Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chinese Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

Chinese Dogwood
Cornus kousa
(KOR-nus) (KOO-suh)

A short post today as I put the final touches on the proposal I am presenting today. The house is been recently lovingly restored and is on a beautiful piece of property. You can see from the plant list that it will be a very nice garden once planted. This list is for the heart of deer country. The Pound Ridge neighborhood is over run with deer. I am planting a mix of deer resistant species and some that we will spray with repellent during the season. Some seasonal fencing may be in order for the winter. I found that after the plants get established they are a little less appetizing to the deer.

I took this picture at a local garden retailer named Lexington Gardens. They always have some interesting plants. As I was driving away I saw this Kousa planted in the display gardens. It was literally covered with fruit. It must have been a selection or cultivar, as I have never seen such a compact heavy fruiting type like this. The tree was big but not as big as the species. A couple of the guys at work like to eat these berries but I find them disgusting.

Here is the plant list from the proposal:

2 Globe Blue Spruce (Front Door) (Picea pungens glauca 'Globosa')
2 Fastigiate Norway Spruce (Picea abies 'Cupressina')
1 Dragon Lady Holly (I. x aquipernyi ‘Dragon Lady’)
1 River Birch (Betula nigra ‘Heritage’)
1 Dwarf Laceleaf Red Maple (Acer palm. dissectum)
1 Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)
1 Weeping Cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula')
1 Fastigiate Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Fastigiata')
18 Dwarf Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln')
6 Royal Burgundy Barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Gentry')
6 Blue Mist Shrub (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
3 Tardiva Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva')
6 Helleri Japanese Hollies (Ilex crenata 'Helleri')
3 Miss Kim Dwarf Lilac (Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’)
9 Large Pieris (Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’)
9 Medium Pieris (Pieris Mixed Species)
5 Small Pieris (Compact) (Pieris japonica ‘Compacta’)
9 Blue Hollies (I. x meserveae ‘Blue Princess’)
6 Spreading Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’)
1 Bush Clover (Lespedeza thunbergii)
1 Tigertail Spruce (Picea alcoq. 'Howell's Dwarf Tigertail')
5 Variegated Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Variegata')
2 Large Common Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)
2 Medium Common Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)
12 Astilbe (not too tall) (Astilbe x arendsii hybrids)
12 Daisies (Chrysanthemum maximum)
12 Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
16 Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica mixed cultivars)
12 Old Fashioned Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis)
12 Sedum (Sedum telephium 'Autumn Joy')
6 Tall Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Golden Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold')

Japanese Forest Grass
Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold'
(hah-koh-nee-KLO-uh) (MAK-ruh)

This plant actually got me in a little trouble when I accidentally picked it up when I was looking for it’s gold with a green stripe cousin Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'. I ended up planting it anyway and it turned out for the better. I prefer ‘All Gold’ for edging along a shady walk or patio. It seems a little smaller, daintier and a little more upright growing. The larger 'Aureola' is better for covering large areas as groundcover but is also nice planted as accents. There have been some reversions on some of my older clumps of 'Aureola' while the ‘All Gold’ has really kept its color.

This plant seems to rightly gaining in popularity. It seems a little expensive but I think that is because it is slow to expand. You get good coverage without rampant growth.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Franklinia Tree
Franklinia alatamaha
(frank-LIN-ee-uh) (uh-lah-tah-MAH-hah)

This is the latest flowering tree in the large garden I take care of. It is such a great tree on so many levels. It is just finishing blooming here in Connecticut. This tree is now extinct in the wild, with all known specimens in cultivation. It is sometimes said this was ‘America’s first rare plant’. You don’t see them planted in gardens, not enough in my opinion anyway. I usually find a way to work one of them in. It has wonderful fall color soon after the flowers drop. One thing about the Franklin tree is it sometimes takes a long time to emerge in the spring. You might think it is dead but eventually it pushes out the good-looking foliage. All of the specimens I cultivate are ‘on the edge’, on the edge of the woods that is, and they seem to be able to function well with a little bit of shade.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lavender Lady Passion Flower
Passiflora x 'Lavender Lady'
(syn. P.'Amethyst')

