17 Hellebore Flowers for Early Blooms in Your Garden

01. RED RACER

Part of the Winter Thriller™ series introduced by Chris Hansen of Great Garden Plants, the oversized, velvety-crimson flowers are widely regarded as the truest red. Dark mahogany foliage that fades to dark green is a perfect complement to the striking blooms.

Velvet Lips
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

02. ‘VELVET LIPS’

This Heronswood introduction has deep-maroon stems that emerge from the ground in early spring, offering a welcome color even before the flowers appear. The red-tinged new foliage unfurls to reveal nodding burgundy flowers with a shiny, darker crimson reverse.

Pine Knott Double Pink
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

03. PINE KNOT STRAIN DOUBLE PINK

“I am partial to any of the double-flowered forms, as the blooms last longer,” says Fritz. “The clear lavender-pink color makes this a great companion to a wide range of spring ephemerals, such as early-blooming minor bulbs and forget-me-nots.”

Peppermint Ice
Garden Design
Calimesa, CA

04. PEPPERMINT ICE

One of the many striking named varieties in the Winter Jewels™ series by

Five Spring Planting Ideas

1. Don’t just focus on flowersA visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden will quickly show you that Tim knows how to use a plant’s best features in design. From leaf shape, color, and even furriness, Tim puts a big emphasis on texture. “Every plant has something to offer,” he says. “When you go to the nursery to pick out plants, don’t just focus in on the flowers,” he says. “What is the plant also offering? A blue or gray shade of green? Or how about a pairing of bold leaves with very tiny, delicate ones?” he poses.

Spring Container, Spring Planting Garden Design Calimesa, CA

A single container at the Chicago Botanic Garden captures Tim Pollak’s advice for emphasizing varying textures in design. Photo by: Chicago Botanic Garden.

2. Captivate with a single colorTrends outside of the gardening world are high on Tim’s radar. They’re the perfect way to keep the garden current and to challenge Tim and his team to find ways to present them. A current trend is repeating a color within beds, in containers and arrangements. “We see

Designing Gardens with Fine Foliage

Fine foliage sparkles in this northwestern garden

Flowers are fabulous. But what happens to your garden when those flowers stop blooming? The truth is that foliage really matters if you want gorgeous garden beds or containers.  To help you design your garden with spectacular foliage, renowned author and speaker Christina Salwitz shares her garden tips and plant ideas with Seasonal Wisdom.  Come take a peek…

Foliage Guru

When I think of plant foliage, I always think of my friend Christina Salwitz, owner of The Personal Garden Coach in Renton, Washington

Christina co-authored the award-winning book Fine Foliage with Karen Chapman, and she has another book coming in 2016 called Foliage First. Her designs have been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, along with other publications. So, she really knows her foliage.

Fine Foliage Planting Ideas

Nandina 'Gulf Stream' and tricolor sage have fine foliageOne of Christina’s favorite combinations is Nandina ‘Gulf Stream’ and tri-color sage, shown above.

“I enjoy how big bold strong textures work together with fine delicate ones,” says Christina. “My other ‘go-to-idea’

Types of Water Heaters – Purchase the Best One as Per Your Requirements

Do you wish to purchase a new heating system or replace the existing one? In that case, you must consider few factors before making the final decision. The system will save money and provide efficiency. Different types of water systems are available in the market. You could purchase the system depending on the fuel source, size, requirement, budget etc.

Here is the list of most popular heating systems-

  • Solar water heaters – the system will consume sun’s heat to provide hot water
  • Heat pump water heaters – the heat will be transferred from one place to another instead of being generated directly.
  • Indirect water heaters – they will use your home’s space heating system to provide hot water
  • Tank less coil systems
  • Conventional storage systems – It is a ready reservoir of hot water
  • Demand type systems- it will not use storage tank to heat water directly

While choosing the best type and model of the heating system, you have to take care of the following things. The type of fuel you use will impact energy efficiency and operation costs. A properly sized water heater is important so that the household receives enough hot water.

Before proceeding ahead, you must estimate the annual operating costs of the system. Do

One Technique for Painting Succulents with Watercolors

This article is an introduction on how to do some watercolor paintings of some of the simpler succulents (Aloes, Agaves etc.).Some painting tips will be mentioned and some sample paintings will be shown as they develop from the start to finish.

