Friday, December 29, 2006

Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)

Jade Vine
Strongylodon macrobotrys
(stron-GY-loh-don) (mak-ro-BOT-rees)

If you have ever seen this flower you would probably remember it. The color is different than just about any flower I have seen ( has washed out the color a little bit here, not unusual). It grows as a vigorous vine in semi-tropical areas. The NYBG has one inside the Conservatory and it has formed an arch over the indoor water garden. This picture was taken at Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden in Key West, Florida. Having read the reviews before going I almost didn’t. However we decided to search it out (it is a little hard to find) and I was glad that I went. It was like visiting someone’s house garden. It wasn’t fancy but they had lots of flowers, unusual plants and some cool Parrots. It seemed to be one of the least devastated by the hurricanes then any of the other in-town gardens that I visited. So if you are in Key West and you go knowing that it isn’t fancy but an interesting look at Key West botanical life you should have a good time. I would like to thank the serious photographer that spend a lot of time knocking some of the bugs off this plant, before I took this picture.

Yesterday I took a drive up to Kent, Connecticut. I stopped at Bull’s Bridge, one of the few (if only) Covered Bridges in Connecticut. It is a nice little area with some waterfalls, hiking trails, and a mini-gorge. I took a couple of pictures.

Here is the bridge:

If you go inside, be careful as the cars are really close. People don’t expect to see someone inside:

Here is the view from one of the little square windows on the bridge:

Synonyms: Jade Climber, Emerald Creeper, Flor-de-Jade

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Floribunda Rose ‘Chihuly’

Floribunda Rose ‘Chihuly’

While visiting the Chihuly exhibit, Gardens and Glass, at the New York Botanical garden, I photographed some roses. I have been looking through some old files and doing some housekeeping and remembered what a nice rose I thought this was. It was really fragrant and of course it is a blend of some of my favorite rose colors. The bush itself was short and stout with nice coverage of flowers. I think this was good choice to name after Mr. Chihuly because like his work this rose is a complex representation of color.

The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden is one of my favorite places at the garden. Often times I have it all to myself or only have share it with a couple of other people. One thing I like is the plantings are large enough of each rose that you can often see several stages of the roses color. Now more than ever roses seem to have multi-stages of color to their blooms. ‘Chihuly’ is a rose like that. It starts off almost all orange and then gets the yellow middle parts and the delicate shading that makes it so nice. The old-fashioned double style flowers have a petal count of about 35. This rose was introduced in 2006 and seems to go by several names, which I have listed below. I often like to look up the parentage of the roses I photograph and this one is a bit convoluted. Here it is:

[(Sweet Chariot x Blue Nile) x Stephen's Big Purple] x [(International Herald Tribune x R. soulieanna derivative) x (Sweet Chariot x Blue Nile)

I am not sure how to read that one but I am going to find out. That is probably going to take some digging. Some of the names this rose goes by are:

cv. WEKsmopur
Ebb Tide™

I am loading the Ipod I got for Christmas. Since I have about 3,000 songs on my computer it is going to be awhile. The amazing thing is the Ipod didn’t even come with any instructions; you have to get them from the Internet. I guess that is a sign of the future. Since I use Mac computers I have Itunes already so it was easy to get going. Later this afternoon I have to help Karen get set up with downloading the pictures from her new Nikon D80. Since she has a Dell I am going to have to find a totally different workflow than what I am used to.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Rheum rhabarbarum
(REE-um) (ra-BAR-buh-rum)

I bought a Rhubarb plant for the container garden a couple of years ago. I thought the red stems and large leaves would look good with some more upright Canna Lilies. It has been a really good performer! I didn’t know it at the time but it is very hardy and has lived right in the pot over the winter. I actually had abandoned it but each spring it is there pushing out new growth. Which incidentally is a kind of metallic brownish. I don’t let mine flower but I may this coming up year. It is starting to get a little too big for the pot. I also have never tried to harvest the red stems for food purposes but I may try, as I like strawberry rhubarb and banana rhubarb pies. Since it is in a container and I have been removing the flowers it hasn’t been able spread or seed. It is a fun and interesting plant.

I hope everyone got what they wanted for Christmas. Karen got a Nikon D80. I got an Ipod.

