garden gate

It’s fascinating to me that we are eating a plant cultivar that was popular even before the Middle Ages! Kale is the new buzzwords at trendy restaurants.

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sweet alyssum

You want to roll out the welcome mat to your home? Groundcover plants are one of the best options when you want to create that welcoming feel as guests walk up to your front door. That contiguous low lying mass of groundcover is so important in the “outdoor room” of the front yard.

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When you and I were popping firecrackers on July 4, the pumpkin growers of Texas were planting pumpkin seeds. These harbingers of fall take 100 days to mature, so you have to think ahead — way ahead — to have them for Halloween celebrations. Pumpkins are members of the gourd family, which incudes cucumbers, melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini. What do members of the gourd family have in common? They need plenty of space.

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Some plants are just plain pretty. The Persian shield (Strobilanthes) got its name from that sheen on the leaf that gives it a sort of metallic look. The leaves are so iridescent that it truly is as showy as a blooming flower. Gardeners in the North and South and all in between love this delightful tropical shrub. It has amazing purple foliage. It will also produce pale purple flowers. Put it in garden beds, borders or containers. Just think of this striking plant next to some purple Bordeaux “Supertunias.”

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Photo by Stephanie Reger

Bees are said to be responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. The Aggie horticulture website states, “Forget about honey, pollen and royal jelly. Just think of a world without beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots, not to mention the hundreds of other vegetables, oilseeds and fruits that are dependent upon bees for pollination. And the livestock that are dependent upon bee-pollinated forage plants, such as clover.”

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tomatoes

Want fall tomatoes? The time is now if you want to try your hand at growing fall tomatoes. Never tried it? Well, just about now, when your spring tomatoes are a big mess in the garden and overwrought with heat and not producing, is just about time to put in the delicious fall tomatoes. This should give us just about enough time to have some yummy tomatoes before the first freeze. (Yes, it will get cold again.)

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How lucky are we! In our neck of the woods, we can plant virtually everything that our spring garden had and enjoy these veggies in the fall season. Isn’t it great to just go out into the backyard and pull a tomato or squash? And of course, the flavors are just incomparable!

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Agastache or hummingbird mint

The other morning I was just amazed as I watched two hummingbirds flutter from bloom to bloom and back. They were so colorful and so quick! The Hummingbird Society touts their “unmatched flight abilities, including hovering and flying backwards.” They look tiny and delicate and weigh only about 1/10 of an ounce, yet they are hardy and resilient. Some species migrate 3,000 miles.

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When most of the other flowering plants in your yard are gasping for air, the bougainvillea is just hitting its stride. They start smiling and blooming like crazy when there isn’t much water, when the sun is too hot and when you can barely walk barefoot on your concrete sidewalk.

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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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