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On Gardening: In praise of a $5 butterfly and its mistletoe

Gardening / Gardening News /

I remember it like yesterday. I returned from a Rotary Club meeting in Mission, Tex., to see a good sized group with cameras gathered around a patch of flowers at the National Butterfly Center there. I quickly went in and asked what were they seeing? The answer was a Great Purple Hairstreak butterfly. Today when I give a presentation on ...Read more

The Greener View: Finding Value in Trees

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

How would you like to increase the value of your home from 5 to 10 percent? What is your home worth today? Let's just use an easy round number like $100,000. Ten percent of that is a cool $10,000. You can make five to 10 grand just by planting trees in your yard. Maybe money does grow on trees.

Now, of course, they need to be the right trees ...Read more

On Gardening: Giant leopard plant a spectacular member of the aster family

Gardening / Gardening News /

Members of the aster family can be described by a lot of wonderful adjectives, but "lush" and "tropical" are typically not among them. Yet that is the case with the giant leopard plant. Botanically speaking, I am referring to Farfugium japonicum 'Giganteum,' and though it is found growing on rocky cliffs in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, it is turning...Read more

The Greener View: Easter Lilies and Manure

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

If you still have an Easter lily, you can keep it as a perennial plant in your garden. Removing the flowers as they die will help make the plant's food production go into enlarging the bulb and not producing seeds. They will rebloom easily if planted outdoors in hardiness zones three through seven.

Keep them in bright, indirect light until the ...Read more

On Gardening: Native cross vine creates picture-perfect arbor or trellis

Gardening / Gardening News /

My jaw dropped as I stared at the most beautiful cross vine used to perfection. It is a rare garden I visit where the native cross vine is used to its true potential, but such is the case at home in Savannah, Ga.'s beautiful historic district. The Victorian Style home was painted a golden apricot that served as a stunning backdrop.

I've got ...Read more

The Greener View: Sharp Shovels and Spring Bulbs

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I was talking to a neighbor the other day about getting his garden ready, and he mentioned sharpening his shovels. I have never sharpened a shovel, but he made it seem like they should be practically razor sharp. Isn't the soil just going to dull it as soon as he uses it? Am I crazy or is he?

A: I know gardeners who sharpen their shovels ...Read more

On Gardening: Red Buckeye blooms in rhythm with hummingbird's return

Gardening / Gardening News /

The southern roadside and forest are alive with the spectacular blooms of the red buckeye, Aesculus pavia. You have to admit it is pretty amazing how nature times blooming in sequence with the return of the hummingbirds. Last year I wrote about the coral honeysuckle that is also blooming now, and both are providing nectar to the first ...Read more

The Greener View: Gardening Myths

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

In honor of April Fools' Day, let's take a look at some foolish gardening advice gardeners. Have you read that hairy-leafed plants like African violets can be sunburned by water droplets sitting on the hairs above the leaf? Sunlight is supposed to be concentrated by the water droplets like magnifying glasses and the light is focused on the ...Read more

On Gardening: Invest in crinum lilies for long-term beauty and fragrance

Gardening / Gardening News /

It was love at first sight that day in Brookhaven, Miss., when I came across the grand crinum lily, Crinum asiaticum, I fell in love even though it wasn't blooming. The tree-like structure of the stem or stalk and the large exotic foliage sold me with its texture before I had even experienced the beauty of the white blooms or tantalizing ...Read more

The Greener View: Bolting Lettuce and Moving Rhubarb

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: Last spring, I planted lettuce early in the spring. We didn't get to harvest much as they started flowering and the heads of lettuce were not heads anymore. What can we do to prevent this from happening this spring?

A: There is nothing you can do except pray for a cooler spring. Lettuce is a biennial. Biennials live two years and are only ...Read more

On Gardening: A salute to the Spanish flag

Gardening / Gardening News /

As spring fast approaches to our favorite past time of gardening it is high time we give some thought to raising the Spanish flag. While that is a little tongue and cheek the extraordinarily beautiful vine we call Spanish flag is certainly one that will cause your friends and neighbors to be green with envy. It is has another common name, exotic...Read more

The Greener View: Garden Hoses and Rain Barrels

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I am need of a new garden hose and the thought struck me as to if there is a hose that is drinking water safe? As a kid, I always drank from the hose. But I haven't done so in a long time. The question came up as I thought about using the water from a rain barrel in an aquarium. I am concerned about that, too, since that water might be ...Read more

On Gardening: Saucer magnolias dazzle the spring landscape

Gardening / Gardening News /

The winter has been fickle in my area of coastal Georgia, but the cool season magnolias have still been breathtakingly beautiful. The common names like saucer magnolia, tulip magnolia and Japanese magnolia all seem to fit this incredible cross originally credited to one of Napoleon's retired soldiers.

Botanically speaking we refer to them as ...Read more

The Greener View: Daylight Saving

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Wow, we made it to spring. Well, at least that is what the calendar says. There may still be snow on the ground just about everywhere, but the good news is that we have another hour of sunlight to help melt it away. OK, maybe not. But it sure feels good to have an extra hour of useful daylight in the afternoon to do something outdoors.

Usually,...Read more

On Gardening: Holly makes a jolly-good screen for noise, traffic

Gardening / Gardening News /

If you are thinking about creating a privacy screen between you and your unruly neighbors or perhaps wanting to quiet traffic from a busy street, look no further than one of our fine evergreen hollies. Your first inclination is probably a fence, and while that would certainly work it does present a host of issues including maintenance, harsh ...Read more

The Greener View: Planting Bare-Root Plants

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: We ordered roses, raspberries and a few other shrubs and one small tree from a mail order company. They emailed us that our order is shipping. We are not ready to plant these plants. I didn't think they were coming until the end of March. How do I take care of them until I can plant them? They are coming bare root. Is there a special way to ...Read more

On Gardening: Try this lily-turned-iris; George Washington did

Gardening / Gardening News /

What can you do with a blackberry lily? The answer is, anything you want. All gardens are made better with the addition of this persevering heirloom iris. You thought I said blackberry lily, and now I am referring to it as iris. Yes, Virginia, it has always looked like an iris from the standpoint of foliage and recently its scientific name has ...Read more

The Greener View: New Vegetable Gardener

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I know this may sound naive, but I haven't grown a vegetable garden before. My park district is advertising garden plots, but we might just plant a small garden in our yard. My local store already has broccoli and cabbage plants. I picked up a seed catalog, but I don't know what grows well in my area. Any tips for a beginner?

A: Having your ...Read more

On Gardening: Flash Mobs in your garden

Gardening / Gardening News /

You may associate flash mobs with dazzling music performances in the least-expected public places, but now you had better get used to sizzling displays of Flash Mobs in the gardens.

It's been a couple of years since the stunning Flash Mob Bluerific petunia made its debut in the gardening world, and its rare color coupled with its dynamite ...Read more

The Greener View: Peach Tree Care

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: We moved into a house over the winter that we have been told by a neighbor has a peach tree. He says that it has a few good fruit, but that it hasn't been cared for recently. We are waiting for a book from the Extension Service, but, in the mean time, we want to get dormant pruning done. Do you have any tips?

A: My first tip would be to do ...Read more