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Archives for February 10, 2018

REVIEWS: Five books to get your gardening juices flowing …


“100 Plants to Feed the Bees,”
By the Xerces Society. (Storey Press, 240 pages, $16.95.)

This would have been a useful book when my husband and I planted our bee and butterfly garden four years ago. “Just plant flowers,” it says in the introduction, and that sounds so easy and reassuring. It goes on to suggest which flowers to plant, with at-a-glance pages rich with color photos, range maps and indications of which critters each plant might attract. Not just hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, but so many kinds of bees — honey, and bumble, and long-horned, and mason, and mining, and polyester. (Polyester! I am not kidding.)

Some of the recommended flowers are common and familiar: bee balm, coneflowers, milkweed, goldenrod. But the book also includes herbs such as rosemary, mint, lavender and thyme; shrubs and bushes; and pasture plants. Yes! Go ahead and plant your front yard with alfalfa, scarlet runner beans and sweetclover. You’ll have bees and good wasps (and there are good wasps) and butterflies galore. And such fun at harvest time.

“Northern Gardener: From Apples to Zinnias, 150 Years of Garden Wisdom,” by Mary Lahr Schier. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 213 pages, $24.95.)

Gardening in the North presents its own problems — a shorter growing season, frigid winters that kill, unpredictable summers, floods, drought. So here is a book for those of us who insist on living here and trying to make things grow, written by Mary Lahr Schier, who has edited the Minnesota State Horticultural Society’s magazine (Northern Gardener) for more than 10 years.

Schier calls on the wisdom of her grandmothers (and includes photos of them), and her book has a sort of grandmotherly tone — warm, friendly and competent.

It is illustrated not just with the requisite color photos of plants but also with historical pictures (check out the woman grimly spraying her garden with DDT back in 1947) and line drawings that teach things of all kinds — how to prune a tree, how to lay out an herb garden, how a cold frame should look.

There are asides and sidebars aplenty, with Schier explaining gently that daylilies are not true lilies, and here is how to make pickles, and here is what to do if you want to make your own potting soil — and here is what not to do.

But mostly, of course, she concentrates on the plants: fruit trees, and lawns, and peonies (though she does not address the pronunciation question: PEE-o-ny, or pee-OH-ny?), and rhododendrons and vegetables. She discusses soil, watering, garden design. Tomatoes get, and deserve, their own chapter, those moody things.

The book has everything you need — except good weather and a warm, gentle rain.

“Succulents: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Designing and Growing 200 Easy-Care Plants,” by Robin Stockwell. (Oxmoor House, 288 pages, $24.95.)

One of my St. Paul neighbors grows cactuses in her yard, which I find kind of fascinating. That is not all she has (that would be a forbidding yard indeed), but it is a little spiky plant of interest that adds a certain piquancy to her yard. Until I met her, I had no idea a cactus would grow in Minnesota.

Robin Stockwell’s new book is devoted to succulents, including cactuses, as well as plants that I never thought of as succulents (sedum! really?) and many others that I did (hen and chick, aloe, agave).

Plants that can grow in sand, without much water, might work best in containers here, and Stockwell gets creative, suggesting that a container could be hollowed-out pumpkin shells, wicker baskets, or cones made of moss.

While the book devotes a fair amount of space to design and arrangements, it also covers the basics of propagation, feeding and care.

Beware, however, the A. Saponaria. It’s a star-shaped, grayish, speckled succulent that looks to me like a plumped-up lungwort. But it is powerful! “Avoid planting this species next to an asphalt driveway,” Stockwell warns. “I have seen offsets burrow under and erupt through the pavement.”

 “Nature at Our Doorstep,” by Matt Schuth. (Nodin Press, 145 pages, $19.95.)

This book, says author Matt Schuth, “is about common things in the natural world that many people would find fascinating if they happened to notice them.” And, yes, it is all about the noticing — and then understanding what it is that you saw. Going season by season, Schuth, a naturalist at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, writes about wild turkeys and coyotes, bald eagles and red-tailed hawks, fireflies and dragonflies, owls, woodchucks and deer.

