The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

Crested iris looks much like its tall, bearded relatives, except in miniature.  A spring bloomer, the little plants relish part shade, do not attract the attention of deer and require little care.  Let a wave of crested iris roll through your spring garden.


Now is the time to find late spring bargains at garden centers.  As you cut back daffodil foliage fill border “holes” with discounted plants.

May 24, 2016
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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The Crest of the Wave

I love serendipitous plants—those crafty covert operatives of the horticultural world that seem to spring up unbidden and surprise you with their beautiful flowers.  Not long ago a friend had a serendipitous experience with nodding star of Bethlehem or Ornithogalum nutans.  Touring her garden one day, she caught it in the act of showing off its elegant, pale green and white striped flowers in a garden corner.  She hadn’t planted it, but, as stars of Bethlehem are wont to do, it had taken up residence anyway.  Luckily for the nodding star, my friend was enchanted. My own most recent bout of serendipity happened with a dwarf crested iris—Iris cristata-- that had been lurking for nearly a year at the base of a new lilac bush.  Since ...

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May 16, 2016
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Rockin’ Rozanne

I grew up in a town that was less than an hour’s drive from Niagara Falls, but the only time we paid a call on that natural wonder was when we hosted visitors from England.  In similar fashion, I have lived—at least horticulturally speaking—near the perennial  hardy geranium ‘Rozanne’ since its introduction in 2000, but never installed one in my own garden until now. Of course, I have recommended ‘Rozanne’ many times and even installed it in friends’ gardens, but somehow, other plants kept capturing my attention.  Like the crows that occasionally inhabit my landscape, I have a weakness for the garden equivalent of shiny objects. For those who have not seen ‘Rozanne’ in garden centers and nurseries everywhere, the ...

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May 9, 2016
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Barrenwort Bounty

Sometimes, no matter what you do, plants just die.  When it happens, you haul them out of the ground, consign them to the compost pile and ease on down the horticultural road.  Other times, you think a plant is dead and it makes a phoenix-like resurrection.  This happened to me two weeks ago.  The phoenix in question was Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum, otherwise known as a yellow-flowered barrenwort, bishop’s cap or fairy wings.  I bought it as part of a plant-purchasing frenzy one year ago and installed it in a new garden bed.  It had already bloomed, but leafed out nicely over the growing season.  The mild winter meant that the leaves hung on through the dark months. Then the grim reaper rode in on the wings of a late spring ...

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May 2, 2016
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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When I was much younger and had very little life experience under my belt, I lapped up elegiac poetry.  I am pretty sure that many bookish teenage girls did the same thing before the advent of 24/7 texting.  Elegiac poetry also paired nicely with the hunger pains engendered by the tea and strawberry yogurt diet that I occasionally favored in college. I can say from experience that when it comes to wallowing in misery, there is absolutely nothing that compares with reading Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” at three am after breaking up with someone whom you thought was the love of your life.  The fact that the time you spent reading “In Memoriam” was longer than the total time you spent in  the company of the lost love only makes things ...

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