The little path, maybe 10 feet now but soon going nowhere.

The little path, maybe 10 feet now but soon going nowhere.

bench bestThis is the view I see most of the time. This picture was shot from the table in the alley, where I have coffee in the morning and feasts with friends at night. Ageratum, Rosa “Golden Celebration,” and in the distance, Perilla, Patrinia and a banana. A baby Pelargonium blooming on the bench.

north pathNorth Path. Patrinia, Ricinus, Musa, Perilla, Gaillardia, Dahlia, Salvia elegans.

Garage face North

Amaranth “Karl Ramberg,” Okra “Red Burgundy,” Bidens aristolchia, native Cattails and Cucumber “Poona Khera.”


Solanum quitoense, aka Naranjilla. Dug it up and overwintered on the back porch last year.

Solanum quitoense, aka Naranjilla. Dug it up and overwintered on the back porch last year.

Solanum atropurpureum 'Malevolence.' At least seven feet tall, with fruit. Also dug this up for overwinter last year.

Solanum atropurpureum ‘Malevolence.’ At least seven feet tall, with fruit. Also dug this up for overwinter last year.

Little Path through Rosemary.

Little Path through Rosemary.

New venture, Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms.

New venture, Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms.

Shiiake, waxed and piled.

Shiiake, waxed and piled.

Previously published 9/19/2013.

"The Newborn," Constantin Brancusi, 1915.

“The Newborn,” Constantin Brancusi, 1915.

A Hopi Elder Speaks

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour. And there are things to be considered:

– Where are you living?
– What are you doing?
– What are your relationships?
– Are you in right relation?
– Where is your water?

Know your garden. It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader. This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea syn. B. leucophaea at James Woodworth Prairie Preserve, Glenview, IL, USA, 9 May 2006. Photo Frank Mayfield, WikiCommons.

Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea syn. B. leucophaea at James Woodworth Prairie Preserve, Glenview, IL, USA, 9 May 2006. Photo Frank Mayfield, WikiCommons.

The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land. ― Abraham Lincoln

Hidcote Manor, April 30 2014. Photo HARTLEPOOLMARINA2014, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hidcote Manor, April 30 2014. Photo HARTLEPOOLMARINA2014, via Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. beekeepers lost 40 percent of bees in 2014-15
The survey is part of a larger research effort to understand why honey bee colonies are in such poor health, and what can be done to manage the situation. Colony losses present a financial burden for beekeepers, and can lead to shortages among the many crops that depend on honey bees as pollinators. Some crops, such as almonds, depend entirely on honey bees for pollination. Estimates of the total economic value of honey bee pollination services range between $10 billion and $15 billion annually.
Science Daily

Onagraceae – The Evening Primrose Family
In the site we present a full checklist of all taxa within each of the 18 recognized genera as well as diagnostic images for as many taxa as possible.

Nice and Naughty Knautias
Occasionally, one has a nice plant that does well in your garden but is overlooked by many gardeners.  Such plants often serve the triple purposes of a conversation piece, an educational opportunity, and a bragging item.  Such is the place occupied by Knautia macedonia in my garden.
Garden Musings 

May Rain
We have had an astonishing amount of rain in the past three weeks. Steady and generous rain. Lately that rain has been accompanied by very warm temperatures.  Timing is everything-as someone once said.  I am watching what regular spring rain and a little heat is meaning to my plants. All of my evergreens, shrubs and perennials are putting on a lot of weight.  I am delighted with the look.
Dirt Simple

The Toronto Botanical Gardens – Part Two
As mentioned in my previous blog, the TBG is a botanical garden still in its infancy. It covers only a small area around the entrance to the building, and this is divided into even smaller, pocket gardens. I suppose this is almost unavoidable for public gardens like the TBG whose mandate it is to educate – they try to have a bit of everything in an attempt to satisfy every kind of visitor.
The Garden Wanderer

Regal Rheums
I love rhubarb. This perennial vegetable thrived in the temperate New England climate in which I grew up, and one of my earliest garden memories was in a rhubarb patch. I remember running into the vegetable garden every summer to select the fattest, reddest stalks, and, after peeling away and discarding its poisonous leaves, I would chew on the raw stems until the acidic flavor became too astringent.
In Season

