Photo by Melody

Dave's Garden Articles: By Gwen Bruno

Friday, April 4, 2014

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Heavenly Hyacinth
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Originally a rather humble spring bulb, hyacinth’s history can be traced back to the time of the ancient Greeks. Markedly improved in form, size and color, today’s hybridized hyacinth has fortunately retained a heavenly scent. As few as three of these classic beauties can perfume a spring garden or walkway for weeks.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

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Know Your Narcissus
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Few flowers better signify the triumph of spring over winter than the narcissus, or daffodil. Perky, hardy and often delightfully fragrant, these flowers are a cheerful reminder that warmer weather is on the way.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

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Shamrock, Symbol of Ireland
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

The association of Ireland and the shamrock is an ancient one. It may have begun when a 5th century Christian missionary named Patrick visited the island to spread the gospel.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

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Garden Visitor: The Dark-Eyed Junco
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Cold weather brings its own delights for bird watchers. Now is the perfect time to observe the handsome little dark-eyed junco, whose contrasting colors sparkle against the winter backdrop.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

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Sansevieria, the Beginner's Houseplant
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Want to add some green to a room, but afraid you have a brown thumb? If so, the sansevieria is for you. Few other houseplants are as adaptable or as willing to endure neglect.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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Garden Visitor: The Chipping Sparrow
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Chipping sparrows are among the most commonly seen and heard North American songbirds. They take their name from the sharp chip sound they make as they call to their flockmates. During the winter, as many as 25 to 50 chipping sparrows may forage together as a group.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

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Amaryllis on the Rocks: Growing Hippeastrum in Water
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

I recently decided to try growing an amaryllis (Hippeastrum) in water. I was so happy with my first attempt that I began preparing a new bulb every two to three weeks. With nothing more than a glass container, a bulb and a few stones, big beautiful blooms can be yours with a minimum of muss and fuss.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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White House Christmas Trees
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Millions of holiday trees are cut and sold every year in the U.S. But only one magnificent evergreen is chosen to adorn the Blue Room in the president's Washington, D.C., residence. What began as a festive decoration intended for the enjoyment of the First Family has today become a symbol of the season for Americans across the country.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The Northern Mockingbird
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

That the northern mockingbird is the state bird of Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas attests to its popularity. Although its coloring is fairly nondescript, the boisterous song of this avian entertainer is anything but ordinary.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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A December Almanac
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

For gardeners in warmer zones, the month of December offers an opportunity to grow cool season annuals and vegetables. Those in more northern areas must content themselves with end-of-the-year chores as they make sure their borders and beds are ready for winter. Indoor gardeners everywhere enjoy amaryllis and other bulbs prepared for forcing, as well as holiday houseplant favorites such as poinsettia, Norfolk Island pine and Christmas cactus.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

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Over the River and Through the Wood: A Thanksgiving Tradition
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Many of America's Thanksgiving holiday traditions are rooted in colonial and post-colonial New England. The state of New York was the first to officially declare an annual Thanksgiving celebration, and by the mid-19th century, other states had begun adopting the practice.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The White-Breasted Nuthatch
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Bird watchers are far more likely to spy the white-breasted nuthatch hanging upside-down than perching right-side up. That’s because it travels head-first down tree trunks, stopping periodically to investigate crevices in the bark.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

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The History of the Bayberry Candle
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

One of the most important autumn tasks of the colonial American housewife was candle dipping. Probably few candles were as pleasant to work with as those made from bayberry wax.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The Northern Flicker
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Next to the friendly downy woodpecker, the most common woodpecker visitor in American back yards is the northern flicker. These percussionists of the bird world are best known for their loud drumming.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

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An October Almanac
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Crisp October's shorter days and cooler nights elicit a last hurrah from many flowers, shrubs and trees. But what a hurrah! This month offers up some of the year’s most lovely weather, and gives us a brief opportunity to enjoy the sight of brilliant red, orange and gold leaves standing against bright blue skies.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

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Osage Orange, an American Original
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

At one time, the osage orange tree grew solely in one distinct area of North America -- the Red River Valley of southern Oklahoma and northern Texas. Named for the Osage tribes of that region, the tree’s range has extended far beyond its original home within the span of only a few hundred years.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The Indigo Bunting
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

With its deep blue plumage and melodic voice, the indigo bunting is among the most dazzling of North American songbirds. Whether singing high in the treetops or foraging close to the ground, this bird always catches the ear and eye.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The American Goldfinch
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

The cheerful yellow plumage and happy song of the American goldfinch brighten a garden on even the grayest of days. These songbirds are faithful visitors to any backyard feeder dispensing nyjer seed.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

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Bountiful, Beautiful Boltonia
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Beginning at end of August, boltonia erupts into an airy cloud of tiny daisy-like flowers that continue to bloom throughout September. This tough, care-free American native grows naturally throughout the eastern and midwestern U.S. along roadsides, stream banks and meadows.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

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Pachysandra, the Shade Gardener's Friend
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Reliable, adaptable and superbly hardy, pachysandra qualifies as one of the best shade perennials ever. Properly cared for in a site to its liking, pachysandra transforms into a living tapestry that remains green or semi-evergreen all year long.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

