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Connecticut Garden Journal

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More and more gardeners are having to deal with shade in their yards from buildings and large trees. But shade doesn't mean the end of gardening. Here's some basics on shade gardening.

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With an already long feeling winter -- and it's still January -- it's a good time to plan your flower gardens. One design that everyone loves is the English cottage garden.

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This time of year we're all starved for color indoors. But there's one houseplant that can brighten up your day and is found in grocery stores to home centers.

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With all this cold weather I find myself sitting by a fire with tea and homemade Italian pignoli cookies, while imagining the summer garden. But it's more than just dreaming. I'm placing my seed order and have found some new vegetable varieties to try.

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With the holidays behind us, many are cleaning up after all the gift giving. Like many gifts, some are worth saving and others are better regifted. This is also true of those holiday plants. Let's look at those plants worth saving and those best composted.

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Happy winter solstice. It only gets brighter from now until summer! We're not the only ones who will enjoy the longer days. Herbs can be grown indoors to be added to recipes, drinks, and provide some greenery in winter. Here are the best ones to grow.

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One of the fruits of winter is citrus. Unfortunately, we're relegated to buying them in grocery stores or ordering cases of oranges, grapefruits, and lemons from Florida or California.

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You see the signs all around the state. Live Christmas trees for sale. They're beautiful, providing an old fashioned charm to our homes for the holidays. Some, such as balsam fir, have a woodsy smell, while others, such as blue spruce have a blue tinge.

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Oh, by gosh by golly, it's time for mistletoe and holly. Yes, holly shrubs are embedded in our holiday traditions and have a rich history.

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It's a time of gratefulness and I've been appreciating oak trees lately.

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With colder weather upon us, everyone is looking for a warm place to spend the winter, including some insects.

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Although we've had an incredible autumn so far, the end is near. With temperatures predicted to dip into the low 20s soon, it's time to protect tender plants you want to save for next year.

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This time of year it's easy to pull out the remaining veggies, cut back your perennial flowers, clean out containers, clap your hands and say, “That's it, I'm done!” 

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This extended warm, fall weather has me appreciating late blooming perennial flowers. Certainly we're all familiar with asters, sedums, and chrysanthemums, but one that has more recently shown up on my radar is the Montauk daisy. 

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October is a time of apples, corn stalks, Halloween, and jack-o’-lanterns. Visit a local farm stand now to pick out your pumpkin for carving. But instead of making a jack-o’-lantern this year, try making a jack-o’-plantern?

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I'm always looking for unusual ways to grow gardens. One technique I stumbled upon has been used in Germany and Eastern Europe for hundreds of years. It's called hugelkultur.

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With the cool weather and short days of October, thoughts often go towards pumpkins and winter squash.

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With all the hot weather this week, it's hard to think about planting for spring. Heck, I'm still swimming! But October is bulb planting time and one of the beauties is the crocus.

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Being an Italian-American, I'd like to think I know something about lasagna. Hey, I’ve been eating it since I was a little bambino. While lasagna is great for eating, it’s also a good gardening idea. Let me explain.

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Most of the vegetables I grow are primarily for eating. Some may be beautiful too, but if you can't eat it, I'm not interested. The exception is gourds. 

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Growing up an Italian-American in Waterbury, I have fond memories of my mom canning tomatoes in late summer. It always seemed to be a hot day when she canned and her boiling water bath just added to the stickiness in the air. But those tasty canned tomatoes made for great sauce all winter.

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I call this the golden time of year in the garden. Goldenrods and sunflowers are peaking. But the plant that really shines in late-summer is rudbeckia or black-eyed Susan. 

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This native wildflower is often overlooked as a garden plant. 

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It was a slow start to the melon and watermelon season. Cool, rainy spring weather delayed planting and early growth, but now they're coming on strong.

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Some plant common names can steer you in the wrong direction. Take Rose of Sharon for example. 

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With the zucchinis coming on hot and heavy and winter squash not far behind, you might welcome some insects that prey on these cucurbits. But while squash can be overly abundant, I'd never wish squash bugs or squash vine borers on any gardener.

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I love seeing those tropical hibiscus flowers in warm regions such as Florida. The flowers are big and colorful and plants like small shrubs. We obviously can't grow them outdoors in our New England climate, but we can grow a similar relative.

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Ahh, the dog days of summer. This time of year you can almost see the corn, melons, and tomato plants growing. But along with all this lush growth comes problems, especially with tomatoes.

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We often get wowed in late spring and early summer with all the colorful flowering shrubs. Lilacs, spirea, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and weigela are just some of the beautiful shrubs that burst into color in May and June. But come July and August, our shrub borders often just look green.

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This pest is native to the Southwest United States but has spread and become a worldwide problem for anyone growing potatoes. It's the Colorado potato beetle. 

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