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Five Bold Salvias for Summer-Long Color

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is tall, beautiful and blooms effortlessly.
Ask any gardener what their favorite plant is, and you are sure to get multiple answers. Some of my favorites are in the genus Salvia. It offers a wide variety of garden plants with impressive flowers.  I have many containers scattered throughout my garden, and there are more pots planted with salvias than any other […]

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Desert Gold Poppy: Create a Superbloom in Your Backyard

Desert poppies stay low on windy hilltops.
In the wave of Superbloom in California, a rare wildflower is making a massive appearance.  Desert gold poppy (Eschscholzia glyptosperma) is a smaller cousin of the famous California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) because it grows only in the desert. Virtually every aspect of the plant is dwarfed, a natural mechanism for greater efficiency in a very harsh, dry climate.
This year […]

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Grow an Apothecary Garden: Flowers and Herbs for Healing

Apothecary or physic gardens contain medicinal plants used to treat all kinds of infirmities. (Image taken at The Met Cloisters by Jessie Keith)
During the Medieval period in Europe, monasteries almost always contained an apothecary garden or “physic garden” that grew medicinal plants used to treat all kinds of infirmities. This age-old tradition of cultivating a garden specifically with healing in mind is easy to replicate […]

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California Wild Lilac for Western Gardens

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus is the most commonly cultivated species of California wild lilac. (Image by Kousvet)
It is difficult to think of another plant genus that has the diversity of violet-blue flowers as Ceanothus.  There are several species available to gardeners, but the most cultivated is Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10). Most are native to California and are sometimes referred to as California wild lilac, but […]

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12 Plants Deer Would Rather Not Eat


While it is true that starving deer will eat just about anything, it is also true that in times of plenty they have definite preferences. They’ll seek out their favorites–daylilies, hostas, lilies, liriope, and yew–and ignore the rest.
If you garden in deer country, avoid endless frustration by growing plants deer would rather not eat. Be sure to plant them in sites best for their […]

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How to Grow Lavender from Seed

Harvest and tie lavender bundles for drying. They dry best if hung in a cool, dry place.
Lavender (Lavandula spp.) is a wonderful addition to any garden because it can be used as a culinary herb, a fragrant cut flower, a crafting material, or a natural-beauty ingredient. It even feeds bees! With lavender, the possibilities are endless. There are so many interesting species and varieties to […]

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Abutilons: the Best Parlor Maples

Abutilon pictum ‘Thompsonii’
Container gardening has always been a big part of my garden. and years ago what started out as a small grouping of pots on our deck, has continued to expand. Now I have about 150 containers throughout my garden.  The plant selection varies, and I am always removing something that did not perform as well as expected by adding something new.  However, even with […]

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Quasi Bonsai: Manageable Bonsai Beauty

(Image by Maureen Gilmer)
The price of neglecting to water your bonsai in midsummer even for a day will have to be paid in a withered plant.  You might as well plough the field and forget the seed as commit such negligence.  –Norio Kobayashi, Japan 1951
The little-known secret of true Japanese bonsai trees is that they are watered every day.  Not a single sunrise passes without […]

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Grow a Natural Beauty Garden: Botanicals that Soothe Your Skin


We grow gardens for food, for medicine, for cut flowers, and for pollinators. But, a new trend is arising: growing the ingredients to make plant-based skincare. If you value the ingredients that make up your meals, then it may also be time to take a look at the products that go on your skin. Soaps, lotions, and balms are easy to make at home, and […]

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Captivating Cape Primroses for Indoor Color


After the holiday season is over and the poinsettias have been discarded, the home can seem to be rather bleak with no color from blooming plants. Having indoor color to brighten some of the dark and gloomy days we get in the winter months can give our spirits a boost while we wait for spring. In the time between now and the arrival of spring, […]

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