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: Yellow-flowered Bird of Paradise

The regular orange-petaled form of bird of paradise is a space-hogging cliché, but I happily tend an ever-increasing clump of this rare yellow form, 'Mandela's Gold'.

Strelitzia reginae Mandelas Gold 041515 320

With "birds," the flowers are the thing. More is definitely more—and more, more often, the ultimate fantasy. I'm never less than thrilled when a bloom spike appears but, as above, in April in the greenhouse? No one but me sees it first-hand.


True, the peak bloom season for bird of paradise is Winter through Spring. For this clump to not begin flowering until April, then, is already an impressive delay. But established clumps can be in flower at almost any time, year round. Perhaps the blooms of a clump that flowers June through September, when the plant has been brought out to the garden, aren't produced as a result of delaying tactics at all. Maybe they're additional spikes, not long-held-back Winter and Spring ones. For Summer flowering, does my "bird" need nothing more than hearty encouragement?


Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Jacaranda in Bloom

In San Diego, the meanest Winter temperatures feel like Spring in New England: mid to low forties. Even so, Spring-blooming jacaranda goes by the calendar, not the weather, and waits until late May to flower.


My pair of jacarandas overwinter in a greenhouse that, in the short gray days from December through February, can be barely warmer than fifty degrees Fahrenheit. That seems a lot like Winter in San Diego, so why haven't they waited until late May to flower?  

Jacaranda mimosifolia other 041515 320

I control the climate of the greenhose. What did I do over this Winter to coax these trees into flower in mid-April? It isn't safe until mid-May to move then into the garden, and nobody but me sees the show first-hand while they are in the greenhouse. What could I do to help these jacarandas flower in late May, as they do in San Diego? By then, I'll have moved them into the garden, where they can stun the visiting public, too, not just me.


Must Have: Adonis

Can there ever be too many great plants? Here's a close-up of adonis, ornamenting an astounding stream-side moss garden in Matunuck, Rhode Island.

Adonis amurensis flower fingers B 041315 320

The grim Winter may have driven the deer to chew on everything else but the moss—but nothing touches adonis. And how 'bout those bright, cold-proof flowers? Feathery, anything-but-frail foliage? And hardiness into Quebec?


Why aren't we all growing this beauty already? Ah, there's the rub.


Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: 'Sam Arnott' Snowdrop

Snowdrops, finally. This year's tenacious Winter snow kept them at bay for a couple of weeks beyond their usual mid-March debut.

Galanthus S. Arnott w fingers 040115 320

This is 'Sam Arnott', whose flower stems can be tall in snowdrop terms: nearly a foot. The flowers are larger than those of the straight species, Galanthus nivalis. But still, those are my fingertips in the photo, and to position them beneath the flower, I needed to be on my knees and my elbows.


Even a tall snowdrop is tiny when you're 6'3". At the end of a bitter Winter, kneeling in still-slushy ground is fine. I'm that grateful for Spring.


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