The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

Most gardeners are at least a little superstitious. This becomes very obvious when you do something–like removing a healthy plant–that is likely to invoke the wrath of the Garden Gods.

Tips

Clip fading daffodil flowers to keep plants neat, but allow leaves to remain and store energy for next year’s blooms. Resist the urge to braid or otherwise tidy the leaves.



April 21, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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The Wrath of the Garden Gods

Recently a friend invoked the wrath of the Garden Gods. While trimming the winter-worn leaves of her hellebores, she came to a patch of the wonderful Eric Smith hybrid—Helleborus x ericsmithii. These hellebores don’t generally need trimming, because their beautifully marbled foliage remains good-looking right through the winter. Sometimes, however, all those lush green leaves obscure the lovely pinkish white flowers. My friend was forced to clip off some healthy leaves to liberate the blooms. Needless to say, she felt guilty. As all gardeners--or at least those with an ounce of normal superstition—know, removing healthy plant parts is almost certain to bring down the wrath of the Garden Gods. This will invariably result in something ...

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April 14, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Moss Saxifrage

The name “Georg Arends” will ring a bell with astute gardeners, even if it only sounds faintly familiar.  Arends was a German nurseryman and plant breeder with an establishment in Ronsdorf-Wuppertal, an imposingly named town near Cologne.  He lived and worked from 1863 to 1952, a long career, that left an impressive legacy.  If you have ever planted a shade loving astilbe or false spirea in your garden, chances are it was a hybrid variety of Astilbe x arendsii developed by Arends.  Now that the equally shade-loving bergenias or pigsqueaks are fashionable, some people will almost certainly grow Arends’ bergenias, including the pink-flowered ‘Abendglocken’ or ‘Evening Bells’. I have grown Arends’ plants before, so it is ...

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April 7, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Hellebores and Divisions

It has taken an extra month this year, but the hellebores have finally come into their own.  Over the past few days, I have made circuits of the garden, gently raking away the dead leaves that camouflage new growth and clipping away last year’s ratty old foliage to free the flowers.  Newly liberated, they open up their petals each morning to enjoy the pale, intermittent spring sunshine. The big clump of Christmas roses or Helleborus niger in the back garden has been wide awake for weeks and the flowers are now blushing pink, something they do in their dotage.  In the next few days, I will divide them, as the clump is big enough now to be sliced into thirds and spread around.  I want to put at least one division in the shadier portion ...

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March 31, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Edison’s Plants and Plans

Thomas Edison—1847-1931—was an American original, who held 1,093 U.S. patents and invented devices that changed life for just about everyone.  From the first practical electric light bulb to the stock ticker, Edison was a genius at coming up with new ideas, but, unlike many genius/inventors, he was also adept at setting up manufacturing processes and distribution methods. Though he has been gone over eighty years, he was and is a source of pride in my adopted home state of New Jersey. Thomas Edison was a singular individual.  Though less well-known, his namesake plant, ‘Thomas A. Edison,’ is a singular dahlia.  Standing three to four feet tall, ‘Thomas A. Edison,’ is a formal, decorative type with rich, dark purple flowers ...

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