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


Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Florida Flame Azalea in Bloom

This spring brings the first flowering of my young Florida flame azalea. As the common name suggests, the coloring of the yellow-to-orange flowers is fiery.

Rhododendron austrinum 052117 another 320

The scientific name—Rhododendron austrinum—seems to suggest that Australia is this species' home turf, but the meaning of austrinum is more general: of southern regions. The horticulture of eastern North America has so often been named by botanists home-based from Washington, DC, to Boston that, for them, even this species' native Georgia and Florida were plenty "austral." Regardless, this shrub is hardy to coastal Massachusetts. No wonder it's thriving in more-mild Rhode Island.

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Flowering of Free-Range Scots Elms

Since my post on my own glorious but oh-so-sparsely-flowering pollard of Scots elm, I chanced upon two other Scots elms. Both are growing free-range, and both were at heights of floral display so high and so heavy that to call them voluptuous was understatement: These trees' shows were rampant. Take this magnificent specimen of the weeping cultivar Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii'.

Ulmus glabra Camperdownii overall 050917 320

The other was of the same cultivar as my pollard, Ulmus glabra 'Aurea'. Both of these trees provided tsunamis of flowers and follow-on seeds; by comparison, my tree's floral display—a twig or two out of hundreds—was barely a splatter. Next year, will mine come into its own? Meanwhile, it's time to celebrate two trees that are already at their peaks.

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Flowering of the Scots Elm

Hooray: The pollard of gold-leaved Scots elm has begun flowering! The show is of a delicate yellow scattered over bare branches with the grace of the flowers of cherries. Their branches are iconic for early spring bouquets that are spare but voluptuous—and often ceiling high. No surprise, then, that cut branches of elm in flower make as easy and elegant a bouquet.

 Ulmus glabra Aurea fingers 042817 320

But so few of this tree's many branches were bearing flowers this spring that this lone branch is the entire "bouquet." How and when will the pollard ever become covered in bloom? Could the flowering be so profuse that, whether or not I harvested dozens of stems for a bouquet worthy of any hotel lobby, the show that remained on the tree would still be, well, showy from clear across the garden?

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The Best Season Ever: Early-flowering Borage in Bloom

No garden can ever have enough blue flowers: there just aren't that many of them. And though spring is the peak season for blues in the garden, there's always room for more, even then. Especially when the plant in question is also a fearless groundcover, a "Wow, what is that?" rarity in North America, and an early-season salad green.

 

Trachystemon orientalis fingers 041817 B 320

 

These are the sky-blue flowers of early-flowering borage, a woodland groundcover native from the Balkans to the Caucasus. It deserves a place in every garden—and on the table for an Easter feast.

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