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How to Care for Bonsai: Crabapple (Malus spp)

IMG_4011Crabapples are deciduous trees native to the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere. They belong to the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes almonds, firethorn, and lady’s mantle. There are many species and cultivars of crabapples that vary in such characteristics as tree size, growth and branching habit, size, color of flower, and color of fruit. The flowers may be white, pink or cerise while the fruits may be green, yellow or red. Crabapples make excellent bonsai because they offer both flowers in spring and fruit in summer and fall as well as good foliage color in fall for some. When buying a crabapple bonsai avoid plants with scars or swellings of the graft union as the problem will only get worse and ruin the over all beauty of the bonsai. If possible buy a bonsai that has been grown from a cutting. The informal style is favored. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Rose ‘Clair Matin’

Rose Clair MatinSmall clusters of three to seven coral colored buds open to salmon colored flowers that slowly fade to pale pink with a mass of golden stamens. The flowers are slightly cupped and have a sweetbriar scent. The new growth is crimson and prickly. ‘Clair Matin’ is a Florabunda style climber and can be grown as a shrub or climber. It is a good choice for a patio because of its fragrance.
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Up in the Garden and Down in the DirtIt is easy for most of us to see the value of a flower or vegetable garden but do we ever think about what is going on beneath the plants in the dirt that contribute to the whole garden scene? Probably not but Kate Messner’s book, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, provides a glimpse into the underground world. Written for children ages four through eight, the book shows the intimate relationship between two different worlds.

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galium-aparine-plCleavers is an annual weed that goes by many names including scratch-grass, goosegrass, stickywilly, bedstraw, and catchweed. It is in the bedstraw family, Rubiaceae , a large and diverse family that includes coffee, gardenia and sweet woodruff. Goosegrass can be found across the US where it grows in field and woodland edges, waste places, hedges, and gardens. Cleavers is said to have medicinal properties and is edible although not tasty. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)

Quercus_coccinea_lvScarlet oak is a long-lived deciduous tree belong to the oak family, Fagaceae, that also includes beeches and chestnuts. It is native to central and Eastern US where it grows well in forests or woodlands with sandy, acidic, medium dry soil. The upright open growing tree has wide spreading branches growing from a quickly tapering trunk that has gray to black ridged, scaly bark. The alternate leaves are bright red when they emerge in spring and turn bright green in the summer before turning scarlet in the fall. They are hairless, three to seven inches long by two to four inches wide, and are deeply cut with seven (rarely nine) pointed bristle tipped lobes. Non-showy yellowish-green male and female flowers appear in spring with the leaves on the same tree. The male flowers are in pendulous catkins while the female flowers are solitary or clusters. In the fall the female flowers produce ½ -1 inch long reddish-brown ovoid acorns with deep cups covering about one third of the nut. Scarlet oak is considered a good shade tree and an attractive ornamental for both its fall coloration and the winter interest created by the design of the  branches. It is difficult to transplant and not readily available in the nursery trade. [click to continue…]

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Genus Buphthalmum for the Garden

Burphthalmum speciosumBuphthalmum are a genus in the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes goldenrod, daisies and lettuce. It includes two cultivated species, both clump-forming herbaceous perennials native to southeastern Europe. Their flowerheads consist of yellow ray flowers surrounding yellow disc flowers and subtended by narrow phyllaries. The leaves are alternate, dark green and toothed. Plants can be propagated by seed or division in the spring. They do well in zones 3-7 in average to lean, moist soil. The genus name Buphthalmum comes from the Greek words bos meaning ox and opthalmos meaning eye, in reference to the supposed resemblance of the flower to the eye of an ox, the source of the common name, oxeye. Flowers are suitable for the vase.

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Plant Profile: Musk Mallow (Malva moschata)

Malva moschataMusk mallow is a short-lived herbaceous perennial native to Europe, southwestern Asia, and northwestern Africa where it is found growing on dry fertile soils. It has naturalized elsewhere and grows along roadsides in North America. A relative of hibiscus, musk mallow belongs to the mallow family, Malvaceae, that also includes cotton, okra, and cacao. The bushy plant has numerous stout stems that are hairy and well branched. The lower leaves are up to six inches long, hairy and palmately lobed while upper leaves are deeply divided with five to seven segments. The saucer-shaped flowers are 2-2 ½ inches wide and have satiny petals that are wedge-shaped, notched, and rosy pink. They appear singly or in clusters in upper leaf axils over a long bloom time from early summer to early fall. Both flowers and foliage are musk-scented. Plants do best in cool climates and often self-seed. The genus name, Malva, is the Latin name for the flower; the specific epithet, moschata, comes from the Latin word meaning musky. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: The Beaded Garden

The Beaded GardenWhen the gardening season is over for the year what does a gardener do? If you like crafts perhaps the idea of making flowers out of beads will appeal and Diane Fitzgerald’s book, The Beaded Garden, can be a guide and inspiration. Using needle and thread crafters can make a virtual garden full of color and exquisite detail anytime of the year. [click to continue…]

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Scurvy-grass Cochlearia officinalisMy paternal grandmother, Helen S Wright, included a recipe for wine made from scurvy grass in her book, Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines . In times past scurvy-grass was consumed by sailors to cure scurvy, a common deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. Scurvy grass is a low, creeping plant native to Europe where it grows in a variety of environments from salt marshes of coastal areas to alpine habitats. It belong to the cabbage family, Brassicaceae, that all includes broccoli, stock, and alyssum and has rounded spoon-shaped leaves and white flowers with four petals. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Italian Aster (Aster amellus)

Aster mellus 2Italian aster is a herbaceous perennial belonging to the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisy, yarrow, and lettuce. The plants grow in bushy clumps and have well branched hairy stems. The oblong to lanceolate leaves are also hariy and are up to six inches long. They are entire and sessile. The fragrant flowerheads have violet-purple ray flowers surrounding yellow disc flowers and are 1.5 to 2 inches across. They and are borne in terminal clusters from late summer into fall over a long bloom time. Several cultivars are available that are one to two feet tall, do not usually need staking, and have colors that are superior to the species. Although plants survive in the heat and humidity of zones 7 and 8, they grow better in the cooler part of their range. [click to continue…]

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