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Gesneriads for Bountiful Indoor Blooms

Streptocarpus ‘Polka Dot Purple’ is one of many colorful cultivars available.

Showy, funnel-shaped flowers; attractive, rounded, or lance-shaped leaves; and an overall velvety to fuzzy texture characterize members of the family Gesneriaceae, home to many popular flowering house plants including gloxinias (Sinningia speciosa), African violets (Saintpaulia spp.), and others. Collectively known as gesneriads, they have a dubious reputation for being fussy in cultivation. In fact, many […]

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Celebrate the Wintery Beauty of Florist’s Cyclamen

Even when not in bloom, cyclamen leaves continue to look lovely.

Florists’ cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum hybrids) is a great imposter.  Despite the Latin name persicum, they are not from Persia (modern-day Iran) but hailed from nearby countries, including Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Algeria, and Tunisia. Though the graceful flowers might make you think of orchids, cyclamens actually reside in the primrose family, Primulaceae.  The leaves […]

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How To Force Spring Bulbs In Water

Flower bulbs, water, and a vase (or two) are all you need to bring a splash of spring to your windowsill this winter. It’s as simple as plant-growing gets. The water provides moisture for the bulbs’ roots. The vase provides a container for the water and support for the bulbs’ stems and leaves. And the bulbs take it from there. Everything’s inside these miraculous little […]

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Holly Olive and Its Virtues

Fortune’s Holly Olive is an appealing evergreen with highly fragrant spring flowers.

You might call osmanthus a great imposter, because shrubs and trees in the genus go by so many names.  At various times and places, osmanthus species have been tagged with common names like “false holly”, “tea olive”, “wild olive’ and even the scary-sounding “devilwood”. 

It takes some doing to get a handle on this group […]

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Well-Mannered Groundcovers for Shade

Foamflower is a highly desirable native flowering groundcover for shade.

Back when one-size-fits-all gardening was a thing, ground covers for shade were seemingly as easy as one-two-three: creeping myrtle (Vinca minor), English ivy (Hedera helix), and Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis). That is before they all began invading wildlands. All were neatly arrayed under an equally ubiquitous Norway maple or Bradford pear– both equally invasive and troublesome.

It […]

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Festive Garden Fruits and Berries of Fall

Beautyberries offer one of the most brilliant and memorable shows of fall and there are many species from which to choose.

Depending on where you live, October can be a time when the last of the late summer and early fall color is fading from the garden.  The asters are almost finished, the goldenrod is going, and most of the color comes from potted mums […]

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Garden-Path Fillers: Plants for Cracks and Crevices

Sedums (Sedum spurium shown), thyme, and even a little blue rug juniper act to fill and cover the crevices in this appealing rocky garden path.

Nature abhors bare ground and will happily (and quickly) cover even the smallest bare spaces with weeds.  Keeping those weeds at bay in the cracks and crevices between pavers, stepping stones, or along rock walls can be a perpetual battle. 

It […]

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What Perennials and Shrubs To Plant in Fall

Summer perennials and potted shrubs are great to plant in fall!

“Perennials (both woody and herbaceous) are shifting energy from their tops to their roots, preparing for their fall underground growth spurt.” -Russell Stafford

Gardeners tend to do the bulk of their planting and planning in spring when the horticultural hormones are running high. For many plants and purposes, however, fall is the perfect time to get […]

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Perennials with Decorative Fall Seedheads

Some fall seedheads bring life to changing, late-season gardens, whether by adding structure and texture to beds or bringing beauty to dry arrangements. Many also do double duty by providing fatty, nutritious food for wildlife. Our favorites even continue to look attractive into the colder months.

Part of enjoying fall seedheads is knowing which should not be cut back. Fastidious gardeners need to hold back […]

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Native Hellstrip Gardens

The Highline in New York City is filled with some of the toughest natives for urban hellstrips, such as purple leadplant, native grasses, and coneflowers.

Where there’s a sidewalk, there’s often also a hellstrip – that narrow planting space between the walk and the street. Flanked by baking pavement and blessed with soil composed of compacted sand, construction rubble, and the like, it’s not the most […]

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