This Houseplant Deserves a Star!

A few weeks ago, a friend arrived for dinner bearing a potted plant covered with the most amazing orange flowers. It was supposed to be a gift for my husband, who had recently spent 12 days in the hospital (you can read about that on my other blog), but I couldn’t take my eyes off the huge, intensely colored blooms. I’m pretty familiar with most common plants, especially ones sold in pots, already in bloom, however I didn’t recognize this one at all. What in the world could it be?

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Blue Stars for Your Garden

Amsonia jonesii_Jones' Bluestar_DBG_LAH_0723

Think of stars, fallen from the sky to land on green leaves. In April to June, flowers with five pointed petals, in shades of white to a pale sky-blue, appear in clusters on one-foot plants. The subtle hues give this perennial a peaceful presence in the garden.

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Meet the Apiaceae

Heracleum sphondylium ssp montanum - Cow parsnip_DBG LAH 058What do carrots, cilantro, celery, and poison hemlock have in common? Think like a botanist. How do the leaves look? What shape is the root? What about the flowers? Yes, they’re all members of the Apiaceae (aka Umbelliferae) family of plants. So are caraway, anise, parsley, parsnips, and a whole host of other familiar species.

Members of this family are relatively easy to distinguish. The most obvious feature is in the way their flowers are arranged—like an umbrella, with a stalk and a cluster of flowers on stems all springing from a central point.

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Turquoise Sunflowers, Fuchsia Daffodils?

Paeonia hyb_Peony_DBG-CO_LAH_8488

Why do we always seem to gravitate toward things that are rare? Precious stones, one-of-a-kind art objects, limited edition car models—we always seem to want most what’s hardest to find.

Gardeners aren’t exempt. We’re  continually on the lookout for unique cultivars, with odd shapes or unusual colors. While lots of flowers are yellow, peonies usually come in shades of white, pink, and red. Yet, I have a good friend who paid a lot of money to get a yellow peony. Why? She thought it was “interesting.”

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Gorgeous Ginger

dbg_lah_2899

I love Asian cooking, or at least the American version of it. (I didn’t recognize anything on the buffet at the hotel in Bangkok!). Anything with plenty of onions, garlic, and ginger makes my mouth water. I’ve grown onions and garlic before, when I had more room for such things. But living in the cold part of Zone 5, any ginger I planted would have to be in a pot so I could bring it in for the winter. And at the rate I use ginger, it just didn’t seem to be worth the trouble.

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