The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

Lithodora, a blue-flowered groundcover, has hit the big time, courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries’ new ‘Crystal Blue’ variety. Great for both containers and conventional garden beds, Lithodora requires little except sun and excellent drainage.

Tips

Think about plants that can be dried for holiday decorations. Harvest rose hips, peegee and tardiva hydrangea flower pannicles and poppy seed pods. Store in a cool dry place.



September 22, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Blue Stars

Unless you are a teenager, it is generally a good thing to be “grounded.” For non-teens, the word implies common sense and a focus on reality, as opposed to flights of fantasy. People who are grounded are reliable—the kind you want as friends or neighbors. The kind you rarely get as relatives. More and more plants are “grounded” these days. Many of them are reliable, but in this case, the “grounding” is more literal. Modern plants are much more likely to be relatively short, compared to the garden plants of even a few decades ago. The reasons for this are many. Compact plants are easier for growers to pack and ship. Retailers prize them because they take up less shelf or pallet space. Modern home gardeners are less likely ...

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September 15, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Stirring Sedums

The summer doldrums have officially ended in my garden. Two weeks ago, the roses were sulking through midsummer, sighing like Victorian literary characters and bemoaning their blackspotted leaves. Now they sport happy new blooms and almost sing. Morning glories put out fresh purple trumpets every day as they continue their push for world—or at least suburban garden—domination. The millions of asters are beginning to pop into bloom and by next week, if the weather cooperates, they will be covered with pink, blue or purple daisies. This year, my daughter, who is an Oscar Wilde fan and emulates his “nothing succeeds like excess” philosophy, has added even more asters to the garden. The show should be amazing—as long as I remember ...

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September 8, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Swell Swale

When I was on vacation in August, I saw the most inspiring bioswale I have ever seen. Some people may ask, “What on earth is a bioswale?” The answer is simple. A bioswale is a more sophisticated and ecologically sound version of a drainage ditch. Bioswales are designed to hold, channel and sometimes filter the runoff water that flows from hard surfaces, like parking lots or roads. Located adjacent to the hard surface, the sides of the bioswale slope down gently to a bottom that can be filled with rocks or specifically chosen plants. When runoff water drains into the swale, it slows down and much, if not all, of it is absorbed by the swale. Plants assist in the slowing/absorption process and their roots may also filter out pollutants. ...

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September 2, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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The Bishop’s Children

Stephen Scanniello, horticulture authority and one-time rosarian at the Brooklyn Botanic garden, once said that all gardens need some purple foliage to add interest. By “purple,” he meant a shade so dark that it is almost black. Combined with green, and especially golden green hues, this purple/black transforms mundane planting schemes into visual tapestries. Thanks to promiscuous perilla mint, my garden has more than enough purple/black contrast. Of course perilla is an annual, but its self-seeding habits make it effectively perennial. By the end of the season, the most muscular perilla plants get to be about three feet tall, effectively mimicking shrubs. If I wanted to do so, I could let perilla do all the heavy lifting in the foliage ...

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