How do garden plants get their names?

By: Lela Martin

Most plants have common names. However, these can be inexact. For example, is a “snowball bush” a viburnum or a hydrangea? The plant kingdom contains about 300,000 species. In the 1700s, Carl Linnaeus devised a method to classify and name them. The method of identification and classification (taxonomy) is the basis for plant names (nomenclature). You might say, “That’s Greek... READ MORE

Grow your family tree

By: Lela Martin

If everything else is equal, you can even select a plant because of its name. To honor my minister father, whose name was Jack, I selected native Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) for its common name. For my daughter, I’ve planted Tradescantia x andersoniana, ‘Sweet Kate,’ for the cultivar name (definitely not because of its icky common name — spiderwort). Since my... READ MORE

Mid-summer care of blooming ornamentals

By: Lela Martin

Let’s face it: July in metro Richmond is hot and humid. If you’re like me, you prefer the A/C to the sweltering heat. However, you can’t just let your garden go to seed — literally. There are a few tasks, um, “opportunities,” that take just a few minutes in the cooler hours of the morning or early evening to keep your containers and color flower beds healthy and... READ MORE

A palette of foliage colors for your garden

By: Lela Martin

Although many plants tempt you with showy flowers, those blossoms may be short-lived. If, however, you choose summer annuals and year-round perennials with fabulous foliage, their pleasure won’t “leave” as quickly. Golden glow Yellow leaves warm up a garden. Combine them with plants having orange or red blossoms and leaves to heat things up. Golden Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra... READ MORE

How much do you know about pollinators?

By: Lela Martin

Does your morning include a cup of coffee, a mug of hot cocoa, or a glass of orange juice? You have pollinator insects to thank. From almonds to zucchini, most fruit and vegetable crops, nuts and seeds rely on pollinators. In fact, pollinators are critical to the production of one-third of our food and beverages. Additionally, fiber crops (such as cotton) and hay to feed livestock... READ MORE

Azaleas are your garden’s spring royalty

By: Lela Martin

Bright regal blossoms make azaleas a favorite in the spring garden. Most azalea varieties bloom from mid-April to mid-May in the mid-Atlantic area. While the hardier deciduous azaleas, which lose their leaves in fall, are native, you may be more familiar with evergreen azaleas, originally from Japan. Because azaleas have been hybridized (cross-bred) over many years, there is a wide ... READ MORE