What’s Up? magazine’s article on the Underground Railroad in the February issue:

A History of Darkness & Light: Tales and Exploration of Maryland’s Underground Railroad

by Janice F. Booth

Feb. 07, 2023


“Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” —Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States


Changing the world for the better begins with each small act of courage. Samuel Green had that courage. He was born into slavery in 1802 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Green learned to read and write and trained as a blacksmith. In his early thirties, he bought his freedom and freedom for his wife, Kitty, from Dr. James Muse, acknowledged in Maryland as owner of human beings. Muse refused to permit Green to purchase the freedom of their two children. Both son and daughter remained enslaved, ensuring that Samuel and Kitty would continue to work for Dr. Muse’s profit. 

Samuel Green turned his grief and frustration to action. He became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, building a congregation of blacks both free and enslaved. He and Kitty also began assisting those seeking freedom, including Harriet Tubman. Under Green’s guidance, the little clapboard church became an early station along what became known as the Underground Railroad (UGGR). Via this road to freedom, Green’s son escaped to Canada in his early twenties. In retribution, Dr. Muse sold their daughter, Susan, and her two children into the Deep South; they were never heard from again. 

Because Muse and others suspected the Green Family was involved with escaping slaves, Rev. Green was threatened and persecuted. On unsubstantiated evidence, Rev. Green was imprisoned for 10 years for having in his possession a copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was illegal for any black person, enslaved or free. But Samuel and Kitty Green’s legacy prevailed. Today, Faith Community United Methodist Church in East New Market, Maryland, continues as a viable congregation, as established by Rev. Green and is an honored site in the National Underground Railroad Network.

Samuel Green’s church is one of 90 sites recognized and honored as part of Maryland’s Underground Railroad. The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom was established in 1998, as a coalition of national, state, and local organizations working to recover, preserve, and honor the history of slavery and freedom seekers throughout the United States. 

There are more than 900 sites nationwide recognized and honored as associated with the UGRR. No other state has as many sites as Maryland. 

The Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Guide describes the courageous, secret escape network this way: 

The Underground Railroad was a system of support for freedom seekers that got its start in the 1700s, providing resources for the enslaved to reach freedom. It was a system of secrets and whispers. It was hidden spaces carved out by free and enslaved African Americans and by sympathetic whites…There were people who acted as guides (The most famous was Harriet Tubman), people who arranged for safe houses, people who hid freedom seekers on their property, and those who transported them in wagons or ships or paid for their travel…Vigilance committees in northern cities coordinated the elaborate communication and relief networks that served fleeing slaves.



Maryland was the birthplace (and/or the home) of five of the most famous figures in the Underground Railroad, helping freedom seekers or self-liberators reach states that welcomed them. →


Maryland’s population of enslaved people grew rapidly. The first 13 kidnapped and enslaved Africans grew to 25,000 blacks by 1700, and 130,000 by 1750. According to statistics from the Maryland Department of Commerce, Office of Tourism, “There were more successful self-liberators from Maryland than any other state.” In addition to the incredible courage, determination, and skill of these conductors and freedom seekers, Maryland’s terrain offered advantages to the establishment of this road to freedom. As a border state on the Mason-Dixon Line, self-liberators need not travel far to find safe havens in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. The journeys could be made along woodland trails, via creeks, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, Maryland’s labor requirements provided opportunities for enslaved people to learn trades and to read and write. In 1860, prior to the Civil War, 49 percent of blacks in Maryland were free. Ships, wagons, and railroads traversed the state. Free men and women of color often moved independently from town to town, “hired out” by the slave owners. 


A copy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, circa 1800s. When the book was published in 1852, it was illegal for any black person, enslaved or free, to possess. Courtesy Boston Public Library.

Men and women of conscience, both black and white, struggled to end slavery and lessen the suffering of the men, women, and children held in this barbarous servitude. In a small, tidy house behind a white picket fence, Quakers Hannah and Jacob Leverton sheltered escaping freedom seekers. The Levertons provided food, fresh clothing, and safe rest. One slave owner seeking the “return of his property” sued Leverton. Forced to pay a huge fine, Jacob’s health failed, and he died; his widow, Hannah, and her children maintained their home as part of the UGRR. The Leverton cottage in Preston, Maryland, is privately owned today, but is honored as one of the historic sites of the UGRR. 

