Category: Features

The sky’s the limit

Warm weather entices us to think “outdoors.” The trend in creating outdoor living spaces has steadily increased throughout the years. Trellises, arbors, pergolas, decks, porches and gazebos create great outdoor spaces allowing us to share tranquil time in nature with family and friends. In fact, a well-planned outdoor space can increase curb appeal and add to the resale value of your home. Start by researching the possibilities. To help get you started, here are some essential things you need to know about selecting the type of structure and how much each stands to cost. Don’t forget to use an...

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Embrace moondust for your plantings

Spring planting season, with longer, warmer, brighter days, is when gardeners traditionally celebrate the resurgence of the sun. But some growers are also inclined to embrace the night sky and the moon, whose cyclical phases, they believe, can help them produce bigger, better crops. Google the term “moon phase gardening” and results will run the gamut from venerable publications like the Old Farmer’s Almanac to an array of spiritual new age enthusiasts and off the grid homesteaders. Despite a diversity of backgrounds, they share an almost fervent belief that the moon’s alchemy makes a huge difference in the quality of crop production. Many who work the soil learned early on the lore of planting by the moon from family elders handing down their knowledge through generations. But each season, it seems, new disciples  are discovering the wisdom of the ‘old ways’ when they choose to practice more natural methods of organic and biodiversity gardening. For others, who remain totally in the dark, the venerable Old Farmer’s Almanac’s 2019 edition dispels the notion that moon phase gardening has anything to do with sowing seeds at midnight. Neither is it astrology, the Almanac states, though some ‘true believers’ have connected the dots to include the implications of star signs and beyond. Dorchester County Master Gardener Laetitia Sands does not claim to be an expert, though she’s explored lunar gardening premises (and promises!),...

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Ready to start your own moon garden?

We’re used to selecting plants to adorn our surroundings according to how much sun or shade they prefer. But some flowers wait until the sun sets to truly shine. These are the florae whose late (in the day) blooms emit intoxicating scents perfect for luring night pollinators, and, if they’re lucky, people who’ve discovered the peaceful pleasures and sensory delights of a garden at night. More people are discovering the pleasure of enjoying the fruits of their gardening labors after dark, when the air is cooler, and the busy rush of day is past. For horticulturalist Heather Wheatley at Homestead Gardens, a moon garden makes perfect sense for people working from sun up to sun down, lacking the time to enjoy the outdoor sanctuaries they created. One of her favorite moonlight delights is the Yucca, a member of the Agave family, whose flower blooms in the evening and attracts its own pollinator, the tiny yucca or pronuba moth. Another is Night Phlox (Zaluzianskya)—one variety is nicknamed “Midnight Candy.” White flowers which reflect moonlight make up the main palette element, but often they are tinged with touches of pink, gray and other accent hues. “There’s a range of shades from light to deeper with a variety of textures,” Wheatley added. Homestead horticulturalists also recommend, no surprise here, Coreopsis “Moonbeam,” which becomes iridescent after dark, Moonflower, Four O’Clock, Jasmine, Tuberose and...

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MANTS introduces new trends

Your local garden centers, nurseries and landscape designers don’t take winter off. Instead they jump into the new year with trade shows. The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show attracts a wide universe of green industry professionals to Baltimore each January. While the show is only open to the horticultural trade, the garden media is allowed access and I was allowed to visit the more than 1,500 booths — covering 300,000-plus square feet of exhibit space. Following my usual routine to this overwhelming annual event, I headed straight to the very back row of the hall where the newest companies have their booths. I was seeking out the unique new product introductions and small companies that often get overlooked. The first thing that caught my attention was the scent of roses and apples wafting down the aisles. I tracked it down to the Brindebella Roses booth (www.sunfirenurseries.com). They are a new line of fragrant roses that were bred in Australia and are now being grown in Florida for distribution in the United States. The next plant to grab me was the Gaultheria procumbens ‘Peppermint Pearl’ (conceptplants.com). Let’s check off all of its pluses: evergreen, white berries in fall and winter, compact and low growing, flowers in summer, hardy down to zone 4, and it likes part shade. It sounds like the perfect groundcover to me. And get this — the berries...

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Philadelphia Flower Show blooms with ‘Flower Power’ theme

On the cusp of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show presented by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society March 2-10 at the Philadelphia Convention Center, celebrated “Flower Power,” paying tribute to the impact of flowers on our lives. More than 245,000 visitors explored the 10 acres of exhibits from large landscapes to miniature arrangements that drew long lines while music from the 60s filled the air. An international floral competition, the FTD World Cup, filled much of the space at the entrance with larger-than-life floral creations from 23 countries. There were nearly 6,000 entries in the horticulture show where 616 entrants displayed their best and most unique plants. A new photography class drew 49 awesome entries. Some 4,000 students participated in related activities as 32 schools hosted junior flower shows. There was a craft area for kids and a live butterfly exhibit, both at an additional charge. For most, the show brought a promise that spring is just around the corner and that soon the landscape will burst forth with colorful flowers to brighten their spirits. The 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show, scheduled a bit earlier — from Feb. 29 to March 8, will take guests on a “Riviera Holiday,” celebrating the lush, exotic plants and sun-drenched landscapes of the Mediterranean climate which is found on Europe’s southern coast, America’s West Coast, the Western Cape of South Africa,...

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