I PRE-ORDER CERTAIN ANNUALS—reserving whole flats of favorites with my local garden center to make sure I won’t get shut out. Normally that early commitment includes a favorite peachy-colored impatiens, but this year, I’m not so sure. Impatiens downy mildew ravaged the popular bedding plant in many parts of the country last year, so I asked Margery Daughtrey, a plant pathologist and senior Extension associate with Cornell University, what the early line is from where she sits in her Suffolk County, Long Island, lab–and some substitutes I might consider for that annual order of mine. [read more…]
annuals & perennials
What's an annual? Well, anything you use seasonally for "color" or drama, whether it's technically an annual or not. Find my favorites here, along with the perennials I rely on in my 25-year-old garden.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE lines ever in a garden book: vintage Christopher Lloyd, the late daring plantsman of Great Dixter in England, in his Clematis manual. “An unpruned Clematis looks like a disemboweled mattress—a painful sight,” he wrote. Indeed. Yet so many of us go into denial and paralysis mode when approaching our beloved vines during spring cleanup. “Now what was I supposed to do with this one?” we say, scratching our heads while not-so-accidentally turning away to some other task, and leaving the botanical sprung mattress innards just hanging there. Boing! I asked Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery, a.k.a. gardenvines.com, to help me (us!) get past our “pruning fears and misconceptions,” as he calls them. The story, plus pruning diagrams and a podcast full of more vine-growing tips. [read more…]
THE PLANT CATALOGS look delicious, but what plans have you made for where those wishlist items might go, and how many of each do you need to make them really say something in the garden? I love creating mixed plantings of shade treasures–bulbs and perennials, and especially extra-early bloomers–under deciduous trees and shrubs. I call the process “Making Mosaics,” and it’s one of the how-to sidebars in my latest book, “The Backyard Parables.” Now it’s also a new video, with photos I’ve taken here at my place. [read more…]
I’M ALREADY DREAMING about summertime containers, though the first flat of spring’s pansies won’t arrive in the local nurseries for a month. My extra-early visualizations feature succulents—sculptural, low-care plants in a range of textures and colors—pots full of them, and maybe even a “wreath” (above) for the patio table. I knew Katherine Tracey of Avant Gardens Nursery in Massachusetts would be able to help me with how-to and design ideas. Her advice, in print or the weekly podcast: [read more…]
IT’S AN UNASSUMING little catalog; even in its printed incarnation, five-year-old Peace Seedlings is more a 20-page flyer than flashy or magazine-like. In its third season on the web, the company’s whole description and 2013 seed listing fits on one super-long, scrollable page, and you have to order by mail, with a check. Peace Seedlings makes me think of simpler days when there were more such treasure troves to discover as a gardener. It’s a list of what my retro-home-blogging friend Pam would call “woddities,” or wonderful oddities, and it makes me happy. I spent a delightful tea time yesterday imagining every plant in it in my mind’s eye, savoring each description from edible Andean tubers to a Hutterite bush bean that “makes epic creamy bean soup,” to purple-podded vining snap peas (‘Sugar Magnolia’ photo below) and long-stemmed marigolds and oh, those bodacious tomatoes up top. I’ll buy two lucky winners $20 worth of woddities from Peace Seedlings, in my latest giveaway. [read more…]