Synonyms: Pieplant, Da Huang, Rheum x cultorum, Rheum rhaphonticum

Friday, December 22, 2006

'Sundance' Grandiflora Rose

'Sundance' Grandiflora Rose

Another rose today. This was taken in the late season so the color of this rose isn’t quite as vibrant as it is during the season. It does show the pinkish-red tips that the flowers develop. This rose was selected as Rose Magazine’s 2004 Rose of the Year. In my garden it was very vigorous and bloomed pretty well all season. It got up to about 5 feet tall and the foliage stayed clean. The flowers, which borne in clusters, have about 25 petals and are excellent for cutting.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Red Shrub Rose

I am not sure of the name of this Shrub Rose but it sure did bloom until very late in the season. Last week I took care of the several small rose gardens that are my responsibility. I did all the pruning and removal of the dead wood. There were even a couple of flowers and buds. For the last couple of years I have been using hardware cloth (metal fencing like chicken wire but smaller holes) to make circles around the base of the roses and filling it with soil, leaves and mulch. This seems to have cut the mortality rate by about 75%. I don’t mind if a couple of them die as that makes room for some new ones. Winter starts tomorrow and it doesn’t look like there is any polar air in store for this part of the country.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)

Fragrant Sumac
Rhus aromatica
(roos) (ar-oh-MAT-ih-kuh)

This was taken several weeks ago. My patch of Fragrant Sumac keeps growing and I keep cutting it back. This is mainly because I used it near a small patio with some Golden Barberry and Dwarf Zebra Grass (‘Nicky’). It usually is an excellent low maintenance plant that can be used for tough slopes or given enough space can be used as a shrubby groundcover. Mine are growing in a wet area (well, really moist) and that doesn’t seem to affect it. The fragrance of the foliage might turn some people off but I like it, as it is sharply pungent when the leaves are crushed. The fall color is great; I love the plants that give a mixture of the yellow, red and orange. The color is fairly persistent. I think I am going to remove the other plants growing with my Sumac and let it have the whole area.

I must admit to rushing here, as I have to go to work. This weather is just too good to stay home. The crew had their last day on Friday so I am on a solo run. I was all ready for winter but it just hasn’t shown up yet.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Poinsettias at Longwood Gardens

Just a quick post. I have been running around trying to get the house ready for Christmas. I put the tree up and put the lights on. I also did some outside lights this year. It sure didn’t feel like December out there today. The Poinsettia picture is ‘White Christmas’, even though it seems to have a distinctive yellow cast. I loved the really dark green foliage contrasting with the white, the other picture is the collection of Poinsettias that they had at Longwood Gardens. It is not the sharpest picture I have ever taken but all the colors sure were neat.

The last picture is the small fountains at Longwood. The water follows the music. It is a quite nice effect with the colored lights. Sorry about the angle of this picture I didn’t want to include the people’s heads in the foreground.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Aralia Ivy

Aralia Ivy
X Fatshedera lizei ‘Angyo Star’
(fats-HED-er-uh) (LY-zee-eye)

This plant was growing inside the Conservatory at Longwood. I must admit is a new one on me. It had a wonderful appearance. The leaves were quite large and had a little gloss to them. An inter-generic hybrid between Fatsia japonica and Hedera helix var. hibernica, this plant exhibits some of the characteristics of both of the parents. It was discovered in France around 1900. One thing it didn’t ‘inherit’ is the clinging parts of the Ivy. It often grows to 6 feet and then falls over only to start growing upwards again. It is listed as hardy to Zone 8, although some sites were saying Zone 9. It thrives in low-light situations, which make a good houseplant and as groundcover for you Southern gardeners.

(Synonyms: Fat Headed Lizzy, Tree Ivy, botanical-wonder)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blc. Malworth 'Orchidglade'

Blc. Malworth 'Orchidglade'

This photo is from the Orchid Room at Longwood Gardens. It was a quite amazing collection of 100’s and maybe 1000’s of Orchids. Every plant was in full bloom and just loaded with flowers. I saw some colors that I didn’t know existed for Orchids. I took a lot of snapshots of the flowers but didn’t really have time to take serious pictures. There was someone else taking pictures with a tripod. That would help, as the lighting wasn’t great. I looked up this orchid on-line and found this website:

I found this blurb about ‘Orchidglade’

Blc. Malworth 'Orchidglade' FCC/AOS

Blc. = a Brassolaeliocattleya hybrid created using Brassavola x Laelia x Cattleya

Malworth = The hybrid name or "fancy name"

'Orchidglade' = clonal name - a variation of the Malworth hybrid

FCC/AOS = First Class Certificate presented by the American Orchid Society

This picture was a weird reflection off one of the Conservatory’s walls. It almost has a grainy quality. The Christmas Lights are extreme at Longwood Gardens. I tried to take a few pictures but didn’t really get anything. If you are ever near the Brandywine Valley during Christmas you must stop at Longwood.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata)

Hardy Orange
Poncirus trifoliata
(pon-SEER-us) (try-foh-lee-AY-tuh)

This is an interesting plant I saw at Longwood. It had quite a crop of fruit. I had forgotten about this plant and had not seen it growing in several years. I have never seen it growing in Connecticut but imagine it could survive in some of the coastal areas. One website had it rated Zone 5 for hardiness and one said Zone 6. The fruit is very bitter but can be used juice and conserves. The thorns are wicked! This would make an excellent living fence, as anything that tried to pass through it would be torn to shreds. It gets to 20 feet tall but the specimens at Longwood were about 12 to 15 feet tall.

