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Book Review: The Creative Shrub Garden

The Creative Shrub GardenThere are many books written on mixed borers but few that focus on shrubs. Andy McIndoe fills this void with his book, The Creative Shrub Garden,
that shows readers how to use shrubs in new ways based on the unique qualities that shrubs have to offer. With their versatility and diversity shrubs can be used creatively to create mood and style and this book shows you how. [click to continue…]

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color geg n lawnIMG_5753Madeira is known for its wine and flowers, and the capital city Funchal takes both seriously. A frequent stop for cruise ships, the city of Funchal dates back the 1505 when it received city status and is teeming with old world charm. The name, Funchal, derives from the Portuguese word for fennel, which grew abundantly at the site of the present town. If you visit the city via ship you will probably only have one day there, which is a pity because there is so much to see, but you can enjoy a sampling of what the city has to offer. [click to continue…]

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Aquilegia_alpina_ Ghislain118 Wiki CommonsA native of meadows in the Swiss Alps, this short lived perennial is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, and closely related to baneberry (Actaea spp.) and monkshood/wolfsbane (Aconitum spp.). It has gray-green biternate leaves with leaflets deeply divided into linear lobes. Two to three nodding blue flowers sometimes with a white petal tube are produced from spring into summer in terminal racemes. Each flowers is 2-3” wide and has flared sepals and hooked spurs ¾-1 inch long that contain nectar attractive to hummingbirds and other birds with long beaks.  The genus name, Aquilegia, comes from the Latin word aquila meaning eagle and perhaps refers to the resemblance of the spurs to the talons of an eagle.  The specific epithet comes from the Latin word alpinus meaning from high mountains. The common name columbine comes from the Latin word columba meaning dove.

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Dicentra_spectabilis_2Bleeding hearts are one of the most popular plants for shade gardens. They belong to a genus composed of about twenty species of herbaceous perennials or annuals native to North America or eastern Asia that include Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), golden eardrops (D. chrysantha) and squirrel corn (D. canadensis). All Dicentra have finely divided fern-like leaves and bear racemes of pendent flowers. Each flower is composed of four petals, the outer two of which are modified into pouches or spurs hence the generic name derived from the Greek dis=twice and kentron= spur. The modified petals of bleeding heart form a heart-shape pouch surrounding the two inner petals that protrude from the pouch giving the plants their common name. [click to continue…]

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Polygonum bistortaSnakeweed is a clump forming herbaceous perennial native to Europe and western and central Asia where it grows near water and damp meadows. It is a member of the knotweed family, Polygonaceae, that includes rhubarb, buckwheat and some infamous weeds. The botanical name, Persicaria bistorta, is more recently used for this plant. The medium green paddle-like basal leaves are four to six inches long, and have wavy margins and a white midrib. The ¼ inch pink flowers are carried on stalks twenty four to thirty inches tall in densely packed spikes four to five inches long. The long stamens protrude from the flowers giving the spike a fuzzy, bottle brush appearance. Flowers bloom for a long time from late spring to early summer and are good cut flowers. An excellent choice for a ground cover, front of the border, rock garden or bog garden.The genus name ,Polygonum, comes from the Greek words poly meaning many and goni meaning kneew or joint and refers to the swollen nodes on the stems of some species. The genus name, Persicaria, comes from the Latin words persica meaning peach-like, and sagitta meaning arrow, and refers to appearance of the leaf. The specific epithet, bistorta, comes from Latin words bis meaning twice and torta meaning twisted and refers to the twice twisted root. [click to continue…]

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Book Review: Lola Plants a Garden

Lola Plants a GardenAnna McQuinn’s book, Lola Plants a Garden, tells a familiar story in a unique way. Written for children ages two to five in preschool to kindergarden, the story is about an adorable little girl goes through the process of planting a garden from the point of inspiration to sharing it with friends. The illustrations depict the story line and much more. [click to continue…]

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Hydrocotyle umbellata water penneyDollarweed, also known as marsh/water pennywort, is a perennial aquatic weed native to North and South America. It can be found in southeastern US where it grows on beach dunes, and in moist open sandy areas, marshes, ponds, water filled ditches and well-watered lawns and flower beds. An edible weed, it can be used in salads and as a pot herb. [click to continue…]

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Asclepias-tuberosaThis clump-forming, long-lived, herbaceous perennial is native to eastern North America where it tends to grow on dry soil in full sun . It is a member of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) that also includes bluestar (Amsonia), periwinkle (Vinca), and oleander (Nerium). The medium green leaves are lanceolate, two to five inches long, pointed, and spirally arranged on hairy stems. The bright orange to yellow flowers appear in umbels in late spring into summer and are attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial insects. Each flower has five nectar cups with incurved horns. When a pollinator lands on the flower, its foots slips between the cups and catches bags of pollen on its legs. When the pollinator visits the next flower the foot slips again and the pollen bag is caught by another set of incurved horns. The flowers are followed by attractive spindle shaped seed pods three to six inches long that are filled with seeds bearing long silky hairs that facilitate dissemination by the wind. An excellent choice for a wildflower garden and the bright color of butterfly weed makes it a knockout in a formal border too. The flowers are good in fresh arrangements and the capsules are valued for dried arrangements.

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garden phlox & black eyed susan combinationPlants in high altitude gardens face unique challenges in terms of drying winds,
intense sun, short growing season and frigid temperatures in winter. But none of those factors means that gardeners in the mountains can’t enjoy some of the colorful flowers that the rest of the country enjoys. Some of the most popular perennials do well in the conditions offered by high altitude gardens. [click to continue…]

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3fa88309b94f01bdd5a927e152190f5f2e700444 Smilacina racemosaAlso known as treacledberry, this clump-forming herbaceous perennial is native to North America where it grows in woodlands. It is a member of the asparagus family, Asparagaceae, that also includes glory of the snow, lily of the valley, yucca, and hosta. The broadly ovate leaves resemble those of hosta and are up to six inches long the three inches across. They are carried on unbranched green to light green stems that bear a flat terminal panicle up to four inches long and two inches across in late spring. The panicle is made up of twenty to eighty feathery, fragrant white flowers 1/6 inch across that are sometimes followed by edible glossy aromatic red berries that were eaten by Native Americans for their sweetness. Although the leaves are similar to those of true Solomon’s seal, the flowers are very different. [click to continue…]

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