The Story Of The Cornucopia: It’s All Greek To Me

Thanksgiving décor for my mother was a white tablecloth and fine crystal. But as a child, I longed for more. So the moment I had my own household, I added the cornucopia. The sight of all those colorful fruits spilling from a basket filled my spirit with holiday joy. In my mind, the horn-shaped vessel embodied the very essence of the harvest season.

That being said, I later discovered that the origins of the cornucopia had nothing to do with a basket, nor was it meant to contain fruit. It all started with a goat named Amalthea.

AMALTHEA AND THE HORN OF PLENTY

Cornucopia, or cornu copiae, translates literally to horn (cornu) of plenty (copiae). In the English language, it also means abundance. But while the word may have Latin roots, its origins are firmly rooted in Greek mythology.

In Greek legend, the cornucopia refers to the horn of Amalthea, the name of the goat who fed the infant Zeus on Crete. According to one version of the myth, Zeus broke off one of Amalthea’s horns and gave it to the nymph daughters of Melisseus. In so doing, he endowed it with the power to be filled with whatever its owners desired. 

Cretan goat

The Cretan goat known as Kri Kri/Photo: Evita Kouts

Other accounts say Amalthea was herself a nymph, and it was she who fed the god (with goat’s milk). When the goat accidentally broke off one of her horns, the nymph filled it with fresh herbs and fruit and gave it to Zeus as a gift. 

The Childhood of Zeus by Jacob Jordaens/Louvre Museum

Whatever the reason for the horn being separated from the goat, Zeus is said to have so loved Amalthea that he placed her among the stars as the constellation Capra, (which is Latin for goat). Today we know her as Capricornus (horned goat), or Capricorn.

constellation capricorn

The constellation Capricorn

SYMBOL OF ROMAN ABUNDANCE

Still other stories associate the horn of plenty with Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck, fate and fortune. As the giver of abundance, she is often depicted bearing a cornucopia.

Fortuna holding a cornucopia/Istanbul Archeology Museum/Photo: shutterstock.com

Through the ages, the popularity of the cornucopia has only grown. Frequently depicted in classical art, it now figures on buildings, sculptures, paintings and coins where it has become synonymous with the harvest and abundance. In fact, there are entire towns, businesses, jails and temples named after it. And here in Washington, DC, it appears five times on the U.S. Capitol

An ancient bas relief depicting a goat’s horn overflowing with fruits

Statue of Zeus with a cornucopia

Cornucopia sculpture in Greece

THE PILGRIMS PROBABLY DIDN’T HAVE A CORNUCOPIA

While it is unlikely that the Pilgrims had a cornucopia, Americans have nonetheless adopted the vessel as one of the most popular Thanksgiving decorations. As a symbol of plenty, it’s a natural fit for a lavish table. Nowadays, however, it usually takes the form of a basket rather than an actual horn (although there other materials available.) People traditionally fill it with fruits, but vegetables, nuts, flowers and leaves are also popular. 

ceramic cornucopia

A ceramic cornucopia

Still, there’s something about the story of the goat Amalthea that I find especially heart-warming. This Thanksgiving when I set the table, I’ll be thinking of her and the abundance she represents, a harvest wish for plenty to cultures throughout the ages.

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How To Grow Herbs Indoors

Who doesn’t love the taste of herbs cut fresh from the garden? Cold weather doesn’t have to spell the end of that enjoyment. In fact, you can grow bundles of savory herbs throughout all the seasons. All you need are some plants, a sunny window and a little TLC in the form of good soil, attentive watering and a regular supply of food.

By growing herbs indoors, you can ensure your meals are packed with flavor not just in the summer months, but in the winter ones, too. Moreover, herbs come with a host of supplemental benefits. In addition to increasing oxygen levels, they also help purify the air. And nothing beats the healing scent of their fresh cut leaves.

GROWING HERBS INDOORS:  THE KEY ELEMENTS

SUN

All plants need light to carry out photosynthesis. And herbs are sun worshippers. When grown indoors, they require lots of natural light. Six to eight hours a day of direct sunlight is ideal, although some herbs will make do with as little as four.