To me painting is no substitute for photography, either in terms of accuracy, or even color or form. But sometimes painting can add things impossible to create with simple photography. And though photographs themselves can certainly be art, there is something satisfyingly ‘artistic’ about making a painting of a plant, even if it’s directly from a photograph, no matter how formulaic this might sound. One can add a lot or take away a lot from the original image by painting, exaggerate or alter the colors, blur or simplify the background, simplify or alter the form, add objects (I usually add lizards) and basically change a ‘factual’ photograph into one’s own interpretation of the ‘facts’. Paintings do not have to be accurate, or even duplicate reality in the least. In fact, one has nearly infinite freedom when painting. But in this article I use traced images to simplify the process, speed things up a great deal

Gardening key to helping cancer survivors heal emotionally and physically

In an effort to determine the role between gardening and the health of cancer survivors, experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) studied both survivors and gardeners, pairing them together and noting the outcomes. (1)

The study, Harvest for Health, concluded that cancer survivors who became involved in gardening were more inclined to eat the fresh foods that were grown in the garden, while also obtaining more physical activity and developing an improved outlook on life. All of these factors play a role in helping those stricken with cancer heal.

Fresh vegetables are important for cancer survivor self-care

Among the top suggestions for cancer survivor self-care, according to the Mayo Clinic, is exercise. (2) The Clinic explains that physical activity reduces anxiety and fatigue, which is common in such individuals, while also improves endurance and self-esteem. Furthermore, the Clinic advises eating a balanced diet that contains “five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.”

The National Cancer Institute suggests that cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, contain compounds known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. (3)

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D., the associate director for cancer

Get Rid of those icky critters sharing your home!Eliminate Those Icky Creatures Sharing Your Home!

Due to the fact we share the world (and quite often our houses) with undesired insects like rodents as well as bugs, it is advisable to understand how to get rid of them successfully. Mice and pesky insects are usually unwelcome vermin which can have disease and they need to be eliminated from your household.

With both insects and rats, the typical rule of thumb is that for every one you see you’ll find maybe five or ten that you do not, which is not an enjoyable thought to have. Whilst it can be practical for the enthusiastic homeowner to remove several unwelcome pests, people who discover very many, or maybe more than one sort are well advised to simply call in a specialist like the folks at Peeler Environmental. There are plenty of reasons that this is a good idea – one is usually that the professionals have obtained the education to spot bugs, and so fully understand its life cycle, preferred areas to nest, which baits and/or poisons and/or traps are going to be most beneficial, et cetera. Additionally they learn their products, and that is important for anybody who does not want to share their house with

Planting garden center flowers is good for bees and other beneficial insects

Recently, some Internet and media sources have suggested that buying and planting flowers from your local garden center could be harmful to bees because traces of neonicotinoid insecticides were found in the leaves and flowers of plants randomly purchased from garden centers around the country. Although it is true that concentrations of over 100 ppb of imidacloprid in nectar or pollen are toxic to honey bees, and lower concentrations (10 to 100 ppb) could affect their foraging behavior and immune response, the potential harm to pollinators in the yard and garden from buying and purchasing flowers from a garden center has been exaggerated. In fact, planting annual and perennial flowers and flowering trees and shrubs is expected to be beneficial for bees and other beneficial insects.

Greenhouse and nursery growers started using alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides this year, and although the transition is not complete, the amount used is less than in previous years, and the plan should be fully adopted in 2015. Michigan State University began working with growers in March of 2014 to identify pest control strategies where neonicotinoids have been used so that alternative strategies could be adopted. Also, experiments were initiated to determine

Creating a Beautiful Flower Garden

Natives versus exotics

The English flower gardens that Australian travellers continually hunger for were created in the middle of the last century, and reached their ultimate expression at Lawrence Johnson’s Hidcote garden and Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst castle. With an extraordinary selection of perennial flowering plants that thrive through frosty winters and coolish summers no country in the southern hemisphere (except perhaps New Zealand) is so blessed with good consistent rainfall and cloudy skies that sharpen the flower colours to create unforgettable floral impacts.

