Mistletoe: The Poisonous Plant We Love To Hang At Christmas

For centuries, people have been hanging mistletoe as an expression of love and romance. Unfortunately though, the relationship is one-sided, as the plant doesn’t return the same feelings. Why?  Because mistletoe contains a Christmas cocktail of toxins that when ingested can be harmful to humans and pets. I’d advise keeping it out of reach if you’re planning to make it part of your holiday décor. Continue reading

5 Top Christmas Tree Types: A Guide To Finding Your Perfect Match

Every year is different when it comes to Christmas. But in my home, there is one thing that remains constant. When I shop for a tree, I always head straight for the Fraser firs. These are the trees I grew up with, and their fragrance reminds me of my childhood. And as we all know, memory is a key component in any holiday décor. Continue reading

Up In Smoke: Why Lodgepole Pines Love A Good Forest Fire

Lodgepole pine forest

If you’re a homeowner, there’s nothing good about forest fires. But it may come as a surprise to learn that for some plant species, they’re essential. And one of them is the flagpole-shaped tree known as the Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine. Continue reading

How To Cope With Boxwood Blight: An Expert Weighs In

It’s not every day you get to discuss your problems with an international expert. But Lynn Batdorf is the real deal. Batdorf is the world’s top resource on everything boxwood, including all of the diseases and pests that affect this diverse species. Recently he spoke to me about how to deal with the latest threat to our gardens, the dreaded boxwood blight. Continue reading

The Best Hellebore Varieties For Your Winter/Spring Garden

February can be a bleak time on the East Coast. Days are short and the sky hangs low on the horizon. But there’s a small-sized perennial whose early, colorful blooms never fail to lift my mood. It’s the lovely, cup-shaped flower called hellebore, commonly known as the Lenten Rose. Continue reading

10 Great Christmas Tree Ideas From Pennsylvania’s Longwood Gardens

OK, so maybe you won’t be copying the tropical tree above. But in December, Pennsylvania’s Longwood Gardens is teeming with Christmas tree ideas.  And the displays are nothing short of spectacular. Continue reading

12 Great Holiday Design Ideas From Longwood Gardens

This week I’ll be writing about Longwood Gardens and my annual visit to its spectacular holiday display, A Longwood Christmas. I was thrilled to discover that this year’s show is dedicated to France. Entitled ‘C’est Magnifique!’, it was inspired by founder Pierre S. du Pont and his vision for the property, which was named after his great-great-grandfather, a French economist and writer who immigrated to America at the end of the French Revolution. Continue reading

Why Christmas Trees Smell So Good

 

When I was a teen, a French girl came to live with us for the summer. She caused quite a stir in conservative Delaware with her cigarette jeans, lace-up wedge espadrilles and oversized red glasses. That being said, what I remember most was her preference for a men’s cologne named Pino Sylvestre. Whenever she brushed past, a wisp of fresh, forest smell followed in her wake. Continue reading

How To Protect Your Evergreens From Winter Damage

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You could say that evergreens are the stars of cold weather, instantly infusing drab winter landscapes with color and texture. When well sited, watered and fed, most can stand up to the harshest of conditions. Still, some evergreens are less equipped than others to battle icy winds and harsh winter sun. These are the plants that can benefit from a little extra TLC to prepare them for colder temperatures. Continue reading

Boxwood Care: How To Identify And Treat 4 Common Pests and Diseases

Boxwood balls in the landscape

Boxwood has been a garden staple for centuries. Not only does it add structure to outdoor spaces, but its dense, evergreen foliage can be sheared into almost any shape imaginable. For those of us on the East Coast, the fact that deer won’t eat it only adds to its appeal. There’s just one problem: it’s plagued by a bunch of pests and diseases. Continue reading