Showing posts from September, 2017

The Trends in School Gardens

When school gardens were first established, it was often to provide extra produce foo school cafeterias. They wanted to encourage kids to eat fresh food and to expose them to new tastes and types of fruits and vegetables.
          That original goal has expanded.  Now educators across the country realize that school gardens offer a unique learning laboratory for students. 

A school garden allows kids to study the natural life cycle of the vegetables—from seed to harvest. They  also provide a hands-on approach to learning about  nutrition and health. 

And school gardens also show children that what you eat can be a product of your own work and design.  

Over 7,000 American schools now have school gardens, where kids and teachers collaborate on design of gardens, nutrition information, the science of plants, harvest, and more. This graphic is inspiring and I hope leads to more school gardens!

Jewel Tones in the Garden

I love the term 'jewel tones'.  It sounds like crystalline music: "the singer's jewel tones soared through the atmosphere..."

Jewel tones are rich colors with a high level of saturation. They are bold and their vibrancy resembles the color of gemstones, such as emerald green, amethyst purple, ruby red, topaz yellow, sapphire blue, tourmaline green, and turquoise blue. Many artists like these saturated colors.

In fashion, jewel tones never go out of style..they are the clear, pure colors that people with a 'winter' skin coloring should wear. Some folks just look fab in purple, magenta and royal blue.

Gardens featuring jewel tones are alluring but be careful : rich colors must be used in moderation or your garden can become an overbearing cacophony rather than a scintillating song...

But done right, clear, vibrant color is a winner. Even in a quiet Japanese garden this violet/magenta azalea looks great! photo by Mark Windom.

A swimming pool in full sun in mid-…

A Native, Blue Flowering Plant for your Woodland Garden

Got Dry Shade?  

Heart-leaved Skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) is a native, deer-resistant plant for a dry semi-shade to open shady site. It grows 14-20” tall and is hardy in Zones 4-9. 

It also has blue flowers.  Wow!

During the summer the blue-purple, snapdragon-like, tubular flowers bloom and last until early fall. Afterward, the flowers are replaced by small dark nutlets (skullcaps).

This plant likes alkaline soil with pH of 7 to 8. (Add lime). The root system is fibrous and spreads by rhizomes.  It can be a little aggressive so take care. 

Its leaves are ovate and have a purple metallic patina to them at flowering. Quite lovely. 

Heart-leaved Skullcap is easily grown from seed and will self-seed in the garden. Plants may go dormant after bloom in hot dry summer weather so plant summer salvia or other plants nearby. 

Deer avoid it. Isn't that great?

This variety of skullcap is native from Maryland to Kansas south to Tennessee, Texas and Mexico. 

Grow Heart-leaved Skullcap from seed and let…

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…