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  • christmas plants

    9 Of The Best Decorative Plants For Christmas

    Have you started decorating your house for Christmas? Hung a holly wreath? Dangled some mistletoe over the entryway, decorated a Christmas tree, and bought your poinsettia? Are they all real? Or plastic? Personally, I prefer real. There’s nothing like the smell of pine from a real tree to set the mood for the season. Or […] More

  • monkey orchid

    Homestead Stories: The Monkey Orchid

    If my Insteading readers have been following the orchid stories, you’ll know how much I love this charming plant. There’s my general, informative article on orchids, the unusually-shaped bat flower, and the swaddled babies. I keep finding more orchid varieties as I browse the local nurseries or share my discoveries with friends. I want to […] More

  • nasturtium flowers

    Homestead Stories: A Colorful Mosaic Of Nasturtiums

    “I love my nasturtiums,” Mom declared years ago as she led me on a walk through her extensive garden. The nasturtiums were everywhere. Every color imaginable — from solids pinks, reds, yellows, and oranges, to multicolored mixes. The long stems wove through and around the other plants, cushioned by the large umbrella leaves that served […] More

  • purple passionflower

    Homestead Stories: The Purple Passionflower

    “Did you know there are hundreds of varieties of passionflowers?” I thought I was talking to my husband, but he had wandered off to another part of the nursery while I studied the array of color in front of me. Glancing around, I realized I’d been talking to myself with others giving me wary looks. […] More

  • anguloa uniflora

    Homestead Stories: Swaddled Babies Or Baby In The Cradle?

    “I have a swaddled baby to show you,” a friend said over the phone. “Like a baby in the cradle. Want to come over and see?” The words caught my curiosity. My friend was too old to have a baby in her arms — at least, not one of her own. And since she never […] More

  • brazilian grape tree

    The Brazilian Grape Tree

    I had spent another morning doing battle with the proliferous wild grape that grew across my rock wall border. I had nothing against grapevines, especially when they bore fruit (which these vines did), and I’d collected bunches to make into jelly. But once they climbed my rock wall, took aim at my lush tree line, […] More

  • rodgers flower on pond edge

    Rodgers Flower: A Shady Perennial

    “What is that huge plant in your shade garden?” The large, leafy plant with tall spiky flowers (extremely tall — almost my height of 5 feet) really caught my attention. I was visiting a nursery that specialized in perennials, and they had a wide selection of shade garden plants from all over the world. I […] More

  • mourning dove

    Homestead Stories: I Love My Birds, But…

    Several years ago, my daughter informed me (with great excitement) there was a mourning dove nesting in my hanging fuchsia on the front balcony. “No way,” I declared. “Come see,” she insisted. Sure enough, in the center of my prized fuchsia was a mourning dove, packing things down to make a nest. I wasn’t too […] More

  • mullein flowers

    Mullein: An Herbal Remedy, Not A Weed

    “Isn’t that a weed?” I asked my friend. I pointed to the pale green, hairy stem rising from the flannel-textured center rosette. “It grows tall, you know. I pulled one last week that was taller than me — at least 7 feet!” “No, it’s called mullein,” my friend replied. It’s actually a heritage plant, brought […] More

  • invasive kudzu

    Homestead Stories: The Kudzu Monster Plant and Other Invasive Species

    “What are those creepy figures?” my youngest asked. We were driving the back roads to Florida for a family vacation. “I believe that’s what they call kudzu,” I explained. “They look like monsters.” “Yes, they do.” I had read about kudzu years ago but had never seen the plant this close. It was downright eerie. […] More

  • spider flower

    Homestead Stories: The Spider Flower

    “You know I don’t really like spiders.” I scowled as my friend led me around her garden. Large or small, spiders really do give me the creeps, and sometimes they bite. Yuck! I do know they have a purpose. Just as long as that purpose does not include me. My friend stopped in front of […] More

  • glass gem corn

    Homestead Stories: Glass Gem Corn

    “Oh my! That is colorful. And it’s really corn?” I was flabbergasted. I loved growing and eating corn on the cob. Usually the standard yellow corn or the peaches-and-cream which is a combination of a deep yellow and a pale yellow. I have eaten, though never grown, white corn, loving its tiny, sweet taste. I […] More

  • tulip tree

    Homestead Stories: The Tulip Tree

    “Oh my! The flowers on those trees look like tulips.” I was taking a walk with my grandmother along a country road just north of Lake Erie. It was spring and the weather demanded some outside activity. “That’s why people call them tulip trees,” Gran said. “They’re also called poplars. In fact, other than in […] More

  • green rose

    A Green Rose for St. Patrick’s Day … Why Not?

    “What’s wrong with your rosebush?” I asked. We were standing in front of my mother’s profuse garden of rosebushes. She loved her roses and was always adding a new color to the collection. “That’s a new one, isn’t it? Why is the flower all green?” I was convinced there had to be something wrong with […] More

  • bleeding heart flowers

    Homestead Stories: Strange Names for Beautiful Flowers

    I have seen, grown, and written about some pretty unusual flowers – unusual in the fact they have unique names. There was the story I wrote about Jack-in-the-pulpit and the story about the black bat flower, but there are more unusual names for flowers, and some that might seem a little too bizarre. Like the flying duck […] More

  • daffodils

    Homestead Stories: Forcing Indoor Flowering Bulbs

    I looked at the display of potted tulips and daffodils in the grocery store and let out a deep sigh. Each flower was perfectly coiffed, the stems standing tall and pristine, the display awash with color. If only they were in my garden. Too early for that. With several feet of snow and ice, it […] More

  • black bat flower

    The Black Bat Flower

    “What is that?” I exclaimed, pointing at the black thing that sat atop a tall stem. “Black thing” was the best way I could describe it, though perhaps some avid gardeners would refer to it as deep purple. Not me! It definitely was black. With two wide flower petals flattened back like wings around what […] More

  • hostas in garden

    The Hosta Plant

    “Oh my! That hosta is huge!” I was standing in my front drive, surveying what I called the circle garden. It was encased in a rock wall that outlined a circle around a gracious, old willow tree. And the hosta was huge. Not just the expanse of the plant itself, but the leaves rivaled those […] More

  • delphinium

    Delphinium Flowers: Beautiful But Poisonous

    “What is that tall blue flower? I can see it from my kitchen window.” My neighbor was intrigued by the bursts of growth and color in my ever-expanding garden. “Delphinium,” I said. “It was here when we moved in. Stunning, isn’t it?” “It certainly is.” I thought it was more purple than blue. But the […] More

  • orange zinnia flowers

    Homestead Stories: A Colorful Zinnia Extravaganza

    I have a couple of gardens that do well in the spring when the sun isn’t as intense but come late July everything dries up. It doesn’t matter how much I water those gardens (which I do sparingly as I don’t want to use up precious well water), the sun is just too intense. The […] More

  • balloon flowers

    Homestead Stories: The Balloon Flower

    “It’s a balloon flower, Mom.” My youngest jumped up and down with glee. “A what?” I asked. I have to admit, I’ve heard some pretty strange names for flowers but balloon flower was a new one to me. “A balloon flower,” my oldest confirmed. “That’s what the flower looks like when it blooms. A balloon.” […] More

  • outhouse flower close up

    Homestead Stories: The Outhouse Flower

    I have fond memories of the outhouse at the family cottage. Years ago. When I was a youngster. Dad had built it far enough from the cottage that it didn’t project its noxious odors into the place where we ate and slept. Mom planted tall, bushy flowers around the outhouse in an attempt to beautify […] More

  • mint in container garden

    The Many Varieties Of Mint

    The little, red squirrel was determined, I’ll say that much. He, I assume it was a he because he couldn’t take a hint and go away, kept jumping on the patio door window and trying to climb inside. He wanted to join me while I watched the evening news. I don’t know why; there was […] More

  • natural path

    Marking The Way Naturally – Rustic Garden Edging

    It really began with the secret garden. No, I’m not referring to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel by that name, though it is a favorite, and I’ve always wanted my own secret garden. Perhaps now I do. My secret garden really was a secret. At least initially. And hence its name which it holds to this […] More

  • weigela flowers

    Weigela: A Flowering Shrub To Rival Your Rhododendrons

    Moving to the country had its pros and cons. There were a lot of things to learn, especially in the garden. I tried to take my entire suburbia garden, one plant at a time, but some of my shrubs, sadly, had to be left behind. They were too big and the roots too deep to […] More

  • bee balms

    Bee Balms Or Bee Bums?

    “Mom,” my six-year-old called from the front walk where he had been riding his bike back and forth. He had paused in front of my display of red and purple, firework-like flowers and admired them. At an age where he wanted to know everything, it wasn’t unexpected that he would ask about the different flowers […] More

  • the holly and the ivy

    Homestead Stories: The Holly And The Ivy

    “The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown. Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.” I hummed the tune happily as I dialed my parents’ number. I would be going home in a few days to spend Christmas with the family. I was excited and […] More

  • jack-in-the-pulpit

    Jack-In-The-Pulpit: A Beautiful Flower With A Weird Name

    Growing up in the 1960s, just about everyone in my class at school went to church, and most churches were similar in layout, including, at the front by the choir, a pulpit. So, when the lessons turned to studying the wildflowers of Ontario, the one plant which captured our attention was the Jack-in-the-pulpit. The teacher […] More

  • false solomon's seal

    Homestead Stories: What’s False About False Solomon’s Seal?

    “False Solomon’s seal? What’s that? And why is it false? What’s the real thing?” Questions. Always lots of questions. Each new discovery on my country property opened up a new page of learning, understanding, and appreciating. I had been studying the knee-tall foliage that arched over my flower beds. With oval-shaped leaves draping along the […] More

  • bird in pussy willow shrubs

    Homestead Stories: Growing Pussy Willows

    “What is that yellow fluff covering the bush in the corner?” I asked. It was my first spring living in the country, and I still had a lot to learn. I had been watching the snowdrops and the crocuses do their early spring color display, and I was keeping an eye on my lilac bushes, […] More

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