The Passion Flowers seemed to have good year this year. I posted awhile back about the Red Passion Flower I was growing called ‘Lady Margaret’ and it has continued to bloom with abandon. I was not quite enchanted with one of the other Passions called ‘Lavender Lady’. This plant has come on strong in the late summer and has been exploding with flowers. What I like about these new, for me, Passion Flowers is they don’t seem to have the rampant growth that some of the species has, at least not when grown in a container. They are vigorous but it has been easy to keep under control. This plant was created by hybridizing P. amethystina x P. caerulea. The color, habit and cultivation of this plant are worth it. I am going to try and take it indoors.

Just a short post as I have been installing Belgian Block curbing the last couple of days and boy I’m tired. It takes a lot out of you. Just a couple of hundred feet more and I will be done.

I have a picture of a Blue Passion Flower on my other website. It isn’t that great but when I looked at the statistics it had been linked to over 100 websites and blogs. It used to bother me a bit but now I think it is funny and I sit back and see how many more sites will use it. It is copywrited but that doesn’t seem to stop people form using it.

Here is another picture of a Passion Flower that I am growing this year, it has wrapped nicely around my Golden Sweet Potato.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This was taken at Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne, Florida. It is a lovely island that has a beautiful park at the end of it. You may have seen the famous lighthouse that is perched on the beach. I saw some wild Vinca on the side of the road leading into the park and snapped this picture. The other tourists probably thought I was weird. I then altered it in Photoshop with a rotational blur and blacked out the background. I kind of wanted it to look like a ship’s propeller. I got to spend a month in the Florida Keys last winter and it was great. Nothing that great on the horizon for this winter so I will probably be stuck in dreary, drafty, snowy and cold Connecticut. Here it is only a couple of days into to Fall and I am talking of winter. I need to place a bulb order and have begun to browse the catalogs. Since I am working with someone that has a fenced in yard I am going to plant some tulips. Won’t that be a nice change.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Golden Full Moon Maple
Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
(AY-ser) (shir-ah-sa-WAN-um)

I have been working on a fairly large design for work and this is one of the trees that I want to plant. There is nothing quite like it. It adds a great look to the landscape without being bizarre. I just hope if it is approved that I can find one. I sent the client this picture via email because they weren’t sure about it. I have been doing quite a bit of work over the Internet, everything from sending proposals, invoices, status reports and orders. I have been doing a ton of plant research on line. I probably have only cracked a plant book a few times this season. If you are crafty with your search terms you can even identify plants.

The ‘Golden Full moon’ Maple is a tree that really stands out in the landscape. Someone once gave me a just grafted one. It only had two leaves and was about 4 inches tall. It is now about 4 foot tall and is getting the nice branching habit. So it is slow growing. The color is dependent on the sunlight it receives. I would never plant in a ‘hot’ area of the garden. It needs some sun to develop the real yellow color. I think the fall color is better when it gets some sum. It will grow in shade but tends to be more chartreuse.

I have been working on the pictures I took out in Las Vegas. I made a new page at my website I have not figured out how to put a link in these posts so you will have to use the link on the home page and then go to the Las Vegas page. I don’t think I can put a link in these posts the Safari support isn’t great at Here is one of the night pictures from Vegas.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hosta plantaginea 'Honey Bells’
(HOSS-tuh) (plan-tuh-JIN-ee-uh)

I had almost given up growing Hosta because of the deer. It seems every other animal likes to eat the foliage too. I even saw one of the dogs at work chewing on a couple of the leaves. Now I have moved most of the Hostas to areas that the deer can’t get into and they seem to be thriving. This particular Hosta is outstanding because of its fragrance. It has a nice habit; it doesn’t seem to get to large. I would put in the medium sized grower category. The clear white flowers are abundantly produced in late August. One thing I am not doing is dividing any more Hosta unless they really, really need it. I keep getting more and more plants and soon there doesn’t seem to be any place put them. Even though it is Sunday I have a couple of work appointments and I have to get busy with that work.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Beavertail Cactus
Opuntia basilaris
(op-UN-shee-uh) (bas-il-LAIR-iss)