The book is not a field guide, but it’s an illumination of the birds, animals, plants and insects that are living out their lives side by side with us right here in the Twin Cities.

They know about us, but we might not know about them. This book evens the field.

“The Less Is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard,” by Susan Morrison. (Timber Press, 222 pages, $29.95.)

You can tell right away that this is a minimalist kind of book because the title and the author’s name are in all-lowercase letters on the cover. Small. Understated. A book for people with tiny yards who still want to be awash in green and blossoms.

It’s less about how to grow your garden, and more about how to design your garden, making the most of every bit of space. Should you bother with a lawn at all, or just dig up everything? Where do you put the ugly, necessary things — the garbage cans and the barbecue grill — without destroying the sense of peace?

Garden designer Susan Morrison talks about the importance of a focal point (which can be a tall clump of plants, or a statue, or a lovely birdbath), choosing a color palette, designing pathways, container gardening, water features and attracting wildlife such as hummingbirds and butterflies. (In a tiny yard, you probably don’t want to attract anything much bigger than that.)

While the yards and gardens pictured do not look terribly small to me, an urban gardener, there is inspiration on just about every page.

Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune’s senior editor for books. @StribBooks


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Get your DIY and design fix at KC Remodel + Garden Show – KSHB …

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More than 30,000 homeowners are expected to go to the KC Remodel + Garden Show at the American Royal Center in February.

More than 30,000 homeowners are expected to go to the KC Remodel + Garden Show at the American Royal Center. The show kicked off at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9. 

More than 30,000 homeowners are expected to go to the KC Remodel + Garden Show at the American Royal Center. The show kicked off at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9. 

More than 30,000 homeowners are expected to go to the KC Remodel + Garden Show at the American Royal Center. The show kicked off at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9. 

More than 30,000 homeowners are expected to go to the KC Remodel + Garden Show at the American Royal Center. The show kicked off at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9. 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 30,000 homeowners are expected to go to the KC Remodel + Garden Show at the American Royal Center in February.

The show kicked off at 10 a.m. Friday, February 9.

It touts itself as the go-to spot for helpful design advice, new products, the latest in décor and inspiration for renovations and landscape projects.

Local and national experts will provide their insight and tips, including Paige Davis from TLC’s Trading Spaces. Zack Giffin from FYI Network’s Tiny House Nation will also be at the show.

DIY experts will give project tips and inspiration for you to make your own DIY work of art that you can take home from the show.

Friday is Hero Day, and all veterans, military, police and fire crews will have free admission and parking. Just bring a valid ID.

Around 15,000 people are expected to show exhibits.


  • Friday, 2/9: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, 2/10: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, 2/11: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.


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Color-driven landscapes are harder than they look


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The most eye-catching part of a garden plant is its flower, and the most captivating element of a bloom is its color. You might think then that designing a garden should be an exercise in painting with flowers. This idea once held a lot of sway, but color-driven garden design is, by and large, a dead duck.

Gardeners today are more relaxed about their plantings and are driven less by color schemes than the desire for naturalistic effects. We are still drawn to flowers and have our own color preferences, but the need for elaborate, color-coded borders has generally vanished.

There are ways to pinpoint plant color — the most famous is the Royal Horticultural Society Color Chart, essentially paint charts with holes in them for matching chips directly with a flower — but I have never seen a gardener in the United States use one.

This retreat from overt color design doesn’t mean that we should abandon our interest in color theory. Every gardener needs to know how color works.

To that end, we mark this week the Smithsonian’s publication of “Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours,” a reproduction or facsimile of an 1821 manual that is slender physically but a giant in its significance. It was devised by a Scottish art teacher named Patrick Syme and based on a system of color classification by a German mineralogist, Abraham Werner. The book standardized the color descriptions of scientific specimens in a pivotal era of discovery. One of its users was Charles Darwin.

