Perennial Tulips

A few years ago, I discovered Tulipa praestans ‘Shogun,’ a gorgeous light-orange tulip that actually gets better with time. I was shocked, really. The plant closely resembled all of the tulips that had let me down so often in the past. However, the rabbits didn’t mow it down to the ground and it had just as many blooms this spring as it had the previous spring. I decided it was time to investigate my options for planting tulips that were truly perennial.

Blooming Business

Northerly Flora grows 75 to 80 varieties of annual cut flowers, along with perennials and shrubs that also contribute to the bouquets. In Molly’s words, “I don’t want my CSA members to get bored.” Boredom seems unlikely: each week’s bouquet brings a brand new color scheme, textural blend, and overall vibrancy to the table. Quill-petaled rudbeckia, bright bold zinnias, and show-stopping dahlias each take their turn in the spotlight, supported by a diverse chorus of back-up stars: deep purple hibiscus leaves, puffed nigella seed pods, and airy pink Queen Anne’s lace.

New Year, New Landscape

Ever since we bought a house, landscape renovation has been a constant item on my list of yearly personal goals. I’ve had to pace myself, lowering my expectations to keep from feeling like I’ll never get everything done. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by landscaping projects, especially when you lack time, vision, funds, or experience. If you, too, want to upgrade your outdoor space but keep getting thwarted by uncertainty or overwhelmedness, get out of your own damn way! Even modest acts of landscaping can vastly improve a bare, overgrown, or disorganized yard, and I have a few tips for starting the process.

Spider Mites

I don’t have any authority to do this, but I’m declaring 2018 the Year of the Spider Mite. Spider mites thrive under drought stress, which could help explain why there were so many of them in 2018: the past summer was considered abnormally dry throughout almost half of Minnesota. In both my home garden and in the many gardens I tend professionally, I saw countless spider mite infestations, mostly on plants that I didn’t even know that they could eat.

Creeping Bellflower

When it comes to garden weeds, I’ve come face-to-face with the worst. There’s creeping charlie, quack grass, and my old nemesis, buckthorn. I’m uncomfortably familiar with bindweed, chickweed, purslane, and woodsorrel. But there’s one weed that’s worse than all of these, whose very name strikes fear into my (usually) optimistic heart. It’s the gardening equivalent of Voldemort in Harry Potter -- “The-Weed-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

Creating Connection in Suburban Landscapes

The owner of this particular new suburban abode wanted to minimize the vastness of her house, especially on the back side, where the design is heavy on height and drastic corners. She also wanted a private outdoor sanctuary where she could sit and enjoy a spectacular view of the marsh behind her house. To accomplish these goals, the Phillips designers needed tall plantings that could both define spaces and connect the house to its surrounding natural landscape.