Lady in Black Aster

Want to make your flower border come alive in the fall?

Plant something with dark green to purple stems and foliage for drama. Add flowers in the fall and you have a winner!
The horizontal growing, native to northeastern North America, aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ creates a stir as its dusky purple leaves appear in spring (a similar cultivar is 'Prince' which grows in clumps).

By the end of summer, thousands of small dark buds dot the 2-3-foot-tall plant, promising an explosion of  tiny white flowers with raspberry-colored centers.The flowers appear laterally along one side of the stems, hence, the species name.

photo byJerry Pavia

This short perennial is hardy, has no serious problems, is deer and rabbit resistant, and its many small flowers are a late-season treat for butterflies.

'Lady in Black'  looks good in containers and is great for cut flowers!

Prefers full sun and average to dry, well-drained soil. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, perhaps even colder.  …

Picture of the Day-RED in the Garden

Jack Lenor Larsen transformed his home and 16 acres in East Hampton, NY into the garden paradise called LongHouse Reserve. You can go visit this wonderful garden! 

In one area he installed two rows of Hino Crimson azaleas and then inserted a series of painted cedar posts the same red color as the azaleas that surround them.

When the azaleas pass and no longer bloom, he still has the same red accent among the greenery throughout the season. Here, the berries of the Viburnum in back pick up on that wonderful red.

I imagine they have to re-paint the posts often......but such a lovely and effective idea! Am ff to buy some Hino Crimson azaleas....


GOD: Francis, What has happened to all the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago?

 I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon.

The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds.

I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do Suburbanites really want all that grass?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other pl…


Trees, the earth’s largest and longest-lived plant forms, are Nature’s gift to us. They provide for our sustenance – giving us fire, fruit, shade, shelter, medicine and soil enrichment – and they beautify our environment.  Fittingly, trees symbolize qualities such as wisdom, fertility, courage or strength in many cultural traditions,  For some people, trees offer solace, for others, they represent on-going life and for others, they are enlarge the definition of ‘community’.

Wendell Berry, novelist and essayist, sees trees from this last perspective, "You've got to understand what kind of creature a tree is… they have to receive from us certain deference, a certain respect, as we would extend to any neighbor." When trees are seen as our neighbors, commingling in everyday life, they become a part of our family, standing as silent sentinels, growing amidst – and despite - the tumult of human activity.
 It is the idea of a tree as ally and protective presence that stirs my ima…

Black and White Garden Ideas

Black and White, the oh-so-chic color combination that we see adorning all the hippest living rooms in \urban settings is just as alluring in a garden.

and perhaps even more so because the colors are not from Benjie Moore but from Mama Nature....
(black walls anyone? This is from, a great website!)
Black and white tulip combinations create a luscious contrast especially if they are surrounded with green, green and more green...

I planted Queen of the Night black tulips with a white tulip to create a late tulip show that is also a wonderful cut flower combo.

Another black tulip you must consider is the heavily frilled and feathery-edged Black Parrot tulip which is especially beautiful -  it is dark purple outside and almost black on the inside. (Protect these from wind)

Van Bourgondien Bulbs mixed this tulip with others to create their Mystery Passion Blend:

But Black and White in the Garden is more than tulips....Here are some outstanding black (or at least very dark p…

Coleus - Versatile and Easy!

What plant likes sun or shade - is Fast Growing - Easy to Grow - Adds a visual POP to planters and beds? the answer  :  Coleus
(Solenostemon scutellarioides )
Coleus is a versatile foliage plant that is always at your service, no special requirements other than water and maybe a little pinching as the season progresses... and it thrives in part shade!

What's not to love?

It is an exuberant houseplant, a summertime dazzler and a fabuloso filler plant suitable for any and all applications...

It looks especially wonderful in pots. Place several together like this:

Inky Fingers Coleus, Chartreuse Sweet Potato Vine and others

or in a low, wide mouth planter with ferns:

Or you can plant it in shady plant bed alongside the perennial Ladies Mantle ( alchemilla mollis):

Alabama Sunset Coleus with Ladies Mantle
Or you plant it beneath larger plants - as I did below with a weeping blue atlas cedar.
Coleus sports a wide range of leaf types, colors, and color patterns....Below is one of my faves -…

Varigated Sweet Flag - Rain Garden Plant

Variegated Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus 'Variegatus') is a striking, wetland plant that grows from 2' - 4' tall. Each iris-like leaf sports a prominent creamy-white stripe. Zones: 4-8.

 It makes a punchy addition to a wet area; streamside, pond's edge, or in a container.

sweet flag in a pot

Creeping rhizomes slowly spread to form large colonies in favorable conditions, but the variegated form is not as aggressive as the regular green variety. 

ALERT: the normal green variety is now listed as an invasive -  The New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team,, has this listed on the 2017 Do Not Plant List

lovely leaves from grasslands nursery uk
This perennial doesn't require a bog or wetlands but it needs to be constantly wet in the summer months. Although native to Europe, it was introduced into North America by settlers in the 1600s, and has naturalized over time throughout much of the U.S.   Sweet Flag is hardy (Zones 4 - 10 ) and semi-evergr…