I came across this Cactus at the Valley of the Fires just outside of Las Vegas. It is easy to see where it got its name as the pads are shaped just like a beaver’s tail. I have to hand it to any plant that grows where I found this one. Don’t let the lack of apparent spines fool you this Cactus means business with thousands of hair-like spines, called glochids. I found the color to be a nice contrast to the dusty red soil and surroundings. I guess that it has brilliant pink flowers in the late winter and early spring.

The Valley of the Fires is about 30 miles northeast of Las Vegas and has some wonderful red rock formations. This is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. Average rainfall is about 4 inches per year. I liked it because many of the nicely colored formations were literally right on the side of the road and very accessible. The $5 entrance fee is more than worth it. Lake Mead is only six miles away and is a beautiful contrast to the landscape.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Peacock Flower
Caesalpinia pulcherrima
(ses-al-PIN-ee-uh) (pul-KAIR-ih-muh)

This plant seems to have several synonyms. It is probably the most colorful plant I saw blooming this time of year in Las Vegas. It has a bit of an ungainly habit but the flowers make up for this. Depending on your zone it can get quite tall but 4 to 6 feet seems about average. It is easy to grow from seeds and cuttings and is drought tolerant. I saw it growing in Florida in some harsh soil conditions, really sandy and dry. The flower is quite intricate when viewed up close and very colorful when viewed from afar. The foliage is bipinnate and is an attractive green. The seeds are a 3 to 6 inch long pod. There are some 70 species of Caesalpinia, and this is the most widely planted.

(Synonyms: Barbados pride, dwarf poinciana, Barbados flower-fence)

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives”
Gertrude Jekyll

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Floribunda Rose ‘Gene Boerner’
Parentage: Ginger x (Ma Perkins x Garnette Supreme)

This is Floribunda Rose ‘Gene Boerner’ which was named after the famous hybridizer Eugene Boerner. Many consider him the father of the modern Floribunda rose. During his career, which was spent almost entirely at Jackson and Perkins Mr. Boerner introduced over 60 roses including 11 AARS winners. This was the last rose he bred and was it was named in his honor. Among other roses he introduced were ‘Aloha’, ‘John F. Kennedy’, ‘Diamond Jubliee’ and ‘First Prize’. He was from Wisconsin and specialized in breeding cold hardy roses. I have been growing several of his roses and this is one I would recommend for any garden.

I am back from Las Vegas, it took all day yesterday to return to Connecticut. I will try and publish a few pictures of the trip over the next couple of days. I got to meet some of the Las Vegas Fire Department when I was stuck in an elevator for about 30 minutes. Thankfully they got it working again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bottlenose Dolphin
Tursiops truncates

I am posting from Las Vegas, Nevada. I have been enjoying my time here but there just isn’t enough plant life to keep me truly happy. Since I am not much of gambler, my biggest gamble is putting my seeds out too early or trying to grow something out of its zone, there isn’t a lot to do. I did get to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of the Fires and Lake Mead. The Hoover Dam was closed when I went out there, which was disappointing. It reopened today but I won’t have enough time to get out there since I am going to a wedding today. I have never been to wedding during the week before. I don’t think I have ever heard of a Tuesday wedding. It is on top of the Stratosphere Hotel so that should be cool.

