Vinca Minor Brightens Up Shady Spots

Vinca Minor

Vinca minor is one of the rare plants whose Latin name is used as its common name. Also called creeping Myrtle or periwinkle, vinca is an evergreen perennial ground cover. It blooms in spring with charming purple flowers that cover the plant. Vinca is native to northern and central Europe and is hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9. In …

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Abandoned Rose Keeps Growing

rose garden

Roses, well known to need copious amounts of water and attentive care, are growing in an abandoned, fenced parking lot. What’s amazing to me is that we just had the third driest spring in our area since weather record keeping began over a hundred years ago. Last fall a fast food restaurant in the neighborhood mysteriously closed in the middle …

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Black Eyed Susans Are Low Maintenance Perennial

Black Eyed Susans

Black eyed Susans are an American wildflower that is native to the western prairies. They are one of the first plants to start growing on land that has been cleared. Rudbeckia hirta is the Latin name for them, although they are often confused with other varieties. One thing that makes them different from most other wild flowers is that they …

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Ginkgo Trees are Living Fossils

Ginkgo

Ginkgo trees are living fossils that are not related to any living plant. Fossil records of related species end after the Pliocene era everywhere except a small area of central China. The ginkgo tree lives for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. There are specimens growing near monasteries in China that are believed to be 1,500 years old. Other specimens in …

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Hardy Hibiscus Thrive in Wetlands

Hibiscus

Tropical hibiscus plants are available at garden centers every spring. When summer is over, this tropical variety, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, ends up in the trash or compost pile; they’re just not hardy enough to survive winter north of the tropics. And not many people have the right conditions in their homes to overwinter the plants indoors, either. Did you know there’s …

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Lily Varieties Bloom from Summer till Fall

lilies flower

Lilies come in several different varieties with blooming times from midsummer through early fall. Plant some of each variety for a continuous supply of blooms throughout the growing season. Although you can plant lily bulbs in spring, fall is the best time for planting as it gives them time to develop a strong root system before breaking into vegetative growth …

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Lupines Are A Beautiful, Versatile Flower

Lupines

Spring blooming lupines, Lupinus albus, were cultivated 4,000 years ago by the Egyptians. In the Americas, Lupinus mutabilis were brought into cultivation 1,500 years ago. Although we think of lupines as flowers, they are grown as a feed for livestock in many parts of the world. Because they grow well on poor, sandy soils and in fact improve the soil, …

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Bachelor Buttons – Popular Indoors and Outdoors

Bachelor Buttons

Bachelor buttons are popular as garden plants and cut flowers. Originally found growing wild in the grain fields of Europe, Centaurea cyanus now grows wild all across the northern hemisphere. Their original color is blue (as denoted by its second name, cyanus) but they are now available in dark maroon, red, pink and white. Bachelor buttons are also commonly called …

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Honeysuckle – Prolific Vines and Fragrant Blooms

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle vines, belonging to the Lonicera species, are easy to grow, heat-tolerant, vigorous and nearly indestructible. They are commonly used to climb up a trellis, fence, or other framework. Less well known is their use as a ground cover for erosion control. Said to protect your garden from evil, honeysuckle is known as the “love bind” because it symbolizes a …

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Ageratum – Native American Blue-Flowering Annual

Ageratum

Ageratum, also called “flossflowers” are native to Central America and Mexico, although four species are identified as native to the United States. The most commonly grown variety is Ageratum houstonianum. Ageratum is from the Greek “a geras,” which means “non-aging,” most likely referring to the longevity of the flowers. The flowers are fluffy and available in lilac, pink or white, …

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Hydrangeas Can Change from Pink to Blue

hydrangeas pink

Hydrangeas are those large, bush-type perennials with the giant flower heads in either white, pink, or blue. They’re also called “mophead” or “lacecap.” Fossil records show that hydrangeas grew in North America between 40 and 70 million years ago, and about 25 million years ago in Asia. They bloom in mid to late summer and keep their flowers long after …

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Zucchini – There’s No Stopping Them

Zucchini

Captured a zucchini blossom this morning on a plant that’s barely bigger than a transplant. It’s actually the second one that opened. I missed the first flower—you can see it wilted in the background in the photo at left. Zucchini come on like gangbusters and don’t let up until the weather cools in fall. Stories of grocery bags filled with …

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Ornamental Salvia Grows Where It Wants To

Salvia

Salvia is a popular flowering plant for urban gardens. With a combination of over 700 annual and perennial species, there’s a type of salvia out there for everyone. They can prolifically reseed themselves, like the ones in the photo at left. These are growing in the cut out area of a sidewalk around the installation of a telephone pole. They …

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Pine and Evergreen – Prune in June

pine and evergreen

In Minneapolis today workers hoisted the last steel beam to the top of the new baseball stadium. Attached to the steel beam was a pine tree. The tradition goes back some 1200 years to the Vikings, (somehow appropriate). Scandinavian builders topped off their buildings with a sheaf of grain for the horse of their beloved god, Odin. For his part, …

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Grow Rhododendron and Azalea in Cold Northern Climates

Grooming Rhododendrons

Hardy varieties of spring-blooming rhododendron and azalea grow in cold northern climates. Most varieties of rhododendron are not winter hardy in northern climates, but several varieties being tested at the Landscape Arboretum of the University of Minnesota are showing promise for successful growing in higher latitudes. Azaleas, a deciduous variety of rhododendron, are somewhat hardier, and are the variety of …

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