The best windows for growing herbs indoors are those that face south or southwest. These are the windows that receive the bulk of the sun year-round (although an east facing window can provide good light levels in the morning). Never place herbs on the sill of a north-facing window, however. They won’t receive direct light.

That being said, even with lots of natural sunlight, some herbs will require supplemental lighting. Full-spectrum fluorescent lights, which most closely replicate the natural solar spectrum, can do the trick. Install these inexpensive bulbs in a light fixture, grow cart or under kitchen cabinets to give your indoor herbs an extra boost. Locate the lights closest to the plants, about 4- to 6-inches away.

WATER

Like humans, all plants need water to survive. But unlike most plants, herbs don’t need all that much. In fact, overwatering is one of the biggest problems when growing herbs indoors. A good rule of thumb is to let the plants mostly dry out and then saturate them. And once you determine how long it takes for them to dry out, stick to a consistent watering plan. Herbs love consistency.

Water your indoor herbs at the base of the stem where the plant meets the soil. Then wait until the container has drained completely before placing it back on its saucer. Make sure there are good drainage holes in your containers and never leave plants standing in water. This leaves roots vulnerable to root rot (a common cause of plant demise).

A word about clay pots- they’re beautiful, but they dry out quickly. Plastic and ceramic make better containers for indoor herbs because they are better suited to drier indoor conditions. Choose pots that are not bigger than 6 inches and make sure to check on them regularly (especially if they are located near a heat source). Dry, heated air can be hard on plants.

SOIL

A good organic potting soil is essential to producing healthy herbs. You can further amend the soil by adding in some sand or perlite to increase drainage. Once you’ve planted the herbs turn the pots regularly to make sure the plants don’t grow in only one direction.

Good soil is key to plant health.

FOOD

Feed your indoor herbs once a week with a good organic fertilizer like fish emulsion or liquid seaweed. This is an absolute necessity for plants confined to small containers where they quickly devour nutrients. Fertilizer also stimulates oil production, which is where herbs get their flavor.

TEMPERATURE

Indoor herbs like the same temperatures humans do. Average temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and slightly cooler ones at night will keep them healthy and happy. However, be careful not to let the leaves touch a cold window.

No plant likes to touch a cold window.

PESTS

Unfortunately, the same pests that afflict houseplants, such as white flies, aphid and scale, sometime afflict herbs. If necessary, control pests by dipping the entire plant into a pail of insecticidal soap, making sure to wet all leaf surfaces thoroughly.

WHAT TO GROW

Chives

One of the easiest herbs to grow indoors, chives form little clumps of grass-like leaves that are as attractive as they are delicious. Harvest leaves by clipping the outermost ones first and working your way inwards.

Lemongrass

You can start this miniature grass in a vase or glass with just a few inches of room-temperature water. Transplant it to a pot once it has sent out roots and stalks. The most edible part of the plant is at the bottom of the stalk, so harvest older stalks first by snapping them off at soil level.

Mint

A friend of mine once remarked when I was thinking of planting mint in my garden, “Once you have mint, you always have mint.” No truer words were ever spoken. It quickly invaded all neighboring space and I’m still digging it out years later. Indoors, the same holds true. Plant mint in its own pot to keep it in bounds.

Parsley

With minimal care, you can easily grow both flat- and curly-leaved varieties of this popular herb in a sunny window. Parsley likes humidity, though, so mist it regularly or set it on top of pebbles, adding just a touch of water to increase moisture levels around the foliage.

Basil

This aromatic herb likes evenly moist soil. Pinch the blooms back to keep the plant looking neat and to concentrate flavor in the leaves. Basil comes in a wide range of flavors, colors and foliage size. A relatively new Genovese-type variety called Nufar basil has a sweet, potent flavor. The large leaves of this high-yielding plant are a dark vibrant green and exhibit strong disease resistance. 

Lemon Balm

Used since ancient times as an herbal remedy, lemon balm is a close cousin to mint and just as invasive. Plant this easy-to-grow herb in its own container and snip stems regularly to keep your plant looking its best.