‘Thérèse Bugnet’ Rose in Bloom
The wisdom of growing plenty of plants that think that even your worst Winters are an insult to real Winters everywhere has never been clearer. Rosa ‘Thérèse Bugnet’ is so hardy it thrives in sub-Arctic Canada. No cold weather in the Lower 48 will faze it.
Louis The Plant Geek

It’s Not All About the Plants
I’d seen a cardinal flying through the narrow space between the potting shed and greenhouse but just thought she was passing through. Then one day I was working in the potting shed with the doors open and I kept hearing this one note call. As I peered through the door I saw a female cardinal was busy building a nest on the little espaliered yaupon holly growing up the side of the greenhouse.
Rock Rose

Pacific Bulb Society
The Pacific Bulb Society (PBS) was organized in Spring 2002 for the benefit of people who garden with bulbs. This includes both cold hardy and tender bulbs, and all the bulbs in between. By ‘garden with’ we also mean to include plants, shrubs, and even trees that we grow as companions to our bulbs. Membership in PBS is open to bulb lovers around the world.

Hidcote Manor Garden – Paradise Lost and Found in the Cotswolds
When I first visited Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire several years ago on a hot summer morning in June. It was nothing short of a nightmare! The car park was heaving with coaches, it was over-run with visitors and I came away feeling that I’d been short-changed at a garden theme park … But if you consider that Hidcote and Sissinghurst are to England, what Giverny and Villandry are to France in terms of drawing garden visitors, it is not surprising.
The Galloping Gardener/Charlotte Weychan

Feeding Tomorrow’s Billions: Lab-Grown Meat Products, Vertical Farms, AI-Designed Recipes, and More
Food and agriculture accounts for about 5.9% of the global GDP. Global food retail sales alone account for about $4 trillion/year, and food accounts for 15% of what American households spend each year. It is an industry ripe for disruption.
Singularity Hub

Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea
Cream false indigo is an exquisite perennial, 1-2 ft. tall with a wide, bushy habit. The branches cascade under the weight of the sometimes foot-long flower spikes. The leaves are alternate, 1 1/2–4 inches long, divided into 3 distinct segments; but the stipules are so large that they are sometimes mistaken for leaves.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Rosa 'Therese Bugnet'. Photo Ulf Eliasson, WikiCommons.

Rosa ‘Therese Bugnet’. Photo Ulf Eliasson, WikiCommons.

When people will not weed their own minds, they are apt to be overrun by nettles. ― Horace Walpole

Rheum officinale, Polygonaceae, Chinese Rhubarb, habitus. Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo H. Zell via WikiCommons.

Rheum officinale, Polygonaceae, Chinese Rhubarb, habitus. Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo H. Zell via WikiCommons.

Susan Hill's sculpture "The Giant's Head" in the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Photo Patche99z, WikiCommons.

Susan Hill’s sculpture “The Giant’s Head” in the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Photo Patche99z, WikiCommons.

“There is no try. There is only do and not do.” – Yoda

Photo of a garden nearby South Street Seaport in New York City. Taken by Shengzhi Li on April 2005. Photo WikiCommons.

Photo of a garden nearby South Street Seaport in New York City. Taken by Shengzhi Li on April 2005. Photo WikiCommons.

Topiary Gardens by a Man Named Pearl
Bishopville, South Carolina is home to less than 3,500 people, yet last year it was host to more than 15,000 visitors. They traveled to this small, impoverished town to wander the gardens of a man named Pearl. There, on a former cornfield that was cleared in 1981, you will find the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden.
My Black Journey

African-American Gardens at Monticello
Wormley Hughes, the African American often called Monticello’s “Head Gardener,” collected seed, planted precious plants in the Monticello nurseries, and set out Mr. Jefferson’s “pet trees.” Gardener John espaliered grapes, aided in the terracing of the kitchen garden, and planted a sugar maple tree that survived for 200 years…
Twinleaf Journal Online

If You Want to Grow a Healthy African American Kitchen Garden–Here are Your Marching Orders
Let me say this first–in the African, African Diaspora and African American cultural traditions have long embraced the kitchen garden as an essential piece of daily life.  Don’t let the new crop of food advocates and activists fool you–this is a tradition that our Ancestors established, cultivated and fought for…Before anyone ever heard of a Victory Garden we had our truck and huck patches, which served as a means of cultural, economic and social power in the slave quarter through the age of the Freedmen and segregation.

