Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum' with Narcissus 'Thalia'-imp

Ask a Designer: What’s a Good Ground Cover for Shade?

When a local (DC-area) Yahoo group was asked for ground cover recommendations for shade, these plants were suggested: Ajuga, Hosta, Pachysandra (native and nonnative), Epimedium, and Lily of the Valley, ferns, Hellebore, “some phlox, some carex,” Dicentra (bleeding heart), Sedum ternatum, Tiarella, Acorus, Asarum canadense (ginger) and “lots of spring ephemerals.” But hey, isn’t a ground cover […]

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Posted by on June 2, 2016 at 10:31 pm   This post has 14 responses.

Shopping for Annuals and Perennials

A few weeks ago, I posted a list of tips concerning shopping for trees and shrubs. I promised at that time to follow up with a list of shopping tips for annual and perennial transplants, so here goes. Shop at a well-run garden center. I am leery of big...

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Posted by on May 16, 2016 at 6:41 am   This post has 16 responses.

Do you have a Palafox borealis?

Of course you don’t. I am pretty sure it’s a made-up plant. I was reading about it in a novel by Angela Thirkell called The Old Bank House. Here’s the description of it: …a clump of rather ugly serrated leaves, fleshy and covered with a kind of whitish bristles...

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Posted by on May 10, 2016 at 10:11 am   This post has 8 responses.

Report from New Zealand: How Plants Survived Moa Birds, and More

Scott Aker, head of gardens at the National Arboretum, toured New Zealand over the winter – their summer – with his teenage son, who must have been raised with a high tolerance for hort-speak because from the looks of Scott’s slide show, it was a plant-centric journey. Scott certainly...

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Posted by on May 6, 2016 at 6:32 am   This post has 4 responses.

Slices of Spring and Steak

I’ve been on the clock of Jelitto Perennial Seeds for nearly 21 years. I peddle perennial seeds (over 3,500 different items), but from time to time, with my colleagues there, I enjoy the pleasure of wildflowers, gardens, nurseries and even a good steak. It is a great gig. Georg...

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Posted by on April 27, 2016 at 12:06 pm   This post has 12 responses.

The tulip graveyard

It’s nice, as graveyards go. Colorful bulbs—species tulips, grape hyacinth, narcissus, erythronium—flourish in it throughout the later spring, followed by lush plantings of shade perennials—Solomon’s seal, ghost fern, bugbane (actea), brunnera, hellebores, and, of course, plenty of hosta. It’s unlikely that the casual passer-by could begin to imagine the...

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Posted by on April 26, 2016 at 7:59 am   This post has 5 responses.

Plant Shopping Dos and Don’ts

Plant-shopping is a hobby for most addicted gardeners, but it’s also a craft. Years ago, when I wanted to sharpen my skills, I consulted with the buyer for a busy Long Island landscape installation company; this company depended for its reputation on installing only first class plants. The buyer...

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Posted by on April 18, 2016 at 9:41 am   This post has 9 responses.

#TBT: Plant Lust

Here’s a May, 2007 post from Garden Rant co-founder Amy Stewart, in which she speaks of a situation that has only grown in significance since when this was posted. Gardeners Like Us are naturally suspicious of “branded” plants, particularly when that brand has a hokey name like Proven Winners. ...

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Posted by on April 14, 2016 at 6:46 am   This post has 8 responses.

Wildflowers—learning to settle

A Facebook post from Rant partner Allen Bush got me thinking about wildflowers—not that we’ve been seeing too many flowers outside of any type here in Western New York. Now is the spring of our discontent: after a semi-glorious winter that had temps frequently breaking into the sixties and...

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Posted by on April 12, 2016 at 7:54 am   This post has 12 responses.

Showing Off My Grandplants

One marker of true success for me as a gardener, a situation in which I feel I’ve received a “gold star” from Nature, is when a plant I’ve placed in the garden produces an offspring. Ecologically, this doesn’t necessarily mean I picked the perfect spot for that plant. A...

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Posted by on April 6, 2016 at 2:55 am   This post has 5 responses.

Perils of Plantsmanship

Recently I went to a lecture at the New York Botanical Garden by Italian garden designer Luciano Giubbilei. His passion was infectious and his images were ravishing – spectacular gardens composed of just a handful of elements. This was a message that particularly resonated with me, as I’ve become...

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Posted by on April 4, 2016 at 10:43 am   This post has 19 responses.

The Payoff

For wildlife gardeners — including those who want to support pollinators — certain plants promise a bigger payoff. Shrubs are one category of plant that often deliver more rewards for less effort. They are larger than a perennial and can produce many more blooms per plant. Since they are...

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Posted by on March 16, 2016 at 2:31 am   This post has 5 responses.

When The Aster Hitched a Ride

I received a letter from Raydon (pronounced RAYd’n) Alexander 25 years ago. A passalong plant was on the road to distinction. January 15, 1991 Dear Mr. Bush, I am taking the liberty of sending you an aster that should, I think, be more widely distributed. I can see from...

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Posted by on March 9, 2016 at 7:51 am   This post has 13 responses.

Wild means wild

The season is almost upon us here in Western New York. Snowdrops came and went in early February, though I see just a few late bloomers emerging—they might be some fancy hybrids I put in last September. I don’t bother with crocuses, but do expect plenty of lesser-used ephemerals—like...

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Posted by on March 8, 2016 at 12:27 pm   This post has 5 responses.

It’s the Year of Garden-Park Connections

Have you heard that 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service? Well, here’s the press release, and here’s Find Your Park, a growing collection of stories about people connecting with the parks. (The connection is easy for Michelle Obama – she lives in one, and has...

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Posted by on March 4, 2016 at 9:01 am   This post has 6 responses.

And then—finally—there was one

When we bought our house twenty-three years ago, what I knew about gardening would not have filled a seed packet. I did know early spring flowers were an antidote for winter blahs, so I planted a big sack of snowdrops under the sugar maple. The blooms would be visible...

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Posted by Joanna Brichetto on March 1, 2016 at 11:49 am   This post has 12 responses.

My Granddaughter and I Take On Johnny Appleseed

As a young boy, I would have chosen a gumdrop tree over an apple tree any day. Baked apples, applesauce and candied apples were my answer to An Apple a Day. Any apple coated with sugar was worth sampling. My mother would throw a fresh apple into my lunch...

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Posted by on February 10, 2016 at 8:06 am   This post has 19 responses.

Resolving to become a better naturalist

They knew where to go for the first of everything: the first snowdrops, the first catkin, primroses, violets, forget-me-nots, wild roses, honeysuckle. These flowers appeared in turn on the nursery sills almost as soon as they appeared in the woods and fields. —The Priory, Dorothy Whipple  “I should fall...

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Posted by on December 29, 2015 at 7:57 am   This post has 19 responses.

An Osage expose

Osage orange fruit. Hedge apples. Monkey brains. Maclura pomifera. Yellow-green, squiggly, hairy spheres the size of grapefruits. If these are underfoot on a fall hike, I guarantee someone will mention the purported insect and/or spider repellant properties of an Osage orange. Rumor has it that a few of these bowling balls...

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Posted by Joanna Brichetto on December 7, 2015 at 7:56 am   This post has 16 responses.

Making my peace with poinsettias

As you can  imagine, many of my most passionate rants are years in the past, back when we started. You can only inveigh against lawn culture, shake your fist against Big Chem, or rage about cheap resin statuary so many times. Then there the things I’ve ranted against that...

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Posted by on December 1, 2015 at 9:03 am   This post has 20 responses.
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