Glory's Garden

All the world's a garden, you know, and we are mere flowers within it. Come, I'll show you!

Don't get any funny ideas!

©2018 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved

My Peeps!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Guide to growing palm trees

While Palms are usually associated with warm tropical and subtropical regions of the globe, many are far more cold hardy than you'd think. It is finding the right cultivar for your area and for your landscape that ensures success in growing a Palm. No matter where you live, however, to have a Palm, there are certain things you'll need to know to keep a bit of the tropics happy in your garden.
With varying growth rates and requirements, Palms have to be chosen wisely. The first step would be to investigate the different types, growing habits, hardiness and their size at maturity. To do this properly visit . They have over 270 cultivars. Surely one of them would be right for your landscape.

Once you have your Palm the planting is easy. Use good, rich soil amended with compost and organic matter and dig a planting hole only as deep as the root-ball and 1-2 feet wider. Center the Palm within the hole and back fill pressing the soil around firmly. If it is a big Palm, already a few years old or a transplant, staking might be necessary. Palms don't have much by way of roots to keep it firmly in place. Water it regularly and often until well established. Providing a bit of shade around the roots by way of a thick mulch wouldn't be bad either just to keep it from drying out.

Frequently spraying the Palm leaves with the hose is advisable for dislodging any wondering insects, cleaning off foliage and for providing humidity. After that you'll have nothing to do but admire your Palm. The only other maintenance they require and this is for some cultivars who may not shed their leaves cleanly, is to cut them off or trim the leaf base to keep the trunk looking neat.

If you live outside of the comfort zone of all Palms, which is very likely, you may like to have one indoors. To do this is quite easy. Cultivars more commonly available that take well to indoor living are Howea Forsterana (Paradise Palm), Rhapis Excelsa (Lady Palm), Chamaedorea Elegans ( Parlor Palm) and the dwarf Phoenix Roebelenii (Pygmy Date Palm). For temporary indoor Palms, those that will exceed ceiling heights eventually but still make nice indoor plants in the first few years, try the popular Washingtonia Filifera (California Fan Palm) and the very slow growing Chamaerops Humilis (Mediterranean Fan Palm).

Knowing all this it should be easy now for you to keep a Palm tree in your landscape or at least in the sunny "Florida" room in your home.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zebrina, guardian of the Pumpkins.

Zebrina was at one time quite the mouser, bringing to me on a good day 6 and 7 moles and/or field mice. Ah, but she did a grand job clearing the land of vermin. But that was back in the day. She is now mostly retired, the poor dear. Best she can do now is sit on the front steps and make certain no one runs off with the Sugar baby Pumpkins. She's doing a great job there, too!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Flowers by Tommy

 Tommys mother calls up and asks if hell be going by Long Island at all before Christmas. He happened to have some work to do there, so yes, he would. She then asks him to take some flowers to place on his dads grave. He readily agrees and goes off to buy some artificial flowers. At this particular cemetery they only allow these kinds and in this sub-zero weather we can understand why. They would be dead and quite ugly within a few minutes.

This is what he brought home. It was a poinsettia bush but as that wasnt quite enough he grabbed more bunches of this and that and just stuck them in every which way. I asked him, almost begged, to let me fix it up a bit but he said it was fine. Not that Im a grand flower arranger but I might have been able to do a little better than this. Hes a man of many talents but flowers? Not so much. Looking at it though, its not too bad for a guy with no eye for flowers.

Flowers by Tommy. Who knew, huh?
Anyone willing to have Tommy do the flowers for your wedding?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Is there any way to understand men?

This is my kitchen, part of it anyway. Why am I showing you this? Well, my darling Tommy decided one day that I was too much of a pack rat. Took him 26 years to figure this out. Yes, well, I had gone beyond the pale it seems. I had cluttered up and stacked over these cabinets all sorts of things, glasses with Golden pathos and Philodendron cuttings to root, decorative tins, fancy jars and baskets full of dried flowers. Well, after a while it did get a tad crowded and looked a bit of a mess.

Tommy being a neat freak (you have no idea how much of a neat freak!) he had had quite enough and told me to take everything down and clean it up. So, I did it. I took all down and cleaned it up. As this was over the stove--a stove by the way, which gets used a vast deal-- everything was greasy and dusty. Oh, boy what a mess! The tins some of which I got from Tommy's grandmother, were too pretty and antique-ish for me to just toss into the dishwasher so I did those by hand. UGH! Took forever!

