Thursday, May 31, 2007

Snow-In-Summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

Cerastium tomentosum
(ker-RAS-tee-um) (toh-men-TOH-sum)
Caryophyllaceae (kar-ree-oh-fil-AY-see-ay)

My little patch of Snow-in –the-Summer returns every year. I don’t know how it grows in the gravelly backfill of a loose stonewall but it does. The gray foliage and white flowers are a real treat this time of year. A few years ago it was looking a little ratty and I cut it back hard and it has been fine ever since. It is planted in a 2 foot by 2 foot pocket above the wall which is very dry. I wasn’t familiar with the Caryophyllaceae family but found out that it is Carnation or Pink family.

Of course I had to try a closeup. I used the flash on this picture if you can believe that.

This is a snapshot of a symbiotic relationship. For shots like this I really wish I had the 105mm macro lens. The 60mm Nikkor-Micro is great for flowers but falls a little short on insects. There is some folklore associated with the ant/peony relationship. Some people still believe that the buds won’t open if ants aren’t present. Actually it is a case of mutualism, which is an interaction between two or more species where both species derive benefit (definition courtesy of The Free Dictionary). The ant gets the sugary secretion that the peony exudes and the peony in turn gets protection from other insects that might eat the bud. I am not fond of ants but can tolerate them in this instance. The garden has a large peony planting that looks like it is going to have a couple of hundred flowers, at least. Separately there are a number of cultivars in a kind of collection. I think I got most of them at White Flower Farm. I added a few more from Song Sparrow Nursery a couple of years ago. So that is a lot of ants. It is one of things that occur on a kind of a micro level in the garden so I don’t mind the ants. I do, however, shake the flowers after cutting them for the house.

I wasn’t quite quick enough to catch this whole bee in focus, he surprised me. I think it is a specimen of Agapostemon splendens or Green Metallic Sweet Bee.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hybrid Tea Rose 'Double Delight'

Hybrid Tea Rose
Rosa 'Double Delight'

I went to get a few roses yesterday. The nursery had them but after waiting 25 minutes for a salesman (and having two people in front of me still waiting) I abandoned the idea. They had a nice selection of varieties. I took a couple of pictures while I was waiting. This one of ‘Double Delight’ came out the best, even though the flower is going by. It is a classic Hybrid Tea Rose with a strong fragrance and great colors. It hasn’t been disease resistant for me in the past. Roses are the only plant that I break my no-preventive pesticide applications on. It is virtually impossible to grow roses in Connecticut without a spray program. I take care of 3 small rose gardens (24, 20, 12 plants, respectively) and I have been using the Bayer All-in-One instead of spraying. In one garden not only am I battling black spot and aphids but deer too. They love to strip the buds right before they bloom. I remember one time the owner of the garden had been away on a long trip and the day before they were to return I noticed 50 or 60 buds in the rose garden as well as about 20 flowers that were blooming. The next day I asked if they had seen the roses and they asked, “What roses?” Sure enough I went to the garden and the deer had completely stripped every plant in one night. Lucky the other gardens are in a fenced in area.

This is what happens when you want the rose plant in the middle of about 200 of them. I stuck my hand down to make my perfect selection when the rose struck back. I actually found it hard to take a picture of my right thumb. Still hurts a little. I have since washed up and put some Peroxide on it.

Yesterday was a tale of two emails. I got an email from a customer saying they had just got home from Martha’s Vineyard and their garden was a ‘little slice of heaven’. They were more than complimentary about what a great job we had done, etc. I was happy they were happy. Of course a little later I received another email, tersely worded, about how we had failed to follow on a few items at another house. He actually had some legitimate complaints and he said them without being mean. I am going have to take care of him and try and make it up to him somehow. He is a nice person that really cares about his house and garden. Anyway that kind of knocked me off my little pedestal. This spring has been one of the strangest I can remember. It certainly got started late. The flowers have been wonderful although it is getting quite dry now. I turned up my water budget feature on the irrigation controller to 120%. Here is another Mountain Laurel bud. This is from a Banded Mountain Laurel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Manchurian Lilac (Syringa patula 'Miss Kim')

Manchurian Lilac
Syringa patula 'Miss Kim'
(si-RING-gah) (PAT-yoo-luh)
Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ay)

I have to admit to trying to take this picture a couple of days ago and when I wasn’t happy with the first results went back and took this picture (which still isn’t as I wanted it but not bad for running around during lunch). My ‘Miss Kim’ lilacs have been steadily improving over the years and have turned into beautiful shrubs. They require a good bit of water, I found out, and even the group I have growing in a little more than part shade is blooming this year. The ones that have more sun are flowering very heavily. They are not that great for cut flowers, because of the short stems, but they are of good size and very fragrant. I like them because they grow more compactly than most Lilacs. The foliage is for the most part disease and pest resistant and it turns fabulous colors in the fall.

