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About the Author
Beloved author and life-long gardener Louise Riotte passed away in 1998 at the age of 89. During her life, she wrote twelve books on gardening, companion planting, and garden lore, among them the ever-popular Carrots Love Tomatoes. Her father taught her how to practice astrology, while her mother was an herbalist. Together they greatly influenced her life and her books, including Roses Love Garlic, Astrological Gardening, Sleeping with a Sunflower, Catfish Ponds & Lily Pads, and Raising Animals by the Moon. Riotte was an artist as well as a writer, and her own drawings appear in all of her books. She took great pride in her garden near her home in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
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Adonis, Flower of Adonis(Adonis)
This flower is named for Adonis, the beloved of Venus. According to legend, the flower sprang from the blood of Adonis after he was killed by a wild boar.
Adonis plants belong to the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. The flowers are yellow or red and have 5 to 16 petals. Use annual and perennial varieties for the front border and rock garden.
African Marigold(Tagetes erecta)
"African" is a misnomer, for these plants hail from Mexico. To defeat nematodes that attack narcissus, nurserymen often plant African marigolds as a cover crop before planting the bulbs. To achieve satisfactory control, they plant the marigolds at least three months before planting the bulb crop.
African marigolds are also planted around apple trees or nursery stock used in grafting and budding to discourage pests. Planted near roses damaged by certain nematodes, they restore vigorous growth.
This is a great favorite of indoor gardeners for its beauty. To propagate, plant the leaves in slightly moistened potting soil in a margarine tub. Slip the tub in a plastic bag and close. New plants will grow quickly and form roots.
Ajuga is a delightful ground cover. A. reptans var. metallica crispa is especially lovely planted in small patches between the green varieties. It has deep purple foliage and deep blue flowers. Although it can grow in shade, it does best in full sun. A. reptans 'Pink Beauty' has whorls of delicate pink flowers in May and June. A. pyramidalis, which is larger than the others, has deep green foliage and blue flowers with purple bracts.
This genus name is derived from the Greek anchousa, a cosmetic plant or stain; it may possibly have been a coloring from the blue flowers used by the ancient Greek women for eye shadow. However, a red infusion may be prepared from the roots and, as John Gerard says in his Herball, "The Gentelwomen of France do paint their faces with these roots as it is said." The genus also provides showy biennials and perennials for borders.
Allheal, Amantilla, Jacob's Ladder, Setwell, Valerian(Polemonium)
The common perennial border plant allheal (Polemonium caeruleum), also known as Jacob's ladder or green valerian, reaches a height of 18 to 25 inches and bears beautiful blue flowers in June; the variety album has white flowers.
The value of allheal lies in its roots, which are dug in spring before the plant has begun its growth. Dry, then pulverize the roots; store the powder in an airtight container. Valerian tea is useful for many nervous disorders such as cramps, headaches, and stomach gases. The flavor is not particularly pleasant, but it is sleep-inducing and tranquilizing. Use a teaspoon of root per cup and steep in boiling water. As an herbal sedative, it is very calming.
Dried valerian added to bathwater helps with skin troubles and has a soothing effect on the nervous system. Because of its sleep-inducing quality, a small amount is beneficial when added to herbal cushions or pillows. Pillows may also contain a mixture of dried peppermint, sage, lemon balm, and lavender with small additions of dill, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, woodruff, angelica, rosemary, lemon verbena, and red bergamot. (See the chapter on Cosmetics and Fragrances for directions.)
The flower of this, nature's own medicine plant, is very undistinguished, having an extremely long stem and very small blossoms. The plant, with more than 200 species, is a vegetable belonging to the Lily family.
Cut leaves exude a juice useful as a wound dressing on a tree limb after it has been cut. The healing qualities of aloe are now widely recognized and the extracts are used in various cosmetics. It is best known for its use on burns. The juice taken internally is also healing.
These flowers know so precisely when spring is coming that they bore their way up through lingering snowbanks, developing their own heat with which to melt the snow. One, Stellaria decumbens, is found at 20,130 feet in the Himalayas.
The white, honey-smelling alyssums are charming with 'Martha Washington' geraniums. Or try the 'Violet Queen' variety with a 'Cecile Brunner' rose. Sow outdoors in early spring. Do not cover; the seed needs light to germinate. Pot up alyssum in August for indoor bloom in November.
This is the common name of a family that includes both weeds and garden plants. The family is mostly herbs. The name comes from a Greek word meaning "unfading," and is appropriate because the amaranth flowers remain colored even when dried.
A member of the Amaranth family, cockscomb (Celosia), is very often grown as a garden flower. Celosia cristata bears flattish, dense heads of crimson, yellow, orange, or pink flowers and is an excellent pot plant. Another type, C. plumosa, grows in the form of a feather plume and comes in scarlet, crimson, and gold. These plants add brilliant color to the garden.
This is a genus of beautiful, lilylike plants that are usually grown indoors. Pot an amaryllis in a container only slightly larger than the bulb. Cover about one-third of the bulb with soil. For best bloom, the amaryllis should be potbound.
