Category Archives: Zone 4a

22 Nov

Lovely Bloomer for Cold Climate: Leucojum, Spring Snowflake

Leucojum Vernum or Spring Snowflake, as it is usually known, is a lovely flowering plant ideally suited to cooler and Mediterranean regions. This bulbous plant originally belongs to Europe and Russia and grows very well under trees or near ponds where soil is moist or boggy.

White Flowers of Leucojum, Spring Snowflake

Spring Sowflake, Image by Louisa Billeter

The plant produces clumps of narrow, lily-like leaves of dark green color. Flowers are small and inconspicuous but fragrant. These bell-shaped flowers appear on drooping stems. Each flower has white petals that are tipped with green. Flowers appear in winter or early spring.

Spring Snowflake can be grown in containers, flower beds, borders or as ground covers. It reproduces itself quickly and can be propagated from divisions planted in spring. Though Leucojum would grow in almost any soil, provide it regular watering and feed in a well-drained soil under full or partial sun for best results.

If you are looking for a low-maintenance winter bloomer for your cold climate garden, Spring Snowflake is a good choice – both for beginners as well as master gardeners.

11 Nov

Lovely Flowering Bush for Beginners: Forsythia x Intermedia

Forsythia is a small genus of deciduous shrubs known for their spectacular golden flowers. These sun loving shrubs are a must for beginners and expert gardeners alike for its ability to produce abundance of lovely flowers in early spring when very few plants would bloom.

Forsythia is grown for many purposes – garden hedge, border plant, garden screens or as solitary ornamental shrub. Forsythia x Intermedia is perhaps the best representative of its genus. Usually known as Golden Bells, Forsythia x Intermedia grows as woody bush or sometimes as a small tree with many arching branches. It is quite a quick growing bush and requires regular pruning.

Forsythia x Intermedia, Golden Bells

Forsythia x Intermedia, Image by Maja Dumat -

Forsythia x Intermedia produces sheds almost all of its leaves in autumn followed by abundance of bright yellow flowers in late winter or early spring. It is quite hardy plant and grows in almost any soil with good drainage. Water moderately and provide it with plenty of sunlight. Forsythia x Intermedia also tolerates frosty and windy conditions.

The best way to propagate this lovely bush is from softwood cuttings planted in summer.

27 Oct

Chinese Aster: Colorful Flowering Plants for Garden Beds

If you are looking for easy to grow and carefree plants for your sunny garden beds, Chinese Asters should be on top of your list. Easily grown from seeds, this popular summer annual bears very attractive flowers of pink, blue, purple, mauve, white and yellow colors. Flowers are long lasting and can be used as attractive cut flowers. As the name describes, Chinese Aster originally belongs to China but it has been widely cultivated and hybridized to grow as popular cut flower in many parts of the world.

Depending on variety, can be grown as low growing flowering plant in landscape or as tall herbaceous annuals in flowering beds. A number of dwarf varieties are available for patio or balcony gardens.

Chinese Aster Flowers

Chinese Aster Flowers, Image by Carl E. Lewis (flickr)

How to grow Chinese Aster

Chinese Aster grows well in a well-drained soil with moderate. Seeds should be sown in early spring when temperature is above 20 C. Protect these plants from frost and heavy watering. Popular varieties of Chinese Aster include: Princess Aster, Popom Aster and Plume Aster.

28 Aug

Fast Growing, Ornamental Ground Cover: Ajuga Reptans

Ajuga Reptans or Carpet Bugleweed is a quick solution if you are looking for a plant to cover wide empty spaces, beds or bare soil. As a vigorous growing groundcover, it would readily cover the ground to form a low growing thick mat of dark green or coppery leaves. Ajuga Reptans can also be used to control soil erosion as it spreads quickly via runners and grows almost in any type of soil with good drainage.

Ajuga Reptans Groundcover

Ajuga Reptans Groundcover, Image from wikipedia

Grown as ornamental groundcover, Ajuga Reptans is good for beds as well as landscapes where it provides a glossy dense mat of leaves and produces attractive flowers of blue or purple colors. Flowers grow on small stalks (up to 6 inches). These conspicuous flowers make a spectacular show in spring till midsummer. Ajuga Reptans can also be grown under tree or combined with shrubs in landscapes for a dramatic effect in flowering season. Rich in nectar, flowers of Ajuga Reptans attract birds, bees and butterflies.

How to Grow Ajuga Reptans

Ajuga Reptans is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Australia. It can be grown under shade or sun with regular watering. It does not have any special soil needs and grows in almost any soil with good water drainage. Propagation is done from softwood cuttings.

26 Aug

Lovely, Deciduous Flowering Tree: Cercis Siliquastrum

If you are looking for a tree that is unique in shape and delightful in blooms, try Cercis Siliquastrum. Commonly known as Judas tree, it is perhaps one the most beautiful species of all deciduous bloomers. It is hardy, drought tolerant, frost resistant and shaped beautifully in wild as well as in cultivation.

In it natural habitat that includes parts of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Cercis Siliquastrum grows up to 30 meters, however, in cultivation it would rarely gain that much height because it grows quite slowly. This makes Cercis Siliquastrum as good choice for gardens where you have limited space. Though it is drought tolerant, Cercis Siliquastrum flourishes well when waters adequately.

Cercis Siliquastrum, Judas Tree

Cercis Siliquastrum, Image by Andrew Dunn

Being a member of pea-family (like Wisteria, Robinia, Cassia etc.), Cercis Siliquastrum is an excellent bloomer especially in winter and spring when it bears small yet very attractive flowers of magenta or pink colors. Flowers are borne on the trunk before leaves and are followed by seed pods that last long. The beautiful pink or magenta flowers not only add to the ornamental value of this handsome tree but are also used in salads for their tangy taste.

How to Grow Cercis Siliquastrum

Cercis Siliquastrum is propagated form softwood cuttings or seeds. Being native to temperate regions, these deciduous plants prefer exposure to bright sunlight and average water.