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The merry month of May was my mother’s favorite month. And who isn’t floored by the pleasure this month provides? Perennials are churning steadily into production; annuals, even, are heating up; and  some flowering shrubs and trees are still worth looking at. And, the weather, for the most p…

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We are ensconced deeply now into the month of April, which features April Fool’s Day, Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, and the same month the British often call “the cruelest month.” And for good reason some years. April can be soft as a baby’s behind or, on occasion, vicious as a wolf’s howl. W…

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Our ongoing list of rather underused shrubs and trees has created some discussion and questions on where to get some of them. It takes some searching, I will admit, but sometimes they can be found right under your nose at local garden centers and discount stores. 

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A lot can be said for old tried and true varieties of plants, but I’m not going to say those things today. We will follow up last week’s endeavor on somewhat new and sometimes improved varieties of shrubs and trees that more than pay their rent over a year’s time in your garden. 

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In the 53-plus years of this column’s existence, very few of them have been book reviews. Some outstanding garden books by authors, domestic and abroad, have made the short list. 

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This week, a practical — as opposed to, say, philosophical — rendering. In other words, a how-to reminder of the things you should be doing in your ornamental gardens here in the middle of March. If you escaped the Ides of March two days ago and if  you are not already swamped with spring wo…

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Here we are ensconced into the month of March, known for St. Patrick and Julius Caesar, the late. His assassination occurred on the 15th of that month in 44 B.C. The Romans also set March 15, the Ides date, as a day for people who owed debts to pay them off. I don’t know what the penalty was…

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It is seldom that these words concern, to much degree, the weather. However, if the first week of March, with its ides coming up soon, is not a good time to do so, there never will be one. 

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The Paris Pessimist Club met last week for the February meeting. First on the agenda was a discussion on whether all dark clouds have a silver lining. Or, to put it more realistically, whether all silver linings have a dark cloud. 

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Just inside a new year and we’ve already used our space budget on the horrors of tree topping, so let sleeping dogs lie for the moment. For now, we will take up another horror — horned rats, otherwise known as whitetail deer. Yes, many of my friends and family are ardent deer hunters, and, y…

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Gertrude Jekyll has, no doubt, been mentioned in these garden columns numerous times since the very first one was initiated on Friday, Sept. 6, 1968, by my grandmother, Lucy Cowan Williams. After I took the reins Sept. 7, 1984, the mention might have become more frequent, particularly after …

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You must admit I have laid off talking about the evils of tree topping for quite a long time. Some new readers might have come on to the gardening scene in the meantime, so this is for them, and for others who might have missed my earlier rants on the subject.

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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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