However there are many garden adaptations that will lift Australian spirits despite our intense heat, poor soils and water limitations. Many of Australia’s native plants are of course perfectly adapted to extreme heat and drought. Over thousands of generations our native shrubs, both low and medium sized, have survived by evolving woody stems.

These shrubs have tough foliage and flower mostly in the cooler months of winter and spring. Their virtue is their evergreen foliage and ability to survive in soils low in phosphorus and carbon. However very few have the spectacular summer flowers of northern hemisphere herbaceous perennials such as delphiniums, lupins, poppies and hollyhocks that have soft, fleshy

18 Stunning & Offbeat Spring Blooming Bulbs

1. ‘Boone’ gladiolus (Gladiolus x gandavensis ‘Boone’)

A treasured plant I’ve carried with me as I’ve moved, I bought my ‘Boone’ originally from Dan Hinkley’s Heronswood Nursery years ago. Its demure, soft-colored flowers are like refreshing peach-lemon sorbet in the heat of midsummer. And it has a great story: discovered growing at an old homestead in the mountains near Boone, North Carolina, it probably dates to the early 1900s and was introduced under its current cultivar name by plantsman Allen Bush. I do stake ‘Boone’ just to be safe since I wait all year to enjoy its precious blooms.

2. Dutch iris (Iris x hollandica ‘Eye of the Tiger’)

I’m an easy mark for flowers with iridescence and a touch of brown. This bulbous iris has a glowing jewel-like quality, with electric violet-blue standards and bronzy falls. Blooming on stiff 2-foot stems in late spring and early summer, it has that verticality every garden needs. I have a penchant for pairing different types of plants that have identical coloring, and this iris partners perfectly with a pansy called Karma™ ‘Blue Butterfly’ (“like a Mini-Me,” jokes Jo-Anne van den Berg-Ohms). Some people use ‘Eye of the Tiger’

How to Plan a Garden That’s Beautiful Come Winter

WINTER IS THE great forgotten season in the garden. Flowers have turned brown and crispy, as have leaves that mere weeks ago launched their fall-foliage spectacular. Time to light a fire and click on Netflix.

The off-season yard doesn’t have to be desolate and sleepy. “When I design a space I begin with winter,” said Lynden Miller, creator of public gardens in Manhattan, including Central Park’s Conservatory Garden. “Who wants to look at an empty brown ugly bed” in a part of the world “where winter is five or six months a year?” she asked.

A strategic cold-weather garden offers brilliant red and orange berries of hollies and firethorns when you need them most: When skies are gray and the earth is barren or buried in snow. Bare branches have their own beauty. At my house in upstate New York, viburnum trees stretch horizontally like giant bonsai while bright crimson twigs of a dogwood shrub gleam against white.

And yes, some plants bloom in frigid weather: In my yard, witch-hazel trees’ branches sprout blossoms and snowdrops push their flowers as early as January.

Though it might seem odd to plant now as sunlight grows

Down-to-earth Gifts Are Best Bet For Gardeners

How do you impress the gardener on your Christmas gift list? Take it from an old dirt dibbler, there`s no better way to cultivate his friendship or affection (as the case may be) than by choosing a gift with his own special interest at heart.

It may be a gift that promises enjoyment when the garden awakens in spring or can be appreciated indoors while the garden is asleep. It can be a lawn and garden tool, a gift that grows or perhaps garden accessories such as a bird bath or feeder.

Gift possibilites are endless, and within the range to fit any holiday budget. Shopping for them is as easy as a visit to your local garden center or leafing through mail order catalogues. All they need is a bright wrapper or ribbon to spark the Christmas spirit.

If the gift recipient is a close friend or family member, you may have some clues as to what would be well-received. Has he or she complained repeatedly about a leaky hose or wished for an extension to reach far corners of the yard? Struggled last summer with a

Networking for Nutrition

A million pounds of garden fresh produce sounds like an enormous amount of food. To imagine that backyard gardeners across North America might be willing and able to grow and donate that much extra to help address the problem of hunger in their communities seems wildly optimistic, at the very least. However, the members of Garden Writers Association of America (GWAA) who participate in the grassroots program they call Plant A Row for the Hungry felt it could be done. After 3 years of experience with developing and nurturing Plant a Row, or PAR, their unique commitment to address the stubborn, chronic problem of hunger in our nation of plenty, they set the goal of One Million by the Millennium.

