Time For Daylilies

Time For Daylilies

The Midseason Stalwart As we end June and begin heading into the Fourth of July holiday, it is time for  Hemerocallis, or “daylilies”. They really come into their glory at this time, bridging the rose and the Lilium (true lily) bulbs. From the simple “roadside lily” this plant has become a major landscape component and the Midwestern gardener’s most dependable flowering friend. I can remember my Dad’s excitement when “Stella D’Oro” was introduced, with its promise of all summer flowers (he was a great fan of daylilies). Since then, this variety has become ubiquitous, spawning others with its same qualities, and helping to make the Hemerocallis much more than the sidenote it once was. Heights, Colors, Recipes! For the modern gardener, the varied heights, bloom times, delicious colors, and flower forms help make this one of the top perennials to include in our yards. They have so many uses from color in the border to slope holding plants, to features throughout the landscape, including service as a groundcover. Plus you can eat the budswarning: some people are allergic to them! The taste? A little like squash blossoms, a little like radish. Just saute in some butter. The flowers and tubers are edible, as well. The Look A large mound of arching, lush green straps that last attractively throughout the season. In the Midwest, this stays good looking until hard frost, and arrives each spring just late enough to make cover for bulbs. Early bloomer : June Midseason – July Late: – August-September The flowers are the highlight of this major landscape perennial. They arrive in midseason, according to whether they are early,...
New Breeds Of Coreopsis

New Breeds Of Coreopsis

Many of the gardening books I read some thirty-odd years ago sang the praises of Coreopsis verticullata. I listened and planted ‘Golden Shower’ (which is also known as ‘Grandiflora’). It performed as promised and became a well loved perennial in my gardens. Then came ‘Moonbeam’ which offered a pale lemon yellow bloom that harmonizes with most pastel color schemes, in contrast to the bright yellows of ‘Golden Showers’ and ‘Zagreb’, two very golden, eye catching types that were commonly offered. The nature of this time honored perennial has changed. Hybridizers now have been aiming for new colors, plant habit, and health. In the original I felt the hardiness and health was exceptional. But the new colors captured my attention- they were delightful and I promptly planted them into color schemes where they shone… for one season. In my own experience, I cannot get the new breeds of Coreopsis to behave anything like a perennial. It isn’t clear whether they weren’t hardy enough or whether they melted out in winters- ours tend to be cold, more wet, with little snow cover and harsh winds. It has been a challenge for numerous plants. The series I put into my garden during those years were the “Limerock” hybrids (especially love ‘Limerock Dream’), and they are now referred to as a “fiasco” for northern gardeners. It seems to be their hardiness was questionable. Now I don’t feel so bad about their loss, though I was quite disappointed at their disappearance. I expected them to be like the ‘Golden Showers’ that had done so well for me. Now there are cultivars that have reputations...
Seating Spots: The Well Placed Bench

Seating Spots: The Well Placed Bench

The message of any group of seats or well placed benches is that a garden is a place to rest, relax, and enjoy. Every hard working gardener needs to take a breather and we all should take some time to sit and enjoy the fruits of our labors. A Quiet Spot Entire backyards may be dedicated to the concept of meditation and quiet, but I think every truly well designed space requires at least one spot that is primarily centered around a sense of rest and serenity. Take a look at a Serenity Garden A popular idea that is used in many gardens and parks is the bench under a sheltering bower of green leafy branches or vines. Tucked under an arbor, within a pergola, or next to the shade tree, this restful seating is the perfect place to enjoy birdsong, flitting butterflies, and the scent of roses on the air. The Inviting Patio My husband and I have been particularly enjoying the deck with its cozy seats, patio table and umbrella. Whether chatting over cool evening drinks,  enjoying a grilled meal, or just a morning cup of coffee alone, this is one highly valuable landscape feature that gets used almost every day. ( In pleasant weather, of course!) The best way to take advantage of such a place outdoors is to list the desired features ( i.e. place to eat and entertain, solitary getaway, quiet and out of the way or front and center to the door,etc). Be aware of sun and shadow, whether there is a pocket of warmth during springtime or if heat might make an...
Native Shrub: Physocarpus Opulifolius ‘Diablo’

Native Shrub: Physocarpus Opulifolius ‘Diablo’