The glasses and other washable things were indeed tossed into the dishwasher but they didn't all come out as clean as I had hoped. More hand washing. My hands were like sandpaper after all this washing, but once they were clean and dried I didn't put them back up there. Heck no! Cleaning them once was more than enough trouble for me.

So, you'd think after all this hard work that Tommy would look up there and smile. Things, after all were much more to his Minimalist liking. Know what he said? "Wow. Whatcha gonna put up there now?"

I told him absolutely nothing. He then says, "But it's so bare now. Can't you find something nice to put up there?"

I may just strangle him. But no matter. It will remain clear of anything, now that I know how incredibly hard it is to keep everything clean. I'm cured of my pack rat ways! Yeah...maybe just for a month.

Friday, December 24, 2010

And a Merry Christmas to all!

Me in the conservatory at Longwood gardens for their Christmas spectacular
I just wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a most joyous holiday season full of fun and laughter, great food and good times. And may the new year bring you prosperity and peace. See you all in 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Have I shown you this?

Well, if I have you're seeing it again. I crocheted this little purse because I could never find one I liked. They were either too big or too small. never the right size. I felt like Goldielocks! No, not really. No, bears were coming after me if I didn't pick one. I just made one for myself. It was free too. My mom, who has rather painful arthritis, no longer can crochet without killing her hands. So, she gave me this huge stash of yarn she had. I already made her and her housekeeper each a shawl with the yarn she gave me, and of course, this purse. What will I make next time? I'm thinking of a sweater but right now I'm working on a scarf using a loom. I'll tell you about that next time!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

9-patch-3 bar quilt on point

This is the second full size quilt I made. This one was for Brandon. It was entirely done by hand while sitting in front of the TV. No, I didn't spend 8-10 hours straight on it. Pioneer women didn't have that luxury and nor did I. One to two possibly three hours a day between the cutting, sewing and  piecing together per day. It took me about a year and a half as I recall. It was super easy. It just takes a while to do it all. I didn't rush. There was no need for it. It was a soothing, relaxing and good way to do something useful while doing something useless. Yes, I regard watching TV as pretty much the most useless thing to do but when you have something to do while watching...then my friend, it's a great time spent on the comfy couch with my Tommy.

In future I will give practical lessons on how to do some of the easier quilt blocks. This one is shown here on point which just means the strips are sewn together on the diagonal. It can be done straight too. This is how it looks.

This is the same exact quilt but shown with straight rows. My mother was the first one to show me how to piece together scrap bits of fabric to form a blanket, but it was my friend Evie, who truly showed me the entire quilting process. I owe her so much for that. She passed along her knowledge and more often than not some of her considerable fabric stash. When I ran out of a good match for a quilt, Evie was always there to let me take what I wanted.

That's the really good thing about quilting. You gain friends of like mind who often gather together with their own projects just to pass the time together chatting. Or they join forces to make a quilt together to give away to a charity or to raffle off for a good cause. I highly recommend starting on the road to quilting. It's fun and good to keep the devil at bay. You know what they say about idle hands and the devil, right? ;-)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Avatar: A nature film

Laugh if you must, but that is what I saw in the movie Avatar, a nature film. Yes, we all heard the hypeBest fricken movie EVER! But no one said anything about it being a nature film. Well, I suppose thats because no one quite sees things as I do. No harm there. Most folks were talking about the dazzling computer animation of Avatar and nothing else.

Yes, that was rather impressive but still, best film ever? Hardly. I thought it was good, but I doubt anyone even remembers much of what interested and intrigued me about Avatar. I saw a film full of magical, beautiful scenery mostly of a wonderful (albeit make-believe) world in which very agile blue people lived in harmony with plants. For this self-professed Lorax/obsessive gardener, that was one for the booksgardening books I suppose.

So, that is what I liked about the movie. Frankly, I had no intention of seeing this movie at all. I didnt think it would interest me in the slightest and all the ballahooing of it being the best ever, just confirmed that. I rarely like, let alone love, films which get excessive praise and those which win all the awards. Hollywood has gone downhill for me. They havent produced anything I wouldnt mind seeing more than once since Stranger than fiction. (You probably dont even recall this Emma Thomson/Will Farrow/Dustin Hoffman movie, but I truly liked it and Ill tell you why some other timeif you care, that is!)

