Autumn Decorations

AUTUMN DECORATIONS By Dr. Leonard Perry Extension Greenhouse and Nursery Crops Specialist University of Vermont Autumn is often associated with certain decorations, including cornucopias, garlands, straw or grapevine wreaths, and dried flower arrangements. Although many decorations can be bought ready-made, making your own can be a fun family activity for a fall afternoon. For the cornucopia, which signifies a bountiful […]

FLEUR DE LYS – Gardening

FLEUR DE LYS The big, bearded German iris (Iris germanica) in my backyard are going to need dividing this year. As it is, each plant has a full compliment of muscular sword-shaped leaves, out of which sprout sturdy stalks with bulging buds that are almost ready to open. The show will be tremendous this year, though I have had almost […]


BROTHER CADFAEL I love to read, and I do it as often as the necessary business of life allows. Sometimes when real life is too overwhelming, and I can’t face a literary novel or a meaty biography, I turn to mysteries. As a mystery lover and a gardener, I find particular solace in the Brother Cadfael series, by the late […]

ANDROMEDA, Pieris – Gardening History

Legend has it that Cassiopeia, an ancient queen of Ethiopia, bragged to Poseidon, god of the sea, that her daughter, Andromeda, was more beautiful than Poseidon’s sea nymphs. Poseidon was touchy about such things and punished Cassiopeia by sending a sea monster to terrorize the Ethiopians. Eventually, the Ethiopian rulers consulted oracles who told them that Andromeda had to be […]

SWORD LILIES – Gardening

SWORD LILIES Sometimes a garden just needs a bit of intensity. For several years my front borders have been full of soothing pastels, with peaches and pale yellows predominating, accented with lots of white. The result is pleasing, but nothing reinvigorates like a little change, so last year I decided to add some gold nasturtiums to the mix. They proved […]

POTS AND PLANS – Gardening

POTS AND PLANS             Gardening fads and fashions are as perennial as gardening itself.  This spring giant plants such Colocasia (elephant ears) and Alocasia are all over the covers of gardening magazines and catalogs.  Next year miniatures will probably return, only to be supplanted after awhile by something else.  Editorial ink always flows like water over Niagara Falls, submerging the […]


MYSTERY CACTUS             Last week I dropped in to see one of my daughter’s former teachers.  The teacher has a warm sunny classroom with an array of flourishing potted plants on the windowsills.  It was a midwinter treat to see such luxuriant geraniums and aloes.  I just missed the blooming period of a large jasmine, but from the size of […]


Recently a friend who is a great gardener told me about the Garden State Heirloom Seed Society, and its website, According to its founders, the website is devoted, to “New Jersey heirloom fruits and vegetables, and their culinary, medicinal, and historical value, to food and history-lovers around the globe. The site is fascinating. An essay written by Joseph Cavanaugh, […]


SHADY CHARACTERS             Lots of people, including gardeners, regard trees the same way they regard health food–good for you, but likely to produce undesirable side effects.  And the side effect that some people have the smallest tolerance for is shade.  Before the advent of air conditioning, shade was a desirable thing.  Tall trees kept people, animals and dwellings cool in […]


TROPICAL DREAMS             A slow spring is absolutely painful.  After waiting all winter for the warm soft breezes and pollen-induced sneezes that herald spring in this part of the world, it is awful to have to put up with cold rainy weather.  It seems to dampen the spirits without appreciably diminishing the pollen count.             Still, there are compensations.  The […]