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Archive for Focus on Flowers

December 31, 2009

Growing Flowers Indoors: Hyacinth Glass

Look for hyacinth glasses next time you are in antique stores and garden centers. If we grow a hyacinth indoors in winter the perfume that fills the house creates a heady experience.

December 24, 2009

Louise B. Fisher: Flower Arranger For Colonial Williamsburg

Louise B. Fisher's traditional yet creative approach was a major force in defining an American style of flower arranging.

December 17, 2009

Buds and Blooms: Easy And Economical Holiday Flower Arrangements

In the days leading up to the holidays flower lovers start thinking about how flowers can be used as part of the seasonal decorations.

December 10, 2009

Houseplants As Gifts: Anthuriums And Clivias

Anthuriums and Clivias manage to thrive indoors despite the inhospitable winter climate. This makes these houseplants great holiday gifts that keep on giving.

December 3, 2009

Neglectable Houseplants

Succulents are commonly known as "neglectable plants" for their ability to thrive in otherwise inhospitable conditions of little water and sunshine.

November 26, 2009

Dormancy For Amaryllis

If you still have an amaryllis plant that flowered last winter, putting the bulb into dormancy will make it flower again this season.

November 19, 2009

Flowers For Winter

Paper White Narcissus bulbs are easy to grow indoors and provide clusters of highly perfumed white flowers.

November 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Decor With Fruit, Foliage And (Of Course!) Flowers

I feel compelled to remember our foremothers during Thanksgiving who have been busy preparing bountiful as well as beautiful Thanksgiving tables.

November 5, 2009

Japanese Kerria

If you have shady areas in your garden you may like to try growing a shrub that is known as Japanese Kerria. Its botanical name is Kerria Japonica. This is a fine textured, deciduous shrub that contrasts nicely with evergreen shrubs and plants with broad leaves.

October 29, 2009


Winterberry produces a grand display of bright red berries that persist and light up its branches long after all of the leaves have fallen.

October 22, 2009

Virginia Sweetspire

If you garden in zones 5 through 9 and are looking for a small to medium shrub that has fall color, Itea virginica, commonly called Virginia Sweetspire, may be a good candidate. It has white flowers and grows well in shade or shine.

October 15, 2009

Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan wrote an intriguing book called “The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World” published in 2001 by Random House. Pollan sees plants as willing partners with humans, in ten thousand years of co-evolution.

October 8, 2009

Layering Plants And Adding Texture To A Landscape

When we look at a mature landscape we see many layers that provide dimension and depth to the overall pattern. Trees and bushes add solidity and shape to a garden. There are numerous ways to create texture to a garden through the strategic use of color, patterns and plant-types.

October 1, 2009

Oh Dear! More Deer!

Moya Andrews shares her frustrating experiences with local deer making a snack of her beautiful garden. Flowers and plants that have been meticulously placed and cared for are also a tasty treat for these animals.

September 24, 2009

How To Cut Flowers

It is best to pick flowers either early in the morning or late in the day, to use clean clippers and to plunge the stems into water quickly, so carry a container of water around the garden as you snip.

September 17, 2009

Poisonous Peace Lilies

Peace lilies contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause irritation to the skin, mouth burning, swallowing difficulties and nausea.

September 10, 2009

Wicked Plants

Some of the toxic flowering plants that Amy Stewart discusses are azaleas and Rhododendrons, daphne, opium poppies, larkspur and delphiniums, lily of the valley, and bleeding heart.

September 3, 2009

Foundation Plantings

The purpose of foundation plantings is to hide unattractive parts of the foundation of a house from view and to anchor the home to the site. But how much of your home's foundation do you really want or need to hide?

August 27, 2009

Invasive Sweet Pea

Annual sweet peas are delightfully fragrant and come in a variety of colors. However, the perennial sweet pea Lathyrus latifolius, which has naturalized along the roadsides of North America, does not smell at all. It is native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa and has been around for a long time.

August 20, 2009

Reinvention With Mother Nature

We can learn some of life's major lessons in our gardens. For example, we learn the inevitability of change as nothing is ever static in nature. We start out, as hopeful new gardeners, convinced that if we work hard enough our gardens will bend to our will and eventually be perfect and remain that way...

August 13, 2009

Build a Bouquet

In the dog days of summer, I think that walking through the garden is certainly preferable to working in it. I love to drift through my garden early in the morning, picking bits of this and that, and assembling a bouquet in my hand.

August 6, 2009

A Large Family (Daisies)

There are lots of different ways in which the petals of flowers can be arranged. However, most people seem to love the simple arrangement of the ray petals surrounding a central disc that is the defining characteristic of daisies.

July 30, 2009

Japanese Iris

In my Indiana garden in midsummer, after the bearded iris and peony duet of bloom is only a memory, the beardless Japanese iris bloom with great abandon and considerable style.

July 23, 2009

What We See

No two gardens will ever be exactly the same, but neither will any two days or even two hours be identical in the same garden. The light and the wind changes, insects fly, birds pause and hover and the landscape changes before our eyes.

July 16, 2009

Picking Them Off (Japanese Beetles)

As I have mentioned before, I do more drifting around and less actual work in the garden in July. I do, however, keep after the Japanese beetles that appear like clockwork in July and stay about a month. These iridescent beetles love roses, hollyhocks, crepe myrtle and hibiscus especially, and I dislike them with a passion for ruining my flowers.

July 9, 2009

Paper Towels (Gardening words of wisdom)

Now I use a lot of paper towels, but these were for me, not only to use, but also to read. You see they have both pictures of flowers and sayings about gardening inscribed on them. For example, "Friends are flowers in a life's garden."

