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flowering trees

On 21, Jun 2010 | One Comment | In scents | By All Year Garden

A more familiar sight in New Orleans and Alabama, the Southern Magnolia is a wonderful evergreen tree with broad shiny leaves and huge (up to 30″ in diameter) white fragrant flowers. It is the latest bloomer of all the magnolias in the midwest, it blooms at the end of May, beginning of June, when other trees are long done flowering. The flowers develop into an artichoke shaped fruit, filled with beautiful flaming red seeds that look like corn kernels.

The tree, once established, is unpretentious and resilient, and it successfully withstands negative  Fahrenheit temperatures with minimal damage. It changes its leathery leaves all year long, but goes through a major shedding in spring.

Speaking of attractive garden features for the cold season, this tree looks like this picture, minus the flower, in the dead of winter.

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scarlet runner beans

On 13, Jun 2010 | One Comment | In vines | By All Year Garden

Scarlet Runner Beans are not legumes, they are a piece of history. The red and white variety “Painted Lady” was grown in the kitchen gardens as early as 1750. In the beginning people cultivated them for their highly decorative flowers and seed pods, and only later figured out they were good to eat. The flowers are beautiful enough to compete with the sweet peas. They are not fragrant, but they are gorgeous vibrant shades of red, white and purple. The seed pods turn an intense coppery purple in the fall, and inside you will find beans that range from monochrome to calico combinations of purple, red and white.

The plants don’t like the heat and will put off yielding seeds till later in the season, when the weather turns cooler. For some varieties the bean pods grow up to a foot long. The beautiful flowers attract humming birds.

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