One of my favorite flowers of any season is Fritillaria imperialis, the Crown Imperial. Blooming in mid- to late-spring, its tall, ramrod-straight royal bearing, colorful flowers, and leafy tuft for a crown make it an eye-popping standout in any garden. It seems to do best in our roadside flower beds, where it is literally a traffic stopper.
So you've decided to take the plunge and try growing some of your bedding plants on your own from seed. Or perhaps you're already among the initiated, but have had some disappointing failures. I've found that instructions from seed sellers can vary considerably regarding the appropriate germination and growing conditions of a particular plant.
During this holiday season, both food and flowers abound. Did you know that you can serve both? Yes, you can have your flowers and eat them too! Many flowers are a pleasure on the plate and palate as well as in the garden.
The word chrysanthemum comes to us from the Greek chrysanthos meaning "golden flower": chryso "gold" and anthos "flower." The word was coined by Swedish botanist, Karl Linnaeus, who introduced this flower to the western world. Chrysanthemums are the second most popular flower in the floral industry, next to the rose. They are the quintessential autumn flower and are one of the longest lasting cut flowers.
At 45 letters, “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” is considered to be the longest word in the dictionary. It’s the name for a disease of the lungs, caused by the inhalation of silica dust. “Phytoremediation” comes nowhere close to this length, but is still a mouthful. It comes from the Greek word “phyto” meaning “plant” and the Latin word “remedium” which means “restoring balance.”
If you have a vegetable garden, you know how wonderful those veggies taste when they're whisked out of the garden and onto the table in less than an hour or so. Imagine the coordinated effort it would take to accommplish that for an entire village. The Amana settlers did just that and did it well.
In his much heralded reference book, "The Hostapedia"*, Mark Zilis lists 7,400 hostas, most differing in leaf shape, size, color, variegation pattern, texture, or some combination of those leaf attributes.
What exactly do we mean when we describe the color of a flower as "lavender?" On the color wheel below, where exactly does lavender start and where does it end? And exactly which flower varieties do we perceive as lavender?
Those long-awaited harbingers of the spring garden are beginning to make their appearance here at Cottage-in-the-Meadow-Gardens: snowdrops nodding their greetings as I pass by, early species crocuses lifting their tiny yellow chalices in a toast to the warmer weather to come, and winter aconites dancing about in their bright green mini tutus and yellow tresses.
This is the second in an informal series of articles I will be writing on underappreciated or little-known gardeners who deserve our appreciation and who increase our knowledge and enjoyment of a gardener's life.*
It’s that time of year again when we gardeners curl up with all those mail order catalogs that seem to multiply overnight in our mail boxes, even before the year is done. The current count at our house is 36 and holding—and that’s not counting duplicates!
If you like to make holiday wreaths or even if you've never made one but would like to, here is your opportunity to craft three distinctive ones that may become seasonal favorites, as they have in our family.
For those of us who garden in temperate zones here in the U.S., the growing season is quickly coming to a close. I find that my attention has already turned from outdoor garden plants to those I will be growing indoors. As I consider what I want to grow on my windowsills this winter, I’d like to share with you some of the plants that I’ve found interesting and relatively easy to grow.
Upon first seeing zinnias in bloom in Mexico, the Spanish conquistadors were not at all impressed, naming it mal de ojos, or "bad for the eye," i.e., so ugly that one would not want to cast one's eyes upon it.
Thanks to world-renowned horticultural firm, GGG (Unternehmensgruppe Grünewald), based in Europe, an entirely new plant has made its gardening debut. An interspecific cross between annual verbena and creeping phlox, Velox promises to be one of the more exciting new plants available to gardeners in the coming years.
Ever on the lookout for unique plants that will grow in my Zone 5a/b garden, I occasionally discover one that I feel other gardeners would like to know about, because of its ease of care and other positive attributes.
Eight miles northeast of my South Amana, Iowa, home lies a 170-acre lake with a unique and somewhat murky history. It was not always there. And when it appeared, it was soon filled with stunning lotus lilies of unknown origin.
In this era of growing emphasis on energy efficiency, many of us who live in temperate zones or colder are seeking ways to better seal our homes to achieve higher efficiency in heating and cooling. But that effort has a downside as well.
Every year a whole host of new plant varieties is offered to gardeners across the country. Let me introduce you to some of the companies that provide them and the new plants they are offering this year.
After writing an article about gladioli some time ago, I decided to pursue their origins a bit further. I wondered, among other things, whether they were indiginous to areas other than South Africa. Join me on my "expedition" and discover where it leads us.
Close your eyes for a moment. It’s a beautiful, sunny, warm day in May. You’re standing in the midst of a vast forest of apple trees in bloom. You drink in the intoxicating fragrance of the blossoms and listen to the pulsing hum of busy bees as they go about the business of gathering pollen.
The holiday season is over. The accompanying decorations are packed away once more in their accustomed places. I find myself wondering: were the walls really this bare before I put up all those decorations? Stripped of its holiday finery, the hallway looks almost gloomy. I decide to make a trip to the basement to check out my cache of craft materials in hopes of finding inspiration there for making some cheery replacements for the long winter ahead. The first thing I come across is a stack of grapevine wreaths of various sizes. Having played with some digital images of snowmen earlier in the day, I decide to build one myself.
While I was busy decorating our home for the holidays recently, I found myself humming a tune that I hadn’t heard or thought of in years. It begins: “How’d you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island...”
It's June 1998. I'm sitting in my office in Iowa City staring at the radar on my computer screen. Outside a ferocious storm is raging. The noise from the storm is deafening and only intermittently do I hear the wail of emergency sirens above the roar.
Common flower names can be quite descriptive and uplifting (think Morning Glory), but some can be downright misleading and even have a somewhat nasty connotation. Case in point: Melittis, commonly called "Bastard Balm." Some European gardeners turn their noses up at this beauty, because it's not a true orchid and so is considered an impostor. As far as I’m concerned, doing so is their loss.