This is a bud of Kalmia latifolia ‘Elf’. It is a short growing, heavy blooming cultivar of Mountain Laurel. It was a cross made by Richard Jaynes. I got to meet him at his Broken Arrow Nursery. . If you want any information about Mountain Laurel buy his book, Kalmia. It is offered at a discount on the Broken Arrow site. I got mine autographed. At the Estate we have a lot of different Mountain Laurels and I hope to get a few pictures of them to post here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Few Wave Hill Iris

A Few Wave Hill Iris

I went to Wave Hill yesterday and of course saw a lot of neat and strange plants. I have been there about a hundred times before but I always see a couple of new things. I am talking trees and established plantings so I don’t know how I missed them but I saw a couple of things I hadn’t noticed. I hadn’t really seen their Iris blooming before. There weren’t a lot of cultivars but what they did have was interesting and unusual. I didn’t spend a lot of time taking pictures of them because I find it a difficult flower to photograph. The rest of the gardens had really taken off since the last time I had been there in April. I will probably post a few more pictures of my trip during this week. I have 58 hours of work planned for this week and it shouldn’t be a problem if the weather cooperates. I am working today even though it is a holiday here in the United States. I don’t mind working on holidays because the traffic is so light. I can get to work in 40 minutes instead of the usual hour and ten minutes.

Here are a few more Iris from Wave Hill.

Roof Iris
Iris tectorum
(EYE-ris) (tek-TOR-um)

Roof Iris is an easy to grow species of Crested Iris. It is vigorous but graceful as it forms small clump about 1.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It’s wide foliage is handsome and adds extra interest to the garden. It can tolerate light shade and benefits from good drainage and regular mulching. I had posts on two other Iris species

Reticulated Iris

Iris bucharica

Here is a picture I ran through a couple of filters in Photoshop CS2®. The original picture didn’t have strong focus so this is what I ended up with. The Iris is a Siberian named ‘Pansy Purple’ and boy was it a strong eye-catching purple. It had a made a nice big clump that was loaded with flowers.

Variegated Iris buds. This is the one with the gold and green leaves. They complimented the nice blue flowers.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Magician Deutzia Buds (Deutzia 'Magician')

Magician Deutzia Buds
Deutzia 'Magician'

These are the buds of Magician Deutzia. I never noticed the star shaped design until I went to photograph the buds. I found several scientific names listed for this plant and couldn’t decide which one was correct. I have two of these growing in two different areas and the only complaint I have with them is they try and grow too big. It is partially my fault for planting them where I did. I had room for about a 5-foot shrub and these seem to want to grow taller than that. I think I may try and move one of the plants to an area where it will have a little more room to expand. They seem to be pest and disease free, which is always a plus. The flowers are unusual with pink underside and a white reverse. They seem a little bigger than the other couple of Deutzias types I grow. There will always be room in my shrub border for Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko'. I often use it as a groundcover or in combination with upright Japanese Maples. I will have to try and get a picture of it in the next couple of days as it is in full bloom right now.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Variegated Weigela (Weigela florida 'Variegata')

Variegated Weigela
Weigela florida 'Variegata'
(wy-GEE-la) (FLOR-id-uh)

Just a quick post for I am off to work today. These are a couple of shots from the Estate’s Weigela Collection. I am not even bringing my camera to work today, as I know I will be too busy to shot any pictures. I have decided to take Sunday off so maybe I will go to Wave Hill or the NYBG for a few snaps.

I usually like to have everybody gardens open by Memorial Day but it just isn’t going to happen this year. I should be able to get it done by next week and then I will have some time to concentrate on some of the new work I have on tap. It has been a heck of a season so far. I just wish I had more time to photograph it.

The various Weigela have been blooming for a few weeks. It is one of my favorite shrubs because all it needs is a bit of pruning and it is very reliable for blooming every year.

This is 'Pink Princess'

Here is a short list of the cultivars I am growing (there are others but I can’t think of them right now):
'Bristol Ruby'
'Bristol Snowflake'
'Java Red'
‘Midnight Wine’
'Pink Princess'
'Red Prince'
'Variegata Nana'
‘Wine and Roses’

Friday, May 25, 2007


Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ay)

I haven’t really done too much work with all the different Columbines, even though I am growing about a 1,000 of them this year. I haven’t bought any in a long time and I think they have been hybridizing amongst themselves. In one area I have a dark purple strain of Columbine that returns from seed each year. This white one was growing in the middle of all of the purples. It seems like a different type as it is much lower growing and has different foliage. As a matter of fact this is the only Columbine of this type in the whole garden. So naturally I had to take a picture of it. It was real sunny so I couldn’t get a good picture of the border. I am surprised that I didn’t blow out the whites on these pictures.

Here is a picture of the purple strain. I almost didn’t take this picture because I knew with the sun the camera would have a little trouble with the color. I just wanted to show how different the white one was.

