Spring Perennial Care Tips

With our warmer than average spring, perennials are starting to emerge. Now is a good time to begin a bit of spring perennial care. Here are five tips: Cut back last year’s growth. I’m on the fence on when it is best to do this. Many gardeners who are interested in helping beneficial insects, say it…

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March/April Northern Gardener Available

Nothing says spring like the pink blooms on a crabapple tree, and we’re celebrating the early days of spring with our March/April issue of Northern Gardener. That gorgeous cover photo was taken by Tracy Walsh, a Maple Grove-based photographer who followed a garden from winter through fall. It’s amazing how having “good bones” can create…

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Plant Profile: Bee Balm

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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Plant Profile: Liatris

If you are searching for a beautifully colored and easy-to-grow perennial to add to your garden, Liatris is the plant for you. Liatris plants have two common names, Blazing Star and Gayfeather. These perennials are native to prairies in the United States. In the late summer, liatris produce striking 1- to 5-foot tall, bottlebrush-like spikes…

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Plant Profile: Tree Peony

When does a peony behave like a shrub? That’s not a riddle, and the answer is when it is a tree peony—a gorgeous shrub-like peony that blooms about two weeks earlier than regular peonies. If you look around gardens in the southern half of Minnesota, you may see them blooming now. Tree peonies are a…

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How Late Can You Plant in Fall?

The rest of this week promises to be lovely, and maybe you are thinking about planting some of those perennials or shrubs that are on deep discount at your local nursery. Well, you sure can, especially if you are willing to take a small risk. Most university sources recommend you plant in fall by early…

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Great Grasses for Minnesota Gardens

Some time ago, a blog reader asked us to suggest ornamental grasses for Minnesota gardens. Since parts of Minnesota were once part of the “sea of grass” of the Great Plains, grasses look natural here and are well-adapted to our climate and soils. They are a great addition to most Minnesota gardens. Grasses are easy…

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Book Review: Five Plant Gardens

This originally appeared in the January/February issue of Northern Gardener. In Five-Plant Gardens, 52 Ways to Grow a Perennial Garden with Just Five Plants, Nancy Ondra outlines an approach for creating new gardens or revamping existing ones. Much like a great cookbook, it’s a wonderful concept—simple and yet almost infinitely variable—and it’s not just for…

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Why Winter Sowing Perennials Works

Winter sowing perennials has been around for several years now, and is a great way to start native plants or a lot of plants without the investment in lights, seed-starting trays and the other equipment needed to start seeds indoors. If you have not heard of it before, winter sowing involves planting  seeds in plastic…

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What Makes a Great Peony

The prairies of southern Minnesota area among the best places in the world to grow peonies, according to Laverne Dunsmore, owner of Countryside Gardens in Delano and one of the state’s foremost peony experts. Dunsmore, a grower and hybridizer, spoke at the Northern Green Expo, the annual educational convention of the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape…

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