Recognizing that the cruelty of slavery and the injustice suffered by so many must be acknowledged, there have been funded initiatives to preserve places where slavery has cast its dark shadow and where freedom seekers have journeyed to freedom. In 2019, September was designated as the annual International Underground Railroad Month. In Maryland, private and public agencies, and organizations, including Preservation Maryland, Maryland’s Office of Tourism Development, Maryland’s Commission of African American History and Culture, and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom regularly provide research grants and fellowships. 

The 400 Years of African American History Commission oversees many projects. Recently, it collaborated with Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely, Maryland, to develop a program entitled “Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad.” The program includes a series of five short videos, narrated by renowned author and historian, Anthony Cohen. In the videos, Cohen shows and explains the experience of being a freedom seeker traveling along the Underground Railroad. 

Another of the UGGR projects includes the designation of Annapolis as one of Maryland’s five “Sites of Memory,” a “slave port” or place of arrival for captured, kidnapped, and enslaved Africans who had survived the “Middle Passage,” that unbearably brutal sea voyage by which 12 million men, women, and children were brought to America to become human property.



Located in Preston, Maryland, the Leverton family home was a “main stopping place,” along the Underground Railroad. Quakers Jacob and Hannah Leverton aided escapees moving under cover to freedom in the North. It is a designated site of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program. Image courtesy Caroline County Office of Tourism.


 From ports like Annapolis and St. Mary’s City, Africans were sold into slavery and transported to plantations, farms, and towns throughout Maryland and beyond. One such destination was a tobacco farm in southern Maryland, the Sotterley Plantation, which is now one of the designated sites on the Underground Railroad. For 300 years, enslaved men, women, and children planted, tended, and harvested tobacco there. In the 1950s, the main house and what remained of the plantation were designated a museum, and visitors toured the home and grounds. 

In the 1960s, Agnes Cane Callum discovered that her ancestors had been enslaved on Sotterley Plantation. She brought family and friends to tour the property, and found the decaying slave quarters that still stood on the plantation. Eventually, Agnes Callum met John Briscoe, a descendent of the original family owners of Sotterley. Together, Callum and Briscoe worked together to have Sotterley plantation designated a National Historic Landmark. Since then, the slave cabin has been restored, and a registry established to collect the names of all the men and women, enslaved and free, who spent their lives working the land of Sotterley. 


was the key to the success of the Underground Railroad in the 19th century. In addition to the conductors who led individual and groups of “self-liberators” to safe havens in the north, there was also an Under-Underground Railroad composed of people, black and white, who passed information and messages between and among the enslaved people and their friends and relatives in Free states and Canada. Vigilance Committees also arose, locally organized, to support conductors and those escaping enslavement. Both the “Under-Underground” and the Vigilance Committees provided food, shelter, and even transportation as well as conveying important messages. 



Renowned historian Anthony Cohen explains the experience of being a freedom seeker traveling along the Underground Railroad in a video series produced for “Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad” project. Image screenshot from “The Importance of Language in Understanding the History of the Underground Railroad.”

Deep Roots: 

It is, perhaps, the saga of the Still family that best encapsulates the struggles and triumphs transported by the Underground Railroad in Maryland and beyond. Levin and Charity Still were enslaved in adjacent plantations on the Eastern Shore. Levin purchased his freedom and moved to New Jersey. Charity’s owner would not “sell” or free her, so she attempted escape and was captured along with her two sons. Desperate, she fled again, this time leaving behind her two sons, who were also enslaved. Via the Underground Railroad she reached her husband in New Jersey, however, she was wracked with grief for her two lost sons. The Stills had 14 more children. 

Their son James Still became a successful doctor of herbal medicine and a key conductor in the Underground Railroad, where he eventually met his long-lost brother, Peter. Peter Still had been enslaved for 40 years before escaping on the UGGR and eventually reuniting with his family. Charity and Levin Still’s first son, however, died in slavery. 

To discover these harrowing stories for yourself and your family, plan your own exploration of Maryland’s historic Underground Railroad and paths to freedom. Begin your journey by learning more at the following online resources:

Explore Maryland’s Underground Railroad

Ultimate Guide to Underground Railroad Sites in Maryland

Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad

by Janice F. Booth

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Gardens, the Original Recyclers

by Janice F. Booth

Feb. 07, 2023


8 Free, Useful Garden Resources

Gardeners are known to conserve and recycle. As gardeners we are particularly tuned to the power and beauty of refresh, renew, reuse—seeds to plants to mulch. What about those free gardening catalogs that come to us, and we pass along to friends or add to our recycle bins? 

