The Gardener's Apprentice

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Seeing a snowdrop pop through the snow can be the most hopeful sign in the world.


On warm February days, get out in the garden.  Clean-up can’t start too early!

February 19, 2018
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Spring is Afoot

Yesterday I was absolutely beside myself because I saw the first snowdrops of the season.  These brave early-appearers are double-flowered, with pale green tips on the outer petals and pronounced green blotches on the inner ones.  I have forgotten their varietal name and the plant tag is currently submerged under a cover of dead leaves, but I know that I ordered the plants from Hitch Lyman at the Temple Nursery in the vast metropolis of Trumansburg, New York.  Whatever the varietal name, they should be called “Trumpet” or “Hope of Spring” or even “Spring is Afoot”. The winter weather has been on-and-off this year, so I have been expecting snowdrops since about January 15.  Usually my first specimens are the common single-flowered ...

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February 12, 2018
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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A Star is Born

Every day in New York and Los Angeles, any number of aspiring actors toil in obscurity, awaiting the moment when they will be “discovered” by someone who can launch their stage and screen careers.  Once upon a time, a flashy horticultural performer with the ungainly name of Eschscholzia californica, had a story much like that. Back in 1825, a short-lived, but extremely well traveled Scottish plant hunter, David Douglas, was on an expedition through the northwestern United States.  He collected seeds of many large conifers, including the beautiful Douglas fir, whose common name pays tribute to its discoverer.  Fortunately for gardeners everywhere, Douglas did not neglect smaller specimens and collected seeds from a little plant ...

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February 5, 2018
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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A Rose for Dave

My husband, David, never failed to give me a card and a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day.  When we were starting out in the suburbs, those roses were more likely to come from the vendor at Penn Station than the local florist.  The thought was just as lovely, but sometimes those end-of-the-day roses were a little past their prime.  Dave knew that and it made him a bit anxious when he handed them to me. My Valentine to him was an enthusiastic response, which made him feel much better.  My Valentine to the roses was a cold bath, which made them feel much better too.  Love triumphed and all parties came out ahead. Since many people will be receiving roses on February fourteenth, it seems timely to talk about how to get the most out ...

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January 28, 2018
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Onions for all Seasons

After seeing five deer grazing contentedly on my front lawn, I started doing some serious thinking about onions.  I had some nice big ones in the crisper drawer and the temptation to distract the deer by hurling those hefty vegetables was strong.  Fortunately the deer heard a noise and cleared off on their own.  My thoughts turned to growing onions rather than flinging them. The onion family, Alliaceae, is large and home to about 700 species, including well-known culinary favorites like ordinary onions, garlic, leeks and chives.  Most are characterized by the recognizable onion or garlic odor.  Deer don’t like that smell, which is a blessing for anyone who has ever cursed Mr. Antlers and his clan for dining on the landscaping.  Rodents ...

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