Wednesday, December 7, 2022

It’s December. Is it too late in the year to plant bare root perennials and ground cover vines?


Bare root daylilies

It depends on whether you’re covered up with snow or the soil is frozen. If that’s the case, then you’ve missed the boat. You’ll have to wait until the snow melts and you can get a shovel into the ground.

However, if those considerations don’t apply, then it’s not too late to plant. If a plant is known to be cold-hardy in your area, it should survive inclement weather until spring.

There is one distinct advantage of planting in fall or winter. Once planted, the roots will begin to establish in the soil. Though you likely won’t see any top growth, the roots will be busy advancing down there out of sight. When spring arrives, your perennials and vines will have a head start and will likely out-perform similar plants installed during warmer weather.

Other considerations still apply. For example, if the soil around plants such as Hedera species should dry between watering, delay planting until dryer weather to prevent root rot.

If you wish to protect your newly installed plants against possible winter damage, you could cover with a thin layer of mulch. Don't forget to remove it when spring arrives.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

Unmitigated Disasters: Why Celebrated Tree Planting Projects Fail


Tree planting project

Image by Drukpa Publications Pvt. Ltd., CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 Fred Pearce wrote an excellent article published at the Yale School of the Environment pointing out "High-profile initiatives to plant millions of trees are being touted by governments around the world as major contributions to fighting climate change. But scientists say many of these projects are ill-conceived and poorly managed and often fail to grow any forests at all."

Two named examples - in the Philippines and India - demonstrated the disastrous results. Researchers found little evidence that government-led, taxpayer-funded projects "resulted in more tree cover, carbon uptake, or community benefits." In other words, they were wastes of money, productive time and energy.

Pearce quotes Lalisa Duguma of World Agroforestry, "an international research agency" in Africa and comments. "Every year, 'millions of dollars' are spent on reforesting landscape. Yet 'there are few success stories.' Typically only a minority of seedlings survive, he says, because the wrong trees are planted in the wrong places, and many are left untended, in part because ownership and management of trees is not handed over to local communities."

"Too often, argues Duguma, tree planting is 'greenwashing' aimed at grabbing headlines and promoting an image of governments or corporations as environmentally friendly. Tiina Vahanen, deputy director of forestry at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, noted recently that many projects end up being little more than 'promotional events, with no follow-up action.'"

Pearce also exposes the "carbon credit" scheme. Large corporations buy carbon credits purported to be offset by the "carbon capture" of forests, so the entities don't actually have to reduce their own carbon emissions.

Is there a better method of reforestation? Yes, there is. "Forest ecologists say creating space to allow nature to do its thing is usually a better approach to restoring forests than planting." Imagine that. Nature itself, if left alone, might do a better job.

It's a fascinating article. Read the whole thing HERE.

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Friday, October 21, 2022

Have you visited an All-America Selections Display Garden?


All-America Selections Display Gardens are wonderful resources for gardeners such as yourself. Whether you're a professional horticulturist, avid gardener or beginner, AAS Display Gardens present you with great ideas, gardening inspiration and pleasant visits. Even "brown thumbs" will be enthralled. 

The AAS website notes, "The network of nearly 200 dedicated AAS gardens includes 55 locations that have served for 25 years or longer. The earliest AAS Display Garden, Norseco, Inc. of Quebec Canada became an AAS garden in 1962."

There's probably one near you. Even if it's not the "growing season" in your area, locate one today and put it on your calendar to visit when the time is right for you. You can find one here.

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Friday, August 26, 2022

Yarrow – The Herb for Wounded Soldiers

WHILE tyrants sit enthron'd in state,

With trophies at their feet,

And fawning courtiers round them wait,

With adulation sweet!

Informing them in pompous strain,

Of feats achieved in war,

That will immortalize their reign,

And spread their fame afar.

Ah! little reckon they the woe

To many thousands wrought,

Who bleed and die, to crown their brow

With laurels dearly bought!

                       - Christian Milne (1773-1816)

When strolling through gardens or working in them, the sight and fragrance of particular herbs often bring to mind some associated musings. Yarrow conjures images in my mind of wounded warriors who suffer for the folly of others.