Purple Ninebark Goes To The Dark Side Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’, sometimes called ‘Monlo’ and ‘Diabolo’ (Oh, those plant namers love to have fun with us!) creates a bit of drama in the landscape. This is a large shrub, but has many assets, including all season interest, attracts wildlife, provides foliage interest, and is extremely easy care. Native over a wide range of North America The Look Grown mainly for its dusky purple leaf, the ‘Diablo’ also boasts of spring flowers, similar in look to Bridal Spirea, winter bark interest, and a very tough nature. The leaves are shaped most like a small hedge maple’s, although officially the description is “oval with three to five lobes”. The small flower balls are composed of tiny individual florets with five petals. Mine blooms at the end of May or in the first week of June. Characteristics member of the rose family has red berries pinkish-white flower clusters tall vase shape width:8 feet and over X height: 10-15 feet dusky purple foliage very hardy Zones 2-7 wind and salt resistant stabilizes slopes Large dense shrub with strong arching branches. The berries are small and not very noticeable against the dark leaves, but that doesn’t matter since the birds strip them early on. Diablo Ninebark In My Garden Though native to areas along streams and watersides, it tolerates my rather dry late summer conditions very well; I never have to water it. The most beautiful associations with it happen to be the Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’ and the variegated Sedum. These two plants provide both harmonious and contrasting foliage. I also underplant it with a...
White True Geranium, Geranium Sanguineum ‘Album’

White True Geranium, Geranium Sanguineum ‘Album’

Here is another plant whose names have confused gardeners. Not just the appellation of “Geranium”, this being the true one in contrast to a Pelargonium, but it has undergone some botanist changes since the time I first bought it. Geranium lancastriense ‘Alba’ is how I had come to know it. If you wish to find it now, Geranium sanguineum ‘Album’ is the proper Latin name. Also commonly called: Bloody Cranesbill Hardy Geranium Lancaster Geranium Perennials such as this one are rarely given a great deal of notice. They aren’t the divas of the garden, but playing their bit parts, they are perhaps all the more indispensable. This plant more commonly comes in a pink shade, but I like the clear white which mixes well with other colors and contrasts beautifully with its own vibrant deep green foliage. The Look A five petaled cup of luminous white, distributed over a rounded mound of foliage when grown in a border or as an edging. It is far more loose when growing in a wild garden, peeking out from grasses and other plantings. The leaves are finely cut five lobed circles which turn somewhat colorful in autumn. The entire plant remains good looking throughout the growing season, from the mid spring bloom to the autumn. I like to trim up the plants in the midsummer, but other than that they require little maintenance. About in  10″ height and 30″ wide, this plant tends to grow in a loose mound shape. The foliage keeps a fresh look all season. It grows from a rhizome, and originated in the woodlands and scrubby hillsides of Europe.   Characteristics low, 10 in....
Spring Regrets About Planting Tulips

Spring Regrets About Planting Tulips

… Or I should say about not planting tulips last fall. It never fails that when spring rolls around (especially after the type of deep freeze winter we had this year), that I regret not planting more tulips and other spring blooming bulbs. Fall is the time for that, and last year I was completely taken up with decluttering and preparing for a grand holiday reunion. Yes, almost all my children and grandchildren came to my house from far parts of the country and we had the best Christmas ever! But back to that fall bulb planting opportunity: I didn’t have the ability to fit it all in and didn’t even go to the plant store last fall. That must be a first. Spring is when you realize just how much the beauty and color of Dutch bulb growers are appreciated. For little money and relatively small efforts on a gardener’s part, there is a rich display of gorgeous blooms in such vivid hues that you can’t resist bringing some into the house for a vase. Each view out the window can light up even dreary days, when oval blooms of painterly pinks, purples, oranges, or yellow decorate the landscape. So, is the regret going to turn into sad feelings of missed opportunity? Absolutely not. Now is the best planning window for making the best of the coming fall. Seeing plainly where past stands need replacing or dividing, where the garden pictures could best use a swathe of crocus or those subtly tinted tulips you so admire. It is a wonderful time to note the varieties wanted, write them...
Plant A Garden For The Fragrance Of It

