The Garden Spotter


Color Your Winter With Red Twig Dogwood

It seems to me that the most successful gardeners are those who can maintain some color in their yards throughout the year, even in winter.  Many of us are focused on shorter term gratification, however, and think little beyond planting annuals that last from spring to autumn. But isn’t it winter that finds us most in need of a bit of cheering up? The leafless trees and shrubs offer little solace from days of gray skies. Unless, of course, those exposed branches offer some color, like that of Red Twig Dogwood.
photo via Bow Point Nursery
Red Twig Dogwood is a tall, very fast spreading shrub when left to its whims.  It’s actually a native plant to most of the United States, occurring naturally in low, swampy areas. The Red Twig Dogwood can be grown successfully in most garden zones, and thrives in a rich humus soil in full sun, although it will tolerate a variety of conditions.  A deciduous plant, Cornus sericea or Red Osier Dogwood, produces lovely large frothy white flowers and dark green leaves and then blueish berries through the summer. In winter, the barren branches show light pink, dark cardinal red, or gold, depending on the cultivar. The color is further enhanced with judicious pruning in late winter or early spring to remove the dead branches. (more…)


Plant Profile: Christmas Cactus

img_0698-001 When does your Christmas Cactus bloom? Last year, mine bloomed in the spring, several months after the holidays. Not good timing at all. But this year, as you can see from the picture above, I have blossoms forming already before Thanksgiving, and I’m hoping I’ll have beautiful blooms in the coming weeks before Christmas.

How did I accomplish this, you ask? Well, to put it very simply: Nothing, nothing at all. (more…)


5 Relaxing Garden Podcasts

Blogger Margaret Roach in her garden. Photo by A Way to Garden

When things get stressful, try tuning out the commotion on social media for awhile and tuning into a garden podcast. (more…)


Have You Got the Post Election Blues, too?


There’s an old maritime saying that goes, “Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailors delight.” (more…)


DIY Orange Bird Feeder

orange bird feeder

The fall bird migration is well underway, and this year I’m learning lots about the types of birds that travel through our region of Maine, and about the species that stay here all year. (more…)


Garden Advice: A Thought When Laying Out a Garden

img_0082 Ever notice that the best advice is often the briefest advice? No mincing words, no going on and on and on.

This was my exact thought when I came across (more…)


Spotted: Michelle Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden Sets Permanent Roots

As the 2016 presidential election draws closer, the campaign seems to be getting nastier and nastier. But let’s forget about all that for a bit, shall we? And talk about something more positive that has happened in Washington lately.

On the South Lawn of the White House last week, First Lady Michelle Obama joined a group of school children for what no doubt will be her last harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden, at least as a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Bearing fresh-picked greens and her signature wide smile, Mrs. Obama also announced plans for the continuation of the garden she created seven years ago, regardless of who takes office next January.

Thanks to a $2.5 million grant from Burpee, the White House Kitchen Garden will be funded for at least the next 17 years, the first lady said, and it will continue to be maintained by the U.S National Park Service.

White House Kitchen Garden

Groundbreaking in 2009/White House photo

Planted in 2009, the White House Kitchen Garden helped promote Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move initiative to end childhood obesity. Over the years, it also produced food for White House meals, state dinners and even local hunger programs. It was the subject of a 2012 book by Michelle Obama, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. And it has no doubt inspired many other Americans to grow vegetables in their own backyards. (more…)


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