Because Yarrow was well known for its ability to staunch the flow of blood, Linnaeus named it Achillea, after Achilles the famous warrior, for it was he who famously used a common herb to treat the wounds of his soldier, Patroclus. But it’s not only for fighters.

The property that makes Yarrow so useful is its astringency. “Astringent” means “to bind fast.” Yarrow, when applied, causes tissue to draw tight and stops bleeding. Not surprisingly, Yarrow is sometimes called Staunchweed, Soldier's Woundwort or Herbe Militaris,

Yarrow grows wild worldwide, so it’s readily available in many locales. However, a patch of Yarrow in your own garden makes it much more accessible.

Purchase good quality plants in small containers.

Yarrow has deep roots, so they need a minimum of 8” of topsoil. If your landscape only has a thin layer, plant in raised beds or terracotta pots. Adjust pH to test between 6 and 8.

Cultivating deeply, removing all traces of weeds. Add enough soil to raise the bed at least 4" above the surrounding ground level. This will promote good drainage. Add compost or 5-10-15 fertilizer at the rate of 2 lbs. per 100 square feet into the top 4" to 6" of soil. Do not allow synthetic fertilizer to contact the plant.

Plant Yarrow 1' to 2' apart. The planting holes should be a little less deep than the depth of the container your plants came in. Tuck the plants into the holes and back-fill, watering as you go. The tops of the root balls should remain slightly exposed. Add mulch around the plants, not on top of them, about 1" deep.

Yarrow will soon be a valued addition to your outdoor “medicine cabinet.”

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Monday, August 8, 2022

A push toward wind energy threatens to kill more eagles.


A compelling article by Tate Watkins published in "Reason Magazine" takes note of the fact that wind turbines do more damage to birds than we imagine. "The Case for Tradeable Permits in Dead Birds" argues, "Many politicians and conservationists have high hopes of replacing fossil fuels with clean energy, but from a bird's eye view, wind turbine blades are deadly. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that wind turbines kill almost 328,000 birds each year." Imagine how dangerous it could be to fly through the chopping action of a wind turbine farm.

"Earlier this year, one of the largest renewable energy companies in the country was fined $8 million for unintentionally killing 150 bald and golden eagles at wind farms in eight states over recent years. But, if the company had held a permit from the service, it would not have been penalized. A smarter, market-based permitting approach could motivate wind developers to conserve eagles even as the sector expands."

Read more.

Friday, June 17, 2022

A Few Plants For Prepping Your Medicinal Herb Garden

Natural medicine Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay


You’ve probably noticed that the prices of many commodities have gone up and their availability has diminished. The problems didn’t just begin with COVID lockdowns and the war in Ukraine. Those factors have contributed, but our economic problems have been building up for a long time. We’re now beginning to feel the result of many years of government and central bank mismanagement. As a result, people like us are thinking about how we can prepare for more inflation, recession and supply chain shortages.

Among the necessities of life are food, fuel and medicine. Thankfully, we can supplement them to some extent ourselves. Consider medicine, for example. Many commonly grown garden plants are beneficial for good health and treating what ails us. Can we do without our pharmacies? Absolutely not. Should we try to self-medicate without a doctor’s supervision? Again, the answer is “NO.” Some medicinal plants such as Gelsemium can be dangerous if taken without professional guidance. But it’s good to know that we can cultivate some of them in our own gardens, if only for the pleasures of growing them, satisfying our curiosity and for their ornamental value. Beauty is therapeutic. Is it not?

Consider the following few examples, and please follow the links to other interesting and useful information.

Achillea millefoliumYarrow, Staunch-Weed – has been used since ancient times to stop bleeding, to sedate and treat anxiety, cure liver and urinary problems, improve digestion and reduce high blood pressure.

Ajuga reptansBugleweed is a traditional remedy to stop bleeding and bruising, mend broken bones, soothe throat irritation and mouth ulcers.

