Whenever folks walk into my back garden, they are shocked by the height of one plant. It’s close to 7 feet tall, narrow in stature and it looks like it should be growing in a jungle somewhere, but this is actually a Minnesota native plant. It’s called false aster or in botanical Latin Boltonia asteroidis.…

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Shasta daisies are one of those flowers that just say, “Summer.” With their white and gold ray flowers, standing upright above green foliage, they are a plant many gardeners love. They are a heritage plant, too, having been introduced in 1901 by famed plant breeder Luther Burbank. Burbank introduced more than 800 hybrid plants in…

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If you’ve ever seen photos of lavender fields in Oregon or other much more temperate climates that ours, you know how delightful this perennial herb can look. With its deep purple flowers and scented foliage, lavender is a dream plant for many northern gardeners. Now, that’s not to say, it cannot be grown in the…

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With Halloween just around the corner and pumpkin spice invading the culinary scene again, it’s time to salute the Cucurbits—that family of plants that includes pumpkins and squash. It’s a large family, with more than 900 members including winter and summer squash of all types, gourds as well as cucumbers and melons. We’re focusing on…

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The presidential election will be over tomorrow, and not a moment too soon for many Americans. So let’s take a break from the rhetoric and revelations and think about presidents of the past and the plants they have had named for them. It’s an impressive list of both presidents and plants. Ever since Carl Linneaus…

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A few years ago, I was bored with my usual annual flowers. That’s when I heard about cleome, a tall, striking annual with a puff-ball flower and a distinctive smell — some people like it, some not so much. Cleome is large enough to look almost like a shrub — similar to a hydrangea, with…

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I have to admit it—any plant with the word “thistle” in its name makes me nervous. Canada thistle was a persistent weed in my previous garden. Globe thistle (Echinops rito) is a different story. A native of Europe, it adapts well to our Midwestern soil and climate. It may self-seed but it is not aggressive,…

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Don’t let today’s cold and rain bother you. It won’t be long before we’ll be seeing the soft pink clouds of bloom that surround the Minnesota-hardy redbuds that are so popular here in the North. Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a smallish ornamental tree (or large shrub) that can be shaped either on a single stem…

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Staghorn sumac is a large treelike shrub native to the eastern edge of Minnesota, Wisconsin and much of southeastern Canada. Tall with an umbrella habit as it matures, stagorn or cutleaf sumac is a great choice for larger, wilder landscapes. Birds love it and the fruits can be used for everything from dyes to lemonade.…

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We’ve written about bee balm (Monarda) on this blog before because, frankly, it’s such a star in the summer garden. It seems that every year during garden tour season, I spot stands of bee balm that just stop me in my tracks. This year has been no different. Check out this beautiful stand of bee…

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