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It must have been some quarter of a century ago in April when I was driving down the hill on West Wood Street west of the court square. A patch of bright mauve (an oxymoron?) caught my eye in a front lawn. The grass was almost obliterated with little star-shaped flowers of pale blue or, more…

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A few days ago, I was standing in our front garden, smugly gazing upon the flushing green leaves of one of my favorite shrubs, a ‘Rose Creek’ abelia. Why smugly? Well, it was set new last fall and was actually still alive, for one thing. And for another, I knew the little plant had a whole s…

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April was termed “the cruelest month” by the esteemed poet T.S. Eliot. He had been born in St. Louis, Mo., but moved to England in his 20s. So he had sufficient exposure to April from both sides of the Atlantic to make such an observation in his poem, “The Waste Land,” back in the 19th century. 

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Back in the day, it was almost unheard of for gardeners, of both the edible and ornamental variety, to get their plants into the ground any other way than direct seeding. Exceptions were cole crops, such as cabbage, and others started with sets, i.e. onions. 

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Tree Toppers International has started their robo calling, trying to induce suckers into paying good money for their services. They’re most into it on weekday and Saturday afternoons when it is too cold and wet to be outside. One of their representatives is a guy on television with a silly g…

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Old Janus has reared his ugly head again. The Roman god Janus had two faces, one seeing forward and the other back, as is apropos for the first month of the year. We’ve already looked back (last week) and so let us help Janus by looking toward the future. 

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Our autumn colors are just going over. There’s scarcely reason to have any ornamental garden in October and November. Just drive through our countryside and view all the reds, yellows, bronzes, russets, and on ad infinitum. 

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You read here last week of the success of the Friends of the Library bulb sale fundraiser. Though not a municipal beautification project, per se, the effect is the same, in that a prettier town and county will be the result. 

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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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