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

Waking Up the Frangipani

Frangipani in bloom is one of the iconic thrills of the tropics. In almost every color but blue, flowers emerge in large clusters month after month after month. No wonder the temptation is strong to grow frangipani in a container, enjoying it anywhere it can receive sufficient warmth and sun.

Plumeria cuttings making progress in rooting 091017 320

But first it must come into leaf. And to come into leaf, the tree must be rooted-in and thriving. Frangipani are typically propagated from cuttings that, conveniently, can be shipped anywhere as leafless, rootless, dormant sections of stem. The suspense is in waking up such a cutting, so that it takes root, begins forming foliage, and—eventually— favors you with glorious flowers. I'm discovering just how much patience that wake-up can require.

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Seven-Son Tree in Bloom

September is a miracle month for any woody plant just entering into bloom. Not still flowering since July and August (take that, Rose of Sharon), nor drying-gracefully-in-place since June (take that, hydrangeas). I mean fresh-as-a-daisy flowering, with just-now-getting-up-on-the-horse-for-that-first-trot-around-the-track-in-September blooms. Like, say, this singular species of ornamental tree from Asia, the seven-son tree.

Heptacodium miconioides upper wands 091117 320

The flowers are sparkly white, fragrant, and in large clusters that seem to tip every stem. And, in New England at least, they are at their peak in September. Astoundingly, this floral show is merely the prelude to another display in October that's even more intriguing. Now that I think of it, seven-son flower puts on a memorable display each season. Year-round, this is one essential tree.

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The Best Season Ever: Copper Spoons & Friends

Although all hundred-plus species of kalanchoe are hardy only in dry subtropics and tropics, some of them are so eccentric, easy, and ornamental that they are essential container specimens everywhere. My kalanchoe collection is still modest but, even so, each member is is so distinct that you can enjoy its best view only by orienting yourself very specifically.

Kalanchoe orgyalis Kalanchoe luciae side 090217 320

On the left is paddle plant, whose nesting pairs of large leaves are particularly stunning when seen from the side. At the right is copper spoons, which is merely grey and tan from this vantage. But from above? Thrilling!

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The Best Season Ever: Ehemanii Canna

When you've drunk the Koolaid as deeply as I have—in this case, from the cup labeled "Cannas! Yum!"—each little difference, one cultivar to the next, can send you soaring.


And with cannas, there are zillions of differences among the many hundreds of cultivars: overall size; leaf shape, size, color, and variegation; flowers, ditto; tubers, ditto; showy stems or seeds; and aquatic or terrestrial habitats. Perhaps most elusive is current societal verdict: is a given canna now perceived as tacky, elegant, classic (but still possibly tacky), shocking-but-fun, shockingly-new-but-fun, or downright kick-ass?

Canna x ehemanii 081917 320

Canna x ehemannii defines its own category: classic, difficult to source, and—unique in all cannas—with pendulous flowers. After many years of not finding Ehemanii (or not finding it before the sources were sold out for that season), I finally scored. It will now be mine forever. When you've drunk the Canna Koolaid, this is big news.

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