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

Golden Lotus Banana

The show has begun! Two weeks after the astonishing inflorescence of Chinese dwarf banana emerged, yolk-yellow bracts have begun to open around a huge cone that seems like the lotus bud of the gods.

Musella lasiocarpa overall 072616 320


While a lotus flower's lifespan is a mere three or four days, this inflorescence will produce hundreds of flowers over three to six months. Weirdly, they aren't at all showy compared to the inflorescence itself. Weirder still, this plant's most remarkable performance may well be completely hidden.

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: 'Morning Calm' Trumpet Vine

By August, the trumpet vines are in bloom. It's time to compare them. At the left, flower clusters at the far edge of a large standard of the native species, Campsis radicans. The deep orange blooms are showy but hardly unusual.

Campsis radicans in focus 080116 320

In the distance, two standards of a hybrid of the subtropical Asian species, Campsis grandiflora, with the native Campsis radicans. Even though they are farther away, the display is still more powerful. Truly, there's no comparison.

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Oakleaf Hydrangea in Summer

As with most roses, iris, and lilacs, the floral performance of most hydrangeas is so powerful that the foliage is secondary. This is usually just as well. The exceptions—blue-leaved rose, variegated-leaved iris, and cut-leaf lilac—are as striking as they are welcome. 

Hydrangea quercifolia Sykes Dwarf wider view 072716 320

Oakleaf hydrangea is perhaps the most dramatic—the most foliage-fabulous—of them all. Indeed, despite the spectacular flowers, oakleaf hydrangea can be grown, proudly and gorgeously, so that it never flowers.

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Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Goldbug False Nettle

Especially on scorching days, in-the-shade plantings beckon. I find myself darting across the garden's sunny stretches from one dappled patch to another. There had better be some flashy plants to make the trip worthwhile. 

IBoehmeria nipononivea Nichirin stem tip head on 071716 320

This bright-leaved false nettle is one of the season's shady stars: Its new leaves are white-gold, stippling with green as they mature. In late July, new foliage is still emerging even as the tallest of the clump's stems nears five feet. Many other shade garden treats peak in Spring or even Winter—think snowdrops and hellebores—so it's a joy that this sizable plant just keeps on coming as July melts into August.

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