Amsonia, Willow Amsonia(A. salicifolia, A. tabernae-montana)
This unusual and little-known perennial may be used as a specimen or toward the front of the herbaceous border. Its arching, willowy stems display narrow, glossy leaves and, during May and June, clusters of small star-shaped flowers of a strange steel blue color. The plant grows in sun but prefers part shade, particularly in warm climates. Because it is highly resistant to wind, it grows well in the Southwest and in coastal areas. Amsonias grow slowly, are never troubled by insects or diseases, and rarely need division or staking.
This decorative, broad-spreading plant is the largest garden herb. Although a biennial, it will live many years if you keep the flowers cut, but once seed develops, the plant will die. The roots and leaves have medicinal properties. The candied stems are used in confectionery, the fruits have flavoring properties, and an oil of medicinal value is derived from the roots and seeds. Dry seeds do not germinate well.
This is a white-flowered annual belonging to the Carrot family. When thoroughly dry, the seed germinates with difficulty. Therefore, you will get better plants from your own fresh seed, and it will add more potent flavoring to bread, cakes, and cookies. Use the green leaves in salads as a garnish.
Aniseed germinates better, grows more vigorously, and forms better heads when sown with coriander. Anise oil attracts fish.
The name comes from the Greek anthemon, a flower, and refers to the plant's profuse blooming. Use these aromatic perennials for the border or rock garden. Chamomile tea is made from A. nobilis, and a nonflowering variety of this species is sometimes used for lawns, particularly in very dry areas. It is said also to improve the health of other plants when grown close to them.
These greenhouse plants, chiefly from tropical America, belong to the Arum family. They are grown for their brilliantly colored flower spathes that appear in spring and summer, or their ornamental leaves. The name refers to the taillike flower in the center of the spathe and is derived from anthos, a flower, and oura, a tail. However, the tail always reminds me of Pinocchio's nose!
One of the most magnificent anthuriums is A. veitchi, which has metallic green leaves two to four feet long.
Asparagus Fern(Asparagus plumosus)
The plant, a member of the Lily family, is slender, with fernlike foliage on climbing stems. The fronds are very popular for floral arrangements. A. sprengeri, an ideal plant for pots, has long branched stems clothed in narrow leaves and bears small white flowers followed by small red berries. A. medeoloides, the smilax of the florist, has dense minute foliage.
Aspidistra, Parlor Palm, Cast-Iron Plant(Aspidistra elatior)
Gracie Fields made this plant famous in the song "The Biggest Aspidistra in the World." During Victorian times it was probably the most popular houseplant, gradually giving way to the philodendron, dracaena, and ivy. However, it is becoming popular again, perhaps because it is the most easily managed of all houseplants and may be kept healthy and vigorous for years with a minimum of attention.
Aspidistras are shade plants with a low respiration level. Even with little sunlight, the leaves can support a steady growth of all parts of the plant. Flowers come in winter, December to March, and arise at soil level. With their magenta and gold colors, they are reminiscent of sea anemones or tiny exotic lilies, to which they are related. In their native forests of the Himalayan or Japanese foothills, the flowers are pollinated by a tiny snail crawling over them. As "potted captives" the plants seldom produce seeds but may be increased by root division. The types with variegated leaves of cream and green are especially attractive.
The plant sends up an abundance of flowers from June to November, even after a frost or two, and deserves to be seen more often in gardens. Asters are an immense group with about 160 species native to North America. On moist, low soil or by roadsides we find bushy aster (Boltonia steroides); New England aster; Aster tradescanti; and willow-leaved aster; and on banks of streams and in swamps, purple-stemmed aster (A. puniceus). If asters invade pastures or fields, it indicates a need for drainage.
The name is thought to be derived from the Greek word for "not shining," a reference to the leaflets. Perennials are useful for border and rock gardens; the many modern cultivars are generally the most handsome, and are known as Spiraea.
The name comes from the Latin auricula, an ear, and is a reference to the shape of the leaves, which resemble the ear of an animal. Auricula itself is one of the 30 or so classes into which botanists now divide the genus Primula. So-called Alpine auriculas are probably derived from Primula pubescens and what are known as florist auriculas from Primula auricula.
Baby Blue-Eyes(Nemophila menziesii)
This plant shares honors with catnip as a feline attractant. In her book The Fragrant Garden, Louise Beebe Wilder says cats "will even dig the plants out of the ground." Baby blue-eyes, however, deserves to be more widely planted, as it makes a colorful ground cover from June to frost.
Baby's Breath, Chalk Plant(Gypsophila)
Baby's breath is a must for dainty bouquets. In early summer these plants bear a profusion of feathery panicles of small, starry white or pink flowers on threadlike stems, creating a delicate and beautiful veil-like effect. The plant withstands cutting well and succeeds in any well-drained, not-too-heavy soil, but mix some lime into the soil before planting. G. paniculata 'Bristol Fairy' has large panicles of pure white, double flowers. 'Pink Fairy' produces double flowers on strong, wiry stems from June to September and adds an airy, graceful touch when placed with larger cut flowers.
