Five Unexpected Fall Flowers for Northern Gardens

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Some plants reliably look good in a northern fall garden. Asters, goldenrods, sedums, maybe a Russian sage and some grasses. Add a hydrangea with big blousy blooms and you’ve got a great fall garden in Minnesota. But what if you want something a little different, something with unexpected fall flowers and color? Hardy hibiscus Here…

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Ash Tree Elegy

A huge moth with a 4” wing span lands on a twig a few feet in front of you. This Great Ash Sphinx moth takes wing and flutters ahead to go lay its eggs in the leaves of a nearby ash tree. As the caterpillars develop, many will be eaten by birds, a sacrifice to…

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Native Plants for Any Garden

There is little else as satisfying in the garden as watching wildlife use the space: cardinals dashing in and out of oaks, skipper butterflies and sweat bees methodically circling coneflower blooms. What is a garden without the critical ecological function that makes the world work and brings us closer to nature? When we cultivate native…

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Plant Profile: Anise Hyssop

Anise hyssop is a tactile plant; soft to the touch when in full bloom and as it develops seeds. It also appeals to the other senses—the scent of the foliage is reminiscent of licorice and is used in teas, jams, salads and potpourri. Cylindrical flower spikes, several inches long, work well as cut flowers and…

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Ornamental Onion Cultivars

The genus Allium (commonly known as onion) consists of several species that many northern gardeners know well, most commonly chives which have been used for eons in cooking. But, in recent years, there has been an explosion of ornamental onion cultivars. If you are looking for perennials that truly are easy to grow, this plant…

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Plant Profile: Monarda Punctata

Spotted beebalm is a guaranteed pollinator magnet. Add it to your garden or property and you will see pollinators—butterflies, bumblebees, honeybees, hummingbird moths, hummingbirds and others. While it’s a biennial or short-lived perennial, it readily self-seeds and naturalizes when the conditions match its needs. The colors of this aromatic plant are unusual—lavender and white leaf-like…

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Plant Profile: Little Bluestem

Ornamental grasses of all kinds look at home in northern gardens. Their swaying seed heads in late summer remind us of the prairie past of much of Minnesota and the Dakotas. While I like many ornamental grasses, my latest favorite is little bluestem. Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is a native plant with a range that…

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More Sustainable Roses for Northern Gardeners

If you’ve read our May/June issue of Northern Gardener, you may have seen the article by Randy Nelson and David Zlesak about sustainable roses for our climate. Randy and David are researchers working with the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.), a group that is testing and reporting on roses that are particularly adapted to…

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5 Perennials That Act Like Shrubs

In bloom, baptisia attracts bees. Trees and shrubs are the backbone of most gardens. They provide height, structure and (sometimes) interest all year long. But if your garden is smaller—as mine is—finding right-sized shrubs is a challenge. That’s when I turn to perennials that act like shrubs. These are perennials with some height (3 feet…

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Hot Off the Press: 10 Plants That Changed Minnesota

As gardeners, we think about plants a lot. But often, we are thinking about a specific plant or plot or problem that is right in front of us. Most of the time, it’s just personal. In Ten Plants that Changed Minnesota, Mary Hockenberry Meyer and Susan Davis Price help us think about how plants and…

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