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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Color Eggs with Natural Dyes from the Garden
by Cindy Shapton

Hard to imagine but folks couldn’t always go to the department store and buy egg coloring kits. So, what did they use to dye their eggs? If you read the title then you guessed it: flowers, leaves and fruits of plants growing nearby or in their gardens.   >> read article
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Dragonfly Fascination
by Douglas A. Spilker, Ph.D.

Dragonflies with their ominous beauty, vivid colors and their spectacular flying maneuvers have provided hours of entertainment for many gardeners. Dragonflies are widespread across the United States and can be enticed to visit most yards. There are more than 450 species found throughout the United States and Canada. They range in color and size from the small eastern amberwing to the very large and brilliantly colored green darner. Although these insects tend to stay close to their birthplace, they are strong fliers that will explore surrounding areas. So if you garden even remotely near fresh water or a wetland, you can lure dragonflies to your yard.   >> read article
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Keep Your Friends Close, but Your Anemones Closer
by PJ Gartin

Move over pansy, cyclamen and snapdragon. Anemone (A. coronaria) is the new darling of the cool-season bloomers. After showing up in garden centers around mid-December last year, this scintillating Mediterranean native was snapped up faster than a gardener can say “ranunculus.”   >> read article
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Perennial Planning 101
by Jennifer Williams

Creating a 100 percent pure perennial bed can be quite a daunting task. The thought of planning a flowerbed that provides interest from spring until fall is enough to have the most seasoned landscape designers running for the hills. With this simple plan, you can dip your toes into the wonderful world of perennials without creating a panic.   >> read article
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Plants Need Their Rest Too
by Garry V. McDonald

This is about the time of year I start getting inquiries from local media about why leaves turn colors in the fall. What they really want to know is the exact week of peak color to inform the leaf-peepers. I usually respond that the plants are preparing to enter dormancy and peak color depends on prevailing weather conditions and is often unpredictable.

But what exactly is dormancy and why is it crucial to plants? Like explaining why leaves change color, the answer is not straightforward and “depends,” which is not the answer most people want to hear. I’ll attempt to explain in layman’s terms an interesting facet of a plant’s life.
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Aprils Remembered
by Troy B. Marden

As I was scanning my photo library, considering the many garden plants I could write about for this article, I came across a file of photos, all taken during the month of April – not all in the same year, but all in April – gardens ranging from Jackson, Miss., to Louisville, Ky. It reminded me just how abundant the garden is this time of year. This is the season when gardening seems effortless. Well, almost. The weeds are as high-spirited as the annuals and perennials, so diligence in their control is necessary; but still, the garden is lush and growing rapidly, and the vibrant green of spring radiates from its very heart. There is a certain pristine quality about all of the plants emerging fresh and new.   >> read article
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Dahlias for Smiles, Not for Show
You don’t have to be ‘serious’ to grow dahlias
by Caleb Melchior

My grandfather’s neighbor grew dahlias – giant things, with huge, coarse leaves. Their stems were trussed to stout bamboo poles, held captive to protect the hope of a flower. He’d pinch out most of the flower buds, trampling them into the ground, squeezing the plant’s energy into one tremendous effort of bloom. I don't grow these dahlias.   >> read article
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