Aloe vera is well known for its healing properties for soothing superficial cuts, burns, insect bites and abrasions. I recently mentioned this to a medical professional who was sunburned. He was skeptical. “There are no studies proving Aloe’s efficacy in treating sunburns,” he said. “That’s an argument from silence,” I replied. I’ve applied it myself to burns to prevent blistering and scarring, and I know of many more who swear by it.

Basil is delicious and nutritious, as we all know. But it also contains antioxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene. These help to fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals can come from the foods we eat. Though they don’t last long, they can lead to cell damage and contribute to other conditions such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

Campsis radicans - Trumpet Creeper is useful for promoting perspiration and for treating wounds.

Dandelions are seldom welcome in our lawns and gardens, but they deserve to live. The botanical name, Taraxacum officinale, points to its traditional medicinal use as an anti-inflammatory herb. It has long been used as a purifying tonic, but it’s claimed to be effective in treating skin conditions, diabetes, liver and digestive disorders, among other ailments. Instead of eradicating it, plant it on purpose. It’s easy to grow. The leaves can be added to salads and dried for tea. The roots can be dried, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. Don’t expect it to taste like coffee, though.

Echinacea purpurea
– Coneflower – is a lovely perennial that’s native to North America. It was long used by indigenous tribes to support the immune system. It also contains antioxidants for treating infections of the skin, fevers, and a host of related health issues. In addition to its medicinal value, it is very ornamental. It attracts birds and pollinators. Echinacea is an absolute MUST-HAVE for your medicinal garden.

Gelsemium sempervirensCarolina Jessamine. I mention this
one because it’s sometimes seen as an ingredient in homeopathic preparations, but it’s not to be prepared at home. Leave that to the Naturopaths. states,”The roots are analgesic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, febrifuge, hypnotic, mydriatic, nervine, sedative and vasodilator. A powerful depressant of the central nervous system, deadening pain and reducing spasms. It is said to suspend and hold in check muscular irritability and nervous excitement with more force and power than any known remedy. Whilst it relaxes the muscles, it also relieves all sense of pain. It is used internally in the treatment of neuralgia, migraine, sciatica, toothache, severe pain (especially in terminal illnesses or accidents) and meningitis. Externally it has been used as a folk remedy for cancer. The root is best harvested in the autumn and dried carefully for later use. Extreme care is advised with the use of this plant, it should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Excessive doses cause respiratory depression, giddiness, double vision and death. It should not be prescribed for patients with heart disease, hypotension or myasthenia gravis. See also the notes above on toxicity. The fresh root is used to make a homeopathic remedy. It is used in the treatment of a variety of complaints, including fevers, flu and headaches.” Enough said. Grow it as an ornamental or for sake of curiosity, but don’t try self-medicating. You might not even live to regret it.

Hemerocallis fulva
– Common daylily. I wrote in another blog article about eating daylilies. They saying, “Let food by thy medicine” is attributed to Hippocrates. Well, here you go. Daylily is also used in medicine to increase urine flow, as a laxative, to reduce fever, stop vomiting, reduce muscle spasms, reduce pain and sedate. Daylily tubers are said to be antimicrobial and able to kill some internal parasites.

Heuchera micranthaAlum Root, Coral Bells. The root is antiseptic, astringent, reduces inflammation and fever, and has been used to treat eye infections. A tea has been used to treat liver problems and sore throats. Chewing a piece of root, cleaned and peeled, soothes sore gums.

