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Native to the mountains of Iran and Turkmenistan, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the parsley family, Apiaceae, that also includes carrots, celery, and poison hemlock.  Growing from a thick taproot, the plant is about 3′ tall and has a smooth, hollow stem.  The finely divided tripinnate leaves have a stout basal sheath clasping the stem.  In late spring  umbels of  small yellow flowers appear and produce seeds that ripen in summer. A fetid yellowish-brown gum resin called galbanum is produced by the stem of the plant and is valued for its medicinal qualities.  In addition,  the gum resin was used by the ancient Egyptians and Israelites as an ingredient in incense. Photo Credit Wikipedia [click to continue…]

Summer savory is an annual and a member of the mint family , Lamiaceae, that also includes rosemary and thyme, and beebalm. It is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region but was brought to the new World by the early colonists as a medicinal herb and has naturalized there.   Plants are 1 to 1 ½ feet tall and have finely hairy stems and soft hairless linear leaves about an inch long. The leaves are gray green at first but develop purple hues by late summer or early fall. They grow in pairs from the stem without petioles. The flowers are white or pale pink and two-lipped. They are ¼ inch long and are produced in clusters of three to six in upper leaf axils from mid summer to frost. The plant is bushy, highly aromatic with a sweet scent, and has  a well-branched root system. Sumer savory does well in average, well-drained soil and full sun.  The genus nam,e Satureja, is the Latin name for the plant and, according to the ancient Roman writer Pliny, is a derivative of the word for satyr because the herb belonged to the mythical creatures.  The specific epithet, hortensis, comes from the Latin word hortus meaning garden, and refers to the cultivation of the plant in a garden. [click to continue…]

Native to the forest edges of tropical areas in Southeast Asia, this herbaceous perennial shrub is also known as Java tea, and is a member of the deadnettle family, Lamiaceae, that also includes mint, basil, and bee balm.  The plants gro up to 40″ tall and have  purple tinged stems tinged bearing pairs of  narrowly ovate, dark green leaves that are 2-4″ long and deeply veined with coarsely toothed margins.  From late summer into autumn, white to light pink flowers appear that are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.  Each flower has a tube-like corolla 1″ long and 2″ long  extruded stamens that resemble cat’s whiskers. The plant has been used medicinally to treat many problems including hypertension, inflammation, jaundice, diabetes and problems related to the kidney and bladder.  It has been cultivated for tea in Java and Sumatra.   The genus name, Orthosiphon, comes from the Greek words othos meaning straight and sipon meaning pipe, and refers to upright tube shape of the flower.  The specific epithet, aristatus, is the Latin word meaning having an ear-like structure, perhaps referring to the fact that the petals extend outward like ears. gay pnp hookup

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A shady nook is always made more appealing by lush green vegetation that looks soft and inviting. Deer fern is a good plant to use in the shade with its two distinctive types of fronds one standing upright in the center, and the other spreading out around the center in a graceful swirl. The evergreen fern grows 1-3′ tall and adapts to a variety of conditions including deep shade and highly acidic soil. It can be used as a ground cover for a shade or woodland garden, or even as a houseplant. As a bonus, it provides winter food for game animals such as deer, moose and elk so is valuable in a wildlife garden

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Native to swamps and shallow water of eastern North America, this perennial emergent water plant is also known as water dragon and swamp lily.  It is a member of the Saururaceae family that also inclues chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata).  With  a rhizomatous root system, the plants grow 2-4′ tall in the wild but 1-2′ tall when cultivated, and have somewhat zig-zag stems and bright green leaves 3-6″ long.  The leaves  are  lance-shaped to trianglar with heart shaped bases, and are palmately veined.  From late spring through summer, long narrow racemes appear carrying small white fragrant flowers.  The racemes have drooping tips and are usually 4-6″ long but can reach up to 12″ in length.  The small green warty fruits capusles  appear from late summer to fall.  The flowers, leaves, and roots have a sassafrass or citrus aroma.  Lizard’s tail is a good choice for a water garden planted in containers where it will rapidly form a colony.  The genus name, Saururus, comes from the Greek words sauros meaning lizard and oura meaning tail, and refers to the resemblance of the inflorescence to a lizard’s tail.  The specific epithet, cernuus, is the Latin word meaning inclined forward and refers to the droop of the inflorescence.   [click to continue…]