But back to Avatar. Tommy brought it home and said, Lets watch it. We might be surprised and actually like it. No, neither of us truly believed this but what else was there to do on a snowy, cold night? We had long since told ourselves that if we dont have high expectations of a movie, we might not be so badly disappointed. It usually works and so we were not expecting too much.

Well, it was slow to grab me but once it did, I was prepared to like it. But then I heard the Military man in the moviedont recall his name. He was the mean one, the one that wanted to blow up the entire place, people and all. I had a choice name, but I cant say it herewell, this mean dude my military enthusiast, former marine friend Terry M. calls him Colonel No-Soul so, I think well go with that;-)--called the Avatar world, Pandora, a hellhole. Hellhole? Does this guy not know what a hellhole is? He, of all people, should. He was the one bragging about all the horrible places where he had endured wars. Obviously not!

Did any of you get passed the amazing graphics or whatever it was called to see how lovely Pandora actually was? This was no hellhole! The trees, the flowers, the luminescent mushrooms that danced and fascinated like something out of a Disney movieremember Fantasia? were gorgeous! All that was missing were fairies. In reality this movie was an almost complete rip-off of the animated film Fern Gully (circa~1995) which actually did have rain forest fairies in it and they also were trying to protect their rain forest home from greedy businessmen, much the same way as in Avatar. Gees, is nothing original in Hollywood anymore?

But I digresssorry. My point is that Pandora was simply a beautiful place, with lovely views of dense forests containing astonishingly beautiful flora and well, bizarre and rather vicious fauna. But the most amazing part is that the inhabitants of Pandorashall I dare call them Pandorians?were quite at peace in their forest home. I couldnt blame Jake, the guy in the wheelchair, for wanting to become one of them. They were living the good life, a peaceful, simple life.

At least they had been until the greedy so-and-so destroyed their home in order to get what they desperately wanted. So much for peace, huh? Well, it worked out in the end for the Pandorians anyway.sort of. Their home was destroyed but at least they ousted off their planet those greedy, menacing, hateful beasts. No, Im not talking about the animals in the forest. They were down right nice in comparison.

I digressed again, didnt I? Forgive me. Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with real plants, real gardening and real life. Well, I liked the Botany lady in the film, Grace played by Signorny Weaver. At least I did when she was shot. Jake was trying to save her by taking her to the sacred place. Well, on the way someone said something to her about a plant and what did she say?

Well, she didnt say what most people in her dire situation would have said. Something like, What the heck do I care? Im dying here! No, she didnt say anything close to that.

Ooh, I gotta get a sample of that, she said, clutching at the gaping and bleeding wound on her abdomen.

I loved that! She was dying and her plants was the only thing she was interested in.Doesnt that sound a tad like someone you know and (hopefully?) love? Yes, I thought so too. ;-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Looking for a few good garden photos

That's right, I want you to send me a few of your best garden photos with a little story behind each one.  I'd like to post a few here for all to see. It'll be like all of us visiting your garden in the dead of winter. What fun!
Me and my mom in the "back-40" perennial border

So if you are at all interested in a guest spot at Glory's Garden come January/February do send me a note or better yet email me the story and pictures right to me ( with the permission to post them here.

Hey! Maybe we can have a contest for the best pictures and stories! Ooh, that would be fun! I'll work on that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tropical girl I am, I am!

Being a tropical girl, I have the right to have a few tropical plants around me at all times. No, not the ones usually found in plants. Don't get me wrong. I have your typical house plants, Dumb cane, Pathos, Snake plant, Spider plant, Clivia, Christmas Cactus, Peace lily, Mango tree, Avocado tree, Cuban oregano, Hoya and orange tree....hmmm, I don't suppose those last few are very typical at all.

You may be wondering how I got these unusual tropical plants. I planted them. Well, all except the Cuban Oregano. It came from a friend (Hello Evie!)  She gave me a tiny little plant, from an herb shop and  she thought I might like it. Heck yes! It's a lovely succulent with the most intense oregano scent you'll ever want. Yes, I cook with it all the time. (Tyler loves it too, so much so that he took one of my huge Cuban Oregano plants when he moved out. He loves cooking with it!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

I wasn't about to leave all the tomatoes to freeze out there!

