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~Written and photographed by gardening expert
Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ adds delightful fragrance and color to the winter garden. (photo by Leonard Foltz)

Recently a friend asked me what my garden looks like during the winter months. I replied that it is “rather bleak”. After thinking about my reply, I decided to take a closer look at my own garden and those around my neighborhood. I am glad that I did because my garden is not as bleak as I thought. This is the time of year when we are not working in our gardens and probably not even walking through them, and so it is easy to forget about some of the winter flowering plants and color they hold. READ MORE

~Written and photographed by gardening expert

The ivory and ruby-rose flowers of the Ruby Frost poinsettia are elegant and unique.

Today’s poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) break the mold of the simple red or ivory potted holiday plant. Nowadays, they come in lots of bicolors as well as shades of pink, peach, yellow, and chartreuse. Many even have extra-large, double, or uniquely shaped blooms. These new poinsettias are a far cry from the leggy Mexican native shrubs that first became part of the American holiday tradition in the 18th Century. READ MORE

~Written and photographed by gardening expert
hair grass2

Dynamic pots of Mexican hair grass had a simple yet striking accent to this patio garden.

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”  Longfellow penned this well over a century ago, yet it’s more relevant than ever today.  If the stark white room with its Spartan decor and tactile organic accents seems like heaven to you, then perhaps its time to take it all outside.  Blend the new look of minimal organic contemporary or country with just the right plants to create the ultimate experience – not of color – but of texture.  Eschew big and bold for fine-textured foliage that is not only carefree but incredibly dramatic.  Explore the animated character of the grasses and reeds that come alive in a breeze and speak in the language of spiky shadow when lighted after dark. READ MORE

~Written and photographed by gardening expert
Anna's at Salvia 'Amistad'

Anna’s hummingbird feeding on Salvia ‘Amistad’. (Photo by Doug Barragar)

For those of you that have read some of my previous Black Gold articles, you will know that one of my recurring themes is to enjoy your garden and consider it a haven to relax and relieve stress. While the original purpose of our computers and phones was to help us save time and accomplish more, I’m not sure that is the way it is working. We seem to be ‘tied’ to our devices and almost unable to function without them. I was recently at a dinner with some friends, and one person had forgotten her cell phone. The result was that she was distraught throughout the dinner and anxious for the evening to be over, so she could go home to her phone. We so often forget to take the time to slow down and unplug ourselves and as the old saying goes we forget to “stop and smell the roses”.

~Written and photographed by gardening expert
Savory tomato pie is a perfect side for dinner or addition to breakfast.

Savory tomato pie is a perfect side for dinner or addition to a holiday breakfast.

Unlike the cool berry and citrus pies of summertime, pies made with fall fruits and veggies are warmer, spicier, and richer in flavor. Choosing a dessert to make for holiday gatherings can be a struggle when one family member craves a deep dish apple pie with a flaky crust and gooey interior, perfectly complimented with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, but another guest insists on an old-fashioned pumpkin pie, aromatic with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. READ MORE

~Written and photographed by gardening expert
baby toes

Babytoes, another living stone, blooms like lithops in late winter indoors on a bright windowsill.

There are few growing experiences as disappointing as meltdown.  When your favorite indoor cacti or succulents get soft for no reason at all, it’s downright frustrating.  The phenomenon of succulent sudden meltdown is caused by an infection that enters the internal tissues and causes rot.  Like tooth decay, rot works its way throughout the interior of the plant before you ever know it’s there.  While a tooth eventually tells us through pain that there’s a problem, most gardeners never really know what killed their plant.  Nine times out of ten it’s moisture related because gardeners tend to overwater and microbes plentiful in home growing conditions aren’t naturally as numerous in the arid environments where these plants originate. Succulents lack the needed defenses to ward off rot. READ MORE

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