Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Our Hummingbird Feeders

Posted by Mark Wessel on August 29th, 2013  •  Comments Off on Our Hummingbird Feeders

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

It has been many years since we have maintained a sugar water hummingbird feeder. Why bother when we can grow them.

Agastache "Tango"

Agastache “Tango”

One male and one female were present most of the summer. The first day a youngster started showing up was the last day we saw the male.

Salvia involucrata "Bethellii"

Salvia involucrata “Bethellii”

Salvias are our mainstays. Many of our varieties bloom from late spring till frost.

Salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue"

Salvia guaranitica “Black and Blue”

A few wait until September to start blooming.

Salvia "Black and Blue"

Salvia “Black and Blue”

Salvia "Wendy's Wish"

Salvia “Wendy’s Wish”

Salvia "Wendy's Wish"

Salvia “Wendy’s Wish”

Many over winter in our root cellar. Others I root cuttings.

Cardinal Climber

Cardinal Climber

Tubular flowers seem attract the most attention.

Posted in : General, Uncategorized  •  Tags: ,

Edible weeds increase vegetable garden yeilds.

Posted by Mark Wessel on July 24th, 2013  •  Comments Off on Edible weeds increase vegetable garden yeilds.



A new study finds that harvesting edible weeds, increases yields in the vegetable garden. Actually, this was no double blind, peer reviewed, university sponsored, monsanto approved study, it is mostly my observation after years of harvesting weeds in the garden.

As all gardeners know, weeds play a vital role in our lives. They are everywhere. We pull, spray, burn, till, curse…..the weeds in our gardening lives. How often do we take the time to eat them? If they are edible, why not? We spend all this time, effort and money on these fancy, fussy, over bred veggies, all while we ignore the survivors, the plants that have stood the test of time better than any other. Weeds.

The Amaranth pictured above is one of my favorite summer greens.The greens, when cooked have a nutty, earthy flavor and a melting texture. The bunch I am holding is so tender that even the roots were edible. The taste was similar to beets. Like many greens, amaranth contains oxalic acid. For this reason I always blanch the greens and discard the cooking liquid.

For recipes and inspiration, look to the many countries were amaranth is enjoyed, like Jamaica,Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia, Greece and India.


Posted in : Uncategorized  • 

Annabelle Hydrangea: Horseback ride too Horticulture Hall of Fame.

Posted by Mark Wessel on July 5th, 2013  •  Comments Off on Annabelle Hydrangea: Horseback ride too Horticulture Hall of Fame.

Annebelle and hosta’s in our garden.

A quick ride through any neighborhood in Cincinnati  will reveal the importance of Hydrangea’s in our landscapes. Oak leafs, Paniculatas, macrophylas  and climbing Hydrangeas all populate local gardens.

Hydrangea arborescens “Annabelle” is one of the hardest working member of this genus. Long lasting large white flowering heads sit atop three to four foot, slightly colonizing plants. Even after the color fades, the blooms persist, providing interest though the fall and winter months.

Annabelle in Mt. Lookout Garden

Provided with ample moisture, and shade from the hottest part of the day, Annabelle is one of the easiest Hydrangea’s to cultivate. Pruning is a dream. Prune to 18-24 inches in late winter or early spring. They can also be cut to the ground. No need to worry about losing flower buds, it flowers on new wood. Since the flowers are white, there is no angst over changing the ph of the soil to get pink or blue.

One of the common problems with Annabelle and other large-headed Hydrangea’s is flopping. After a rain, all the stems are lying on the ground. When you cut the patch down to the ground every year there is no chance for the plant to develop  a thicker stems. This is the reason for pruning 18″-24″, the stems get thicker and are better able to hold the flower erect. Planting in groups helps them support themselves. Plant hoops, planting along a fence and branches placed around the plant early in the year also help support the heavy flowers.

Hydrangea arborescens along moist woods edge hillside.

Hydrangea arborescens is native to the eastern USA. It can be found growing on moist shaded woodland slopes and wooded edges. The flowers as a whole are a flattish umbel of fertile and sterile flowers.A corymb to be exact. On Annabelle it is the sterile flowers that provide the show. The straight species are mostly the less showy fertile  flowers. They are kind of fuzzy and not nearly as dramatic. Even though the species is not nearly as showy as Annabelle, it does have an understated beauty which I always enjoy in its native setting.

Hydrangea arborescens fertile florets with one sterile floret.

Annabelle comes from humble beginnings. In 1910 Hubbard Kirkpatrick’s mother notice the plant in the woods while she was on a horseback ride through the hills of Anna Illinois. Upon her return home she asked her sister-in-law,Amy Kirkpatrick, “Have you ever seen a wild Hydrangea with snowball blooms?” Amy was interested and the two moved the plant to their garden in town. Over the years they shared starts with the neighbors and soon it was seen growing throughout the town of Anna.