Oregano

This heat-loving herb thrives in all-day sunlight where it will gradually form a mound of bushy green foliage. Pinch the flowers off as soon as they appear to keep the herb’s flavor concentrated in the leaves. Of the Mediterranean oreganos, Greek oregano tends to be the most savory, while Italian oregano is milder. Turkish oregano is more sweet and mellow with a slight citrusy aroma. 

Rosemary

Like thyme, this herb likes to be kept on the dry side. Unlike thyme, it is one of the trickiest herbs to grow. Too much water will damage the roots and cause the plant to turn brown and eventually die. Too little water produces the same effect. The plant is also very susceptible to powdery mildew, so make sure it has good air circulation.

Sage

There are many varieties of this fuzzy-leaved species. But for cooking, the common garden variety Salvia officinalis and its cultivars are hands down the best. This herb can get pretty tall – up to 24-inches – so look for dwarf varieties for growing indoors, or keep it compact by regularly harvesting stems.

Thyme

As soon as the plant produces foliage, you can begin enjoying this popular Mediterranean herb. Simply snip off the stems, remove the leaves, and crumble them gently between your fingers. Thyme is drought-tolerant, so it should be watered only after the soil has mostly dried out. Like all herbs, it requires good drainage.

Of course these are just a few of the many delicious herbs that are easy to grow indoors! Check out your local garden store or supermarket for more inspiration.

 

 

Flowering Kale: The Coolest Cool-Season Ornamental

Long before it became a trending food, flowering kale was a garden star, delivering a pop of color to fall’s graying landscape. The plant is not only prized for its striking foliage but it’s also one of only a few species that thrives in cold weather. Indeed, flowering kale likes cold temperatures so much that it often stays attractive well into winter. I can’t think of a better choice for fall gardens and containers.

IS IT CABBAGE OR KALE?

For many gardeners, things can get confusing at the nursery. That’s because, even though they belong to one family, cabbage and kale are not the same. Cabbage is a multi-layered vegetable whose leaves come together to form a head.

Cabbage head growing in the garden

Whereas kale has a cluster of open, upright leaves called a rosette.

The bright pink rosette of flowering kale.

Ornamental kale

That being said, you will generally find kale varieties with broad, flat leaves labeled ‘ornamental cabbage’ and those with ruffled, crinkled or curled leaves labeled  ‘ornamental kale’ at the store. 

BORN TO BE BEAUTIFUL

Flowering kale is selectively bred to produce spectacular leaves and rosettes. It comes in all shapes and sizes. The outer leaves are typically blue-green in tone. And the rosettes start out pale green before shifting to pink, red, purple, or cream depending on the variety. They gradually expand as temperatures cool.

The distinctive, blue-green outer leaves of ornamental kale

In recent years, innovations in color and form have made ornamental kale a staple of many fall gardens. Moreover, the new hues combine beautifully with cool-season flowers like chrysanthemums, marigolds and pansies. With so much variety, there’s a kale for just about every type of container. 

Magenta-toned flowering kale with ruffled edges.

Flowering kale rosette featuring ruffled edges

But perhaps best of all, flowering kale reaches its crescendo just after the first frost. This is a time when most other plants have withered. Some varieties even retain their color all the way until spring.

flowering kale covered with snow

IS KALE A PERENNIAL?

Kale is a biennial, which means it has a two-year life cycle. The first year it produces leaves and the second year it produces flowers. Most people grow it for its ornamental qualities, however, and discard the plant after the first year. 

HOW TO CARE FOR FLOWERING KALE 

Ornamental kale and cabbage require very little maintenance and are bothered by few pests. In addition to preferring moist, well-drained soil, they enjoy a little light feeding. For the best color, it helps to position them in full sun.

I look for plants in one-gallon size pots, then keep the spacing tight (10 to 12 inches) to encourage the rosettes to remain small. Over time, they usually attain a width of approximately 12 inches.

Small garden with geometric display of yellow and pink flowering kale.

