‘IT’S ENDLESS,” plantsman Michael Dodge of Vermont Willow Nursery was saying over the phone the other day, alluding to the possibilities of the genus Salix—the willows to which he has been devoting the recent chapter of his impressive horticultural career. We narrowed it down to some best-of willow selections from more than 150 in his collection—best willows for outsmarting deer; winter interest; abundant flowers and even best for making honey if you’re a beekeeper—and I also got a brutal tutorial on willow pruning (also known as coppicing) to share with you. [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.
THERE IS MORE THAN those admittedly extravagant flowers to recommend the Magnolia, though many of us think of them as just that: flowering trees. Not a bad thing to have around at this time of year—but hardly the whole story of this ancient genus with its many other ornamental features, one of the oldest flowering plants on earth. In the latest radio show and podcast, I spoke with Adam Wheeler of Broken Arrow Nursery—growers of a staggering 80 selections of magnolias—about the range of possibilities, and how to care for them. Plus: Adam’s a champion giant pumpkin grower, and offers us some tips on that, too. [read more…]
A MAJESTIC ANNUAL I loved last year and someone I plan to invite back: the silver-leaf sunflower, Helianthus argophyllus, a native American wildflower of great substance and stature. But why is it so hard to track down seeds or plants of this very tall, multi-branching beauty, with its handsome foliage and extra-long bloom season? It’s worth the hunt, which I’ve been doing this week with both your garden and mine in mind. [read more…]
WANT TO SUCCEED with blueberries? Ask the guy with a Ph.D. in the subject, author of all the best books on home-garden fruit growing: Lee Reich, the guest on my latest public-radio show—and the speaker at the May 11 Open Day here at my Hudson Valley, New York, garden. That’s Lee’s blueberry “gazebo” up top. All the delicious details…along with how to grow blueberries (in print or the podcast) and two chances to win Lee’s book “Grow Fruit Naturally.” [read more…]
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…]