Famously secret spaces by Elizabeth Licata

What do Jeremy Irons and Ozzy Osbourne have in common? We know they’re Brits, so the answer shouldn’t be that hard: both own and maintain beautiful countryside gardens in England. So do Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rupert Everett, and Sting. And if you want something completely different, visit Terry and Maggie Gilliam’s London retreat. From The Secret Gardeners: the Osbourne property Chances are none of us will ever be able to see any of these private estates, so it’s a good thing writer Victoria Summerley and photographer Hugo Rittson Thomas have collaborated on a book that describes and depicts them—lavishly. (Many of you know Victoria from her attendance at the annual Garden Bloggers Flings; she was at the DC-area event last June). The book is called The Secret Gardeners: Britain’s Creatives Reveal Their Private Sanctuaries, published this year by Frances Lincoln. I have been enjoying many of the Frances Lincoln titles; they are often hefty coffee-table fodder, but the content is usually..
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Hybrid Poplar: The People’s Tree

Tree of the Week Hybrid Poplar: The People’s Tree By James R. Fazio | September 19, 2017 Populus deltoides x Populus nigra There are many crosses that go by the name Hybrid Poplar, but this one between Eastern Cottonwood from the United States and Black Poplar from Europe and North Africa has been a favorite for a very long time. Botanists and Hobbyists in colonial times are said to have exchanged the parent trees across the ocean, with both natural and artificial hybrids soon resulting. The oldest account of the tree was given by a scientist in 1785. The poplar genus includes species like eastern cottonwood, with a natural range that takes in virtually every state east of the Rocky Mountains. Its cousin, Fremont cottonwood, is found along streams and watercourses in the arid regions of the western United States, and black cottonwood is a common sight in the coastal regions from Alaska to Mexico. The genus also includes trees of the Mediterranean region that have been re..
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Gardening Podcast Update by Susan Harris

I’m thrilled to report that since 2010, when I complained about there being only two gardening podcasts on my little iPod, there are now many more and their quality is amazing! Here’s what I’m listening to now. Jennifer Jewell’s “Cultivating Place” Cultivating Place by Jennifer Jewell originates on National Public Radio, so its high production values are no surprise. That’s why I predicted that it would win the gold GWA Media Award for excellence in TV, radio, podcasts and special projects like my own. Yep, I was one of the silver award-winners losing to Jennifer at the awards banquet in Buffalo, but no hard feelings! In fact, I’m happy it got Cultivating Place on my radar and on my iPhone because I’m thoroughly enjoying it, especially the episode with my pal Mary Ann Newcomer. (Her knowledge of the Inter-Mountain West is amazing and makes me want to see Idaho asap. I listened carefully for her signature “Boy howdy!” and was not disappointed.) Debra Prinzing’s “Slow Flowers” A spe..
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Top 5 Apple Trees Sold Through the Arbor Day Tree Nursery

Tree Planting Top 5 Apple Trees Sold Through the Arbor Day Tree Nursery By Sheereen Othman | September 14, 2017 Fall harvest is starting. Many of our favorite fall fruits and nuts are starting to ripen. Here are the five most popular apple trees sold through the Arbor Day tree nursery that will ship out this fall. Red Delicious Apple (Malus domestica ‘Red Delicious’) Legend has it that the red delicious was named when its discoverer sent samples of the apple to a commercial nursery in Iowa (back in 1892). One bite into the apple and the nursery owner exclaimed, “Delicious!” The nursery owner must know a thing or two about tastes, because the red delicious is the country’s most widely planted apple tree and the most sold apple from the Arbor Day tree nursery. Of more than 2,500 varieties, the crisp, sweet flavor of the red delicious continues to be a favorite. The apple has a tender, crisp, sweet and mild flavor that tastes great eaten fresh or used in baking. Check out ..
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In Praise of a Plant That Needs Your Love by Allen Bush

Diarrhena americana. The Latin name doesn’t inspire lustful desire does it? What a pity. It’s better than its name. I remember the moment I first came across this native grass. I had no idea what its name was when I was introduced. But Rick Lewandowski knew the name right off the bat. Diarrhena must be the only plant that you could argue has a name that implies intestinal fortitude for anyone who would dare grow it. The common name, American beak grass, doesn’t move the meter on the hit parade either. The momentous September day of discovery in 2005 was hot and humid—a common, and soul sapping, late-summer condition in the Ohio Valley. Rick pointed out a small clump of Diarrhena on the woodland edge along one of the gravel fire roads at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, KY. There wasn’t anything special about it. I wouldn’t have paid any mind to it all, but I was playing with the pros that afternoon. They notice features I would overlook. Plant geekdom doesn’t beg..
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Flowering Dogwood: Spring Splendor in the Forest