Yesterday I went to the Mirage Hotel. They actually had a nice garden and a lot of plants in the public areas inside. I felt instantly better as I got under the canopy of the trees and smelled the greenery around me. I went to the Secret Garden and it was wonderful. It also has the Dolphin pools. This particular Dolphin swam right up to me and posed for a picture. I swear he knew I had a camera. I return to Connecticut tomorrow, fall starts on Saturday!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Variegated Chinese Dogwood
Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes'
(KOR-nus) (KOO-suh)

One of my favorite trees. I use it to light up a partly shaded nook in the garden. This smaller than the species dogwood is eye catching. It takes them a couple of years to get going but when they do it is spectacular. The slightly ruffled leaves are resistant to disease and have a nice cream edge around the green center. Some references to this tree say it is able to take sun but I don’t think that is true. It does best in some shade but if you want flowers it needs stronger light. This tree doesn’t get too tall and has a nice spreading habit. The flowers are kind of strange, almost a greenish white. The berries are typical Kousa, maybe a little smaller, with good red color. Looks good in the woodland garden.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Grandiflora Rose
‘Glowing Peace’

This is one from the archives again. It has been really lousy weather the last couple of days so I couldn’t really go out and snap any pictures. ‘Glowing Peace’ is a Grandiflora rose originally hybridized by Meilland Roses and introduced by Conrad-Pyle in the United States. It was produced from Sun King and Roxane and has the esteemed ‘Peace’ rose as a grandparent. I shot this picture at the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. It is a great place to shoot roses. I usually go first thing Sunday morning and briskly walk out to the Rose Garden, which is far from the Conservatory and entrance. It takes a long time before the other visitors make it out to that part of the garden so you have sometime to yourself. It is a wonderful garden filled with many types of roses.

A couple people have emailed me wanting to see some the gardens I work on. Here is kind of a crummy picture of the largest of ‘my’ gardens. Since it is private, and I mean private, we are lucky if we have 50 visitors a year, I won’t say too much about it. I have been working on it for about 20 years now. It has some very interesting plants including a forest of Lacebark Pine (Pinus bungeana), over 80 varieties of Rhododendron and a couple of species too, a large Dogwood and Holly collection and at least 15 to 20 Japanese Maple cultivars. That bluish pyramidal tree to left of the center is a Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Hazel Smith’). Boy they sure do grow fast. There are about 1,500 species, varieties and cultivars of plants that are cataloged in a big computer database.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tropicanna Canna Lily
Canna x generalis ‘Phaison”
(KAN-uh) (jen-er-RAY-liss)

This is another archive shot and one that is appearing in my photography exhibit. I dearly love Canna lilies. They really are an exotic backbone to the summer garden. I like them because they are so flexible. You can use them in water gardens (right in shallow water), borders, containers and as mass plantings. They are striking in all these roles. This particular cultivar is grown for its amazing foliage. The orange flowers are just a really nice bonus. There are many foliage, flower and height variations available. Some of my favorites are ‘Ambassador’, the ‘Futurity’ dwarf series, and ‘Bengal Tiger’. Generally I like the colored foliage types but the green can be a nice accent also.

I always thought that Cannas were from South Africa but they are native to the New World tropics and subtropics. Some of the 10 species produce edible roots.

I am leaving for Las Vegas this morning, on American Airlines, of course. I am going to a wedding for someone very special. Guess who the photographer is. I am going to keep my eye open for some desert flora but I am not too hopeful. I may or may not be able to post remotely.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Princess Flower
Tibouchina urvilleana
(tib-OO-kee-nuh) (ur-VIL-ah-nuh)
(syn. Glory Flower)

This flower has been very frustrating to photograph. That is contrary to its easy, free flowering cultivation. Since it is not hardy I am growing it in a container and have been trying to get a picture of the flower all season. Not everyday or anything like that but enough times that I was beginning to think I wouldn’t get one. I did something that I do when I have trouble photographing a subject. I used the preset sport mode on my D70s. It has a fast shutter with a shallow depth of field so I gave it a try and came up with this picture. I used my 60mm Micro-Nikkor lens. I usually use Aperture Priority and set the depth of field and let the camera set the shutter speed it seems a little smarter than me most of the time. I am manually focusing about 90% of my shots.

