Notes from Northern Gardener Blog

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Hot Off the Press: Creating Sanctuary

By Mary Lahr Schier | July 19, 2019

This review originally appeared in the July/August issue of Northern Gardener. In Creating Sanctuary (Timber Press, 2018), author Jessi Bloom interweaves gardening practices with those of meditation, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic medicine. Readers familiar with organic and sustainable gardening philosophies will find many common techniques in Bloom’s work. As the book’s subtitle—Sacred Garden Spaces, Plant-Based Medicine,…

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Japanese Garden, Summer Bulbs, Shed DIY in New Northern Gardener

By Mary Lahr Schier | June 30, 2019

The July/August 2019 issue of Northern Gardener is on newsstands now and includes articles on a fabulous Japanese garden in St. Paul as well as recommendations of summer bulbs to plant and step-by-step instructions on how to build a shed of your own. It’s a fun issue and we hope you will love it. I…

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On the Lookout for Japanese Beetles

By Mary Lahr Schier | June 27, 2019

It’s that time of year where every trip to the garden involves an inspection for Japanese beetles. Are they here yet? So far, in my garden in St. Paul, the answer is no, not yet. Japanese beetles typically appear in Minnesota in late June or early July. They live for 6 to 8 weeks, creating…

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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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MSHS Plant Show Winners

By Mary Lahr Schier | August 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

Congratulations to all the participants in the MSHS Plant Show at the Minnesota State Fair! The Grand Champion was a gorgeous bonsai entered by Sandy Merrill and Dennis Kolasa of Vadnais Heights. Reserve champion went to Mary Brickzin-Gale of Goodhue for her succulent plant collection. Here’s a list of the winning entries. Indoor Bloomers, Chuck…

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Meet Tomato Guy at the Fair

By Mary Lahr Schier | August 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

If you’re going to the Minnesota State Fair, be sure to visit the Horticulture Building and get your picture taken with Tomato Guy at the MSHS Educational Booth. While you are there, get information on unusual ways and places to grow vegetables.

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Is It Ripe Yet?

By Mary Lahr Schier | August 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

Knowing when to pick vegetables for peak taste and texture is a skill many gardeners develop after years of trial and error. Generally, however, vegetables fall into two categories. Pick-early, pick-often. Some vegetables deteriorate noticeably if they are left in the garden too long. For these veggies, the best bet is to pick them young…

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Getting Ready for the State Fair!

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

Boxes are piled high at the MSHS offices and volunteers have been weeding and laying mulch at the display gardens at Judson and Underwood Avenues on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The fair starts Thursday, Aug.23, and is one of our biggest events of the year. Members can renew membership (or join!), and everyone who renews…

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Are You Seeing Aster Yellows?

By Mary Lahr Schier | August 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

We are hearing many reports from gardeners about aster yellows, a plant disease that is spread by aster leafhoppers and is highly contagious. Plants show more symptoms during times of hot weather, similar to that experienced by northern gardeners in July. The symptoms can be dramatic, odd-looking, and often cause gardeners to wonder what their…

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Contact Mary Lahr Schier, MSHS blogger, at