Tree of the Week Flowering Dogwood: Spring Splendor in the Forest By James R. Fazio | September 12, 2017 Cornus florida Flowering dogwood holds a special place in the heart of all who love trees. Perhaps this is because of its bloom — bursting forth in the dark woods or barren backyard with a promise that the dreary days of winter are over. Perhaps it is its brilliant fall leaves and bright berries, or the unusual pattern of its bark. Maybe it’s the gracefulness of its crown, or, for those who look closely, the interesting shape of its buds. Whatever the reason, this little tree has long been a favorite in America. It captured the fancy of George Washington who wrote in his diary on this fifty-third birthday that he had planted “a circle of Dogwood with a red bud in the middle…” at his beloved Mount Vernon. Six years later, in 1791, the romantic botanist William Bartram noted a “grove” of dogwoods in Alabama that “continued nine or ten miles unalter(ed), except here and ..
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From green to brown in the Caribbean by Elizabeth Licata

A view of St. Lucia, which wasn’t in the path. If you want to get a dramatic sense of hurricane Irma’s worst devastation, visit this site, which offers before/after satellite images of the Caribbean islands that were in her path. It’s not just the debris, flattened infrastructure, and—most terrible—deaths. These islands seem to have lost the lush green landscapes that provide a reason why many flock to them, especially in winter. Many have been—from appearances and reports—fully or partially defoliated. In one story, a tourist visiting St. Maarten said, “It’s like someone with a lawn mower from the sky has gone over the island.” It’s probably that this damage will be among the last to be repaired, aside from downed trees being carted away to be chopped up. There are more urgent priorities. But it is a grim reality that a storm many feel is one result of human-prompted climate change continues the deadly trend by stripping these islands (and much of SW Florida) of their carbon-sequest..
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Small Trees Can Provide Shade Too

Uncategorized Small Trees Can Provide Shade Too By Lance Walheim | September 8, 2017 When we think about shade trees, we often imagine towering giants that reach more than 40 or 50 feet high. To properly shade a two-story house, you probably need a tree that stands at least 30 feet high. Shade is important for energy-conservation and to reduce air conditioning bills. But what if you have a single-story home with limited space? Medium to large trees just aren’t practical for your space. For those with this dilemma, the fix is to use smaller trees— a grouping of them. Small deciduous trees (less than 25 feet high) planted closely together on the east and west sides of a single-story home can save homeowners money and provide shade. They can also be used to shade windows and air conditioners, and create a beautiful outdoor living space around patios and entryways. I’ve planted small trees to create shade around my own single-story home in California’s hot Central Valley. I..
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HGTV Stars – Where are They Now? by Susan Harris

I learned to garden lo these many years ago from two sources – good magazines and good shows on HGTV, back when it had them. (Gardeners love to complain about the missing G from the channel and this year that’s truer than ever, judging from their new shows and episodes where house-hunting and lifestyle porn abound and gardening has gone missing altogether. But that’s enough complaining for this post, except to add that it’s not a problem just with gardening, as one blogger explains in “HGTV – Bring Back the Decorating Shows.” ) About the HGTV stars who taught us to garden, I recently came across the site Home Sweet HGTV, where the unnamed author (I hate that!) lists some long-gone gardening shows and got me wondering what their hosts are doing today. Gardening by the Yard with Paul James Following Paul’s progress in his own Oklahoma garden probably taught me more about creating and maintaining my own garden than any other source. The show ran from 1996 to 2009 and since then, accor..
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Milllennials love houseplants? Yay! by Elizabeth Licata

And it’s interesting, because I’m learning this just as I’ve begun to feel kind of blasé about my houseplants. I still have plenty, but I maintain them without as much interest as I used to—I get much more excited about my indoor bulb forcing projects, which fill the house in winter and dissipate with the coming of spring. According to Washington Post style writer Lavanya Ramanathan, twenty-and-thirty-somethings are using houseplants to fill the “void in their hearts.” Her youthful interviewees have as many as 50–180 plants filling their urban jungles. What our moms might have called “decorating,” the writer notes, these hipsters are terming “urban wilding” for their “jungalows.” It’s a hilarious but heartening report on the joy and despair inherent to interior plant care. Like finding plants covered in yellowing or browning leaves when they were healthy and happy just a few days previous. Like dealing with infestations when you hate using sprays. Like finally giving up and having to ..
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