Winterberries: Wildflower Wednesday

– Posted in: Native/Invasive

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a native holly that drops its leaves in the fall. That's what enables them to survive in colder climates. If your winter landscape seems dark and dreary, you will want to plant some of these shrubs where you can see their profusion of colorful berries from the heated side of your [...]

Hydrangeas that Thrive in a Cold Climate

– Posted in: Hydrangeas

Hydrangea arborescens, Hydrangea anomala, and Hydrangea paniculata are three terrific hydrangeas for cold climates. Remember those names. Write them down on the inside of your arm with a pen if you have to before you visit your local nursery, so that you will not be seduced by the flashy macrophyllas calling to you from every [...]

Forsythia Pruning: Before and After

– Posted in: Forsythia

Forsythia before pruning beganBack in April, I discussed my upcoming plans to prune my forsythia bush. It wasn't flowering very much, and my commenters agreed with me that it needed a heavy pruning. Some even suggested cutting the whole thing down to the ground. But I felt a little too nervous to do that. On [...]

Spring madness: Search and rescue

– Posted in: How-to

If you are short on time, energy, and money, but notably the first two, be conservative. You'll be more pleased with one fair-sized, well-composed, well-maintained bed than with a half-dozen large beds that are choked with quack grass and creeping Charlie. That's excellent advice from The Complete Flower Gardener by Karan Davis Cutler and Barbara [...]

Pruning strategy for forsythia

– Posted in: Forsythia, How-to, Plant info

Remember the forsythia I pruned so that I could force some branches? It doesn't look so floriferous out in the open, does it? (For comparison, check out the forsythias here.) When I'm faced with a plant that's not doing as well as expected, I try to analyze the situation before taking action. In the case [...]

Pruning forsythia in mud season

– Posted in: Forsythia, Mud Season, Plant info
Forced forsythia in vase

The standard advice for pruning spring-blooming shrubs is to prune them no later than two weeks after they're done blooming. This is because most spring-flowering shrubs, at least, all those commonly grown, develop their flower buds on the previous year's wood. So if you prune them in high summer, or autumn, you are cutting off [...]


– Posted in: Forsythia

This is a photo of my Forsythia 'Meadowlark' blooming--sparsely, I grant you, but nevertheless blooming--in September. If I hadn't been checking for signs of the colchicums recently planted in this area, I'm sure I never would have noticed the yellow blossoms, so it is entirely possible this shrub has done this other years without my [...]

Edward Hamilton: Good gardening books, cheap

– Posted in: Book reviews

One of my favorite places to buy gardening books is Edward Hamilton. They do sell some new books, but most of them are remainders and closeouts. No problem when it comes to gardening books, as they don't go out of date that fast and the good ones always bear re-reading. I hate buying books blind, [...]