The ladies wrote to Burpee Seed Company asking if a snowball Hydrangea was known in cultivation. Burpee replied with information about the 1906 introduction “Snowhill”. 50 years passed and their Hydrangea was passed along in gardens throughout Illinois. Legendary Plantsman, Joe C. McDaniel, University of Illinois, found the plant growing in an Urbana Illinois garden and traced its roots back to Anna. He introduced it to the country in 1962.

Hydrangea “Annabelle” sterile floret flower head.

Mr. McDaniel speculated that had the 1906 Snowhill Hydrangea made it to Anna Illinois they may not have given the woodland plant a second look since it had not reached its full splendor.

Annabelle’s floriferous nature, ease of cultivation and sheer beauty definitely make her a First-Ballot Hall of  Famer.

Posted in : Shrubs, Uncategorized  •  Tags:

Harvest Thyme Plant Sale: All star Lineup of Vendors

Posted by Mark Wessel on May 16th, 2013  •  Comments Off on Harvest Thyme Plant Sale: All star Lineup of Vendors

I have promoted several plant sales through this blog over the years. Several were for Clara at Harvest Thyme and they have all been good sales with fine plant material to. The sale Saturday May 18 has more to offer than any I have championed. Not only will you have the wonderful selections of perennials from Clara’s garden, there will also be an All Star lineup of vendors selling a hole range of plants and plant related paraphanalia. It will be a whose who of horticulture excellence.

Do you like your plants to eat flesh or your herbs to be carnivores? Well than Chris Radcliffe is the guy for you. A major carnivorous plant nut and collector, Chris will be bringing your favorite meat eater to the sale.

Sundew Drosera aliciae

Pitcher Plant Sarracenia

Is native and non-native Rare and  Unusual Shade Perennials your thing. Gene Bush, co-owner of Munchkin Nursery not only sells these types of plants but happens to be one of the nations foremost authorities on the subject. A road trip to his Indiana nursery should be on everyones spring to do list. Now he is coming to you.

Indian Pink Spigelia marilandica

Gaultheria procumbens with frost.

You have to love a gardener who gets the most out of their favorite plants. Sandy Manteuffel, not only grows a huge collection of Scented Geraniums, she also immortalizes them on her beautifully made clay pottery. What an incredible gift Idea, buy the geranium and the pottery that matches.

Scented Geraniums

Scented Geranium Pottery

Connisuers of fine Conifers and Japanesse maples will be thrilled with the offerings from Byron Baxter. One of the regions most discriminating eyes for quality Coniferous Creations, Byron not only sells cool plants but he sells cool plants that work in our area.

A few of Byron's Selections

One of Byron's Japanese Maples

Of course after reading my last blog post, you know how I love heirlooms tomatoes. Amy Powell will be bringing her selection of heirlooms tomatoes, peppers and herbs. Ask her about her Grannies Maters.

Heirloom Tomatoes Some not to pretty, but boy do they taste good.

Kevin Collard of Pine View Nursery is making the trip from the depths of KY. The sale poster says it all. Grower and Purveyor of Fine, Rare and Unusual plants. I have seen some of his inventory. It is fine and rare and well grown.

Epimedium, Kevin will have some.

Finally, there will be a two free lectures by Jim Hansel. Jim is by all accounts one of the most well versed and valued plantsmen, gardeners and teachers the Cincinnati rejoin has to offer. If you are not fully satisfied with his lectures, you get a full refund.

Alliums in Clara's Garden

This really is the plant sale not to miss. Not only because of all the horticulture dignitaries I have mentioned above and Clara’s beautiful gardens, you will also be surrounded by a bunch of darn good gardeners with the knowledge to help you with any of your needs, free for the asking.

Posted in : Uncategorized  • 

Heirloom Tomato Plant Sale and Garden Mart: Trinity Episcopal Church Covington.

Posted by Mark Wessel on May 10th, 2013  •  Comments Off on Heirloom Tomato Plant Sale and Garden Mart: Trinity Episcopal Church Covington.


Friday May 10th and Saturday May 11th one of the finest selection of Heirloom tomato plants will be on sale at the annual Garden Mart at Trinity Episcopal Church in Covington Ky.

Amy Powell, co-owner of Atwood Village Family Farm, will be offering 70 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Most are tried and true heirlooms selected for superior flavor and performance. Amy has grown hundreds of varieties over the years and has few peers in our area with her knowledge and experience. In addition to many of her favorites there will be several varieties offered for the first time.

The Heirloom Tomato

You can read about many of the selections in Amy Goldman’s fabulous book, The Heirloom Tomato.


