2014

Populus grandidentata

Populus grandidentata

Dentata (den TAY tuh) from the Latin dens, dentis (tooth), meaning toothed

Often used as the specific epithet, dentata usually refers to the margins of the leaves. American chestnut, Castanea dentata, has leaves with widely spaced teeth on the edges of its leaves that make them easily identifiable. Dentata can be combined with various prefixes to indicate more about the teeth. Hence the specific name of big-tooth aspen, Populus grandidentata, is a combination of grandi- and -dentata to indicate that the teeth are relatively large. [click to read full post]

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Plant Profile: Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)

by Karen on December 10, 2014

Ricinus communisCastor bean is native of Africa, Middle East and India but has naturalized all over the world in subtropical and tropical areas where it can be found in disturbed areas such s roadsides and along railroads. It is very fast growing and quickly becomes a suckering shrub or small tree. The very large (up to 30 inches across) palmately lobed leaves are borne on long petioles attached to the center of the leaf. In the Middle Ages the leaves were thought to resemble a hand so the plants were called “palma Christi”, “hand of Christ’. The leaves may be green, red, or variegated. Male and female flowers lack petals and are borne in terminal panicles with female flowers at the top and male flowers below in mid- to late summer. The male flowers have conspicuous yellow anthers while the female flowers have conspicuous red stigmas. The fruit is a spiny ovoid capsule that explosively releases three flattened ripe seeds that resemble ticks. Plants are well branched with watery reddish-purple stems. Although a perennial in warm climates, castor bean is widely grown as an annual in cooler climates where it can add a tropical look to the landscape. All parts of the plant especially the seeds are highly toxic so the plants should not be grown where children are likely to have access to them. [click to read full post]

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Ornamental Grasses as Valuable Garden Plants

by Karen on December 9, 2014

miscanthus-morning-lightOrnamental grasses have become increasingly popular in the last few decades. Before 1950 they were rare in American landscapes but since that time they have become a staple in American gardens and are now a common sight in home gardens as well as at commercial sites and along highway medium strips. What accounts for this rise is favor? [click to read full post]

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