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

Good Together: 'Dragon Lady' Crossvine and 'Gold Cone' Juniper

Crossvine comes with its own suspense this far north. It can take years of attention and protection to establish a plant, and unflinching determination to try yet again after it dies. But if you can bring the vine across a threshold of age or size or volume, then the mission suddenly changes to control.  

Bignonia capreolata Dragon Lady Juniperus communis Gold Cone 010318 hand foliage 320

This one of my trials of the supposedly-hardier Dragon Lady cultivar seems to have launched—and with gusto. A protected location may have been less important than pairing with the dense, snug muffler of a Gold Cone juniper. The ultimate victory will be sheets of fiery bloom come spring; but as winter descends, sheets of nearly evergreen foliage are almost as good.

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Good Together: Allée of 'Limelight' Tree Hydrangeas

Creating structural garden components of living plants, not hardscape, requires boundless optimism, diligence, and patience: The constituent plants of a hedge, arch, pergola, allée, or backdrop screen aren't available full-size, and will assume their mature forms only after years or, even, decades. And all the while, only by dint of partnership with their human stewards.

Hydrangea paniculata Limelight Fagus grandifolia Taxodium distichum Cascade Falls both Picea glauca conica Buxus sempervirens Vardar Valley 122217 320

Someday, this allée of tree hydrangeas will canopy the central walkway. Right now, I'm grateful, simply, that their heads of dried-in-place flowers are high enough to be visible. Give me five or ten years, and all the "hortitecture" composing this view will be finally, and fully, formed.

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The Curtain of Weeping Bald Cypress

Any plant in a starring location must command it—and with style. On both counts, this young, weeping form of bald cypress, Cascade Falls, has a bright future. 

Taxodium distichum Cascade Falls 1108117 320 

Unusual for a star, it also has a prosaic function: curtaining off an extension of one of the garden's cross-axes that (long story) must cut through a giant brush pile before resuming its cartesian course.


Only for state occasions do I cleave through the pile, then draw back the taxodium curtain to reveal the full view down the vista. The other 363 days of the year, the "folds" of the curtain must once again fall straight down.


Cascade Falls is the tree for the job—I mean, the role—of its lifetime.

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Foxtail Lilies, Below Ground & Above

One of the counter-intuitive delights of plants—so much of whose growth is, necessarily, above-ground—is that what’s below ground is sometimes startlingly visual. Roots of yellow root are—you guessed it—yellow. Chrome yellow. Feeder roots of lotus form a starburst of white filaments, each with a pink tip.


But here's the rub: Such shows are on display only when the plants are bare-root. Keep that lotus out of water for more than minutes, and it will begin to wilt. For the day? It could die outright.


Happily, some plants are marketed as dormant tubers, rhizomes, corms, and bulbs that tolerate being out of the ground and fully visible for weeks or even months. And a few of those normally-hidden structures are stunners.


Take so-called foxtail lilies, named for their vulpine flower spikes in spring. Their curious roots evoke starfish, spiders, and octopusses.

Eremurus hybrids fingers close up 120717 320

An octopus lily when you plant it, and a foxtail lily when it flowers: Under any name, in any season, it's essential.

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