The Princess flower is a great addition to any garden. I saw it growing outside in Northern California and it really looked good. I have not had a lot of disease or insect problems and it has produced a lot of flowers through all phases of the season. Its velvety dark green foliage is nice too. I am going to try and take it in again this year. Two years ago I had a pair that I tried to over winter in the greenhouse but they didn’t have a regular watering schedule and didn’t make it. For a while inside it bloomed and grew nicely so that gives me a little hope. If it doesn’t make it I will get a new one next year so people will keep asking me what is that beautiful purple plant.

“Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”
Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Maidenhair Tree
Ginkgo biloba 'Jade Butterfly'
(GING-ko) (bi-LOW-buh)

The Ginkgo is unique in so many ways. It is considered by some to be a living fossil and the only link left between the higher and lower plants. It was thought to be extinct from the wild for a period until 1691 when in was found in Japan. Gingko trees can live up to 1,000 years old and the oldest one is thought to be 3,500 years old. I think this clouds about the extinct in the wild part and nobody can be sure if the trees were planted or not. There is one specimen in Hiroshima, Japan that was about a half of a mile from the center of the atomic blast in 1945. The tree budded and leafed out after the bomb and is still alive today.

This is a nice cultivar of Gingko that was selected by Duncan and Davies of New Zealand. I never realized how much the leaf looks like a butterfly until I took this picture. This tree is planted in an island garden, which I am currently renovating. It has remained quite short with a minimum of pruning and has developed a nice shape. It has been in for about 8 years and is about 5’x 4’ now. It gets the wonderful butter yellow fall color. If you like Gingko and have a small space this would be perfect. I have been growing the species and couple other cultivars (‘Saratoga’ and Tube leaf Gingko 'Tubiformis') in this garden and I would have to say this is probably the most elegant of the bunch. I have seen a couple of specimens that looked like they were grafted on a standard. Mine is different and has almost a shrub appearance. I think I like the low grafted one better.

While I was taking the picture of the Jade Butterfly I turned around there was a fly sitting on a Clerodendron calyx. We were both a little stunned but I managed to shoot off this picture.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bird of Paradise
Strelitzia reginae
(stre-LITZ-ee-uh) (ree-JIN-ay-ee)

This picture was taken at a friend’s greenhouse last winter. I was so happy to see it and getting a good photo was a bonus. Over the next week I thought I would feature a couple of images from a photography exhibit I have this month. I ended up putting up 17-framed pictures. No sales yet but that is okay. I did get an email saying that the person had enjoyed the pictures. I never know what to pictures to hang. My favorites are not always the ones others like. I was going to take only pictures I have sold before but where’s the adventure in that? When all is said and done I am just happy to have people look and comment on my photography. It is a powerful thing for me when I start mixing two things I have a deep passion for together. I am lucky in that way.

What can you say about Bird of Paradise? Although you see it all the time it is still one of those flowers that always brighten my day. I never have tried growing it but my friend said it’s not a bother and that it was a handsome plant even out of flower. I remember when I was in the Canary Islands (Tenerife) I was driving around up in the mountains when I came around a corner and there was about 3 acres of Bird in flower at a cut flower nursery. It was amazing. A native of South Africa it was introduced to European gardeners in the 1770’s when it was grown at Kew Gardens. It is the City of Los Angeles’s official flower and seems to grow very well in Southern California.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tri-colored European Beech
Fagus sylvatica 'Roseomarginata'
(FAG-us) (sil-VAT-ee-kuh)

On Sunday I went up to my favorite town in Connecticut, Litchfield. There was a bunch of fairs and some sort of military reenactment going on. Some of the trees were even starting to change color. I can usually find a picture or two while walking around town. Sure enough behind the Tapping Reeve House, which was built in 1773 and housed the first law school in the United States, was one of my favorite trees.

