Chestnuts at Christmas, A Garden Catechism

Edible Sweet chestnuts or European chestnuts, Castanea sativa. Image by Clarita, morguefile.com

Those lovely, smooth, shiny-brown chestnuts we enjoy during the Christmas season are pretty rugged looking at the start. The American chestnut tree, Castanea dentata, is native to eastern North America, and nearly died out in the early 1900s from an imported blight. Its Latin name castanea is derived from the city Castanis in Asia Minor [Read More...]

Walnuts, Thanksgiving, and A Garden Catechism

Image by jeltovski, morguefile.com.

If we are busy with families, we usually prepare or share in a Thanksgiving Day fare. One of the popular ingredients for that day is often the walnut. I love it in apple or broccoli salads, autumn harvest pies, or—as my grandmother often did with her Henry Quackenbush nutcrackers—unshelled in a bowl. The black walnut, [Read More...]

In the Shadow of Birds

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I did not see the migrating birds as they flew past, nor did I hear their calls. What I did see was fifty, maybe a hundred, small darting shadows cross over the lawn and my arms. Suddenly I felt heavy in the shadow of birds and my heart longed for home. Where I live is [Read More...]

Graces from Gleditsia

Honey Locust

It was one of those perfect fall days when the clear cerulean sky contrasted the vivid reds and yellows of the maples, poplars, and the honey locust in my yard. Settling into this house in 1988 one of the first things I did on the property, after removing all the trash and debris, was add [Read More...]

Transplanting Perennials and Hardwoods, Practical Gardening

Photo by pippalou at morguefile.com

October is a lovely time of year for dividing and transplanting in your gardens. The urgency of spring gives way to a slower pace of planning. There are many reasons to divide perennials: to keep them healthy and free of diseases, to have more plants, keep them contained to an area, to open up space. [Read More...]

Forcing Bulbs for Preseason Color, Practical Gardening

Image from, and for additional information, visit Our Best Bites, http://www.ourbestbites.com/2012/03/how-to-force-bulbs-indoors/

When I plant containers of bulbs in the fall, I am thinking about the color they will bring indoors during late winter days or as outdoor focal points early next spring. To force a bulb means that you are manipulating its environment so that it will bloom out of season. Before spring flowering bulbs can [Read More...]

Big Difference in Naturalizing and Perennializing Bulbs, Practical Gardening

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Well, autumn is upon us and it’s nearly time for planting spring bulbs. Let’s start this column with definitions that will help you get a handle on nomenclature: True bulbs contain their leaves and flowering parts inside. These include tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Corms carry their leaf parts on the outside to support interior bud [Read More...]

Revealing of One’s True Self

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Self awareness from a pretty bird: Earlier in the spring I was blessed with two nests of cardinals in my yard. Cardinals are very territorial birds but for some reason these two families shared the space congenially. The two nests of fledglings gave way to a small flock darting about the Locust tree and flowering [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...]

Summit Climbing

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I remembered being light headed and giddy. The man who had brought me to that secluded place held me tight as we leaned against the rocks of an adjoining mountainside. The air tickled my lungs in a way that a city girl—I was from Detroit—rarely experienced. There was a purity and thinness between where we [Read More...]


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