Bachelor's-Button, Cornflower, Blue Bonnet, Bluebottle(Centaurea cyanus)
Actually a beautiful weed, the cornflower is of value in supplying bees with honey, even in the driest weather. On limestone soils the cornflowers are blue; on acid soil they frequently develop rose and pink flowers, sometimes both colors on the same plant. The more inclined toward red, the more acid is the soil.
Balm, Lemon(Melissa officinalis aurea)
The flowers, which are salvia-shaped, are white, small, and inconspicuous; the heart-shaped leaves are sometimes variegated green and cream. When crushed in the hand, the leaf emits a delicious odor, suggestive of lemon-scented verbena. Melissa is Greek for bee, and bees obtain large quantities of honey from the flowers. The plant will flourish in ordinary garden soil but needs a sunny, well-drained location. Balm (Melissa) was used by ancient Arabs as an ingredient in a cordial. Many home remedies call for it to treat vertigo, migraine, lack of appetite, and indigestion.
Bat Flower(Tacca chantrieri)
The bat plant is said to have "the blackest flower in the world." It hails from Malaya and Burma. Some call it the devil's flower, and the many strange stories told about it probably originate from the malevolent way in which the eyes in the bloom seem to follow your every move. Sometimes its curious in fluorescence looks batlike. To some it resembles an aerial jellyfish. It is indeed an awesome flower and a prize for those who want to grow something different.
A powder of stems and leaves is somewhat toxic to pea aphids. The seeds are edible and may be roasted, ground, and mixed with flour to make a bread, according to author Nelson Coon.
There are many varieties of begonias — tuberous begonias, wax or fibrous-rooted types, and those grown for their ornamental leaves such as Begonia massoniana 'Iron Cross', as well as less well-known types.
All begonias grow well in pots, porch boxes, or hanging baskets. The best potting compost consists of two parts fibrous loam; one part leaf mold or peat moss; half a part well-decomposed manure; and a sprinkling of sand. Add 1/4 ounce of bonemeal to each quart of compost. Keep the atmosphere moist and shade the plants from hot sunshine. Begonias do well planted with Achimenes (a gesneriad) in pots or boxes, as both take the same culture and will bloom well in shade.
Belladonna Lily(Amaryllis belladonna)
The common garden amaryllis may be grown permanently outdoors in California and Florida, but in most places the large tuberous bulbs are taken up and stored during the winter. Store them with caution because the alkaloids present in the bitter-tasting bulb cause trembling and vomiting if inadvertently eaten. The showy, sweet-scented flowers are typically rosy pink and trumpet-shaped, which makes for a beautiful pot plant. Some members of the Amaryllis family, such as the century plant and the Cuban and Mauritian hemp, are sources of useful fibers.
Bergenia(Saxifraga or Megasea)
These handsome plants, about one foot tall, have masses of decorative broad, deep green foliage and clusters of pink flowers that appear in early spring from March to May. They are fine for the front of the border, to "face down" shrubs, as an informal ground cover, and for the rock garden.
Bible Leaf, Costmary, Alecost(Chrysanthemum balsamita)
Used as a bookmark, the bible leaf provided some distraction for children to smell during long church services in colonial days. The plant will grow in some shade but will not bloom there. The flower heads are golden yellow, small, buttonlike, and in loose clusters.
This old-time favorite is still very popular. It may have red, pink, or white flowers. D. spectabilis is the old-fashioned showy bleeding heart with long, graceful, pendulous racemes covered with heart-shaped pink flowers on plants about two feet in height. Of easy culture, these plants increase in size but do not need transplanting or dividing very often. However, since they do go dormant early in the fall, it is wise to set another plant close by as a filler; Anemone vitifolia is recommended for this purpose.
Blue False Indigo(Baptisia australis)
This perennial of unique appeal makes an outstanding cornerstone in the perennial border. Its blue-green leaves stay handsome all season and its nine-to twelve-inch spikes of intense blue, pealike flowers bloom in late spring and summer. It is splendid as a companion for Oriental poppies, and grows best in a lime-free soil in a sunny location.
Borage is the common name of a familiar herb whose leaves and flowers have traditionally been used in claret cup and other beverages, to which it imparts a cucumber-like fragrance and refreshing flavor. The blue flowers are also dried for use in potpourri. It is an annual and easily raised from seed sown in spring in ordinary garden soil.
Excerpted from "Roses Love Garlic"
Copyright © 1998 Storey Publishing, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsThe Wide World of Flowers
1. Flower Lore
2. The Queen of Flowers
3. Enjoying Trees and Shrubs
5. The Life of Plants
6. Which Plants Go Where?
7. Companion Planting with Flowers and Herbs
8. Gardening Tips and Techniques
9. Garden Creatures
10. Growing Wildflowers from Seed
11. Indoor Pleasures
12. Drying Flowers for Lasting Beauty
13. Dyeing with Nature's Colors
14. Cosmetics and Fragrances
15. Traditional Remedies from the World of Plants
16. More Projects from Plant Lovers
17. Plants and People
18. Plants of the North
19. Garden Plans