Searching for a new shade-tolerant annual? Crack the wishbone flower

Shade is common among us plant lovers, especially those of us who adore and overplant trees and shrubs in our yards. Shade can be limiting, though, especially when it comes to infusing color and how many pots of impatiens and begonias can you plant, year after year, and remain enthused? So, I was excited to…

True Confession: My ‘Winnipeg Parks’ love affair

Oh, where do I begin? Shrub roses are faithful garden lovers, I have discovered. I had always sort of overlooked them — like sweet science nerds and band geeks in high school — but I designed three garden spaces at a retirement community this past summer and I fell under the magic spells they cast….

Full-frontal vegetable gardening

I’ve been suffering a garden identity crisis throughout the last few summers, craving more flowers, more beauty, more vistas, yet wanting to grow edibles in a big way. What’s a garden boy to do? Enter the full-frontal vegetable gardening approach. Now, believe me, I find a traditional, full-on vegetable garden beautiful. You know, the square…

For the love of the mad garden bramble

I read the books. I keep my eyes open. I visit pristine gardens. I try to plant in waves of odd numbered plants and I do my best to practice “right plant, right place,’ knowing that sun-loving plants pass out in the shade. But no matter how hard I try, my garden turns into a…

Clemactic joys and sorrows: I need a clematis-growing support group

An editor I work with does not like her writers to use phrases like clematisaholic or clematisphile and I’m on-board with that — it does seem to make light of very real and serious issues. That said, this week alone I purchased ‘Carnaby’ (sometimes reported as zone 5) and ‘Venosa Violacea’  and transplanted Clematis Virginiana…

Hello Lilacs! The late spring isn’t looking so bad now, is it?

In my world, lilacs evoke memories like nothing else in the garden. The end of school is what what comes to mind for me. I have a specific memory of all of us first-graders bringing little bouquets for Mrs. Tews and filling her desk with them. Everyone needs a lilac bush in their yard. True,…

Garden Task: Dividing the feather reedgrass

A quick shout-out to an oft-overlooked ornamental grass that really is one of my favorites. Fall-blooming Feather Reedgrass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) can work as an anchor in your perennial border, with its graceful, arching, inverted-V form. At 4-feet tall and a spread of about 3-feet, it fills holes and pockets in your design and sits happily…

Spring Tasks: Dividing the Blue Fescue

Blue Fescue ‘Elijah Blue’ has been greeting visitors at the front border of the Garden Drama test garden for over 10 years. How does one make blue fescue  (Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’) happy? From my experience — sun, sun, sun. Bake it to get that great, matte-blue cast to its spiky blades. And really well-drained soil,…

More Garden Heidi-ology

A big part of the fun of gardening is getting to know your fellow gardening peeps. This past year, I got to get up close and personal with great gardener Heidi Heiland of Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens of Plymouth, MN. My profile of Heidi and her gardening lab and studio — which also happens to be…