August To-dos, Practical Gardening

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Our warmest month in southern Michigan is usually August. The heat—though we seem to be short on that this year—combined with the shortening daylight hours pushes plants to maturity. Vegetables are coming on strong for the harvest, perennials are setting seed, trees and shrubs are hardening up for the winter to come. It’s that time [Read More...]

Papal Gardens, Open to Public

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Some background on the gardens from Vatican City State: The Vatican Gardens have been a place of quiet and meditation for the popes since 1279 when Nicholas III (Giovanni Gaetano Orsini, 1277-1280) moved his residence back to the Vatican from the Lateran Palace. Within the new walls, which he had built to protect his residence, [Read More...]

Off with Their Heads! Deadheading for Reblooming, Practical Gardening

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Like most gardeners I like a lot of flowers all season.  If you’re not a fan of annuals, you probably search for the few perennials that bloom all summer. You can also extend the bloom period of perennials by deadheading. Deadheading is the maintenance practice of removing spent flowers. By deadheading you keep the plants [Read More...]

Embroider the Earth with Prayer

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I stooped at the waist to pull a few weeds. A twinge in my back caused me to stagger a bit so I lowered to kneeling and moved closer the flowers—a familiar intimacy. The rose next to me was Tuscany, a maroon heirloom rose, its richly perfumed center was fluffy with gold pollen. The base [Read More...]

Hope Filled Art of Pruning

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I love to prune. It’s like art to me, a hope filled art. Each cut is intended to produce either a directional growth, to form and shape hardwoods for beauty, or to enhance the bearing of fruit. Sometimes with ornamental trees a whole section of limb that rubs against another will need to be removed, allowing [Read More...]

Scent of Heaven

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Next to the south wall of the screened porch is a small stand of Liliaceae ‘Golden Splendour’.  They are one of the few flowers remaining from last summer’s dig-out, when, because of arthritis, nearly all of my gardens were removed. This trumpet lily cultivar was introduced in 1957. It is tall—at nearly six feet—and the [Read More...]

7 Easy Steps to Bringing Flowers Indoors, Practical Gardening

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From spring forsythia branches to fall garden mums I bring the beauty and fragrance of my garden into the house. Some arrangements are minimalistic and modern while others are full and robust, looking very much like a 16th century Dutch painting. Either way, they grace my desk, home altar, or table—sometimes I take them to a [Read More...]

Filling those Bare Spots, Practical Gardening

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The gardening season is well underway. It’s the time of year when bare spots show up in the garden. Not only bare spots where the bulbs and poppies use to be, but you may have an area of winter-killed perennials or maybe the transplanted seedlings you started never took. There are several ways of filling [Read More...]

Water Wise, Practical Gardening

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The heat of summer, especially in July and August, increases the challenges of maintaining a garden. You will need to pay attention to your plants’ need for watering. If you have mulched your garden, pull it away from the plant and check the soil for dampness before you water.  Push your finger into the ground [Read More...]

10 Fun and Easy Practical Gardening Tips

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Over the years I’ve collected a number of these tips from friends, magazines, online, or at conferences. Here are a few: Turn a wooden long-handled tool into a measuring stick. Using a permanent marker or a wood burner, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance you’ll [Read More...]


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