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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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