The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

Bleeding hearts insinuate themselves gracefully into spring gardens, then subside with equal ease, making way for summer flowers.

Tips

Don’t fret if the garden looks a bit untidy as the foliage of spring-flowering plants dies back.  The untidiness is temporary, but the benefit to the plants is long-lasting.



May 18, 2015
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Hearts on Fire

Bleeding heart—Lamprocapnos spectabilis--has shed seeds, if not blood, all over my garden.  I probably planted the first one deliberately ten years ago, though I have no memory of doing so.  Now, they are everywhere.  Normally those words would constitute the start of a rant about garden thuggery.  In this case, however, I have no complaint.  The bleeding hearts are a perfect addition to my mostly-blue spring garden.  The rosy “hearts” attract bumblebees and other pollinators and have just the slightest blue cast, which makes the plants a great foil for their garden companions--ajuga, forget-me-nots, violets and blue columbines.  Garden visitors sing the praises of the total effect, which is always good for morale. Often described ...

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May 11, 2015
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Mulch Experiments

My relationship with mulch has long been fraught with equal amounts of love, hate, drama and boredom, not to mention a lot of heavy lifting.  Did I mention guilt?  Guilt clings to mulch like barnacles on a ship’s hull.  Around this time five years ago, I arranged for a truckload of shredded cedar mulch to be delivered to the rear of my driveway.  Around this time three years ago I got the last of it shoveled onto the beds.  For the two intervening years, I felt guilty about the mulch pile every single day. Apart from its role in producing self-inflicted mulch torture, this ground-covering substance is a great thing for the garden.  I recommend it to everyone.  Mulch acts as a cozy blanket for the soil, protecting it from temperature ...

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May 4, 2015
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Tickled by Tickseed

The daisy or Compositae family is so large—950 genera, 20,000 species and even more cultivated varieties and hybrids—that you could fill hundreds of gardens with family members without even thinking about plants from outside the clan.  Over the last three decades or so, individual daisy genera, including coneflower, asters, Shasta daisies and blanketflower, have caught the eyes of plant breeders, resulting in an avalanche of new introductions. Coreopsis, or tickseed as it is known to its oldest friends, is one of those daisy genera that has bedazzled plant breeders in the U.S. as well as Europe.  As the result, the plant-buying public is now so spoiled for coreopsis choice that confusion inevitably results. It all started with a ...

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April 27, 2015
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Mr. Antlers

Lately the morning news is full of breathless anchor people announcing that someone in some suburb has sighted a coyote.  Easterners thought coyotes were romantic back when they howled at us long-distance from the West; it’s different now the feral canines are here among us. The coyotes are keeping company in our backyards, parks, train right-of-ways and uninhabited buildings with other denizens of the wild, including skunks, rabbits, possums, foxes, wild turkeys, bears and—most of all—deer.  I worry about the coyotes sometimes; I worry about the deer full time.  They are omnipresent in my yard and my neighbors’ properties, nibbling on the vegetation, defecating at will, nurturing their young and—judging by the number of ...

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