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Wordless Wednesday–From the Sublime…

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I was on vacation last week.  By the time I left, it was in the 80s, and these tulips were open.

I almost didn’t get there. The northeast had one of its bigger March storms. But luckily I got out right in front of it.

Still,  it was a little jarring to come home to this:

Drifts up to the car doors are never good.

And I hate snaking through these narrow paths.  Oh well.  It’s spring and the sun is warm. It won’t last that long now.

And we’re still in drought too so every bit of moisture helps.

Picking Good Plants–Round Two

On Friday I talked about picking a plant that looked most like every other plant. This is a good rule no matter what type of plant you are buying.

Today I want to get into a few more specifics about  what to do when you get to the garden center–and let’s presume you are at a garden center today, simply because  it will have more signage about varieties and possibly more information on the plant tags that will be accurate for your location.

What do I mean by that? When I go to a box store, I am told that the plant “lantana” is a perennial. That’s technically true. It is not, however, a perennial for me here in New England.

I know that in some parts of the country lantana is considered an invasive pest and can grow to the size of a shrub. Here, we grow it as a nicely behaved hanging basket that has flowers that feed our butterflies and hummingbirds and the plant dies at the first hard freeze. See what I mean now about “for your location?”

So, when you walk into your garden center, depending on where you are, you might find lantana in a hanging basket, you might find it with the perennials, or you might not find it at all because it is invasive in your part of the country. There you are. But chances are, you’re not going to just find it willy-nilly labeled “perennial.”

I know the box stores are working on this–and one reason has to do with their guarantee for a year. They don’t want New England customers bringing in their dead lantana the following spring and asking for a refund–and rightly so! No one is happy in that scenario.

Enough plants die in our now unpredictable winters that they shouldn’t have to give for plants that are mis-labeled. But if they mis-label them, well, they get what they deserve.

Apparently I have gone on long enough about why you should be going to the garden center for your spring plant shopping and not a box store–at least if you are a brand new plant buyer. We’ll talk about what to look for on Friday.

Wordless Wednesday

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Do you grow this plant?  You might be right in asking “which one?” because there are a jumble of plants in this photo.

I mean the one with the trifolate leaves and the tiny white flowers. It’s oxalis–but it’s not a pest like the tiny, clover-like weed with the little yellow flowers that grows in your lawns and flower beds.

This is a pretty ornamental.  They sell it this time of year as the “Shamrock Plant.”  It’s really a bulb.

But if you have the weedy type,  don’t be afraid to try this plant.  It is completely different.

Wordless Wednesday–the ” Lollipop” Trees

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These two maples are in front of our house. They are covered in English ivy, something that can be terribly invasive in many parts of the country but is kept in check in our part of the country primarily by the cold ( at least for now. In the future,  who knows?)

This time of year when the maples have no leaves, I always think that the ivy makes their trunks look sort of like lollipops.  But at least it’s some green in an otherwise bleak time while we wait for other things to start blooming!

Wordless Wednesday–No, It’s Not All Currier and Ives

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For those of you who don’t live in areas that get a lot of snow, here you are.

This is one of our parking lots at a box store.  But it doesn’t matter.  All our parking lots look like this–and will for months. Notice where the snow is piled. It’s up to the lower branches on this good sized tree.

We have mounds like this everywhere,  although some recent warm weather has brought them down a bit. What that means, of course, is that to proceed into any intersection,  you have to nose your car forward very carefully–because you can’t see past the snow pillars.

What the recent warm weather means is that every night we have a re-freezing and the following morning there is ice at the edges of the roads, the ends of the driveways,  in puddles in various places–you get the idea. You hope it doesn’t snow on top of these icy patches.

By now you must be wondering why we all don’t just move? After really bad winters,  many of us wonder that same thing.  But for the most part,  we like “seasons ” and the other three seasons and their beauty and mild weather outweigh this. At least most years, anyway.

Wordless Wednesday–Book Review

By now, you all know that I love most anything that St. Lynn’s Press publishes. So when I was offered a review copy of Jan Johnsen’s The Spirit of Stone: 101 Practical & Creative Stonescaping Ideas for Your Garden of course I said yes. As always with review copies,  opinions expressed are always my own.

What interested me about this book and topic is the fact that I have so much stone in my own garden.  In fact, I have a version of just about every project she mentions in the book with the exception of a true rock garden.

So, since we are in the middle of a a garden trends project,  I wanted to see how stone fit into that–or how its use had changed over the 25 years or so that I have been gardening at my own property.

Since Johnsen has been a landscape designer for 4 decades,  obviously the use of stone has evolved–but many stone projects have timeless appeal, of course.  Depending on one’s part of the country, one need only to think of New England’s stone walls,  which date back hundreds of years, in some instances.

And of course the stone “henges” of ancient Britain go back many more centuries than that!

Johnsen divides her book into chapters that focus on rock gardens, stone walls, walks, steps, stone accent pieces and plant recommendations.  She also addresses the issue of sustainability in an entire chapter.  That is certainly new since some of my stone was installed and it probably would have led me to make different choices from what is there now. I was pleased to see so many of my projects in the sustainable section though.  Whew!

Because the book is called The Spirit of Stone, there is a discussion of different types of stone, its history, and using local stone. This is the very first chapter of the book. I found it very appropriate.  Some people might not care for it.

The book is abundantly full of photos from botanic  and public gardens and the author’s own installations. There is a list at the end of places to visit to see some of the photos in the book. There is also a list of books about stone (some have been quoted within the book and others are just of interest to the reader).

Whether you have been thinking about a stone project or a rock garden for yourself,  or if you just have an interest in stone,  this is a lovely,  well done book.