Maybe, like me, you also pick up tempting pamphlets at fairs and farmers markets—pamphlets on all things related to gardening. I have the best intentions, but seldom study them. They pile up on my desk or tumble out of folders labeled “Projects for next year” or “Read these first.”

With this in mind, I decided to take these catalogs and pamphlets in hand. Now I’m ready to share with you, recycle if you will, eight ways to acquire free and recycled items and resources for your garden.

Since there’s little else to do about the garden in February, here’s a way to keep your gardening juices flowing.

1. Pollinators—Why not plant some Milkweed seeds and lure Monarch butterflies to your garden? Visit livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds, the site of the Live Monarch 2023 Seed Campaign. For six years they’ve been sending out into the world milkweed seeds and seeds of other plants that attract Monarch butterflies. The project often engages with schools and provides seeds and information for entire classes. The site has excellent photos of Monarch-friendly plants for identification purposes.

2. Plants—Who wouldn’t like to acquire healthy plants for free? Whether you use a gardening service or do your own planting, after winter passes, there’s always a bare spot or two that needs some new plants. Alternatively, spring may find you preparing to lop off or dig up some of those “volunteers” that threaten to overtake portions of your carefully planned flower bed. Try the website gardeningetc.com/advice/how-to-get-free-plants. This site reviews the easiest plants, shrubs, and trees to propagate, coaxing new plants from old. The site explains: • Dividing clumps of perennials. • Collecting seeds. • Using cuttings (rooting, dividing, transplanting.) •Reduced-price plant sales.



3. Seed Exchange—Winter is not the time to put this in practice, but now is a good time to organize a Seed Exchange among your neighbors, relatives, and friends. Send out an invitation with a list of the types of seeds easily harvested and shared. Plan to send reminders to participants as harvest time approaches. It will be fun seeing what is shared. There’s no cost and very little work gathering, drying, and distributing seeds. The only caution, be sure participants label the seeds. Not everyone wants a flower bed filled with surprises.

4. Sprouting—Vegetable gardening is satisfying and valuable. Additionally, you can plant a healthy vegetable and herb garden from cuttings you have sprouted in your own home.

  • Carrot tops in shallow water
  • Potato sections with “eyes” sprout in shallow water
  • Onion and garlic cloves produce healthy sprouts
  • Tomato, chili, pumpkin, and squash seeds are plentiful (dry on paper towels, plant seeds in moist soil in a sunny window.)

5. Craig’s List and Facebook Marketplace offer free garden items – tools, soil, plants, and decorative accessories. You can post things you’re offering and find useful items you may not have known you need.

6. “Sort Out”—We all have sheds or closets or basement cubbies, or several of these, where we keep our gardening supplies—the extra clay pots, potting soil, tools, flowerbed diagrams, and plaster statues. Apply the same ruthless energy that you expend on closet cleaning to your gardening stash. Get rid of what you don’t really need. Someone in your neighborhood may need a smiling gnome statue. If you can talk friends into doing a clean out too, you may end up replacing your unwanted items with a few lovely old bricks or iron bunny from someone else’s garden stash. You can also post your items on the “Free Cycle” web site, freecycle.org.

7. Design Templates – Whether you work with a professional gardening service, a personal gardener, or do the gardening yourself, you need a plan. Your gardener will ask you to describe what you are looking for. You may already be working out your spring garden design on those sheets of graph paper on your desk. Well, here’s some good news. Online you can find free: • Building plans for: greenhouses, garden sheds, potting sheds, and potting benches. • Templates to help place fences, sprinkler systems, hedges, and walls. • Lists of supplies needed to compete a particular design (valuable for budgeting.)



Free Planners and Templates:

“Plan-a-Garden” from Better Homes & Gardens: provides 3-D images and drag-and-drop design Welcome to Plan-A-Garden! (bhg.com)

“Online Kitchen Garden Planner” at Pre-Planned Gardens (gardeners.com). You can print out your plan and how-to information on executing that plan. The site also provides prepared plans if you’d rather not do it yourself.

