Nina’s Garden


This page is dedicated to one of our fellow master gardener volunteers, Nina Binkley. She wrote many articles durning her years as a MGV which where originally published by The Monroe Times. Our group is glad to able to share them with you here, on our blog. The beautiful pencil drawings are by Jeanne Ausmus and are of Nina’s home garden.










Columbine – Wisconsin Native

A versatile perennial that is now beginning to bloom is the columbine.  A columbine blossom has five petals with a tubular base and flower colors of pink, white, yellow, red, blue, maroon, or purple.  It does best when it receives a few hours of shade each day, but it will…Read More »

Rose Basics

June’s arrival signifies roses in bloom.  This plant with its exquisite flower is in a class of its own.  Garden centers and mail order nurseries offer a wide array of rose types.  Some of the most popular are shrub roses, floribundas, hybrid teas, climbers, and miniature roses.  A brief description…Read More »

September’s Garden To-Do List

September signals the time when plant growth is centered on root development.  It is an excellent time to transplant plants in your garden as well as plant new perennials.  This month is also great for many plant divisions as was mentioned in the last article.  These last few months of…Read More »

Success with Seeds

The sights, sounds, and smells of spring are finally here.  Oh, how welcome it is this year.  I never cease to marvel at the wonders of nature as the earth awakens after a long winter.  The crocus and daffodils begin to poke their heads through the cool soil and bloom…Read More »

Dividing your Perennials

Late summer and early fall is a great time to evaluate the garden and take note of the perennials that would benefit from division.  When to divide and how to divide is a frequent question.

A good rule of thumb is to divide spring flowering plants in early fall and summer…Read More »


The hydrangea is a plant with a name of Greek origin that means water cup.  It thrives in moist soil, and in light of all our recent rains, this proves to be a banner year for hydrangeas.

There are approximately 23 species of hydrangeas.  This article will focus on the two…Read More »

Growing Vegetables

Many of you already have plans about what you will be planting in your vegetable garden, whereas others may be contemplating a first attempt at growing vegetables.  I know I’m already thinking about those luscious garden tomatoes and vitamin rich green and red peppers.  Rising food costs makes vegetable gardening…Read More »

Lady’s Mantle

One of my favorite perennials is Lady’s Mantle.  The large velvety leaves are the most striking aspect of this plant.  These leaves have a pleated look and the soft downy texture allows water droplets to bead on the leaf surface after a rainfall.

The chartreuse flowers of the Lady’s Mantle grow…Read More »

Annuals in your garden

Annuals are plants that grow for one year.  Even though these plants have a relatively short life cycle, their versatility in the garden is beneficial in multiple ways.  Annuals such as impatiens, geraniums, petunias, pansies, and marigolds have been longtime favorites of gardeners for many years.  There are many types…Read More »

Nina – the gardener

The spring gardening season will soon be here.  We are all anxiously awaiting those first bursts of color with the early flowering bulbs.  The seed catalogues have given us visions of sunny days ahead and thoughts of all the things we want to plant this year.  Yes, there is grass…Read More »

Early Spring Pruning

A hint of spring came with the warmer weather.  Snow piles quickly disappeared and the first green shoots of bulbs came through the ground.  We know its early spring when snowdrops and snow crocus are blooming.  This is a good time to prune those woody shrubs that are part of…Read More »

Perennials and Annuals in your garden

Part of the joy of gardening is the anticipation of change that comes with each gardening season.  Spring flowering bulbs offer the first display of color and excitement for the season ahead.  I am already thinking about the show of daffodils and tulips that will soon dot our landscape. Yet…Read More »

Hemerocallis – Daylily

The mention of daylilies usually brings to mind the multitude of orange blossomed flowers that are commonly seen growing along Wisconsin roadsides in mid to late summer.  Although the mass of color is quite striking in this setting, these common daylilies are rather invasive and certainly would not be welcome…Read More »


The tulip is a valuable addition to every garden landscape.  Its bright splash of color can begin in early spring and continue into June depending on the variety of tulip planted.  It is also able to endure exceptionally cold spring weather and in fact blooms better with cool temperatures.

Our climate…Read More »

Pruning Your Rose Bushes

Mid to late April is the time to prune your rose bushes,  provided there is no longer a threat of severe cold and freezing weather.  Pruning roses is very important for a number of reasons.  By cutting out dead and diseased wood you will be providing better air circulation for…Read More »

Clematis – the garden climber

Planting clematis is an ideal way to add vertical interest to your garden.  This plant is a mass of spectacular blooms and depending on the cultivar, flowering can begin in spring and last into fall.  Clematis falls into three groups, A, B, or C.  Basically this grouping indicates the kind…Read More »

Dicentra Spectabilis – Bleeding Heart

The old fashioned bleeding heart, dicentra spectabilis, is a flower that evokes nostalgic memories from early childhood.  These perfect little pantaloons are rounded at the top with tips that spread out at the bottom. Petals from inside the heart can be seen protruding from the bottom tip of the flower. …Read More »


The end of May ushers in the blooming oxeye daisy.  Many gardens have an abundance of this prolific wild flower.  It reseeds quite easily and if not kept in bounds it can take over your garden.   I enjoy the look of this free flowering daisy in a casual garden…Read More »

Quiet Visitors – Butterflies

There is much delight in watching butterflies effortlessly float over brightly colored flowers.  Butterflies add color and movement to a garden and by providing plants that supply plenty of nectar you will be able to attract these fragile insects.

Butterflies have knobbed antennae and many have attractively colored or patterned wings. …Read More »


Organic matter provides many benefits for optimum plant growth.   Heavy clay soil can be improved by yearly additions of compost which helps loosen the soil to allow for better root penetration.  Organic matter also improves the moisture holding capacity of soil as well as supplying essential nutrients for plants.

Composting…Read More »


There are a number of perennials that provide a long bloom time. One that is very popular is coreopsis or tickseed.  These perennials have a small daisy-like yellow flower and can add a bright spot to any garden.

Tickseeds are easy to grow.  In fact they can be grown from seed. …Read More »

Fall’s favorite – Garden Mums

The fall garden wouldn’t be complete without a display of garden mums.  These plants have a profuse number of blooms with a wide variety of flower forms and plant sizes that extend well into the fall season.    Flower colors come in white, yellow, bronze, purple, red, and pink.  With…Read More »

Plant Success

Every gardener plants with success in mind.  How to achieve optimum results with a bountiful vegetable crop and abundant flower blooms is what every gardener hopes for with each new gardening season.  Some things we have no control over.  Mother Nature may give us an unexpected frost at the beginning…Read More »

Lilacs Fill May Air

During the month of May the fragrance of lilacs is in the air.  Lilacs originated in Europe and Asia, and were brought to America in the mid 1700’s.  They have long been a garden favorite.  Before deciding what lilac cultivar you would like to plant, there are some factors to…Read More »


The height of summer is here when the black–eyed susans are in bloom.  The summer flowers are displaying their beauty in the hot weather.  The majority of planting is now done. It is a time to sit back and enjoy it all.   Remember that this is also a great…Read More »

End of July Garden Maintenance

It is hard to believe that it almost the end of July.  Where has summer gone?  And where has the rain gone.   The parched lawns and gardens are in great need of rain.  It is difficult to keep your own watering regiment going for weeks at a time.  Nevertheless…Read More »