Making Peter Great Again – One Fountain at a Time

Most gardeners after about 40 years in the asparagus patch begin to at least consider downsizing. You know, cutting back to only three-quarters of an acre of weeds, fewer disease-plagued rose bushes and compost-pile-death to those ever-needy iris and day lilies. The same with back-yard fountains. Sure, they offer bubbling sounds and elegant gushes of water at the flip of a switch, but the pumps go bad, the dirt clogs the outlets and it can be difficult to keep the hungry goldfish trapped within them happy. Chances are the house, yard and garden fountains will eventually be sold to some minimalist gardener who only cares to raise a few onions in some ecologically-pure raised bed anyway. Then there was Peterhof, the cozy 1,250-acre Russian complex of paths and gardens, 150 incredible fountains and a looming yellow palace first brought to light by aptly-named Peter the Great in St. Petersburg in the early 1700s. Three centuries later it still tells a larger story: To hell with downsiz..
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Natives here, natives there, natives, natives everywhere…  by  Carol Reese

Is there any garden center that doesn’t carry coneflower? Now and again, someone asks me where they can buy native plants. Sometimes they go on to complain that native plants are hard to find in today’s nursery industry. My hackles rise, and I know at that moment that they have no real knowledge of plants, yet have simply heard this somewhere and felt it worth repeating. It’s just another example of industry bashing without investigating the facts. In fact, in a chat with plant guru and renowned nurseryman Bill Barnes just the other day, he said that he personally surveyed the industry and that three of every four plants in the landscape industry were native or derived from natives. Many selections of the native smooth hydrangea are available. I know I can walk into any local garden center and find a large number of natives. Are these peevish people unaware that the ubiquitous blackeyed Susans and coneflowers are native? That’s just for starters. You may choose to speed read the next..
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The Sights of Cornell, Ithaca and More  by  Susan Harris

Almost on a whim I drove to Ithaca to attend the Children and Youth Garden Symposium being hosted by Cornell (with the American Horticultural Society), and I’m glad I did. First, the stunning beauty of the campus, the town and the whole region reminded me not at all of the flatlands of Northern Ohio where I went to school. Above is the Plant Sciences Department, where the symposium was held. One treat was meeting Craig Cramer, who started a blog way back when the Rant launched and became an early commenter. Here he is in his office showing off one of the many scanned-art works he’s famous for. See lots more on his blog Ellis Hollow. The Cornell Botanic Garden, until recently unfortunately named the Cornell Plantation, was so much more than I’d expected. The Herb Garden was my favorite part, so much so that I couldn’t choose between these shots. The Cornell BG includes a whole arboretum with this lake, a shrub collection and much more. And possibly unique among botanic gardens? A ..
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The Sights of Cornell, Ithaca and More

Almost on a whim I drove to Ithaca to attend the Children and Youth Garden Symposium being hosted by Cornell (with the American Horticultural Society), and I’m glad I did. First, the stunning beauty of the campus, the town and the whole region reminded me not at all of the flatlands of Northern Ohio where I went to school. Above is the Plant Sciences Department, where the symposium was held. One treat was meeting Craig Cramer, who started a blog way back when the Rant launched and became an early commenter. Here he is in his office showing off one of the many scanned-art works he’s famous for. See lots more on his blog Ellis Hollow. The Cornell Botanic Garden, until recently unfortunately named the Cornell Plantation, was so much more than I’d expected. The Herb Garden was my favorite part, so much so that I couldn’t choose between these shots. The Cornell BG includes a whole arboretum with this lake, a shrub collection and much more. And possibly unique among botanic gardens? A ..
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How to Properly Water Your Trees

Tree Care How to Properly Water Your Trees By Arbor Day Foundation | July 27, 2018 Guest post by John Lang of Friendly Tree. Now that summer is in full swing, watering your trees properly is one of the best ways to keep them healthy and stress-free. With much of the Southwest United States currently in drought conditions, consistent watering is key to happy trees. But did you know — the most common watering mistake is actually too much water? Whether it’s too much or too little, watering can be tricky if you don’t know how to do it. Follow this guide to ensure your trees make through summer with flying colors: When to Water During a summer afternoon, up to half of the water can be lost to evaporation. The best time to water is in the morning or evening, so the roots have a chance to absorb most of the water. Unfortunately, there’s no magic schedule for watering trees. How often you should water will depend on the size of your tree, soil conditions, and weather conditio..
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Natives here, natives there, natives, natives everywhere…

