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

Now 'til Frost in the Garden of a Lifetime: High Season for Moonvine

The growth capacity of annual vines can be just this side of scary. Giant woolly morning glory, Argyreia nervosa, can climb thirty feet in a Summer—and that's just during New England's comparatively brief and cool one. In its native India? Maybe twice as high. Madeira vine, Boussingaultia basseloides, is another tree-smothering terror where hardy, but is merely exuberant here.


Moonvine, Ipomoea alba, aspires to similar heights, racing twelve feet high in August, then waving around for even higher conquests.

Ipomoea alba top of tower with bloom 090616 320

But then came the possibility of a visit from Hurricane Hermine: Time for the white guy-lines in the picture. My fourteen-foot tripods could handle thunderstorms, but not gales that might tumble the patio furniture. Ah, the suspense before the storm's arrival.

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Cinderella Crabapple in Summer

Thanks to Cinderella crabapple's dense and compact habit—and its ability to be grafted atop a trunk to form a standard—the tree is ornamental all year round. It isn't just a delicate beauty in Spring when once again in foliage, then bud, then flower; nor just a stalwart sculptural presence in Winter when displaying snow and ice. There's a distinct show even in Summer, when the tree is just in leaf.

Malus Cinderella east most 090716 320

The green foliage and casually rounded canopy are shown off particularly well, as here, in the company of plants with wilder habits as well as shocking colors. Cinderella is as party-ready as my topiary of hardy orange, and for the same reasons: Each season, its performance features something both attractive and radically different from what was on display the season before. Both are essential to any garden aspiring always to be nothing less than lively.

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Cup and Saucer Vine

The broad trumpets of cup & saucer vine are an enduring curiousity Summer to frost. They all open creamy white, as here. Those of the straight species quickly darken to grape-purple, whereas these of the 'Alba' form stay bright.

Cobaea scandens flower fingers 081316 320

I vote for 'Alba', because the blossoms are showy even from a distance. Thank goodness: Even when grown as an annual, this vine can grow so large that it lends itself to large-scale effects that are also showy from clear across your garden.

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Good Together: Pollinators & Short-toothed Mountain Mint

Mountain mint belongs in Summer gardens, and not just because its silvery bracts are showy from July through September. The heads of tiny flowers are such a favorite of bees that, at first, it seems that the colony is shimmering.



Rather, countless insects are in motion, scrambling atop each flowerhead as well as flitting from one to the next. Their wings set air in motion, plus they land and take off in haste. The collective force flexes the flowerheads back and forth on their supporting stems.


The colony is vibrating!

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