A Renaissance for African Botanic Gardens?
If botanical gardens are going to demonstrate their value as resources for sustainable development, it is in Africa they will do so. The African botanical gardens have had a hard ride. Many were established by the old colonial powers, under which they flourished until the financial and political upheavals of post-colonial Africa reduced them to under-resourced shells. Today, that pattern of decline is being reversed as many African nations rise to the challenge of the Convention on Biological Diversity and produce strategies that recognize the need for retaining plant resources.
Virtual Herbarium

The Seeds of Survival
The broader truth is that gardening is a lost tradition in many African-American communities. The National Gardening Association doesn’t tally the number of black gardeners — nor, it would seem, does anyone else.
New York Times

In Praise of the Misunderstood Quince
As long ago as 1922, the great New York pomologist U. P. Hedrick rued that “the quince, the ‘golden apple’ of the ancients, once dedicated to deities, and looked upon as the emblem of love and happiness, for centuries the favorite pome, is now neglected and the least esteemed of commonly cultivated tree-fruits.” Almost every Colonial kitchen garden had a quince tree.
New York Times

Pretty Prairie Lass
So, should you grow ‘Prairie Lass’?  It seems to be a nice rose and bush and is healthy enough to keep a place for it in a collection of Buck roses. But I don’t think it is a rose that will ever make a garden visitor gasp in surprise.
Garden Musings

Distant species produce ‘love child’ fern after 60-million-year breakup
A delicate woodland fern discovered in the mountains of France is the love child of two distantly-related groups of plants that haven’t interbred in 60 million years, genetic analyses show. Reproducing after such a long evolutionary breakup is akin to an elephant hybridizing with a manatee, or a human with a lemur, the researchers say.
Science Daily

Wild Fennel; Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is an erect perennial herb, four to ten feet tall, with finely dissected, almost feathery leaves and characterized by a strong anise scent originating from stems and leaves. The flowers are yellow and small (one-quarter inch across), and are clustered in large, rounded, umbrella-like groups (compound umbels), roughly four inches across, that are conspicuous from April through July.
Eat The Weeds

Common box (Buxus sempervirens), the two sides of the same branch. Photo Didier Descouens WikiCommons.

Common box (Buxus sempervirens? koreana?), the two sides of the same branch. Photo Didier Descouens WikiCommons.

“What you think, you become.” – Buddha

Forsythia hedge at Dumbarton Oaks. Photo at Hedge Britannia, click image to link.

Forsythia hedge at Dumbarton Oaks. Photo at Hedge Britannia, click image to link.

A spectacular aurora photographed by Ryan Fisher in Canada's Northwest Territories on January 11, 2015. Click image to link to the aurora gallery at Spaceweather.

A spectacular aurora photographed by Ryan Fisher in Canada’s Northwest Territories on January 11, 2015. Click image to link to the aurora gallery at Spaceweather.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

House sparrows bathing. Photo Zachary, Creative Commons.

House sparrows bathing. Photo Zachary, Creative Commons.

Cat Grass for Cats – good or bad?
Though no one can deny that cats eat grass, there are only theories as to why they do. Some claim it is to get extra niacin, a B vitamin abundantly available in most fresh young grain grasses. Perhaps cats eat it to make themselves vomit. Some people believe cats eat it to help pass fur balls along while others say they just need the fiber for other nutritional purposes.
Geoff Stein/Dave’s Garden

Rise in mass die-offs seen among birds, fish and marine invertebrates
An analysis of 727 studies reveals that there have been more instances of rapid, catastrophic animal die-offs over the past 75 years. These mass kills appear to have hit birds, fish and marine invertebrates harder than other species.
Science Daily

Unusual number of UK flowers bloom
Botanists have been stunned by the results of their annual hunt for plants in flower on New Year’s Day. They say according to textbooks there should be between 20 and 30 species in flower. This year there were 368 in bloom.

