This article by Beth Stetenfield first appeared in the May/June 2020 edition of the Northern Gardener. 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…

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This article by Benjamin Vogt originally appeared in the September/October 2019 issue of Northern Gardener. If you’ve wandered by a native aster on a crisp autumn afternoon while the sun warms your back, then you’ve seen what this plant does for local wildlife, especially pollinating insects and bugs. From a distance, it may seem like…

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This article by Lynn Steiner originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Northern Gardener. Purple prairie clover is a delicate-looking plant with unique rose-purple to crimson flowers. The densely packed flowers bloom in a ring around the flower head, starting at the bottom and working up to the top. It starts blooming in early summer…

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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 or more) and some heft.…

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perennial not cut down

As fall plods on and more plants start to brown or whither, the urge to “clean up just a little” is strong, and for many gardeners the question of whether to cut back perennials or leave them standing is one they consider every year.  There is a lot of ground between those who clean every…

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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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Despite our late start this spring, many ornamental plants seem to be on schedule and the show of June blooms (peonies, irises, etc.) was spectacular. What’s blooming now? I took a walk around the neighborhood this morning to see what was blooming in the middle of June. Here’s what I saw:     Tucked amid…

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I tour a lot of gardens in the summer, and sometimes, you just keep noticing the same plant showing up in one beautiful garden after another. There’s something right about that plant. This summer, the plant was golden Japanese spikenard or techincally Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’. This bright plant grows best in shady areas where…

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Fall can be stunning in the northern garden, with ornamental grasses, sedum and asters taking center stage and complimenting the changing foliage of trees and shrubs. As delightful as they are, it’s the unexpected fall beauties that I’ve been noticing recently. Here are four perennials to consider adding to your garden for fall interest: Amsonia…

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As we get passed the middle of August (arghh!!), it’s time to consider whether to deadhead or not. Deadheading is the practice of removing the spent flowers on plants – usually by snapping off a fading flower with your fingers or snipping off a stem with a bypass pruner. Deadheading has two main purposes. First,…

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