After the struggle to fill a column based on the letter Q, R will be a breeze. In my filing cabinet, there are folders of notes from rain gardens to Russian sage, and that looks like a good place to begin.
I have Russian sage on either side of the front door, as well as in several places where it has popped up unaccountably, and it is an attractive and thoroughly reliable plant that needs no care through its long blooming season. I am sure mine receives several doses of road salt every winter as the snow is plowed right over it, and those spots flood after rain, but it still flourishes.
Each plant grows to 2 to 4 feet, and spreads 3 to 4 feet in full sun. The stems of lavender blue flowers bloom in mid-summer, but the gray-green foliage and silvery stems are attractive all through the growing season. The scent is somewhere between mint and sage.
Rinds of grapefruit, orange and lemon are good old reliables for the compost pile, but here is another use for them as starter pots.
Fill them with soilless seed starting mix and use them to start seeds, indoors or outside. Keep them well watered, and when the little seedlings are strong enough for the garden bed, plant the whole thing.
Roots will grow easily through the rind, and the little pots will break down in the soil.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
Rosemary is a plant to treasure, and while it grows well in the herb bed, it is famously reluctant to survive indoors through the winter. Here is a way to propagate rosemary that is said to entice the most reluctant shoot to grow. Famous horticulturist Gertrude Foster recommended putting cuttings in a green glass jar. After a few weeks, roots will emerge and the plant can move into soil.
I am going to try this as soon as I get a new rosemary or two for the summer.
Radishes often are overlooked, especially by me. I have planted them some years along with carrot seeds to mark the space, as carrots are famously slow to germinate, but I have never sown them as a crop.
I found a packet of French Breakfast radish seeds tucked in the top of my Christmas stocking, and although I do not expect to replace my toast with radishes for breakfast, I will certainly grow a few this year. Actually, the packet tells me there are 500 seeds inside, so there may be more than a few.
I read an article on radishes that proudly revealed one of radishes' best kept secrets - radish pods. Evidently, if you allow it to stay in the ground past the "best by" date, the plant will send a flower spike that produces seed pods that look like snap peas and can be cooked in stir-fries or eaten raw in salads.
I grow quite a few different herbs, but one I have never tried is rue. This is an herb with a long history, used in medicine for thousands of years. Ophelia, in "Hamlet," refers to it as "herb of grace o' Sundays," and it was regarded as holy, used in the church as a wand to sprinkle holy water.
There does not seem to be any compelling reason to grow rue, either for medicinal or liturgical uses, but it is a rather attractive plant, an evergreen perennial.
The Greeks used to say the only way to get rue to flourish was to steal it from a neighbor's garden, but my neighbor is more into red salvia for the hummingbirds, and so I will just have to do without it.