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)