Yes, that is a potted tomato plant. I grew this one in the pot  all summer for this exact purpose, to bring it into the house right before the killer frosts. I was determined to have tomatoes fresh off the vine for as long as possible. Well, I'll have you know it's doing rather well and has given me three pretty little tomatoes ripe as can be and sweet as they come. Pays to be a gardening nut!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bringing the garden inside for winter

Calisto: guardian of the Sun and the indoor garden.
You may not be able to tell by this picture but that's a Bok choy, Swiss Chard, Spearmint and Lemon Balm I brought in from the garden. I simply wasn't willing to let them die when they were doing so nicely. I already got a harvest from both the Bok Choy and the Swiss chard and they don't seem to want to quit just yet. Don't you just love an obliging plant?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hazelnut harvest 2009

I was quite proud of my hazelnut harvest of last year, 2009. As soon as they were dry-ish on the shrub I plucked off each pretty little husk which contained two nuts. I didn't quite know when the proper time was to harvest them but  it seemed to be all right. As it turned out, I should have listened to my better judgement and done this year as I did last time. Why? Well, I'm rather reluctant to show you this year's pathetic harvest but as I did take a picture, you won't need to use your imagination.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jack Frost, hear my plea!

About the second week of November I asked Justin to come out with me to cut some grass. He looked blank for a minute. I guess he was hoping I was kidding but as he could see I wasnt, he said the obvious (for him anyway).

Its not summer. Grass is brown. Its winter now. No mowing in winter.

Well, the grass was not exactly brown at that point--wishful thinking on his partand besides that, I didnt really want to cut the grass as much as I wanted to pick up all those lovely brown, orange, red and yellow leaves with just enough grass clippings to make a wonderful mulch perfect for the garden bedsa good warm blanket for their long winter sleep. Justin was having none of that. He can handle the riding mower but that has no attachment to pick up grass (Tommy insists hell get one next year if we have the moneytheyre a whopping grand!)

So, it was up to me to do it and in an odd twist of fate the Autumn Goddess gave me really nice weather in which to do much of this mower-pick-up-leaves-and-grass-mulching thingreally if any of you have a better name for this activity do let me in on the secret!--.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Hazelnut Shrub

So, I have these two beautiful hazelnut shrubs. Yes, hazelnuts grow on bushes, although they are getting rather big now and some folks might very well consider them trees before too long. They started out when I first got and planted them several years back, as tiny little things, barely 6 inched tall. I think I got them from Michigan bulb company, or Henry Fields, two of my favorite mail-order catalog places to find cheap stuff. Of course, it could have been Stark Brothers too. They sell fruit and nut trees and berry vines and bushes. That gives me the idea to write a post about my favorite mail order places. I'll work on it! But for now, my Hazelnuts.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Vegetable Gardening: How to test soil pH By Mac Pike

What is a PH level , how do we test it, and what are the implications for a productive garden?
Plants do not draw their food directly from garden soil, but rather use the water and air present in the soil and the energy derived from sunlight to manufacture their food from the nutrients the soil contains. This process is known as photosynthesis. Major nutrients include potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus, but there are many other nutrients like calcium and magnesium that plants require for optimum growth.

Plants need these nutrients to be present, but even if the nutrients are present plants can only utilize them if they can free the nutrients from the soil matrix. This is where the PH scale enters into the process.
The PH scale is used to measure the acid or alkaline properties of a soil sample. It is a 14 point logarithmic scale where 7 is the neutral point. Numbers below 7 indicate acidity; numbers over 7 indicate an alkaline soil. As the scale is logarithmic, each number indicates a ten fold change from the next. A rating of PH 6.0 is 10 times more acetic than 7.0, 5.0 PH is 100 times more acetic and so on.
Of the plants most commonly grown in the home garden, most do well in a slightly acetic soil; tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, lima beans, cucumbers all thrive in a soil with a PH level between 6.0 and 7.0. This is the range when they can most readily synthesize soil nutrients into food, mainly carbohydrates, through the photosynthetic process.  As the PH varies from this optimal range less and less of the vital nutrients like calcium, potassium and phosphorus are available to the plants. Depending on how far from optimal PH a given soil may be, plants may produce poorly or not at all, at the extreme ranges they will not grow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The great peanut harvest of 2010!