July 2, 2009

Gardens for Eating (4th of July gatherings)

The 4th of July is a public holiday that is traditionally celebrated outdoors with an all-American cook-out. Gardens make ideal settings where friends and family can gather and seem to be an integral part of the all-American dream.

June 25, 2009

Venus Flytrap

Some thoughtful friends gave me a gift of the book The Savage Garden - Cultivating Carnivorous Plants by Peter D'Amato, and I am fascinated by the information it contains. Probably the most well-known savage plant is the Venus Flytrap.

June 18, 2009

Conservatory Of Flowers (San Francisco)

June is the perfect month to tour gardens and to enjoy the beauty of flowers and flower displays. One great destination is the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

June 11, 2009

Roberto Burle Marx, Brazilian Landscape Designer

We can learn more about the use of color by studying the designs of a famous Brazilian landscape designer who was celebrated world-wide for his talent in combining vibrant colors. When we arrange plantings in geometric shapes or display abstract art in our gardens we are echoing design motifs Roberto Burle Marx pioneered.

June 4, 2009

Wedding Flowers

It is not a coincidence that many weddings are scheduled for June as there are plenty of flowers available from home gardens and in fields and parks and at farmer's markets. Informal bouquets are preferred by some brides as they are not only charming but also inexpensive.

May 28, 2009

Small For Fall: Preparing For Fall Flowers In The Spring

Although it is late spring here, I am actually already preparing some perennials for fall. Learn more...

May 21, 2009

Foliage Contributions: Perennials In Garden Design

Perennials spend more time without flowers than with them, something we flower gardeners may lament but have to accept. Their foliage, however, contributes to the overall design of the garden all through the growing seasons.

May 14, 2009

May Is The Month Of White Flowers

In the lower Mid-West, May is the month when we see lots of white flowers.

May 7, 2009

Form And Shapes In Landscape Design

The shape of each flowering plant and the silhouette it provides in relation to other plants in the garden is important in design. Sometimes, for example, we mix and match dense and airy plants.

April 30, 2009

The Diversity Of Hydrangea

The blooms of Hydrangea bushes vary in shape but all are highly prized for the romance that they add to a garden.

April 23, 2009

Shakespeare's Plays And Plants

William Shakespeare was inspired by plants and flowers when writing his famous plays. His writing is filled with botanical metaphors.

April 16, 2009

Wordsworth's Celandine

Yellow celandine poppies are a good addition to a garden for their attractive cup-shaped flowers and grey-green foliage.

April 9, 2009

Heirloom Plants

Heirloom plants and flowers have historical significance because of their seeds are handed down across successive generations of gardeners.

April 2, 2009

The Peace Rose

When the United Nations met for the first time after World War II, each of the 50 members found one blossom of this symbolic rose in their hotel room.

March 26, 2009

Flower Power

While bulbs provide a lot of flower power in Spring, it is best to accompany them with herbaceious perennials that will outlast bulb foliage.

March 19, 2009

March Musings

The bare bones of our winter garden is an empty canvas. March is the time to plan your garden in Spring.

March 12, 2009

Thoughts Of Spring

Spring is an inspiring season for both gardeners and poets alike.

March 5, 2009

Signs of Spring

Ruth Arthur wrote a poem about the juxtaposition of the last vestiges of winter and the optimistic signs of spring. Read it on this Focus on Flowers.

February 26, 2009

Gardening In the Media During The 19th Century

The period between the late 1800's and the onset of World War 2 was a time when articles in gardening magazines had a powerful influence on Americans. There were many home gardeners-middle class amateurs-who favored old fashioned plantings that reflected traditional values.

February 19, 2009

The Flower Trade: "The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful"

Amy Stewart writes that the cut flower trade is all about the struggle between what is natural and unspoiled and what is mass-produced and commercialized in her book.

February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Flower Sales

Did you know that on Valentine's Day, almost one-third of Americans express their feelings toward their loved ones through the gift of flowers? The most popular flower is, predictably, the red rose.

February 5, 2009

Botanical Art Today

Botanical art, while being aesthetically pleasing, must also be botanically accurate. The artist must possess keen observational skills with respect to natural specimens, a well honed technique and a fine sense of composition.

January 29, 2009

Unappreciated Botanical Art

Botanical art was largely unappreciated throughout the 20th century, however, places like Kew Gardens in London England employed artists to document botanical research and provide images for Kew Magazine. Despite the unpopularity of the genre, Anne Ophelia Todd was a successful American artist who illustrated the botanical life of Colorado.

January 22, 2009

Women Botanical Artists In the 19th Century

Many women in the 19th century developed a high level of skill as botanical artists but were recognized as professionals. Women such as Beatrix Potter and Augusta Withers are exceptional in that they were able to achieve success as botanical artists during this time.

January 15, 2009

The Flower Portraits Of A.R. Valentien

In the Spring of 2008 a number of Valentien's flower portraits were exhibited in the Art Museum at Indiana University where I saw his work for the first time. Although Valentien had no botanical training he had keen observational skills and his watercolors of Californian wildflowers are accurate, delicate and breathtakingly beautiful.

January 8, 2009

Botanical Explorers

The 18th Century was a period in world history abound with many intrepid explorers. Explorers often took artists with them on their journeys so that they could bring home not only maps but also images of the exotic plants and flowers they discovered.

January 1, 2009

The Change Of The Year

Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote: "Follow the bier of the dead cold year, and like dim shadows watch by her sepulcher." These are somber words; however, most of us will not wish to mourn but rather to celebrate, as we stand on the brink of a shiny new year.

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