A glint of green, a flash of red. The ruby-throated hummingbird is a perpetual motion machine, gathering nectar from morning ‘til night. The “humming” sound this bird makes comes not from its throat but from the vibration of its wings.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

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The Tulip Tree: Historic American Hardwood
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Every American hardwood tree offers its own special charms. We love the maple for its brilliant colors; the oak, its bounteous acorns; the birch, its delicate grace. But few species can match the massive tulip tree for sheer magnificence.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The American Robin
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

The American robin is one of the most common, and commonly recognized, songbirds. Residents in northern parts of the country cherish the springtime return of these busy birds as a herald of longer days and warmer weather.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

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Japanese Painted Ferns Brighten the Shady Landscape
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Want to inject some drama and color into a ho-hum shade garden? Look no further than the Japanese painted fern. They brighten any dark area with flashes of silver, harmonizing beautifully with other shade lovers such as hosta, bleeding heart, heuchera and brunnera. This low-maintenance perennial works equally well as a specimen or as a ground cover.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

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A May Almanac
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

May is the month we’ve been dreaming about all winter. Once it’s finally here, our gardens spring to life, seemingly overnight. And although there are a hundred and one tasks awaiting us, we should take time in the coming weeks to simply revel in the beauty of “this sweet and merry month of May.”

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

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Sweet, Sweet Woodruff
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Sweet woodruff, or Galium odoratum (formerly classified as Asperula odorata), is a low-maintenance perennial long cultivated in shady gardens. The “sweet” part of this delicate-looking beauty’s name refers to the refreshing hay-like scent of its leaves and flowers.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The Waxwing
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Waxwings range across most of the U.S., but because they are nomadic, you must remain observant in order to catch their visit. Unlike other birds that dependably migrate from one region to another, the waxwing instead travels spontaneously in search of its favorite food, berries.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

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An April Almanac
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

An April breeze can carry the scent of newly-opened flowers one day, and fill the sky with stormy clouds the next. No matter -- we all know that “April showers bring May flowers,” and that warm and sunny days lie just ahead.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

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A March Almanac
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

March is associated with changeable, often blustery weather, leading to the folk wisdom repeated by every school child: “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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The Asparagus Fern
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

With its lush cascade of delicate, feathery foliage, the asparagus fern makes an appealing houseplant. Despite the plant's many positive attributes, gardeners should observe some precautions in its use.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The Mourning Dove
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

If you have a backyard feeding station, you undoubtedly receive visits from the mourning dove, the most abundant of our native doves. Unlike its extinct cousin, the passenger pigeon, the mourning dove is a highly successful species. It's also the most frequently hunted bird in North America.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

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What Do Your Roses Say in the Language of Flowers?
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Few flowers are more imbued with meaning than the rose. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” according to Shakespeare. "My love is like a red, red rose," sang the poet Robert Burns. “Every rose has its thorns,” “seeing the world through rose-colored glasses” and “everything is coming up roses” are sayings familiar to everyone.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

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The Finicky Ficus Benjamina
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Ficus benjamina, or weeping fig, is a houseplant favored for its graceful shape and glossy leaves. It also has a reputation for being a bit finicky. If you have just brought your ficus indoors after a summer vacation outside, it is no doubt going through a period of adjustment and some--maybe lots--of its leaves are yellowing and dropping.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

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Hippeastrum Papilio: The Butterfly Amaryllis
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

The butterfly amaryllis, or Hippeastrum papilio, is a relatively new addition to the world of the cultivated amaryllis. At one point thought the be extinct in its natural rainforest habitat, it is now widely propagated throughout Holland and the U.S.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

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Garden Visitor: The Black-Capped Chickadee
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Friendly and fearless despite its small size, the chickadee seems to be in perpetual motion. This bird’s cheerful call, inquisitive behavior and nimble acrobatics as it searches for food make it a favorite visitor to backyards.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

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A January Almanac
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

January is a time to reflect on the past year and make plans for the new year. It’s the customary month to pledge yourself to a new task, or make needed changes. Many of our January traditions date to ancient times when the month was associated with the Roman god of beginnings and endings.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

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Growing English Ivy Indoors
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Romantic and elegant, ivy is one of America’s most popular houseplants. Growers can choose from hundreds of cultivars offering a wide variety of leaf shapes, sizes and colors. Depending on its container, ivy can lend either a casual or formal appearance.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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Garden Visitor: The Northern Cardinal
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

The Northern cardinal makes a fine holiday ornament due to the contrast of the male cardinal’s brilliant red plumage against green pine boughs or a snowy winter landscape. This popular species serves as state bird for no fewer than seven states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

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Chicago's Christmas Tree Ships
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

Around the turn of the 20th century, the majority of Chicago’s Christmas trees arrived not overland but by water. Beginning in late November, ships sailed into Chicago’s harbor, delivering cargoes of thousands of Christmas trees from the upper peninsula of Michigan. Improved road and rail transport brought an end to this practice. But tales of Chicago’s Christmas tree ship tradition and of one popular sea captain in particular have become part of Chicago Christmas legend.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

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The Cornucopia: Symbol of the Harvest
By Gwen Bruno (gwen21)

The cornucopia, a horn brimming over with fruits of the harvest, is a symbol of abundance indelibly linked, at least in American minds, with Thanksgiving. It is far more ancient than the Pilgrims, however, and dates back to the 5th century B.C.

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