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Book Review: The Climate Report

The Climate Report is the work of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) that was established in 1989 as a result of an initiative of President Ronald Reagan.  It is mandated by Congress “ to coordinate Federal research and investments in understanding the forces shaping the global environment, both human and natural, and their impacts on society” and  must submit their findings on global change every four years.  This is the first report of the USGCRP issued during the Trump administration. [click to continue…]

Scarlet pimpernel is an annual native to Europe, western Asia and North Africa but  was widely introduced as an ornamental and is now is found in throughout the US.   Although it prefers full sun and sandy soil it tolerates less and grows in farmlands, fields, and gardens as well as along roadsides and seashores.  It is a member of the primrose family, Primulaceae, that also includes cyclamen, loosestrife, and shooting star.  Other common names include poor-man’s weatherglass, poor-man’s barometer, and shepherd’s clock that refer to the fact that the flowers open only when the sun shines. [click to continue…]

Pink tickseed is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial and a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisy, sunflower, and lettuce.  It is native to the East Coast of the US where it grows in moist sandy habitats such as along the shores of lakes, rivers, and ponds.  Growing 1-2′ tall, the plant is branched and has  1-2″ long light green threadlike leaves that are linear above and bipinnate or tripinnate with linear segments below.  The 1″ wide flower heads appear singly on short stalks in mid to late summer and consist of pink untoothed ray flowers surrounding yellow disc flowers. Unlike most tickseeds, pink tickseed is not tolerant of heat, humidity, or drought, and does best in consistently moist soil in cool climates.  Deadheading or shearing is necessary to encourage rebloom and to maintain a neat appearance.  Pink tickseed can be agressive but is useful in cottage gardens, wildlife, gardens, and rock gardens.  The genus name, Coreopsis, comes from the Greek words koris meaning bug and opsis meaning like/similar to and refers to the appearance of the seed.  The specific epithet, rosea, is the Latin word for rosy and refers to the color of the flowers. [click to continue…]

Shakespeare’s Garden: Turnip

turnipThe turnip (Brassica rapa) belongs to the mustard (Brassicaceae) family that also includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprout and radish. Brassica rapa has several subspecies including bok choi, pak choi, and tat so. It is a biennial producing a strong root stock the first year and flowers and seeds the second year. The flowers are yellow and the seeds are produced in pea-like pods. The large leaves are smooth, soft, and deeply lobed. Like other members of the family, turnip is a cool weather crop. [click to continue…]

Chimney bellflower is a short-lived herbaceous perennial and a member of the Campanulaceae family that also includes balloon flower, ladybells (Adenophora) and Lobelia.  It is native to southeastern Europe including Italy and the western Balkans but is naturalized in southern Britain. Plants grow 3-6′ tall and have branched stems with 2″ long ovate toothed basal leaves on 6-8″ long petioles.  Leaves on the upper part of the stem are smaller, lanceolate, and tend to be sessile. The 1″ pale blue  flowers are  bell-shaped and produced in  12-15″ long racemes that arise from the leaf axils in summer.  More flowers  open at the base of the inflorescence  than at the top resulting in a pyramidal shape. Chimney bellflower does not tolerate heat and humidity and may need staking;  it is attractive in informal settings such as a cottage or woodland garden.   The genus name, Campanula, comes from the late Latin word campana meaning bell and refers to the form of the flowers.  The specific epithet, pyramidalis, is the Latin word for pyramidal and refers to the form of the inflorescence.   [click to continue…]

Book Review: Grow It Cook It

If you want to get children interested in eating more vegetables and fruits the DK book, Grow it Cook It, is a good place to start.  It involves hands on experiences with both growing and cooking edible plants beginning with an introduction to the basic principles of gardening from light, soil, water, and nutrient requirements to composting, and pest control. Moving on to the kitchen, it teaches some basic cooking skills such as grating, whisking, kneading, and baking and provides recipes for 15 common, easy to grow vegetables. [click to continue…]

Also called monk’s pepper, chaste tree is a sprawling deciduous shrub a native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia where it grows in moist soil such as those along streams. After being introduced into the US it naturalized and has become invasive in some areas from Pennsylvania and Oregon, south to Florida, Texas, and California. Plants grow 8-20’ tall and have palmately compound leaves with 5-7 lanceolate leaflets up to 6” long and are aromatic and grayish green. The small summer blooming flowers are lavender to light violet or white and are carried in loose panicles up to 12” long. They are fragrant and attract butterflies. Chaste tree has been used in foundation plantings, shrub borders, cottage gardens and butterfly gardens, and as hedges and screens. USDA Hardiness Zones 6-9

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This twining deciduous vine is one of 40 species of climbing fern vines and is native to low open woods, sandy clearings, streambanks, and bog margins from Maine to Ohio south to Georgia and Mississippi. It grows 5-15 feet long and has wiry stems and hand shaped fronds with 5-7 finger-like lobes.  It has two types of fronds, fertile and infertile, with the fertile ones being smaller and found at the tips of the stems.  Plants are considered endangered or threatened in parts of New England and adjacent states and have been protected in Connecticut since 1869 to curb rampant collection of the plant for Christmas decorations.  The plants are difficult to grow because of their need for constant moisture, high light levels, and very acid soil. American climbing fern is a good choice for a bog garden.  The genus name, Lygodium, comes from the Greek word lygos meaning willow like or plant and probably refers to the stems.  The specific epithet, palmatum, comes from the Latin word palma meaning palm of the hand and refers to the shape of the pinnules.  [click to continue…]

Botanical Latin: Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa (ky on o DOX a )from the Greek chion meaning snow and doxa meaning glory

chionodoxa-luciliae-The common name, glory of the snow, reflects the Greek meaning of the botanical name and the early blooming habit of the plant.  These charming bulbs bloom in early spring sometimes when snow is still on the ground.  They are members of the asparagus family, Asparagaceae, and in the same subfamily as hyacinths, grape hyacinths, scilla, and pineapple lilies.  There are six members of the genus Chionodoxa and all prefer well drained soil and cool climates especially in summer.  They need sun but do well planted under deciduous trees. [click to continue…]

Book Review: Shrubs

Andy McIndoe’s book, Shrubs, offers suggestions for choosing the right shrub for every place in the garden. He covers basic shrub care and considers many different kinds of sites and limiting condition’s with descriptions of plants that will fill each need or situation. Drawing on decades of experience, he provides inspiration and well rounded coverage of using shrubs effectively to enhance a garden. [click to continue…]