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We discussed here last week some plants that offer late fall and winter color. I used one of my borders in our back garden to illustrate the point that winter, including the generally detested month of January, can offer some real gems that stand out in an otherwise brown and gray landscape. 

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In 1956, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans penned the lyrics to a song Doris Day famously recorded: “Que sera, sera — whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see. . . . .”  It reached No. 2 on the charts and is still heard now and then when somebody chooses to listen to real music inst…

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Just a couple of adjectives will not suffice, but I am going to use them anyway. The Year of Our Lord 2020 was remarkable and catastrophic. We can all agree, unless you are more than 102 years old, that we’ve never seen another year like this. Way back in 1918 there occurred a pandemic of re…

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Dark December, it has been called, the month with less sunshine and, consequently, less light, than any of the other 11.

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Garden fancy comes and goes, changing about as often as women’s hemlines. It wasn’t so long ago that cannas were relegated to railroad depots and public parks.

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Thanksgiving, the holiday, was first observed by the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621. If my third-grade arithmetic is correct, and I believe it is, that was 399 years ago. Since then, the date has been shifted around a few times, but anyhow Thanksgiving in the 2…

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Optimum tree planting time is just around the corner; in fact, it has already rounded the corner and will remain optimum as long as the ground is not frozen.

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Gladys The Famous, aka Gladys the Curmudgeon, said November is the month for elections, because it is the best month to pick a turkey. Then along comes another pessimist, I don’t know who, that said, “Well, it is November, and today someone will die. . . . .” 

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It is a treat for your writer to have the opportunity to write about plants just coming into bloom here in the last full month of astronomical autumn. Though December brings the winter solstice and the beginning of official winter on Dec. 21, November is the last whole month of the fall season. 

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Forget the frosty punkins and shocked corn. James Whitcomb Riley, even, would want us to move on. He, the intrepid author of October’s glories, never wrote about November, as far as I know, but other authors did. The European ones moaned and bawled over the gray curtain of winter that has al…

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It was in the month of October, I believe, when a well known Indian (as in India) mystic decided he wanted to mimic Mahatma Ghandi in his concern for the poor. So, he began praying every day for the less fortunate, and stayed on his knees so long they became calloused over. He went on hunger…

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What is your favorite color? Ninety percent of people say either red or blue, with a few greens sprinkled in with pinks and orange. Of course, green is the predominant color in the landscape about eight months of the year. My favorite color(s) change from time to time with whatever is the pr…

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It has been a long time — or it seems like it — since your scribe has made any effort to discuss hostas in any depth. They have been mentioned often in passing, but not many times have some of my favorites been listed. 

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If I said August is hydrangea time, any of you more learned gardeners would take umbrage and say no. We all know, you would claim, that hydrangea time is late spring and early summer, not late summer and/or autumn. 

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Toward the end of last week’s column, we mentioned, in passing, summer phlox. I must make amends for the brevity of that, and add some more informational help, if you need it. 

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The Holy Bible tells us the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are war, famine, pestilence and death. It is not the apocalypse, as of this moment anyway, but there are deadly horsemen affecting gardeners, and more than four of them. 

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In the heart of almost every person there resides a palpable tug for the underdog. I am no exception. For instance, back in the old days (a few months ago) whenever a football game was telecast live, even if was between Slippery Rock and some opponent from a remote stretch of Idaho, I always…

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We have fought, or slept, through the past three months of coronavirus all over the world and, with a few riots and many protests here and there, are all fervently hopeful of more peaceful times ahead. 

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Pinching is an exhilarating pastime, but often depending on whether you are the pincher or the pinchee. In the latter case, males often get a slap upside the head if their pinching is indiscreet, or even if it isn’t. On the other hand, pinching can have a marvelous effect on your garden if p…

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If roses are the queens of the gardening world, then clematises must be the princesses. It’s been a while since I have written, other than in passing, about the knock-down beautiful clematis. Who wants to hear much about what someone has failed with? Wait, I ended that sentence with a prepos…

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Occasionally I am asked what my favorite shrub (or tree or perennial etc.) is. On the shrub issue, they are visibly shocked, most of them anyway, when I answer it is nandinas. The usual response is, “You’re kidding” or “Surely you jest.” 

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Our azalea treatise the last three weeks has, so far, neglected the deciduous (not evergreen) so-called “native” azaleas. Most of the ones on the market are not native at all, but may be hybrids with native azalea blood in them. 

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The last two weeks we have here discussed some of the best azaleas, or at least ones that I think are best, for our region of the country. We considered such criteria as dependable bloom, growth habit for varying situations, and resistance to, or susceptibility to, cold temperatures. 

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The term “climate change” has been bandied about so much recently that many people think it is something new. No, it has been going on since Day One and will go on after the rapture. Only then, it won’t be as excruciating as it is now. 

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For fully two months now, we have picked away at spots of color here and there, mostly from isolated oriental magnolias, daffodils, ipheion (you’ve got to get some), witch hazels and a number of other things. 

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With the ides and the astronomical first day of “spring” fading into the  past, we now are faced with all that stuff we should have accomplished last fall or since. There, for instance, lie the oak and sycamore (!$&*#^&) leaves, crouched into nooks and crannies and up under shrubs, w…

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March flowers, they are often called. Daffodils they are, though some are jonquils and others narcissus. Here they are mostly (mis)called “buttercups.” Whatever, they are right on time. 

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Computers are a curse or a miracle. For me they are, most of the time, a curse. Now, however, that I have spent some 25 years or more using them (as word processors, mostly) their blessings have grown to outnumber their bane. 

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Now that we are securely ensconced into the oft-maligned month of February, I think it would be apropos to take up two of the most distasteful subjects in the gardening world, at least as it pertains to us in northwest Tennessee. The two? Tree topping and deer, or horned rats. 

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My late, great friend and dentist, Dr. Charley Beard, said to me some time ago that it seems every time we start to tell something we have experienced we preface it by “Years ago … ”

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A wise philosopher once said “As you slide down the bannister of life”. . . .what? Well, he advised us to be sure the splinters are pointed in the right direction. Good advice, I would say. 

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“Horrors may,” was an old Williams expression that my Uncle Ernest used with considerable efficaciousness whenever some sudden event or awakening occurred. Here it is mid-November and, horrors may, tomorrow will be Christmas. 

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Many of the questions I get concern faltering plants, from those with meaningless spots on their leaves to others already in the grave, and yet others somewhere in between.  

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So you think you have weeds? Well, everybody does. It comes with the territory if you do any serious gardening. Everybody thinks their plantation is more weed prone than anybody else’s. 

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Succession planting is a subject that has been broached many times by many garden writers, including this one. Practiced well, any given piece of ground will yield more with succession planting than when given over to one crop per season, be it ornamentals or vegetables and, yes, even large …

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A review copy of a new book with the simple title Moss, made interesting reading during recent hot days. The author refers a lot to mosses in foreign countries, including particularly the Baltic areas and Japan, where mosses have long been appreciated more than in the west. 

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“Attitude adjustment” is a relatively new phrase that has entered our vernacular English. It has to do mostly with adjusting one’s mien from disgust or disappointment of a day or days into a feeling more appealing. 

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