Best of the Web: New Shade Perennials, Gardener’s Hide-a-Key, Veggie Gardening, and More!

Brrrr!!! In rainy Humboldt County, February’s usually the month my garden assistants turn to me in shock and say – “uh, I think the weeds are stuck!” The first time I tried to pull frozen, crystallized weeds out of the ground, I was pretty surprised, too.

This year, February’s been glorious – a bit wet, yes, but warm and with sunny patches in between the clouds. I was just getting enthused about the early year we’ve had so far, and gleefully wondering just how early I could get away with planting my tomatoes, when we get this frosty cold March day, with more to come this week. I guess I’ll be planning from indoors just a bit longer!

Organic Gardening Magazine Luckily, You Grow Girl let us know that Google Books now has the last three years worth of Organic Gardening Magazine available to read online for free. A tip: the “magnify” button is in the top middle of the viewer, so you can read them full size. I don’t know why they make the “magnify” button so tiny – it’s like printing text instructions for the blind!

Doug Green has posted a great article on Vegetable Seeding Dates, so if you’re keen to get going, you can see what to start now and what you want to wait on.

Astilbe photo by IrishFireside on Flickr Via CC Attribution License I’m a sucker for shady perennials – I just love the delicate bellflowers, the poof of Astilbe flowers, and all the wild kinds of foliage available. Graham Rice, over at his RHS Blog, has posted recently on a few new shade introductions – foliage-interest Astilbes and a wild new Brunnera!

Astilbe ‘Beauty of Ernst’ or Color Flash Astilbe is a pale pink bloomer which emerges green in spring and turns a purply-red through the season, ending with golden-orange-red fall foliage.

Astilbe ‘Beauty of Lisse’ or Color Flash Lime Astilbe starts out with vivid golden foliage, blooms pink, then greens up through the season. I think the color would look awesome in a tropical-themed garden, or just brightening up a shady area.

Brunnera ‘King’s Ransom’ or King’s Ransom Siberian Bugloss is the child of ‘Jack Frost’ Brunnera, a silvery-leaved shade favorite with blue forget-me-not flowers, only ‘King’s Ransom’ has a creamy-yellow edge to the leaves which makes it stand out beautifully in the garden!

Brunnera does have some sensitivity to snails, like Dahlias and Hostas, but overall they are a good deer-resistant shade plant.

And in the not-actually-new but new-to-me category we have Epimedium ‘Sakura Maru’, a really cool blushed white variety of Fairy Wings. I love the way Epimediums bring early spring beauty to the garden, and they are so tough, blooming for me in clay soil, with lots of root competition from trees, and in neglected corners. Thanks to Teza for showing off this beauty.

Pacific Northwest Container Gardening Have you been indulging your urge to garden this winter by growing in containers? Do you have a container gardening tip to share? Fern over at Life on the Balcony is running a contest for you to win six packets of Botanical Interests Seeds.

Just go on over and leave your container gardening tip in the comments for a chance to win!

Also, Darla over at Family and Flowers is giving away her very own homemade soy wax jar candles! Simply comment on her post for a chance to win.

Sprinkler Key Hider Lastly, remember those hollow resin rocks that people used as hide-a-keys for so long? They fit right into the landscape, so long as you were planting plastic flowers next to them! You can toss your plastic rock now – over at the gadget blog Zogdo they’ve featured a new sprinkler head hide-a-key which I doubt any burglar would notice. Get yours here.

Have you found any cool gardening articles around the web (or written something awesome yourself)? Feel free to share the best in the comments below!


  1. says

    I love the idea of the sprinkler head hide-a-key! As someone who owns, and has been rescued by, a rock hide-a-key, I can attest to how important it is to have a hide-a-key somewhere in your garden. I just hope the sprinkler head is as true to life as the rock. I hide my ‘rock’ in with a few reals rocks to make it less obvious and I always have to look twice to make sure I reach for the right one.

    Debbie R’s last blog post..And The Award Goes To…Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

  2. says

    I didn’t realize OG was available free online –My mom gets that subscription for me, but good to know! I have a spare key, inside a snack-sized ziplock baggie, duct-taped (the handyman’s secret weapon!) under a REAL rock. I’m cheap!

    Monica’s last blog post..GBBD – At last!

  3. says

    Hi Genevieve, thanks for all those good sources. That color flash astible is going on my wish list right now. We have good luck with them here, even with the drought, although they do need extra water that first year. After that, no extra anything. Leaf interest would be like icing on the cake. And I love Monica’s cheap key hiding trick! HA

    Frances’s last blog post..At The Gate

  4. says

    I don’t have a key hidden anywhere – years ago my Father wired one under the hood of my car cause I locked myself out so much.
    My last post was on Bellflowers. Love them. I need to mark this blog – it’s very informative.
    By the way, we love coming to Humboldt County when we can – have lots of family there.

    RainGardener’s last blog post..About Campanula (Bellflowers)

  5. says

    Welcome, Debbie! I’m so glad you stopped by – I just read your blog for the first time and have subscribed. What a wonderful lot of good info you have there!

    Monica, I’m laughing. I think I need to pick up some duct tape and follow in your footsteps.

    Frances, I’m so glad to know how well Astilbes do in your climate! I love them.

    RainGardener, ohhhhh, another great blog to read! Yay! That’s actually a really brilliant idea, putting one under the hood…. Humboldt’s a peaceful place to live and visit – I’m glad you enjoy it here!

    Fern, isn’t it funny how certain plants get under our skin? I dream of big, froofy Brugmansia. I’m worried about planting one, though, with the chickens scratching and eating everything – they’re pretty poisonous. I’m still dreaming up my tip for your contest! I’m sure a good one will come to me! (I hope)

  6. says

    Great links! I love containers. I keep a few in the shade an plant things that need more water than the rest of the landscape. And I have two Japanese Maples in containers. Watching the foilage through the seasons is really fun! (Yes, I water them every other day)

    Renate’s last blog post..GFGR Part 3: Trees and Shrubs

  7. says

    Thanks for the link regarding the Epimedium. They are one of my favourite genera, and as a shade garden I still appreciate having flowers now and again. Unfortunately for me, they can also be a very expensive habit…. just means more cans of Zoodles added to the diet during the growing season!!

    I have the A. ‘Beauty of Ernst’ along the side of the shade garden. It has the most spectacular foliage but is really short…. almost looks more like a ground-cover, but when it flowers….. a diminutive charmer for sure. I enjoy your blog immensely and will be returning often!

  8. says

    Love that sprinkler head hide a way, just make sure you have a sprinkler system and not just 1 lonely sprinkler head! I bet nobody would ever suspect that, unless they read this blog post of course.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *