What Does GMO Really Mean for Home Gardeners?

no gmo signI love seed catalogs. Reading them is an easy, simple way to learn about growing plants and new plant introductions. I grow many of my edibles from seed — it’s fun, economical, and rewarding. But I am not willing to pay extra for the “non-GMO” or “GMO-free” claim I see on almost every catalog now. Even more importantly, seed catalogs should make it clear that they are offering non-GE seed, which isn’t even available to the home gardeners anyway so they are not really “offering” any more than the next seed catalog. Continue reading

Winter Blooming Witch Hazel

Early Bird

Early Bird

One of my favorite winter bloomers is witch hazel, a small shrub like tree.  The flowers themselves are only a few inches, but their unique shape and ability to cover dark, bare stems with flashes of color add quite a bit of excitement in winter gardens. The flowers are really clusters of four petals shaped like thin ribbons emanating from a dark, leathery base called a calyx. Depending on the cultivar, these inch to two inch long ribbons are translucent yellow or mustard yellow, red/orange or brown/orange, or scarlet red or rust red. On warm winter days, the ribbons unfurl but as temperatures drop, the ribbons curl back as a protective mechanism against the cold. Continue reading

Appreciate Your Houseplant Today

Small Arrowhead Plant

Today, January 10, 2021, is Houseplant Appreciation Day. To celebrate, consider purchasing one (or all) of these low-light, low-maintenance houseplants. Houseplants should be appreciated — they have a lot to offer us.  Houseplants improve air quality by removing chemicals and carbon dioxide and supplying oxygen. Houseplants provide a positive psychological impact by increasing memory retention and concentration and reducing stress. They add beauty and color and can be used as a structural component to divide a room. Continue reading

Growing and Cooking with Oregano and Marjoram

Flowering Greek Oregano

When I give my presentation on culinary herbs I always talk about oregano and marjoram together. I treat them as cousins, and in this country, they are most known for the “oregano” flavor. Although we use the term “oregano” for a specific type of culinary herb, it really is a flavor produced by different types of plants. Some of these are not related to what we think of as the oregano plant.

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Seed Sources for Flowers, Vegetables, and Herbs

Time to ring in the New Year with 2021 garden plans, including more seed packets! Below is a list of online seed companies as well as companies that still publish and mail seed catalogs. Many of these catalogs are free.

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A Gardener’s Christmas Poem

I read an old version of A Gardener’s Christmas in a Garden Club of Virginia journal. The author is unknown so I took a few liberties to bring it up to date. Merry Christmas! Continue reading

Herbs for Holiday Cooking, Baking, as well as Decorating

pie

pumpkin pie with sage and mums

When I think of herbs for Christmas, I always think of the Simon and Garfunkel Scarborough Fair song:  “Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” Sure there other herbs and plenty of spices but these herbs seem to be the most popular during the holidays. I think it is because these plants are still green in the garden. In my zone 7 Virginia garden, I can still harvest in December to use in the kitchen. I also use mint for the holidays which overwinter well in containers. Continue reading

Flowering Tobacco Plants for Deer-Resistant Flowers

flowerThis past weekend I visited Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA. There was plenty to see – quite a lot of plants were blooming but there were also plants with red berries, or beautiful foliage, or bright stems. One plant that stood out for me was the flowering tobacco. The large leaves were vibrant green and some plants still had flowers. Continue reading

Poinsettia Pointers to Prolong Healthy Plants

Odds are you have a poinsettia in your home for the holidays. In the United States, poinsettias are grown in greenhouses and programmed to bloom in time for Christmas. To keep your plant healthy for as long as possible, try to emulate the greenhouse conditions in your own home: bright light and balmy 70 degrees. Keep the soil moist but don’t let the roots sit in water. Make sure the pot has drainage holes. If it is in that decorative foil, either remove the foil or cut the bottom out of the foil so excess water drains out.

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A Summer Philadelphia Flower Show at FDR Park

rosesThe annual Philadelphia Flower Show, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), will be at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park from June 5-13, 2021, to allow for a safer experience given the pandemic.

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