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Amelanchier – A Fruit of Many Names

Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in Featured, Trees and Shrubs | 0 comments

Amelanchier – A Fruit of Many Names

To my mind few sights are as pretty as when the flowers of the Amelanchier start to bloom. The pure-white clusters are made up of many (1-20) five-petaled flowers which are either erect or drooping depending on the species. The flowers give way to wonderful dark-purple pome fruits which are reminiscent of blueberries. The seeds have a distinct almond flavor that adds to their appeal. Amelanchier tend to be shrubby and spread by suckers, although some do take more of a tree form. Their leaves are deciduous, pale to medium green, simple and...

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Ruscus aculeatus – The Unique Butcher’s Broom

Posted by on Sep 20, 2017 in Featured, Trees and Shrubs | 0 comments

Ruscus aculeatus – The Unique Butcher’s Broom

I have a great interest in plants that are either useful or unusual, Ruscus aculeatus is both! This unusual evergreen from Europe and the Mediterranean is a wonderful shrub for shaded spots. It is an uncommon edible and also a useful medicinal plant. A smallish woodland shrub growing to just 3 feet high. It is made of strange flattened shoots which are really modified stems known as cladodes. These shoots look as if they are made up of small green spine-tipped leaves. Some say the common name of Butcher’s Broom comes from the sharp foliage...

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Tetracentron sinense – A Rare Wonder from China

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Featured, Trees and Shrubs | 0 comments

Tetracentron sinense – A Rare Wonder from China

This rare and elegant find from China has captured my heart. Tetracentron sinense is a wonderful and unique tree native to southern China and the eastern Himalaya. A strong growing deciduous tree, it typically reaches 30-50 feet in cultivation, although it can become as tall as 90 feet in the wild. Graceful arching branches radiate from the trunk to form a broad-rounded crown. The rough-textured 3-5 inch heart-shaped leaves feature serrated margins with 5-7 palmate veins. The leaves drape down in alternate arrangement along the brown-red...

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Romneya coulteri – The Matilija Poppy

Posted by on Jul 12, 2017 in Featured, Perennials | 0 comments

Romneya coulteri – The Matilija Poppy

The Matilija poppy is my absolute favorite summer flower, one I anticipate all year long. I love the way the silvery new shoots with their ruffled tips first start emerging from the roots in spring.  Each slender gray stalk rises up and sends out its unusual gray-green leaves with their lance-shaped lobes. Atop those stalks sit the glory of Romneya coulteri, their exquisite white blooms. Each large (up to 6 inch) flower is made up of six petals that look like crinkled white silk surrounding a brilliant center of golden-yellow stamens. The...

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Cercidiphyllum japonicum – Sweet Katsura Tree

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 in Featured, Trees and Shrubs | 0 comments

Cercidiphyllum japonicum – Sweet Katsura Tree

There are few trees more appealing in the landscape than the Katsura tree. Cercidiphyllum japonicum trees truly have four-season interest. Their beautiful heart-shaped leaves flutter on this 40-60 foot pyramidal tree turning shades of plum and gold in autumn. After the leaves fall they reveal its lovely symmetrical branching and scaly/shaggy bark. Though this tree is worth planting on its looks alone, I adore it for its sugar-cookie scented fall leaves. It has been called the caramel tree for its burnt sugar or cotton candy scent. More than...

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Milkweed – Friend of the Monarch!

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Featured, Perennials | 0 comments

Milkweed – Friend of the Monarch!

Asclepias or Milkweed is a wonderful garden plant that not only beautifies your landscape but also provides the much needed nectar and larval food of the Monarch butterfly. These native perennials are adaptable, easy-to-grow and deer resistant. What’s not to love! Asclepias flowers are quite interesting in structure and are designed to attach their pollen to the insects that they attract. The flowers become showy pods in autumn which are filled with seeds that are connected to silky white hairs called the ‘coma’. The milky sap that gives...

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Tilia americana – The Basswood Tree

Posted by on Apr 7, 2017 in Featured, Trees and Shrubs | 0 comments

Tilia americana – The Basswood Tree

 In his wonderful book ‘Stalking the Healthful Herbs’, Euell Gibbons describes hearing the ‘Basswood’ long before you see it. When the garden is aswarm with the humming of bees, it’s clear how well loved our American Linden is to pollinators. In June to July beautiful and intoxicatingly fragrant pale-yellow cymes of flowers hang in abundance on these trees. The honey and citrus scented flowers have long been loved by humans too! Linden flowers make a wonderful tea said to relax the nerves. Two tablespoons of dried flowers are steeped...

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Vaccinium vitis-idaea – The Lovely Lingonberry!

Posted by on Mar 14, 2017 in Featured, Trees and Shrubs | 0 comments

Vaccinium vitis-idaea – The Lovely Lingonberry!

Growing up and having some Swedish heritage, lingonberry jam was a pantry staple in our house.  However, most folks I speak with have never heard of them. Allow me to introduce my old friend, Vaccinium vitis-idaea. Lingonberry is a diminutive evergreen shrub and a member of the Heath family. Small very-glossy oval leaves are arranged alternately along slender branches. These plants form a spreading clump, eventually forming dense colonies. Cute, pink-tinged white bell flowers in early summer become the delicious bright-red fruit in...

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Cercis – The Rosy Redbud

Posted by on Feb 24, 2017 in Featured, Trees and Shrubs | 0 comments

Cercis – The Rosy Redbud

Redbud trees in bloom are one of my favorite sights in spring! The unique way that purplish-pink flowers burst directly from the bare branches is so very interesting. These trees bloom so profusely and the branches become so completely covered in the pea-like flowers that they almost look as if they are wearing a pink sweater. After bloom pretty heart-shaped (cordate), alternately arranged leaves flutter all summer long, before turning butter-yellow in fall. Cercis are members of the Fabaceae family and are leguminous. They have specialized...

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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi – Brilliant Bearberry!

Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 in Featured, Trees and Shrubs | 0 comments

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi – Brilliant Bearberry!

Winter is upon us and I’ve rediscovered how much I love to see Arctostaphylos uva-ursi with its brilliant-red berries covered in a dusting of snow! Bearberry is found in many countries all around the world. Here in the U.S. we find it from Alaska to New England and California to Virginia. In some parts of the world it has become endangered, while other areas find it growing in abundance. It thrives in the cool, rocky soils of more northern areas, but is a poor choice for areas with hot, humid summers. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi has many common...

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