It was a beautiful specimen of Variegated Beech. I must warn you the cultivation of this tree can be a little frustrating, but when it is on it is fantastic. You can see the nice colored margins of the leaves but the real show is when the foliage emerges in the spring. There seems to be some variation among specimens of this tree and sometimes the leaves are different on a particular tree. I have two rules about Beech; one they have to be planted at the exact same level as they were grown at the nursery. Rule number Two is there has to be enough room, they get really big! The ‘Tricolor’ is actually a little smaller than most of the species, getting to 30’ by 30’. This tree likes a little bit of shade, as it is prone to leaf scorch. There are many variations and types of Beech Trees available. Most are graceful, handsome trees for the garden and lawn.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It is a somber day and always will be to me. This is a picture I took at Battery Park in lower Manhattan. It is named the Sphere and it used to sit atop the granite fountain in the 5-acre World Trade Center Plaza. It was structurally intact when uncovered from the debris except the gash through the center. It was one of two public artworks that survived the collapse of the buildings. Artist Fritz Koenig created the 15-foot high, 22.5-ton steel and bronze sculpture in 1971. The sculpture was a “monument to fostering world peace.” Six months after the attack it was erected again and dedicated as an interim memorial. The eternal flame was added on September 11, 2002.

Everybody probably remembers what they were doing that fateful day. I was working in a big garden in New Canaan. After watching the TV coverage I went to a remote part of the garden and contemplated the events. The garden was a good place to be. It provided a place for the shock to wear off. I had been to the top of the WTC many times and had often stayed at the Marriott Hotel. I will not forget after living in England for a year, many years ago, on the return flight I woke up and looked out the window and saw the Twin Towers and I knew I was home. I had to drive to Hoboken, New Jersey on September 15, 2001. As I drove down the West Side Highway where the cruise ships dock, I noticed a very long white plywood fence. I thought it was odd that they had erected some advertising in the area. When I got closer I realized that it wasn’t a fence but the place to put up ‘lost’ people flyers and pictures. It really hit me in the gut, my wife was overcome with emotion then and when we viewed the fire from the other side of the Hudson River. This fence was long. It put things a little in perspective to me.

God bless the souls that were lost and the resulting waves of sorrow that affected all the families and everyone else afterward. I once said, “Things will never be the same around here again.” Lately I have begun to doubt that statement as my recent trip to Lower Manhattan found things almost back to normal.

Back to the flowers tomorrow.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I am not really sure what the name of this plant is. It was growing in the greenhouse at the Bartlett Arboretum. It kind of looked like a cross between an Allium and Amaryllis. The foliage was strap like and it looked like a bulb at the base. The flower itself was lovely, it didn’t appear to have much in the way of petals or sepals. It was all anthers and white filaments. It gave an over all nice appearance. Maybe somebody visiting here can tell what it is. Though they may not be able to tell from my crummy description. I probably won’t be out taking too many photographs today as I have a big design to work on. That is always a bit stressful because I want to come up with something brilliant but not too expensive ;-). Some designers have kind of a rubber stamp philosophy but I like to try and match the plants to the property, the people and their lifestyle.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I have two Dahlia portraits today. One is a bud of ‘Mom’s Special’ close up. This isn’t the way I would normally take a picture of a Dahlia. There were some distracting elements behind the flower and I wanted to get really close. I used my 60mm Micro-Nikkor lens on my D70s. The macro lens has been glued to the end of my camera. I would recommend it to any flower photographer. It wasn’t that expensive either. There is some cultural and historical information on Dahlias in previous posts (check the archive).

This Dahlia is growing with the group of Dinnerplate Dahlias that were labeled ‘Mom’s Special’. It doesn’t quite look like the others. It is a nice cultivar that my wife wanted to try this year. I tend to like my Dahlias a little more dramatic but have been happy with the amount of flowers they have produced. I also bought some mixed Dahlias and one might have got mixed with ‘Mom’s Special’. This is the first time I ever bought mixed and it has been both a blessing and a curse. The nice part is seeing what color the flowers are; the not so nice part is not knowing the names.