Okay, so it's not that great a harvest and it's not even mine, but I was so very impressed that I had to show you this. My dear friend Julie Helms who is one busy lady--she not only runs, the Pennsylvania Curriculum Exchange, a home-school supply store and a full-fledged sheep farm--goats, chickens, dogs and cats in the mix too!-- but she manages Helium's Pets and Animals channel and she occasionally speaks about lovable giants, too!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What the heck is Salsify?

*Note from Glory* Okay, so my friend Mac tells me he just wrote a "riveting" article on salsify and in the next breath--or perhaps it was the same one, no way of knowing for certain-- he says he expects not to earn a single penny from it because no one will ever want to read it.

"It's about salsify, for cripe's sake. Even I ain't reading it!"he tells me.  Well, if you're like me, you're asking right now "What the heck is Salsify?"  And if you're also curious like me, you'll want to know what it is. Good thing we got Mac to tell us then, don't you think? And he thought we wouldn't be interested...silly man!
Salsify: The Oyster Plant by Mac Pike

Unsung garden delight: 

Visit any home garden in the neighborhood and your friends will happily point out their sturdy corn stalks, tomato plants thick with fruit, the colorful chard, the deep green pepper plants; even the zucchini comes in for a quick mention. But languishing in an unvisited and unmarked corner is the salsify. And that is if there is any salsify to be found at all.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What the heck's with the tires?

I suppose you may be wondering why I have a few plants growing inside tires and I thought I'd let you know, lest you think me totally nuts. It's perfectly okay if you still do, so no matter! T'is the rabbits, my dear garden friends. They are all over the place here and eat to their fill of all sorts of things... Asiatic Lilies, Hosta, Burning bushes, French Pussy Willow, heck even Calendula isn't safe from these fiends....unless I place them safely within a tire. You got it. Rabbits won't go near the tires. Don't ask me why...couldn't tell ya! All I know is I can actually have un-nibbled bok choy, Swiss chard, squash seedlings and well, anything now...just as long as I grow them, at least until they are established, without the rabbits getting at them. Funny, huh? Of course it does make for a rather strange looking garden design but what is more important? Looks or having fresh veggies? As you can see, I pick the veggies!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I'm thankful for

You best get comfortable because this may take a great long while. Yes, I'm thankful for soooooo many things and here are just a few of them.

1. I'm living in the USA. Many people do (and many more wish to), but very few of them realize how amazing a place this is.
2. I have a healthy body and mind. So many suffer from sundry illnesses and ailments both physical and mental and yet I don't.
3. I have a husband, Tommy, who gets me (that, in itself, is bizarre and wonderful), loves me (despite myself!) and always seems to want to be with me (really, he tells me this all the time!)

Ghostly pumpkins hiding

So, I did tell you I had to find this picture of my ghostly pumpkins on the vine. Well, I remembered them showing up a bit better than this. You can only just see the tips of a few of them peeking out from amongst the huge leaves and you can't even see the one growing over the trellis. Leave it to Tommy to be more concerned with getting me in the picture, Silly boy! He can see me any time but a ghostly white pumpkin? Well, not too often!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"How to attract Chikadees to your yard" Guest post by Mac Pike

Do you want to attract a California condor to your yard? I wish you all good fortune, it isn't going to happen. But if you want to provide a home base for a tiny, adorable, acrobatic and downright friendly little bird like the black capped chickadee, all you need to do is live within its natural range and practice a few very simple arts. Do so, and you will literally have chickadees eating out of your hand.

The common black capped chickadee, or Poecile atricapillus is a small songbird related to the tufted titmouse and other tits; this becomes apparent when you observe them interacting at a feeding station; their behaviors are very similar. A curious, black, white and buff colored bird the chickadee is 75% tame as regards human interactions, even in its wildest conditions.

To attract chickadees to your yard, all you need do is put up a feeding station, preferably at least 8 feet off the ground, and close (within 20 feet) of brush or trees in which the chickadee can perch. This placement is a kindness, because a chickadee will rarely stay on a feeding station to eat. More often than not a chickadee will take the seed to a nearby tree or shrubs so that it can break up the seed in relative solitude, by placing the feeder close to cover you can help the chickadee avoid burning excess energy flying back and forth from food source to cover.

