Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – April 2016

Bearsfoot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) with Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens) and glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae); Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Bearsfoot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) with Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens) and glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

I was all prepared to bemoan the wild weather extremes we’ve had over the past month, and how the timing of the plants is so far off normal, until I looked back through my previous April Bloom Day posts:¬† 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. They provided a much-needed reminder that the only thing predictable about our weather this time of year is its unpredictability. So, I’ll just accept that everything is as it’s meant to be, plant-wise, and enjoy what looks lovely now.

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Matchmaking with Hardy Bulbs – Part 1

'Gladiator' allium (Allium) with 'Silver and Gold' yellow-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), 'Edith Wolford' bearded iris, and--in the back--Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii); Nancy J Ondra at Hayefield

‘Gladiator’ allium (Allium) with ‘Silver and Gold’ yellow-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), ‘Edith Wolford’ bearded iris, and–in the back–Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) [May 22, 2013]

When I was writing The Perennial Matchmaker, my original plan was to include an entire section devoted to combinations featuring hardy bulbs, but as the pages filled up with other perennials, I was lucky to keep even a few set aside for alliums and lilies. Now, though, seems like an excellent time to indulge in an in-depth appreciation of these little bundles of beauty, so think of this as a bonus chapter. Continue reading

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2016

Galanthus nivalis 2 Ondra

There’s a lot to smile about right now, that’s for sure. It’s not often that I have enough flowers in mid-March for a Bloom Day post. Our weather has been so freakishly warm–more like May or June than March–that new things are coming into bloom daily, and some of the earliest bulbs are almost finished now.

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Planning Ahead for the Late Show

'Spring Gold' purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) in fall color [October 11, 2011]; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

It’s time for snowdrops and hellebores, and fresh new shoots of other early bloomers poking out of the soil–so who wants to contemplate the end of the gardening season when the new one has hardly begun? The thing is, having interesting things to look at in fall requires some forethought. It can take a while to track down some of the gems of the autumn garden, because they’re often not readily available in garden centers during the usual spring shopping frenzy. And if you wait until fall to plant them, then you’ve missed out their other interesting features earlier on. But if you start hunting for them now, and get them into the ground in the next few months, they’ll have plenty of time to get settled in and make a good show for you as the growing season draws to a close.

I have so many fall favorites that it’s tough to whittle down the list, but I’ve done my best to select some that you may not have considered before. To give you a head start, I’ve supplied a couple of online sources for each, based on the results of a Google search. I don’t have any connection to or personal experience with any of these nurseries. (I suggest checking out any potential source on Garden Watchdog before ordering.) Continue reading

The Perennial Matchmaker – A Chance to Win

The Perennial Matchmaker by Nancy J. Ondra

It’s here! I’ve been experimenting with plant combinations, making notes, and gathering photographs for many years, and I wrote the first proposal for this book nearly a decade ago. I’m grateful to the folks at Rodale–where I started my career in publishing as a summer intern in Garden Books 26 years ago–for taking a chance on my idea and turning it into reality. I also owe thanks to excellent editor Karen Bolesta and the book’s talented designer, Joanna Williams, as well as frequent collaborator Rob Cardillo and the many talented blogger/photographers whose inspiring combinations are included in the text.

The book isn’t due out until next month, but the advance copies just arrived, and to celebrate the release, Rodale has arranged to give away 10 copies through Goodreads. It’s open to residents of the U.S and Canada from today to March 1, 2016. You can find details on how to enter here: Book Giveaway for The Perennial Matchmaker.


What’s in a Name? Moments in Time

'SunnySmile'--a dwarf annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus)--with narrowleaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia) and 'Sweet Caroline Bronze' sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) [Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield]

‘Sunny Smile’–a dwarf annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus)–with narrowleaf zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia) and ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas)

As it seemed time for a new adventure in the meaning of botanical names, time itself is a tempting topic. A little familiarity with some of the words you might come across can be handy for predicting how a plant might behave in your garden simply by looking at its name. 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