Perennials and Hardy Annuals I’ve Successfully Winter-Sowed

Happy day-after-Valentine's Day, everyone! The Hudson Valley looks and feels like Narnia right now, with snow, blowing snow, and wind-chill temperatures in the dangerous digits (-10°F to -20°F). Can you blame me for wanting to write Read more »

How I Prepare Geraniums for Winter-Bloom

WHEN IT COMES TO OVERWINTERING GERANIUMS, I refuse to be saddled with tired, old, monster-size plants. I want fresh, young geraniums that are eager to grow, and which are small enough to serve decorative duty in the window garden. Do you want what I want? Then let me show you how, exactly, to prepare these popular summer plants for winter-beauty indoors. Read more »

Overwintering Tender Herbs & Annuals

THERE is nothing like the threat of a killing frost to get a gardener hopping. Although my potted plants were brought indoors long ago, I had neglected -- at least until I heard tonight's forecast -- to lift my cherished lemon verbena, parsley, petunias and geraniums (like 'Apple Blossom Rosebud', above), from their vulnerable positions in the open garden. Read on, if you're not too squeamish, and I’ll show you my surgical procedure that permits the successful overwintering of these tender herbs and annuals. Read more »

My Favorite Seed-Suppliers…& Yours (2012 Edition)

(Note: here is the 2013 edition of this article.) AS I’VE SAID BEFORE, I rarely buy annual, perennial or vegetable seeds from local vendors. Why? Because their selections are limited to what will fit on a rack. Take, for example, petunia seeds. The local big-box store might sell 3 basic varieties (if you’re lucky). But visit an on-line seed specialist like Summerhill, and you will find 61 petunia varieties, including the delightful ‘Shock Wave Rose,’ pictured above. The following seed-sellers get most of my business: Read more »

The Perpetual Life of Pelargonium peltatum (the Ivy-Leaved Geranium)

I’LL ADMIT I’M A SUCKER FOR THE IVY-LEAVED GERANIUM, Pelargonium peltatum. Planted in a hanging basket where its trailing stems with ivy-shaped foliage can freely cascade, it puts on a pink, rose, lavender, purple or white-tinted show that is unsurpassed by even the petunia. And, as you will soon discover, the plant is a great… Read more »

My Trial with Cosmos ‘Rose Bon Bon’

LAST YEAR, Renee Shephard of Renee’s Garden Seeds sent me a trial packet of a new, fully double Cosmos called ‘Rose Bon Bon.’ Would you like to know my honest assessment of this plant that was bred in France for the cut-flower trade? First, let me tell you that I ignored the planting-directions which came… Read more »

Seeds to Winter-Sow: Bachelor’s Button (Centaurea cyanus)

SURE, Centaurea cyanus (above, in my Kitchen Garden) provides charming, long-stemmed, azure-blue flowers all summer long. And yes, it is a magnet for honey bees and butterflies. But these are not the plant’s only attributes. It also offers valium for the eyes, and serenity for the soul. I discovered its tranquilizing properties when I was… Read more »