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


Pollarding the Chinese Tulip Trees

Three pollarded Chinese tulip trees front a block of ten-foot-high yew hedge. Chinese tulip trees? Leaves of this Asian tulip-tree cousin are gigantic—and burgundy when young. Pollarded? Cutting young stems back to their stubs stimulates regrowth that is particularly eager and colorful, while also keeping it at eye level.

Liriodendron chinense 021218 before pollarding 320

Colorful? May to September, you'll see. Eager? These straight-up stems are last year's growth, and some of them are over seven feet long.

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February Daphne Explores the Garden

So-called "February" daphne really is in bloom that month if you encounter it in Seattle or London. Here in New England, February is still too cold for the flowers themselves—but not for their green calyces.

Daphne mezereum f. Alba 020318 driveway 320

In the strange way of these shrubs, my original February daphne thrived for years before dying for no apparent reason. But I still have the species in my garden: These are stems of one of the self-seeded volunteers.

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Dwarf Sea Buckthorn

Ah, trough gardens in summer! Here's one that I've planted exclusively with plants that demand lean, dry soil. Think sand with a side of gravel. Prickly pear cactus was a natural, as were the creeping yellow-leaved sedum and (look closely) the broom at the left.

Hippophae rhamnoides Sprite overall 081417 320

But what about the silver-leaved shrub at the center? It's the unique dwarf cultivar of sea buckthorn. The species is often a rangy monster, but this cultivar may never top two feet. Did I mention that it's hardy to Zone 3? That's Nome, Alaska.

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Golden European Ash, Garden to Brushpile to Vase

With yolk-yellow bark and ebony-black bud scales, young stems of golden ash are stunning. Even more stems? An even better show. So I cut off the oldest stems to encourage plenty of new ones, and also to keep the tree as compact as a shrub. Then, everything is more-or-less at eye level.  

Fraxinus excelsior Aureafolia before pruning 011918 320 

A bigger-than-usual pruning meant a pile of older stems on the brushpile—with all their gorgeous younger stems still attached. Why leave that colorful show behind? In ten minutes, I harvested the youngsters as a hostess gift for a dinner party. 

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Evergreen Barberry

One of gardening's mysteries is why the deciduous barberries—Berberis thunbergii in particular—are omnipresent even where evergreen barberries are also hardy. This is Berberis replicata, so desirable and yet so rarely planted it doesn't even have a decent common name. 

Berberis replicata fingers foliage spines 11141 320

This shrub is hardy to coastal Maine, deer-proof, with quality foliage & fragrant flowers—and it doesn't seem to self-seed. Under any name, it's essential.

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The Best Season Ever: Meyer Lemons in Fruit

Provided you take the place of insect pollinators, Meyer lemons eagerly produce their uniquely sweet fruits even when they spend much of their lives indoors. 

Citrus x meyeri fruit hand 122817 320

Last January I was, paint brush in hand, gamely assisting with pollination of the blossoms of my pair of young trees. A year later, luscious fruits are dropping from heavy-laden branches. The crop is so precocious, so bountiful, that supportive staking seemed urgent lest the fecund branches snap. True, picking the fruit helps, too.

Read more ...

 
 
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