“Garden Visualiser” is a British offering from Marshalls Garden (marshalls.co.uk/garden-visualiser). It works something like a 3-D video game, allowing you to specify sizes and themes for the garden’s design. 

8. Finally, since free advice is either useless or invaluable, here’s a wonderful site to tuck into your gardener’s diary! The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (wildflower.org/plants). The site is maintained by the University of Texas at Austin. It provides a fascinating plant-finder that allows you to identify plants based on a wide variety of characteristics, including location, lifespan, bloom, leaf characteristics, average size, and more! Your fellow gardeners will be impressed with the extent of your knowledge.

by Janice F. Booth

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Nature’s Alternatives to Fences and Sound Barriers

by Janice F. Booth

Jan. 21, 2023midnight


Here’s an idea for a spring project in your garden: Replace those worn-out fence posts or that chainlike eyesore with a lush hedge of forsythia or yew. Perhaps you live in a community where the covenants prohibit fences; but I bet they don’t prohibit shrubs! And as hedges, what can those shrubs be trained to do? They can gracefully delineate the borders of your flower beds and the boundaries of your property. Carefully pruned, hedges can deter intruders, muffle noise, deflect prying eyes, and protect your garden and patio from prevailing winds. Now that’s a pretty impressive list of uses for a hedge!

Whether you’re a do-it-yourself gardener or you have a clever, reliable gardener or service, you’ll want to plan your Hedges Project keeping in mind some key factors. So, here they are: 

Will your hedge be primarily decorative or purposeful? If decorative, then focus on color, fragrance, shape.

Color: You can choose shrubs that bloom, like the spring-gold of forsythia, or evergreens with variegated leaves, like the chartreuse-edged euonymus.

Fragrance: The sharp scent of boxwood deters bugs, planted beneath windows in colonial times to keep away flies and mosquitoes. However, witch-hazel provides a less pungent, woody scent to waft across your deck.

Shape: If your plan requires strongly delineated barriers, you’ll want to plant shrubs that take well to being pruned. Boxwood and privet are both old favorites for that very reason. You might even try your hand at a topiary shrub—perhaps an elegantly spiraling evergreen or a bunny or lab puppy. Flowering quince or azalea hedges will be looser, leggier, and lacy. 

If you are adding a purposeful hedge for some specific use in your garden, that use may determine the type of shrubs you plant.

Flowerbed borders: If you want a simple, attractive edge for your flowerbeds, you may want to rely on pretty evergreen shrubs that will provide an attractive border for the beds even in the winter. Juniper is deer resistant, has attractive structure and berries. A fun alternative is the Tater Tot Arborvitae, small mounds of lacy green. They require little pruning to retain their shape.

Boundary borders: If you’re going to rely on the hedges to denote your property line, size and sturdiness will be important factors. Boxwood works well here too. It can be pruned to provide a substantial hedge, not easily broached. Yew is another option that provides a looser, less obvious border. A third option is a hedge of holly. Holly has the added feature of prickliness, which can deter hungry animals and curious kids from breaching the property boundaries. 

Noise abatement: To muffle the sounds from a busy street or a neighbor’s boisterous children, you’ll want to encourage a hedge that is thick. Success here depends more on the pruning of your hedge than on the type of shrubs used. The hedge should be pruned so sunlight can reach the interior of the hedge. (More on this in the maintenance hints that follow.) 

Privacy: The same characteristics that muffle noise will also protect your garden from prying eyes. You’ll want to encourage thick growth all the way through the hedge. Additionally, consider the height and width of the mature hedge. You’ll probably want a tall, perhaps 6’ hedge. The width may vary, but I’d recommend encouraging the growth at least 2’ deep. Almost any shrub can mature into a privacy hedge. Juniper is a lovely choice, or arborvitae grows quickly and remains lush looking all year. 

Wind Break: If your garden is troubled by wind, a decorative hedge can help protect your more fragile plants. Here too, height is an important element. The Japanese holly is an interesting choice as is the stunning mountain laurel, with blossoms in the spring and green leaves all year.



Here are some general guidelines and hints for keeping those hedges growing happily and looking good, whether you’re doing the gardening or advising your gardener. 

Spacing new plants: If you’re starting from scratch, a trench is the most foolproof way to start an attractive hedge. The planting trench should be about 12” wider than the root balls of the shrubs, and about the same depth as their root balls. Plant shrubs about 36” apart. 

