Until 1856 when Sir Henry Perkins accidentally discovered a mauve-colored coal tar product, all dyes were from natural sources. Most (but not all) of these were plant based. Famous Tyrian purple was derived from a mollusk found in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Interes...

Herbs are plants valued for their usefulness. Cooking with herbs certainly comes to mind, but they are also used for fragrance, decoration and to attract or repel insects. Citronella may be used to keep mosquitoes out of the patio while fennel, dill and parsley attract...

The famous garden designer Gertrude Jekyll grew containers of flowers to fill in dull spots in perennial borders. As a longtime perennial gardener, I can testify that few are blooming by the end of July. I use containers of annuals to provide visual interest during the...

Growing garden-fresh veggies gets more popular every year. It allows us to experience truly vine-ripe tomatoes and other fruits harvested at the peak of perfection. Vegetables in the produce department are harvested before becoming fully ripe so that they can be shippe...

Container gardening has much to recommend it. It allows those of us with few sunny sites to make the most of what we do have. It brings herbs close to the cook. Raised containers make gardening easy for those with mobility issues. Lastly, containers can beautify the ho...

I confess that I’ve always loved peas. When I was a young child, frozen peas were sold as rectangular bricks that were a tad bigger than the diameter of Mama’s pot. A corner or two of peas flew off whenever she tried to force them into the boiling water. I ran around p...

In Nebraska, we gave into “old house fever” and bought a gaslight-era place that needed a little TLC. There I indulged myself creating a garden of cold-tolerant Old Garden Roses.

A neighbor gave me a seven-foot-tall wrought-iron fan trellis that he had never used. We se...

About 30 years ago I began collecting heirloom roses. Inspired by the large arbor we had built over our patio, I succumbed to the Wayside Garden catalogue charms of Leontine Gervais, a rambling rose introduced in 1903. I also sent away for Mermaid, a large-flowered cli...

At the end of the Carboniferous Period, radical changes occurred on the planet. Approximately 335 million years ago, the continents merged into one supercontinent which we call Pangaea. The climate changed from very humid and warm to “continental”—characterized by cold...

Vascular plants, those with specialized tissue for the circulation of water and nutrients, evolved more than 400 million years ago. Early vascular plants have no wood, no flowers nor seeds.  They reproduce from spores which are pollinated and dispersed by the wind. The...

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