Together, humans and computers can figure out the plant world
As technology advances, science has become increasingly about data–how to gather it, organize it, and analyze it. The creation of key databases to analyze and share data lies at the heart of bioinformatics, or the collection, classification, storage, and analysis of biochemical and biological information using computers and software.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative
Landscapes are considered sustainable if they reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities.
United States Botanic Garden

Nectar of the Gods
The Exotic Love Vine (Ipomoea lobata) is proving to be the most vibrant and heavy bloomer in my fall garden — just when I think it can’t possibly get any better, it does.
Great Stems

William Curtis and “The Botanical Magazine, or, Flower-Garden Displayed”
The world’s longest running botanical magazine was (eventually) named after its founder William Curtis (1746–1799), who was an English botanist and entomologist. From 1771 to 1777 Curtis worked as demonstrator of plants and Praefectus Horti at the Chelsea Physic Garden…
New York Public Library

A Garden Aristocrat
The U.S. National Arboretum’s National Boxwood Collection is one of the most complete collections of boxwood in the world.  There are around 150 different species and cultivars planted in this verdant corner of the Arboretum.  Some have blue-green leaves, others have leaves variegated with splashes of cream or yellow.  Some are dwarf and mature at a height of less than two feet.  One variety, ‘Graham Blandy’,  grows upward in a narrow column like an exclamation point in the garden.
United States National Arboretum

Search the Botany Collections
The plant collections of the Smithsonian Institution began with the acquisition of specimens collected by the United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842). These formed the foundation of a National Herbarium which today numbers over 5 million historical plant records, placing it among the world’s largest and most important.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

20 gorgeous peonies
Our guide to favorite varieties in pinks, reds, yellows, and more.

Designing with Dwarf Conifers
My tiny lot did not afford much space for full-size trees and shrubs, but I knew I could make room for a few dwarf conifers, which usually don’t get taller than 1 to 6 feet in 10 years.
Fine Gardening

Horticultural Artists Grow Fantastical Scenes at the Montréal Botanical Garden
The process works a bit like this. To start, horticultural artists build metal frames for their sculptures. They cover the frames with soil netting and then plant seeds of different flora in that soil, much like a ceramicist lays tiles in a mosaic.
Smithsonian Magazine

Sex and the single evening primrose
Sex or no sex? Using various species of the evening primrose as their model, researchers have demonstrated strong support for a theory that biologists have long promoted: Species that reproduce sexually, rather than asexually, are healthier over time, because they don’t accumulate harmful mutations.
Science Daily

Detail of the roof of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. Photo Almonroth, Creative Commons.

Detail of the roof of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. Photo Almonroth, Creative Commons.

Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart. ~Russell Page

Limonaia in Tower Hill Botanical Garden, Boylston, Massachusetts. "Preservation of citrus and other tender plants started out as crudely as building a pergola over potted plants or beds or simply moving potted plants indoors for the cold season. Known in Italy as limonaia, these early structures employed wood panels in storerooms or open galleries to protect from the cold," says Wikipedia. Photo Muffet, Creative Commons.

Limonaia in Tower Hill Botanical Garden, Boylston, Massachusetts. “Preservation of citrus and other tender plants started out as crudely as building a pergola over potted plants or beds or simply moving potted plants indoors for the cold season. Known in Italy as limonaia, these early structures employed wood panels in storerooms or open galleries to protect from the cold,” says Wikipedia. Photo Muffet, Creative Commons.



*garden 2014 windowsill

September 2014. Photo Dayton Segard.


garden 2014 garage bed spring

Kitchen garden, mid-May 2014. Photo Dayton Segard.

garden 2014 garage bed mid-july

Kitchen garden, early August 2014. Photo Dayton Segard.

*garden 2014 deer leg

Found this under the peach tree in early Spring 2014. Photo Kerri Conan.

*garden 2014 brush fence

Honeysuckle path in the woods. Photo Dayton Segard.

Seed-swapping is one of the great traditions of gardening and gardeners are generous souls. I’m very pleased to be growing plants from seeds obtained from gardeners around the country–specifically Nancy Ondra at Hayefield, Alicia Maynard at Sweetbay and Rob Broekhuis at Rob’s Plants. They have introduced me to many fine garden plants–several now indispensable. Here are some that did well in my northeastern Kansas garden in 2014.