THE MOST POPULAR VARIETIES

Interested in learning more? Here are some of the most popular varieties:

REDBOR

Redbor has narrow, upright deep purple, ruffled leaves. It is the tallest kale grown and can reach a height of 3 feet. I’ve used it on its own to fill a parterre garden (the tall, frilly foliage contrasts beautifully with the clean-cut box). Or, try using it as a backdrop to annuals like chrysanthemums, pansies and violas in contrasting colors.

Redbor kale

Purple-leaved Redbor kale

PEACOCK SERIES

Peacock series ornamental kale are large, open and frilly plants that can reach 2 feet across. They feature deeply serrated, feather-like leaves and cream or red-toned centers. Extremely cold hardy, they can survive even the harshest of winters. White and silver look amazing with these varieties.

Peacock series ornamental kale

Deeply serrated, feather-like leaves distinguish Peacock kale

PIGEON SERIES

Pigeon Series (Pigeon Pink and Pigeon Red Pigeon Purple and Pigeon White) ornamental kale most closely resemble cabbage with their tight rosettes of light pink, dark red or creamy white. The round-shaped plants have wavy outer leaves that remain medium to dark green while the flower-like centers slowly change color. I often combine different varieties to form geometric patterns.

Pigeon series flowering kale

The tight rosettes of ornamental kale ‘Pigeon Series’

OSAKA

Osaka Pink, Osaka White and Osaka Red are often termed ornamental cabbage due to their smooth, flat leaves and tightly-packed rosettes. The plants produce layers of wavy edged green leaves while the florets gradually change to bright purple, pink or cream. These varieties are more structured in form and will stand on their own in a container.

Osaka series flowering kale

Osaka series ornamental kale has flat green leaves like cabbage

DESIGNING WITH FLOWERING KALE

Flowering kale’s wide range of colors and shapes can offer endless design possibilities. Below is a parterre garden I created using two broad-leaved varieties. We planted them tightly together to play up the geometrics.

Parterre garden with geometric arrangement of white and purple flowering kale.

Parterre with two different varieties of ornamental kale/herebydesign.net

In large containers, tall, frilly purple and green varieties like the broadleaf Osaka can create a strong contrast with other, smaller plants. Below, the trailing ends of bright green lysimachia add drama to the composition.

The Impatient Gardener/Pinterest

In this small container, I’ve combined ornamental ‘cabbage’ with violas and Swedish ivy. I chose the greenish-purple kale to complement the colors of the dusty red pot.

Fall container with pansies, Swedish ivy and flowering kale.

Fall container with ornamental kale/herebydesign

In this formal urn, I’ve used tall grass as the ‘thriller’. The ‘fillers’ and ‘spillers’ consist of different varieties of red and green flowering kale, purple violas and mahogany-toned potato vine. The effect is a lush, warm-toned composition.

Fall container with purple fountain grass, mahogany sweet potato vine and frilly green flowering kale.

Fall container with grasses, flowering kale and potato vine/herebydesign

Since ornamental kale retains its color well into winter, it can make a stunning addition to holiday arrangements.  Here, a green and white frilly variety pairs beautifully with evergreen branches, pinecones and catkins.

Photo Credit/Canadian Gardening Magazine

In this fall garden, the deep purple Redbor sets up a gorgeous color contrast with salmon chrysanthemums and straw-colored grasses. The maiden grasses’ creamy plumes add a nice textural touch to the composition.

Photo Credit/The Hoosier Gardener

Finally, when combining flowering kales with other plants, think about varying the foliage. Here, purple fountain grass and lime green potato vine provide color. And the frilly purple variety lends contrast. 

Photo Credit/Three Dogs In A Garden

Ready to get started? Check out your local nursery for the newest ornamental kale varieties. And don’t be afraid to combine them with other cool-season companions like evergreen branches, dried flower heads, catkins and berries. These fillers will add interest to your containers and keep the show going well into fall.

 

Great Small Trees For the Urban/Suburban Landscape

They say good things come in small packages. And when it comes to trees, I’d say that’s certainly true. While tall species like maples, oaks and elms boast lofty canopies, small trees flaunt their beauty up close. They’re a great addition to any landscape. But they’re especially suited to the smaller space, where even one, well-chosen specimen can brighten up a garden.

NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE

Yes, trees are beautiful to look at. But beyond their good looks, they also offer a wealth of benefits to the homeowner. These include the most obvious; shade. Research shows that, when positioned close to the house (especially near the southwest corner), trees can reduce a household’s energy consumption. And that in turn translates into energy savings.

SIZE MATTERS

Ever planted a tree that grew too big for your property? Root interference with walkways and plumbing is a common urban/suburban problem. Many people make the mistake of planting too large a tree in too little a space.

Unlike large trees, however, small trees can provide flexibility. While larger species should be planted 15 to 20 feet from the house, trees like dogwoods can be planted as close as 6. And where space permits, several small trees can be grouped in lieu of one large tree that might be out of scale with the landscape. 

Whatever the size, when choosing a tree, it’s important to select the right specimen from the start. And that involves doing your research on its mature height and width before planting it. Below are some of my favorite small trees that are well suited to the typical urban/suburban landscape. 

JAPANESE MAPLE

Vase-shaped, weeping or compact, there are literally hundreds of Japanese maple varieties to choose from. These elegant small trees provide interest all year long even after they’ve dropped their leaves. Leaf types can differ greatly between varieties.

Boasting deep maroon foliage, ‘Bloodgood’ is one of the hardiest Japanese maple varieties. I use it to create ‘depth’ in the landscape. Or, if you’re looking for artistry, check out the cut-leaf varieties, known for their feathery, finely-dissected leaves. 

REDBUD

Most redbuds available today are hybrids of the native Eastern redbud, or Cercis canadensis. Eastern redbuds grow in woodlands from New Jersey to northern Florida and as far west as the Great Plains.

Native redbud tree

Maturing to around 35′ tall, this early-flowering small tree produces spectacular magenta colored blossoms atop bare branches. It blooms so profusely in fact, that its branches and trunk are often covered with flowers.

Redbud blossoms

FUN FACT: Redbud is a member of the pea family, so its blossoms are edible!

New exciting cultivars include Forest Pansy, named for the burgundy color of its leaves. Other interesting varieties are Rising Sun and Lime Green. Plant redbud in a north facing location where it can absorb morning sun and relax in afternoon shade.

FLOWERING DOGWOOD

Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is native to eastern North America and northern Mexico. They say that at one time its population extended all the way from Maine to Florida and across to the Mississippi River. Today this small tree is still a denizen of many an American garden.

Native hybrids Cherokee ChiefCherokee Brave and Cherokee Princess were bred to be resistant to anthracnose, which attacked and killed many native dogwoods about a decade ago.

Maturing to a height of around 25 feet, flowering dogwood produces white or pink flowers in spring. The long-lasting, three- to five-inch blossoms are followed by red berries that provide food to birds. In fall, the leaves turn a brilliant red. 

KOUSA DOGWOOD

Kousa dogwood, or Cornus kousa, is native to Japan, Korea and China. It differs from the flowering dogwood in that its blooms are produced on top of the leaves instead of on bare branches. The star-shaped blossoms blanket the tree, followed by berry-like fruits that persist into fall.

Kousa dogwoods typically grow 15 to 30 feet tall. They start out vase-shaped, then adopt a more rounded form as they mature. In fall, their leaves turn a brilliant red. And the grayish, exfoliating bark becomes mottled over time, providing great winter interest. 

STAR MAGNOLIA

One of the earliest small trees to flower, star magnolia, or Magnolia stellata, produces large, fragrant flowers anywhere between late February and mid-March depending on location. Like the flowering dogwood, the blooms appear ahead of the foliage. Since it flowers so early, star magnolia benefits from a sheltered spot as late spring frosts can damage the blossoms. 

One of the smallest magnolias, star magnolias grow 15 to 20 feet tall and wide and have a rounded, shrub-like form. 

