Growing Lavender in the North

Like a broken record, I’m always repeating this mantra for gardening success—the right plant for the right place. Re-creating native conditions for any plant is the key to seeing it thrive. Yet the heart wants what it wants. And, so it goes for growing lavender in a cold climate. There aren’t any sun-baked coastal hillsides…

Read More

Planting Perennials in Fall

Fall blooming plants, such as sedum, do well when planted in the fall. Fall is a great time to plant spring-blooming bulbs, tress, shrubs and, yes, perennials. While many people choose spring for planting perennials, there are some real advantages to fall planting, especially if you do it in September. Here are five reasons to…

Read More

Goldenrod and Asters

Salt and pepper. Batman and Robin. Spaghetti and meatballs. Rhythm and blues. Goldenrod and asters. What? Allow me some alliteration when I say goldenrod and asters are a perfect pairing of powerhouse plants for pollinators. Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass (Milkweed Editions, 2013), writes of applying to be a botany major. Hoping to…

Read More

Plant Profile: Cardinal Flower

  Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) gets its name from the brilliant red flowers that grow in an elongated cluster atop the stems, midsummer through early fall. The tubular flowers are two-lipped, with the three lobes of the lower lip appearing more prominent than the two lobes of the upper lip. White- and rose-colored forms can…

Read More

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…

Read More

Northern Natives: Whorled Milkweed

Most gardeners are aware that monarch butterflies benefit when we plant milkweed in our gardens. All species in the Asclepias genus are host plants for monarchs—they lay their eggs on the plants and the hatched caterpillars then feed on the milkweed. Many are familiar with common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), butterflyweed (A. tuberosa) and swamp milkweed…

Read More

Plant Spotlight: Wild Ginger

Wild ginger (Asarum canadense) is a plant of many surprises—also many names. It is commonly called woodland ginger, Canada ginger, snakeroot, colic root, coltsfoot, namepin and sturgeon potato. In the garden or the wild it seems unassuming, but take a closer look: Its fuzzy, bright green foliage emerges in pairs of folded leaves in early to…

Read More

Plant Profile: Eastern Red Columbine

When you happen upon eastern red columbine in the wild—with angled sun glinting on the bright red and yellow of its bell-shaped blossoms—it can be a magical moment. This plant is equally lovely in garden settings. It works well in pots, in rock gardens and directly in the soil. After its first flush of bloom—generally…

Read More

Best Plants for Hummingbirds

The current issue of Northern Gardener includes a column by Rhonda Fleming Hayes on easy-to-grow vines to attract hummingbirds. I’ve already planted one of them—hyacinth bean vine—in a spot where I’ll be able to watch the hummingbirds from my kitchen window. One of the MSHS Pollinator Paks™ also includes six fabulous perennial plants for hummingbirds.…

Read More

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…

Read More