view counter


The many buckeye trees are ­pleasing to the eye, too

The most magnificent horse chestnut is Aesculus parviflora: the bottlebrush buckeye. This native shrub attracts pollinators extraordinarily. I planted it several years ago along a sunny fence; it now takes up an area about 20 feet long by 10 feet wide.     It blooms June to July with beautiful candelabra-like white flower spikes that are abuzz with all kinds of native bees and beneficial flies. The peachy-pink pollen exudes a delicate fragrance into the air.

Choose organic, as many flowers are sprayed with toxins


      Flowers have been used in cooking since antiquity. The flower is simply another edible part of a plant. They have been enjoyed not only by the royal and the wealthy but also by our frugal agricultural ancestors. Before the 16th century, most parts of a plant — shoots, leaves, roots and bark as well as flowers — had uses. They were used to make food, drink, medicine, fragrant concoctions and flavored vinegars.

These red, white and blue flowers love growing together


     Your garden can give you red, white and blue flowers to celebrate our nation’s independence. Plan and plant this year for flowers that bloom near the end of June and early July. Then fashion your homegrown arrangement for a Fourth of July picnic. 

They’re tasty and good for you 


      Our native berry has minimal disease problems. It doesn’t take up a lot of room. It’s good for you and tastes great. Eating them puts you in harmony with native Americans, who foraged them for centuries.

This gift of nature is yours for the taking right now


     Driving along the highways during most of June, you may see the most delightful flowering native shrub or small tree. The flowers of native elderflower, Sambucus canadensis, have especially stood out this year, like antique edging on highways, where there are wet areas on the margins of woods. The extra heavy blossoming is likely due to the heavy rains last year and a good amount of moist weather this year. 

The herb is a balm for many senses


      Once you learn how to grow lavender (covered in last week’s column) you’ll want to use it. The French put lavender in everything. They use it decoratively, for fragrance, in medicine, in cooking, in making liquers, in landscaping and for repelling moths. When you purchase a woolen product in France, it usually comes with a small bag of lavender to keep moths out. Lavender can keep its fragrance for many years.

Revelers leave Virginia Bay beach a sad sight


      Oh, those Virginians.      Floatopia, the annual Memorial Day weekend bash in the far reaches of Chesapeake Bay, drew hundreds of partiers on Sunday.   But the story afterward was not the good times but the almost incomprehensible amount of trash they left behind at Chic’s Beach.

To succeed, make your garden Mediterranean-like


     I fell in love with lavender when I saw fields of solid purple in Provence, France. I was further smitten when I walked through three-foot-tall bushes of lavender in Monet’s garden in Giverny. Back home, I tried to reproduce lavenders of the size I saw in France. Though I’ve grown them successfully, I’ve never been able to get them to grow as large as those.
Take them off the wanted poster and into the kitchen
     The cheery bright yellow flowers of the common dandelion have been maligned by herbicide companies. The plant is on the wanted poster for people who want perfectly green lawns. One of the best ways to rid your lawn of dandelions is to eat them.

It will strengthen your memory and improve your meals

     “Rosemary is for remembrance, pray you love, remember,” says Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.      In the language of flowers, rosemary represents remembrance, fidelity, devotion, wisdom and strengthened memory. In the spirit of love, rosemary has been used in wedding crowns and bouquets, dipped in sweet waters or gilded and often tied with gold ribbons. It was presented to the groom as well as the bride and was one of the first bouquets to be thrown to bridesmaids.