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Book Review: A Seed is Sleepy

A Seed is SleepyA Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston is an introduction to seeds and the life cycle of plants in a unique way that has a wide appeal. It combines poetic phrases with factual prose and vivid illustrations, to produce an experience that is both educational and aesthetic. Written for children ages five to eight in grades kindergarten to third grade, the book is a valuable resource for teachers and parents alike. [click to continue…]

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Anthriscus sylvestris wild shervil 2Also called wild chervil, this herbaceous biennial or short lived perennial is a native of Europe, western Asia and parts of Africa but is a common weed in parts of North America. It is member of the parsley family (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae) along with poison hemlock and Queen Anne’s lace, which it resembles. Cow parsley prefers rich, moist soil but tolerates less and can be found growing in pastures, on roadsides, and on forest edges. [click to continue…]

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allium-aflatunense-2Persian onion is a bulbous perennial native to central Asia. It is a member of the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae) that also includes agapanthus, daffodils, and snow drops. The fleshy, strap-shaped leaves are greenish gray and produced in a basal rosette. They are 1 to 1 ½’ long, up to 4 inches wide and disappear soon after the flowers appear. The small lilac flowers are star shaped and produced in spring or early summer in an umbel four inches across carried on a naked scape 2-3 feet tall. The leaves and stem give off the odor of onions when bruised. Plants are attractive planted in groups in the middle of the border and are good cut flowers. They are rabbit and deer resistant. The generic name, allium, is the Latin name for garlic. [click to continue…]

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Genus Abelmoschus for the Garden

Abelmoschus mochatus red fl

A. moschatus cultivar

Abelmoschus is a genus of annuals or herbaceous perennials native to tropical Africa, Asian, and northern Australia and belongs to the mallow family, Malvaceae, that also include cotton, hollyhock, and hibiscus. The genus is made up of about fifteen species three of which have ornamental forms. One of these, A. sculentes (okra), is best known as a vegetable but also includes several ornamental varieties. All of the species are characterized by large flowers in red pink or yellow, need full sun, and fertile, moist, well-drained soil, and are propagated by seed. The genus name, Abelmoschus comes from the Arabic word, abu-l-mosk, meaning father of musk and refers to the scent of the seed.

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Arisaema_dracontium_-_Green_DragonGreen dragon is an herbaceous perennial native to eastern North America where it grows in damp forests. It is a member of the arum family, Araceae, that also includes Jack in the pulpit, caladium, elephant’s ear, and peace lily. The plant produces a single leaf one to two feet long with seven to fifteen leaflets that rise well above the inflorescence. The inflorescence consists of a green hood-like spathe and a long, tongue-like greenish spadix that carry the small greenish flowers. The flowers are followed by red berries that are revealed as the spathe withers away as the plants become dormant in summer. The genus name, Arisaema, comes from the green words aris meaning arum and aima meaning red in reference to the red leaf markings on some species. The specific epithet, dracontium, means small dragon. Although considered a rare plant, it is a good choice for a shade garden and is particularly attractive when placed in front of shrubs. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: Five-Plant Gardens

Five plant GardensOne of the most difficult things about gardening is choosing good plant combinations. The gardener has to consider growing conditions as well as such factors as the bloom time, color, texture, shape, and size of the plants. In her book, Five-Plant Gardens, author Nancy Ondra presents fifty different garden plans each composed of five kinds of plants that look good growing together in the same soil and light conditions. The plants are all relatively familiar perennials that have a wide tolerance and are fairly easy to grow. [click to continue…]

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roosterWhen reading the book written by my paternal grandmother’s on home made wines I could hardly believe that she had this one. My grandmother had a wicked sense of humor and I had the feeling that this was a joke. But no, there really was a cock ale in 17th and 18th century England. According to Wikipedia, the recipe for the ale “consisted of a normal ale brewed inside a container, to which was later added a bag stuffed with a parboiled, skinned and gutted cock, and various fruits and spieces” (Wikipedia). [click to continue…]

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Physotegia virginianaAlso known as false dragonhead, this rhizomatous herbaceous perennial is native to North American and a member of the deadnettle family, Lamiaceae, that also includes mint, coleus, and lamb’s ear. The plant has creeping stems that are square in cross section and carry coarsely-toothed, lanceolate leaves three to six inches long. The lilac-pink, one inch flowers are produced in late summer on spikes 1-1 ½ feet long, are two lipped, and resemble the flowers of snapdragons. They have the curious characteristic of temporarily remaining in the position on the stem to which they are moved, giving raise the common name, obedient plant. Unfortunately the plants are not obedient and tend to flop in rich soil as well as spread with abandon. The generic name, Physostegia, comes from the Greek words physa meaning a bladder, and stege, meaning a covering, referring to the calyx which inflates as it becomes full of fruit. [click to continue…]

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hosta-bamboo combinationA shady or partly shady area of the garden with moist soil is perfect for this handsome combination. In spring and early summer the yellow variegation of the hosta echoes the yellow stripes of the dwarf bamboo. As summer comes the margins of the hosta turn creamy white and the bamboo becomes greener but the striking contrast between the textures of the two plants will continue through the season. [click to continue…]

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Persicaria Persicaria millettii and bistorta whiteThis clump-forming herbaceous perennial is native to western China and Nepal where it grows in scrub and on cliff ledges. It is a member of the knotweed family, Polygonaceae, that includes rhubarb, buckwheat and some infamous weeds. Most of the dark green leaves arise from the base of the plant and are six inches long by two inches wide. The deep crimson flowers are carried well above the foliage in narrow dense spikes over three inches long during the summer. Plants need an abundance of moisture and partial shade to do well. [click to continue…]

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