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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All Hail the Toad Lily:  Prince of Fall Perennials

All Hail the Toad Lily: Prince of Fall Perennials

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It’s nice to know that not all late summer- and fall-blooming perennials are DYC’s (Damn Yellow Composites). Their brassy gold faces are cheering at first, but become monotonous.  In shady gardens at that time of year, the lily family is offering up some splendidly eccentric blooms in the form of toad lilies. ‘Miyazaki’ toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta ‘Miyazaki’) opens its fantastically speckled… Read more →


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ginkgo biloba yellow in fall

Ginkgo biloba, You Don’t Look a Day Over 56 Million

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Is there anything more satisfying than golden ginkgo leaves backed by blue autumn skies? Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) delivers taxi-cab-yellow foliage to the Lower Midwest from the week of October 11 until mid-November, with most trees reaching peak color during the latter half of that period.  The margins of the fan-shaped leaves turn first, so that early in the show the green leaves are… Read more →


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dragonfly

The Bizarre, Sordid Secrets of Dragonflies You Will Wish You Had Never Learned

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I’ve always enjoyed it when dragonflies visited the garden, but I realized I didn’t know much about them. I knew that dragonflies had finely tuned, 360-degree vision, because I knew how hard it was to get close enough to them for a photo.  I knew they were territorial, because one of them took ownership of the tip of our car antenna for about… Read more →


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Hamamelis virginiana common witchhazel

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Gloom of Night Keeps This Witchhazel Down

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I must say a few words of kindness for our native common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), the last woody plant of the year to venture forth with new flowers. Like katsura,  common witchhazel might be first detected with a whiff—in this case a sweet tea fragrance—and then tracked down.  Sure enough, there are the flowers, like wee basil chiffonades in yellow.  The blooms… Read more →


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What Does Katsura Smell Like to You?

What Does Katsura Smell Like to You?

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Katsura (Cercidophyllum japonicum) makes a grand entrance in fall, turning yellow from head to toe between October 4 and November 7 in the Ohio Valley.  In some parts of the world, the tree turns apricot-yellow or even a ruddy orange, but in the Lower Midwest, yellow is nearly always the uniform, and that’s just fine, because it is a luminous yellow—clear and strong. … Read more →


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The Six Best Japanese Maples for Fall Color

The Six Best Japanese Maples for Fall Color

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When it comes to Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) for fall color, there’s hardly a bad one in the bunch, but some are simply stunning, while others are take-your-breath-away gorgeous. Over the 16 years I worked at Ammon Nursery in Northern Kentucky, we grew more than 60 varieties of Japanese maples.  Mostly we sold the popular red-foliaged types–either weeping, dissected-leaf selections like ‘Crimson Queen’,… Read more →


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Chrysanthemum 'Sheffield Pink'--A Truly Hardy, Perennial Mum

Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’–A Truly Hardy, Perennial Mum

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I am a sucker for peach-colored flowers, and I think those of ‘Sheffield Pink’ mum (Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’), bursting forth from October 11 to November 7, are the most spellbinding blooms of the entire fall season. Not only are the blooms pretty, but the plant itself is durable and will return year after year.  This is not your typical disposable… Read more →


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Sedum ellacombianum Serves Up Gummi-Bear-Colored Fall Foliage

Sedum ellacombianum Serves Up Gummi-Bear-Colored Fall Foliage

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Trees and shrubs are not the only plants infused with fiery foliage in fall.  Perennials like stonecrops undergo some color shifts as the weather turns nippy, too.  October daphne’s (Hylotelephium sieboldii) glaucous, aqua-blue foliage becomes imbued with pink, as does that of Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’, and Sedum ruprestre ‘Angelina’s fluorescent yellow foliage becomes tipped in fluorescent orange. The stonecrop I… Read more →


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