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.
It was Wolfgang Oehme* who first introduced me to Persicarias--actually, not the man himself, but an article in which he mentioned Persicaria polymorpha (Giant Fleeceflower). I was impressed by the stature of this plant (six feet tall and just as wide), its fluffy plumes of white, the fact that it blooms throughout most of the growing season, and that it’s hardy in our zone 5 garden.
To paraphrase that well-worn Shakespearean saw about a rose: A glad by any other name is still a glad. But...is it one gladiolus or one gladiola? Is it two gladiolus, two gladiolas, two gladioluses, or two gladioli? All of these forms of the name appear in a Google search of "gladiolus." Proper Latin would dictate only two: gladiolus (singular) and gladioli (plural). I prefer to use "glad," which avoids this confusion altogether.
With edible landscaping becoming more popular, it's time to get acquainted with the Clove Currant Vine. Not only does it have clusters of beautiful yellow flowers tinged frequently with red centers (see photo below), it is also fragrant (as its name implies) and bears edible fruit. In fall its leaves turn a bright golden with red highlights. Even if you don't grow this plant for its edibility, it puts on such a show and is so fragrant that it deserves a special place in your garden.
In this second installment of Springtime, Summertime, Autumn, Wintertime … Dreamtime, I invite you to join me in another activity of this "fifth season" that I celebrate every year in January and February.
This is the time of year when thoughts turn to colder weather. Gardens (and gardeners) hunker down for the coming winter. Outbreaks of cold air swoop down from the Arctic, that land of perpetual ice and snow...
Over the past decade, mail order nurseries have begun to offer advice on plant groupings that look particularly good together. They may offer a grouping as a single package for purchase or they may state in their plant descriptions that Plant A would look good paired with Plant B or with Plants B, C, and D. I have found this advice to be very helpful, even when I chose not to purchase the plants from the vendor who recommends a particular grouping. In later years, I began to experiment with my own combinations and would like to share some of them with you.
What is a “no-wa-wa” fountain? The term “no-wa-wa”, perhaps a tad cutesy, originated several decades ago in a contest by Steve Gander, a local Iowa boy, who grew up to become one of the top rodeo event promoters in the U.S.
Last summer I happened to overhear one of our garden visitors telling the local media how much she enjoyed the gardens. The young man with the camera and microphone asked her what, in particular, she liked. She replied that she loved all the little plants and things tucked away in nooks and crannies and especially the gnomes. I had to chuckle to myself--we had no gnomes in any of our gardens!
When the TV show, "Bonanza," with its Ponderosa Ranch, first aired in the 1960s, my 'Ponderosa' lemon tree was already a decade or so old. I normally don't give my plants pet names, but I was tempted to make an exception and christen it "Bonanza" in honor of my favorite show. Little did I know how apt that name was to be.
It came out of the blue. I was relaxing on our second floor balcony in tropical Cairns, Australia, enjoying the dusky scenery on a sultry evening, when a huge creature with strange features and a four-foot wingspan cruised by within several feet of my face. That got my attention!
What's in a word? As far as the word "chocolate" is concerned, actually quite a bit. Join me on a brief linguistic journey that includes not only food for the mind but for the body as well. Along the way, you'll encounter three original, never-before-published chocolate recipes.
As plant diversity around the globe continues to dwindle, the value of seed banks is becoming increasingly apparent. Precious genes that have benefited us in the past, that may benefit us now, or that will benefit us at some time in the future, are being lost .
With a pot on his head, skipping merrily about the countryside in bare feet while tossing apple seeds with gay abandon is the image of Johnny Appleseed I grew up with. I suspect that my grade school peers in other parts of the country did so as well. But is that image accurate?
Summer has drawn to a close and the fall season holds sway once more over the garden and the Iowa countryside where I live. I love the colors of the trees as Mother Nature brings out her autumnal paint brush, and the crisp air quickens my footstep. Still, I long for summer to continue just a little while longer.
When is a shrub not necessarily a shrub? Answer: When it can also be a tree. The best part is that you, the gardener, get to decide which it will be. I'm speaking here of a plant that truly does everything.
If you have bulbs blooming in your yard or garden this spring, perhaps you have experienced the same dilemma I’ve faced in recent years: I’d love to pick some for a bouquet, but then I feel like I’m diminishing the beautiful show. I admit that this feeling may sound a bit fussy, but I’m a senior citizen now, and old garden duffers like me are allowed a bit of eccentricity now and then!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to find yourself in the midst of a tropical rain forest? Smitten as I am with tropical flora, I certainly have. Yes, I’ve seen rain forests on TV, and I even have a mini one on the second floor of our home,* but I wanted to experience the real thing.