But color systems are needed by artists as well, and by the end of the 19th century, color science had made the leap from botany to horticulture, most famously with the work of the Arts and Crafts garden writer and designer Gertrude Jekyll. She started out as a painter but turned to gardening after her eyesight deteriorated.

She put together planting plans for borders of hot colors and cool colors. Her favored approach was to compose a plant border that started with cool colors, moved to hot ones and then receded to the cooler ones.

This coherent artistry had great appeal and was adopted on both sides of the Atlantic. One of Jekyll’s admirers was Vita Sackville-West, whose renowned garden at Sissinghurst Castle, south of London, includes a white garden aped in private gardens around the world. I prefer Sissinghurst’s Purple Border, which, as I recall, is a medley of reds, pinks and blues as well as purple, all set against a high brick wall.

The desire to group plants by color is thrilling when done well, but it leads you into a maze — you must master color theory before moving on to high-level gardening.

First, the theory. If you’ve taken an art class, you know that the appearance of a color is controlled by three components: hue, brightness (or value) and saturation.

A pastel color — seen in a pink Oriental poppy, perhaps — has high value and high saturation, making it light and bright. The pale color of a blushed peony has high value but low saturation. The rich color of a crimson gallica rose has low value and high saturation. This is explained in a book by the late Sandra Austin, who was an instructor of landscape design at George Washington University. “Color in Garden Design” was published in 1998 but still can be found online.

Austin hoped that if gardeners understood the technical attributes of color, they could use it more effectively in the landscape.

But mastering color theory is one thing; having the proficiency to create a season-long color-coordinated garden is something else.

Even if you include foliage as part of the color plan, as Austin suggests, you’d still need an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and how they grow in your garden. Sorry, but you can’t Google that; such knowledge takes years to accumulate through trial and error.

Another factor working against color gardens is our climate, which is colder in winter than England. This alters the plant repertoire. You can’t just crib a planting scheme from an English book.

I can think of a few instances where color-driven gardening still commends itself. The first is in garden areas of light shade, where you could put together plants in considered shades of green and white with a little blue thrown in. Foliage color would be a major element. I might suggest various hostas and ferns, grasses and sedges, Satsuki azaleas, smooth hydrangeas, fothergillas, sasanqua camellias, the native fringe tree, foamflowers, wood asters, foxgloves, Japanese anemones, rue anemones, white varieties of wood anemone and Grecian windflowers, and lots of little white daffodils followed by Virginia bluebells.

The easiest, cheapest color playground is the container, where you can pick long-flowering annuals and tropicals that conform to a given three-or-four-color scheme (or a single color).

Another simple way to play with colors is to mass-plant three or four tulip varieties in a considered color scheme. The show lasts for only a couple of weeks, but it’s a delightfully luxurious way to celebrate the arrival of spring.

How should you piece together a planting plan? It is far more satisfying to compose gardens in terms of textures, forms, heights and blocks of plants rather than color. Such compositions still pack a flower punch, but they aren’t reliant on a constant floral parade for effect. Besides, there are times when the color wheel and rules about complementary and harmonious hues seem irrelevant. Color combinations often take care of themselves, and there will be happy accidents. I am thinking of a tulip named Dordogne, which by rights should be a gaudy disaster, marrying a peachy orange ground with a flame of bubble-gum pink. It looks fabulous.

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WesBanco hosts annual Home and Garden Show

WesBanco hosts annual Home and Garden ShowCopyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – The Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce hopes to accentuate the positive while eliminating the negative wintertime blues.

Members hope the Chamber’s annual Home and Garden Show at WesBanco Arena will put people in a better mood by thinking about some home improvement ideas.

Businesses from all around the area have ideas to cut home energy use or landscaping and also remodeling.

Admission is free, and the show closes at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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Olde Ripton Garden Club meeting March 5

The Olde Ripton Garden Club is getting ready for Spring and have scheduled a meeting for March 5.

The Club Horticulture Chair will present a program on the “Top 10 Plants and Ground Cover for Paths and Walkways.” In addition, joining will be a presenter from the River Alliance of Connecticut with the program “Gardening and Landscaping to Improve Water Quality.”

