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Archive for Focus on Flowers

December 27, 2007

A New Year

Shelley's poem about winter paints a desolate landscape and sounds like a dirge for the old year. The summer exuberance of our gardens in the old year seems a long time ago and next spring's flowers seems to be an eternity away.</p>

December 20, 2007


The state flower of both Louisiana and Mississippi is Magnolia grandiflora. This is the large fragrant creamy white flower with a yellow center, produced by a magnificent evergreen tree which grows best close to the coast and at low altitudes.

December 6, 2007


White aluminium sulphate can be added to the soil to increase acidity; it really doesn't always work well. However, those of us with lime in our soil can grow wonderful pink, white and red flowering hydrangeas that are also rewarding.

November 29, 2007

Amsterdam's FlowerMart

This past summer was so hot and dry that I spent many hours watering my garden - dragging hoses from bed to bed and feeling more and more depressed as I watched my perennial plants struggling in 90 degree temperatures. I was destined to have only small vases of flowers in my house as the pickings were slim.

November 22, 2007

Shrubs for All Seasons

November is a month when the wind tosses around the leaves we forgot to rake and blows them against the legs of our shrubs. As we look at November's desolate landscape it is a good time to assess our gardens. Do we have enough evergreens to provide shelter for the birds?

November 15, 2007

New Echinacea Cultivars

As I peruse the fall garden catalogues I am amazed at how many new cultivars or perennial plants have been introduced in the recent past. For example, Echinaceas, commonly called coneflowers now are offered in a wider range of colors and forms than ever before.

November 13, 2007

John Bartram

John Bartram was born in Pennsylvania in 1699 and was a farmer. He became interested in horticulture after examining the beauty and complexity of a wild flower that was excavated by his plough. So he then learned Latin in order to study Botany.

November 8, 2007

Botanical Geography

The geographic origin of many of the flowers we grow is specified in many of their botanical names. Of course, as Stearn in his book Botanical Latin reminds his readers, many of the regions specified by Linnaus, and other early authors have different names and boundaries today.

November 1, 2007

Shades of Yellow

As the outdoor temperatures cool and our flowering plants are dormant, many gardeners read about plants as a substitute for tending them.  A friend lent me a book titled Botanical Latin by William T Stearn.

October 25, 2007

Cultivar Names

The fall catalogs are arriving in our mailboxes, full of colored photographs of beautiful flowers. Most gardeners enjoy reading the catalogs. Usually a plant is listed with the Genus name, followed by the species name and then the cultivar's name, which is always in single quotation marks.

October 18, 2007

Robust Roses

Those of us who live in very cold winters often try to grow Canadian roses, but they don't like our hot humid summers. We need to grow roses that will tolerate both heat and cold. During the past summer I visited a lovely rose garden in Southern Indiana, an area not noted for roses.

October 11, 2007


There are about 30 species in the genus Gaillardia and most are native to North America where they are commonly called blanket flowers. Their daisy flowers have red, yellow, orange and maroon shades that remind us of the rich colors of the blankets woven by the Native Americans.

October 4, 2007


The cultivar ‘Whirling Butterflies' has a name that matches exactly how it looks as its dainty white spires of tiny blossoms move in the breeze. There are also handsome bright pink cultivars such as ‘Pink Fountain' and another ‘Crimson Butterflies' which is more compact and has red foliage that glows on hot days.

September 27, 2007


Many herbs make good additions to the perennial garden, providing flowers and foliage that combine well with other plants...

September 20, 2007

Boltonia: Honoring Jim Crockett

Jim Crockett was the original host of the popular television program "The Victory Garden," which many gardeners watch...

September 13, 2007

Moving Plants Indoors

In September we get our houseplants ready to move back indoors. Some may have outgrown their containers and have to be repotted. All of the pots will need to be inspected and cleaned off to ensure that no dirt or bugs are carried indoors.

September 6, 2007

Asters Short and Tall

Asters are the stars of our September gardens, and indeed the word aster means ‘star'. The individual daisy-like blooms in the clustered flowered heads look star-like. New England Asters are native from Vermont to New Mexico, and the New York asters of course are also natives.

August 30, 2007

Fall Dead-heading: And Winter Pot Pourri

The autumnal equinox occurs during the third week of September. It is the time when the sun crosses the equator making day and night of equal length on all points of the earth. After the equinox in Autumn, the days grow shorter.</p>

August 23, 2007

Floating Flowers

Even if you have just a small garden made up primarily of annuals, you can still make wonderful floral centrepieces for you dinner table. Walk around your garden and snip the heads of impatiens and the petals of geraniums and float them in the bowl.

August 16, 2007

August Gold

<a href=""><img class="postthumb left" src="" alt="&lt;br /&gt;" width="75" height="75" /></a>Our hot month of August was named in his own honor by Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Many August bloomers are majestic erect plants that match the color of the sun and luxuriate in its heat. For example, the achilleas.

August 9, 2007

Liatris: Native American Perennial

Plants that have flower spikes are useful as they provide vertical interest both in the gardens and in a vase. One Native American perennial with tall erect wands of small flowers that are purple, rose-purple or white, is liatris.

