The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

Striped crocuses, like the classic ‘King of the Striped’, add maximum impact to the spring garden for minimal expense.

Tips

Amaryllis = holiday cheer.

Amaryllis = holiday cheer.

Now is the time to start amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs for Christmas bloom.



October 17, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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The Green Man

Last weekend, I found the gardenalia store of my dreams in a Pennsylvania town.  Like many wondrous finds, it happened by accident.  Like many wondrous finds in the northeastern United States, it happened because I couldn’t find a parking place. As I walked the half mile from the parking lot to my destination—a quaint village center full of interesting shops—I caught sight of a very large fountain.  Crossing the street to get a better look, I discovered that the fountain sat in front of a double lot overflowing with garden ornaments.  The array was staggering and ranged from formidable cast-concrete statues to minute wrought iron finials, no doubt salvaged from long-lost fences.  Without even turning my head, I could see a three-foot ...

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October 9, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Beautyberry

Birds love shrubs that produce quantities of fall fruit.  Unfortunately birds generally don’t communicate with plant merchandisers.  Humans finally began to agree with the birds in the last third of the twentieth century, as the three or even four-season gardening trend took hold.  Garden writers caught the bug and began extolling the virtues of fruits like rose hips, viburnum berries and the yellow beads that adorn Oregon grape holly.  The incessant clicking of their keyboards probably drowned out the cheers of the birds. For garden brilliance, you can’t beat bright red berries, hips or drupes, and the selection of worthy, berry-bearing plants is large.  But what if you are partial to blues and purples, or want something just ...

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October 2, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Blue Boneset

Late fall is dominated by orange, red, russet and gold, as brilliant leaves, goldenrod and millions of cushion mums crash together in a colorful, season-ending plant eruption.  But the prelude to all that brilliance rolls through in early fall, in the form of blue, pink, purple and white asters, boltonia and fall-blooming crocuses.  A less known traveling companion is blue boneset, aka wild ageratum, perennial ageratum, mistflower and blue mistflower.  Its botanist friends used to call it Eupatorium coelestinum.  Now they have found a name that twists the tongue even more—Conoclinium coelestinum.  Latin names may be understood by plant lovers everywhere in the world, but blue boneset’s English common names are infinitely more evocative. You ...

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September 25, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
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Perennial Gardeners

Some day I am going to open a school to train professional gardeners.  I have ample proof that such a school is much needed.  After spending years tending my gardens and those of others, not to mention fraternizing with landscape designers and garden lovers, I have discovered a universal truth.  Lots of horticulturally-inclined people want to design gardens for others, but almost no one wants to tend those gardens once they are up and growing.  Those who do are often under-prepared and lack the focus and discipline that the field requires. Why is there such a shortage?  The reasons are many and somewhat complicated, but money is probably the simplest.  Perennial gardening, except in areas with year-round gardening climates, is a seasonal ...

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