Providing a bird bath or other source of water during dry periods is also a nice thing to do, and will increase the population of all birds in your yard, the chickadee not excepted. Most important, to draw chickadees make sure that sunflower seeds are a component of your feeding station mix. Chickadees love them and will linger wherever they can find them.

Would you like to have this friendly, trusting bird eating literally from your hand? Well, you can. It requires no magic or arcane knowledge; it merely requires a little patience. Begin by placing sunflower seeds on your feeder at exactly the same time each day, for the sake of discussion, ten AM. Be consistent with this. You will notice that chickadees begin to show up almost immediately after you put the seed out.

Once the birds are coming consistently at the same time, stand by the feeder after you have placed the seeds on it. Stay there for about 15 minutes, standing as quietly and calmly as you can. When chickadees begin to land on the feeder when you are standing by it (takes about 4 to 5 days) you are ready for the next step.

Stand by the feeder, but put no seed on it. Place the seed instead in your outstretched hand. (You may wish to brace it on the feeder or if the feeder is too high, on a shovel handle or the like, you muscles will begin to cramp quickly if you do not.)

Wait about 10 minutes, and then put the seed on the feeder and move away. Repeat this every day, staying for a few more minutes each day. Within 3 or 4 days you will have a tiny bird landing in your hand, seizing a seed and fluttering away. They will rapidly learn to trust you, and of course you will be careful not to betray that trust.

And that, is really all you need to know to attract and befriend the black capped chickadee!

Thanks so much, Mac! If you want to learn straight from the master, go to Mac Pike's about me page at Helium.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ghostly pumpkins

Justin with the pumpkins which made a very pretty autumn decoration.

Recall I mentioned hybrid white pumpkins? I thought Id talk about them today. They were a present from my son Justins speech therapist, actually just the vines from which these grew. She had started too many plants indoors and knew I was a gardening nut, so, she brought over her extra seedlings. Wasnt that awfully nice of her? Got about 5-6 really magnificent ghostly pumpkins from those 3 vines. Even have a picture of them with one of the kids. Better look it up. (I did after about an hour of hunting through all the picture we ever took!) 

Friday, November 19, 2010


I see you are one of those people who wants to have your flowers and eat them too. You’ve had the sugared Violets on your birthday cake, the tiny purple flowers of Borage sprinkled into a salad  and the gingered Pansies adorning pastries of distinction.  But you’ve seen nothing yet until you see the dilly of a flower I have for you. No, not dill, you silly. I’m talking about Nasturtium. 

Nasturtium, also known by the common name Indian Cress, has funnel shaped flowers in single, semi-double and double forms much desired by hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Oh, yeah, and gardeners too. The foliage is bright green, roundish with visible veining. Many mornings you can catch dew puddled in the center of the leaves. What a pretty sight that is! A photographer’s perfect subject.

Every part of this pretty plant is edible though why you would want to is beyond me. It’s too pretty to be plucking away at it. But the good thing about Nasturtium is its prolific flowering habit. You’ll never run out of flowers for your wonderful culinary creations. The one thing I don’t much like about Nasturtium is the habit it has of hiding the flowers under all those leaves. But that’s nothing for those who want to use them in cooking. Just pluck away the leaves and eat those so you can see the pretty blossoms. The best of both worlds.

Nasturtium comes in vibrant colors of orange, yellow, red and softer pastels like cream, peach and apricot. There are lovely bi-colors like the cultivar “Strawberries and Cream” and “Caribbean Cocktail”. The “Alaska” cultivars have variegated leaves with cream colored splotches. All are stunning in the flower bed or herb garden. I suppose anything edible should be in the herb or kitchen garden and Nasturtium is no exception. It has a peppery taste, a bit spicy to the tip of the tongue. It’s great for fresh garden salads, as a garnish, sprinkled on soup or onto anything on which you would use that black pepper shaker. It’s this peppery scent and taste that gives it its name which in Latin means “Nose twister”. Funny, huh?