The Garden Mart will also have vendors selling perennials, annuals, herbs and many other great gift and garden products.

Posted in : Uncategorized, Vegetables  •  Tags:

Two Hellebore Sales: Clara Berger and Yew Dell Gardens

Posted by Mark Wessel on April 5th, 2013  •  Comments Off on Two Hellebore Sales: Clara Berger and Yew Dell Gardens


Just in time for a weekend that might actually feel like spring, there are two excellent Hellebore sales in our area. The timing could not be better. Usually by sale time, the plants are well past their peak. The cold, late winter and spring has delayed the bloom and extended the season. They are beautiful!

Helleborus x hybridus "Branywine"

The first sale is this Saturday from 10am -12pm, April 6th, at YewDell Gardens in Crestwood Ky. Yew Dell is located just 14 miles north east of Louisville Ky. A bit of a drive from Cincinnati, but well worth the effort. I could wax on endlessly about how diverse and wonderful the gardens are, but I feel it would be best to use the description from their website.

Helleborus x hybridus "Pine Knott Seedling"

“Yew Dell is a nationally-recognized center of gardening and sustainable horticulture that offers extensive display gardens, a diverse slate of educational programs, family-oriented community events, ongoing research into new and better garden plants, and a wide range of private event facilities. All of this activity is offered in a unique setting that artfully combines elements of Kentucky’s rural heritage with modern, cutting-edge architecture.”

Helleborus x hybridus unknown stock plant

Yew Dell’s collection of Hellebores is quite extensive with at least 90 to 100 varieties planted. They will be offering  at least four varieties from the Winter Jewels series developed by the hottest Hellebore breeder in the USA, Marietta O’Bryne.Red Sapphire, Amber Gem Sparkling Diamond and Onyx Odyssey.

I was told that the sale opens at 10am and they sell out by 10:30am. Don’t be late!

The second sale, Sunday, April, 7th, will take place at Clara Berger’s on State Road in Anderson Twp. She is located across from El Coyote.

Clara has had her finger to the pulse of the Hellebore world for 20 years. Her passion for Hellebores started with seeds from the legendary U.K. collector, Will Mclewin. Will scoured the Balkans as some of its native populations were being bombed into oblivion during the Balkan war.

Although the species and regional varieties from Mr. Mclewin lack the glitz and glitter of the new hybrids, they offer a sublime beauty that is wonderfully displayed in Clara’s Garden.

Helleborus ?

As the Hellebore renaissance has advanced, Clara has continued to keep up with all the new introductions.

This years selections include Rose Quartz,Double Ellen series, Hellorus x Ballardiae and the incredible Helleborus niger “Jacob“.

Helleborus x hybridus "Goldfinch"

She will also have a small amount of other plants for sale. The cool spring has limited the amount of non-hellebore offerings.

Between the weather and a few great plant sales, inspiration for the garden should be plentiful.

Posted in : Perennials, Uncategorized  •  Tags:

Spring 2013? What a difference a year makes.

Posted by Mark Wessel on March 21st, 2013  •  Comments Off on Spring 2013? What a difference a year makes.

March 23 2012

Could we just have a normal spring? Comparing March 2012 to March 2013 could hardly be more different.

March 20 2013

This year it seems that winter will never end. Cold and wet with below normal temperature. Last year we seemed to skip spring and went straight into summer.

Summer Snowflakes March 19 2012

By this time in the month of March last year we already had 2 days in the 50°s, 7 days in the 60°s, 5 days in the 70°s and we were in the middle of a 4 day stretch in the 80°s.

March 2013 Snow instead of Summer Snowflakes

This year in March we have had 4 days in the 50°s, 2 day in the 60°s. No 70°s or 80°s.

March 2013 we have dad 14 days in the 40°s or lower.

Magnolia denudata March 19 2012

March 2012 only 3 days in the 40°s and 1 day in the 30°s.

Magnolia denudata March 20 2013

Needless to say, its cold and it sucks this march. Winter seems endless. The landscapes are still brown and nearly lifeless. Most of the plants that are active and blooming are welcome introductions from other countries. The native flora is hardly stirring. The soil is too wet and cold for most vegetable gardening. Many gardening task are on hold till the weather and soil warms.

Hellebore March 20 2013

Last year, march was too darn hot. We had no easing into the warmth. Everything was blooming at once and the landscape was green. We actually missed a season of gardening chores. The woodlands were verdant and blooming.

Trillium grandiflorum March 22 2012

Will we ever have a normal year? A year where the temperatures gradually increase as spring and summer approach. Maybe and inch of rain per week during the summer months.

Snowdrops and Tommy Crocus

Next year lets just have the average between the two years.

Posted in : Annuals, Uncategorized  •