WITCH HAZEL

This elegant shrub or small tree thrives in both sun and shade. It has an open, airy habit and a classic vase-like shape. The common witch hazel, or Hamamelis virginiana, peaks between mid October and mid November. By contrast, the popular Chinese witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis, and the hybrid Hamamelis x intermedia, blooms in early spring. Flower colors range from a deep burgundy to a pale butter yellow.

witch hazel blooms in February

Witch Hazel blossoms

This small tree packs a lot into a small space, but it is also very slow growing, so buy big. Individual plants usually top out at 5’ to 6’. Check out 12 great varieties here

CRAPE MYRTLE

This standard small tree of the southern garden now boasts varieties that can take the chill. Most popular among them are the Natchez cultivars, with their gorgeous flower panicles in red, pink or white, held at the end of their branches. Other attractive features include peeling bark and burgundy leaves in fall.

Crape myrtles are some of the last trees to leaf out in the spring, sometimes as late as May. A new, compact series called Black Diamond produce black foliage in early spring followed by vibrant blooms in shades of red, purple, pink, lilac and white. 

SWEET BAY MAGNOLIA

Boasting shiny dark green leaves with silvery undersides, Sweet Bay Magnolia is a glamorous addition to any landscape. In last spring to early summer, it produces creamy white flowers with a slight lemony scent. New foliage, which appears around the time of the blossoms, is bright green. 

In late summer, red seeded fruit appears on its branches. Sturdy and upright, sweet bay magnolia grows 10- to 15- feet tall, making it a great choice for a corner or patio.

 

 

 

Ten Minor Bulbs For Major Spring Impact

One of my favorite places to visit in the spring is the March Bank at Delaware’s Winterthur Museum. The estate’s stunning 60-acre naturalistic garden has one of the finest displays of minor bulbs around. Blooming in succession over a span of a few months, the bulbs weave a thick carpet of purples, pinks, blues, yellows and whites beneath the property’s centuries’ old trees. Faced with all that beauty, I vow each year to plant a few minor bulbs of my own.

Of course, most of us don’t have the wherewithal to plant the 70,000 tiny bulbs it takes annually to produce this magnificent display. Nevertheless, a more modest dose of the dwarf-sized early bloomers can still provide months of spring color. It’s more than worth the effort just to see your lawn or hillside light up come March in shades of lavender, yellow, white and blue.

A FLOWERING SUCCESSION

At Winterthur, they have carefully chosen minor bulbs that bloom progressively over the whole spring season. The first blooms appear in February in a burst of snowy whites and bright yellows followed by later-blooming flowers in shades of lavender, pink and purple that carry the display up through April. And many of the early bloomers remain for the second part of the show, which results in a colorful tapestry of staggering beauty.

It may sound a little intimidating for the home gardener – but creating a miniature show of your own is easier than you think. Just choose a few species, dig a trench and throw a bunch of these small bulbs in, making sure to plant them at the recommended depth on the package. Toss in some bulb fertilizer and backfill. Then sit back and enjoy the expanding color come spring.

To get you started, below is a guide to the minor bulbs that Winterthur plants on the March Bank each year. All of them are easily available at your local nursery or by mail order through White Flower Farm or such great bulbs suppliers as Brent & Becky’s or Breck’s Bulbs. Most grow to only around 4 to 6 inches. The time to purchase them is now.

SNOWDROPS (Galanthus nivalis)

A member of the amaryllis family, the tiny snowdrop is one of the most popular of all bulbous plants. Featuring nodding, bright white flowers atop bluish green leaves, it typically flowers between January and March. The leaves have hardened tips that enable them to poke through the frozen ground in late winter.

WINTER ACONITE (Eranthus)

Featuring bright yellow, cup-shaped blooms, this late winter bloomer appears ahead of most daffodils. Winter aconites make perfect companions to snowdrops.

CROCUS

Not exactly a bulb, the crocus grows from a corm. With over 90 known species, there are numerous varieties to choose from in yellow, white, blue and bicolor combinations. A favorite at Winterthur is Crocus tommasinianus, also known as ‘Tommies.’ Varying in tone from lilac to deep purple, Tommies are one of the smallest of the crocus species, growing to just about 2 inches high.