Soil: Well composted, loose soil will be most welcoming to your new shrubs. 

Watering: As with most new plants, be generous in your watering for the first year. The trench will help maintain moist soil conditions for the new root system’s development. Mature hedges are usually drought resistant. 

Trimming: Begin pruning soon after the shrubs begin to grow. Try to keep in mind the end-result, the way you want the hedge to look when mature. Trim the new growth that doesn’t conform to the ultimate shape of the mature hedge. 



Be sure to keep your hedge clippers sharp and clean. You don’t want to introduce any bacteria among these young plants—or the mature ones for that matter. Lay a tarp or old sheet beneath the shrubs before you begin pruning. Then, whisk away the small cuttings for a tidy, finished look

Shaping: Most hedges grow 1’ to 2’ per year. The upper portion of the hedge should be slightly narrower than the lower portion. Think of a cone rather than a funnel. This will allow sunlight and moisture to reach the inner branches of the hedge, keeping the appearance lush and thick. 

If the outside of the hedge is too thick, cut back random branches deep in the hedge, encouraging the inner branches to spread and grow toward the light. The “3-year Rule”: To keep your hedge healthy, each year rejuvenate the growth by removing 1/3 of the thickest stems toward the base of each plant. In 3 years, your hedge will be all young and healthy new growth. 

Finally, as with all our gardening adventures, don’t be too wedded to one vision for your new hedges. I find my plants sometimes have their own ideas as to how they should grow and look. Embrace that. Watch your hedges as they mature and encourage them in what they do best. If there’s a break in your hedge where you didn’t want one, plant an interesting vine or flower to fill in the space and add interest to your hedge. Then, next fall, you can add a new shrub and let it fill in hole in the mature hedge. 

by Janice F. Booth

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

December Gardens Column for What’s Up? magazine

Extending our Gardens’ Blooms All Season Long

by Janice F. Booth

Dec. 27, 2022


There’s nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9) A wise adage, but for those of us who love gardens, it sometimes feels like everything in the garden is new and amazing, season after season. With the world fading to winter’s grays and white around us, perhaps it would be fun to consider new plans for the garden. Color changes? Expanding three-seasons of blooms? If you’ve had a monochromatic color scheme, now might be the time for colors more varied. And, looking back at your garden journal, this may be the time to think about adding flowers to keep your garden gloriously blooming from early spring until the first frost.  

To ease your research and help advance your plans, let me offer some of the oft’ referenced but rarely applied lists of blooms you can plant to create a colorful garden that will bloom from May through October. (With a nod to my dependable, 1954 Better Homes and Gardens and 1995 edition of Gardening Made Easy.) I’ll focus on perennials (plants that survive the winter and bloom year after year.) For extra pizzazz and color, you can easily add annuals (plants that will last only one season.) 


Flowers blooming spring into summer from bulbs are always welcome and familiar after winter’s cold months, grouped here by most-common color for easy planning. (Many plants may be available in a variety of bloom colors.)

Grape-hyacinth— purple (tiny)

Scilla— blue (mid-height)

Hyacinth— blue, lavender (mid-height)

Allium— blue (tall), white, yellow, pink, purple

Tulip— red or myriad colors (mid-height)

Red bell— red, orange (mid-height)

Crocus— yellow, lavender, purple, white (short)

Daffodil— yellow (mid-height)

Snowdrop— white (tiny)

Mariposa lily— white, yellow (mid-height)

gladiolus— multicolor, white, yellow, pink, rose, lavender (tall)




We all have old favorites, plants that have kept our gardens blooming spring into summer and year after year. So, I’ll try to point out some less-familiar beauties you may want to try. I’ll organize these perennials by most-familiar or popular color.

Pansy— yellow or purple are most prevalent. While they’re sold as an annual, pansies are hardy, little guys, and will survive all but the harshest winters, turning up their pretty faces with the crocuses and hyacinth. 

Mustard— yellow blooms until mid-summer. They add a light, airiness with their tiny blossoms on taller stems. 

Welsh poppy— yellow or orange blossoms with lacy fern-shaped foliage. (mid-height) 

King’s Spear— yellow blooms on 3’ tall stalks—thus, the “spear.” 

Dwarf Flowering Almond— pink, tiny blossoms amid small, glossy leaves. Plants are about 2’ tall.

