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Lisianthus, Zinnia, Cleome and Cosmos– Annuals that just want to Please!

Category: Flower Gardens, Garden Planning, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Reprinted from a story first published in July, 2019. You can't beat an annual plant for its desire to please the gardener. It has one season to live and it puts all of its energy into producing flowers. If you plant a seed, either indoors or directly in the garden, some annuals will germinate and grow to maturity, producing a flower in as little as 8 weeks. Cut that flower and it takes it as a mandate to produce more…
Reprinted from a story first published in July, 2019. You can't beat an annual plant for its desire to please the gardener. It has one season to live and it puts all of its energy into producing flowers. If you plant a seed, either indoors or directly in the garden, some annuals will germinate and grow to maturity, producing a…

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Growing Tall Perennials in your garden

Category: 'Dear Ruth' Column, Flower Gardens, Garden Planning, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Really tall plants are show stoppers in the garden, providing a single grace note against a contrasting background or softening a hardscape element behind it. The last time I visited the Beatrix Farrand Garden at Bellefield in Hyde Park, I took pictures of some impressive tall perennials, such as plume poppy, that grow in front of the walls inside the garden.  English walled gardens are famous for using tall plants as a backdrop in this way. …
Really tall plants are show stoppers in the garden, providing a single grace note against a contrasting background or softening a hardscape element behind it. The last time I visited the Beatrix Farrand Garden at Bellefield in Hyde Park, I took pictures of some impressive tall perennials, such as plume poppy, that grow in front of the walls inside the…

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Growing Milkweed in Your Garden

Category: Garden Planning, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Three of the most popular species of native milkweed are Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) and Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed). There are more than 100 native species in all!  (These 3 species are shown in the photo below from left to right) Milkweed is the only plant that monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on, so it's an important plant…
Three of the most popular species of native milkweed are Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) and Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed). There are more than 100 native species in all!  (These 3 species are shown in the photo below from left to right) Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) in…

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Drought Tolerant and Heat Tolerant Perennials

Category: Flower Gardens, Garden Planning, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

It's been hot and dry here in southern New England this summer, and even hotter in many other parts of the country. I asked horticulturist Ruth Clausen for a list of her favorite heat and drought tolerant perennials. I was delighted to see many of the plants in my garden on her list, and I want to keep adding more of them with the goal of creating a water-wise garden! By drought tolerant we mean they can withstand dry conditions…
It's been hot and dry here in southern New England this summer, and even hotter in many other parts of the country. I asked horticulturist Ruth Clausen for a list of her favorite heat and drought tolerant perennials. I was delighted to see many of the plants in my garden on her list, and I want to keep adding more…

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How To Divide Irises

Category: Flower Gardens, How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Bearded iris (Iris x germanica) is the most commonly grown iris. Its fleshy roots are called rhizomes. The flowers are distinguished by a caterpillar-like fuzzy "beard" that runs down the center of each cascading petal or 'fall'. The "beard" aids in pollination, providing a landing spot for bumble bees and other insects, and supposedly directing them towards the pollen. Iris rhizomes should be divided every 3 or 4 years to maximize vigor and bloom. Two years ago my irises bloomed…
Bearded iris (Iris x germanica) is the most commonly grown iris. Its fleshy roots are called rhizomes. The flowers are distinguished by a caterpillar-like fuzzy "beard" that runs down the center of each cascading petal or 'fall'. The "beard" aids in pollination, providing a landing spot for bumble bees and other insects, and supposedly directing them towards the pollen. Iris…

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My June Garden: Growing Canna, Pruning Lilac, Fertilizing Trees & Shrubs

Category: Flower Gardens, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener", Spring Projects, Tools & Techniques

Part of the fun of gardening for me is that there are always new things to learn. Recently, I learned something new about fertilizing trees and shrubs, about growing canna outdoors in containers, and about pruning lilacs. Where did I get my information? I asked Ruth Clausen the horticulturist and author, and John Hoyt a local arborist who works in my garden! Pruning Old-fashioned Lilacs-- John Hoyt recommends that pruning be done when it’s a little cooler (early morning or…
Part of the fun of gardening for me is that there are always new things to learn. Recently, I learned something new about fertilizing trees and shrubs, about growing canna outdoors in containers, and about pruning lilacs. Where did I get my information? I asked Ruth Clausen the horticulturist and author, and John Hoyt a local arborist who works in…

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Growing Flowering Vines

Category: Flower Gardens, How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener", Spring Projects

There's something romantic and old-fashioned about flowering vines, the way they amble over garden fences and climb up trellises. If you're thinking of planting an ornamental vine in your garden this year, know what some of the different types are by reading on. The basic types of vines are those that cling to a support with aerial roots, those that twine or grow tendrils that wrap around a support, and those that need our help attaching to a support. [caption…
There's something romantic and old-fashioned about flowering vines, the way they amble over garden fences and climb up trellises. If you're thinking of planting an ornamental vine in your garden this year, know what some of the different types are by reading on. The basic types of vines are those that cling to a support with aerial roots, those that…

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Hellebores, Early Spring Bloomers in your Garden

Category: Flower Gardens, Garden Planning, Plant Ideas & Info, Spring Projects, Tools & Techniques

Helleborus orientalis is also called Lenten Rose. In horticulture circles it’s well known that you can’t rely on common names to reveal the true identity of a plant.  The name Lenten Rose sends a mixed signal because it is not in the rose family, but it does bloom during the Lenten season.  In our part of the country that makes it an early spring bloomer!…
Helleborus orientalis is also called Lenten Rose. In horticulture circles it’s well known that you can’t rely on common names to reveal the true identity of a plant.  The name Lenten Rose sends a mixed signal because it is not in the rose family, but…

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How To Get Flowering Houseplants Ready for Spring

Category: Houseplants, Indoor Gardening, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener", Spring Projects

It's time to wake up your houseplants!  As the days grow longer and the sun gets stronger, now is the time to wake up two of my favorite flowering houseplants, clivia miniata and agapanthus.  Because it takes so much energy to produce a flower, they have been resting over the winter between bloom times. Here are some techniques gardeners use to get them ready for spring. Clivia miniata Clivias are native to…
It's time to wake up your houseplants!  As the days grow longer and the sun gets stronger, now is the time to wake up two of my favorite flowering houseplants, clivia miniata and agapanthus.  Because it takes so much energy to produce a flower, they have been resting over the winter between bloom times. Here are some techniques gardeners use…

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Gardening Ideas for Kids: Have More Fun by Using Veggie Scraps

Category: 'Dear Ruth' Column, How-To Projects, Plant Ideas & Info, Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

My friend the horticulturist Ruth Clausen told me about a great activity to do with kids indoors.  She calls it "garbage gardening" because it involves planting vegetable scraps that would otherwise be headed for the garbage pail or compost heap. Ruth asks, 'What sounds like more fun to a child than growing garbage on a windowsill?' It's a good question. Start with carrots and onions, potatoes, pineapples and other vegetable waste, and use recycled cottage cheese or yogurt containers as…
My friend the horticulturist Ruth Clausen told me about a great activity to do with kids indoors.  She calls it "garbage gardening" because it involves planting vegetable scraps that would otherwise be headed for the garbage pail or compost heap. Ruth asks, 'What sounds like more fun to a child than growing garbage on a windowsill?' It's a good question.…

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