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Great Plants for Northern Gardens: Day 23 — Groundcovers

By Mary Lahr Schier | November 23, 2012 |

Today is Black Friday — so take a break from the insanity and the materialism, and think about a lush carpet of fragrant thyme beneath your feet, a bright patch of lamium or lamb’s ears surrounding your perennials with foliage and flowers; and the heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger hiding a tiny bloom that you…

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Great Plants for Northern Gardens: Day 22 — Bee Balm

By Mary Lahr Schier | November 22, 2012 |

With the rise of mono-cropping (think acres and acres of corn, soybeans or turfgrass), many insects struggle to find what they need to thrive. Gardeners can help with this by planting pollinator-friendly gardens, and bee balm (Monarda) is a great choice. Monarda  is a member of the mint family and there are dozens of cultivars…

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Great Plants for Northern Gardens: Day 21 — Crab Apple Trees

By Mary Lahr Schier | November 21, 2012 |

Whether you grow them for the stunning spring flower display or the tart fruits or the architectural interest they add to a yard, flowering crab apple trees (Malus spp.) are one of the great plants for northern gardens. Generally topping out under 25 feet, crab apple trees are the perfect ornamental tree for small yards.…

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Great Plants for Northern Gardens: Day 20 — Balloon Flower

By Mary Lahr Schier | November 20, 2012 |

While many plants are regarded as perennials, there are some that are decidedly more “perennial” than others. Balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorous) is one that is truly worthy of the designation. Once established, a clump of P. grandiflorous will return year after year, demanding nothing special,  tolerant of many sites and soils, and with no insect…

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Great Plants for Northern Gardens: Day 19 — Cardinal Flower

By Mary Lahr Schier | November 19, 2012 |

Last summer, I was visiting a friend whose backyard garden slopes down to meet the reedy shore of a small lake. Not far from the water’s edge were large, nearly 4-foot tall bronze-green stems grouped in clusters of a half dozen or so. About two-thirds of the way up the stem brilliant scarlet blooms tipped…

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