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Can you recommend some good sources for buying seeds and offer some tips for starting plants from seed? 

—Julia Tomer, Pittsburgh 

Starting plants from seed, whether flowers, fruits, or vegetables, requires a little research. Some seeds will need an early start indoors; others can be sown directly in the garden. Most seed packets will provide you with all the information you need to have a successful season, as will the websites of many online purveyors. While I still enjoy receiving the odd seed catalogue or two by mail—Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (rareseeds.com) is a favorite—I do most of my seed shopping online.

May is a banner month for public garden plant sales. This year at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, curator Don Mahoney is growing the fragrant luculia shrub, for which, he says, “a local nursery had a waiting list 35 people long.” At the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, director of horticulture Dorthe Hviid has been dividing some of the garden's historic collection of daylilies, readying them for sale.
Amy Merrick, a Brooklyn-based florist and stylist (you might recognize her name from her popular "Living-In" posts for Design*Sponge) shares with us how she packs her Brooklyn apartment with flowers and plants, keeping herself surrounded with nature, even in the middle of the city. Check out the photographs of her plant-filled home!
The purple-leaf plum tree is blossoming, which means it's spring! It is a beautiful ornamental tree that bears edible fruits—perfect for summer foraging and winter preserves.
Australian plants are like the ultimate self-sacrificing mother: They give and give (certain trees can reach 20 feet in just a few years and flower for six weeks or more) but ask so little in return. (Fertilizer? Rain? If you insist.) Their fantastical forms, however—including sculptural, hairy, or waxy blooms in neon colors—are anything but matronly.    
Glass gem corn was bred years ago by a part-Cherokee farmer and master seed-saver. Yes, it's real, and, as an heirloom, its seeds will grow true. Today, glass gem corn seeds are saved at Seeds Trust, who anticipate more available next month. Glass gem is an extreme iteration of corn's natural tendency towards different-colored kernels, as each kernel has its unique genetic set for color and size. 
A vibrant groundcover for the shade garden, Lamium maculatum ‘Anne Greenaway’ forms a 6- to 8-inch-tall mass of scallop-edged variegated leaves that glitter with chartreuse, silver and mint green. Clusters of small lilac-mauve flowers add to the display in late spring, but the foliage can last all year in mild-winter regions. Perennial.
Fashion designer Elie Saab's Lebanese garden 
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True black plants are nonexistent in nature, but some of these sumptuous gems exhibit shades of the deepest purple. For contrast and sheer beauty, they’re intriguing additions to your garden or home.
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