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Garden Reports and Rejoicing – June 19

If you’re a gardener, one of the benefits of traveling is seeing familiar plant in unfamiliar surroundings. Noticing that the Centranthus ruber you carefully cultivate is a weed in parts of Italy, for example, or seeing the same fig you grow in a pot and pull in and out of the garage in the winter in its native habitat and full size.  It’s a wonderful combination of the known and the new…a fresh perspective.

On a stormy morning in Wisconsin I came across a plant that I’ve always associated with Cape Cod: tamarisk. Plants in the genus Tamarix are also known as salt cedars. Since they are tolerant of salty air and soils they grow pretty well in ocean-side environments. They also tolerate road salt and exposed locations. They don’t thrive on the Cape as they do in some regions…in many western states they have become invasive. But their asymmetrical, wind-blown look suits the seaside, especially in the summer when they are covered with small, pink flowers.

So imagine my surprise when I saw these plants in the medians of the parking lot at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. They were large, beautiful specimens with thin flowering branches contrasting perfectly with the dark gray storm clouds. I love the fresh perspective gained when plants “travel.”

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