Genista in the Garden

Our Noble Interest this week is from a family surrounded by controversy and confusion. “Broom” is the common name. There is Common broom, French Broom, and Scotch Broom. There is Spanish Broom, Dyer’s Broom and Sweet Broom. The plant I had in mind is Planta Genista, the badge of the royal Plantagenet family. Genista is a lovely shrub and has admirers in the ornamental trade. […]

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Hops in Leaps and Bounds

In his book Five Hundred Points Of Husbandrie, Thomas Tusser gives these instructions. March drie or wet, hop ground go set. Yoong rootes well drest proove ever * best. Grant hop great hill to growe at will. From hop long gut away go cut. According to the old calendar, now is the time to see to your hops. Hops are a beautiful plant. They are […]

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A Pungent Crop

The culinary onion – Allium cepa – has been in cultivation for at least 7000 years. We have no record of what its wild form was like. There are a few closely related onion species found in the wild today but they are not the onion we find either in the grocery store or the history books. It was a staple crop in every culture. […]

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Weeping Trees and Contented Kittens

Humanity’s association with the willow has been a long one and, for humanity at least, a profitable one. There is evidence of use of willow all the way back to Paleolithic times. It is only comparatively recently that we have tamed and cultivated it. The most recognized member of this family is the Weeping Willow. While the original Weeping Willow is native to China, it […]

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The Acid Test

Vaccinium spp. are shrubs. Depending on the species they can grow anywhere from 1′ to 8′ tall. All of them require full sun and a well-drained soil with a P.H. of 4.5 to 5.5. Here’s some good basic growing information from the Minnesota Extension Office and here’s an article on how to prepare a bed and which amendments are best to get the PH to […]

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The Ragged Edge of the Garden

The Dianthus genus is made up of over three hundred species. The wild form of the species can be found in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Most sources say it was first documented by Theophrastus around 300 BCE but at least one source reports that this statement has been proven false. The first documentable instance of cultivation occurs around 1450 CE. Dianthus Caryophyllus Dianthus Hyssopifolius […]

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A Delicate Spring Green

Lettuce Lactuca sativa The wild ancestors of lettuce were originally found in Asia Minor. We don’t know exactly when it was domesticated but the first recorded cultivation of it was in Egypt around 2500 BCE. It traveled to Rome around 50 CE. It was brought to the Americas by Christopher Columbus in the 15th century. There are three main types of lettuce: leaf, cos, and […]

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The Heart in the Garden

The Linden tree makes a beautiful addition to the garden if you have enough room for it. It can achieve heights of 50′ to 80′ with a horizontal spread of 35′ to 50′, although it frequently stays smaller. It generally grows between 13” and 24” inches a year, depending on conditions. This beautiful specimen is 700 years old and is the National Tree of Slovenia. […]

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Growing Elderberries

A deciduous shrub native to both Europe and North America with an enthusiastic growing habit and a rangy appearance, elderberry has graced our gardens and tables since ancient days. Most varieties are hardy to Zone 4, with a few being hardy to Zone 3. Cornell University offers this excellent information on the growing requirements of our Noble Interest. Flowers appear generally in late June and […]

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Stinging Nettle (Urtica Dioica)

Stinging nettle is a hardy perennial native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa and western North America. It spreads by both seed and rhizomes, which means it’s fairly invasive given the opportunity. It prefers moist rich soil in partial shade, but if there’s enough moisture, it will grow in full sun as well. Larger animals tend to avoid it due to its painful sting, so it […]

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