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Growing Winter Pears

Many of the finest pears (Pyrus communis) for growing and eating are harvested to perfection in the winter months. Their fruits become juicy, even buttery, when fully ripe. By late fall, they should start showing up at orchard stands and farmers markets for fresh eating and cooking, but homegrown fruits are even better, if you have the time and yard space.

Like most popular tree fruits, such as cherries, […]

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Homemade Caramel Apple & Pear Fig Honey Butter Recipes


Tart, spicy, fragrant fruit butters are great winter treats that can be canned and shared as holiday gifts. Apples and winter pears are in season, so there are no better fruits for making dessert-quality spreads perfect for spreading on buttery toast, dipping with salty pretzels, or dolloping onto spice cookies. If you have your own apple and pear trees, even better! [Click here to learn how to grow your own winter pears!}
These butters […]

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Everblooming Summer Vines for Gardens

Common (pink and purple) and blue morning glories are two everblooming summer vines.

Savvy gardeners know that flowering vines do more than just hang around. No matter how thick their stems, vines are masters at pulling their weight in the garden, brightening vertical spaces, and providing small-space gardeners with a larger plant canvas.

Everblooming or nearly everblooming annual vines give the most colorful bang for the gardener’s buck and also […]

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Vining Vegetables for Vertical Gardening

Vining Vegetables for Vertical Gardening

Don’t have as much space for growing vegetables? Then maybe it’s time to go the way of Jack with his beanstalk. Numerous veggies are vines perfectly suited for training up a trellis, thereby taking advantage of upright, aerial space. Vertical veggies also hold their fruits clear of the ground, reducing their susceptibility to rot. Three-dimensional gardening offers multiple advantages.

There are a couple of common […]

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Collectible, Colorful Coleus for Containers and Beds

The colorful coleus ‘Henna’ is so pretty that it is a stand-alone container plant. (Image by Jessie Keith)

If coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) did not already exist, it would be necessary for gardeners to invent it. Its virtues are numerous—beautiful, easy to grow and propagate, repellent to varmints, available in endless varieties, and lovely from early spring through the first hard frost. You can even overwinter plants that you are […]

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Creative Four-Ingredient Edible Gardens

Creative Four-Ingredient Edible Gardens

Now that spring is well underway, it’s time to think about interesting ideas for simple, productive gardening.  Even the most efficient gardeners tend to glaze over when confronted with a long plant list, but most of us can cope with cleverly devised, four-plant gardens. 

Below are “recipes” for three different themed planting combinations containing edible and ornamental elements that can be contained or planted in […]

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Growing Serviceberry for Fruit and Beauty

The summer fruits of serviceberry are tart and sweet.

Well-loved plants tend to collect lots of descriptive common names.  Serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.) have amassed quite a few, including Juneberry, shadbush, shadblow, May cherry, servicetree, and sarvisberry.  No matter what you call them, trees and shrubs of the Amelanchier species deserve attention and appreciation from home gardeners. It is hard to beat them for hardiness, adaptability, four-season interest, and fruits, […]

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Japanese Flowering Cherries for Every Yard and Garden

A Historic Spring Gift

In 1912, the people of Japan donated over 3,000 flowering cherry trees to the people of the United States as a gift of enduring friendship. Planted around and near the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., the trees delighted visitors and gave birth to a festive seasonal tradition. It is no surprise that home gardeners clamored for Japanese cherry trees.

Most of us don’t have room for […]

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The Best Shrubs for Container Gardens

There are lots of reasons to grow shrubs in containers.  You may have a small garden or no garden at all.  The only sunny spot on your property may be covered with concrete, or your soil may be so poor that even poison ivy fails to thrive.  Then again, your “garden” space may be a porch, terrace or balcony.  Perhaps you have acres of space but want distinctive […]

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Late-Winter Garden Flowers for Bees

Amur Adonis is a very early bee flower with very showy flowers.

The late-winter blooms of glistening snowdrops, golden witch hazel or the earliest crocuses are all bee-pollinated. Most of the first American woodland wildflowers are also pollinated by native bees. These pretty flowers are vital early forage for bee populations everywhere, which is why they should […]

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