August 2, 2007


Their flower wands look like ghostly fingers held high on a wiry stem. They look spectacular shimmering and quivering in the breeze above a bed of green and white hostas. They self sow happily.

July 26, 2007

Serendipity and Design

No matter how much we try to sculpt our gardens, Mother Nature has her own ways of doing things.

July 19, 2007


Cichorium intybus, commonly called chicory, is a weedy looking late herb, but when it blooms it transforms itself with scores of small sky blue daisy like flowers. It is a perennial that is native to Europe.

July 12, 2007

Gold in the Garden

July is a month when hot weather saps the energy of gardeners, but July blooming plants are undaunted.

July 5, 2007


Some plants, like some people, seem to need to be coaxed along in order to perform.

June 28, 2007

Red White and Blue

For a July 4th, an informal flower arrangement might include blue bachelor's buttons, red salvia and white daisies.

June 21, 2007


In early times, Scabiosas were used medicinally as treatment for skin conditions related to poor hygiene.

June 14, 2007

Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana)

The largest flowering tobacco plant is Nicotiana sylvestris, and it has large lettuce green leaves that are shaped like those of the smoking type of tobacco.

June 7, 2007


Tradescantias are persistent plants-easy to grow that sow their seeds widely.

May 31, 2007

Tiarella: Foamflowers

Tiarellas, also known as Foamflowers, are shade loving plants.

May 24, 2007


Thyme is an herb of the mint family well known for its culinary uses. However, there are about 350 other species of thyme, each uniquely beautiful.

May 10, 2007

Georgia Blue Veronica: An Herbaceous Perennial

The leaves of the plant are small and dark green and turn a burgundy-bronze shade in winter.  Since this plant likes good drainage it is happy in rock gardens, raised beds and containers. It is a vigorous plant but can easily be sheared back and divided so it is not considered to be invasive.

May 3, 2007

Dragon Wing Begonias

As gardeners plan their annual plantings this spring, many are excited about a hybrid begonia know as "Dragon Wing Begonia."  It is a variety introduced in 2000 by Pan American Seed Company, and it won a gold medal in 2005.

April 26, 2007


Snapdragons get their name from children pressing the sides of the flowers to make the two tips snap open.

April 19, 2007

In Celebration of St. George's Day: Some Special Roses

Roses have diverse symbolic meanings and have been used as literary references since Shakespeare's time.

April 12, 2007

Gardening Advice from Shakespeare

The plays of William Shakespeare are abound with allusions to plants and flowers.

April 5, 2007

The Cruelest Month

April is known as the cruelest month due to the erratic weather and the possibility for freezing temperatures to creep back in and injure new plants.

March 29, 2007

Purple Flowers

Louise Beebe Wilder once said that the color purple can play a mediating role in creating color harmony in the garden.

March 22, 2007

Island Flower Beds

Learn about the diversity of Island Flower beds on this Focus on Flowers.

March 15, 2007

Covent Garden

The development of Covent Garden flower market in 1894 allowed flowers to be available for sale for the first time in England.

March 8, 2007

Head Gardeners of Victorian Era England

Head gardeners held positions of prestige in Victorian era Britain. They had large staffs, were experts of botany and started gardening trends. Now, gardening magazines and television programs have largely replaced the expertise of these master gardeners.

March 1, 2007

Snippets from Garden Writing

A lot has been written about flowers and gardening and while some of it is sublime and a lot of it is hyperbole, most of it is amusing. Here I have included some of my favorite snippets from garden writers.

February 22, 2007

Discussing The Daffodil In Honor Of St. David's Day

March 1st is Saint David's Day, a Welsh holiday. What would be more appropriate than a discussion of Wales' national flower, the daffodil?

February 15, 2007

The Language Of Flowers: Sending Secret Messages

Flowers were used to communicate discreetly between the giver and recipient in Victorian-era England. Lady Montagu imported this tradition from Turkey.

February 8, 2007

The Language Of Flowers: What Does Your Gift Of Flowers Say?

Don't be misunderstood this Valentine's Day! Did you know the bouquet of flowers you give may have a deeper meaning?

February 1, 2007

Flower Arrangements: A Cure For The Flowerless Winter Woes

While flower arrangements are ephemeral, creating as well as viewing them can brighten a winter's day.

January 25, 2007

Winter Floral Arrangements: The "Facing" Arrangement

With only a few flowers we can craft attractive winter floral arrangements by combining them with different kinds of foliage.

January 18, 2007

The Poetry Of Gardens

"Gardens in themselves are essentially poetic, works of art constructed in the language of nature" writes John Hollander in his anthology of "Garden Poems".

January 11, 2007

Louise Beebe Wilder: Winter Meditation

As the New Year unfolds, Louise Beebe Wilder's words help us to understand ourselves through the metaphor of our garden.

January 4, 2007

Victorian Floral Magic

As we think about flower decorations for the holidays, it is interesting to think about the lavish scale of floral art in English Victorian homes.

January 2, 2007

Two New Abelias: Beautiful AND Deer Resistant!

Abelias are not only beautiful but practical. They are great as shrub borders and foundation plantings and are even deer resistant. Learn more...

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