What’s The One Thing (almost) Nobody’s Planting Right Now That Almost EVERYBODY Should Be?

There are many possible answers to this question, and we could gather an assortment, yet no one might mention it. But the best response is so obvious to a few people that it’s really hard to believe it can be an impossible secret to everyone else!

Don’t you hate those kind of secrets? Read more

The Unforgettable Mass Murder at Columbine High School and Its Inaccurate Cultural Mythology

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

blue and white columbine flowers against a sunlit sky

Truly powerful people are not concerned about their power, but about being in a position of being able to empower.

Nadja Swarovski

In our culture and many others, flowers often commemorate people and events. Since April 20, 1999 a common wildflower has taken on an additional meaning no American should forget. That indelible association refers to Columbine High School just outside Denver, Colorado. The community where it’s located took its name from the state flower. The blue sepals symbolize the sky, its white petals represent snow, and the bright yellow center reminds us of the gold that helped establish the state. Read more

Observe Thomas Jefferson’s Legacy by Spending Some Time in Nature

The front of a $2 bill showing Thomas Jefferson's portrait.
Since Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, today is an apt occasion to consider his legacy and follow his example.

White boards, cell phones, tablets, and computers are not the only things that assist and enable creativity. So does taking a break, particularly one outdoors!

Activity where we do something without needing to think about it very much actually shifts us into a different state of consciousness. Now there’s a term for this state of mind: “transient hypofrontality.” Long before this term was invented, however, the greatest minds of society had already figured it out.

When Thomas Jefferson wasn’t running the country or visiting France, he was usually working in his yard. When Beethoven wasn’t writing music or playing the piano, he often took walks in nature. When Emily Dickinson wasn’t baking or writing poems, she was often working in the garden or tending potted plants in the greenhouse. When Monet wasn’t painting . . . you get the idea. Read more

. . . So the Pink Hyacinth was a True Prophet, and I Went to Bed a Happy Millionaire . . .

two white hyacinths blooming against the foundation of a houseFrom the Journals of Louisa May Alcott, 1868, perhaps while she was finishing or proofreading Little Women, which would be published September 30. Note the reference to the Civil War: “all these years.” Also, these are forced hyacinths she is describing, in wintertime actually, so her thoughts ahead are prompted by the new year. These posts were written on different days over several weeks.

After last winter’s hard experience, we cannot be too grateful. To-day my first hyacinth bloomed, white and sweet, — a good omen, — a little flag of truce, perhaps, from the enemies whom we have been fighting all these years. Perhaps we are to win after all, and conquer poverty, neglect, pain, and debt, and march on with flags flying into the new world with the new year.

My second hyacinth bloomed pale blue, like a timid hope, and I took the omen for a good one, Read more

When Buying Spring Bulbs, You’ll Kick Yourself If You Don’t Consider the Value of This Special Program

A supermarket display offering spring-planted bulbs and perennials for sale in little boxes.

There’s nothing wrong with shopping the store displays, although many of the most serious gardeners shun them in favor of better sources. There is a much better source to recommend, but first I want to point out that there’s not necessarily anything wrong with this selection. I’m happy to have people in any community planting gladiolas, ismenes, dahlias, zephyranthes, and I don’t want to dissuade shoppers from planting such easy and adaptable perennial flowers as columbine and globe thistle (which is a rare color: blue, xeric, and good for pollinators).

Quality is part of the reason, because the quality you get from these boxes is sufficient and adequate but not the highest. In the Green Industry it’s often true you get what you pay for, and I do willingly when I know the difference is worth it. There’s one source, however, that will deliver even far more than that (superior quality, that is) . . .

When you purchase bulbs this spring, I want you to go here. This link allows you to support non-profit organizations ranging from public gardens and historical societies to schools, scout troops, museums, and orchestras while you purchase some of the very best bulbs in the marketplace from a very extensive selection.

Note: There are some irregularities to the listings, so search with care. For instance, the Morton Arboretum is listed under “The”. So are “The Garden Conservancy” and several others worth finding and supporting.

Bloomin’ Bucks

is a fund-raising program designed to earn selected non-profit organizations a percentage of every order received through this portal! The 387 organizations currently participating thank you for your support! So go ahead and splurge here; it’s helping a good cause. And then when the order comes, the quality is another thing you’ll really appreciate!

Experience Nature’s Radiant Beauty Through An April Sonnet

white anemones blooming in a woodland setting, with leaves just starting to come out on the trees and shrubsNo days such honored days as these! While yet
Fair Aphrodite reigned, men seeking wide
For some fair thing which should forever bide
On earth, her beauteous memory to set
In fitting frame that no age could forget,
Her name in lovely April’s name did hide,
And leave it there, eternally allied
To all the fairest flowers Spring did beget. Read more

In a Persian Garden by Liza Lehmann

Note: the timing of this post is meant to tie in with both Women’s History Month and the Persian New Year known as Nowruz or Norooz.

Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most links are independent, but some help support this web site. If you prefer, feel free to donate instead.

a 17th Century Persian panel of tiles in shades of blue and yellow showing people enjoying themselves outside in a setting of blooming plants and trees
Fritware wall panel now in the Louvre, 1500s-1600s, showing entertainment in a garden
(similar to this one at the Victoria and Albert Museum)

The word “paradise” comes from an old Persian word that means “a walled garden.” The intent of that walled garden, however, was indeed to create an earthly paradise. At the beginning of the Old Testament, Genesis 2 mentions four rivers in the Garden of Eden, so these spaces were traditionally divided into quadrants, known as chahar bagh. In addition, so was the country.

oil painting showing inner courtyard and garden at the Palacio del Generalife and Patio de la Acequia near the Alhambra in Granada, Spain painted in 1848 by Wilhelm MeyerThat design sounds formal, and often these areas were courtyards with pavilions and elaborate tile work. You might wonder: what did Persians plant there? Most had rows of trees such as cypresses, sycamores, or date palms, possibly low boxwood hedges, and perhaps sycamores, beeches, lindens, palms, or other trees such as mimosa or redbud at intersecting points or just planted around for shade. But despite its formal tendencies, Read more

Discover the Dahlias and Design of Helena Ely

a black-and-white photograph of Helena Ely from around 1900

In 1880, Helena Rutherfurd married Alfred Ely II, a partner in the New York law firm of Agar, Ely & Fulton. Although they lived in Manhattan, the couple also owned a 350-acre country estate in northwest New Jersey. At Meadowburn Farm, Helena cultivated six acres around the house, and from her experiences arose three books on gardening. The first, A Woman’s Hardy Garden (1903), was reprinted 16 times before going out of print during the Great Depression. Her approach differed from the formal and Italianate styles that had become the dominant concepts in design back then, and came closer to that of William Robinson, who had published his once-controversial ideas in the decades before. According to The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Ely’s book “helped popularize the design of perennial gardens” [versus displays based on annuals] and marked a shift in culture Read more

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