2018, July 2018, Plant-of-the-month

Pinks

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Some of us are old enough to remember pinking shears, scissors that cut in a zig-zag line. I remember my mother having a pair, although I don’t remember her using them, or just what they were for. Maybe they helped keep cloth from fraying? Anyway, their use isn’t important to this blog entry, although I’d be interested to know if anyone out there can enlighten me. But Dianthus, the plant commonly known as Pinks, (Carnations are also Dianthus) have petals that look like they have been cut by pinking shears, thus the name. They have a sweet scent and come in all shades of… well… pink, from deep red to so pale they are almost white.

The name Dianthus comes from the Greek meaning “Zeus Flower”, and in the language of flowers symbolizes boldness. Varieties include some that form mats no higher than 4 inches tall, to others that reach 18 inches. Carnations grow even taller. Some are Annuals, some are Perennials, and some, like Sweet William, (which is also of the same family) is a biennial. They love sun and are deer resistant. Modern varieties will bloom for weeks, but the foliage is lovely to look at even when there are no flowers, especially those with blue green leaves. (which is most of them.) Deadheading, alas, is imperative to keep their blooms coming.

There is a Dianthus for everyone and I urge you to give them a try if like old fashioned favorites.  To see pictures of some of the possibilities, click here.

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2018, June 2018, Plant-of-the-month

Daylilies

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I have to admit that for a long time I was not a fan of Daylilies. I think that was because, until I started to get really serious about plants, “Daylily” to me meant those orange tiger lilies that you see growing everywhere from peoples gardens to roadsides. Not that a huge drift of tiger lilies isn’t a spectacular thing; but they just didn’t do it for me.

Fast forward a couple of decades, (or maybe three) and they are now one of my favorite flowers in the garden. First of all, there are just so many to choose from! They come in just about every color but blue. Some are scented. Some are long blooming, some are short, and some are tall. Some are single, some double, and some even like a little shade. All have great, green, strappy foliage that contrasts well with just about everything you put them with.

Check them out at your local garden center. Some of my favorites are the “Returns” series, because they bloom almost all season long. There is ‘Happy Returns’, a mid sized yellow one, “Rosy Returns’, a pink version, and ‘Fragrant Returns’, a buttery yellow one than, you guessed it, is perfumed!

Try them out! Red, Pink, Yellow, Green, Peach, Purple, and White is the new orange!

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March 2018, Plant-of-the-month

Scilla

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This month we are featuring Scilla siberica, or Siberian Squill (Or just Scilla), a delightful little woodland wildflower, whatever you choose to call it. It will spread, but since it goes dormant in late spring and virtually disappears, this can be a blessing rather than a curse. And as long as they aren’t planted in soil that is constantly wet, they will grow with very little help from us, which can be an advantage in our busy lives.

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Personally, I find them so lovely that I can’t imagine myself being sick of them, especially since the show that they put on in the spring is just what I need after a long winter. But I’ll let you be the judge!

If you decide to grow them, buy a few bulbs in the fall and plant them in a partly sunny place in groups of 3 or 5. Or, for a more natural look, just toss them in the ground and plant them where they land.  Before long you will have a spring carpet of blue to enjoy, sometimes even in the snow.

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Design ideas, January 2018, Plant-of-the-month

January Plant-of-the-month: Microbiota

Microbiota!

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I have long been a fan of Microbiota decussata, or Russian Arborvitae. While they definitely have their place, I have never warmed up to the host of evergreen, prickly things out there, like Junipers or some of the dwarf spruces. They just aren’t friendly to hands or shins and can get really rangy if left to their own devices. But Microbiota’s flat sprays of foliage are soft and supple and interesting to look at. Its tiny cones, which are some of the smallest of all the conifers, are so small that they rarely hold more than one seed.  The branches look beautiful in arrangements, and in the summer are the perfect backdrop for perennials. In the winter, they turn a wonderful purple-bronze, which adds subtle color to the winter landscape.

 

Microbiota grows to be about 1-1.5 feet  in height in New England, and about 4 feet in width, although it can grow much wider under the right conditions. It doesn’t take over, though, and can easily be kept within the confines of your garden plan. It prefers sun to part shade, and needs good drainage, but otherwise is relatively maintenance-free. It works well on bankings, or in a place where an elegant groundcover is wanted. And, as it’s a zone 3-8 plant, it can be used in a lot of different climates.

 

Try it with Daylilies or plants with lighter, broader foliage like Echinacea or Peonies, or plants with strong colors like Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia). Enjoy its soft waterfall of foliage – and leave the chain mail suit in the house!

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