The picture below is the more traditional approach to shooting Dahlias, at least for me. This is a wonderful cultivar. The only thing is the plant is a little short. That would have been fine if I had known before hand. I am not complaining because I have really enjoyed having this flower around. The cultivar name ‘Procyon’ is named after the 8th brightest star in the sky. It's scientific name is Canis Minor, or the Lesser Dog star. They really got the name right, as this Dahlia would be a star in any garden.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Hairy Toad Lily
Tricyrtis hirta
(try-SER-tis) (HER-tuh)

The naming on the Toad Lily seem a little mixed up, as it can be difficult to figure out which one your dealing with. While trying to find out the correct name for this particular type I did notice that there are a lot more species available to the gardener than just the common ones. I will have to get a few of the yellow ones. Toad Lily is great for the woodland garden. It bursts into bloom long after most other plants have given up. It spreads nicely, not invasively, and soon makes a very nice patch. I often collect the seed to start in other areas and it almost always blooms the first year. The flower is quite exotic and otherworldly looking. You have to get up close and view the detail to really enjoy it. The plants are easy to grow but you do have to watch for fungus and slugs. The fungus seems worse when there isn’t adequate moisture. I am surprised more people don’t grow this one.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Syrphid fly
(Toxomerus geminatus)

This picture of an adult female Syrphid fly (Toxomerus geminatus) was taken as it visited a late blooming Allium species in the Gazebo Garden. While the garden is cataloged I couldn’t find the name of the Allium. It is growing right above a dry stonewall in harsh conditions but blooms beautifully. I have seen the Hoover flies in the garden and wondered a bit about how they fit in the scheme of things. First off they are beneficial insect. The larvae feed on aphids, thrips and other insects. They can consume several hundred in a month. The adults feed only on nectar and pollen. The clever colorings on the adults are to mimic a bee or wasp to discourage birds and other predators. They seem to be a lot of Hoover flies this year; maybe that is why I didn’t see too many aphids. I will now look at this little insect more as a friend than an enemy.

Things are a little slow at work. Yesterday I was pruning all day. I had to make some tough cuts. As some of the gardens I care mature there are some difficult decisions to be made. One thing I have noticed is that you have to prune and maintain the edges of the garden. Otherwise before you know it the woods try and take over again. The edges are an important part of any garden and how the garden blends into the woods can make or break it. For my type of natural gardening a smooth transition makes all the difference.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

One thing I like about macro garden photography is it sometimes presents a look at something that I might have not noticed before. I have been growing Butterfly Bush for many years and have one garden that has hundreds of seedlings and never once had I noticed the buds looked like this. I mean the buds have a nice appearance from afar but I had never taken the time to look at them closely. Gardening is still full of surprises for me and I have been at it for a while now.

Buddleia is easy to grow and always pops into my head first when a customer wants a butterfly garden. There are several dwarf varieties that are good for small space gardeners. These tend to have a slightly more uniform look. The ‘Nanho’ cultivars are nice but still grow fairly large. There seems to be more and more cultivars as the years go by. I think the white flowered ones combined with a few of the dark red or purple looks good. There is not too much fuss when growing Buddleia, which is also know as the Summer Lilac. It adds a wonderful show of color on arching branches in the late season garden.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chinese Bellflower
Platycodon grandiflorus 'Fuji Blue'
(plat-ee-KO-don) (gran-dih-FLOR-us)

The Balloon flowers normally bloom in the late spring. They often come back and bloom again in September. I caught this very nice cultivar blooming in Stamford. I usually get in a lot of trouble when I start describing colors to people, so let me just say that this one is a darker blue than others I have seen. It is an easy, rewarding plant to grow. It needs even moisture to grow properly. I once planted six plants in a garden about 15 years ago and that has turned into hundreds. I just pull the ones I don’t like or need. The rest put on quite a show having migrated a great distance from where they were originally planted. They will often seed in hard area like in the cracks of stonework.