Nasturtium, botanically  Tropaeolum majus, is grown as an annual in almost all regions of the earth except their native land in the Andes Mountains of South America. It grows as a perennial there and therefore prefers things on the cool side. Hot humid summers it does not like so plant accordingly if you garden in such areas. It might bloom straight through the winter in tropical places. Lucky you! But for us northerners it continuously blooms from late spring or early summer  until the first frost. It thrives in any regular garden soil and on neglect. Yes, you got that right. It is virtually carefree. What could be better?

I’ll tell you what could be better. Nasturtium comes in dwarf varieties which form 8-15 inch tall mounds, depending on cultivar, perfect for bedding, hanging baskets and containers. But it also comes  in climbing cultivars, like “Jewel Of Africa” some getting as high as 8 feet. These look awesome cascading gracefully out of window boxes, over garden walls or even used as a ground cover. Talk about versatile! You may have to help them on their way up a fence or trellis. They don’t have tendrils to cling, just their leaves to sort of hook onto string or wire.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Heritage Rose

In the exceedingly vast world of  Roses, the Heritage or Old Rose is the elite. These Roses are very sought after by the true Rose connoisseur. Roses introduced prior to 1867 are considered Heritage Roses and are deemed of historic importance. They are, for the most part, the ancestors of all our current favorites. But many of them have been lost through time. This is why there are many Heritage Rose groups and societies all over the world diligently searching for, collecting, preserving and doing research on these unique and unerringly beautiful Roses in an effort to keep them around for future generations of Rose enthusiasts.

Heritage Roses fall into two categories, the first being the old European Roses who find their origins in species native to Europe and western Asia. The old European Roses  include the Albas, Centifolias, Damask, Gallicas and Moss roses. Most of these are particularly cold hardy without winter protection and they usually flower only once in the spring.

The other category consists of  the China, Bourbon, Damask Perpetuals, Hybrid Perpetuals, Noisettes and Teas all coming from or in part created with East Asian roses. Because of their wonderful repeat blooming characteristic these roses were often used to hybridize with the European Roses. Most of these are not nearly as cold hardy as the European roses and therefore most of them require some winter protection in the coldest zones.

Hybridizers of the nineteenth century crossed these two kinds to create a vast number more of these Heritage Roses many with the desirable repeat blooming habit and cold hardiness characteristic. Let us take a look at each in turn.

The Old European Roses.


This is the White Rose of York famous for England’s War of the Roses. Though everyone knows Alba means white some of these come in delicate shades of pink as well. They bloom in spring and the flowers can be single to fully double. The long lived plants have an upright, vigorous growth, the canes green and attractive and the leaves are greyish green and disease resistant. Garden cultivars to look for are the white “Alba Semiplena” and the pink varieties “Great Maiden’s Blush”, “Celestial” and “Konigin Von Danemark”.


These are the Cabbage roses immortalized in many Dutch paintings. Typically these have larger petals surrounding densely packed smaller ones, hence the reference to cabbage. Very prickly stems grow up to 6 feet tall but arch gracefully due to the many, extremely fragrant blossoms weighing them down come spring time. “Rose des Peintres” is a rich pink. The upright “Paul Ricault” is a deep pink. For a smaller plant growing less than 3 feet try the dwarf cultivar “Petite de Hollande” or “Rose de Meaux”.


The perfume industry’s favorite, the Damask Rose blooms only in spring on six foot long, prickly canes with grey green foliage. A blush pink cultivar “Celsiana” is readily available, “Leda” is white with a bit of crimson and “York and Lancaster” have petals blended white with pink.


Also called the French Rose, Gallicas have very fragrant flowers in colors from pink, red , maroon and even purple on 3-4 feet high plants. The leaves are usually rough and dark green and the stems have many prickles. Historical cultivar “Red Rose of Lancaster” also called the Apothecary Rose, is a cherry red semi-double bloom. “Tuscany” has crimson flowers with golden stamens.


The Moss rose is not truly its own class but certain roses within the  Damask and the Centifolia rose groups who have moss-like glands which smell like Balsam and cover the buds, stems and leaves. On the Centifolia the moss is velvety smooth but the Damask is prickly. Flowers are wonderfully fragrant and come in pink, red, and white. “Nuits de Young” is a dark red, “Muscosa” is white and “Comtesse de Murinais” is a greyish purple.

The East Asian Roses.


Plants are 2-4 feet high with pink or red flowers, less than 3 inches across growing in clusters. Still available for purchase of the original Rosa Chinensis is “Old Blush” and the red “Agrippina”.