Hypericum sppSt. John’s Wort. states, “

St. John's wort has a long history of herbal use. It fell out of favour in the nineteenth century but recent research has brought it back to prominence as an extremely valuable remedy for nervous problems. In clinical trials about 67% of patients with mild to moderate depression improved when taking this plant. The flowers and leaves are analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, resolvent, sedative, stimulant, vermifuge and vulnerary. The herb is used in treating a wide range of disorders, including pulmonary complaints, bladder problems, diarrhoea and nervous depression. It is also very effectual in treating overnight incontinence of urine in children. Externally, it is used in poultices to dispel herd tumours, caked breasts, bruising etc. The flowering shoots are harvested in early summer and dried for later use. Use the plant with caution and do not prescribe it for patients with chronic depression. The plant was used to procure an abortion by some native North Americans, so it is best not used by pregnant women. See also the notes above on toxicity. A tea or tincture of the fresh flowers is a popular treatment for external ulcers, burns, wounds (especially those with severed nerve tissue), sores, bruises, cramps etc. An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is applied externally to wounds, sores, ulcers, swellings, rheumatism etc. It is also valued in the treatment of sunburn and as a cosmetic preparation to the skin. The plant contains many biologically active compounds including rutin, pectin, choline, sitosterol, hypericin and pseudohypericin. These last two compounds have been shown to have potent anti-retroviral activity without serious side effects and they are being researched in the treatment of AIDS. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh whole flowering plant. It is used in the treatment of injuries, bites, stings etc and is said to be the first remedy to consider when nerve-rich areas such as the spine, eyes, fingers etc are injured.”

Whether other species are as beneficial, I don’t know.

Lamiastrum galeobdolonYellow Archangel suppresses muscle spasms, tightens tissues, promotes urine production, helps to discharge mucus, and expectorant, stops bleeding and tightens blood vessels.

Lavandula angustifolia – Lavender. Lavender is best known for its soothing aroma. But it is also a useful medicinal herb. It soothes the nerves, can be applied to the skin to help heal wounds, burns, and prevents scar tissue. It’s antiseptic, sweetens the breath, and improves kidney function. Rubbing lavender oil on the temples is said to cure headaches.

Liriope spp. – Liriope aka Lilyturf root has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent, an aphrodisiac, a treatment for allergies, and as a stimulant. Sometimes the roots have been candied and eaten as a snack.

Lysimachia nummularia – Creeping Jenny, Moneywort has been used to treat scurvy, diarrhea and internal bleeding. It increases urine production and is astringent.

Nepeta spp
. – Catmint, Catnip. Everyone knows what it does to most cats, but it also has many medicinal uses. Tea from the leaves is useful for treating digestive disorders, reducing fevers, soothing colds and flu. It calms muscle spasms and coughs, relieves gas and increases perspiration.

Ophiopogon japonicus – Snakebeard, Mondo is a cough suppressant and expectorant, sedative, fever reducer and treatment for dry mouth. It has also been used as an aphrodisiac and cure for anxiety. (I guess if you think it works something amazing happens.) 

Black-Eye Susan - Rudbeckia hirta has been used to treat earaches, sores, colds, and even dropsy.

Thymus spp. – Thyme. In addition to culinary uses, thyme can be used in deodorant. It is also antiseptic and disinfectant.

This is by no means an exhaustive review of medicinal plants, but should give you something as you begin prepping. The next thing to research will be about how to use them.

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Saturday, June 11, 2022

Yes, you can eat daylilies!


Daylilies have been cultivated for over four thousand years beginning in China where they were popular for food and medicine. They were imported into Europe around the 16th century mostly for their ornamental value. Nowadays, we hardly even think of them as food. Each flower blooms for a day and then it's gone. What a shame to let them go to waste when they could be eaten.

Daylily blossoms can be enjoyed raw, steamed, dried, stir-fried and deep-fried in tempura batter. Serve them with noodles, rice and with other mixed vegetables.

Not only are the flowers edible, but all parts of the plant are succulent as well. Daylily leaves and tubers can be chopped and stir-fried along with mushrooms, squash, onions and many other vegetables. Daylilies aren’t only for summer eating when the flowers are produced. The tuberous roots can be harvested any time of year. Collect them when you dig the overgrown clumps to divide them.

With the rising cost of food and shortages of some items, thanks to the ineptitude of our politicians, you might be looking for something new and affordable to add to your table. Does your unreasonable HOA not allow you to grow a vegetable garden in your front yard? Grow edible flowers. If you forage in the footsteps of Euell Gibbons, add daylilies to your basket. You may find the common ditch lily (Hemerocallis fulva) growing wild in fields and, um, ditches. (Make sure you rinse them well.)