GLORY-OF-THE-SNOW (Chionodoxa)

Often confused with the early-blooming Scilla to which it is closely related, Glory-of-the-Snow is nonetheless a separate species. Featuring blue, white or pink flowers, the name is derived from the plant’s habit of flowering in alpine regions just as the spring snow is melting. A particularly beautiful cultivar is ‘Alba’.

SIBERIAN SQUILL

As its name implies, this tiny early bloomer with bright blue flowers is well adapted to the cold. A native of Russia, its nodding flowers emerge over tufts of grass-like foliage from March through April.

MINIATURE DAFFODILS (Dwarf narcissi)

Not to be confused with their larger cousins, these minor bulbs begin blooming at the tail end of winter. The best-known species is Tete-A-Tete. Flowering from mid-March to early April, Tete-A-Tete often features two flowers in combination (hence the translation ‘Two people talking to each other’). It even blooms in the snow.

GRAPE HYACINTHS (Muscari armeniacum)

Grape hyacinths look like miniature hyacinths, but they are smaller and grow only to about 6 inches. They produce a tiny cobalt blue spike of flowers that resemble beads (or blueberries). Highly fragrant, grape hyacinths bloom in mid spring.

GRECIAN WINDFLOWER (Anemone blanda)

This low-growing, daisy-like flower with a yellow center has delicate petaled flowers that grow 3 to 8 inches. Anenomes can easily form carpets of color across wide expanses of space. Available in light purple-blue, pink and white shades.

SNAKES HEAD LILY (Fritillaria meleagris)

A member of the lily family, Snake’s Head also goes by the names checkerboard fritillary and Guinea Hen flower due to its characteristic patterned blooms. The tiny maroon checkered flowers appear from March to May and grow 6 to 10 inches.

SPANISH BLUEBELLS (Hyacinthoides hispanica)

Also known as wild hyacinths, Spanish bluebells produce 15-20 inch spikes of pink, blue or white bell-shaped blooms in late spring. The plants naturalize easily and can quickly cover large areas. Spanish bluebells will bloom for a sustained period of time, making them excellent companions to all species of daffodils.

RULES FOR PLANTING MINOR BULBS

Bulb planting is easy provided you follow a few simple rules. First and foremost, make sure to plant your bulbs in a well-drained site (hillsides work great) to guard against root and bulb rot. Like all bulbs, minor bulbs do not like waterlogged sites.

All bulbs can grow in full sun but, with the exception of the crocus (which requires sun), most will adapt well to shadier spots since leafless tree branches let in plenty of sun in the early spring when the bulbs are most active. Bulbs typically go dormant around the time the leaves appear.

Lastly, when planting minor bulbs, think broad strokes, not individual flowers. The tiny species are best appreciated in large drifts. Combine different colors and shapes for a long-blooming display in rock gardens, along walkways and sprinkled throughout the woods. Or go bold and plant them in your lawn. You’ll be amazed at the colorful carpet they’ll create come spring.

 

A Beginner’s Guide To 13 Types of Daffodils

At the end of summer, daffodils are rarely top-of-mind. But this is precisely the time when you need to be ordering them. And this is especially true for the more sought-after, unusual varieties. Why stick with yellow trumpets when daffodils come in so many other colors, shapes and sizes? See below if one or more of these different types of daffodils wouldn’t be the perfect fit for your spring garden. Continue reading

Pruning Hydrangeas: A Step-By-Step Guide For Old And New Wood

To prune or not to prune? This is one of the quintessential gardening questions. Recently, I asked a top landscaper in Virginia to weigh in on the issue. “When is the best time to prune hydrangeas without cutting off next year’s flowers?” I asked. 

“Never,” she replied with a laugh. “But your best shot is after they’ve bloomed.”

It turns out that knowing how and when to prune hydrangeas involves first, identifying what kind of shrubs you own. And it all starts with determining whether they flower on old or new wood. Continue reading

Top Red, White and Blue Flowers For The Summer Garden

For many Americans, Fourth of July is synonymous with fireworks. But for gardeners, the pyrotechnics start early. That’s because by mid June, spring pastels are already giving way to dazzling color as red, white and blue flowers begin lighting up the summer garden. Continue reading