Plant A Garden For The Fragrance Of It

When expending effort and expense for a garden, most today will opt for fresh herbs or food for the table. Some desire low maintenance landscaping that will add to the value of their homes, but some of us want the sheer sensory delight that a bevy of perfumed plantings will give us. It is something of an old fashioned pleasure, I suppose, because it takes time to slow down and enjoy the aromas of plants outdoors. You know, the old adage of taking time to smell the roses. Not all the plantings easily fit into modern demands for “easy”, demand-free gardening, but what they lack in ease they more than make up for in reward to the soul. Some, of course are well known. Roses, as mentioned, Oriental lilies (Lilium), Lavender…but some have fallen out of favor and may be harder to source, require purchase and planting of seed, or catalog order. If you were to add aromatic foliage, sweet smelling flowers, shrubs, or trees to your yard, where would you begin? Roses There is good reason to start with roses, since modern types can provide bloom almost all season, some of the most desirable scents, in a good looking landscape shrub. The key is in the right choice, among the thousands available and offered al year. Downton Abbey® Anna’s Promise, Grandiflora Rose But which ones yield the best perfume? Have the finest flowers? Hold their own in terms of garden worthiness of health and foliage? Not all roses are equal in this regard, and it may surprise you to find that some roses have no scent at all. They are grown...
Getting Started: 14 Early Spring Garden Chores

Getting Started: 14 Early Spring Garden Chores

Seasons While there are specific jobs for each month, yard gardening is mostly ruled by seasons and their weather patterns. In the temperate region of the Midwest we have more than the four seasons, because each one is nuanced by early, mid, and late versions. In earliest spring, it may be too risky to plant outside, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some cold hardy crops, some preparations of soil and seed planting that aren’t on the chore list! Beginning Gardener? It’s Early Spring Or Late Winter The season that starts in February and goes through about mid-March is either late winter or early spring in the gardens around here. Which is it? For me, it is early spring: snowdrops are appearing, along with other bulbs that push the envelope every time there is a break in the weather. Sometimes it is an Aconite, and the tips of snow crocus make their appearance. While the really early narcissus are called “February Gold”, and names like that, it is rare that we would see any blooms before the middle of March. But the daffodil spears are breaking the soil surface at this time! All signs that spring will win out in the next few months. While January is much too early to start seeds, there are some that can tolerate some frost outdoors, especially if you have a coldframe setup; and indoor starts of some that need longer seasons should be planted now. Here are twelve early spring chores to get a jump start on the busy Spring growing season. 14 Early Spring Chores Get tools ready Buy the tools...
Growing Herbs From Seeds and Cuttings

Growing Herbs From Seeds and Cuttings

The General Information On Propagating Herbs There are three popular ways to increase your herb plants: Cuttings Division Seeds I would like to tell you more about the two ways to create the largest numbers of plants, which are the methods of taking cuttings and planting by seed. Which method will work best for you? It depends on the desired outcome. If there is an important trait, like variegated leaves or hybrid vigor, then the only way to be sure those are passed to all the progeny is through “vegetative” means like cuttings. You may have fewer plants through one effort, but they will all be just like the plant they were taken from. Seed may carry traits, such as certain “strains”, but if they are hybrid seed they will revert when seed is collected. Of course, hybrid seed is available, but at greater expense. Some plants are tricky to grow from seed. Usually, though, seeds will be the most economical, and even the easiest if you sow directly into the ground. Of these techniques, which will you try for more herbal harvests this year? Click here to learn more Quickest for many plants is by planting seeds, easiest way is through the division. Cuttings fall somewhere in between, taking time to grow the roots, and preserving all the qualities of the parent plant, while holding the possibility of making a quantity of plants (without disturbing the parent too much). Some plants are difficult to propagate properly by seed. Most can be multiplied through cuttings, which also retain all the qualities of the parent plant (not always true of seeds)....
Garden Hoes

Garden Hoes

Every Garden Shed Should Have A Hoe One of the Basic Garden Tools Comes in Many Forms Think that all hoes are just six of one, and half dozen of another? Think again! Each style of hoe, and there are many, serves a specific purpose in making the hard row to hoe lighter work for you. That translates into a tool that saves your back, and gets the job done well. How many hoes are in your tool shed? What is the difference, and what are they used for? Take a little time to look through the descriptions of hoes on this page and then choose the type that is best for your garden task. The Ancient Hoe We still use it today, and for the same reasons Hoes are some of the oldest known tools that man invented for cultivating the soil. Primitive hoes were made of animal scapula bones for the tool blade, secured with animal sinew to handles. In Fort Ancient, early Indian hoes of freshwater shells and deer antlers have been found. When ground is unusually dense or hard the hoe is used to break up clods of earth; later in the season when weeds become more of a problem, hoes are used to chop resistant plants out of the ground.   The pick, the adz, and the plow all seem to have derived from the ancient basic hoe.   Now, of course, our tools are refined to their purpose and can be made of ergonomically designed modern materials. We could still use bone tools or clamshell hoes, but they would hardly be worth the...
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