The Gardener's Apprentice

New This Month

Spider form flowers bring drama and boldness to garden beds.

Tips

Fill garden “holes” with pots of annuals purchased on sale from local garden centers.



June 26, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
Comments Off on Daylily Daze

Daylily Daze

July is daylily time, with slender flower buds bursting open joyfully just as the last of the petals have fallen from the roses and the oak leaf hydrangeas have reached their peak.  Though each bloom lasts only one day, the plants are among the toughest around, as well as the most popular.  The common, tawny orange type, Hemerocallis fulva, sometimes maligned with the nickname “ditch lily”, thrive wherever they find even a slightly congenial situation.  Native to China and Japan and resident in the United States since the late nineteenth century, they have succeeded so well that many people think they are native wildflowers. But success has a price and the price paid by those “ditch lilies”, which also turn up in gardens, railroad ...

Click here to read the full article

June 19, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
Comments Off on Hydrangea Hope

Hydrangea Hope

Last year we had no blue hydrangea flowers.  A late spring frost decimated the buds of all old-fashioned Hydrangea macrophylla bushes and for most hydrangea lovers in my corner of the northeast, the blooms never came.  Eventually the shrubs bore fresh green leaves in abundance, but hydrangea aficionados were forced to say “next year” in wistful tones. Two of my three mammoth ‘Nikko Blue’ hydrangeas sat idly by last June, while the third produced exactly one flower cluster.  Since my husband, David, loved the blue hydrangeas best, I took it as a tribute to him, much like the blue plumbago houseplant that flowered unexpectedly on our first Christmas Day without him. Nature often compensates for years like the last one by overproducing ...

Click here to read the full article

June 12, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
Comments Off on Weed or Not?

Weed or Not?

One of the sad realities of my suburban life is that lawn grass grows best in a single segment of my property—the garden beds.  The green blades struggle in the backyard, perpetual losers in the never-ending competition with ajuga, clover, wild violets and broadleaf weeds.  The grass issue in back is exacerbated by the fact that except for the broadleaf weeds, I prefer the interlopers.  In the front yard, the lawn does better and even appears lush and green at certain times.  Its verdure is amazing, given the fact that unless I am walking on the grass or running the mower over it, I ignore it completely. Sadly, I cannot run the mower over the most vigorous grass, because it is growing up through my perennials and shrubs.  The beds ...

Click here to read the full article

June 12, 2017
by The Gardeners' Apprentice
Comments Off on Almost a Hummingbird

Almost a Hummingbird

My daughter, Kate, and I were cruising the aisles of a large, well-stocked garden center last week when we noticed rapid movement in a display of bee balm or monarda.  The garden center was full of butterflies and small birds swooped in and out of the covered plant areas, but it was clear the movement was not typical of either one.  Kate thought the winged creature sipping nectar from the flowers was a large bumblebee.  I thought it was a hummingbird. We were both wrong. The fast flyer in question was a hummingbird clearwing moth or Hemaris thysbe, one of Nature’s great imposters.  At about two inches long—give or take—the moth is of similar size to a hummingbird and shares common ground in eastern North America.  The insects ...

Click here to read the full article