Rants

What Are Plant Patents, Trademarks, and Brands?

What Are Plant Patents, Trademarks, and Brands?

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A proliferation of plant patents, trademarks, and brands in recent years has turned plant shopping into a rather confusing experience. Plants now have goofy names. Have you noticed that the Knock Out rose is also called ‘Radrazz’? Or that Endless Summer hydrangea also answers to the name of ‘Bailmer’? Tags now warn menacingly, “UNLICENSED PROPAGATION PROHIBITED.” And the plain black… Read more →


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Five Seed-Starting Myths Shattered

Five Seed-Starting Myths Shattered

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Like any activity with a long history, gardening has its share of traditions. Some of these are sound practices, while others should have been thrown on the compost heap long ago. Seed-starting is one gardening project that seems especially steeped in lore. And with good reason—the whole process of turning a dead-looking speck of dust into a vibrant, living plant… Read more →


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Separating GMO Fact from Fiction: A Crash Course

Separating GMO Fact from Fiction: A Crash Course

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Are you opposed to GMOs, but secretly wish you knew more about the details to better back up your case? Are you OK with GMOs, but don’t know how to refute anti-GMO arguments? Are you undecided? GMOs Get Personal At different times in my life, I’ve held all three of these points of view. The issue got personal last fall,… Read more →


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prunus yedoensis yoshino cherry and bloom times

On Bloom Times: I’ve Told You a Million Times, Stop Exaggerating!

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When I first decided to write a book on bloom times and told my landscaper friends about it, I got a surprising amount of resistance from some of them. “But bloom times can vary so much from year to year!” they would say.  “How can you be so sure of the dates?” I doubted myself at times, but as my… Read more →


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aesculus glabra ohio buckeye leafing out

A Call to Inaction: In Defense of Doing Nothing

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This is an actual conversation that took place one late winter day at the nursery where I worked: Caller:  Yes, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me.  I’m going to spray my plants, and the container says not to use it on arborvitaes, and I was wondering, “Why not arborvitaes?”  What will it do to them? Me:  What… Read more →


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narcissus split cup daffodil

The War on Flowers

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Flowers are under attack. Have you noticed how many books and articles on garden design emphasize the importance of foliage to the point where flowers are entirely secondary? Many garden experts tell us that a sophisticated gardener overlooks the fleeting thrill of flowers and instead focuses, sensibly, on the form, texture, and color that foliage provides over the long haul.  Once one… Read more →


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Bloom times are more regular than we thought

Bloom Times Are More Regular Than We Thought

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When it comes to the weather, we gardeners are prone to hyperbole.  Every season, one would think from listening to us, is drastically colder or warmer, wetter or drier than ever before.  Has one of us ever said, “Can you believe what normal weather we’re having?” or, “Average enough for ya?”  Instead, we seize upon every irregularity in the weather… Read more →


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Reading between the lines of plant catalogs

What Plant Catalogs Are Really Trying to Tell You

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All plants have their pros and cons. Writers of plant and seed catalogs try to paint each plant in the best light.  Just as when a house listed as “cozy” usually translates to “small,” certain terms in plant catalogs raise flags in the minds of savvy consumers.  Here are some phrases to be aware of when flipping through those decadent,… Read more →


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