There are many synonyms for this plant including Balloon Flower, Chinese Bellflower and Japanese Bellflower. The swollen hot-air balloon buds open to a beautiful flat bell shaped flower. It likes mainly sun but will grow in part shade (it may need staking). Getting the moisture right is key to the culture of this one.

“He who is born with a silver spoon in his mouth is generally 
considered a fortunate person, but his good fortune is small 
compared to that of the happy mortal who enters this world 
with a passion for flowers in his soul.” Celia Thaxter

Monday, September 04, 2006

Variegated Showy Stonecrop
Sedum erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn'
(SEE-dum) (er-ith-roh-STIK-tum)

This is an interesting plant, which blooms late in the season. The main complaint I hear about this plant is that it flops over. I always pinch my Sedum a couple of times a year (before the buds are formed) and this helps keep it standing up. It also delays the bloom, which is especially nice if you have planted it with some Asters or other late blooming perennial. I think this is another plant that is a victim of too much love by gardeners. It likes very lean and on the dry side soil and full sun. It sometimes has stalks that revert to all-green and I always remove those. I have found it to be a nice accent plant that mixes well with Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Purple Dome’ Asters.

Tropical storm ‘Ernesto’ blew through here during the weekend. I will have to wait and see what it did to the shoreline gardens tomorrow. It wasn’t too bad but enough wind and rain to do some damage. I got my show hung at Molten Java’s and it came out well. I might go out and take a couple of pictures today, as it is the Labor Day holiday.

I have updated my other website with some pictures of my trip to Ireland. I also added some more of the Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden on the New York City pages. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Yellow Wax Bells
Kirengeshoma palmata
(kir-en-geh-SHOW-muh) (pahl-MAY-tuh)

This is a beautiful, easy plant for shade. It is hardy to USDA Zone 5 and seems not to have any disease or insect problems. While some sources say that given adequate moisture that it can reach 6 feet mine are planted near a stream and only get to 4 feet. It is a plant I often forget about until I see it blooming later in the year.

This member of the Hydrangea family has bold maple-looking foliage that helps solve two problems in the landscape, moist soil and shade. For something unusual and beautiful try Kirengeshoma palmata, you won’t be disappointed.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Just a quick post today. I have multiple issues today including a smashed fingertip, which makes it really hard to type. Today I am hanging an exhibit at Molten Java’s in Bethel. I have about 18 pictures in a variety of sizes. This finger isn’t going to make it any easier. Also, later today I am going to do a big update at my other website (some time in the afternoon, Eastern time).

This is a picture of a Dahlia that I took in Claire’s garden. She returned from Martha’s Vineyard yesterday and I was happy to see a lot of Dahlias blooming. This one is either 'Mystery Day' or 'Edinburgh'. I also have 'Optic Illusion' but that seems to have a little more white towards the center. They are so similar it’s hard to tell them apart. My Dahlias are doing a better since I broke down and sprayed them.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Apios americana
(A-pee-os) (am-er-ih-KAH-nuh)

I didn’t know much about this perennial vine until after I took this picture. It often arrives in my gardens from transplanted nursery stock. Usually I only let one or two continue to grow and have been enjoying the beauty of its flower. The flowers are also fragrant. My Groundnut has been climbing on a Variegated Box Elder (Acer negundo 'Variegatum') and it hasn’t taken over. I noticed a little patch growing around my Heather Bun Cedars (Chamaecyparis thyoides 'Heather Bun') also. It is considered invasive and I probably wouldn’t plant it but it is a nice flowering vine for later in the season. It seems to grow very well in moist soil.

This plant has a long history. It was one of the most important per-European food sources on the North American continent. Both the tubers and beans are edible and are supposed to be very tasty. Maybe I will have to try some, as it is high in protein and starch. This plant is also known as Hog Peanut or Potato Bean.