Camelia— deep pink, showy flowers amongst gorgeous, glossy, green leaves. The blooms appear for 6–8 weeks, and when they’re gone, those glossy leaves on graceful branches remain a remarkable addition to the garden—and pretty as filler in picked bouquets. (Usually kept as 3–4’ tall shrub, but can grow taller)

Mourning Widow— (geranium family,) deep pink to purple dramatic blooms on slender stalks, about 1’ tall. Also called Dusky Cranesbill. 

Mountain Heather— lavender blossoms amidst evergreen foliage for a pretty groundcover.  

Snow-In-Summer— a white groundcover with evergreen foliage. Provides a lush, river of white along walks or in flowerbeds. 



Now, moving into summer, we have lots of faithful and familiar plants in every color imaginable. You don’t need to read my column to call to mind 2–3 red to orange summer bloomers: Geranium, Bee Balm, and Gaillardia. Of course, Cone Flowers come in every color, as do petunias. So, let me again offer a few suggestions for summer plants that may have slipped your mind. 

Sweet Pea— pink or red blossoms on wonderfully curly vines. This is an old-fashioned favorite that will reappear each summer and add a bit of fairy magic to your flowerbeds. (low to mid-height)

Obedience Plant— deep pink to lavender is a personal favorite. This too is an old-fashioned plant that asks little of the gardener and behaves beautifully. You’ll get pretty greenery with blooms from August through October. Butterflies and hummingbirds will stop by to sip from the blossoms before these pollinators head south. (mid-height)

Plumbago— purple flowers that bloom all summer. Its leaves turn a deep mahogany in the autumn. The plants are usually about 12” tall. 

Balloon Flower— usually purple, bell-shaped blossoms on dramatic 2’ tall stalks. Definitely show-stoppers.

Blue Star— has clusters of small, blue and white star-shaped blossoms atop midsize stems with greenish-yellow leaves. Native to North America, Blue Star was first noted in the late 18th century. Cut back the stems in the fall for full, healthy bunches next spring.

Cardoon or Artichoke Thistle— lavender flower atop an eye-catching, thistle-like stalk. You’ll get lots of questions and reactions to this 4–6’ tall beauty.

Crocosmia— also called Copper Tips, has arching stems of small, dramatic flame-red trumpets, usually in clusters of stems about 3’ tall. Trim back stems as the blooms fade, and you’ll get lots of new growth. Clumps of stems can be divided in the fall providing you with new plants to share with admiring gardeners.

Butterfly Weed— with cheerful, orange blossoms, is a real boon to pollinators, as the name implies, it’s part of the Milkweed family and will bloom from May through September! (mid-height)

Potentilla or Cinquefoils— predominately orange, but available in many colors, is perfect for hanging baskets and flowerpots. Profuse, tiny blossoms set in small, green leaves will spill over edges in lovely fashion and remain low and thick. Prune to shape the plant in autumn after a summer’s worth of blooms. Avoid getting woody branches. The branches in winter are lovely, maroon features in the garden. (low to mid-height)

Pincushion Flower— orange or purple blooms resembling old-fashioned pincushions. This sweetie will bloom from late spring until mid-October. Its foliage stays green all winter, a lovely bonus. Deadheading is a good practice if you want to keep those pretty blossoms coming. (mid-height)

There you have it: another fun list of less-familiar perennials to add to your garden. They’ll help you plan for blossoms from April through October and in color palettes from shades of pink and lavender, to oranges, reds, and the ever-useful white. Your artist’s eye will surely guide your choices. 

by Janice F. Booth

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A Fresh Viewpoint of Your Winter Garden


NOV. 02, 2022


Another lovely autumn is drawing to its close. As I look out to my garden, I reflect on all the beautiful moments I’ve enjoyed for months on end—the glowing flowers, the choruses of songbirds, the lush greens of summer, and reds of fall leaves. And, there’s no reason my winter garden can’t be equally memorable and satisfying in its own, lovely way. So, here are my suggestions for encouraging our winter gardens to be as captivating as possible.

There are three components to consider when we discuss winter gardens. The first is aesthetics, what we consider beautiful and pleasing to our eyes in wintertime; the second is surveying what’s at hand, considering what to encourage in the garden this winter; and the third is planning for the future.

