The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

The first day of spring is like New Year’s Eve for gardeners.  Toast the season and make some garden-related resolutions.

Tips

As you clean up the garden, be gentle with the rake, hoe and other tools.  Tiny sprouts are everywhere and at least a small percentage of them are something other than weeds!



March 23, 2015
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Spring Ahead

Gardeners may swill champagne along with the rest of the world at 12:01 on January 1, but most of us don’t truly feel the New Year’s spirit until the temperature starts to rise and the first snowdrops, crocuses and winter aconite pop out of the still-frozen ground.  Even if a bit of snow lingers in the forecast, we look for outdoor chores while exercising our credit cards by making plant and equipment orders. Yesterday I clipped four shivering snowdrops and brought them into the house just to get that New Year’s spirit working.  They responded by opening their petals wide and exuding a beautiful fragrance.  That was enough for me.  I am off and running now, making “New Year’s” resolutions for the garden.  Here they are: Spin ...

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March 16, 2015
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Mr. Flower Show

The horticultural world—past and present-- is full of big personalities, including a colorful cast of plant fanatics, design divas and fastidious flower arrangers.  Each adds a bright strand to the tapestry of horticultural history.  My recent trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show inspired thoughts of one such big personality, J. Liddon Pennock, Jr.—1913-2003— a longtime fixture on the Philadelphia plant scene and patron saint of the annual Flower Show.  Admirers sometimes referred to him as “Mr. Flower Show” or even “Mr. Horticulture.” Pennock’s father was a successful retail florist in Philadelphia, operating a family-owned shop.  Like most businesses, it suffered during the 1930’s and in 1933 Liddon interrupted his ...

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March 9, 2015
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Philadelphia: The Big Picture(s)

I did not go through hell to get to the Philadelphia Flower Show, but my faithful PFS companion and I went through every possible permutation of “wintery mix” to get home.  It doesn’t matter; the trip was worth it.  The flower show this year was big, bold and beautiful, not to mention being worth the wait after six weeks of snow, ice and arctic weather. The theme was “Celebrate the Movies,” with many of the display gardens themed to match Walt Disney and Pixar titles.  The Disney/Pixar angle had the potential to produce some cloying displays and I had imagined a flower show that would make me feel as if I were imprisoned inside a giant animation cel.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  Yes, the display garden inspired by the ...

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March 2, 2015
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Snowdrop Hope

Over the centuries, writers have spilled a lot of ink over a little flower—Galanthus nivalis or snowdrop.  Tennyson and Wordsworth have sung its praises in lines of verse.  Elizabethan herbalist John Gerard described the plant in his 1597 Herball, when galanthus was already old news.  It was most likely described by the great botanist and philosopher Theophrastus in the third century BCE. All of this verbiage has attached itself to a plant that only grows about 6 to 8 inches tall.  The familiar green-marked white flowers bloom at the tops of the stems, drooping from thin pedicels or stalks.  In single forms, snowdrops boast three long, roughly oval shaped petals and three shorter inner petals.  Many varieties are scented—a definite ...

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