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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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Bald Cypress for the Landscape

Bald cypress “knees” are an interesting characteristic of mature specimens planted in moist soils.
Even if you’ve never been to the Southeast U.S., you’re probably familiar with one of its signature plant communities: the bald cypress swamp. Nothing looks more “Deep South” than a flooded grove of buttress-trunked Taxodium distichum draped with Spanish moss. It might surprise you then to learn that bald cypress makes an excellent (and hardy) subject for all sorts of […]

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Wishbone Flowers for Shade Garden Color

The flowers of Torenia Summer Wave® Large Blue look spectacular close up.
Gardeners the world over have long suffered from a common ailment—we covet plants, climate conditions, and time that we don’t have. This is especially true of gardeners with shady landscapes. Our gardens may support all kinds of ferns, but we want roses. Hostas the size of small houses sprout without any help at all while we pine for sunflowers. The list of […]

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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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Grape Hyacinths: Small Scented Wonders of Spring

Muscari armeniacum is the luscious grape hyacinth that naturally spreads in the garden.
No group of plants does “adorable” and “blue” better than grape hyacinths. Most gardeners know these captivating little bulbs by way of Muscari armeniacum and its allies, whose elfin spires of chubby blue flowers do indeed resemble tiny bunches of grapes. But there’s another, equally delightful side to the Muscari tribe, with numerous species that are not at all grape-like in bloom. […]

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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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Hardy Terrestrial Orchids for the Garden


If you love orchids and outdoor gardening, then it’s time to welcome some beautiful hardy orchids into your garden this season! There are a surprising number of garden-grown orchids available at garden centers and specialty nurseries these days and many are surprisingly easy to grow. Once they put forth their first delicate blooms of the season, you’ll be hooked.

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