Also known as soft rush and mat rush, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the rush family, Juncaceae, that includes plants  resembling sedges and grasses.  Common rush is native to Europe, Asia, Africa, North American and South America where it is found in wet areas such a marshes, bogs, ditches, wet pastures, and along streams. The plants grow 2-4′ tall and form spreading clumps that  may be considered invasive. The grass-like, green stems are soft, smooth, solid, and unjointed.  Leaves are reduced to sheaths at the base of the stems.    From July to September inconspicuous, scaly, yellowish green to brown flowers appear in spikey clusters on one side of the stem near the tip, and give way to an an obovoid capsule. Photo Credit Meegar Wikipedia [click to continue…]

Kudzu is a deciduous woody vine and a member of the legume family, Fabiaceae, that also includes peas, beans, and lupines.  It is native to Japan and was introduced into the United States as an ornamental at the Japanese pavilion in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and later used for soil erosion control.  Kudzu has spread into the the Mid Atlantic and  Southeast where it has become very invasive, growing in field and woodland edges, roadsides, and  near riparian areas.  Plants prefer moist soil in full sun but  are tolerant of some shade and drought and quickly grow over shrubs  and trees killing them by heavy shading.  Although  kudzu is attractive and its roots increase soil nitrogen by means of their symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria,  its rampant grown makes it impractical for the garden. [click to continue…]


Few plants have flowers that are as appealing as common foxglove.  The 2-3″ long blooms that cover the 4-5′ tall flowering stalks are purple with enticing spots inside and appear to be perfect for fitting on the fingers.   The fanciful name, foxglove, is tied to a folk myth that foxes wore the flowers on their paws to silence their movements as they stalked their prey.  The myth was enhanced by the fact that the plants sported their beautiful flowers throughout the woody areas where the foxes’ dens were located.  Other names for the plants have arisen such as lady’s glove, fairy gloves,  fairy bells, and witch’s glove, but the nod to foxes is most common and makes them perfect for a plant zoo.  Although common foxglove is the most well known of the 20 species of  foxglove there are other garden worthy ones including rusty foxglove (Digitalis. ferruginea), large-flowered foxglove (D. grandiflora), straw foxglove ( D. lutea), and small-flowered foxglove (D. parviflora). N.B. Foxglove leaves, flowers and seed are considered poisonous to humans and some other animals.

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Native to the Cascades and Rocky Mountains of northwestern North America, this short-lived herbaceous perennial is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisy, yarrow, and sunflower. It grows 2-8″ tall and produces a rosette of oblong to round, gray-green leaves sometimes with soft hairs, and up to 1/2″ long. An erect stem has smaller, sessile leaves and a single terminal flowerhead 1″ wide with 25-70 golden yellow ray flowers surrounding yellow disc flowers with a green center. The flowerheads are subtended by bracts with pink to purple hairs. In its natural habitat the alpine yellow fleabane lives on rock ledges and ridges and so is an excellent choice for growing in crevices, wall gardens and rock gardens. The genus name, Erigeron, comes from the Greek words ἦρι (êri)  meaning early referring to the early bloom time, and  γέρων (gérōn)  meaning old man, referring to the hairy appearance of the fruit that resembles the beard of an old man. The specific epithet, aureus, is the Latin word meaning golden, and refer to the color of the ray flowers.

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Also known as bible hyssop, Syrian oregano, and Lebanese oregano, this tender perennial herb is native to the Middle East and is a member of the deadnettle family, Lamiaceae, that also includes mint, basil and Salvia.  The bushy plants grow up to 3′ tall and have hairy square stems with oblong to ovate, gray-green leaves that are  up to 1″ long, aromatic and softly hairy. From late spring to summer, spike-like clusters of tiny white to pale pink appear.  Each flower is two-lipped, tubular, and subtended by gray-green bracts. Photo Credit Wikipedia [click to continue…]