What Are the Hardiest Gardenia Varieties?

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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a photograph of a gardenia plant growing in the snow in January

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

Use These Strategies and Resources for a Fantastic Garden Year After Year

Books to Read, Things to Do, and LOTS to Look Up and Learn About!

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grey twigs of a magnolia tree covered with snow Our first item is brought to you by the department of obvious department. January makes an ideal time to assess the need for Read more

Sound of the Season: Johan Wagenaar’s Power of Spring

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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

berries of leatherleaf Mahonia, commonly known as grape hollySince 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

Improve a Dismal, Off-Season Yard With the Easy, Shade-Loving Evergreen Bush Almost No One Grows and Appreciates

a view of leafy bushes even in late winter or March: the dwarf evergreen plant sweet box

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

WARNING: Winter Bouquet Surprise From the mid-1880s

a painting of white hellebores and ferns with a sprig of holly
Still Life with Hellebores (around 1885-7)
Charles Porter

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.