This second picture is from a wreath competition at Longwood. The wreaths were basically made from bits and pieces from the garden. I wished I wrote down the artist’s name after I took this picture. It was very creatively done.

Synonyms: Japanese Hardy Orange, Bitter Orange

Sunday, December 10, 2006

‘Lemon Snow’ Poinsettia

‘Lemon Snow’ Poinsettia
Euphorbia pulcherrima
(yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (pul-KAIR-ih-muh)
Just a quick post as I just got home from an overnight at Longwood Gardens. I am sure I will have more to say about my visit to the gardens later. This Poinsettia really was yellow. It is called ‘Lemon Snow’ and was with a big collection of what are considered novelty cultivars of Poinsettia. Whatever they are calling it the color was really beautiful. The plant looked good with dark green foliage and stout branching habit.

I chose this picture because I took it with my newly fixed Coolpix 8400. They seemed to have fixed everything. One thing I had to do was go through all the menus to get back all of my custom settings. I figure if the camera offers these setting I should go ahead and use them. They cleaned the camera up and it looks like new. One think I love about this camera is the wide-angle lens. This picture of the Conservatory at Longwood of illustrates the lens feature a little.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Red Irish Rose

I have been going through some pictures from the trip to Ireland I took this summer. It was a real luxury to be able to go during the height of the season. Usually when I go to Europe it is winter. I spent my time around Dingle in the Southwest of Ireland. It is a lovely area for sightseeing. The gardens and flowers were truly amazing. Everything seems to grow very lushly. We were lucky as there was virtually no rain while we were there. This picture is from a pub we stopped at for lunch. It had several types of bush and climbing roses outside. You’ll forgive me if the picture isn’t that steady because I had a couple of pints with lunch (lucky I wasn’t driving). I have updated my Ireland pages over at my other website: Digital Flower Since the airfare wasn’t too bad for the top of the season we may try and sneak away again to Ireland next summer.

I am getting ready to go to Longwood Gardens for the weekend. They do some nice Christmas lights and the Conservatory is always nice this time of year. I am meeting my brother down there. Just a quick one-day getaway, which is fine for this time of year. I will be happy to get my Nikon Coolpix 8400 back today. I am stopping in Manhattan to pick it up. It turned out the place I took it to get fixed had to send it to Nikon, as they were not ‘factory-authorized’ to repair the 8400. That slightly pissed me off but it was the same price and I guess they got it back from Nikon a lot faster than if I sent it to them. I have missed not having a point and shoot camera. I hope they fixed it properly.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch')

Mexican Sunflower
Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch'
(ti-THO-nee-a) (ro-tun-dih-FOH-lee-uh)

Having seen this plant in several gardens, including Wave Hill, I decided to find out what it was. I had kind of dismissed it as some kind of Zinnia on steroids. From the glowing reviews I have read I think I might have to try a patch next year. It seems to be very free flowering and while the foliage is a little coarse the flowers make up for that. The color is a wonderful deep orange. It has taken me awhile to appreciate yellow and orange in the garden. When I am designing a garden I usually ask what are the clients favorite colors and yellow and orange are usually never near the top of the list (blue and purple is the most popular answer).

This is a tall annual. I have seen it growing up to 6 feet. It doesn’t seem to flop over which is a plus. I think it a good choice for the back of the border. It is an annual but reseeds itself. It is great for attracting butterflies. There always seemed to be several and some skippers around the flowers when I saw them. This plant is heat and drought resistant but most people recommend watering when dry for better foliage appearance.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

‘Howell’s Dwarf Tigertail’ Spruce

Alcock's Spruce
Picea alcoquiana ‘Howell’s Dwarf Tigertail’

One thing I like about this blog is I am able to share some of my favorite plants with other people. This plant is certainly one of my favorites. There are a couple of things that I like about it. One is the color. If you look at it you can’t really describe weather it is blue or green. I guess that is where its botanical synonym, Picea bicolor, comes in. It doesn’t grow very fast which in my opinion is an attribute. I usually cut the main leader out of the middle and grow it more as a flat top shrub. I have seen mature specimens that were allowed to form the more natural upright pyramidal shape and they were beautiful. The new growth on this small tree is also very, very nice. Actually spectacular could be used to describe it. My trees always have a nice crop of the reddish cones. One or more of these gems usually find their way into my gardens. Since I get a lot of jobs through people seeing my previous work this has kind of a snowball effect. Often times customers will ask, “Can we have one of those unusual evergreen trees?” I know right away they want one of these spruces.

