Since January is the month Alexander Garden was born, let’s take a timely look at the popular shrub that commemorates him.
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The Frost of Death was on the Pane—
“Secure your Flower,” said he.
Like Sailors fighting with a Leak
We fought Mortality—
In the past few years, many people who have grown gardenias outdoors have shared Emily Dickinson’s lament for the unspecified vegetable victim from poem F 1130. You may wonder just what the hardiest gardenia varieties are. The answer is developing, so let’s consider what we know about what’s available. Read more
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“Spring arrived – a beautiful, kind-hearted spring, without spring’s usual promises and deceptions, and one of those rare springs which plants, animals, and people rejoice in together.”
Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina
Since spring is a season associated with planting more than harvest, I thought these berries of grape holly–that just developed–could remind us what a rich source of inspiration this season has been to artists over the centuries and that we can (nearly always) enjoy that harvest whenever we want.
On the other hand, however, we should realize that this plant is invasive and we reap what we sow, so Mahonia bealei is best removed rather than admired wherever it grows in North America. The perpetual cycle of growth and renewal can represent problems as well as positive things that bring us joy, can’t it? Read more
The reason this is called Sweet Box is it’s related to boxwood, which is the evergreen shrub people customarily make into balls and hedges. I knew about boxwood since I was young but I only saw the connection made last year. I never would have made it myself because the leaves and growth habit differ so much. I never would have thought of this plant as a boxwood (relative) for shade or a boxwood (relative) with fragrance. By the way, actual boxwoods stink. Smell one in case you never noticed! Read more
This scene was painted in New York City not long after Porter had spent three years in France. As any gardener can tell you, these are hellebores that are shown, and the sprig of holly adds to a wintry theme. The maidenhair fern must have been a house plant; the other kind is probably leatherleaf fern, Rumohra adiantiformis, also grown indoors, though it could be Autumn fern, an outdoor type which is evergreen.