Hemerocallis fulva growing roadside

A few words of caution are in order. As with any food, some folks might have sensitivities or allergies. Nibble at first with caution. In addition, know that we’re discussing daylilies (Hemerocallis), not true lilies (Lilium species). You shouldn’t get them confused.



The folks at produced a fine video a few years ago titled How To Eat Daylilies. Christa Swartz did a very good presentation. I recommend it. So, enjoy the video, then order some daylilies. 


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Friday, June 10, 2022

Four Reasons Why You Should Grow Daylilies

Have you ever wondered whether you should grow daylilies? Here are four reasons why you should.

Daylilies have been cultivated for over four thousand years. That’s right. The plants we now know as daylilies were prized by Chinese people for medicine and food. It was not until they were imported into Europe around the 16th century that they were grown for their ornamental value. They are now among the most popular of garden perennials worldwide for their beauty and low maintenance.

Each day brings something new. Though each flower lasts only one day, many more follow. The name – Hemerocallis – is the combination of two Greek words meaning “beautiful for a day.” The color palette used to be limited to yellow, orange, and red. Thanks to dedicated gardeners and plant breeders, available colors range from white, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, vivid combinations, soothing pastels, and various color patterns. There’s always something fresh.

There are differences in sizes and forms. In addition to the vast range of eye-popping colors, daylilies come in many sizes and forms. There are tall ones, short ones, gigantic flowers, tiny flowers, ruffled and doubled blossoms. By carefully choosing from the many varieties, you can vary the height, color and texture in your perennial border.

Daylilies are easy to find, cultivate and propagate. If a friend has a few in her garden, you can simply ask for a division, stick in in your pocket and plant it at home. You can also purchase them online and in garden shops. Daylilies thrive in most soil types without fertilizer, insect or disease control. Don’t believe it? They can even be found growing in roadside ditches with no care whatsoever. They usually multiply each year forming clumps, so you can look forward to daylilies for many years. The daylily is the perfect perennial for every garden.

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Ditch lilies


Monday, May 23, 2022

Behind The Garden Wall: Kate Gleason Memorial Park, Beaufort, South Carolina


If you’ve spent fretful hours in a hospital bed or visited there with a sick friend or loved one, you might have taken time to rest in a hospital garden for meditation and reflection. But more than likely you didn’t even know one was on campus. When I was confined to hospitals a few years ago for a serious illness, the “wellness” gardens were immensely comforting to me. What was before unnoticed I now greatly appreciate.

Laken Brooks published an article in the May 29, 2021 issue of Forbes, Why Hospitals Are Planting Gardens, explaining the marvelous benefits of making nature accessible to patients and to those who attend them. In summary, “...medical professionals have found that as the plants grow, so too does the mental wellness of their patients.” I recommend it to you.

She notes, “A review in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states, ‘Viewing nature has been repeatedly demonstrated to provide a range of benefits for human health and well-being. Benefits include reduced anxiety, reduced stress, shorter hospital stays, lower heart rate, and increased directed attention.’ That same review explains, ‘It has repeatedly been shown that the sounds of nature such as wind, water, and animals, are preferred over anthropogenic sounds such as traffic, recreational noise, and industrial noise ... Nature sounds have been used therapeutically to relieve stress.’” This is accomplished through gardens and horticultural therapy on site.

Since my healing, I’ve taken time to visit these nearly secret gardens in appreciation of the thoughtfulness of those who have taken care to establish and maintain them.

I recently visited the Kate Gleason Memorial Park on the campus of Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Beaufort, South Carolina. Though it’s not easily accessible to patients, it could be with some modification. In its current state, it does afford a peaceful place for visitors and hospital staff.

Beaufort Memorial Hospital was founded in 1944 and is situated on a bluff above the Intracoastal Waterway and the Beaufort River. That in itself presents a fabulous view from benches and picnic tables of the river, marsh and the town of Beaufort in the distance. Follow me to see what lies behind the garden wall.
