Just a note on the name of this plant. You will often see it marked Picea bicolor. I was calling it Tiger-tail Spruce but the real Tigertail Spruce is Picea polita. This tree gets up to 100 feet tall where the dwarf version shown here gets to 10 to 15 feet tall.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Red Jewel Crabapple (Malus x ‘Red Jewel’)

Red Jewel Crabapple
(Malus x ‘Red Jewel’)

This picture was shot the same time the photo for my entry on November 26th was. See that post for my general feelings about Crabapple cultivation. This tree had just been planted this year and it did not have the most beautiful branching structure. Perhaps it needs a little time to develop. It did have a good crop (especially for a small tree) of these brilliant red fruit. ‘Red Jewel’ is a white flowered variety that grows to 15 feet tall. It is generally considered to be disease resistant. Since my last post I learned a bit more about Crabapples. A tree is considered a Crabapple if the fruit is 2 inches or less in diameter. Anything larger is considered an apple. I may start updating this blog every other day, as the flower season is gone. I have a few evergreen and tropical plant pictures that I have not posted that I can use to update this space.

This is my 150th post!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Tall Aster

This is one of the few flower photos I have posted in this blog that wasn’t taken with the 60mm Nikkor-Micro lens. I used an old film camera lens that I had for my N50. It is a 28-200 Sigma lens that is okay but I don’t think that I will ever buy another lens that covers such a broad spectrum again. I want fast lenses! Although I did use the Sigma a lot in Florida I have found working with a prime lens (fixed focal length, no zoom) has helped with composition and cropping. The macro function only works at 200mm and it is a little weird to be so far away from the subject compared to the 60mm.

This was a tall Aster, which for me is a stalwart of the late summer and fall garden. There are many types to choose from. I generally use the smaller growing ones now and pinch them several times during the season. I also try and give them a spray or two with fungicide during the growing season.

On Thursday all I did was gardening. It was so wonderful. Sure I had to stop a couple of times to direct the other people but for the most part I just was gardening. I really tried to forget everything else and concentrate on the bed I was working on. It is a large bed with Bearded Iris, Alliums, Daffodils and a lot of Lychnis coronaria. I am proud of my little stand of Lychnis; there are several hundred plants as I have been spreading the seed for a couple of years now. They are mostly the white flowered version but I couple of the magenta flowered ones pop up for time to time. I actually transplanted a few as the seed had spilled onto a narrow walk and would have to be removed anyway. I will be interested to see if they live. Anyway the bed I was working on was covered in Wild Aster which is okay when it flowers but seems to grow a little too well if you what I mean. So I ended up ripping a lot of it out. I didn’t get nearly all of it but hopefully enough to give the other species a little bit of breathing room. The day of gardening was tiring but so rewarding at the same time. I forget that sometimes when I am doing the paperwork, making calls, designing and all the other stuff you have to do to make a small business run.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Variegated Jade Plant (Crassula ovata 'Variegata')

Variegated Jade Plant
Crassula ovata 'Variegata'
(KRASS-oo-la) (oh-VAY-tuh)

I saw this a couple of weeks ago in a nursery that has indoor and outdoor plants. I am familiar with the regular Jade Plant but hadn’t seen this nice variegated version before. The foliage is very interesting and pleasing to look at. It seems the Variegated Jade is smaller and slower growing then the species. It is also more temperamental in regards to watering. I have had several Jade Trees and eventually I think I have watered all of them to death. That is the key to Jade cultivation, getting the water right. I will never forget the giant Jades that where growing in San Diego. I just loved them and I could see where the tree part of the name comes from. They really looked good in a big grouping. I think I will get a pet Jade Plant as the beauty of the one I took the picture of inspires me to try again.

