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An infallible adage in the gardening world is “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” If it isn’t some relatively recent bane like mulberry weed, it is some hitherto unknown disease or plague of some kind or another that strikes just as we think we are getting ahead of the game. 

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In the days of yore, so to speak, before I took up the garden column, I was outdoors editor, offering a weekly roundup of hunting and fishing activity in the upper Kentucky Lake region. Steve McCadams came along and far more than amply filled my shoes with the outdoors news about the time I …

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In terms of signature identifiers, southern magnolias are to southern gardens what, say, lilacs or peonies, are to our Yankee friends. What would a traditional southern ornamental planting be without the magnificent Magnolia grandiflora, which is the botanical moniker with the common name so…

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The famous British gardener and colorist Gertrude Jekyll died five years before I was born, 1932 to wit. If her life had covered a century later, perhaps it might have been my good fortune to see her in person, via one of our four garden pilgrimages to the British Isles.

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No, this is not another column debasing daylilies. I have done that before, several times, and always got smeared by the many rabid fans of the “flower of a day.” This time, believe it or not, I will say something good for just about the most popular perennial in the country. It is probably …

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Once in a blue moon I get a comment from a reader. It goes like this. Reader: “I read your column every week, and …” My rejoinder: “Good, that makes two of us.” (It used to be three before my mother died.) 

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It has been some years since we’ve talked here of ornamental pools as garden enhancement. While the subject is not of the first water of interest, there is enough of it to warrant an occasional mention. 

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It’s that time of year again. Not only do we have to deal with the August travails of chiggers, ticks, spider webs, heat, humidity, deer, moles, voles and other assorted and sundry curses, there’s also the dereliction that has begun to manifest itself in our ornamental and vegetable gardens. 

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August will rear its ugly head before we meet again. The month is indeed ugly, with soaring temperatures and stifling humidity. Summer, as it were, turns the corner. At the same time, it is a fat time, with burgeoning vegetable crops and flowers. It is an oxymoron, a paradox. 

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Summertime, and the living is... tough. Writer Henry James said “... Summer afternoon ... the two most beautiful words in the English language.” He must have been in the Canadian north woods. He was definitely not around here. 

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Outside of outright death, there are few things that exasperate an ornamental gardener more than some plant or other failing to flower. We’re not talking here of plants wherein flowering is secondary to attractive foliage (e.g. hostas and cannas et al) but those that are valued first and for…

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The diatribe here last week on the paucity of flower in the May and June garden should have listed at least a few flowering shrubs and herbaceous things that, along with the foliage mentioned, offer a little relief from an otherwise derelict picture sans blasts of color. 

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I, and other garden writers of far greater note, often go on about the value of good foliage in any mixed setting. So-called perennial borders may, and usually are, made up of more than just herbaceous perennial plants; they might include also woody shrubs and small trees, as well as annuals. 

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Here we are on the cusp of real summer. Tomorrow is the first full day of it, with the summer solstice. Believe it or not, days will start getting shorter after that, until they reach their nadir just before Christmas. 

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June, the first “summer” month, according to custom but not astronomy, seems to be the appropriate time to comment on what losses the late lamented winter brought. It was a lot worse than I ever would have imagined. 

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Occasional travelogues here have taken us from the British Isles and back four times and on other occasions to outstanding gardens, public and private, in this country. 

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It’s been a while, 27 years in fact, since we have had here more than passing mention of a section of our garden that is laughingly called the “orchard.” At that past time, it was an orchard indeed, with peach, apple, pear and nectarine trees. 

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Ephemeral: transistory, temporary, short, fleeting and ad infinitum. So Oxford and Webster and Wikipedia and other wordsmiths declare. One reference even goes so far as to compare the word with such and such a flower, that is, short-lived. 

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May, my mother’s favorite month, is here. And why would it not be everybody’s favorite month? The weather is more amendable, on average, than any other month but perhaps October.

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T.S. Eliot famously said April is the cruelest month. I suppose he meant cruelest of all the 12, including even February. 

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I’ve already been getting comments about people seeing slugs in their fields, and the cool and wet weather isn’t helping. Of course, slugs like it wet, and slow seedling growth gives them more time to feed on seedlings before and during emergence. Slugs will be active at temperatures above 5…

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Magnolias have been the talk of the gardening world in these parts for the past month or so. No, not the stately southern magnolias with the evergreen leaves and huge bowls of white, fragrant bloom that will arrive a month or more hence. 

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There’s a guy over in Paris who writes a garden column called simply, “Garden Path.” The column has been going for nearly 50 years and it would seem he would know something about gardening and would give out accurate advice to gardeners within hearing (reading) distance. You would think. 

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Here on the cusp of astronomical spring, and following last week’s discourse on winter flowers, we are forced to gaze upon a lot of the dark side, i.e. gray, brown and related “colors,” of which the landscape is now composed. 

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It’s been a hard winter. In common parlance, winter hereabouts consists of December, January and February, even though astronomically winter doesn’t end until the spring equinox in a couple of weeks. 

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We talked here a few weeks ago of the lowly loblolly pine, seen thither and yon over the countryside everywhere in the South. It does yeoman duty, particularly when seen in large groves, in uplifting the drab winter landscape. Green, from any source, is critical at this time of year. 

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All those pines and cedars that disappeared back in May have come out of the woodwork again. What would we do without them and other evergreens during the otherwise barren winter months?

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Two faced Janus is packing up his old kit bag and preparing to take his leave for another year. He sneaked in under cloudless skies and little wind, but with bitter temperatures followed by more bitter weather. If you’ve got to have cold, January is the time. 

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“. . . it is a curious thing that many people, even among those who profess to know something about gardening, when I show them something fairly successful – the crowning reward of much care and labor – refuse to believe that any pains have been taken about it. They will ascribe it to chance…

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There can be no better subject right here at the depth of winter than comment on a true winter flowering plant. The Lenten rose, so called, is Helleborus orientalis, and it blooms at just the time winter doldrums set in and cabin fever wracks the ardent gardener. 

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December really is the darkest month, offering fewer daylight hours than any other. We’re just over a week from the winter solstice, which will mark the shortest day of the year and one the ancients celebrated because, after that, days would slowly lengthen. 

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Some 20 years or so ago, the Encore series of azaleas began to appear on the market and, since then, have taken the azalea world by storm. 

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November is winding down, and soon, dark December will creep in, presenting us with the shortest days of the year. After the winter solstice, days will lengthen slowly until its summer brother in June. 

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