While attending a marriage seminar on communication, Tom and his wife Peg listened to the instructor declare, "It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other." He asked Tom, "Can you describe your wife's favorite flower?" Tom leaned over, touched his wife's arm gently and whispered, "Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn't it?" The rest of the story is not pleasant. —Author unknown

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The psychology of reblooming irises

“Cognitive dissonance” is the “the uncomfortable tension that may result from experiencing apparently conflicting phenomena.” That’s sort of how I feel when I see an iris blooming in autumn. Luckily, it’s an easy feeling to overcome.

Happy hour for monarch butterflies: Smooth asters

Plant more milkweeds to ensure more monarch butterflies, and plant smooth asters so you can watch them belly up to the bar in autumn before the great migration to Mexico.

Mascotte green bean: Chipmunk approved

The 2014 All-America Selections Vegetable Award winner, ‘Mascotte’ green bean, grows in surprising places, including a shaded rock wall where enterprising chipmunks planted it.

Caramelized Tomatoes with Maple Syrup

Use maple syrup to add sweetness to caramelized tomatoes with garlic and herbs.

Plant Geeks R Us

You might be a plant geek if you go to a conference and stuff 5 roses, 3 buddleijas, 2 blueberries, 2 crinum lilies, 1 raspberry, 1 primrose, 1 lavender AND 1 cactus into your carry-on luggage, then realize that most of these plants will have to spend winter indoors because an Iowa garden in October isn’t the best place for tiny, non-hardy perennials. And you don’t care.

A Bungalow of One's Own

The Sweetwater Bungalows just look so darn cute.

Um, What's a Tuber? A Handy Glossary of Garden Terms

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a determinate and indeterminate plant such as a tomato, wonder no more. A handy new glossary of garden terms has been compiled by Park Seed and the National Gardening Bureau.

Plants Don't Read Maps, But People Do

The United States Department of Agriculture unveiled a new zone hardiness map this morning. It’s big news for people who read maps, but for plants, not so much. Many locations, particularly sections of the northeastern United States, appear to be warmer than they were in 1990.

October in Monet's Garden

The light. Yes, it was all about the light, the flowers, the air, the back-in-time sense of strolling through a living work of art. In an afternoon in Monet’s garden, I felt like an Inpressionist artist myself, seeing the grounds of this homey place in Giverny and feeling that this prolific artist had loaned me his own eyes for the day.

Happy New Year, 2012 Plants!

Auld acquaintance won’t be forgotten (I still love you, ‘Rozanne’ geranium!), but it’s so exciting to learn about the new plants being released in 2012. Here’s a first installment to get your dream gardening on!

Can I divide hostas in the fall?

When should I divide my hostas? Almost anytime! Spring is preferred, but fall is fine.

Botanical Latin: The new pickup line

Gardeners, dust off your Botanical Latin. That’s how the conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy wooed his left-leaning actor-singer-model wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

Deer in the shade garden

Among gardeners, deer have become the most hated animals on the plant. To keep your yard from becoming Bambi’s Salad Bar, you can apply repellents or simply plant things they don’t like. Here are a few perennials for shade that may be the liver-and-onions equivalent for deer (with apologies to those of you who actually LIKE liver and onions!)

Flowers of Murano—and other Italian horticultural delights

Italy is baking now but when I visited in May, temps were in the 70s, the veggies and flowers were perfection, and the farmer’s market at Campo de’ Fiori (literally: field of flowers) in Rome made me want to go home and cook. Here are a few horticultural delights from Northern Italy.

The joy of tiptoeing through the tulips

Attracted like bees to these glowing red beacons, people tumbled out of their cars, almost desperate to be in the midst of such splendor. This picture of a little girl posing in a Dutch tulip field not only reminds me of a perfect moment, it symbolizes what gardening is all about: joy.

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