Verbascum thapsus ‘Governor George Aiken’ (Click title for photo at Hayefield.)
I had long heard tales of a white-flowering Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, and came across a picture of V. ‘Governor George Akin’ on the Hayefield blog in 2013. As luck would have it, Nancy was giving away seeds of that same Verbascum, and even more luck produced nine healthy plants set out last Fall. I’m hoping for five-foot spires of snow-white flowers from June through September but V. thapsus is tricky in the garden. These are not plants to be coddled. They grow in profusion in sun-blasted, bone-dry rubble along train tracks and riverbanks, but too much shade and water in the garden and they soon rot away. I planted them in sun-scorched earth but Kansas winters are wet and mucky, so fingers crossed for the Governors.

One Plant, Three Seasons: Amsonia hubrichtii (Click title for article and photos.)
“Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, Arkansas bluestar comes into bloom in the first or second week of May and continues into the first or second week of June. Its light blue color looks great with white, silvery, and pastel partners. …After the bloom period, the key summer features of Arkansas bluestar are its rich green color, its fine texture, and its dense, mounded habit. …Toward the end of the growing season, Arkansas bluestar really takes center stage.” – Nancy Ondra, Hayefield.

A Winter-sowing of Amsonia hubrichtii yielded 13 plants, nine making it through to wispy, foot-tall youngsters in gallon pots, now buried and mulched to overwinter. Amsonia seed need cold to germinate, barely covered and pressed into the soil. Sow seeds in pots no later than early January (I sow in Autumn), put them outside, and start looking for seedlings as weather warms up at the end of March. My two-year-olds should make airy 3′ x 3′ mounds in three years, with pale blue, star-like flowers in May and brilliant yellow foliage color in Autumn. The young plants hinted at their forthcoming glory last Fall, bright yellow threads in the dying grasses. I’ll follow Ondra’s lead and inter-plant my patch of Amsonia with blue asters. You can’t go wrong with yellow and blue.

One Plant, Three Seasons: Patrinia scabiosifolia (Click title for article and photos.)
“Is it possible for any gardener to have just one favorite plant? For most of us, I imagine, it’s tough to get closer than a top 5 or top 10. But if you asked me that question at this time of year and insisted on one top pick, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose Patrinia scabiosifolia (or scabiosaefolia, as some sources prefer to list it).” – Nancy Ondra, Hayefield.

I now have seven plants of Hayefield’s Patrinia, four of which bloomed last year. The tallest reached seven feet before toppling in a storm. The flat-topped clusters of small, chrome-yellow flowers looked great against vines of white morning glory and orange black-eyed susan, and the foliage turned bright red in October. Like the chartreuse bracts of the Euphorbia clan, Patrinia‘s bright flowers complement most color schemes. A good see-through plant–I have several at the front of a border so passers-by can observe the great variety of insects swarming the flowers. So far in this garden, Patrinia rivals Sedum x ‘Autumn Joy’–now Hylotelephium telephium ‘Autumn Joy’–as a bug attractor.

Patrinia transplants best in early Spring, just as the leaves emerge, and goes into a deep sulk otherwise. I agree with Nancy Ondra: this is a Top 10 plant.

Sanguisorba tenuifolia var purpurea, Japanese Burnet (Click title for picture at Hayefield.)
Sanguisorbas are the height of fashion right now, and deservedly so, for they provide flowing movement and have an elegant willowy presence. They have finely toothed pinnate foliage, above which long-lasting flowers hold themselves high on wiry stems. They associate brilliantly with equally tall, airy grasses, spired and whorled veronicastrums, and taller daisies.” – Telegraph

I planted four young Sanguisorba tenuifolia purpurea, Japanese burnet, among Miscanthus, Gaura, Nepeta and white Verbascum last Autumn, germinated from a Winter sowing in early January 2014. Might be too hot and dry for them in Summer, though extra mulch and water will help. I’m hoping they’ll be as tough as Hayefield’s Patrinia.

Fields of Gold: Bidens aristosa (Click title to link article at Sweetbay.)
“April/May and September are peak months in my garden. In September the big star is Bidens but there are other things in bloom too. All of that golden yellow needs some contrasts.” – Alicia Maynard

Bidens aristosa in full glory at Sweetbay. Photo Alicia Maynard.

