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Mary Jane Breitling

Breitling is a longtime West Fargo resident and avid gardener.

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Home & Garden: Research center at Morris home to delightful garden experience

Just a two hour drive southeast will take you to Morris, Minn., for a delightful garden experience. Morris is home to the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC).


An interesting West Fargo garden bountiful with color, variety

On one of my evening walks I met an interesting gardener with a unique garden. Dawn Trapp and her husband, Tim, have lived in West Fargo for 23 years and have been in their present home for 17 years.


Home & Garden: June appropriate time to enjoy beauty of gardening

In our area June may be the most beautiful time in the garden. There is a plethora of blooming perennials and the weather is usually mild.


Old-fashioned biennials popular choice in the garden

Many of the popular and old-fashioned flowers we grow are neither annuals nor perennials. They are biennials, which are plants that require two growing seasons to complete their life cycle.


Home & Garden: Container gardening revisited, to satisfy planting yen

At this time of year with frequently sunny skies and warm breezes, I am overcome by the desire to plant. However, there is still a chance for frost and the ground is still cold. I satisfy this yen by planting my containers.


Beautify your landscape with various shrubs

April is a good time to plant new shrubs. Shrubs, along with trees can increase the value of your property and make it more attractive.


Maddening March frustrating month for gardeners

We have had enough of winter, yet spring is at least a month away.


Seed starting a good way to proceeed even though a challenging process

I am often asked if I have started seeds inside yet. Years ago, I would start many seeds under lights, but after a whole flat of impatiens succumbed to ‘damping off disease,’ my enthusiasm was dampened.


Houseplants are a wonderful decorating tool

I again managed to overwater my once gorgeous poinsettia, neglecting to use the finger test to see if there was moisture at the level of my first knuckle.


Winter is the perfect time to catch up on reading

Since we are snowed in for the winter, it is a good time to catch up on some reading.


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Shamrock plant sign of spring arrival

With St. Patrick’s Day soon upon us, you may be ‘lucky’ enough to acquire a shamrock plant. This clover shaped plant that is a symbol of Ireland is worn as a good luck badge on St. Patrick’s Day and is a sign of the arrival of spring.

Starting plants from seeds

Recently my granddaughter and I started some seeds in pots indoors to set out later in her California garden. When I arrived home, there was a message from her excitedly proclaiming that the seeds were up and that it was just “amazing.”

Health benefits of houseplants recognized

I have been visiting my son and daughter-in-law whose home is filled with so many houseplants that it is almost like a conservatory. Houseplants naturally bring a decorative look inside your home and studies show they release stress and help people get through the winter. We take for granted that plants give us fresh oxygen and take in the stale carbon dioxide that we exhale. According to the research of NASA scientist Dr. B.J. Wolverton, some houseplants help clean toxins and organic chemicals out of the air.


Garden planning nice diversion

I know that it is hard to imagine gardening as we look out our windows at the mountains of snow and venture out into the cold. However, this is the time of the year to do our planning and it may even cheer us up.

Houseplant care while on vacation

The snowbirds have already taken flight or are soon on their way south and many will leave behind houseplants. How do these plants survive? The best solution is to have someone come in and tend them. Get a person who has plants of their own so they know how to care for them. Often a well-meaning novice will over water the plants, which is worse than under watering. A few weeks before you leave, note how much water you give each plant and how often you water them. Leave explicit notes for the plant sitter.

Flowering plants make great Christmas gifts for the gardener

One of the best last minute Christmas gifts and the most welcome is a flowering plant such as an Amaryllis or Christmas cactus. Many of you will give or get a beautiful poinsettia and if you care for it properly, it will retain its color until spring. You must keep it away from cold drafts and from the hot dry air of the heating system. They prefer a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees and bright light, but not direct sunlight. Water it thoroughly when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Be sure to poke holes in the decorative wrapper to allow excess water to drain and remove the water from the saucer, as poinsettias do not like wet feet.

Live evergreens great for Christmas decorating

Although artificial trees and wreaths are looking more natural each year, I still prefer using live evergreens for my Christmas decorating.

Terrarium back in style; Enjoy minature exotic gardens in your home

There is an old saying that ‘everything old is new again’ and that certainly applies to an article by Kris Wetherbee in the American Gardener Magazine. Growing plants in glass containers has been noted as far back as 500 BC and apparently, terrariums are back in style. I found it hard to believe that their last heyday was in the 1970s as I still have the large brandy snifter that I planted a terrarium garden in back then. The article included a picture of a single African violet planted in a brandy snifter, so of course, I had to try it. I think it should be successful because I kept my African violets in a large plastic bag when I was gone for a month and they were beautiful when I came home.

Farewell to the garden means rest, rejuvenation

November marks the end of our outdoor gardening. Most likely, by the time this is printed we will have had a killing frost.


Gardening in the redwoods, planting challenged by dry soil

I am writing this article from my son, Kevin’s home in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. My husband and I have been here for some time helping with a major remodel of Kevin’s home.