From Drab to Fab: Half-Hardy Salvias for Summer Fun
by Caleb Melchior

My first garden experiences with tropical sages were a bit drab. Six-packs of mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea) from the grocery store bloomed through the summer with flowers the color of new Levis. The next year, to be fancy, I grew the seed strain ‘Strata’. Its flowers were closer to the color of dirty overalls. Then, of course, there was red Texas sage (Salvia coccinea) and its variety ‘Lady in Red’ — far more elegant in name than in physical reality — plus its bizarre faded pink variant ‘Coral Nymph’.

Yes, they were reliable. They needed little attention, they tolerated heat and drought, and stayed colorful throughout the summer. But they didn’t do anything that a plastic cactus wouldn’t.

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Gardening for the Birds
by Robin Trott

Spring is my favorite time of year, full of new beginnings and teaming with possibilities. I love strolling the aisles of local nurseries and garden centers to see what’s new and what’s different. Although the temptation is great to purchase one of each, I try to limit my purchases to plants that attract birds and butterflies. There are many options to choose from, no matter the size or scope of your garden. Here are a few favorites to include in the yard each year, and some tips for planting and placement.   >> read article
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Short, Tall and In Between
Design tips for a beautiful garden at all levels
by Helen Yoest

Each gardener, whether novice or experienced, begins a new garden full of fresh hopes and desires. Desires vary – one gardener may wish to grow fanciful flowers in a cutting garden; others may want a wildlife habitat with diverse plantings to feed birds, bees and butterflies. Another may want to grow a vegetable garden, with an added desire to make it as beautiful as it is functional.   >> read article
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Wasps: Garden Friends or Foes?
by Blake Layton

When most people think of wasps, they think of paper wasps, and they probably think of them only as pests because of unpleasant past encounters with these stinging insects. However, the world of wasps is much larger and more complex than this! Our gardens abound with hundreds of species of wasps that vary greatly in size and life habits. Most of the wasps in our gardens are tiny, parasitic species that do not sting people and go largely unnoticed. These are definitely friends because they help control pest insects. There is also a group of wasps known as sawflies whose larvae look like caterpillars and feed on plants. These are usually foes because they damage landscape plants. Two other groups of wasps are the social wasps, such as paper wasps, and the solitary wasps, such as mud daubers and cicada killers. Wasps in both these groups are capable of stinging, and they definitely qualify as foes when they do so, but paper wasps also have a beneficial side.   >> read article
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Floriferous Floribunda Roses
by Linda Kimmel

Floribunda roses are the result of crossing hybrid tea and polyantha roses. Some believe that nurseryman Peter Lambert, from Trier, Germany, first experimented with crossing hybrid tea roses with polyantha roses as early as 1903. But the first successful cross of this combination that was marketed to the public was made by Dines Poulsen, a Danish hybridizer, who studied and worked several years with Lambert. Poulsen dubbed this new variety of rose a “hybrid polyantha” or “Poulsen roses.” Poulsen’s goals were to create roses that would survive harsh winters, have good disease resistance, and would display the form, beauty and color range of the hybrid tea class along with the repeat bloom profusion of the polyantha roses.   >> read article
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The Best Defense
Managing weeds in flowerbeds
by Ron Strahan

Gardeners take pride in the appearance of their landscapes. However, nothing detracts from the beauty of flowerbeds like weeds. Along with being aesthetically displeasing, weeds in flowerbeds compete with desirable plants for water, nutrients and light. If weeds are out of control, expect fewer flowers and more headaches. For most people, backbreaking hand removal is relied upon exclusively to remove weed problems. Hand pulling may be successful for a few weeds, but for most weed problems it is only partially effective.   >> read article
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Bad Homemade Remedies
Do NOT try these at home! Here's why.
by Denise Schreiber

As gardeners we care for our plants as best we can. We are also sensitive to environmental concerns when using fertilizers and pesticides (and many times we seek the cheapest way to do all this). It has happened to all of us: We buy a product that is “almost as good” as the original product only to discover that it “almost worked.” There are many “cheap and almost as good as” homemade garden remedies, many of them found on the Internet; I am going to explain why you should never try any of them.   >> read article
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Creating a Bee-Friendly Herbal Oasis
by Brenda Lynn

An herb garden is an oasis of scents, textures, and flavors that add just the right zing to summer meals. But we aren’t the only ones who enjoy a burst of flavor on a hot summer day. Honeybees and other pollinators are drawn to the delicious nectar found in flowering herbs.   >> read article
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