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On Gardening: Hardy verbena varieties are blooming all-stars

Gardening / Gardening News /

If you love garden fragrance and non-stop bee and butterfly activity, then the sweet almond verbena or tree verbena is a must for your landscape. Those traits, coupled with drought tolerance and ease of growing, were just some of the reasons it was chosen as the Florida Plant of the Year in 2008.

Botanically speaking it known as Aloysia ...Read more

The Greener View: Protecting Fruit From Birds

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: What do I need to do to protect my blueberries, grapes and even my apples from the birds eating them? I can't seem to win. I tried netting, but it just got tangled in the vines and plants and the birds just reach through to eat the grapes.

A: Grapes can't be harvested early to ripen indoors. They must stay on the vine until ripe. Birds seem ...Read more

On Gardening: New amaranths should make this butterfly magnet a staple

Gardening / Gardening News /

The Rio Grande globe amaranth should be coming to a garden center near you, thanks to a new series called Qis Gomphrena. It is tough-as-nails, beautiful and attracts butterflies and pollinators.

You would think that a common name like Rio Grande globe amaranth and even flashy named varieties like Strawberry Fields would make it a staple at ...Read more

The Greener View: Lawn Circles

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Question: Last year in mid-June, I started to notice circular dead areas in my lawn. I thought they were grubs, so I put on grub killer and they seemed to not spread. This year at the same time, many more dead circles appeared in the lawn.

I called a company and they say it is a fungus and that they can put on an expensive treatment that isn't ...Read more

From garden to menu

Gardening / Gardening News /

Once upon a time, it was unusual to have chefs who shopped at farmers markets, who established relationships with growers and whose menus often read more like pages from the Seed Savers catalog than what's for dinner. Now having a "market-driven" menu is common, even expected, especially in Los Angeles, where there are neighborhood farmers ...Read more

On Gardening: Campfire coleus offers rare rusty-orange hue

Gardening / Gardening News /

The search for the perfect rusty orange coleus may have ended with a hot new selection called Campfire. It is rare when a plant debuts at the Spring Plant Trials in California and then becomes the hot commodity at the garden center the same season, but such is the case with Campfire.

Campfire certainly has an appropriate name as it takes on ...Read more

The Greener View: Endless Summer Hydrangeas

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Question: I purchased an Endless Summer hydrangea this year and have been rewarded with beautiful blue blooms. In order to keep the plant blooming, do I need to cut the blooms off as they fade? I have cut some to bring into the house, as they are so beautiful. Thanks for any help you can give me!

Answer: Hydrangea macrophylla Bailmer, ...Read more

On Gardening: Frog fruit has a silly name but makes a serious groundcover

Gardening / Gardening News /

As I looked at the small groundcover from a distance, it appeared to be alive. In reality it was being hit upon by more small butterflies than I had ever seen at one time. I was looking at a large patch of native frog fruit.

I know what you are thinking. Frog fruit sounds like something Kermit might have for a snack or perhaps gracing the top...Read more

The Greener View: Fertilizer and Squash Bugs

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: Every year by the beginning of July, the flowers in my hanging baskets begin to look droopy. The leaves start to turn yellow and there are fewer flowers. I thought it was because the weather turned hot and I didn't water enough. This year and last year I have been much more careful to keep up the watering. I have the right plants for sun and ...Read more

On Gardening: Fennel puts on quite a show in the ground or in food

Gardening / Gardening News /

If there was ever a trap crop for the garden, it has to be fennel. If you are not familiar with the term "trap crop," it is normally one that catches or entices insects, diverting them from the one crop that is making the money. Calling fennel a trap crop however is a little tongue-in-cheek.

On the other hand, I challenge you to grow it and see...Read more

The Greener View: Purple Tomato Problems

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I have a question about our tomato plants. I didn't notice it at first, but the leaves are turning purple. At first, I think it was just the veins of the leaves, but now the whole leaf is turning purple. We planted them early in hopes of getting fruit early, but so far there has been a few flowers and no fruit. They are in the same garden, ...Read more

On Gardening: Golden thryallis a must for the long, hot summer ahead

Gardening / Gardening News /

You would think a shrub or summer annual that blooms all summer and is drought-tolerant and deer-resistant would be award-winning across the country. At least golden thryallis is a Texas Superstar winner and one you will want to grow too.

It certainly needs to go far beyond Texas to any area of the country that gets stifling hot over the long, ...Read more

The Greener View: Sidewalk Flowerbeds

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Question: We're adding a sidewalk up to the front porch that will run along the side of the house. I was wondering what kind of plants would be good to use between the sidewalk and the house? There is no soil there, it is pretty much sand. We want something that will not get real tall. Some of the area is sunny and some of it has trees.

Answer:...Read more

L.A./N.Y. couple feels at home with new house and garden

Gardening / Gardening News /

PITTSBURGH: How do you grow a neighborhood with few vacant lots? Gardens and new residents are a good start.

"New Growth" is the theme of a recent local home tour., and most of the seven houses open for the tour have changed hands within the last several years. Among the newcomers are Geoffrey and Erin Smith, who bought their century-old ...Read more

On Gardening: Empress of China dogwood performs like a native Southerner

Gardening / Gardening News /

There is nothing quite like the mid-June bloom of the dogwoods in the Deep South. As strange as that sounds, consider dogwoods partnered with hydrangeas, and dogwoods blooming in sequence with mimosas and crape myrtles. Thanks to the incredible Empress of China dogwood, it is all possible.

Empress of China is known botanically as Cornus ...Read more

The Greener View: Pruning and Japanese Maples

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Question: Recently, you mentioned pruning out one fourth of the oldest branches on spring blooming plants like lilacs. How should I properly prune summer bloomers like spirea, potentilla or crepe myrtle?

Answer: Small blooming shrubs like these can be planted for several different effects. They can be used as small specimens in flowerbeds, as ...Read more

On Gardening: Hail, the hibiscus! Queen of tropical flowers

Gardening / Gardening News /

The first time I traveled to the Caribbean I was stunned at all of the beauty. It wasn't just the crystal clear water but that it seemed hibiscuses were blooming everywhere. Now when I go to a garden center and see one for sale, or perhaps see some innovative gardener using them in the landscape or containers, I have visual memories of the ...Read more

The Greener View: Mosquitoes Bite

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Your landscape and local area may not have been affected by the flooding occurring in Texas and other areas of the South, but there has been a lot of rain in many parts of the country. Even without flooding, summer is when mosquitoes reign. Mosquito-borne diseases killed many settlers and their livestock before wetlands were drained and ...Read more

On Gardening: Tree frogs performing a symphony near you

Gardening / Gardening News /

I saw the beautiful frog and muttered to myself "safe in the arms of mother duck." I then chuckled, thinking how that might sound, as ducks are known to eat frogs. In this case, however, all was well because this bright green tree frog was in Mother Duck, one of the most striking daylilies in our garden.

I love green tree frogs, but to be ...Read more

The Greener View: Wet Soil, Wet Grass, Dead Maples

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: We are not in the really bad rain areas, but we have had a lot of rain this spring. The soil in the whole yard has been waterlogged for several weeks. I have noticed that some of the leaves in the trees are starting to turn yellow and fall off. I thought they did this with dry weather. Is there a problem with the trees?

A: Waterlogged soil ...Read more