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Book Review: The Perennial Matchmaker

The Perennial MatchmakerBeautiful plant combinations can make a garden memorable but such combinations are not easy to create. If your garden is like mine it is a hodgepodge of plants collected over the years. Some of the plants were bought on a whim, others because of “love at first sight”, and others according to a plan but now they just limp along without distinction. Nancy J. Ondra’s book, The Perennial Matchmaker, can help bring about change with its myriad of suggestions for plant combinations and her explanation of how to create combinations of your own. [click to continue…]

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veg squashMost of us don’t live on large parcels of land where we can grow anything we like and we have to make choices. When you first start listing the vegetables you want to grow you probably favor growing the vegetables that you particular enjoy eating but there may be another way to look at issue. Consider growing the vegetables that are most likely to have pesticide residue on them; this will allow you to avoid this health hazard while not paying extra for organically grown produce. [click to continue…]

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Fraxinus velutina lvsAlso known as velvet ash, this deciduous tree is native to southwestern North America. It is a member of the olive family, Oleaceae, that also includes jasmine, privet, forsythia, and lilac. The branches are covered with gray bark that is tinged with red and deeply fissured in a diamond pattern. The leaves are pinnately compound, four to eight inches long, and composed of five or seven (sometimes three) leaflets. The leaflets are sometimes hairy, may be toothed or untoothed, and are 1 to 1.5 inches long and .75 to 1 inch wide. The foliage is light yellowish green turning yellow in the fall. Dense clusters of greenish female flowers and yellowish males ones are produced  on separate trees in early spring before the leaves appear. Female flowers are followed in later spring or summer by light brown, winged seeds (samara), one inch long. Tolerates, desert soil, wind and seacoast conditions and is a often used as a shade tree and street tree. [click to continue…]

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setacia-glaucaThis warm-season annual weed originated in Africa but has spread throughout Eurasia and North America . It is found throughout the US where it often invades moist fertile lawns, croplands, gardens, and nurseries. A member of the grass family (Poaceae) it can be difficult to distinguish from other common weeds such as crabgrass until it blooms. [click to continue…]

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Plant Profile: Rose ‘Compassion’

rose-compassionClassic Hybrid Tea-like buds open to flowers with ruffled petals in a mixture of apricot, salmon pink and orange. The flowers fade to a dirty white and fail to drop off neatly resulting in an unattractive bush. The flowers are borne singly or in clusters of up to five and can be used in the vase. The plant is prickly and bushy with glossy dark green leaves and can be pruned to grow as a shrub.

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Book Review: Two Little Gardeners

Two Little GardenersThis classic Little Golden Book tells the story of a brother and sister who plant a garden in the spring, take care of it all summer, and enjoy the fruits of their labor in the fall. They have to prepare the soil, plant the many different kinds of seeds, protect the garden from the local wildlife, hoe out the weeds, and water the plants when there is no rain. Finally, the garden is full of vegetables and the children harvest the produce and cook up a big meal. Their garden is so successful they can not eat all the vegetables so can, dry, and store the surplus. [click to continue…]

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Mousetail  Myosurus_minimusA member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), mousetail is an annual native to the Northern Hemisphere including North America, Europe, Asia and north Africa. It prefers light shade and moist soil but can adapt to full sun and medium dry soil and can be found in woodland edges, wet meadows, and riverbanks as well as gardens. The cool moist days of spring provide the conditions for optimum growth [click to continue…]

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firmiana-simplex lvAlso known as varnish tree and Phoenix tree, this deciduous tree is native to China, Japan, and Korea. It is a member of the mallow family, Malvaceae, that also includes okra, cotton, hibiscus, and cacao. The upright branches and trunk are covered with light gray-green shiny bark that is considered unique and attractive. The palmately-veined leaves have three to five pointed lobes, are six to twelve inches long by four to eight inches wide, and are bright green before turning yellow in the fall. The fragrant flowers appear in the summer and are ¾” wide, greenish-white. They are carried in upright branched loose terminal clusters ten to twenty inches long and are followed by leather pods in the fall. The pods are two to four inches long and separates into four expanded leafy sections so that it looks like a flower with pea- like seeds along the margins. The trees give a lush tropical look to a garden but the litter produced by pods and leaves may limit the desirability of their use in the garden or as street tree. They freely produce seeds and can become invasive. [click to continue…]

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Baptisias for the Garden

baptisia-purple-smokeBaptisia, also called false indigo, is a long lived herbaceous perennial and a member of the legume family (Fabeaceae). There are about thirty five species of Baptisia native to southern and eastern US where they grow in woodlands and grasslands. The plants are branched and may become shrub-like, forming rounded mounds. The pea-like flowers are produced in spring to early summer and may be white, cream, yellow or blue depending on the species. They are carried in racemes above blue-green foliage and give way to gray or brown pods that persist into fall and are desirable for arrangements. The leaves are compound and have three leaflets with rounded tips. Plants grow best in rich, deep well-drained soil, with medium moisture and full sun to part shade but tolerate poor soil and drought once established. They are excellent back of the border plants especially where lower growing perennials can hide their naked ankles. Plants resent being moved. The generic name, Baptisia, comes from the Greek word Bapto meaning to dip or dye and refers to the flower extract once used as a substitute for indigo. [click to continue…]

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brugmansia-suaveolens-yelAlso called angel’s tears this tender perennial is a semi woody shrub or small tree with a many branched single trunk and a member of the nightshade family, (Solnoaceae) that includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Like nightshade, it is poisonous with the leaves and seeds being especially toxic. The plant is native to the coastal rainforests of Brazil where it grows along river banks and forest edges. The oval leaves are up to ten inches long and six inches wide. The fragrant flowers are usually white but may be yellow or pink and are produced in profusion. They are trumpet shaped, nine to thirteen inches long, and pendulous to horizontal. Because they are pollinated by moths, they fully open in the evening and are partially close during the day. The plants make eye catching specimens and can be grown in containers and taken indoors during the cold months. [click to continue…]

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