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The Best Fragrant House Plants

Orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata)
In the Pacific Northwest, where our winter days are often rainy and overcast, (some would say dark and gloomy), it is a bonus to have an indoor environment where plants grow and thrive. If the plants also have fragrant blooms, it’s even nicer.
The limiting factor for most of these floriferous house plants is the lack of adequate light, so if a spot in […]

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Bottle Gourds: Growing Ancient History


The calabash or bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) has been valued worldwide since ancient times and believed to be one of the oldest plant introductions into the Americas. Early botanical research has long attributed the origins of American bottle gourds to Africa, believing specimens floated across the Atlantic to reach the New World, though some studies tell a different story. Regardless of their path of arrival, […]

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Jade Jewels: Remarkable Jade Plants for Connoisseurs

Golden jade has remarkable sunset-hued leaves. (Image thanks to Mountain Crest Gardens)
A mature, well-formed jade (Crassula ovata) is an arboreal treasure of a house plant worthy of indoor garden ardor. Its thick, trunk-like stems ascend to a rounded top with glistening clusters of fleshy, jade-colored leaves. In winter, happy plants will do double duty by producing a wealth of starry white flowers. But, succulent connoisseurs know […]

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A Wind Garden in Mendocino

Over time, evergreen shrubs provide enough protection to add perennials to spaces around the heathers.
The Pacific Coast becomes a cold, damp and windy world, sandwiched between Pacific Palisades and redwood forested hills along Highway 1 in Mendocino, California.  The windswept tableland is brutal for most plants but grasses. Native Monterrey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) trees are capable of standing up to the wind, too.  Many century-old cypress […]

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Growing and Harvesting Edible Seeds


Poppy seeds, dill seed, fennel seed, coriander, and caraway—it’s like having the makings of an everything bagel in the garden. All of these culinary seeds are costly to buy but easy as pie to grow and collect.
Seeds used for seasoning food are technically considered spices, and like most homegrown things, they taste stronger and better when harvested fresh from the garden. The most common, popular […]

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Beautyberry for Bountiful Fall Color


Branches laden with bright purple berry clusters can be a very pleasant surprise to those unaware of the virtues of beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.).  These berries  provide a bright spot of color, especially in the autumn garden when the color performance of many shrubs is over.
Beautyberry Origins
There are more than a dozen species of Callicarpa, however only a few are readily available to at plant nurseries.  […]

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How and When to Plant Trees

Plant trees in spring as soon as the soil warms.
Springtime is tree planting time. Planting trees early in the season, as soon as the soil warms, gives new trees a whole season to set deep roots and top growth. (This is especially the case with marginally hardy trees.) But tree planting is only as good as your planting method and summer care. Here are seven […]

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Create a Succulent Seascape Rock Garden


Well-chosen and placed succulents in picturesque rock gardens can have an underwater, seafloor appeal. The design key is selecting various dryland treasures with anemone-, coral-, and urchin-like forms and textures in shades of blue green, silver, gold and red. When arranged against a setting of bold rocks, lined with a ripple of pebbles and seashells, the effect is cool and inviting.
I created such a garden […]

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Gravelscape and Green your Front Yard

Gravel can make architectural plants stand out like sculpture. (Image by Maureen Gilmer)
Nowhere are water-needy lawns disappearing as fast as in arid southern California and the American Southwest. This is the proving ground for a lot of alternatives to traditional turfgrass. A big problem is always the front yard, where your property value is rooted in curb appeal. What you do there will have a […]

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Pruning Shrub Roses in Spring

Spring pruning makes shrub roses tidier and prettier.
Pruning shrub roses in spring…exactly what does it mean when a rose is called a ‘shrub rose’? In Taylor’s Dictionary for Gardeners a shrub is defined as “A woody plant that is shorter than a tree and usually has several stems that branch from the base”. This definition would certainly fit many rose types, like floribunda (shrub rose crosses between polyantha and hybrid teas roses.), grandiflora […]

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