WNPR

Connecticut Garden Journal

Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn.
Provided by the museum.

One activity I love to do in summer is visit other gardens. It's so easy to get absorbed in all the work of our own gardens, that I never leave home. But visiting other gardens gives me fresh ideas, inspirations, and the relief that we don't have to care for these gardens.

Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood viburnum) foliage with viburnum leaf beetle larvae
Plant Image Library (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Nature abhors a vacuum. For years, viburnums have been carefree shrubs. They flower consistently each year, some with fragrant blooms, and produce colorful berries in fall for beauty and for the birds. Viburnums have few pests or problems, until now.

Four o'clock flowers
harum.koh / Flickr Creative Commons

Some old fashioned flowers have interesting behaviors -- take the four o’clock or the Marvel of Peru. First, this flower can have different colored blossoms on the same plant. The flowers open in late afternoon and close in the morning, in case you are wondering what time it is.

Alina Kuptsova (Flickr)

Gardening is known for its folklore, especially when it comes to insect controls. Some old wives tales have some truth to them and others, not so much. I’m often asked about companion planting for insect control. Although many say plants such as onions, marigolds, and rue can deter pests, scientifically, few of these folklore remedies have been proven. 

poppet with a camera (Flickr)

What vegetable grows like a cucumber, looks like a teeny watermelon, can be eaten raw and has a hint of lime flavoring?  It's a cucuamelon.

Cucamelon is not a cross between a cucumber and watermelon, but it sure looks like it. They are also called Mexican sour gherkins or mouse melons. They are so cute! This Central American native vegetable vines like a cucumber, and produces an abundance of 1-inch long oblong, striped fruits that look like miniature watermelons. The taste is like a cucumber with a slight lime flavor.

Frank Farm (Flickr)

I'm always looking to push the envelope of what we can grow in your climate. I think I got fig growing down, so my latest adventure is fresh ginger. I love the flavor, and I love cooking with ginger root. Ginger also has many medical qualities such as aiding digestion, improving circulation, and helping combat arthritis.

Paul (Flickr)

Mother's Day started back in the late 1800s when Julia Howe, lyricist of the “Battle Hymn to the Republic,” called upon all mothers to protest the senseless killing of their sons during the Civil War.

Terracotta is the classic flowerpot material, but many other options now exist.
Memphis CVB (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It used to be gardeners would have two choices in pots -- clay or plastic.

Terracotta is the classic container with beautiful coloring. It's great for plants that like a well-drained soil like geraniums. Plastic pots are usually dark green and used for everything else.

Asparagus shoots begin to rise from the ground.
Sigfrid Lundberg / Creative Commons

Asparagus is one of the few perennial vegetables we can grow and, if cared for well, can produce for decades. Asparagus is not only tasty, it's talented.

Don DeBold (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It's been a slow spring, but our flowering bulbs are finally are putting on a show. But it's a shame to do all the hard work of growing tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocus only to have critters eat them. To avoid frustration, and excessive cursing, here's what to do.

Harold Litwiler (Flickr) / Creative Commons

I think my fascination with lupines started with Miss Rumphius in that classic children's story. This native wildflower grows 2- to 3-feet-tall in a wide variety of flower colors.

Henry Hemming / Creative Commons

Although we grow this plant as a perennial flower, it has other devious uses. During the siege of Kirrha in ancient Greece, the invading armies poisoned the city's water supply with crushed roots and leaves of this flower.

Kim Unertl / Creative Commons

Let's get a little wild with our greens. I'm going start with mache. My Swiss friend calls it lamb's lettuce because she remembers harvesting it, in early spring, in fields when lambs were born. Mache has a mild taste and is great with eggs.

tinatinatinatinatina (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It's the latest darling of the vegetable world. It's found in salads, sautées, chips, and even shakes. This cabbage family crop has been around for years, but now it's a rock star. We've always known it’s nutritious, but with newer varieties and some good PR, it's sexy, too!

Michael Levine-Clark (Flickr) / Creative Commons

This spring flowering bulb was first brought to Europe from its native Middle East in the 1500s. It was mostly grown for the fall blooming species used for making an expensive cooking spice. However, most gardeners know it for the early blooming varieties that herald spring. It's the crocus.

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