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Wonderful Winter-Blooming Shrubs for the Garden

Winter jasmine has beautiful fragrant flowers and a pleasing cascading habit.

January showers bring winter flowers. No – really. Plant the right shrubs, and you can have midwinter bloom whenever the weather turns mild, provided you’re in USDA Hardiness Zone 5b or warmer. Boston, Rochester, Columbus, Detroit – wherever. And, all feed early bees and other essential pollinators.

Witch Hazels

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Terrific Trailing Begonias, Indoors or Outdoors

Shrimp begonia hybrids have lovely leaves and blooms.

If the dark days of December have you pining for flowers, foliage, and fragrance, might we suggest some trailing begonias? These fibrous-rooted members of the Begonia tribe include dozens of evergreen species and varieties that burst into aromatic bloom during midwinter. Bless their hearts.

Brazilian Heart Begonia

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Black Plants for Goth Gardens

What better way to celebrate the Halloween season than to design and plant a Goth Garden? Admit it: you need one.

Of course, you’ll also need plants that look the part. Spiky or bizarrely shaped or ghostly hued plants are obviously essential (a contorted beech – Fagus sylvatica ‘Tortuosa’ – would fit to a twisted tee). Most of all, though, you’ll want some black flowers – […]

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Native Viburnums: Great Shrubs for Fall

Possumhaw has fruits that turn from pink to blue-black in fall. (Image by Proven Winners)

In spring they give us clusters of fragrant white flowers. In summer, their lush foliage and appealing habits take center stage, but fall is when native viburnums really perform. Their leaves turn glowing colors, and fruits of red, orange, yellow, or black, make a decorative statement before they are picked off […]

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Sustaining a Fall and Winter Butterfly Garden

Optimize your garden as a fall migrating butterfly refueling station for monarchs.

Your summer garden has been a haven for butterflies. Painted ladies and orange sulphurs have flocked to your purple coneflowers and white cosmos, and monarch and swallowtail caterpillars have munched on the showy milkweeds, Dutchman’s pipevine, and bronze fennel. Then there were the giant swallowtails, which discovered the golden hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata ‘Aurea’, […]

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Woolly Bears in the Garden: Lore and Ecology

The banded woolly bear caterpillar is only about 1.5 to 2 inches long, but it carries a lot of weight on its small form. Since colonial times, folk wisdom has claimed that even before the caterpillar is old enough to metamorphose into a tiger moth, it has the power to predict winter weather. That is a big responsibility. The gentle caterpillars are also loved by […]

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Bright Fall Flowers for Hummingbirds

Mexican bush sage is one of the best bright fall flowers for hummingbirds.

Bright tubular flowers are nectar-filled beacons of hope for hummingbirds making their fall journey south. North American hummingbirds begin their great migration in late summer–some starting as far north as New Brunswick, Canada. It’s a long journey; an adult ruby-throated hummingbird can travel up to 20 miles and consume twice its weight in […]

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Fun Garden Jobs for Kids

It is natural for parents who love gardening to want their children to share that love.  The best way to grow a future gardener is to get him or her into the garden early and often.  Start off on the right foot by taking the baby basket with you and parking it in the shade when you go out to weed or tend the beds.  […]

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Jurassic Perennials

The large leaves of Prairie dock (Silphium terebinthaceum) add a bold look to a native perennial planting.

Most garden perennials are bit players, chiming in with their month or two of bloom before fading from the scene. That’s why every perennial border can use a few plants that provide spring-to-fall presence. Among the best such plants are the giant-leaved perennials profiled below. Their lush, bold foliage […]

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Carefree American Wildflowers for Sunny Summer Gardens

My favorite carefree American wildflowers of summer are untamed, grassland natives that blow in the breeze and bring color to less formal, airier plantings. Their waves of flower color glow on warm days when pollinators are most active. These are flowers that you slow down to look at along roadside […]

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