Department of Underused Plants: Merrybells

The Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) are blooming. This is one of my favorite spring flowers (native to the midwest) but one I don’t see very often. Like everything else this spring, it’s blooming early. So early that it seems to have rushed into bloom before reaching it’s normal height of about 18″. What makes this a great …

A Spring Weekend in the Garden

Well, today and yesterday were not as eerily beautiful as some of the days we’ve had recently. They were on the chilly side and mostly overcast. However, they were good enough to get outside and spend many enjoyable hours doing spring chores. As noted in my previous post, the first thing I did on Friday …

My New Flowering Dogwood

Yesterday I planted a flowering dogwood I had ordered from ForestFarm. It’s a variety developed at the University of Tennessee called “Appalachian Blush” with pink and white flowers. It’s funny how you never see flowering dogwood at garden centers around here and it’s even somewhat rare among on-line retailers. The Chinese dogwood Cornus kousa seems much …

Memo to Flowers: Slow Down!

My pleasure in all the new spring flowers is diminished by the sense that spring will be over before I really get a chance to savor it. For example, my crabapple is thisclose to blooming. However, I have to go on a business trip tomorrow morning and won’t be back until Friday. I have a …

Spring in Fast Forward

We’ve had several days with temperatures up in the 80s. On the plus side, the daffodils have begun their show. The forsythia and the spicebush are blooming. The spicebush is much more understated than the forsythia, though still lovely. Spicebush leaves have a lovely citrus scent when crusched, and I planted half a dozen because …

I Love Crocuses

I got back from a particularly grueling work trip on Friday to find the crocuses blooming their little hearts out. This truly gladdened my own heart, and my step became lighter as I carried my bags to the front door.  I’ve loved crocuses since I was a little kid. It’s partly that they bloom so early, …

Cloak and Trowel

Over the years I’ve developed a growing appreciation for small to medium-sized shrubs and the contribution they can make to the home  landscape. I suppose this appreciation is fueled mainly by laziness, as shrubs are just a lot less work than perennials. You don’t have to stake shrubs, divide shrubs, or cut them down at …

Should Trees be Forever?

I have a confession to make.  About three years ago, I took out the eastern red cedar in my front yard. I know many people feel that taking down any tree is an immoral act. Some would point out that when you cut down a tree, the decomposing wood releases carbon into the atmosphere. Also, …

Spring 2012: To Do and To Buy

Gardening is supposed to impart wisdom concerning signs from the natural world as to when is the proper time to sow and reap, etc. For me, when it’s cold and the pile of catalogues by my side of the bed is as high as the bottom of the mattress, I know it is time to make my wish …

Winter Interest

After hearing apocalyptic predictions about bad winter weather, we are experiencing a very mild winter here in the Chicago area. Today was in the 40s and partly cloudy. There’s no snow on the ground. But even in a mild winter, we have to live mostly without the things that we enjoy most in the garden: foliage, …