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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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10 Essential Indian Herbs and Spices for Gardens

Chiles, ginger, lemongrass, curry leaf, and other traditional herbs and spices can be grown at home. (Citrus can even be grown at home.)
American gardeners can grow many Indian herbs and spices. Sure, the classic spice blends of India contain tropical ingredients (cardamom, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.) that most American gardeners cannot grow, but it does not end there. A long list of distinctly Indian […]

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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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Garden Shrines: Dedicate Your Own Hallowed Ground


The pagans of Europe were the first to establish the notion of hallowed ground, an outdoor place set apart as holy.  Druid priests designated the very oldest oak in the ancient forest as an oracle, particularly when spring was close by. The priest would listen to the voices of the spirits in the gurgling of the spring and the whispers of the oak leaves, which […]

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The Cutest, Tastiest Miniature Vegetables

Miniature vegetables and fruits, such as tomato ‘Patio Choice Yellow’ are truly patio perfect. (Image by AAS Winners)
 
Why grow small vegetables? Because they are cute, great for children, and delicious garden novelties fit for small-space yards, patios, or balconies. Many are perfect for crudités, snacking, and look impressive in their diminutive cuteness.
Tiny vegetables do not always grow on compact plants, so I have chosen those […]

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The Best Garden Mulches and Decorative Covers

Garden stone is a longterm cover that must be applied correctly from the start.
Mulches define a garden’s character. Organic options give landscapes different looks, and all break down to help feed the soil. Others have more permanency. Either way, organic and decorative garden top dressings add beauty and distinction to plantings. Some take outdoor spaces to new visual heights, while others are simply functional in their […]

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Western Riparian Trees for Wet Soils

Trees that naturally grow by waterways or riversides make good landscape trees for wet ground.
Do you have moist ground in your yard but want trees for the site? For a gardener with wet or damp soil, finding a tree that will thrive in such conditions can be challenging. When browsing through a garden center and reading the cultural requirement for many of the plants, probably one […]

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Transformative Grasses: Anchoring Gardens and Soils

 
This hardy fountain grass is in full summer bloom, releasing pollen in the breeze. (Photo by Maureen Gilmer)
Over the past year, California has experienced drought, wildfires, floods, mudslides, and extreme cold.  The rest of the Southwest has seen the same crazy extremes and has experienced high-damage potential within a short time span.  Everyone will have some rethinking to do, whether making structural repairs or just […]

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What’s Your Favorite Eating Tomato?

Tomato ‘Gold Tomato’
“For Central MS, what is your best suggestion for a good “eatin’ ‘mater?” Question from Judy of Louisville, Mississippi
Answer: You can never love just one tomato! I have three standbys for great overall eating tomatoes. These are the ones I grow each year no matter what, and they’ll grow well in your Southern heat.
The best tomato for flavor is ‘Gold Medal’, a golden heirloom […]

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