Notes from Northern Gardener Blog

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An Insider’s Look at Trends in Gardening

By Mary Lahr Schier | June 20, 2019

We’re so excited to be teaming with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on a program called “Trending Horticulture: Advancing the Art and Science of Gardening,” which will be held July 18 at the arboretum. This event is geared toward slightly more experienced gardeners and gardening enthusiasts who want to go deeper into topics and ideas and…

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Plant Profile: Penstemon

By Mary Lahr Schier | June 10, 2019

June is the month of flowers, with favorites like roses, irises and peonies in bloom. But one of my favorite June flowers is Penstemon, sometimes referred to as beardtongue because of the fuzzy growths inside the plants bloom. Penstemon is a group of plants that includes more than 250 species and most of them are…

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Growing Together: The Fairest Garden

By Mary Lahr Schier | June 6, 2019

This article by Brenda Harvieux  appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Northern Gardener. Former master gardener research plots at the Washington County fairgrounds have recently seen a vast expansion and reimagining. Now 13 display gardens, collectively known as the Fairest Garden, the space is a much-loved destination. “We don’t have a financial sponsor,” says…

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How Old? An Old Elm in South Minneapolis

By Mary Lahr Schier | June 5, 2019

A reader contacted me recently about her very old (and very beautiful) American elm tree. The tree, she noted, had a circumference of 17 feet and was believed by some in the neighborhood to be about 240 years old. Would I like to take pictures of it? You bet! The homeowner told me she was…

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Caring for Bulbs After Bloom

By Mary Lahr Schier | May 30, 2019

A few late tulips and daffodils are still blooming, but many spring-blooming bulbs are past their prime now. So how do you care for bulbs after bloom? Here are some tips: Deadhead. Unless you are planning to harvest seed or you want the bulbs to naturalize and spread in an area, start by removing the…

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How to Do a Soil Texture Test

By Mary Lahr Schier | October 23, 2012 | 0 Comments

Horticulturist Nancy Rose’s article in the November/December issue of Northern Gardener talks about the importance of knowing your soil for more garden success. Here are her instructions for testing the texture of your soil. How to Test Soil Texture While not as precise as a lab test, this is a quick way to determine if…

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Get Your Garden Ready for Winter

By Mary Lahr Schier | October 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Oh, no! Can the garden season really be coming to a close so soon? This week, we’re having slightly warmer temperatures—and happily, some rain!—but the fall is hard upon us and now is the time to start getting your garden ready for winter. This weekend may be the perfect chance. Here’s some great advice we…

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Low-Sugar Applesauce

By Mary Lahr Schier | October 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

This is the time of year when Minnesotans love heading to their local orchard or (if they are lucky) harvesting the last few apples off the tree for eating and preserving. One of our favorite ways to preserve apple deliciousness is by making applesauce. Here’s a recipe from Northern Gardener editor Mary Schier for a…

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We Love Local Foods!

By Mary Lahr Schier | October 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

The movement to encourage folks to eat more local foods is several years old now, and it’s amazing how many foods you can enjoy in the Midwest that were grown or made here. Of course, the best local foods are the ones from your garden, but not all of us have the space or expertise…

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Fall in Love with Sedum

By Mary Lahr Schier | October 5, 2012 | 2 Comments

Whether rock gardeners or cottage gardeners, prairie gardeners or formal gardeners, most northern gardeners have sedum somewhere in their garden. It’s easy to fall in love with this autumn bloomer. Sedum starts as a dainty little cabbage head each spring, grows into a perfect green (or purple) background to summer flowers, and then it flowers…

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Contact Mary Lahr Schier, MSHS blogger, at