Synonyms: (Crassula portulacea, Crassula argentea, Money Tree, Jade Tree)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Paper Bark Maple (Acer griseum)

Paperbark Maple
Acer griseum
(AY-ser) (GREE-see-um)

I could have used a little bit more depth of field on this photo. I probably also could have taken it nearer sunset when the setting sun lights up the peeling bark like fire. This is a fine little Maple for just about any garden setting. In addition to the beautiful bark, the fall color and the emerging new growth are all showy. It truly is a tree for all seasons as during the summer the green foliage is nicely shaped and remains clean and handsome looking. I have seen the oldest and probably largest specimen of Acer griseum in the United States. It is located at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. The famous plant collector Ernest Wilson discovered the tree on a trip to China and the Arboretum introduced the tree to North America in 1907. Funny thing about the old specimen was that the trunk had turned a kind of a sunburned color and most of the flaky parts were high in the air. So I actually enjoy a smaller specimen where the exfoliating bark is closer to the ground. My Paperbark goes well in a part shade but the tree can take full sun (in this area). It can grow in moist areas but mine is located in a fairly dry area. Basically it is not a real fussy tree. It had to get transplanted after about 5 years of being planted to get some pipes through the area. That was 7 years ago and while that slowed it down it is still growing strong.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Philippine Ground Orchid (Spathoglottis x parsonii)

Philippine Ground Orchid
Spathoglottis x parsonii

This picture is from the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Gardens. It is quite a building. It houses plants from several different climates including some very large trees. They call this permanent exhibit the World of Plants. My favorite part is the desert area and the small transitional room that leads to the seasonal exhibits. Most all of the ‘climates’ open on to the world-class water gardens. Which are compact but chock full of botanical delights. This is a Victorian style glasshouse that was built in 1902. I think they refurbished 10 or 15 years ago. It is always a wonderful adventure for me. This is one of the 2% of my pictures that was taken indoors.

This Orchid was blooming and its color was quite striking. When I looked up this particular species of Spathoglottis there wasn’t a lot of information. It is hardy in Zone 10 but can be grown outside during the summer and indoors during the winter. Spathoglottis x parsonii is a natural occurring hybrid between Spathoglottis plicata and S. vanoverbergii. Its native range is in the Philippines. The genus has about 40 species stretching from India to Australia and some of the Southwest Pacific islands.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monarch Butterfly and Korean Chrysanthemum

Monarch Butterfly
Danaus plexippus
Korean Chrysanthemum

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago on a really windy day. This poor fellow was holding on for dear life. He seemed a little groggy in the chilly morning and I was happy to get a snapshot of him. Most of the pictures didn’t come out in the gusty wind. I get more and more requests for Butterfly Gardens. It is easy to attract them with the right plant material.

Here are some of my favorites:
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Verbena (Verbena spp. )
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)

Don’t forget to plant some of the host plants. Most species of butterfly have to lay its eggs on particular plants. It is best to locate these plants in an ‘off-area’ as the emerging caterpillars can do some damage.

Here is a picture of a Monarch Caterpillar I took in Key West, Florida.

Monday, November 27, 2006

This is some kind of African Daisy I think, maybe the Cape Daisy, (Osteospermum). It grew wonderfully in the container garden this year. It seemed like such a short season this year but I guess it was as long as any other. It really held on to the bitter end blooming until last week. Not knowing the name of a flower has never stopped me from taking a picture of it, especially if it is beautiful. It is kind of fun trying to find out what kind of flower it is. If I had more time now I could probably nail the name down. My wife says this picture really sums up my photography style. I am not sure, I don’t usually think that way.

I am preparing this Sunday night, as I have to leave early tomorrow. I have a big week planned. With the 6 plus inches of rain this month I am getting a little behind. I have a lot of correspondence to write for work and I have left until the last minute. If anyone can identify this flower please leave a comment!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Harvest Gold Crabapple (Malus x ‘Harvest Gold’)

Harvest Gold Crabapple
(Malus x ‘Harvest Gold’)

Growing Crabapples is always a mixed bag for me. If the conditions are right they are one of the most beautiful flowering trees in this area. Often times the conditions are not right and you end up with a fungus and insect ridden tree. This doesn’t seem to affect the growth or life of the tree. Selection of a disease resistant type is paramount to your being happy with your Crabapple. I think siting the tree is another important element. It is fine for the field or the end of a border but I will not plant them as a specimen lawn tree. Another thing that happens to Crabapples is when they are blooming if there are heavy rains the flowers all turn to a brown mush. The fruit is nice but the birds often get it fast. It is persistent when left by the birds.

I haven’t grown M. x ‘Harvest Gold’ as this picture was shot in someone else’s garden. They have been happy with its performance. It has white flowers, yellow apples and grows to 25 feet. The soft red pedicels are a nice contrast to the yellow fruit. This particular tree was about 15 feet with a good branching structure and a good crop of the apples.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pink Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant')

Pink Glory of the Snow
Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'
(kye-oh-no-DOKS-uh) (FORBZ-ee-eye)

