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Flowers & Crops

Ginkgo Trees are Living Fossils


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


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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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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Ageratum – Native American Blue-Flowering Annual


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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Zucchini – There’s No Stopping Them


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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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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Liatris – Native American Wildflower Goes Legit


Liatris are native to the eastern United States and west to the Great Plains. They have been exported to Europe and have become one of the most popular flowering plants cultivated to be sold in bouquets. A Native American wildflower goes legit in the world of florists and cut flowers. Liatris spicata is its Latin name; it is also commonly …

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Hollyhocks – Old Fashioned Favorite


Hollyhocks are one of those charming old-fashioned flowers grown by our grandmothers. They deserve a place in modern flower gardens, if only for their unusual upright habit that stands out among bushier perennials. Native to Asia, it is thought that they are one of the oldest flowers in cultivation, grown by the ancient Chinese. Hollyhocks have been found in Stone …

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Petunias – Flowers for Garden Beds and Containers


Petunias are one of the most popular flowers in urban home gardens, landscaped parks, and public areas everywhere. They are also featured in containers and hanging baskets in cities all over the country. Petunias are also one of the newest garden flowers. They are native to South America and didn’t become well-known until the last part of the 19th century. …

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Purple Coneflowers – Healing Medicine for a Host of Ills

purple coneflower

Purple coneflowers were used extensively by Native Americans to treat a variety of maladies. Its botanical name Echinacea purpurea comes from the Greek echinos, (their word for hedgehog) which refers to the spiny-like center of the flower, and the Latin purpurea which refers to its purple-red color. Echinacea purpurea are perennials that grow to a height of 2 to 3 …

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