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Friday, May 20, 2022

Decoration Day: A Time For Remembrance


Cemetery flowers

Within mere months following the end of the War Between The States, citizens set aside special days to remember their fallen heroes. The earliest known date for Union soldiers was May 1, 1865 when thousands of freed slaves and white missionaries gathered at the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club in Charleston, South Carolina to commemorate the deaths of those who fought to obtain their liberty.

Other ceremonies popped up around the country during which thankful Americans met for reminiscing, prayers, singing and decorating the memorials of their loved ones. The first nationally recognized event occurred at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868 to honor the fallen. It was known as Decoration Day. Though the day has since become known as Memorial Day and declared a national holiday beginning in 1971, decorating the graves of loved ones, friends and noble strangers has remained the central activity.

Many wars have come and gone; millions have died. Some in military service, many more in civil service, or simply in service to their families. If you’ve spent past Memorial Days at the beach, picnicking, or otherwise making merry, consider taking some time this holiday to visit a local cemetery to tidy, plant flowers or flags, and decorate a resting place before going about the rest of your day.

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Saturday, March 12, 2022

Vine Recommendations For Privacy Fencing On Chain Link Fences

 Do you have a chain link fence but would like to have greater privacy? A vine might fill the bill. To grow on chain link, the vine should have a twining habit. For reliable privacy, the it should be evergreen. These are among the best choices, and they're all native. One caveat, though. Make sure you plant them only on your fence!

Carolina Jessamine – Gelsemium sempervirens. (Pictured above) It’s native from Virginia to Texas and southward. Because it’s evergreen, it provides a dense privacy screen year around. Carolina Jessamine is cold-hardy in USDA climate zones 7 through 9. It flowers best in full sun, but will grow in full sun or shade in well-drained soil with average to poor fertility. Recommended soil pH covers a wide range: from 5.5 to 8.5. Plants are drought tolerant when established, and deer resistant. Flowers are fragrant.


 Crossvine – Bignonia capriolata. This one’s a vigorous vine that’s native to the southeastern United States. It climbs by tendrils which cling to anything for support. It thrives in many different soil types, but prefers rich, organic, well-drained soil. While it grows in sun or shade, more flowers are produced if grown in full sun. Crossvine is cold-hardy to USDA climate zone 6a.


Trumpet Honeysuckle – Lonicera sempervirens. Here’s another vine that’s native to the eastern United States. Red, yellow or coral colored, trumpet-shaped flowers are produced intermittently on evergreen vines from spring to fall. It thrives in acidic soil in USDA climate zones 5 to 10.

All three of these vines flower prolifically, grow quickly, fill in densely, and require very little maintenance. 

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Thursday, March 10, 2022




Beware of Winter Storm Quinlan

According to, “more than 150 million people will face some type of impacts from the storm east of the Mississippi River, but the Northeast, which received accumulating snow on Wednesday on the heels of record-challenging warmth on Monday, is likely to take the brunt of the impacts as the storm rapidly strengthens into a bomb cyclone along the Eastern Seaboard.” The storm is named Quinlan.”

It’s that “record-challenging warmth” before the storm that concerns us most. Warm weather induces new growth on winter-dormant plants. When followed the freezing temperatures, the new growth – leaves, flowers and all – are damaged or destroyed. Not only that, but previously dormant plants lose some of their winter hardiness, so Quinlan can be particularly devastating.

I’ve been receiving calls from gardeners, particularly in the south where warm weather persists today, but where below-freezing temps are forecast for the weekend. From citrus trees, blueberry bushes to annuals and azaleas, they wonder how to treat them.

Frost on leaves

Here are my suggestions.

Some spring-planted annuals should be cold-hardy enough. Snapdragons and pansies, for example, should be safe enough without protection. Petunias, begonias and the like will need attention. Flowering trees and shrubs will also require some care.

Container gardens may be moved into a garage, sun room or basement. If they’re too large to move inside, or too dirty, position them near a south or west-facing wall. Brick walls are the best, but any will do, nor matter the direction it faces. Radiant heat will moderate the temperature around them.

Whether container-grown or established outdoors, sensitive plants can be covered with fabric. Old sheets will work. Blankets might be too heavy and cause damage.

