And Never the Twains Shall Meet
8 December 2021 | 2:59 pm

Detente, Plant Style

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” wrote Kipling a hundred years ago. Not so with respect to gardening. The Far East, spared the great sheets of ice that descended upon North America during the Ice Ages, has been a treasure trove of plants. Though distance, water, and culture kept the gardening worlds of the East and the West separate for millennia, the gap began to narrow just over two-hundred years ago.

The first plants to trickle out of China were those plants most accessible to foreigners — cultivated plants growing at and around seaport towns. It was not until the

Potted kumquat

middle of the nineteenth century that plant explorers pressed inland to open wide the treasure chest of wild and cultivated plants, many of which have found their way into my garden. These plant explorers are honored in plants that …

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5 December 2021 | 10:36 pm

Great Gift Ideas! Gardening books, of course. All available from the usual sources as well as, signed, right from me, here.

Weedless Gardening: Not only weedlessness; also lots of information on drip irrigation, making or buying compost, cover crops, timing and details for individual vegetables, tree planting, fertilization, and soil testing. I’ve used this weed-less system for over 25 years! $10.95


Growing Figs in Cold Climates: Five methods for growing figs in cold climates, pruning techniques, best varieties, harvesting, and ways to hasten ripening. $24.99


The Pruning Book: Reasons to prune, tools of the trade, how plants respond to being pruned, and details on just pruning just about every plant you can imagine, from ornamental trees and bushes, to fruit and nut trees, to houseplants and perennials. A final section delves into specialized techniques such as topiary, bonsai, and espalier. $29.95

Landscaping with Fruit: How to choose what to grow depending on your region and …

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2 December 2021 | 2:44 pm

Species Matter; Varieties Matter

You say “tomayto,” I say “tomahto.” You say “filbert,” I say “hazelnut.” (“Filbert” is from St. Philibert, to whom August 22nd, is dedicated and which is the day of first ripening of hazelnuts in England.) Although hazelnuts originally referred to native American filberts, hazelnut and filbert are now equivalent.

It’s been over twenty years since I planted my first hazelnuts. Fortunately, hazels bear quickly, often within 3 or 4 years. Unfortunately, a disease called eastern filbert blight can decimate the trees, and not begin to do so for about a decade. Our native hazels (Corylus americana), having evolved with the blight, are resistant. Not so for European hazels, which are the hazelnuts of commerce.

My first planting was of our native hazel, which I planted for beauty and for nuts. It did turn out to be an attractive, suckering shrub that lit up fall with its boldly colored leaves. …

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