Author: Brandee Gruener

Plant this for summer: Plains coreopsis

Plant this for summer: Plains coreopsis

Plains coreopsis is anything but plain: the flowers’ deep red centers give it more dramatic flair than other flowers in the tickseed family. This plant shakes off heat and drought, preferring dryer soils as it originates from the western United States. Maybe that’s why Coreopsis tinctoria has naturalized along sunny roadsides and in sandy fields…

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Plant this for spring: Celandine poppy

Plant this for spring: Celandine poppy

I can’t figure why more nurseries don’t carry celandine poppies. Their bold yellow flowers light up the shadiest parts of the garden where few other flowers shine. Mine bloom for weeks in March and April, after which they form the hairy fruit capsules so familiar on poppy plants. Chipmunks and mice like to feed on…

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Garden clean-up the lazy, I mean cheap, I mean environmentally friendly way

Garden clean-up the lazy, I mean cheap, I mean environmentally friendly way

The flowers have faded and all that’s left is a dingy, tangled, overgrown mess. Human nature, or the dirty look from a neighbor, beckons you to tidy up. You could ignore that call and retreat into your winter den for the next three months. After all, nature would probably like that best. But if you…

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Plant this for fall: Blue Mistflower

Plant this for fall: Blue Mistflower

Each year a rainbow of chrysanthemums marches into garden centers to overtake the tables. A few asters in whites, purples and pinks accompany them. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy both plants in a season when most flowers fade away. When mums and asters are in full bloom, they provide ready-made bouquets for your garden.…

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Not a Weed: Spiderwort

Not a Weed: Spiderwort

Spiderwort can pop up in sun, part shade, loose soil and clay. Good thing these wildflowers are so easy to transplant in clumps where desired. As we progress into late spring, deep blue or purple flowers emerge and bumblebees flock in droves. The growing popularity of these plants has led to the breeding of hybrids…

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The great mosquito debate

The great mosquito debate

Every spring, a handful of neighbors in our community ask for recommendations on companies that spray to control mosquitoes. And every spring, a vocal group of neighbors begs them not to do it. Mosquito control services for homeowners have proliferated in my area in the past decade. And why not? Who wouldn’t want to spend…

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Not a Weed: Virginia creeper

Not a Weed: Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper is a robust groundcover and vine that can blanket a flower bed and climb its way up trees. For most people, that creeping tendency and its vague resemblance to poison ivy make it undesirable. I think it’s worth reconsidering the benefits of this groundcover in place of invasive vines like English Ivy and…

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The Great Backyard Bird Count begins

The Great Backyard Bird Count begins

If you’ve never quite understood the point of bird watching, think again. Here’s your chance to take part in a massive citizen science project underway this weekend, and you only have to commit 15 minutes of your time. More than 100,000 people around the world participate in providing valuable data that helps scientists track the…

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Not a Weed: Violets

Not a Weed: Violets

Welcome to the “Not a Weed” series. Each month will feature a common weed and its benefits and uses. After reading these articles, I hope you will agree it’s “Not a Weed!” Many a homeowner brands the humble violet a weed. Violets seem to pop up wherever the lawn is suffering, invade carefully planted groundcover,…

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