pH for Gardeners

To a gardener choosing which plants to grow, pH is an important consideration. While the pH of most soils falls somewhere between 3 and 9, the majority of common landscape plants prefer a pH slightly on the acidic side, say 6.2 to 6.8. However, some plants, such as blueberries and rhododendrons, prefer an even more acidic soil (with a pH in the 5 to 6 range) and other plants, green ash trees and clematis, for example, do best under more alkaline conditions, with a pH above 7.

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Campanulaceae: Beautiful Bellflowers, Lovely Lobelia

Campanulaceae is a family of plants with members ranging from the towering palm-lobelias of Africa to cottage garden flowers with names from a child’s book of fairytales: Canterbury bells, Cup and Saucer Vine, Harebells, and Fairy’s Thimbles. Two familiar genera, Campanula and Lobelia, are members of this family.

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Hydrangea Heaven

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I just spent two weeks in the Pacific Northwest. Since our daughter and her family live there, we visit frequently, but typically at Thanksgiving or in mid-winter. This time we managed to arrive in July. What a treat! With blue skies, light breezes, and puffy white clouds, the weather was (mostly) perfect. All that rain during the fall, winter, and spring results in stunning summer gardens, with emerald green lawns and towering trees. And the flowers! Yes, the rhodies and azaleas were done, but the hydrangeas were in full bloom. Everywhere we looked, we saw huge flower clusters of bright pink, magenta, white, and most noticeably, pure sky blue.

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Meet the Mustards

Broccoli and cabbage, mustard and turnips. Radishes, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Kale and kohlrabi. Asian vegetables such as daikon radishes, bok choy, and gai lan (Chinese broccoli). Never has a plant family had so many tasty members.

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Red, White, and Blue Berries

What kind of fruit comes in red, white, and blue? Berries, of course!

Blueberries are a huge treat. Our daughter in western Washington grows them by the bucketful, although our granddaughters have a habit of grazing on them in the backyard, so they don’t always make it into the kitchen.

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