They built a better rose map

Those of you who know more about the science of hybridization than I do are already aware that it takes up to a decade to breed a rose that has the desired combination of traits, whatever those may be. A glance at today’s New York Times tells us that laborious process may become significantly shorter […]

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Posted by on May 1, 2018 at 9:46 am   This post has 8 responses.

In Search of the Perfect Plant

We are all forever perched on a learning curve in the horticulture business. There’s always way more to learn than any of us will ever master – and always more room to fall than we will ever know. Which brings me, of course, to the endless quest for the...

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Posted by on April 25, 2018 at 7:08 am   This post has 9 responses.

Stop the dumb lists

Certain garden-related websites (and I use the term loosely) like to send out annotated lists—top ten this, ten worst that, six ways to do such and such. And the most disturbing mini-trend in this listicle clickbait is the alarmist listing of “Ten Plants You Should Never Grow,” or (from...

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Posted by on April 17, 2018 at 9:26 am   This post has 11 responses.

Grow bulbs for their foliage? Sure!

Many cite the long-lasting and unsightly foliage of spring bulbs as a reason not to grow them. I have two answers for that. One is my ongoing strategy: grow the temperamental tulip hybrids that don’t perennialize as annuals. I find the pleasure they give and the fun of changing...

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Posted by on April 15, 2018 at 11:35 am   This post has 3 responses.

Steel Magnolias

    “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” -Robert Harling, Steel Magnolias   Our saucer magnolia had a tiny bit of stamina left, but I didn’t think it was worth saving. Sapsuckers had just about taken the life out of it three...

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Posted by on April 11, 2018 at 8:24 am   This post has 13 responses.

Of Kids and Kudzu for a Better World

We who worry and wonder about our social-media-obsessed youth and the future of horticulture found some relief at a recent gathering of the Louisville Regional Science & Engineering Fair.  And it all sort of came down to kudzu – the vine that ate the South. The fair was a...

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Posted by on March 26, 2018 at 4:17 am   This post has one response.

Pining for Conifers in Winter

My townhouse garden doesn’t yield much in the way of evergreen trimmings for the holidays. So to cover these pots that hold coleus all season I snatched some juniper clippings from a nearby garden I adopted. The juniper parts still look good three months after they were cut, I’m happy...

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Posted by on February 1, 2018 at 7:29 pm   This post has 8 responses.

From Mt. Cuba – Best Natives you can Actually Buy

Typically, growers in the hort industry fund plant trials (like the ones at Penn State I visited last year) to find out from actual research which plants they should put into production and then market like crazy. But homeowners need trials of plants that are already on the market...

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Posted by on January 25, 2018 at 6:35 pm   This post has 2 responses.

Land Mines of Botanical Vernacular And The Virtues of IPPS

 Scott Beuerlein returns with another Guest Rant. Unless you’re some kind of freak show superstar brainiac like Paul Cappiello, Bill Barnes, or Win Dunwell, at one time or another you’ve been stressed and humiliated by botanical Latin and horticultural terms. Ever enjoy the mixer at the International Plant Propagators...

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Posted by Scott Beuerlein on January 17, 2018 at 9:09 am   This post has 19 responses.

The Little Greenhouse That Could

My first greenhouse was neither big nor fancy. Built in 1980, the 14’ X 32’ hoop house—small by commercial greenhouse standards—became my plant propagation house for the next 15 years. I spent a lot of time in the little greenhouse at Holbrook Farm and Nursery near Mills River, NC....

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Posted by on January 11, 2018 at 9:25 am   This post has 6 responses.

Criminal Charges for Bamboo “Blight” in Yard

From articles in the New York Times and the New London Day I learned that the City of New London, CT has declared overgrowth of bamboo in the yard of resident Carlos Carrion a blight. After failing to pay fines and ignoring orders to cut back the plant, he’s become “one of...

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Posted by on January 4, 2018 at 3:17 pm   This post has 20 responses.

Tulip or Not Tulip – THAT was the Question

There is a soldiers and sailors memorial garden near the center of my small Ohio River town that also pays homage to our local police and firemen. Nobody wanted to leave anybody out. It’s just that kind of town. When we moved here to Utica, IN about 40 years...

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Posted by on December 29, 2017 at 8:42 am   This post has 4 responses.

Rock me, Kokedama

Most Rant readers are likely familiar with Japanese moss ball plants, or kokedama. I was not, however (or maybe I forgot about them), and when I saw a pre-Christmas email from a local plant store offering kokedama of various sizes for sale, with images, I was there the next...

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Posted by on December 28, 2017 at 10:27 am   This post has 2 responses.

Where the Giant Redwoods Roam

We grow many things in Los Angeles; desert agaves, tropical kiwis, tomatoes in November, carrots in January. We like to think we can grow anything, climate be damned. So we plant the treasures of our state, California Redwoods (Sequoia Sempervirens). 240 million years ago redwoods lived through much of...

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Posted by Rick Perillo on December 11, 2017 at 7:44 am   This post has 5 responses.

Perennial Royalty: It’s Inbred

There are few families in American horticulture with four generations of successful nursery crops. There are even fewer nursery legends with a story so well remembered as that of Jack Schultz, the 88-year-old Schultz family patriarch and founder of Springbrook Gardens, wholesale perennials growers, in Mentor, Ohio. Jack’s dad,...

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Posted by on November 29, 2017 at 7:56 am   This post has 2 responses.

Amo, Amas, Amat in the Garden

The further I get into this horticulture life the more I realize how little I know, especially of its outer edges; all that Latin derivation and categorization stuff. That used to bother me. People forever mistake me for an expert. I’m about over it. I’m in my Old Guy...

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Posted by on November 27, 2017 at 8:10 am   This post has 4 responses.

Goodbye, and thanks for your service

Trees are suffering. First, there are the pests; among the most current are the emerald ash borer, the mountain pine beetle, and the wooly aldegid. Then there are the ravages of fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters; it was awful to see the defoliation in the Caribbean earlier this...

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Posted by on November 21, 2017 at 12:12 pm   This post has 8 responses.

Video: Best-Performing Native Plants in my Garden

These days we’re all paying more attention to beneficial wildlife in our gardens, and to that end, looking for good native plants to grow. But which ones? Those official lists of state or regional natives don’t really help the aspiring eco-gardener make their choices. So many of the listed...

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Posted by on November 17, 2017 at 8:26 am   This post has 10 responses.

It’s a Mast Year

Ever heard of a “mast year?” I hadn’t until we moved to our cottage on the Eastern Shore. That was June.  In early September, it started. Artillery fire. Lying in bed in our loft, with no attic to buffer us, it was like the London blitz—except with acorns. The...

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Posted by Sandra Gaffigan on November 14, 2017 at 9:37 am   This post has 5 responses.

Can these Junipers be Saved?

My latest gardening obsession is making over the landscape in front of my housing co-op offices, where the top priority is to do something about the overgrown junipers. Planted too close to the sidewalk and doors, they’d been sheared back, which caused much unsightly needle-browning. The problem wasn’t just...

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Posted by on November 10, 2017 at 8:20 am   This post has 11 responses.