Three years ago, Alicia Maynard of Sweetbay sent me seeds of Bidens aristosa after I expressed admiration for her spectacular Bidens borders. I now have plenty of Bidens and the September garden shimmers. Almost too much of a good thing; Bidens self-seeds easily and several species are considered invasive. In garden beds, it takes diligent weeding to keep in check but three-inch seedings pull up easily and transplant fairly well. Bidens is a great asset to the Fall garden, masses of mustard-yellow flowers, and an end-of-the-season boon for insects. I did some research on Bidens in a previous post: Three Bidens: aurea, aristosa, coronata.

Eryngium yuccifolium, Rattlesnake Master (Click title to link article at Rob’s Plants.)
“Scattered along the stiff, upright stem of this unusual perennial are tough, blue-green, yucca-like, parallel-veined leaves. Smooth, rigid stem bearing thistle-like flower heads made up of small greenish-white florets mingled with pointed bracts. The individual, greenish-white flowers cluster into unique, globular heads. These occur on branch ends atop the 6 ft. plant.” – Native Plant Database

Flowers of Eryngium yuccifolium, Rattlesnake Master. Photo Crazytwoknobs, Wiki Commons.

Flowers of Eryngium yuccifolium, Rattlesnake Master. Photo Crazytwoknobs, Wiki Commons.

Seed for Rattlesnake Master–Native Americans reputedly used it as a snakebite antidote–came from Rob Broekhuis of Rob’s Plants four years ago. I now have a 5′ x 4′ clump of three plants that bloom reliably in late July–insects love the branching scapes of spiny, spherical flowers. A member of the Carrot family, it does indeed resemble a fleshy Yucca with barbed, glaucous leaves–a somewhat modest plant after flowering when it tends to flop and flatten smaller neighbors. Plant something substantial around Eryngium yuccifolium or use twiggy branches for support. Good mingling with roses.

Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta, Lesser Calamint (Click title to link article at Rob’s Plants.)
“The LESSER CALAMINT (Calamintha nepeta) is a variety of the herb possessing almost superior virtues, with a stronger odour, resembling that of Pennyroyal, and a moderately pungent taste somewhat like Spearmint, but warmer. It is scarcely distinct from C. officinalis, and by some botanists is considered a sub-species. The leaves are more strongly toothed, and it bears its flowers on longer stalks. Both this and the Common Calamint seem to have been used indifferently in the old practice of medicine under the name of Calamint.” – Botanical/A Modern Herbal

Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta. Photo chhe, Wiki Commons.

Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta. Photo chhe, Wiki Commons.

Rob sent seed of the species Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta three years ago and Calamint is now an indispensable plant in the garden–over two dozen plants to date. Fragrance, flowers, butterflies and bees, tough and compact, great filler, makes good tea… A beautiful, useful, care-free plant. Mine get to about 18 inches tall and wide, a bit sprawly but smaller and bushier if cut back by half in May. The cultivars ‘Blue Cloud’ and ‘White Cloud’ are tidier.

Drought-tolerant Calamint prefers full sun in its Mediterranean home but in Kansas requires little water when mulched and grown in some afternoon shade.  If it wilts, water quickly, nip off withered stems and all will be well. It seems to like my barely amended clay soil and starts blooming here in early July, tiny bluish-white flowers borne in thousands, a low haze in the border. Calamint propagates easily through division and cuttings, and regularly self-sows–it is a mint, after all. If you don’t want volunteers, shear the plants immediately after flowering.


"The Explanation," Rene Magritte, 1952

“The Explanation,” Rene Magritte, 1952. Click image for more about Magritte.

“Reason uncorrected by instinct is as bad as instinct uncorrected by reason.” – Samuel Butler, Erewhon.

"The Anatomy of Plants," Nehemiah Grew, 1682

“The Anatomy of Plants,” Nehemiah Grew, 1682. Click image to learn more about Nehemiah Grew.

Save our small nurseries from the European Commission
“It would be the death of 95 per cent of all nurseries,” said the Dutch nurseryman. He was referring to some legislation proposed by the European Commission, which would make it mandatory for all plant varieties to be supported by a detailed description.