Let’s get started. Aesthetics, our principles of beauty in the garden, probably includes colors, shapes and/or structure, and balance or compatibility. Surveying the garden now, as leaves are falling and branches and stems are emerging, what shapes and proportions become apparent? Evergreens are often strong elements in the winter garden. Walls and fences, too, are dramatic shapes. As for colors, consider these same structures as sources of color: 

• multitudes of green in yews and cedars • a white picket fence • your gray or brown garden wall • a Nandina or sacred bamboo, which will soon be heavy with grape-like clusters of red berries• holly trees sporting tiny clusters of red amongst its shining green leaves • grasses—don’t lop them off, leave the fronds to sway in the winter sunlight



Looking a bit more closely at your gardens’ winter assets, do you have any of the following beauties growing there? If you do, now is a great time to prepare them for their winter début.

Viburnum: lovely bushes and small trees that bloom early. Consider planting for the future, Viburnum tinus which produces lush, pink blossoms through January and February. 

Bulbs: There’s still time to plant some early bloomers in your garden. Those dear crocus, narcissus, and snowdrops always delight. Don’t forget the Hellebores with their flouncing leaves and showy late winter blooms in shades of rose, pink, yellow, green, and white.

Furnishings: You may not want to stow away that graceful wrought iron table and chairs there on the patio; they will be lovely under a dusting of snow. (Do take in the cushions, however; they’ll suffer from a harsh winter.)

Feeders: What about those birdfeeders? Are you putting out snacks for your songbirds and squirrels? You may want to clean and repair the feeders, even move them away, just a bit, from their locations near the house and patio. Set them out from the house so you don’t have to contend with “dirty snow.” You’ll still have the songbirds and furry gymnasts to entertain you through the winter months. Is there anything lovelier than a scarlet Cardinal against the white snow? And there are lots of chuckles ahead as those plump squirrels hang by their toenails attempting to stuff one more kernel of corn or one more peanut into those cheeks on a winter’s morning.

Once you’ve assessed all the options you have for your winter garden this year, you might want to take it a bit farther and begin planning for changes and additions to your garden that will reach their beautiful potential in winters to come. Late fall is a great time to plant shrubs and even trees. 



For added winter color, you may want to plant:

Dogwood: You can find beautiful choices in bark and blossoms.

White birch: Once the spindly tree takes root, you’ll enjoy the lovely bark, with its texture of curls, and pretty, tasseled blossoms in the spring. Caution: Birches need lots of moisture, preferring to grow near creeks and bogs. 

Winter honeysuckleWitch hazel, and Japanese apricot are three lovely vines and bushes that offer lush fragrance that wafts on winter winds—intoxicating with the promise of approaching spring.

Camellia: For showy blossoms in shades of rose and pink, add a Camellia to your garden. The shiny, dark green leaves make a perfect setting for the large, gorgeous blossoms that open in late February or early March. 

Here are some other flowers that handle winter weather and provide early spring color:

Semi-hardy: China aster, Lobella, Petunia

Hardy: Pansies, Sweet alyssum, Flowering Stock

Vegetables: If you’re among the hardy souls who are willing to tackle vegetable gardening, here’s a review of the types of vegetables that produce throughout the winter:

Semi-hardy: Swiss chard, Leaf lettuce, Arugula, Carrots, Beets, Rutabaga, Radicchio

Hardy: Radishes, Turnips, Broccoli, English peas, Leeks, Kale, Spinach, Collards



Finally, just a few reminders if you decide to experiment with serious winter gardening:

Plant now: Give your new plants sufficient time to take root and settle in before serious winter weather arrives. You’ll be more likely to have tasty onions, peas, and Bok Choy if the dears have settled their roots into your welcoming garden. 

Consider watering: You may not need to do very much watering if the winter is fairly cold and some snow arrives. However, if the winter is mild and there is less than normal precipitation, prepare to occasionally carry water to your vegetables and flowers. 

Monitor freezes: The flowers and vegetables I’ve discussed in this article are hardy souls. They won’t be bothered by some frost and snow. But, if the predictions are for “hard frosts” and/or snowstorms, plan to cover your plants. Usually, old bedsheets will be sufficient, but if the weather grows extreme, there are “fluff covers” that will protect your lettuce and leeks from frostbite or the heavier piles of snow.

Don’t forget to take some photos of your winter garden in its special glory! They’ll be fun to look back on when spring arrives.

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