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


The Best Season Ever: Early-flowering Borage

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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Talipot Palm Triumphant

What an immense but dead palm! Sizable, too, will be the project of cutting it down safely before it crashes to the ground on its own: perhaps fifty feet tall and several tons in weight, this tree could destroy a house as well as some vehicles if it toppled. It could even cause fatalities.

Corypha umbraculifera 022717 overall 320

A tragedy, of course. But from this tree's view, its own death hasn't been tragic at all: these great creatures die in the saddle, as it were—and after a final performance that's nothing short of triumphant.

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Must Have: Night-blooming Cereus

A climate milder than your own can be shocking: there, plants you may have known only on your windowsill are thriving right in the garden. More shocking: their sizes and habits are quite foreign to those back home.

 

For example, in New England, it's a surprise that any cacti at all survive, let alone enjoy themselves. They do—OK, not the fifty-footers you might see in Arizona—but, still, true cacti. Even under ideal conditions, though, few will ever grow higher than your kneecaps.

 

The picture below shows a tropical cactus that's the opposite of the ones hardy up north: it's a vine that can climb twenty to thirty feet into trees. 

 

Hylocereus undatus 031017 TWO 320

And—perhaps most important for this northern gardener—it can be grown as topiary.

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Today in Key West: Giant Yarey Palm

One of the indelible thrills of tropical horticulture is a palm whose beauty is even more startling than its rarity. Last year, I raved about one of the giant, blue-leaved fan palms, Bismarckia nobilis. This native of Madagascar is grown world-wide, and to name it "noble" is to damn it with faint praise: it is over- whelming, gob-smacking, head-spinning. Then again, Bismarckia gobsmackii isn't a latin name that would describe this palm any better.

 

This is one of the so-called copernican palms, and it says "See you and raise you" even to the bismarck.

Copernicia fallaensis closer 030617 320 

Most of the species in the Copernicia genus are native exclusively to Cuba, which accounts for their rarity in the US. But rarity (and politics) aside, it's the visuals of this particular species, Copernicia fallaensis, that make it the star even amid such stiff competition.

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