Serviceberry: A shrub for all seasons

Dull name. Delicious shrub. Serviceberry could be the bush with the dainty white flowers you are spotting right now. Serviceberry is a treat in the spring, but it also delivers in the fall with husky orange-ish/red foliage. The leaves that emerge after the spring blooms are a blueish-green and berries come soon and they  are…

Pruning spirea

Pruning shrubs is pretty satisfying. Like getting your hair cut or teeth cleaned. I sort of dread all three, but it feels so good after. Every shrub has its own pruning protocol, but this past weekend I pruned my spirea and this is an easy shrub to do, especially before it leaves out. You can…

Public Garden: The Domes in Milwaukee

It’s officially the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, but “The Domes,” as it is commonly known, seems more accurate. There is nothing pretentious about this place. If you judge a public garden by the number of visitors, this one seems off the charts. On a Saturday in March, it was packed, and what impressed me most…

Which is it, a rhododendron or an azalea? Actually, it’s both!

Rhododendron is the genus for both the plants that explode like happy, colorful fireworks this time of year. In our parts, rhododendrons are evergreen, have larger leaves and fuller flowers. They actually provide an interesting winter specimen. They bloom earlier. Azaleas lose their leaves come fall, have a slightly more delicate appearance and bloom a little…

What am I seeing? Serviceberry

Serviceberry: Utilitarian name, showy shrub. Whenever you can get three-season interest out of a shrub, it gets a gold star in my book. Spring flowers, fall color and berries that birds love Native and cultivated serviceberry (Amelanchier) varieties can grow to more than 25 feet, but ‘Regent’ serviceberry tops out at 6 feet and still…

What am I seeing? Forsythia

April showers bring forsythia. Many gardeners find this shrub’s somewhat scrubby summer appearance too high a price for the spring show–but I challenge that. We need this harbinger of warmer days after months of cold, and the stems of dainty lemon Jell-O® flowers are a balm to the soul in temperamental April. Introduced in 1982 by the University of Minnesota…

What am I seeing? Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill)

It’s the closest we will get in these parts to the lavender fields of Provence and though the lovely little Siberian squill is the scourge of wildflower enthusiasts, the spendor of it en masse is undeniable. It stops you in your tracks this time of year. It’s an aggressive spreader, true, maybe even invasive, but I…

New on the scene: The ‘Pazazz’ apple

I never met an apple I didn’t like, so it really doesn’t take much from a new variety to make my mouth water. The introduction of the newly devloped ‘Pazzazz’ apple has made the hort and foodie headlines recently, so I had to try it. Yes, it is delicious – sweet like a ‘Honeycrisp’ but a little…

The slow reveal: cutting back grasses; leaving the leaves

The garden blog is back, baby! I employ a certain slow rhythm to my spring garden clean-up. It’s not laziness, I don’t think, and certainly not a lack of enthusiasm – it’s the greatest time of year. It simply does not feel right to do it quickly or certainly, hastily. That would be akin to…

What do I do for Earth Day 2015

Happy Earth Day everyone. What does one do on a day like today, dedicated to environmental awareness, when you are a nature-loving tree-hugger? It’s a work day, so I’m stuck with whatever I can do over my lunch hour or this evening. Or am I? The original Earth Day, April 22, 1970, had a certain…

My orchid rebloomed! Is there a blue moon?

When it comes to orchids, I’m an impulse purchaser. I see them near the register, like gum, and I have to have the regal beauties with the delicate forms and delicious colors. I always buy the Phalaenopsis variety, the moth orchid (named as such because some varieties are said to resemble moths in flight). Phalaenopsis are…

Let Mother Nature be your garden scheduler

Do you curse when rain or wind or ungodly temps or even snow thwart your gardening plans? Ever dream of an epic garden day all week, only to be washed out on Saturday? Face it, Mother Nature makes up your garden calendar and assigns you shifts and they don’t always jibe with your plans. So,…