Acorns: The Inside Story
During World War II Japanese school children collected over one million tons of acorns to help feed the nation as rice and flour supplies dwindled.
Eat The Weeds

Ricinus communis, Castor Oil plant
Around one million tons of castor beans are processed each year for castor oil production leaving the waste pulp with up to 50,000 tons of ricin in it. And, yet, finding instances of ricin poisoning is not an easy task. So how is it that this exceptionally toxic substance fails to achieve its harmful potential?
The Poison Garden

Figs and Mulberries, Inside and Out
Figs and mulberries are both gorgeous, sexy fruits, but in very different ways. At first blush a mulberry could be the hot-mess cousin of a blackberry, while figs are classically sensual fruits, like marble nudes teetering on the edge of vulgar.
Soiled & Seeded

Pawnee Buttes Sand Cherry: the scoop
Pawnee Buttes is quietly becoming “bread and butter” (i.e., a universally grown, serviceable shrub),and yet it has become an emblem of sophisticated xeriscapes and connoisseur’s gardens in our region as well…not many plants can straddle both rather contradictory realms!

Red Tulips, Green Garden
Red tulip flowers have dramatic impact in spring when surrounded by their complementary colour green, and tulips in whatever colour have to be the ultimate complementary plants to add to a perennial meadow and awaken your gardener’s spirits in early, mid and late springtime.
Perennial Meadows

Karl Foerster’s gardens in Potsdam
The place could be divided in 4 sectors: the nursery, still up and running, the back garden, the sunken garden (front garden) and the house with a part of private garden. The house is actually owned and inhabited by Karl Foerster’s daughter, if I got it right, although I did the math and I guess she ain’t a kid anymore.

Freedom Plaza 30 Years Later: Nothing Left to Lose
I’ve made the pilgrimage to see the work of the late Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden at the Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC three times in the last ten years. Each time, I have been sadly disappointed.
The Gardener’s Eye

Seed trade/sale list
This is my current list of seeds I have to trade. I also keep a copy up at Gardenweb during the trading season (roughly, September through December). If you see some varieties you’d like, shoot me an e-mail trade request.
Rob’s Plants

Short Dictionary of Specific Epithets
Included are epithets referring to structure, form, habit, color, habitat, and other descriptive terms. Still the list is hardly begun after 702 items. I feel some resistance to continue, because you should have no need to discover these meanings if you accept my argument that plant names are just names. What is important is that those names be unique. Unfortunately, it is too much to hope for them to be unchanging.
Tom Clothier

The Carosello Massafrese
For those of you who are not familiar with what a Carosello is, Carosellos are cucumbers that are are a melon botanically and a cucumber agriculturally. This means that they grow like a melon but taste and are eaten like cucumbers – only better!
The Scientific Gardener

Kansas Peonies—From Russia with Love
Russian peonies still bloom in Kansas wherever the Mennonites and their descendants settled, towns like “Newton, Hillsboro and Gossel.”
Human Flower Project

In search of evergreens for Kansas
Kansas is the only state in the Lower 48 that doesn’t have a native pine tree. We’re not the icy-cold tundra of the Upper Midwest, where native pines can take the cold winters, and we’re not the desert Southwest, where native pines can take the hot wind. “We’re both,” said Jason Griffin, director of K-State’s John C. Pair Horticulture Center in Haysville.
Wicihta Eagle

The prone female figure of Northumberlandia shares some of the swoops and surprises of that garden, but is altogether rougher and less refined. She forms the centrepiece of a new, privately funded, but very public, park, and is apparently a quarter of a mile long, with 100ft (30m) high breasts, and a body made from 1.5m tons of rock, soil and clay.
Landscape Lover

Bras in Space: The Incredible True Story Behind Upcoming Film Spacesuit
It turns out that the 21-layers of gossamer-thin fabric in the Apollo spacesuits that kept Armstrong and Aldrin from “the lethal desolation of a lunar vacuum,” as Nicholas de Monchaux puts it in his remarkable book “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo,” was created by the same people who made your grandma’s bra. Playtex.
The Credits

"The Dream," Henri Rousseau, 1910. Click image for more on Rousseau.

“The Dream,” Henri Rousseau, 1910. Click image for more on Rousseau.

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.” – Bill Vaughn

"Le Jardinier," Paul Cezanne, c 1886. Click image for more on Cezanne.

“Le Jardinier,” Paul Cezanne, c 1886. Click image for more on Cezanne.


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