And, with significant funding and public service announcements by Home & Garden TV (HGTV), they reached their goal. In fact, by January of 2000 the tally was 1,051,000 pounds of food collected and contributed to food assistance programs across the US and Canada. It happened because of publicity campaigns in 44 states plus Canada, spearheaded by garden communicators–newspaper columnists, TV and radio personalities–who ignited the interest of their audiences in the PAR program. PAR program director, Jacqui

Lawn and Garden

Diseases

Sooner or later, plant disease will enter your garden. However, there are ways to reduce disease in your garden and in some cases, even prevent plant disease. Knowing how to tell if a plant is healthy, picking disease resistant plant varieties and being able to identify the primary types of plant disease are all ways to help control plant disease.

Plant diseases are either a fungus, bacteria, or viral. Symptoms like stunted growth, spotted leaves, wilting, and yellowing leaves are all indications of possible trouble. Not all diseases can be treated, and yet others are effectively controlled with organic or synthetic methods

Eco-Friendly Ideas

There are multiple ways we can practice environmental stewardship and go green in our own little corner of the world. Eco-friendly ideas and suggestions come to the forefront every day. Many of those ideas can be applied to gardening. As we strive to offer smart resources for better gardening we will accumulate those ideas here.

We welcome your input as well. Please feel free to use the contact us form to share your eco-friendly practices. We will post as many as we can in this section of the

Create a Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures on Earth. By planting a butterfly garden with all of the right kinds of plants and flowers that butterflies love to feed on and lay eggs on, you will certainly have a yard full of butterflies throughout the growing season. Butterfly gardens can be any size – a window box, part of your landscaped yard, or even a wild untended area on your property.

Creating a butterfly garden should start with some serious research to learn which kinds of butterflies are native to your area. You can learn that from our article “Butterfly Gardening by Area”. Make a list of all of the different kinds of butterflies you would like to attract, and then learn which flowers and plants they both feed on and lay eggs on. All of the plants will certainly be native to your area and therefore easy to grow with the right conditions and care. Adult butterflies will visit for a longer period if they find plants to lay their eggs on. These are called ‘Host Plants’ and you can read about them in our article on “Butterfly Host Plants.”

Once you have done

Planning a Vegetable Garden

 When I was young, my parents offered me a tiny plot of ground in our backyard for my own garden. That first season, I grew carnations, tomatoes and cucumbers. The spark was ignited. I’ve been gardening ever since, wherever I’ve lived; Colorado, California and here in Vermont. After 30 years, I continue to learn about and experiment with new vegetable varieties and plant combinations. I make discoveries every season. But over the years I’ve settled on a garden layout that utilizes three-foot-wide raised beds. It is, I think, the key to beautiful and productive gardens.

First, I’m going to review the essentials of a vegetable garden, then I’ll describe how I make my raised beds. I believe that if you follow these directions, you’ll be well on your way to an abundant harvest and an enjoyable gardening season.

Choose a Sunny Location

There’s no better way to start than by choosing a sunny spot for your garden. Most vegetables need six to eight hours of direct sun a day for best results. Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce can thrive with a bit less. As you assess your yard this winter, remember that the deciduous trees that are leafless now will cast shadows

These Houses Aren’t Just For The Birds

There is a bit of the fairy tale about a garden furnished with a birdhouse. A fascinating family of wrens, bluebirds, finches, chickadees, titmice, swallows and many other wonderful birds that might pass through your garden will take residence happily in a little country church, general store or log cabin in miniature.

About 50 species of birds use birdhouses for nesting. In nature, they build nests in crevices and cavities in trees, but they also are interested in the accommodations gardeners provide and settle quite willingly into our imaginative architectural creations.

These small outbuildings are wonderful works of garden art. They may be quite plain, but they have a way of capturing our imaginations. A birdhouse-cottage with a steep pitched roof and shaded front porch may be reminiscent of a playhouse in a garden long ago. A rustic box in an old oak may be as close as adult gardeners can come to the treehouse of childhood.

Birdhouses are as varied as the houses in which we live. There are painstaking reproductions of mansions, bungalows or beach houses. Others look like windmills, classical temples, castles or lighthouses. One

Weller Garden Ornaments Unmarked

Antiques, collectibles and gardening seem to go together. Such “crossover” collectibles usually generate extra interest and rising prices.