I have been going through a lot of spring pictures for submission to a publisher. This one ties in to this time of year because you need to plant the bulbs in the fall. It is a great bulb for naturalizing or for the rock garden and as one website described a ‘socks and shoes’ plant for taller daffodils. These bulbs are also a good companion to the smaller botanical type Tulips. They are extremely hardy and seem to return every year with little fuss. They multiply by seeding and that seems to work out well. Chionodoxa bloom very early and the show lasts quite a long time. The white form ‘Alba’ and another species (Chionodoxa luciliae), which produces smaller blue flower, are a wonderful addition to the early spring garden.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hedgehog Agave (Agave stricta)

Hedgehog Agave
Agave stricta
(a-GAH-vee) (STRIK-tuh)

This picture was taken at a friend’s greenhouse. He just got this plant and it is quite handsome. It grows in the wilds of Central Mexico and gradually spreads with rosettes, forming a patch. That is not going to happen in the greenhouse as it is in an 8-inch pot. It sure does have a ‘sharp’ look about it. The slender leaves all form a sharp black point. One thing I like about the Agaves I have seen is they seem to grow with kind of a symmetrical habit. I will have to see if the six-foot flower stalks will emerge from this one. He will have to support it somehow as it could never stand up in its present pot. I think flowering for most Agaves end the plants life, which makes it monocarpic.

We got several inches of rain here yesterday. It seems like today is going to be nice, so maybe I will get the camera out. It is getting harder and harder to find flowers to shoot. There are a few odd mums left and I saw some other flowers at work including Potentilla, Mello Yellow Spirea and some Dianthus. They just seem to be sporadic flowers that a freeze will surely cut down.

(Synonyms: Agave striata)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Golden Barberry (Berberis 'Golden Carousel')

Golden Barberry
Berberis 'Golden Carousel'

This is actually a spring picture. I have been going through the archives because someone contacted me about possibly using some spring flower shots. I found several that I never processed and have been scouring my hard drives for some other appropriate material. One thing I love about digital flower photography is you can see right when you took the picture. Among other things I have been searching by date for any files created in April and May. I could see all the dates that took pictures this spring. It seemed like I was getting out with the camera every four or five days.

I think this is part of the ‘Carousel’ series of Barberries (along with ‘Ruby Carousel’ and ‘Emerald Carousel’). This cultivar is a fantastic plant that has dramatic new growth. These flowers could probably be called insignificant, as they are really small and a little hidden along the branches. They are plentiful and pretty and add a bit to the general color of the plant. The fall color is quite good, also. I saw some people were recommending part shade but mine is in full sun here in Connecticut. It never seems to get too big which is a nice attribute and has a little less coarseness than some of the other Barberry.

Here is a snapshot of the new growth.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dwarf Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua ’Gumball’)

Dwarf Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua ’Gumball’
(lih-kwid-AM-bar) (sty-rak-ee-FLOO-uh)

This is a funny little tree. I sometimes think that large parts of it are dead in the spring. I have learned to have patience with it as it usually fills in nicely. My tree has remained very short, about 7 feet in 10 years, compared to the species, which can get 90 feet tall. ‘Gumball’ has a very tight and twiggy branching pattern and it does remain very round. Mine is grafted on a standard about 3 feet off the ground. It doesn’t seem to produce those annoying seedpods. If you are looking for an unusual dwarf tree this might be your ticket. Mine is planted next to a pond spillway and hasn’t had any detriment from the wet soil (the spillway leaks a little).

The species is definitely worth considering if you have a large area for a tree. The star shaped maple-like foliage is glossy green and turns a beautiful mix of color in the fall. This tree can easily be mistaken for a Maple, however Liquidambar leaves are alternate. Something I learned when I looked this tree up is that it has aromatic foliage that smell like camphor. I guess I will have to wait until next year to check that out. The bark can develop a nice corky winged appearance. The wood is used for several commercial purposes including being an important ingredient in plywood. According to Wikipedia “The trees yield a gum known as storax, used in herbal medicine. This gum contains a small amount of the aromatic hydrocarbon styrene; the styrene extracted from Liquidambar orientalis gum resulted in the discovery in 1839 of the first known polymer polystyrene.”

I have been growing another cultivar called 'Rotundiloba'. It seems like a nice tree but hasn’t grown much. The leaves are rounded and it exhibits the same fall color as the species. It is said not to produce the spiky (they look like little mace heads) seedpods.

I got the estimate on my camera today. It is $200 to repair, which is a little more than I thought, but still well within the worthwhile range. The camera shorted out when Karen inserted the flash card the wrong way (on the Coolpix 8400 you have to put in upside down). I will post the name of the company fixing it when I get it back. So far they seem very efficient. I missed the camera the other day when I was in NYC. I find a Point and Shoot to be better for taking pictures down there. It is going to take 5-7 days to fix, which is a fast turn around.

