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dragon's blood sedum flower

CC Flickr photo of Dragon's Blood Sedum Flower courtesy of galfred.

Dragon’s Blood Sedum (Sedum spurium, cultivar “Schorbuser Blut”) is a low perennial groundcover that grows as a dense mat and produces dazzling red to pink flowers in the summer and fall. The foliage is equally as showy as the flowers, beginning as small thick green leaves with red margins that turn to an impressive red by the fall. This sedum will create an interesting cascading effect in rock gardens or in containers. It acts as a semi-evergreen, so it will maintain some foliage throughout the year depending on where you live.

A nice thing about planting groundcovers in general is that they’ll help keep weeds down. You can easily keep this plant under control and keep it from encroaching on your other perennials as its roots won’t go too deep. Thus, it’s fairly easy to remove a clump here and there. Dragon’s Blood will grow to three to eight inches tall.

This sedum will grow best in zones 3 through 10 and should be planted in a mostly sunny spot. The more sun you give it, the brighter the flowers and leaves will be. As succulents, sedums like drier conditions and will do fine in loams, sandy or clay soils. Make sure the soil is well drained.

They also tolerate a high range of pH values, from around 3.7 to 7.3. This is an extremely hardy plant which requires minimal maintenance. It is also easy to transplant, so if you know someone who has it in their garden, ask them for a sample. You can transplant Dragon’s Blood pretty much any time during the growing season.

Dragon’s Blood works well in your garden and combines well with kaffir lilies or perennial flowers that are pink to red. This gorgeous photo from Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden will help give you an idea the effect this plant will have in your garden.

If you’re growing near the patio, look around for a great range of garden furniture sets to admire your new plants as they blossom.

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Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil is my favorite of all the herbs because it is so versatile and easy to grow. Those of you who follow my recipes site will know that I like to grow my own herbs and as basil is normally ready to eat just 6-weeks after planting I naturally use it often.

Basil is an attractive annual, about 18 inches (450 mm) tall with light-green, fairly broad leaves. There are several species of cultivated basil, one having purple leaves, so it is also a decorative plant in your garden.

Basil grows easily from seed planted after all danger of frost has passed. Pinch stems when the plant reaches 18 inches (450 mm) tall to promote bushy, compact growth. Avoid lush growth as it may reduce the flavor.

Green leaves can be picked about 6 weeks following planting. It is best to cut leaves for drying just before flowers open. However, if you can use fresh the taste is far better and it is also an extra vegetable to compliment a healthy diet.

Spicy-scented basil leaves are one of the most popular of all herbs used in cooking. There are two particular ways I like to use basil; the first, and most common, is to mix it with pine nuts and a little garlic, a splash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil in a blender to make Pesto. Pesto can be kept for a few days in the refrigerator. Use about 90% basil to 10% pine nuts.

The other way I like using basil is with freshly picked tomatoes, sliced, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with chopped basil. This dish can be served alone as an appetizer or as part of a salad.

The other great thing about basil is that you should grow one basil plant between each tomato plant in your garden. The plants compliment each other and the basil acts as a deterrent to many of the bugs that like tomato. It never fails to amaze me the way nature has a habit of making complimentary plants that together protect each other in growth and them compliment each other on the table.

Top chef’s use basil with all tomato dishes, whether cooked or raw. The other thing to remember about using olive oil is that it is an omega 3 oil and very good at promoting “good” cholesterol.

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The Fascinating Maidenhair Tree (Ginko Baloba)

April 6, 2010
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The Maidenhair Tree, more commonly known as the Ginkgo (the scientific name is Ginkgo biloba) is one of the most fascinating ornamental tree species you can plant in your landscape. Not only does this tree have an intriguing botanical history, it also makes for a beautiful and very hardy shade tree suitable for many parts […]

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Crabapple Tree Care

April 6, 2010
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In my childhood neighborhood, there were several houses where Crabapple trees were prominently displayed. I have many pleasant memories of munching on the bittersweet fruit and climbing around on their branches. Walking around my old neighborhood produces strong impressions of the warm colors of the different types of Crabapples and of their fragrant blossoms. There […]

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The Japanese Zelkova, an American Elm Without the Dutch Elm Disease

April 6, 2010
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If in the past Dutch Elm Disease has troubled your elm trees, this impressive and durable tree might be just what you’re looking for. The Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata) comes from the elm family and has many of the same features as the America Elm. Additionally, you will rarely find a case of Dutch Elm […]

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Thornless Honeylocust Tree Care

April 6, 2010
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The Honeylocust is a native of North America from the Leguminosae (Pea) family. It is a very popular tree for landscaping throughout the U.S. and grows well in large cities that may have issues with pollution and poor soils as it tolerates high pH, compacted and salty soils. It is also drought tolerant, making it […]

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The Japanese Pagoda, aka “Scholar Tree”

April 6, 2010
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There is a park just down the street from my house that has two large Japanese Pagoda trees planted among a collection of birch and evergreens. If you were strolling by this group of trees, you may overlook the Japanese Pagoda as just a common deciduous tree without any unusual features. Depending on the season, […]

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Green Ash Tree: Caring for it

April 6, 2010
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The Green Ash, from the Olive Family Oleaceae, has been an extremely popular tree due to its adaptability to a variety of conditions and soil types, and because it is very fast growing. It is also highly drought tolerant and a native to North America. You can find Green Ash planted virtually throughout the entire […]

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Pacific Madrone: Splendor of the Pacific Northwest

April 6, 2010
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My first close look at the Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) was at Lithia Park in the town of Ashland, Oregon. Among the other beautiful trees of this well-known park, the Pacific Madrone was to me one of the most impressive. There is something truly magical about a dense stand of this broadleaf evergreen with its […]

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Poinsettia Plants: How to Keep Growing Them After Christmas is Over

April 6, 2010
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In its native Mexico, the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) goes by the name of Noche Buena, which literally means, “the good night.” Noche Buena is actually how Spanish speakers refer to Christmas Eve. This is an appropriate name for this plant as it alludes to the time when it puts on its greatest show of color, […]

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