Do not use plastic sheeting or tarps. Beside providing too little thermal protection, plastic in contact with foliage will allow moisture to condense on the inner surface and the leaves to freeze to the material. Furthermore, solar heat can build up during the day and cook your plants.

If safety precautions are taken, letting a fire pit or barbecue grill smolder all night can raise the temperature around it just enough to protect your patio plants. Propane patio heaters can do the trick. Even light bulbs strategically placed and left on all night can help. Never leave open flames unattended.

Sometimes frost doors more damage than the surrounding cold air. Outdoor fans left running can keep the air circulating and prevent frost from settling on your plants.

These are the most common strategies that homeowners can take to help their plants survive cold nights. If you try any of them, be sure to let us know how they work for you under your circumstances. Your observations can help other gardeners cope in the future.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Grow Thyme Indoors Year-round


Image by Justyna Kunkel from Pixabay

You can grow thyme indoors year-round. But, why thyme? I’m glad you asked.

  • It’s compact;
  • It’s delicious;
  • Its health benefits.

Thyme is a relatively low-growing herb. According to the Journal of Medicine and Life, “The genus Thymus, member of the Lamiaceae family, contains about 400 species of perennial aromatic, evergreen or semi-evergreen herbaceous plants with many subspecies, varieties, subvarieties and forms.” The vast majority can be container-grown. Some grow only a few inches high, so you shouldn’t have to worry about whether you have enough indoor growing space.

Thyme has a distinctive flavor with many nuances. Simply Recipes, notes that thyme “has a delightful flavor balance that dances between earthy and minty, minty and citrus-laced, savory but also sweet, and slightly woodsy but also flowery, with traces of lavender or a toned-down rosemary.” To help distinguish one flavorful variety from another, many are so-named. For example, you’ll find Lime Thyme, Mint Thyme, Caraway Thyme, and Coconut Thyme, to name a few. So, thyme lends itself to a host of dishes.

Thyme is good for you. An excellent article in Healthline indicates that thyme has numerous health benefits including:

  • fighting acne
  • lowering blood pressure
  • helping to alleviate cough
  • boosting immunity
  • disinfecting
  • repelling pests
  • aromatherapy
  • boosting mood
  • culinary uses
  • preventing bacterial infections
  • helping to treat yeast infections
  • possibly helping against certain types of cancer

The article in Journal of Medicine and Life presents more technical details of some antibacterial properties.

There are distinct advantages of growing thyme indoors:

  • Weather is never a consideration;
  • Limited outdoor growing space is no longer a problem;
  • It’s always handy.

Even though thyme is cold-hardy into USDA Climate Zone 5, one advantage of growing it indoors is that YOU don’t have to go out into inclement weather to fetch a sprig or two for your recipe. If you live in a colder region, you can grow it indoors regardless of weather extremes.

If you have limited growing space because of your living situation, you can grow thyme in your kitchen window. In fact, that might be the handiest place, for you can snip fresh leaves and use them in dishes while you are cooking.

For more about growing thyme, check out this earlier blog article, Thyme It Is APrecious Thing.

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Friday, January 21, 2022

Make money with ivy!

 Flower basket with ivy

5 ways to make a little extra cash

Life is a drag when you’re stuck indoors. Maybe it’s freezing outside and you’d rather not be in it. Or, perhaps you’re avoiding exposure to viruses. If you love working with plants, you can do it while sequestered or hibernating. With a little imagination, you can make some money on the side, too.

Potted ivy, for example, presents lots of possibilities. Here are 5 things you can do for fun and profit.