Weller, the famous art pottery maker from Ohio, made a full line of garden ornaments and accessories from the early 1900s to 1948.

Cement-gray-colored birdbaths and jardinieres from the Graystone line, as well as other pieces, often were unmarked and are still unrecognized by some collectors.

Birdhouses and hanging feeders were made of gray and sandstone-colored clays.

One line of vases and planters was made to resemble tree trunks. Another line featured realistic frogs in sizes from a few inches to a foot long.

Garden figures were popular. Weller made gnomes, animals and birds in the 1930s and ’40s. Bulging-eyed dogs, happy ducks, drunken ducks and banjo frogs were available. You could get a table shaped like a toadstool, a strawberry jar or a sundial.

The most unusual garden pottery was the line of sprinklers. A 1930s ad mentioned a frog sprinkler that threw water 16 feet. The sprinklers were made from figures that had been drilled so the metal sprinkler head and hose connection

The Ancient Art Of Garden Ornamentation Inspires Us Today

Garden ornaments-including graceful statues, decorative pergolas and elegant urns-have figured in formal garden design for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used carved and painted pillars to support vines in their enclosed gardens; sculptures of kings and sphinxes kept silent watch over plantings of flowers and shrubs.

In the Second Century, the Roman emperor Hadrian scaled the heights of ornamental gardening in the ancient world on the sprawling grounds of his villa near Tivoli, which boasted a huge arcaded pool surrounded by myriad stone statuary of classically rendered nudes. Antique statues, elaborate fountains and a series of terraces linked by sweeping stairways were typical of the grandiose gardens popular during the Italian Renaissance, an era that influenced garden ornamentation in the Western world for centuries to come.

“Given the right circumstances, when he has not been preoccupied with the struggle for existence, man has been a creature of aspiration, and herein lies the impetus for garden ornament,“ British garden writer George Plumptre notes in “Garden Ornament“ (Doubleday, $50), a lavishly illustrated look at “five hundred years of nature, art and artifice.“ Most contemporary gardeners, alas, have neither

Something old is new for garden

Modern gardeners–looking for a touch of instant aristocracy for the patio or just the right accent for the herb garden–are reaching into their pocketbooks and buying lichen-encrusted stone statues, elegant sundials and handsome cast-iron urns from gardens of long ago.

The garden antiques business is booming, and dealers specializing in antique garden ornaments of every description have cropped up like dandelions.

Old garden ornaments always have lurked in the musty corners of antiques shops, but in the past few years, garden antiques have emerged as a category of their own, says Leanne Stella of Stella Show Management. Her company puts together antiques shows around the country, including the Chicago Antiques and Garden Fair and the Gramercy Garden Antiques Show in New York.

European antiques are in particular demand, especially stone, pottery and metal pieces from France, says Marty Shapiro, owner of Finnegan Gallery in Chicago.

“French garden antiques have a flair that English pieces do not,” Shapiro says. “They have a lot more frills.”

French glazed pottery, terra-cotta olive jars from Provence and stone statuary of all kinds, aged by time and weather, are very popular now.

Scouring Europe

Shapiro and his

Grow a Living Wall with Shawna Coronado

Perhaps you have a small garden, and want to use that patio wall more effectively. Maybe you have a bad back and would prefer not to bend over. Or, maybe you just want an attractive place to grow your favorite plants. Whatever the reason, there are lots of different types of living walls, and they are easy to grow with the right gardening tips – whether it’s a sunny kitchen garden or a shady side yard.

To learn more about living walls, Seasonal Wisdom sat down recently with Shawna Coronado, book author, keynote speaker and media spokesperson.  She also agreed to give one lucky winner a copy of her new book. But hurry! This giveaway won’t last long.  Congratulations to Jess B. for winning this random drawing. All photos copyright Shawna Coronado.My friend Shawna Coronado recently authored Grow a Living Wall: Create Vertical Gardens with Purpose (Cool Springs Press). Her four-color book gives step-by-step directions for building more than 20 attractive living walls, which are well suited to different growing conditions and design styles. From her home outside of Chicago, Shawna agreed one chilly autumn afternoon recently to share her thoughts on vertical gardening

Leafy vegetables and