garden gate

Firecracker plant from Mexico

You know you are popular when you get a nickname or two. Well, the firecracker plant has lots of nicknames. What does that tell you?

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Crepe myrtle

Whether you spell it crape myrtle or crepe myrtle, you can’t help but love this long lasting bloomer. These small flowering trees or large bushes can be seen in commercial plantings and in lots of creative lawns around town. Why do we love them so much? For one thing, they bloom around 120 days throughout the spring, summer and fall. Use them as screens, lawn specimens, shrub borders and container plants. We call them “The Kings of Color.”

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There’s nothing so cheerful as the daisy-like blooms of rudbeckia. You can find them in a wide range of sizes and colors that include annuals, perennials and biennials. They will make you feel even more cheerful when you learn how easy care they are.

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Hostas are a secret weapon for those of us with shady gardens. They come in crazy combination of shapes, textures and colors. You can look for them with a wide variety of leaf shapes, too – heart-shaped, oval, lance-shaped, round – and shiny, dull, smooth or textured. The colors vary from blue to bright green to yellow to red to whites.

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Not many plants, trees or flowers can boast that they bloom continuously for months on end. But the vitex can! It is a sure-fire winner for your yard. This purple bloomer is an excellent choice for our smaller, modern suburban landscapes.

You may know this small tree or bush by other names. Some folks call this specimen tree a “chaste tree.” I’ve also heard it called Hemp tree, sage tree, Indian Spice tree and monk’s pepper. It is native to China and India but became a “resident” of America hundreds of years ago.

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We won’t be planting radishes for a few months, but we can sure eat them right now. Radishes are one of the things, like beets, that I saw my parents eating but swore I would never try. Do our taste buds change? Do we expand our eating horizons? Not sure, but I love them now.

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Photo by Stephanie Reger

Every few years, I torture myself and attempt to grow one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. My object of sure disappointment is the peony. But aren’t they just gorgeous!

According to our friends at Wikipedia, the peony is a flowering plant of the genus Paeonia. They are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. Peony experts can attest to around 40 or so species of this most lovely flower. They are among the most popular garden plants in some regions, but alas, not easy to grow here.

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You can have a beautiful garden whether you have a yard or not. Don’t let poor soil or lack of grand outdoor spaces stop you from planting beautiful flowers, herbs, evergreens or vegetables. Be bold in you choices of containers and what you put into them. It’s such a fun way to express yourself. Some simple tips will help you design the perfect outdoor container garden.

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If you have bad soil, you can still have a vegetable garden. Build a raised bed

Maybe you have always wanted to vegetable garden but are intimidated by the whole process. Until you taste the fresh-from-the-garden flavors and vibrant textures of homegrown, you might not appreciate why folks grow their own. It doesn’t have to be hard, and there are some simple guidelines to make sure you have success.

Generally, you have to choose the best location, choose which vegetables you want to grow and make yourself start small. Just three or four tomato plants will give you and probably a neighbor all of the tomatoes you could possibly use.

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It is that wonderful time of year again when we have blooms everywhere around us. Some of the most perfect blooms will be at the Golden Triangle Rose Society Annual Spring Rose Show. It will be held Saturday, April 30, at the Tyrrell Park Garden Center. The show is open to the public from noon – 3 p.m. and is free.

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