NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


A Gardening Journal

Cinderella Crabapple in Bud

This is my first full year in the company of three standards of Cinderella crab apple; by the time I received them last Spring they were already in flower. Cinderella is a dwarf and, in contrast to its belle-of-the-ball cultivar name, in Winter its leafless branches, thick and gnarly, reach skyward like claws of a barely closed fist: perfect for catching heavy Winter snows and displaying them securely.

Malus Cinderella 042716 320

In Spring, the foliage returns the canopy to full fluffiness. It is soon spangled with bright red buds that, when opened, are snow white. How do they change from one color to the other?

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Corn-leaved Iris

Who doesn't have some iris in bloom in May or June? Far fewer are the irises of April, which makes them all far more eye-catching.

Iris bucharica overall 041116 320

This is a young clump of corn-leaved iris. In older clumps, the leaves are arrayed up the lengths of the then-taller flower stems, making each look like a miniature corn stalk. This young clump is so short-stemmed that the arching foliage seems more like that of torch lilies. For its first weeks above ground, the plant's identity taunted me. Was its genus Kniphofia or Zea? The unmistakable form and large size of the flowers confirmed that, nope, this is an Iris. An eccentric one, too—and, so, all the more desirable.

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Kurokoji Ornamental Quince

Tomato-red flowers of my Hollandia cultivar of ornamental quince are so vivid, so welcome after Winter, that I've planted two others whose flowers are supposed to be even more intense: Kurokoji and Atsuya Hamada. 

Chaenomeles japonica Kurokoji fingers 042116 320 

This is Kurokoji, whose flowers are reported to be among the most saturated red of any. Hollandia is in flower, too. Let's compare.

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Umbrella Arborvitae

Most plants welcome routine attention, such as a bit of weeding, thinning, or deadheading, or clipping off an occasional dead twig. Combined with my interest in the outer limits of training—espaliers, hedges, pollards, topiary, seasonal cut-backs and even occasional massacres—it's the rare plant in my garden that is left in peace for even a month, let alone the season or the decade. Here's one:

Thuja occidentalis Umbraculifera overall 040516 320

This is a dwarf form of eastern arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis 'Umbraculifera'. After almost a decade, it is just beginning to show why it was given its cultivar name, which translates as bearing an umbrella or, at least, having the mounding-up-to-the-center shape of an umbrella. After another decade or two of being left alone, the likeness will be even better.

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