Is there any garden center that doesn’t carry coneflower? Now and again, someone asks me where they can buy native plants. Sometimes they go on to complain that native plants are hard to find in today’s nursery industry. My hackles rise, and I know at that moment that they have no real knowledge of plants, yet have simply heard this somewhere and felt it worth repeating. It’s just another example of industry bashing without investigating the facts. In fact, in a chat with plant guru and renowned nurseryman Bill Barnes just the other day, he said that he personally surveyed the industry and that three of every four plants in the landscape industry were native or derived from natives. Many selections of the native smooth hydrangea are available. I know I can walk into any local garden center and find a large number of natives. Are these peevish people unaware that the ubiquitous blackeyed Susans and coneflowers are native? That’s just for starters. You may choose to speed read the next..
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Caring for Fruit Trees and Bushes: Blueberry

Tree Care Caring for Fruit Trees and Bushes: Blueberry By Kim Peacock | July 25, 2018 How to Plant, Care, and Prune Blueberry Bushes Northern highbush blueberries are natives of North America. They are an upright bush with a relatively shallow, fibrous root system and woody canes. Fruit is borne on buds formed during the previous growing season in late summer. Highbush blueberry plants leaf, flower, and fruit in June. They are used as hedges, shrub borders, beautiful ornamentals or for wildlife. This guide will take you step by step, from selecting and planting the right fruit trees, bushes, and vines for your backyard garden or orchard, all the way to upkeep of your mature tree. Read Caring for Fruit Trees and Bushes: Blackberry Choosing a Site Light: Full Sun to Partial Shade Soil: Moist, acidic, organic, well-drained soil. Highbush blueberries require a soil pH of 4.0-5.2. If you do not have acidic soil, it can easily be changed by working with a local lawn and gar..
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Painted plants? It’s only Ok when I do it.  by  Elizabeth Licata

Orange spray-painted allium schubertii with purple angelonia It does seem a bit hypocritical. For years, we have consistently ranted or hosted guest rants decrying glittery silver poinsettias, blue orchids, and garishly painted succulents. I heard about glow-in-the-dark nicotiana a few years ago. And now my favorite garden center is featuring cactus that have been injected with color (below): Ugh. But I may have undermined my right to express outrage by bringing artificially colored plants into my own garden. The idea of painting allium seed heads has been around for at least a decade. I vaguely knew about it, but hadn’t given it much thought until I saw some lovely hot pink varieties (below) on the DC-area garden bloggers tour. I had tried small allium (moly, mostly) in my front garden and got nowhere—too much shade. Then, a couple years ago, I started with the big ones—Globemaster, Gladiator—in a patio bed. They performed well and it was easy to see why people would spraypaint these..
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Painted plants? It’s only Ok when I do it.

Orange spray-painted allium schubertii with purple angelonia It does seem a bit hypocritical. For years, we have consistently ranted or hosted guest rants decrying glittery silver poinsettias, blue orchids, and garishly painted succulents. I heard about glow-in-the-dark nicotiana a few years ago. And now my favorite garden center is featuring cactus that have been injected with color (below): Ugh. But I may have undermined my right to express outrage by bringing artificially colored plants into my own garden. The idea of painting allium seed heads has been around for at least a decade. I vaguely knew about it, but hadn’t given it much thought until I saw some lovely hot pink varieties (below) on the DC-area garden bloggers tour. I had tried small allium (moly, mostly) in my front garden and got nowhere—too much shade. Then, a couple years ago, I started with the big ones—Globemaster, Gladiator—in a patio bed. They performed well and it was easy to see why people would spraypaint these..
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The Carbon Footprint of Coffee

Arbor Day Coffee The Carbon Footprint of Coffee By Jon Ferguson | July 23, 2018 Great coffee starts with great beans, but harvesting beans requires energy, energy that releases carbon. There are so many people involved from seed to cup that it makes it more crucial than ever to offset carbon and cut emissions wherever possible. One pound of roasted coffee produces an average of 11 pounds of carbon. The three largest culprits of carbon emissions in the coffee supply chain happen at the farm, mill, and consumption level. Harvesting coffee emits a lot of carbon, which is why growing coffee in harmony with trees is so important to offsetting these emissions. In countries where limited resources are available, much of the traditional harvesting methods that don’t depend on heavy machinery are more sustainable than modern techniques. But the greatest area of carbon emissions happens at consumption. Think of a coffee shop and all the energy it requires to operate. Things like..
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