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How to Map and Plan a New Garden

The cusp of the New Year is not prime gardening season in much of the United States. But, it’s often an excellent time to map and design a new garden or planting border, even in areas that experience real winter. All that is required are bare ground, a relatively mild day, and a few common household items.

Start by considering the garden’s location, size, shape, and desired plants and […]

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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 Tropical Fruits Indoors

Dwarf Cavendish bananas and calamondins and are super tropical fruits for indoor growing.

Growing tropical fruits in Toledo (or Toronto or Trenton) may seem like the stuff of fantasy. It’s perfectly doable, though, thanks to the numerous dwarf tropical fruit trees that take well to containers and flower and fruit at a young age. A warm sunny outdoor location in summer, an equally sunny indoor niche in […]

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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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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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Chaste Tree For Bees, Butterflies, and Summer Blooms

Think of chaste tree (Vitex agnus–castus) as an equally showy but less invasive alternative to the ubiquitous butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii).  A shrub or small tree that behaves as a dieback perennial in the coldest fringes of its USDA Hardiness Zones 5b to 9 hardiness range, it bears candelabras of lavender-blue flowers from summer into fall, […]

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Hurricane Resistant Trees

This allée of bald cypresses shows that these strong, wetland trees also perform beautifully as street trees.

If you live in hurricane country –which encompasses just about any
place in the U.S. within 100 miles of the Atlantic seaboard – the wrong tree in
the wrong place can pose a major threat to life and property.  This is something […]

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Caladium: Foliar Fireworks for Shade

Caladium can come in shades of pink, red, white and many shades of green.

Download the Nursery Ready Plant List

Summer color is always a challenge in the shade garden. Among the most valuable plants for filling the summer color void are the many showy-leaved hybrids of the tropical American native, Caladium bicolor. Available in a range of flamboyant hues, including flamingo-pink and flaming red, these tender perennials kick into […]

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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.

Download the Nursery Ready Plant List

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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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 garden […]

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