≡ Menu

Also called false sarsaparilla, shot bush, small spikenard, wild liqorice, and rabbit root, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the ginseng family, Araliaceae, that also includes ivy, umbrella tree, and Fatsia.  It is native to North America from Newfoundland to British Columbia, south to Virginia, Georgia, and Colorado where it is a widespread, dominant understory species in boreal coniferous and mixed-wood forests, growing in moist, shady woodlands, swamps, and bogs.  Plants grow 12-24″ tall and have pinnate doubly compound leaves up to 5″ long with finely toothed leaflets.  In late spring to mid-summer a 8″ tall branching stalk typically produces three globid umbels 1.6-2″ wide bearing up to 40 tiny greenish white flowers 1/8″ long. The flowers are held below the foliage and are notable because of their long white stamens.  Bloom time lasts 2-3 weeks and flowers are replaced by blue-black berries 1/4″ across. The genus name, Aralia, comes from the old French-Canadian name for the plant.  The specific epithet, nudicaulis, comes from the Latin words nudus meaning naked, and caulis meaning stalk of a plant and refers to the leafless flowerstalk. [click to continue…]

Globe Amaranth is a compact annual growing up to twenty four inches tall and belongs to the Amaranthaceae family that also includes spinach, celosia, and quinoa. It is native to Central America and parts of Brazil but is a popular ornamental in the US. Plants like full sun with moderately moist, well-drained soil and bloom from early summer to fall. The flowerheads are made up of colorful  bracts with a few tiny white to yellow flowers dispersed among them. The bracts are papery and may be white, pink, red, lavender or purple.  The flowerheads dry well on their own stems and are a big asset in dried arrangements.   [click to continue…]

Also called roundleaf alum, this  evergreen herbaceous perennial is a member of the saxifraxge family, Saxifragaceae,  that also includes astilbe, bergenia, and tiarella.  It is native to northwestern North America from British Columbia and Alberta to northern California and northern Nevada,  east to Wyoming and Montana where it grows in rocky areas on cliff-sides and slopes, and  in woods and sub-alpine meadows.  Plants produce a 6″ tall  basal mound of  ovate to heart-shaped leaves that are leathery, hairy and dark green.  Each  leaf is 6-8″ long and has 5-7 blunt, toothed lobes.   Small cream to greenish  bell-shaped flowers appear in dense panicles on leafless stems well above the foliage and up to 35″ tall from late spring to summer. Plants like full sun to partial shade but must have moist soil when grown in full sun and some shade where summers are hot. Both flowers and leaves are good in the vase. A good choice for ground cover, rock garden or border.  The genus name, Heuchera, honors Johann Heinrich von Heucher (1677-1747) a botanist, physician, and medicinal plant expert at Wittenberg University, Germany.  The specific epithet, cylindrica, comes from the Latin word cylindrus meaning roller or cylinder and refers to the round leaves.  The common name poker alumroot comes from the resemblance of the flower spikes to a poker.  The common name roundleaf alumroot refers to the shape of the leaves. [click to continue…]

Book Review: Tell Your Children

With more and more people looking favorably on the legalization of marijuana there is a growing increase in the number of people concerned about legalization, and Alex Berenson is one of them.  In his book, Tell Your Children, Berenson explores the connection between marijuana, mental illness and violence.  Formerly a reporter for the New York Times, the author interviewed world experts from scientists, to psychiatrists, and researches to develop a compelling case for a closer look at the problem.

[click to continue…]

Also called wolfsbane and helmet flower, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes columbine, hellebore, and delphinium. It is native and endemic to western and central Europe where it grows in moist areas in pastures and mountains. The common name, wolfsbane, comes from the use of the plant to produce a poison to kill wolves. The derivation of the generic name, Aconitum, is disputed but may come from a Greek word that refers to the invincibility of its poison. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Vanilla Leaf (Achlys triphylla)

Also called sweet after death and deer foot, vanilla leaf is a herbaceous perennial native to western North America from British Columbia south to California where it forms a dense ground cover in moist shady forests.  It is a member of the barberry family, Berberaceae, that also includes Oregon grape (Mahonia) and barrenworts (Epimedium and Vancouveria).  Plants grow up  to 14″ tall from a rhizomatous root system and have mid- to light green leaves 2-3″ wide.  The leaves are palmately compound with 3 leaflets that may be toothed or lobbed.  In spring small white flowers are produced in a narrow fluffy spike up to 2.75″ long.  The flowers lack petals and sepals but have 8-20 long white stamens.   The genus name, Achlys, is the name of the Greek goddess, daugher of Nyx (night), who personified misery and sadness.  The specific epithet, triphylla, comes from the Latin/Greek prefix tri-, meaning 3, and Greek suffix -phyllus, meaning leafed and refers to the 3 leaflets of each compound leaf.  The common name deer foot refers to the configuration of the leaves while the common names, vanilla leaf, and sweet after death, refer to the sweet vanilla scent of the dried crushed leaves. [click to continue…]

Rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ and Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’ combinationEnjoy the lovely combination of the cherry pink rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin and the sky blue clematis ‘Perle d’Azur over a long bloom time in summer. The rose begins to bloom in late spring and continues into fall, joined in mid-summer by the clematis. This combo is especially pretty growing against a wall but make sure you can walk by it often to enjoy the strong sweet fragrance of the rose. Grow them in full sun but plant the clematis so that the roots are in the shade and mulch well to keep the roots cool and the soil moist. Fertilize several times during the growing season to keep the flowers coming. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Creeping Avens (Geum reptans)

Creeping avens is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes almond, apple, and lady’s mantle. It is native to high mountains in Central Asia and Europe where it grows in rocky, gravelly soil. Plants have long runners up to 32″ in length and pinnately divided leaves with deeply toothed leaflets that are all about the same size. The cup-shaped yellow flowers are 1-1.5” across, appear singly in late spring to early summer and give way to fluffy pink seedheads. The genus name, Geum, is the ancient  Latin name for the plant.  The specific epithet, reptans, comes from the Latin word repto meaning creeping or trailing and refers to the habit of the plant. [click to continue…]

Book Review:

Garden Day! by Candice Ransom is part of the Step into Reading Series that aims to help children have a successful reading experience beginning in preschool. Written for children 4-6 years old, this book is in the 1st step of the series and is designed for children who know the alphabet and are eager to begin reading. The vocabulary is easy, the text is in big type, and rhyme and rhythm are used along with picture clues to encourage young readers to build a reading vocabulary and read eventually read on their own. [click to continue…]

Book Review: The End of Ice

Journalist and author Dahr Jamail takes his readers on a tour of places all over the earth that bear witness to the effects of anthropogenic climate disruption from Denali and the Bering Sea to the rainforests of the Amazon jungle and the coral reefs of Guam and Australia. He examines the effects of climatic disruption on habitats, animal relationships, and people as he travels about and interviews local inhabitants, officials, and scientists. Believing that intimacy with these threatened environment will lead to a desire to care for them, Jamail chronicles his first hand observations and supports them with data from leading scientists in order to focus attention on the urgency of the planetary crisis. [click to continue…]