≡ Menu

firefly 3Also known as lightening bugs, fireflies , are actually beetles belonging to the Lampyridae family of insects. There are over two thousand species, about one hundred fifty of which live in North America. Fireflies occur in the temperate and tropic areas of all continents except Antarctica and can be found in wet areas such as marshes and wet woodlands that are essential for larval development. Although they were once very abundant in many areas their numbers have declined probably due to habit loss, pesticide use, and light pollution. [click to continue…]

Also known as spurred bellflower, this herbaceous perennial is in the Campanulaceae family that also includes ladybell (Adenophora), Lobelia, and balloon flower. It is native to the Caucasus and Turkey where it grows in open scrub and on wet cliffs and steep banks in spruce forests.  Plants grow 18-36″ tall from a tufted rootstock and have simple or branched stems that rise above a clump of roughly hairy, heart-shaped basal leaves that have rounded teeth and are up to 10″ long.  One sided racemes of white nodding flowers  1-2″ long appear in the summer.  The flowering stems tend to be floppy as the flowers are formed and should be cut back after flowering to maintain a pleasing appearance.  Cornish bellflower is a good choice for a wildflower or cottage garden in cool climates.  It is not suitable for the South. The generic name, Campanula, is the diminutive of the late Latin word, campana, meaning bell.  The specific epithet, alliariifolii, comes from the name of a weedy plant called Alliaria, and the Latin word folia, meaning leaf, and refers to the resemblance of the leaf to that of Alliaria. [click to continue…]

Native to the mountains of southwestern China, this deciduous shrub grows 2-3’ tall with a spread of 3-6’. Its arching reddish branches grow in a herringbone pattern and carry ¾” long rounded dark green glossy leaves that that a pointed tip and turn red to purple in autumn. Clusters of small pink flowers attractive to bees appear in early summer and give way to small showy red fruits attractive to birds. Plants are tolerant of dryness, salt-spray, and alkaline soil, and are especially useful as a ground cover or for erosion control on a slope but are considered invasive in the Great Lakes states, California, and Pacific Northwest. USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7 [click to continue…]

Mexican daisy is a tender herbaceous perennial native to Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America but has naturalized in elsewhere including the west coast of the US. It is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes true daisies, goldenrod, and lettuce. Growing  from a woody rhizome the plant is trailing with a highly branched, wiry stem. The linear to oval leaves are slightly hairy, one inch long, and may be tipped with several teeth. The ¾” wide flowerheads have yellow disc flowers surrounded by white ray flowers that fade to pink at the end of a long bloom time. Plants readily colonize in cracks and crevices of paving or stone walls where they add color from late spring into fall.

[click to continue…]

Book Review: A Handful of Dirt

A Handful of DirtRaymond Bial’s book, A Handful of Dirt, is photographic essay about soil. Written for children ages 7-10, it covers the important and formation of soil as well as the many organism that dwell within it. The author’s reverence for soil comes through the entire text whether he is talking about the rocks that provide the inorganic minerals of soil or the plants and animals that create the organic components. [click to continue…]

iris siberian wh

Siberian iris

Few things are more discouraging that having a beautiful garden eaten by the rabbits. Few plants seem to be off limits for rabbits and tender new growth is especially appealing. Most rabbit fences are unsightly so you have a choice of sharing whatever the rabbits like or growing plants that they don’t like. There are many beautiful plants that rabbits hop right by and here are six great picks for sunny spring garden. Please remember, however, there are no guarantees when it comes to rabbits avoiding certain plants but these six are known to be on the rabbit “don’t eat “ list. [click to continue…]

Also called fringed bergenia and hairy leaf bergenia,  this herbaceous perennial is a member of the Saxifragaceae family that also includes foamflower (Tiarella), coral bells (Heuchera), and astilbe.  It is found at higher elevations in the Himalayan region and in parts of  Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet, and China where it grows in woodlands, alpine meadows, and stone crevices of rocky slopes.  Plants grow up to twelve inches tall from a rhizomatous rootstock and form rosettes of hairy  leaves that are 9-24″ across, have toothed and fringed margins, and are almost circular.  Panicles of fragrant pale pink flowers that darken with age appear in late spring.  A slow growing plant, winter bergonia is a good choice for edgings, alpine and rock gardens, and cut flower.  The generic name Bergenia honors the 18th century German physician and botanist Karl August von Bergen. The specific epithet, ciliata, comes from the Latin word cilium meaning eyelash, and refers to the hairs on the leaves, especially those on the margins. [click to continue…]

stylophorum-diphyllumIt is no coincidence that yellow is used for most traffic signs because it is the most visible of all colors. By using yellow in the garden you can make the garden appear bright and vibrant. Yellow is happy, cheerful, optimistic and uplifting. It goes well with green, the dominant color inmost gardens, and looks terrific when accented by orange. Yet it provides a good companion for blue, purple, and red. Yellow’s versatility makes it a very friendly color for many different kinds of gardens. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Rose ‘Hawkeye Belle’

Bred for hardiness, this rose has Hybrid Tea shaped flowers with high centers at first and petals with creamy white edges and blush pink centers. The strongly scented flowers are carried on long stems either singly or in clusters of three to five, occasionally up to seven, and remain attractive for a long time either on the bush or in the vase. The plants are vigorous and bushy with a good covering of prickles and dark green leathery leaves that are bronzy when young. Flowers tend to ball in wet weather. [click to continue…]

Book Review: On Vegetables

On VegetablesKnown for his inventive vegetable dishes, author and chef, Jeremy Fox presents recipes for seventy five signature dishes and seventy five larder recipes in his book, On Vegetables. Although not a vegetarian, Fox believes that plant edibles should get as much attention as animal based foods and that plants should be used from seed to stalk. Accordingly, his recipes reflect his enthusiasm for every edible part of a plant and were written with the aim of expanding horizons and helping people change the way they think about vegetables. [click to continue…]