(Synonym: Redgum)

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Winter Red' Winterberry Holly

Winterberry Holly
Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red'
(EYE-lecks) (ver-ti-si-LAH-tuh)

My Winterberry Holly never seem to quite end up with as many berries as this specimen I saw at Rosedale Nurseries in Westchester County. I am not sure why, maybe because some of them are growing in part shade. Even if you don’t have this many berries it is still a nice plant to grow. On 10/21 I posted a shot of ‘Winter Gold’ Winterberry and they always seem to have a heavier crop of berries than my ‘Winter Red’. This is probably related to something I am unintentionally doing and I haven’t been able to figure it out.

I am not looking forward to this week. I have six days of work planned and only three days to do it. Last night when I took the garbage out there was a rain and snow mixture, and that doesn’t bode well for all the clean up and other work I have to do. I guess it is time to pay for all those nice temperatures we have been having the last couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenenii)

Dwarf Fothergilla
Fothergilla gardenenii
(foth-er-GIL-luh) (gar-DEN-ee-eye)

This is one of my favorite under used shrubs. This one is the dwarf form but Large Fothergilla (Fothergilla major) is just as nice. The white bottlebrush flowers in the spring are pretty and have an unusual texture and are fragrant. The real show is the awesome red, yellow, orange and purple fall color.

Fothergilla likes to grow in part shade to full sun. It accepts moist to wet soil that must be acidic. This native to the Southeastern United States is a slow grower to about 4 feet. It sometimes times takes awhile to get going but after that it is long lived and trouble free. A very versatile shrub that can be used in mixed shrub borders, the woodland garden and even foundation plantings.

I was in Manhattan yesterday dropping off the camera that Karen broke. I know she didn’t mean to break it. I was a little sad at handing over the camera at the repair store on 13th Street. They didn’t think it was going to be a big deal to fix, which was good news. Everything was so crowded in the city that it was difficult to get any pictures. I visited the Green Market in Union Square and that was interesting. They had some unusual things and I could see why the native New Yorkers were swarming the place.

I am working today since it is going to be a short week with the holiday. I am not complaining there will be plenty of rest coming up during the winter.

(Synonym: Dwarf Witch Alder)

Here are a couple snapshots from the market.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Possumhaw (Ilex decidua ‘Warren’s Red’)

Ilex decidua ‘Warren’s Red’
(EYE-lecks) (dee-SID-yoo-uh)

This plant never fails to deliver a good crop of brightly colored berries. It is not exceptional during the summer but it isn’t bad looking either. ‘Warren’s Red’ was discovered as a sport at Otis Warren and Son Nursery in Oklahoma City. It grows much smaller than the species. Mine has been growing at the side of a man-made pond for several years so it tolerates wet soil. It is about 5 feet tall and 4 or 5 feet wide, which is smaller than the listed size. I never have had to prune it. It is growing next to a planting of Red and Yellow Twig Dogwood that didn’t turn out the way I wanted. As a matter of fact I decided to remove them yesterday. I hope to get a few more ‘Warren’s Red ‘ to replace them. It looks similar to Winterberry Holly but seems to hold its foliage a bit longer. It seems like it gets a heavier crop of berries every year, which my Winterberries don’t always do.

(Synonyms: Possum Haw Holly, Deciduous Holly, Ilex decidua var. curtissii)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Digital Clematis

Digital Clematis

This picture was totally useless until I ran it through Photoshop. With some selective/replace color and some sharpening this is what I came up with. I use a Mac G4 Quicksilver tower and Adobe CS2 Suite. I could play around with it for hours, as there are so many ways to manipulate an image.

Just a short post because I am tired. I planted another 400 tulips yesterday and it wasn’t easy digging. Should look nice though in the spring. With the time change, anxiety of the end of the season, and the amount of work that has to be done, it all adds up to a lot of stress. If I can just knock off a few of the things from my list I will feel a lot better.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley
Convallaria majalis
(kon-vuh-LAIR-ee-uh) (maj-AY-liss)

Berry pictures are always a bit of a stumbling block for me. Usually the light is either too bright or too dark. I keep trying though and while I have gotten a little better there is still a long way to go. I think using a tripod might be helpful. 90% of my flower shots are handheld. Using a tripod is a little cumbersome in the garden sometimes. Take this shot; I was down on my knees as these berries were only about 6 inches tall. It is a little frustrating to keep trying a subject that isn’t cooperative but it is also rewarding when you do get the picture.

