The Garden Spotter

Lemon Tree, Very Pretty: Growing Citrus Inside


Plant Profile: Christmas Cactus


Flower Profile: The China Aster



china aster

China Aster

(Callistephus chinensis)

One of the true old-fashioned flowers, the china aster was very popular in Europe and America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was one of many flowers that came originally from China, where gardening was done for entertainment, and flowers were appreciated for their beauty, form and fragrance. Flowers introduced to the West during that era include many of those we have in our gardens today – hollyhocks, peonies, lilies, clematis, forsythia and many more. The story goes that when a Jesuit priest brought the aster back to France from China in 1731, its popularity burst wide open. And by the late 1800’s, when hybridization and flower gardening were at an all time high, one American seedsman boasted more than 250 varieties. (more…)

A Short History of the Seedless Watermelon


IMG_9954 See something unusual about the watermelon in this picture? That’s right, it has seeds, unlike the watermelon you see in most grocery stores.

It wasn’t always that way. When I was a child, the watermelon my parents picked up at the store or farm stand was always full of tiny black seeds, and there was a certain joy that came from eating them outside in the hot summer sun, letting the cold juice run down our chins as we spit them as far as we could. Would they sprout right there on the lawn, we wondered? Would they spawn a whole field of watermelon that we could maybe sell or at least have our fill of anytime we wished? It never did happen, but it was fun speculation. (more…)

5 All Natural Mulches


IMG_8198 Mulch is so important to your garden plants. It helps regulate soil temperature, keeping soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. (more…)

Notable Trees: The “Keebler Elf Tree” at Hyde School


camperdown As alumni of Hyde School in Bath poured in over the weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the private institution, many stopped to reminisce under a special tree. (more…)

Small City Lot: No Longer Lacking Lilac


lilac Nothing beats the heady, powdery scent of lilac wafting through the air on a warm spring day. To me, it’s the definitive sign that winter is finally over, and summer is on its way. (more…)


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