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Serena Manickam

Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.

While lavender essential oil is difficult to make at home on a small scale, homemade lavender-infused oil is easy and accessible. With just four simple steps and materials you likely already have in your kitchen, you can make your own soothing lavender oil to use as-is or to make salve, lip balm, soap, and more. …

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When asked to name a word that starts with the letter X, many of us will think first of xylophone or X-ray. If asked to name a flower that starts with X, we’ll probably just scratch our heads. But such plants do exist! Keep reading to learn about some extraordinary flowers that start with X. 1. Xeranthemum …

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Although citrus trees seem reserved for the southern part of the U.S., where temperatures remain mild throughout the winter, even those who see snow in the colder months can grow a lemon tree. All it takes is a large pot and proper care. And with Plant a Lemon Tree Day coming up on May 18th, …

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Steep slopes present a challenge in the garden, both in the initial planning stages and in relation to ongoing maintenance. Ground covers offer an excellent solution. These plants grow densely and often quickly, covering the ground to shade out weeds and stabilize banks, preventing erosion. Though the term “ground cover” might not inspire much creativity, …

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Ground covers are infinitely useful plants. They can fill in empty spaces, provide a low-maintenance solution for hard-to-reach places, and even replace grass for a sustainable lawn alternative. Evergreen ground covers provide winter interest while flowering types offer a pop of color. These sprawling plants act as a living mulch, suppressing weeds, slowing evaporation, and …

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Invasive plants are one of the most significant threats to biodiversity in the state of New York. These nonnative species grow quickly and spread aggressively, outcompeting native plants for space, sunlight, water, and nutrients. In addition to degrading ecosystems, invasive plants in New York also have a negative effect on the economy as they impact …

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Often chosen for the texture and autumn interest they add to the garden, ornamental grasses have many virtues. Some are tall, towering over most other garden plants, and serve as a visual anchor or a privacy screen. Others form low mounds, tucked in among bright flowers to add softness to the landscape. As you decide …

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For pure, bright white color that comes back every year, plant some beautiful perennial white flowers. These blooms in delicate, creamy hues pair well with almost every other color, making them an excellent addition to any garden. 1. Large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) One of the largest, showiest trilliums, large-flowered trillium features three-petaled blossoms up to …

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Landscaping under any tree can be challenging, thanks to the dense shade cast by the branches and the abundance of thick roots in the soil. But black walnut trees (Juglans nigra) seem to be in a category all their own; nothing will grow anywhere near them! Although landscaping under black walnut trees may feel like …

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It is beyond frustrating to look outside and see your flowers gone — completely mowed down by deer. Fill in those gaps with deer resistant annual flowers. These beautiful, long-blooming plants are rarely damaged by deer, making them perfect for a garden that’s beginning to feel more like a deer buffet. 1. Annual vinca (Catharanthus …

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