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The Best Japanese Maples for Landscapes

Japanese maples in the Palmatum Group bear hand-shaped leaves with 5 to 7 (or occasionally 9) pointed lobes.
Japanese maples are a whole field (or forest) of horticulture in themselves. Encompassing thousands of cultivars, this enchanting tribe of small trees is the stuff of which lifelong horticultural obsessions are made.

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Purple Vegetables for Color and Nutrition

 

At various times and places, purple has been the color of royalty, rock stars, and rebellion. It has represented bravery, as well as overwrought prose. A shade of purple—mauve—was even used to describe the 1890’s, a time when the invention and widespread use of aniline dyes made purple fabrics and clothes widely available.

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Beautiful Flowers for Rain Gardens

This summer rain garden shows a mix of flower favorites. (Image by David Steakly)
Any low, wet area in the yard where rainwater runoff collects after a storm has the potential to be a spectacular, flower-filled rain garden. Maintaining these landscape reservoirs as beneficial gardens rather than stressed turf will save time and headaches and improve your yard’s looks—as long as you plant the right plants and create a design for all-season bloom.

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Lessons from Wartime Victory Gardens


Victory Gardens inspired millions of Americans that had never gardened to grow food to feed their families. Everyday people learned to garden on a homesteading scale. And, my family was no exception. My maternal grandparent’s Victory Garden taught them to fend for themselves and eat well when wartime rations were most limited.

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The Sweetest Spring Carrots


Poet John Keats said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” And a spring carrot is truly a thing of beauty, if even if it is covered with dirt when pulled from the ground. Wash off the dirt and take a bite of that carrot. You will discover its inner beauty. Time spent in cool spring soil gives home-grown carrots a fresh sweetness that store-bought varieties will never have.

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Planning a Sustenance Vegetable Garden


A well-planned vegetable garden will sustain your family with a variety of fresh produce from spring to late fall. Serious gardeners will even cold-frame garden into the winter months for a steady stream of fresh greens and root vegetables. Sustenance vegetable gardens save money and ensure produce is organically grown. Careful planning and timing are essential for season-long garden-fresh produce for eating, canning, freezing, and drying.

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Late-Winter Garden Cleanup in Six Steps

Cleaning your garden tools is one more way you can prepare for the garden season.
A bit of garden housekeeping in February and March can literally help clear the way for the floral exuberance of April and May. With that in mind, here are some spring cleaning projects for late winter, on days when the Polar Vortex isn’t visiting.

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Organic Plant Protection with Improved Horticultural Oils


Oil-based insecticides have come a long way in the last few decades.  Lighter and more versatile than the “dormant oils” of yesteryear, today’s horticultural oils can be used at most times of the year and are effective against a wide variety of insects.  They’re also among the most benign pesticides, decomposing within a few days of application and causing minimal harm to beneficial insects and other untargeted organisms.  Accordingly, many brands of horticultural […]

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10 Best Trees for Year-Round Interest

Lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana)
Everyday trees provide beauty, shade, air purification and windbreaks, not to mention food and shelter for birds and animals. In spite of all that, we gardeners sometimes ask for even more—four seasons of interest.
The following 10 trees are great landscape performers, adding something special to the landscape in every season, including varying combinations of significant flowers, fruit, colorful leaves, and interesting bark. All are great garden investments that guarantee years of […]

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Bringing Herbs Indoors for Winter


Summer vacation is wonderful for people with culinary herbs.  While you enjoy longer days and uninterrupted stretches of shorts-and-sandals weather, your plants are basking in summer sunshine and warmth.  Basil grows bushy, thyme exudes powerful fragrance, and mints threaten to take over the landscape.  You can harvest herbs whenever you need them, secure in the knowledge that the summer garden will provide an ever-ready supply.

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