The Gardener's Apprentice

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What makes a garden interesting in winter?  Good “bones,” plus shape, color, and landscape elements with interesting bark, like Japanese stewartia, oak leaf hydrangea and snakebark maple.

Tips

As the weather gets colder, continue spending at least a few minutes every day in your garden.  Autumn light provides a different perspective on landscape details and is good for gardeners’ spirits.



October 20, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Winter Color

The late Joan Rivers often started comic riffs with the words, “Can we talk?”  It’s time to follow her lead and talk about getting through the winter. Some of us give thanks when hard frosts arrive, because we can take a well-deserved break from garden chores.  We tend our houseplants, decorate for the holidays and eventually—usually about January—start dreaming of spring.  A few of us even grow desperate enough to attend to household chores that we neglected during the growing season. As daylight hours diminish, even sloth-like gardeners yearn to peer into the winter gloom and see something interesting in the landscape.  Evergreen lovers have long added such interest by installing all kinds of large and small evergreens.  ...

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Rose Hip 2

October 13, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Hip Happiness

At the end of the garden season, I cling to my roses, at least figuratively. Even as night temperatures begin to dip and the geraniums on the porch shiver, I deadhead the roses to keep them producing flower buds. No one knows if the weather will cooperate long enough to bring those buds to bloom, but as long as the possibility exists, I refrain from trimming back the canes. This restraint means that some years I have full-blown roses to add to the Thanksgiving centerpiece. The flip side of that coin is that the shrubs may not get pruned until spring. Usually I can live with that tradeoff. Rose hips are an excellent reason for letting roses do what comes naturally. Hips, which are sometimes called “heps,” are the seed vessels or fruits of ...

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Aster Monch

October 6, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Monch Madness

There was a time when I had no asters in my front garden. Then I planted one small pot of tall, pink-flowered ‘Alma Potschke’ asters. ‘Alma’ prospered—so much so that now, if I didn’t pull out the seedlings every year, I would have hundreds of ‘Alma Potschke’offspring. Not only do I pull out the seedlings, but the deer crop the young plants regularly during the summer months. Each and every deer-besieged ‘Alma’ responds by branching out and producing more flowers, which ultimately produce more seeds, which in turn germinate and become next year’s seedlings. It’s a circle of life kind of thing and the circle that keeps expanding. As the result, my yard fills with pink asters in fall. A few years ago I decided that I wanted ...

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September 29, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Parlor Maple

Pity the poor parlor maple. It is not a maple tree by any stretch of the imagination and its days of houseplant stardom peaked back when people still had parlors. It’s a sad predicament for a lovely plant. The plant taxonomists will never assign parlor maples, more formally known as Abutilon x hybrida, to the same Acer family as common sugar, red and Japanese maples. Abutilons are simply not related to maples, despite having maple-like leaves. The fashion cycle is a different story. Everything comes back in style if you wait long enough—just look at the fashion trajectories of big hair and platform shoes. Centuries have come and gone and every twenty or thirty years, one or both of those styles return to fashion for one or both sexes. ...

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