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>
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many herbs make good additions to the perennial garden, providing flowers and foliage that combine well with other plants...
Jim Crockett was the original host of the popular television program "The Victory Garden," which many gardeners watch...
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.
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.
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>
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.
<a href="http://wfiu.org/focusonflowers/files/2009/02/yarrows.jpg"><img class="postthumb left" src="http://wfiu.org/focusonflowers/files/2009/02/yarrows.jpg" alt="<br />" 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.
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.
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.
No matter how much we try to sculpt our gardens, Mother Nature has her own ways of doing things.
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 is a month when hot weather saps the energy of gardeners, but July blooming plants are undaunted.
Some plants, like some people, seem to need to be coaxed along in order to perform.
For a July 4th, an informal flower arrangement might include blue bachelor's buttons, red salvia and white daisies.
In early times, Scabiosas were used medicinally as treatment for skin conditions related to poor hygiene.
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.
Tradescantias are persistent plants-easy to grow that sow their seeds widely.
Tiarellas, also known as Foamflowers, are shade loving plants.
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.
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.
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.
Snapdragons get their name from children pressing the sides of the flowers to make the two tips snap open.
Roses have diverse symbolic meanings and have been used as literary references since Shakespeare's time.
The plays of William Shakespeare are abound with allusions to plants and flowers.
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.
Louise Beebe Wilder once said that the color purple can play a mediating role in creating color harmony in the garden.
Learn about the diversity of Island Flower beds on this Focus on Flowers.
The development of Covent Garden flower market in 1894 allowed flowers to be available for sale for the first time in 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.
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.
March 1st is Saint David's Day, a Welsh holiday. What would be more appropriate than a discussion of Wales' national flower, the daffodil?
Flowers were used to communicate discreetly between the giver and recipient in Victorian-era England. Lady Montagu imported this tradition from Turkey.
Don't be misunderstood this Valentine's Day! Did you know the bouquet of flowers you give may have a deeper meaning?
While flower arrangements are ephemeral, creating as well as viewing them can brighten a winter's day.
With only a few flowers we can craft attractive winter floral arrangements by combining them with different kinds of foliage.
"Gardens in themselves are essentially poetic, works of art constructed in the language of nature" writes John Hollander in his anthology of "Garden Poems".
As the New Year unfolds, Louise Beebe Wilder's words help us to understand ourselves through the metaphor of our garden.
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.