A hybrid between Rosa Chinensis and Damask, The Bourbon Roses more readily available are the highly fragrant magenta pink “Madame Isaac Pereire” and the cherry red semi-double flowering “Ragged Robin” sold mostly for hedge planting.

Damask Perpetuals.

A cross between  Damask and China Roses, these  generally resemble Centifolias and Gallicas. Most popular sold are the crimson “Duchess Of Portland”, the bright pink “Jacques Cartier” and the crimson purple “Rose du Roi”.

Hybrid Perpetuals.

These roses were the best back in the nineteenth century for cold hardiness and for big vigorous growth. Require more feeding and watering than the average tea rose and susceptible to rust. Flowers are 6-7 inches across full and very fragrant. The white “Frau Karl Druschki”, the cherry red “General Jacqueminot and the rose pink “Mrs. John Laing” are still sold.


Cross between Musk and China roses, Noisette grows like a shrubby climber. “Chamney” has small pink blossoms in clusters. Requires a milder climate. “Alister Stella Gray” is yellow and “Reve d’Or” is a buff apricot.


Teas are almost ever-blooming, particularly tender and long lived. Flowers come in pastels and vary in form. “Belle of Portugal” is a rampant climber with pink blooms. “Marie van Houtte” is a soft pink and yellow and “White Maman Cochet” has creamy white and pink blossoms.

Perhaps only the true Rose connoisseur will appreciate the history behind these marvelous Heritage Roses but every lover of the rose can see what beauties they are. For a touch of history and elegance in the garden the Heritage Rose is the one to seek. To make the search easier visit Heirloom Roses.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The fact that Nemesia has no real common name is proof of its virtual anonymity in the gardening world. Not that it deserves to be ignored. It is one of those annual plants that can give loads of enjoyment with little trouble. It simply isn’t that popular at least by name. Most likely you have seen it next to the Impatiens, Zinnias and Marigolds but you wouldn’t know it to look at it. You may not even know it by name unless you are particular about such things. 

But as Nemesia looks especially nice in the rock garden, as bedding plants, in hanging baskets, window boxes or as a bulb cover, of course, you should grab a few. Though a very showy flower with a profusion of blossoms all season when kept deadheaded it has the reputation of not being the easiest plant to have in the garden and that may be its downfall. That and not having a cute, recognizable common name.

This native to South Africa is said to be a bit persnickety because it doesn’t take well to too much heat nor too much cold. Just like Goldilocks Nemesia likes it just right. Well, frankly, don’t we all? That just makes Nemesia a regular, old annual and what gardener can’t handle that? This plant likes cool summers which is easy to do for the northern gardener and in the south all we need do is wait until the cool weather months to set them out and watch them thrive. So much for persnickety, huh?

Of course like with all flowers that fall into the able hands of hybridizers,  Nemesia has become even more gardener-friendly. New cultivars are being developed that take much better to the warmest weather although it still is only winter hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11.

N. Frutican is the wild version of Nemesia. This bushy plant grows to about 1 and one half feet tall with profuse flowers in a pale reddish-pinkish-lavender color that most people lump together as Muave, which just so happens to be sort of its other name. Blooms show up on top of long, narrow stems with slender and lightly serrated foliage in a bright green color. The flowers which look somewhat like Snapdragons, a close cousin, grow in small clusters.

The Nemesia we find readily in garden centers and nurseries, however, are the more compact hybrids between N. versicolor and N. strumosa growing, depending on cultivar, from 6-18 inches tall. These come in so many colors from vibrant, bright shades nobody can ignore to delicate, soft pastels and many lovely bi-colors. You’re bound to find one just right for any garden, for any color scheme and any preference. The individual flowers are small but they form clusters up to 4 inches wide for major impact in the flower bed.

As for care, that’s simple. Any good garden soil, full sun (part sun in the warmest weather areas), regular watering and an occasional feeding with an all-purpose fertilizer or better yet, a weak compost tea, will do fantastic things for these beauties.

So, when spring comes around and  you’re checking out those flats full of the same old annuals at the garden center, look around for a tiny tag with the not-so-common name Nemesia and grab up a few of these delightful, multi-purpose plants. Your garden, the birds, bees and even your neighbors will thank you.