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Native to the European Alps, this evergreen herbaceous perennial is a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, that also includes cabbage, alyssum, and stock. The tufted compact plants grow 1-6″ tall and have lanceolate, gray-green toothed leaves. From spring until summer, elongated clusters of pale yellow slightly fragrant flowers appear. This species of Erysimum is more perennial than other members of the genus and is valued for borders as well as rock, scree, wall, alpine, and container gardens. The genus name, Erysimum, is from the Greek word eryo meaning to drag . The specific epithet, pumilium, is the Latin word meaning dwarf and refers to the size of the plant.

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Also known as seawrack and tapegrass, eelgrass is a  submerged perennial native to shallow marine environments from subtropical to subpolar regions of North America and Eurasia.  It is a member of the eelgrass family, Zosteraceae, 1 of 4 seagrass families.  It has a thick, creeping rhizome 3/4-2″ long with many roots and nodes, and ribbon-like leaves up to 47″ long and with rounded tips.  Male and female flowers are produced on the same plant in late spring and nutlets containing seeds are produced on  spathes that break off, rise to the surface, drift, and release the seeds. Photo Credit Wikipedia

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Common tansy is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisy, yarrow, and lettuce.  It is native to Europe and Asia but was introduced into North America by colonists before 1631 for medicinal and horticultural purposes and now occurs throughout much of northern US.  Plants like well-drained  soil with full or partial sun and can be found in recently disturbed sites such as roadsides, railroad right-of-ways, hedgerows, ditches, vacant lots, old fields, pastures, and river banks.  USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8 [click to continue…]

Native to the mountainous regions of southwestern Europe from the Pyrenees to Portugal, this evergreen herbaceous perennial is a member of the carnation family, Caryophyllaceae, that also includes, pinks, baby’s breath, and Irish moss. It grows 2-9″ tall from a shallow root system and forms a softly hairy, dense mound of lanceolate to ovate, green to gray-green leaves that are 1/8 to 1″ long. From late spring to early summer, dense cymes of 2-10 white, flat, 1/2-1″ wide flowers appear on 1″ stalks. The plants spread slowly and are a good choice for a groundcover, edging in a border or along paths, or for rock , wall, or trough gardens. The genus name, Arenaria, comes from the Latin word arena, meaning sand, and refers to the soil of the natural habitat of most of the plants in the genus. The specific epithet, montana, is from the Latin word mons, meaning mountain and refers to the native habitat of the plant.

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For a real WOW factor in a shady moist area, the leopard plant, Farfugium japonicum, is sure to please.  There are many plants with the  common name, leopard plant, so be sure that you check the Latin name when you make a purchase so you can enjoy the huge leaves that make this plant so desirable.  The dark green  leaves are round to kidney-shaped and carried on long petioles.  They  may be up to  12″ across, and are evergreen in warm climates. Another common name, trailer seat plant, gives you an idea of what the leaves look like.   From late summer into fall,  loose cluster of yellow, daisy like flowerheads 1-2″ across appear on branched, mostly leafless stems up to 30″ tall.   They add color to a shady spot but are not as showy as the handsome foliage and some gardeners remove them.  Cultivars are available that vary most significantly in leaf coloration, size, and texture. Leopard plants are a good choice for  pond and stream sides, as well as woodland, shade,  bog, and water gardens.  In addition, it does well in containers.

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Native to Asia Minor, this evergreen herbaceous perennial is a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, that also includes cabbage, broccoli, and alyssum. The plant forms a tuft of foliage 3-6″ high with narrow basal leaves that are 1/2″ long and finely toothed. In spring, dense racemes of fragrant, 1/2″ long yellow flowers appear. The plants are valued for mixed borders in rock gardens, or cascading over a wall or container. The flowers are long lasting in the vase. Alpine wallflower does well in hot, dry sites and is often used in the South to add color to the fall garden. The genus name, Erysimum, is from the Greek word eryo meaning to drag . The specific epithet, kotschyanum, honors Theodor Kotschy, 19th century Austrian botanist .

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This  dense deciduous  flowering shrub is native to arid regions of northern Africa from the Western Sahara to Sudan, Sicily, the Sinai Peninsula, the Palestine region and Saudi Arabia.  It belongs to the pea family, Fabaceae, that also includes lupines, black locust and mimosa. With a deep root, the shrub grows 10-20′ tall and has slender, green, drooping branches carrying .2″ long gray-green leaves that quickly fall so that photosynthesis is carried out primarily by the green stems.  From late winter to early spring dense racemes of 3-15 fragrant, white flowers appear close to the stem.  Each flowers  is 1″ across and has  banner, wing, and keel petals typical of the family.  The seed pod is indehiscent,  and contain one or two seeds.  Photo Credit Peter Coxhead Wikipedia. [click to continue…]

Although apples are the traditional fruit used to make cider, pears are used to make a similar drink called perry, and other fruits are used to flavor cider including pineapple, strawberry, and elderflower. In her book, Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines published in 1909, my paternal grandmother included a recipe for cider without apples or, in fact, any fruit. It includes only 4 ingredients: water, sugar, tartaric acid and yeast. The tartaric acid adds some flavor but is used primarily to add acidity since there are no apples in the recipe to do so. The type of yeast can be critical to making good cider but I suspect Grandmother used brewers yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) since she mentions it later in the recipe. According to the accepted definition of cider, Grandmothers brew is not a cider at all, but fortunately she will never know. Photo Credit Wikipedia

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Indigenous to South Africa, this tender evergreen herbaceous perennial is a member of the Strelitziaceae, a small family closely related to bananas. The plant grows from a rhizome and forms a stiff clump up to 4′ tall consisting of paddle-shaped gray- green leaves on petioles up to 3′ long. From spring to fall, green, hard, beak-like sheaths, called spathes, appear above the foliage perpendicular to the stem The spathes resemble a bird’s head and provides a perch for the birds that fertilize the flowers. The flowers emerge one by one and consist of 3 orange sepals and 3 vivid blue petals, two of which are joined to form an arrow-shaped nectary. When birds come to drink the nectar, the third petal opens to expose the anther and cover their feet with pollen. Birds of paradise are popular garden plants in frost free climates and good house plants in cooler climates where they can grown in containers and moved out doors during the summer. They give a tropical look to a garden and are a good choice for borders, patios, and Mediterranean gardens. The common names crane flower and bird of paradise come from the resemblance of the flowers to birds. The genus name, Strelitzia, honors Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelita (1744-1818) Queen of George III. The specific epithet, reginae, is the Latin word meaning of the queen.

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Hypochaeris radicata pl

Although considered a weed in many parts of the country this herbaceous perennial resembles the common dandelion with its basal rosette of leaves that lie close to the ground and its bright yellow flowerheads 1-3″ across that bloom all summer. Both dandelions and cat’s ear also have deep taproot-like root systems but there are distinct differences between the two plants: cat’s ear has branched stems while the true dandelion has a single hollow stem, and the leaves of cat’s ear are hairy and have rounded lobes while the leaves of the true dandelion are sharp toothed and not hairy. If you like long blooming yellow flowers in your garden why not grow both plants and thereby include both cats and lions in your plant zoo?

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