The Drama of Hydrangeas, Practical Gardening Series

It’s hard to beat the beauty of the big late-summer blooms of hydrangeas. With multiple cultivars on the market, with impressive fall leaf color and diverse bloom sets, the options for your garden are many. Hydrangeas are a sturdy shrub and most require little care but light pruning. And since hydrangeas are terminal bloomers, flowering [Read More...]

Irises in the Garden, Practical Gardening Series

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Irises have been a favorite perennial since childhood. They began my gardening and were there when I retired from working the grounds at St. Francis Retreat Center. Over the years I have come to love the wide assortment of Iris germanica. From the earliest blooming dwarfs  to the big boys late in the season. Bearded [Read More...]

Powdery Mildew on my Veggies?! Practical Gardening Series

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Powdery mildew is a general name for a few different species of fungi that infect several ornamental plants, such as zinnias,Monarda, lilacs, and roses. It also affects vegetables and fruits, including beans, grapes, cucumbers, beets, melons, and squash to name a few. It can affect the flavor and reduce yields of some fruits and vegetables. [Read More...]

Zoned Out Trees, Practical Gardening Series

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As frost moves out of the ground in the northern Midwest, and mud season moves in, we eagerly wait to begin gardening. And while we wait, we plan. Looking out through windows and doors we often see open areas in our landscape. We might think that a new ornamental tree or evergreen would add visual [Read More...]

Fall Mums in Spring, Practical Gardening Series

Mentioning hardy mums in the spring may seem like an oxymoron. Let me explain. For years as a garden consultant I’ve heard homeowners say what bad luck they’ve had growing perennial chrysanthemums. They plant the big cushy mums every fall and rarely find that they survived the winter. Tired of failing they stop planting them [Read More...]

Bee Mindful, Practical Gardening Series

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Have you begun vegetable gardening? Me? Not for another 60 days. My big-garden days are over. I still include a couple tomato plants, pole beans, and bush zucchinis among my remaining border beds. A decade ago the fruit set was about a third more than it is today. Extra plants are needed to get the [Read More...]

This is for the Birds: Practical Gardening Series

Feeding the birds during the winter is an activity a lot of people delight in. Through the years, I’ve picked up several feeder tips on how to attend to the needs of birds and deter marauding squirrels. Here are just a few… Larger bird feeders are a convenience—you don’t have to fill them as often [Read More...]

10 Steps for Saving Seeds; Practical Gardening Series

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Collecting and saving seeds from one season to the next is simple and allows you to keep growing the plants you love best. Here are a few tips and techniques to guide you. 1. First of all you’ll need to have planted open-pollinated varieties. They’ll come back true to the cultivar whereas hybrids won’t. Hybrid [Read More...]

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

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Instead of pictures, I thought I would share this information from Horticulture On-line: The biggest mistake people make when trying to ripen green tomatoes is placing them on a windowsill. The light shinning on the fruit will actually cause the skins of the tomatoes to become tough. A better way to ripen green tomatoes is to place [Read More...]

Browsing your Backyard (Edible Landscaping): Practical Gardening Series

Fresh produce from the garden is one of the simplest delights of summer. What’s not to like about wiping off and biting into a tomato, cucumber or sugar snap peas still warm from the sun! Many of us do not have a yard large enough for a vegetable patch or do not have the time [Read More...]


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