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  • Writer's pictureKat Cervoni

The Cultivation, Issue 7

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

June 16, 2020

The Cultivation by Staghorn Living is a weekly newsletter offering expert insight for garden-filled living. Here you'll find ideas and hands-on guidance for everything from planting tricks and patio decor to the tools and tips we treasure.

The giant, fragrant white flowers of the southern magnolia are at their best in mid-June. Photo by magicflute002 courtesy iStock. 

Editor's Note

Growing up with outdoors-loving parents and grandparents, my siblings and I absorbed a lot of knowledge about the natural world. Bird identification, for example, is something we still all relish—and something our significant others love to tease us about. As kids, we had no idea that the average Joe or Jane couldn't tell a finch from a falcon. This proud "tribal knowledge,” combined with some of the sunniest weather of the year, is the inspiration behind this week’s issue. Since it is Michael’s first Father’s Day, the holiday is extra high on my radar this year, which is why this issue features a fun bundle of goodies to gift to the budding-birder in your life. Lush tree canopies and extra-high UV indexes also have us thinking a lot about shade — both working with it and creating it. Whether you’re with the birds or in the backyard, we hope you find some time for fun outside as we ease into the sweetest days of summer.

Happy planting!


Indoors: Vases

One of the nicest ways to enjoy the best blooms of the season is with an arrangement of fresh flowers. Having the right vase on hand makes a big difference. A vessel's color, size, and shape should all be taken into consideration when the goal is to show off a bouquet to its best effect. Think about what form and hue will accentuate your flowers' best features. Here, three of our current favorites.

GOODEE is a goldmine for chic, ethically-sourced, and finely crafted home decor items. This medium-sized hand-thrown clay vase is no exception. Currently available in an earthy beige (shown) or brown, we admire the way it looks as styled here with a few stems of Achillea. We can easily image it with a bunch of other seasonal blooms, such as Coreopsis, Echinacea, or Rudbeckia, too. $95 at

We're crazy for Farrah Sit’s household-item-meets-object-d’arte sensibility. Case in point, her COVA flower vase, with which we are particularly smitten. Small-to-medium roses would look lovely in it as part of an arrangement (as shown), or try it with a cluster of cropped calla lilies for a more formal look. $60 at

Made entirely by hand by artisans in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this quirky conversation piece has a speckled white finish that reminds us of a fine vanilla-bean ice cream. It would look smashing with a shock of poppies or even with a bundle of their fabulous seed pods. Bonus: it's currently on clearance for $14.99 at

What to Plant Now: Shade Plants

Shade might seem like a liability when you want to grow flowers, but a garden that doesn't get a lot of sun can still be full of blossoms and color. Any of the following shade-loving varieties can be combined for a lush border; they can also planted individually to fill in a blank spot or in clusters to create a big splash.

Photo by nkbimages courtesy iStock.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) Perennial

– Tolerates very deep shade

– Provides great spring color towards the end of bulb season (after the narcissus and tulips fade)

– Creates height and volume (ideal for middle to back of border)

– Goes dormant once temperatures rise

Image by tacojim, courtesy iStcok

Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) Perennial

– Very reliable and semi-evergreen

– Presents a beautiful copper color on new growth

– Introduces delicate texture in a garden without being fragile

Dwarf False Spirea "Pumila" (Astilbe var. pumila) Perennial

– Offers easy-to-grow early-summer color

– Has purple flowers that make a nice alternative to the traditional red/pink/white varieties

– Works as a taller groundcover

Image courtesy US Perennials.

Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) Perennial

– Tolerates deep shade

– Great late-summer bloomer

– Provides drama from height as opposed to color (easily grows 4' to 6' tall)

Image by seven75, courtesy iStock.

Skip Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus "Schipkaensis") Evergreen shrub

– Requires little maintenance

– Grow quickly

– Has smooth, dark green foliage

– Makes a great screen, but needs protection from wind

Image courtesy Morning Sky Greenery.

New Jersey Tea Bush (Ceanothus americanus) Flowering, deciduous shrub

– Prefers part shade

– Works well in smaller spaces or towards the front-middle of a border

– Has fragrant flowers in late spring and early summer

– Attracts pollinators

Image by Peter Haynes, courtesy iStock.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) Flowering, deciduous tree

– A woodland native that can take considerable shade or sun

– Produces fuschia flowers in early spring, then grows large, heart-shaped leaves

– Provides vibrant gold fall color

– Works well in small spaces (usually tops out between 15"–20")

Early Summer Sun-Protection Picks

We're all happy for some sunshine — but remember, a little goes a long way so don't forget to protect yourself.

1. La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Sunscreen: This non-greasy formula offers great coverage for everyday use on your face and neck (the tinted version is awesome, but will rub off on clothes).

2. Tuuci Ocean Master Shade: A big price tag, but absolutely worth it. These umbrellas are incredibly strong and will not bend to tough weather. For rooftop spaces, we never use any other brand. The cantilever models are an even bigger splurge, but are the best-rated on the market. 3. Tilley LTM5 AIRFLO Hat: Gender neutral and available in lots of colors, this foldable, washable, ventilated hat is ideal for working or hiking.

1. Tropicsport Reef-Friendly Sunscreen: Excellent protection for beach/swim days or long hours in the yard, this sunscreen is free of both oxybenzone and octinoxate, common ingredients that have been proven to damage to coral reefs.

2. Safavieh White Market Umbrella with Steel Frame: Reasonably priced and smartly styled, this umbrella has a steel frame and a tilt option that makes it ideal for throwing shade over a chaise or patio table. We are especially fond of the brown + white combo.

3. Roll-Up Straw Visor: Black piping adds a bit of polish to an otherwise casual and practical visor that is lightweight, broad-brimmed, easy to adjust, and foldable.

Father's Day Gift Round-Up

Whether it happens in your neighborhood park or your own backyard, birdwatching is fun, fascinating, and easy to learn. Here, our recommendations for everything Dad needs, whether he is getting started or getting serious.


Images courtesy Nikon.

1. Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10x42 Binocular: Highly rated and moderately priced for a very reputable brand, this pair is fog-proof (so important), waterproof, and lightweight.

2. Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42 Binocular: A less-expensive option, and still a good value, we love the ergonomic grip and it's compact size.


Song Sleuth: It's Shazam for birdsong. What could be more brilliant for your next foray into the woods or socially-distanced backyard hangout?

Image courtesy of Song Sleuth.

Field Guides

Images courtesy Amazon.

1. Sibley Guide to Birds, Second Edition With illustrations rather than photographs, this guide is our all-time favorite.

2. Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America Its compact size and crisp photographs make this guide ideal for use in the field.

Day Pack

Osprey Archeon 25 Pack: This mid-sized daypack nods to old-school style with it's classic rolltop closure. But thoroughly updated pockets and a water-repellant skin means its no throwback. Available in three neutral colors, it will carry water, snacks, field guides, binoculars, and anything else that improves an early morning of birding.

Image courtesy REI.


We hope you enjoyed Issue 7 of The Cultivation.We want to provide content that captivates, educates, and inspires you, so let us know if there's something you'd like us to include next time. Please send your thoughts by emailing us here. Want to catch up on previous issues? Click here to read through all of our prior editions.

See you next week.

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