Archive for the ‘My Favorite Things’ Category

Scent-sual Delights

'Lady Plymouth' rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) with lavenders, 'Berggarten' sage (Salvia officinalis), and lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) [Nancy J. Ondra/]

‘Lady Plymouth’ rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) with lavenders, ‘Berggarten’ sage (Salvia officinalis), and lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus)

How is it possible that I haven’t yet written about one of my most favorite plant groups: the scented geraniums? Not the hardy geraniums (Geranium) that have aromatic foliage, such as bigroot geranium (G. macrorrhizum), or the ordinary zonal geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum), which have funky-smelling leaves but are grown primarily for their flowers; I mean the scented Pelargonium species and hybrids grown specifically for their fragrant foliage. Continue reading

Celebrating Containers

'Profusion Double Cherry' zinnia with Carita Purple angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia 'Car Purr09') and 'Golden Edge' golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

All-summer interest: ‘Profusion Double Cherry’ zinnia with Carita Purple angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Car Purr09’) and ‘Golden Edge’ golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta)

I have to admit to being something of a late arrival to the container-gardening fan club. When I look back at pictures of my previous garden, I’m surprised at how few pots I had–well, except for the hundreds of potted seedlings I raised in my little backyard nursery. I mean the usual sort of container plantings: one or more decorative pots meant to add a touch of color where in-ground planting isn’t practical, such as next to a door or on a patio. I guess it’s because I was still fresh my studies of soil science and thought of pots and potting soil only as a propagation tool–a poor second to the experience of digging and planting in “real” soil. Continue reading

Shear Genius

Professional gardener Tim Ondra at

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my brother here before, and shame on me for that. If it weren’t for him, I probably would have ended up with a rather different career path, in field crop or soil science instead of getting to enjoy gardening as both work and play. While his main life passion is playing ice hockey and training goaltenders at his school (Tim Ondra Goalie Training Center), he has also worked as a professional gardener since he was a teenager, and he got me my first estate-gardening job over 25 years ago, when I needed work experience for my agronomy degree. In the decades he’s been gardening, I’ve never known him to get excited about a new tool, so when he stopped by last month with a new pair of shears he said I had to try, I wasn’t quite sure what to think.

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