  1. Make topiaries for sale or rent. Most ivy varieties are ideal topiary subjects. Topiary frames are readily available. The simplest are heart-shaped or circular wreaths. Buy them online or make them yourself. Ivy vines can be trained against them and grown until they’ve filled out and ready to sell. Thankfully, ivy doesn’t take too long to grow. Sell them at local farmer’s markets, craft shows, to florists or online. 
  2. Create planters for indoors or out. Ivy is gorgeous when cascading over the sides of hanging baskets and window planters. Ready-made gardens like these can be very popular with people who want people who have limited time or energy to create their own. Instant gratification satisfies.
  3. Dress ivies in 3-1/2 inch pots with colorful fabrics. Sell them to wedding planners for table decorations or wedding favors.
  4. Stuff little pots of ivy in vintage wall pockets. These will enhance any decor. The ivy adds value to these simple decorative objects. Market them to craft shops and antique stores.
  5. Take cuttings, root and sell them. If you have several ivy plants, you’ll eventually need to prune them. The cuttings can be sold rooted or unrooted on internet marketplace platforms. Because they’re small, the cuttings are easily shipped to buyers just about anywhere.

With a little ingenuity, you can turn your interest in plants to a profitable side gig for a little extra cash.

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Thursday, January 13, 2022

When To Prune Deciduous Shrubs


Pruning clippers

One very important part of gardening is knowing when to prune your plants.  Pruning at the right time will result in healthy ones. Pruning at the wrong time may result in their being unhealthy, unattractive and unproductive.

Since there are so many types of plants to consider, we’ll focus in this article on deciduous shrubs. 

The best time to prune depends upon their growth habit, bloom season, and condition. 

Spring-flowering species such as forsythia, Japanese quince and lilac bloom on buds produced the previous season. Early pruning will remove many of those buds and reduce the flowery display that we anticipate so anxiously. 

Since overgrown shrubs might need a lot of pruning, the best time to work on them is late winter or early spring before growth begins. The precise months will vary depending on your climate zone. Extensive pruning will certainly reduce the number of blooms produced for the next couple of years, but the shrubs will be better off in the long run.

You should wait to prune healthy spring-flowering shrubs until just after flowering. This will allow you to enjoy the spring flowers while allowing plenty of time for growth and new buds to set for next year’s display.

Summer-flowering species such as dwarf crape myrtle, spirea, and butterfly bush bloom on new growth.  Prune them in late winter or early spring.  They should bloom that year. 

If you’re growing certain shrubs for their attractive bark, colorful foliage or fruit, prune them in late winter or early spring before growth commences. 

Avoid pruning deciduous shrubs in late summer.  August or September pruning might encourage a late growth spurt.  The tender, new growth likely won’t harden enough before cold weather arrives and will be vulnerable to frost damage. 

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Plant Flowers

I thought I'd share this. Received it in an email from Tom Woods. It's a wonderful idea!


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Monday, January 3, 2022

Why is this called "Ice Plant"?


Ice Plant
Delosperma cooperi aka Ice Plant

Q. Why is this called "Ice Plant"?

A. Delosperma cooperi is commonly known as Hardy Ice Plant. It's cold hardy into USDA Climate Zone 5. But its cold-hardiness is not the reason for the reference to ice. If you look closely at the slender foliage in the photograph above, you'll notice the glistening white surfaces. Upon examining with a magnifying lens, you'd see structures called epidermal bladder cells. These are what give Delosperma that ice-like glaze. 

Incidentally, Hardy Ice Plant is also known as Mesembryanthemum cooperi. Mesembryanthemum is a genus that grows well in dry, salty, sandy environments. It thrives in South Africa, the Mediterranean region, parts of North and South America. Travelers along the Pacific Coast Highway 1 will see it often.

Ice Plant doesn't have to grow in sandy soil, but gardeners who have it, or who live in dry coastal areas will appreciate its abilities. It's an amazing little plant. To deal with heat, Ice Plant closes little pores (stomata) under its leaves to retain moisture. If it isn't getting enough salt, it takes up airborne saline through its foliage to retain moisture. 

Mesembryanthemum leaves, flowers and seeds are edible. On top of that, the plant has medicinal qualities. It has been used to treat various ailments including liver, kidney and pneumonia. It is also used externally for skin treatment.

Hardy Ice Plant serves well as a ground cover in rock gardens, coastal and container gardens, succulent and cactus gardens, medicinal gardens, and xeriscapes. You should find a place for it in your garden.

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