Margaret Miner is the Executive Director of Rivers Alliance of CT, the state’s leading river-watershed group protecting all the state’s waters. They have passed state laws protecting streamflow in our waters, banned water contaminants in gasoline and stemmed the use of pesticides.

The Olde Ripton Garden Club will meet on Monday, March 5 at Plumb Memorial Library, 10 a.m. in the Community Room located at 65 Wooster Street. The fee for visitors is $5 and refreshments will be served.

A member drive is currently underway for the club. The Olde Ripton Garden Club encourages new members to join at any level of gardening – from beginner to master gardener! Projects include working on community gardens around town, holiday decorating at public buildings in Shelton, a garden therapy program with seniors, and youth gardening in Shelton schools.  Annual dues for membership are $25 for monthly meetings (except January February). Meetings include speakers, a light lunch, conversation and friendly activities. Interested parties are invited to attend a meeting to see if they want to join.  For more information visit

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Supreme Court settles food fight, leaves ban on front-yard veggie gardens intact

If you’d like to plant a vegetable garden in the front yard of your home, forget about it. At least for now. At least if you live in Miami Shores.

Homeowners who had hoped the Florida Supreme Court would hear their case against the village, which bans such gardens, received discouraging news Friday when the state’s high court declined to consider their appeal.

Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll grew cabbage, spinach, beets, scallions, tomatoes and eggplant in their front yard and enjoyed fresh meals for 17 years until Miami Shores adopted a strict zoning law prohibiting such gardens in front yards. The couple, facing daily fines of $50, had to dig up their garden, which can’t grow in the back due to insufficient sunlight.

They have been challenging the ban through the court system for four years.

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“The Florida Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Hermine and Tom’s appeal is unfortunate not only for them but for all property owners,” said Ari Bargil, a lawyer for the Institute for Justice who has been representing the couple. “That government can fine citizens, that it can force them to destroy the very source of their sustenance, all for the harmless act of growing vegetables, is something that should disturb every Floridian — indeed, every American.”

Miami Shores allows fruit trees, flowers, fountains, pink flamingos, gnomes and boats in front yards — but not vegetables.

“The message from the Florida courts is clear: The purpose of private property is to be decorative, not productive, and it is government that gets to decide how you decorate it,” Bargil said. “That is a perverse view of property rights.”

Miami Shores argued — and the courts concurred — that a city has the authority to regulate landscaping and design standards to protect its appearance and safeguard property values and would otherwise risk allowing eyesores. The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that it is rational for government to ban “the cultivation of plants to be eaten as part of a meal, as opposed to the cultivation of plants for ornamental reasons.”

Ricketts, who laments the loss of her green, sustainable lifestyle, said she was not surprised that the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

“This is government and the role of government is to control people’s lives,” she said. “It is an institution that people are afraid of.”

But the fight is not over for Ricketts and Carroll. Senate Bill 1776, which would prohibit local governments from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties, is alive in the Florida Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, and Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, passed its first committee review Tuesday.

Ricketts and Carroll hope a new law would “make clear that all Americans have the right to peacefully and productively use their property to feed themselves and their families,” said Michael Bindas, senior attorney and director of the National Food Freedom Initiative at the Institute for Justice.

Said Ricketts, who buys her veggies at the store these days: “The only entity that has benefited from this is Whole Foods.”

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Fredericksburg to hold public forum on adding demo garden to Cossey Park

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Home, Health & Garden Show coming soon





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Gardening classes for the little ones

Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 | 2 a.m.

Vegas Roots launches a Lil’ Roots Market Club this spring in partnership with the Whole Foods on Lake Mead Boulevard and Tenaya Way. The program will focus on teaching children ages 3-12 healthy eating habits and gardening tips. The classes started Feb. 7, and will be offered Feb. 21, March 7 and March 21 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The classes are segmented into three sections, including health and nutrition, a cooking demo with DIY crafts and on-site kids gardening. RSVP at or call 702-942-1500.

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Seneca Master Gardeners host workshop

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