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Also called trailing morning glory and blue rock bindweed,  this evergreen woody stemmed perennial is tender and usually grown as an annual.  It is native to Italy and North Africa and is a member of the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae, that also includes sweet potato, water spinach, and dodder.  Plants grow 6-9″ tall and have slightly hairy alternate leaves  that are ovate, 1-1.5″ long, and have entire margins and short petioles.  The funnel-shaped  flowers are lavender blue often with lighter throat,  1-2″ wide, and appear in the leaf axils from late spring into summer over a long bloom time.   Ground morning glory is particular attractive in window boxes , hanging containers, or growing over a wall where its trailing growth habit shows to best advantage.   The genus name, Convolvulus, comes from the Latin word convolvere meaning to twine around.  The specific epithet, sabartius, refers to the Savona region in north-west Italy where the plant was first described. [click to continue…]

The double flowered dwarf almond is a small deciduous shrub growing 2.5′ high and a member of the rose family, Rosaceaea that also includes peaches, lady’s mantle and pyracantha.  It is native to China and Japan but was introduced to the US in the early 1800s as an ornamental.  Flowers appear in early spring just as the leaves emerge.  The and are usually pink, about 3/4 inches across, and cover the entire bush. The leaves are medium green and have finely toothed margins.  Plants flower best in full sun with consistently moist well-drained soil. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Rose Galway Bay

This modern climber  has apricot colored buds that open to to 4″ wide flowers with petals in various shades of pink from dark pink on the outside to pale pink in the center.  The cup-shaped flowers are carried singly or in small clusters and have up to 20 petals. Plants are vigorous and have red new grown followed by medium green glossy leaves. A good choice a pillar, trellis, pergola, garden wall, or house wall.   [click to continue…]

Peruvian canna is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the Cannaceae family that is most closely related to ginger, banana, and bird of paradise.  Native to high elevations in Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica, it grows up to 16′ tall from a tuber like rhizome and has a stout unbranched stem sheathed with bluish green oblong leaves up to 2′ long.   The rosy pink flowers are tubular, about 1.5″ long, and hang in pendent racemes from late summer to fall.  Peruvian canna is unusual because of its height and pendent flower clusters and is a good choice for a tropical garden.  The genus name, canna, comes from the Greek word Kanna meaning reed.  The specific epithet, iridiflora, comes from name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow, Iris, and the Latin word flora meaning flower, and means iris-like

 

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Book Review:Gardening with Biochar

Everyone wants bigger, more productive, more nutrient filled plants and Jeff Cox shows you one way to have them by supercharging the soil with biochar. This soil amendment is wood and other organic matter that is roasted to black charcoal and inoculated with compost. According to Cox, it creates the perfect habitat for soil-enriching microorganisms and will and increase soil biodiversity, improve soil structure, decrease the need for fertilizers, reduce the effects of toxic heavy metals in the soil, store water and nutrients, and sequesters carbon. [click to continue…]

Common vetch is climbing annual vine brought to North American from southern Europe as a covercrop but has since escaped and become a troublesome weed in shrub and perennial beds in the eastern half of the United States and on the west coast. It likes full sun to partial shade and fertile, moist, well-drained soil, but tolerates less, and can be found in waste areas along roadsides and train tracks, as well as in meadows, abandon fields, croplands and gardens. It grows quickly on the ground or over nearby plants and can weigh them down as it covers them. [click to continue…]

Shakespeare’s Garden: Plantian

plantian commonCommon plantain,(Plantago major) is an herbaceous perennial native to Europe and northern and central Asia but naturalized in the US beginning in the time of the Puritans. It thrives in disturbed areas and can be found along roadsides, and in fields and lawns. Comon Plantain belongs to the Plantaginaceae family which also includes the garden plants Angelonia, Penstemon, and Chelone. Plants have a rosette of thick leaves, each from 2 to 8 inches long and 2 to 3.5 inches wide and with five to nine longitudinal veins. From the beginning of summer through fall, tiny purplish-green flowers are carried in dense slender spikes six to eighteen inches tall. Each plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds. Common plantain likes average, well-drained soil in sun or part shade. [click to continue…]

A native of the Caucusus Mountains, sage-leaved bellflower is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the Campanulaceae family that also includes ladybells (Adenophora), balloon flowers, and Lobelia.  It has a creeping rootstock and forms clumps of dark green  2-3″ long  basal leaves that are ovate -oblong,  downy, sharply toothed, and carried on long petioles.  The dark purplish blue flowers are bell-shaped, nodding, up to 1 1/2″ long, and appear singly or in one-sided racemes in summer on stems with small lance-shaped leaves.  Sage-leaved bellflower is a good choice for a rock garden or border.  The genus name, Campanula, comes from the late Latin word campana meaning bell.  The specific epithet, collina, comes from the Latin word collis, meaning hill, and refers to its natural habitat.  [click to continue…]

Book Review: Cooking from Scratch

ooking from Scratch comes from the Puget Consumer Co-op Community Markets, a Seattle based grocer dedicated to local producers, sustainable food practices, and healthful, organic seasonal food. The recipes are organized by meal from breakfast to dinner and include soups, stews, salads, entrees, side dishes, snacks, drinks and desserts. Some recipes are totally unique while others are classics with a twist. [click to continue…]

Native to eastern and southern Asia, mock strawberry is a herbaceous perennial that was introduced as an ornamental to the US where it has naturalized in lawns and waste areas in the Midwest and East.  It is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes cherries, lady’s mantle, and pyracantha but is not closely related to garden strawberry, which it resembles.  Because mock strawberry grows well in sun and semi-shade in a variety of soil types, is attractive, sustains moderate foot traffic, and spreads quickly, it makes a good evergreen groundcover but tends to become weedy in lawns and borders. [click to continue…]