The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

Moss saxifrage is a colorful, ground-covering plant that blooms in spring and demands little other than well-drained soil.  It serves the same function as mulch from the garden center, with much less back strain.

Tips

As flowers fade on early spring bloomers like snowdrops and daffodils, divide large clumps and use them to fill in garden bare spots.  Remember to dig deep and leave existing leaves intact when making divisions.



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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March 24, 2014
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Signs of Spring

All around me I hear the steady drone of leaf blowers as landscaping crews remove last fall’s leaves.  Occasionally they are interrupted by the honks of geese flying north.  It must be spring.  In my garden the same spring processes are taking place, albeit more slowly and quietly.  I like it that way.  As the last of the snow has receded, I have begun the annual clean-up, rediscovering my home landscape.  As I go through the beds and borders, I hear the plants’ voices as they rouse themselves after the long winter. Early crocuses and snowdrops are the loudest, yelling like aggravated teenagers. “Get this stuff off me,” they complain, struggling to emerge and bloom through clods of soggy leftover leaves.  I try to attend to ...

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