Lily of the Valley is a beautiful fragrant groundcover that can grow in sun or shade. I use it mainly in the shade, as kind of a problem solver sometimes. I have been growing the Pink Form and it doesn’t seem to multiply as fast as the white but it is an interesting novelty. I had never seen these berries before and from some research I found out they don’t always mature. They each contain one seed but the best way to propagate it is to dig some of the ‘pips’ up. Speaking of groundcovers when I was at work the other day I was looking at an area that had kind of naturalized. I had been transplanting in little bits of groundcovers and shrubs for kind of a modified woodland garden. Anyway I was looking under an Azalea and I noticed a patch of ground where Pachysandra, Myrtle (Vinca minor), Lily of the Valley and Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podograria), had met up. It looked like a little Carpet Bugle (Ajuga) in there too. I will be watching to see what happens. That is kind of thing that sometimes happens when, over the years, you keep layering plants in.

There are quite a few legends associated with Lily of the Valley. It has been used medicinally though all parts of the plant are considered poisonous.

(Synonym: May Bells, Our Lady's Tears, Ladder to Heaven, Jacob's Tears)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Korean Chrysanthemum

Korean Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum NYBG Series ‘Straw’

This was taken at the NYBG. It is one of several mums that were named ‘NYBG Series’. All were named after their color. This one is ‘Straw’ and ‘Lavender’, ‘Sienna’ and ‘Mustard’ were some of the other cultivar names. I was glad to see them blooming as the mums have pretty much finished up here in Connecticut.

Next year they are going to have a big Chrysanthemum exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden. This was set up near the entrance and illustrates the fabulous ‘ozurukri’ Japanese method of growing mums. These are single plants each grown from a single cutting. The white one was named ‘Moon at the Base of the Mountain and the yellow one was called ‘Sun at the Base of the Mountain’. They were very, very impressive. Can’t wait.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Heavenly Bamboo
Nandina domestica
(nan-DEE-nuh) (doh-MESS-tik-uh)

This plant does well in Southern Connecticut gardens. It is considered invasive by some people but doesn’t really seem to spread or seed too much around here. If you are worried about it use one of the garden types that don’t seed. It is best to check in your area for growth habit and invasiveness. It really is a low maintenance plant for these parts. The berries are probably the nicest part but the foliage is a glossy green and also is attractive. The persistent berries can last well into winter and the birds like them. My favorite time is when the foliage is still green and the red berries come out. Add a pinch of snow and that is fabulous. For people with less space try one of the dwarf types. There are also culitvars that have a deep red fall/winter color.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tahitian Dawn Bougainvillea

Tahitian Dawn Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea 'Monan'

This plant has been doing well in the conservatory. I really don’t know much about Bougainvillea other than having admired it for the wonderful flower bracts and its tenacious growth habits. I usually just trim off any stringy branches and let it dry out between watering and that seems to work out well. According to this plant has a strong vining habit with growth up to 30 feet. I am growing mine in a pot and it was trained more like a shrubby tree when I bought it. It is always nice to have it blooming, giving a nice tropical feeling to the indoors. One thing I agree with Monrovia about is their warning to take care when transplanting Bougainvillea. It has thorns that are not apparent and they can hurt.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

White Top Pitcher Plant 'Tarnok'

White Top Pitcher Plant
Sarracenia leucophylla 'Tarnok'
(sar-uh-SEN-ee-uh) (lou-ko-FIE-la)

This is an interesting cultivar of White Top Pitcher Plant introduced by the Atlanta Botanical Garden. My Pitcher Plants failed a couple of winters ago when it was really cold here. I had enjoyed them for several years but they are listed as a USDA Zone 7. We are right on the edge of Zone 6 and 7 here. You can get away with growing some Zone 7 plants but they usually succumb to our sometimes very cold winters. If you can plant them in a protected location you'll have a better chance for success. This was growing in the Rock Garden at the New York Botanical Garden with several other species and cultivars of Pitcher Plants. In the Spring this one has a beautiful red flower that is considered double. The color of the pitcher is outstanding with the whites really white and deep crimson veining. According to some websites I visited this Pitcher can get up to 3 feet tall! The ones at the NYBG were more like 15 inches tall, which made them a lot taller than most of the types in the collection. If you have a boggy area and mild winters you should try Pitcher Plants, they always seem to cause a sensation in the garden.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Big Tulip Planting

I am posting this picture in honor of the 400 tulips I have to plant this weekend. I am not really looking forward to it but it all becomes worth it in the spring. I have selected red and white Darwin tulips. ‘Apeldoorn’ is the red and for some reason the ‘Ivory Floradale’ white ones were a lot more expensive. I like Darwin tulips for a couple of reasons. First, they seem to have some of the largest flowers and second ,they are very good about coming back every year. That makes them particularly good naturalizers. I have to go sharpen up my trowel now. Actually I will hopefully be using an electric drill and auger bit but you can’t always count on that.