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…

Everyone needs a pansy or two at this time of year

The pansies have landed and are at your neighborhood nursery or garden center. Every northern gardener needs to treat their garden and themselves to a pot of pansies as early as possible in the spring. Particularly after the winter we have all just weathered. Pansies will take a little frost, which makes them the ideal harbinger of…

The Transplanted Northern Gardener Series: The Impatiens Gardener

This Northern gardener is spending some time in Florida, researching the lively and fun use of impatiens and the foundation landscapes using what we northerners think of as houseplants. Impatiens (Latin for impatient) could be the state flower of Florida. Impatiens love water. I mean they LOVE it. They must have it. Or they die….

I picked up a Passion flower vine (Passiflora) at the Mill City Market

A wonderful farmer was selling Passion flower vines last Saturday at the Mill City Market near the Guthrie Theatre, close to downtown Minneapolis. If you haven’t been to the market yet, try to get down there. It’s got great energy, great produce, great vendors and great food. A shout-out to the Chef Shack. I had…

Lobelia ‘Palace Royal’ holds court in my containers

I wrote an article for the upcoming March issue of Northern Gardener magazine on taking one pot through all four seasons, swapping out plantings accordingly. It was a hoot to have this test pot in my garden though the spring, summer, fall and into the the holidays. It was my baby, my test kitchen. I…

Dusty Miller saved my gardening butt this summer

An accent plant that has always bored me a little worked its way into my heart this past summer and I now declare “I love Dusty Miller.” Botanically speaking, its Senecio Cineraria. Native to southern Europe (but with less attitude), it is a perennial to zone 9, but an annual up in these parts. When…

Zinnia Fireworks

I snapped this photo on, ten guesses, the 4th of July. Relaxed fireworks ordinances in Minneapolis (although I was sure someone’s roof was to be set ablaze) have created opportunities to celebrate without leaving one’ s own backyard, which is where this was taken. It made me think, if you are familiar with Zinnia ‘Fireworks…

California Poppies are welcome in Minnesota

I had been toting around a few packs of California Poppy seeds for several years. Last season, I decided to throw them in as a border along my back path that flanks the vegetable garden. They were slow to get started, but wow, they took hold and a drift of them along the back path…

Ornamental Kale is the cat’s meow

My Thanksgiving table came alive with color and drama thanks to a few hardy heads of ornamental kale. What a showstopper. Grow it next year people. I had heard tales that it could take temps that got down to 20 degrees. Then I also heard that it could go to 5 degrees. Actually I thought…

Overwintering geraniums, blooms and all

I’ve always wanted to overwinter a geranium plant. While growing up, the minister of our church did in the sunny windows of the Sunday school. The barber shop down the street has big, bountiful blooms in its sun-soaked window. Overwintering a geranium has an old-fashioned charm to it, like hollyhocks and bleeding hearts. Experts suggest…