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: Giant Potato Creeper & Tall Verbena

Giant potato creeper is strictly a tropical in New England, in the garden only by intent and at no little expense: Overwinter a specimen or buy a new plant each Spring. Tall verbena usually needs to be be planted only once, after which it seeds where it wants. 


Both species crave heat and sun, and some spots—cracks between pavers that bake in Summer, in particular—seem foolproof habitat for verbena's seeds to overwnter and germinate. Figure out where the verbena is a sure thing, and then set your pot of potato creeper nearby. As vastly as these species' size and habits contrast, their flowers' colors and their preferred exposures match.

The Best Season Ever: 'Ruby Lace' Honey Locust

Purple foliage is easy to have in coleus and elephant ears, smoke bushes and beeches, maples and crape myrtles, succulents and dahlias. In plants whose leaves are pinnate, however, it's oddly scarce. In fact, your choices are only two.


In mild to hot climates, plant 'Summer Chocolate' mimosa. But where temperatures sink to zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower, 'Ruby Lace' honey locust is it. 

Good Together: 'Sparkling Burgundy' Eucomis amid Gold-leaved Ghost Bramble and Gold-leaved Paper Mulberry

Only in an arboretum are plants intended as soloists. In a garden, they perform in concert. And they perform best when they are cheek-by-jowl. The result is close harmony or, even more thrilling, flip-your-eyeballs cacophony. 


Today, then, the first of occasional quick takes on plants that are synergizing with intensity. That are riffing with style as well as abandon. That are getting down! No worries about practicalities, either. Cacti can flourish by cattails, and tropicals by alpines. The minimum goal is a "Jeez, how cool is that?" guffaw and, sometimes, even a coup de théâtre hush. Let me know how they grab you.


First in the series: An "oreo" of gold-leaved ghost bramble, purple pineapple lily, and gold-leaved paper mulberry. 

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Acanthus in Bloom

I'll never forget a trip to Los Angeles, when I found myself walking past massive clumps of acanthus in full bloom. In such a balmy climate, where acanthus is evergreen and can grow year-round, the spikes were as tall as I was.


But my envy exceeded my joy: Acanthus mollis is tricky where I garden in southern New England. Here, it's an achievement just to establish a clump of foliage. Flowering is the exception, not the rule.


But this year, even after a particularly severe Winter, flower it does.

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