ITS NEWISH NAME SOUNDS LIKE something you’d take antibiotics to kill off, but in fact Eleutherococcus sieboldianus ‘Variegatus,’ or five-leaf aralia, is the plant that you can count on for spots where everything else dies. (It should have been called cast-iron plant, I think, but Aspidistra long ago laid claim to that common name.) A splashily cream-variegated shrub of maybe 6 or 8 feet high and wide for any condition but waterlogged soil—sun to substantial shade—it’s moderately deer-resistant, too. It’s so cooperative, you can even shear Eleutherococcus as a hedge. I bet you have a spot for such a wonderful and willing thing, deserving not just of problem-solving garden spots but also front-and-center placement. [read more…]
Even in my cold Zone 5B climate, I aim for a 365-day garden. Selecting the right plants is a key. The ornamental plant archive includes reliable, beloved garden subjects that I grow here, many with multiple seasons of appeal, from annuals and groundcovers all the way up to shrubs, vines and trees.
IT WOULD BE HARD not to notice them, because they’re everywhere. Succulents, including many Sedum and Sempervivum and other less-familiar faces, seem to be trying to tell me something this season, as in: “We’re all the rage.” At garden shows and nurseries, and even in my own garden where a few pieces fell out of a pot and planted themselves as if to say, “I belong right here, Margaret,” I feel as if 2013 is the Year of the Succulent. I’m paying heed by starting a succulent wall planting; using them in pots, and more. Some inspiration, and a progress report: [read more…]
HOSTAS ARE SO FAMILIAR, you probably think as I did that you know plenty about them. Yet in a conversation the other afternoon with Tony Avent, founder of Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina and a longtime hosta breeder, it was one hosta “aha” after another. Ever wonder, for instance, why some blue hostas turn dull by high summer, or certain yellow and variegated varieties fade worse than others? Or did you know that ‘Halcyon’ (a blue hosta) has produced all the “sports” or mutations above, and more? In a story and a podcast, get to know our most beloved shade-garden standby more intimately than ever before. [read more…]
USUALLY ON MEMORIAL DAY or thereabouts, I teach a series of container-garden workshops in my garden with my longtime friend Bob Hyland, a garden designer and former public-garden administrator and nursery owner who always dubbed our duet “Contained Exuberance.” Want to take your pot designs up a notch this year, without getting overwhelmed? Read (and listen) on: [read more…]
I’M OFTEN ASKED by frustrated gardeners how I managed to get my big old hellebore plants to grow so lustily—as if they are finicky, or difficult. To me they seem easy, but since reader questions persist, I decided to ask the guy with 6 acres of mature plants and decades of hellebore-breeding experience, Barry Glick of Sunshine Farm and Gardens. In my latest radio-show (transcript highlights are on the jump if you prefer to read, not listen) we also covered when to divide woodland wildflowers, and some deer-resistant recommendations for the shade garden, too. [read more…]