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Potted Holiday Trees: Selection and Care

Small or large potted holiday conifers are fragrant, fresh and provide living beauty in the home, but which should you choose for outdoor planting, and how do you care for them after the lights and glitter are shed? The right care will ensure their longterm health. Here’s how to give them what they need for success.

Know Your Trees

When picking a live tree, know what kind it is, and […]

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Repotting Pot-Bound House Plants

Pot-bound root systems can no longer access adequate water and fertilizer.

There is no shame in harboring a pot-bound plant. It can happen to anyone because pot- or root-bound specimens come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and situations. The geranium or aloe that spent a luxurious summer vacation on the back porch may be bursting out of their containers. The bargain spider plant, purchased from the garden center at […]

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Plum Yew and Japanese Holly: Better Shrubs for Shearing

Some garden settings are just made for the stylized, symmetrical look of sheared shrubs. Likewise, some shrub species take especially well to being sheared into dense, geometrical shapes

An essential ingredient of formal Japanese gardens, French parterres, English hedges, and other stylized landscape features, sheared shrubs excel at providing structure or at balancing other architectural elements (such as pillared entryways and granite walls). To fill this bill requires a […]

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Growing and Taming Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichoke is a unique sunflower with delicious, nutty, edible tubers.

Gardeners who have grown Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) have a love-hate relationship with it. The tall, fall-blooming sunflower puts on a big show but spreads aggressively by root and rhizome and sends up 8-10-foot stems that tend to fall over at bloom time. Its delicious edible tubers make up for any bad traits. They have a nutty, […]

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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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Small Spring Bulbs with Big Impact

When planting bulbs in fall, plant small. “Minor” bulbs can have a major impact in the spring garden. Individually, they may not measure up to bulbous divas such as Darwin tulips and large-cupped daffodils.  But combine a few divas with a chorus of lesser companions, and the real magic happens. Why have a quartet when you […]

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Beautiful Culinary Sage

In late spring to early summer, sage produces purplish or violet flowers (far right).

For better or worse, we live in the age of multitasking, when the ability to do at least two things at once has become a common goal. As we multitask through our days, we gardeners can’t help but ask our plants to do […]

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Managing the Five Most Common Apple Diseases

Don’t be afraid to grow your own apples. Sure, most varieties are rife with disease problems, but there are varietal exceptions, and smaller trees make management easier. Choosing disease-resistant apples and understanding care requirements will make for a reliably healthy harvest. Aspiring orchardists need not be discouraged.

Before and after steps can be taken to ward […]

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Gorgeous Garden Grasses of Fall

Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, pioneering garden designers like Wolfgang Oehme, James van Sweden and Piet Oudolf sparked an interest in garden grasses. That spark turned into a wildfire of bold, ornamental garden grasses, and now they can be found in public and private gardens all over the world. 

These stars of the informal gardens […]

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Good Garden Bittersweet and Bad

Both the bad and good bittersweet seeds are spread by birds, such as this red-breasted nuthatch.

When it comes to garden plants gone wrong, few have gone wronger than oriental
bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus).  Introduced from East Asia to Western
horticulture in the early eighteenth century, this twining vine was widely
planted for its ornamental clusters of yellow pea-sized fruits that open in
fall to reveal brilliant-red interiors.  Now
it’s widely reviled for its ability […]

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