The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

‘Honorine Jobert’ is a fall-blooming Japanese anemone that is  gloriously white-flowered.  It is also the Perennial Plant Association’s 2016 Plant of the Year. You won’t be able to enjoy ‘Honorine’ until next fall, but you can order it now, if you feel so inclined.


Groundhog Day brings thoughts of spring.  Start the garden planning in earnest.

February 1, 2016
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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And the Winner Is…

It’s “red carpet season”—at least in the media. Every week, celebrities gather to watch and/or receive the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, People’s Choice or any of the thousand other awards that lead up to the Academy Awards. Many of us gawk from the comfort of our couches as red carpets roll out and celebrities dutifully pose, clad in fabulous clothes, or at least fabulous bits of fabric strategically placed on parts of fabulous bodies. The horticultural world has no red carpet and the only costume malfunctions most of us have to worry about involve popped buttons. However, we still have awards. The horticultural equivalent of the Oscar is the Perennial Plant Association’s “Plant of the Year” accolade, which is generally ...

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January 25, 2016
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Hardy Orchids

Right now, you can hardly navigate through the garden centers, big box stores and grocery floral sections due to the avalanche of orchids. Most are moth orchids or Phalaenopsis, which are relatively easy to grow indoors and, thanks to tissue culture, incredibly cheap to produce. If they make your heart sing during the dark months, go for it. I may do so myself, but for now I am looking ahead and fixating on a terrestrial orchid that I can grow in my garden—bletilla, sometimes referred to as Chinese ground orchid, or by another, non-euphonious name, “urn orchid”. You can’t grow bletilla on your coffee table in February, but it is, nonetheless, one of the current darlings of catalog and online vendors. The most popular of the bletilla ...

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January 18, 2016
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Camellias in the Cold

A few years I bought a fall-blooming camellia that was supposedly cold hardy. I planted, tended and fussed over it because I wanted the beautiful rose-like flowers to light up my garden in the late fall. It obliged me by surviving exactly one year. Failure doesn’t usually faze me, but for some reason I did not feel compelled to try again. Then, this past Thanksgiving, I was out for a walk and saw a camellia covered with fat buds. I felt the pull of plant fever and, like all gardeners who have loved and lost, I thought, “This time will be different.” Of course, I am well aware of the adage attributed to Albert Einstein that defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I am not insane, except at ...

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January 11, 2016
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Book Review: The Butterflies of North America by Titian Peale

Some things in this life never change. Take writing and book publishing for example. Author and artist Titian Peale—1799-1885—worked on his book, The Butterflies of North America, beginning with a prospectus in 1833. When he died, fifty two years later, the book was still unfinished and Peale had no commitment from a publisher. In 1916, one of his descendants donated the manuscript to the American Museum of Natural History. Now, 130 years from Peale’s death, the book has finally found its way to print under the museum’s aegis. Somewhere, perhaps sitting in the ether amidst a cloud of butterflies, Titian Peale is smiling. Better late than never. The newly published volume is an inspiration. The Butterflies of North America: Titian Peale’s ...

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