The Gardener's Apprentice

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For a lot of color in early spring, hellebores are the ticket.


Start looking for the early risers in your garden.  January thaws mean that in some places, snowdrops and Christmas roses put in appearances.

January 22, 2018
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Hansen’s Hellebores

Today I made a foray into the semi-snowy wasteland that is my back garden to see if I could find any hellebore buds.  Recent snowfall has covered the big Christmas rose—Helleborus niger—with a white blanket.  I scratched through it, but no buds have had the courage to pop out yet.  Next week, after a few days of relatively balmy weather, the story may well be different.  With the optimism that is a gardener’s salvation at this time of the year, I will keep looking until I find evidence of life. In the meantime, abundant life is leaping upward from the pages of the mail order/internet catalogs that arrive every day.  I am drawn to the hellebores because they will bloom early and provide a bit more visual appeal than their fellow ...

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January 15, 2018
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Book Review—The Rose

The rose is the Mona Lisa of the plant world.  For millennia, humans have coveted them, grown them, celebrated them in every art form and sought out new forms and varieties.  Some of us, especially those who have to do hand-to-hand combat with blackspot and other rose diseases, have occasionally cursed them.  But the fascination remains. Now there is yet another book that seeks to tell their story.  The Rose: The History of the World’s Favourite Flower in 40 Captivating Roses With Classic Texts and Beautiful Rare Prints is a cumbersome title for an excellent book.  Written by Brent Elliott, rosarian and historian of England’s Royal Horticultural Society, The Rose combines history, botany, horticulture and art to shed light on ...

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January 9, 2018
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Spring Preview

Count on January to deliver uncertain winter weather, post-holiday doldrums and the bills for December extravagance.  It also brings the moment gardeners have been waiting for—a chance to sit down with catalogs and websites and plan for the coming growing season.  Snow days were meant for wallowing in horticultural daydreams, spending unlimited imaginary money, and feasting on the enticing and exciting new offerings from plant breeders and merchandisers. One caveat about the word “new”… Often a merchandiser will bill a plant as “new” that has actually been on the market for several years.  In such cases, “new” really means “new to this vendor.”  It doesn’t really matter.  If a plant is new to you; it is “new”. Since ...

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January 1, 2018
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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The other day I felt the familiar pangs of plant love at first sight.  This has happened often over the years because I have a fickle heart and endless curiosity about beautiful and unfamiliar plants.  Most of the time these sudden crushes result in good plant acquisitions.  A few have turned out badly, but I can’t dwell on that, because doing so might make me wary about starting the next delightful plant love affair.  Sometimes you just have to take risks. The object of this week’s passion is primulina.  This sounds like either a baby primrose or the love child of a primrose and some other, closely related species.  It is neither of those things and, in fact, a primulina is not a primrose at all.  In the world of familiar ...

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