The Rose That Blossoms In December

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helleborus niger

“Though we bless the flower of June, and all its charms remember, We’ve double blessings for the rose that blossoms in December.”  Charles Mackay, 1812-1889   Hellebores are also known as Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) and Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis), and as you would expect, they’ll bloom anytime from December to March, if conditions are… Read more »

All About Annabelle

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Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle 2

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is one of the most worry-free garden shrubs I know. It is a deciduous shrub with a round habit, 4 to 5 feet tall and similarly wide.  With this hydrangea, you don’t have to add aluminum sulfate (for blue) or lime (for pink) – the flowers are reliably pure white.  Bloom time… Read more »

You Need A Lilac

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lilac President Lincoln featured image

  May is all about lilacs!  Every New England house feels more like a home with at least one lilac somewhere in the yard.  I grow “Pocahontas” (Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Pocahontas’) and I absolutely love it. It has a large leaf but does not mildew.  It has deep purple flowers and a wonderful classic scent. … Read more »

Bob’s Trillium

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trillium feature photo

Bob was my sister’s back-door neighbor for years. He’s widowed now, and moved away to live with one of his daughters, but we’ll always remember him out in his garden, prowling and stooping and tending.  His garden was a shady, sloping glen with beds of ivy and ginger around the tree trunks, and through the… Read more »

Forsythia Is Pure Joy

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Forsythia x intermedia featured photo

“Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy.”  Anne Morrow Lindbergh   I love driving up North Street right now. The forsythia makes a gold trail through the twiggy grey woods, a sprig here, a clump there… a chain of… Read more »

With Liberty and Brunnera For All

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brunnera & dicentra featured image

Brunnera needs a better name, that’s for sure. On the Fine Gardening website’s very handy pronunciation guide (, they pronounce it two different ways! The common name is Siberian Bugloss, which is even worse. I think brunnera belongs in every spring garden, and if you don’t have it, I’ll give you one. Brunnera’s close relative… Read more »

Prune your boxwood now!

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boxwood hedge naturalfeatured image

I don’t mean to panic you, but RIGHT NOW (early spring) is the perfect time to prune your boxwoods. The weather’s fine, it’s too early to plant or even to weed – sharpen your Felcos and get out there! Now there is pruning, and there is shearing.  Shearing is removing an even length of growth… Read more »

Deer-Resistant Spring Bulbs

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chionodoxa 2 featured image

I used to grow pink tulips under my flowering crabapple. Some years I’d plant tall, elegant “single lates,” in cherry pink and cotton-candy pink. Other years I’d grow blowsy, romantic peony-flowering ‘Angelique,’ who swooned and drooped all over the place. But eventually the deer caught on that all they had to do was walk up… Read more »

Soil Testing

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soil good garden loam featured image

Soil testing… nobody does it. I honestly don’t do it either. But I SHOULD do it – we all should do it! Soil testing enables us to see exactly what our soil needs, so we don’t have to pour on expensive, unnecessary fertilizer.  So go to the UMass extension service and get your soil tested…. Read more »

Witch Hazel, a shrub for plant lovers

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witch hazel h. mollis closeup featured image

Knowing and appreciating witch hazel makes you a hard-core plant lover.  This shrub is not super-showy, nor is it without flaws, but it’s tough enough to provide flowers on the very edges of the growing season, when you need them the most. What is witchy about witch hazel?  I’ve heard that witch hazel twigs are… Read more »