Shady Characters

            What do you plant when you have a shady yard? Why, hostas of course! Few herbaceous plants tolerate the dense canopy of tall trees better than hostas. I planted hostas under all three large trees that shade the front of our house. Unfortunately, though, hostas don’t become full size until June in Southeast Wisconsin, …

It’s Sugaring Season!

                When maple trees are tapped to gather their sweet sap, which is processed into maple syrup and other sweet products, spring can’t be too far behind. Sugaring season begins when day temperatures are above freezing, but night temperatures dip below that mark. In the Cedarburg area, this can occur anytime between mid-February and mid-March, …

Cures for Plant Blindness

            The term “plant blindness” was coined in 1998 by American botanists James Wandersee and Elisabeth Schussler. They defined it as the “inability to recognize or notice the plants in one’s environment.” Living in crowded cities and ever-increasing time spent on electronic devices have made many people plant blind. They can’t see the critical role …

The Greenhouse Effect

Greenhouses have been given a bad rap. The term “greenhouse effect” implies that somehow greenhouses, and horticulturists who use them, are the cause of global warming. In reality, global warming and climate change have nothing to do with greenhouses but they are connected to the greenhouse effect. Warming in a greenhouse is the result of …

Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata and Pinus longaeva)

                What once was one species has now been divided into two. Pinus aristata is the Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine and is found at elevations of 7500 to 12,000 feet in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Pinus longaeva, called the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, grows in California, Nevada, and Utah at heights of 5600 to …

Yellow-flowered Magnolias

                One of the first trees to bloom in the spring with showy flowers is Magnolia. Who can resist the large, fragrant, pink, white, or yellow flowers? Yellow? Where did that come from? We are all familiar with the pink-flowered Saucer Magnolia, Magnolia x soulangiana, or the white-flowered Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata, but the yellow-flowered …

Tsuga canadensis (Canadian Hemlock, Eastern Hemlock)

                Name a conifer that tolerates heavy shade, and the answer “yews” doesn’t count. The correct answer is Canadian hemlock, Tsuga canadensis. Canadian Hemlock is native to eastern North America, from Canada south to Maine and Wisconsin and following the Appalachian Mountains south to Georgia and Alabama. In Wisconsin it inhabits the northern boreal forest. …