I took my camera to work and didn’t even have time to shoot a picture. I planted the 3” caliper (about 12 feet) tall Kwanzan Cherry and the rest of the 24 Rhododendrons. We put the 5 tons of compost into the beds as backfill and a top dressing. I had some other topsoil so I mixed a bit of that to give the compost a little body. It looked like a good mixture but only time will tell if the plants like it. I went through and trimmed all the dead wood out and it is finally ready for mulch. After the bloom I am going to have to head back some of the bigger plants. They are simply getting too top heavy. I think I will lie back and take it easy today :lol: Actually mulching will be a breeze and then it is on to another area of the garden.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rhododendron 'Dexter's Spice'

Rhododendron 'Dexter's Spice'

The Rhododendron Collection is really starting to bloom. I worked most of the day sprucing up the plants and planting some of the new ones (see list below). I loved the way the light played over the flowers and new growth during the day; it was an ever-changing show. I am adding a lot of compost to the beds and fertilizing. I also made a couple of tough choices with the chain saw. Especially in the area that the treetop came down and smashed everything. Besides crushing several Rhododendrons, it sheared a 25-foot Bloodgood Japanese Maple in half. The tree is actually on the mend, it just looks a little funny. A couple of large hybrid Rhodos had been knocked flat and I decided to cut those branches and add some new plants.

The existing Rhododendrons were not as bad as I thought when I made a closer inspection yesterday. There is going to be more flowers than I thought, but it isn’t going to be like a couple of years ago when I had 78 varieties bloom during the season. There aren’t too many rare varieties I think the strength of the collection is that there are so many common varieties planted on the same hillside in New Canaan. There are quite a few that I never knew the name of and couple that I have lost the name. I tagged a lot with embossed Aluminum tape so if you dig around you can find out what it is. I think a few were mismarked from the nursery, too. There is a good assortment of purple, white, pink flowers and especially red. I am not sure how I got so many reds over the years. There are a bunch of blushes, a few species and now two yellows.

I have had ‘Dexter’s Spice’ for 15 years now. I was a little worried about the hardiness rating (-5°F, -21°C) at first but it never suffers winter damage. I have to disagree with the height rating of 6 feet in 10 years, as this is a very vigorous plant. Everything about it is big. The flowers are huge and heavenly scented. It is probably the most fragrant in the collection. The big leaves are a kind of light green and seem to fight off the tip midge and leaf spot very well. It never looks shabby. I think this Rhododendron would be a welcome addition to any garden (except a really small one). The new growth is very interesting, too.

More on Charles Owen Dexter can be found here:
Heritage Museums and Gardens

That looks like a cool place I will have to check it out if I wander up to the Cape this summer.

Here is another Rhododendron that is just coming into bloom. The buds are a dark, dark red. It is reddest in the whole bunch. The flowers are a little small but the color more than makes up for that. I took quite a few pictures but it is difficult to get he camera to show the actual colors of the Rhododendrons.

I got the following information from:
American Rhododendron Society
A-Z Cultivar List

'Dexter's Spice'
White, Late Midseason, -5°F (-21°C), 6 feet (height in 10 years)
Parentage: Unknown

Red, Late Midseason, -10°F (-23°C), 6 feet
Parentage: Britannia x Dexter #202

New Plants (multiples of each):
Yellow, Late Midseason, -15°F (-26°C), 4 feet (height in 10 years)
Parentage: Hindustan x {[catawbiense, white x (fortunei ssp. discolor x Fabia Group)] x (Russell Harmon x Goldsworth Orange)} x Golden Gala

White, Late Midseason, -15°F (-26°C), 4 feet (height in 10 years)
Parentage: ponticum hybrid

'Edith Bosley'
Purple, Midseason, -15°F (-26°C), 5 feet (height in 10 years)
Parentage: Dexter Bosley #1035 x Lee's Dark Purple

'Nova Zembla'
Red, Midseason, -25°F (-32°C), 5 feet
Parentage: Parsons Grandiflorum x hardy red hybrid

'Purpureum Elegans'
Purple, Midseason, -25°F (-32°C), 5 feet
Parentage: catawbiense hybrid or selection

A couple of others that I can't remember or weren't in the data base.

Note: Bloom time and 10-year height information are approximate and can vary dependent on local climate and soil conditions.
Hardiness temperature is also an approximate guideline.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cut-leaf Lilac (Syringa laciniata)

Cut-leaf Lilac
Syringa laciniata
(si-RING-gah) (la-sin-ee-AY-tuh)
Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ay)

You don’t see this plant too often (well I don’t anyways) and I often wonder why. It has been a welcome addition to the garden. I originally bought 3 plants but only 2 made it. The two that did make it have really turned into handsome plants, although one is getting a little crowded by a Sargent’s Crabapple (Malus sargentii). I planted my Cut-leafs on either side of a broad Granite staircase. It has been nice to enjoy the fragrant flowers and unusual foliage up close. They are quite vigorous and I have started to prune them a bit more. I have been holding mine at 4.5 feet but have read that 6 to 8 feet is a more normal height. The foliage seems fairly resistant to the dreadful Powdery Mildew but it can get it. Overall I am extremely happy with my Cut-leaf Lilacs.

I have been fooling around a bit with the Monochrome setting on my D70s, which is a lot of fun. Actually the best picture I took of the Lilac foliage was this one in B&W. It is not the greatest but you can get an idea of how unusual the foliage is on this Lilac. In reality the foliage is a nice medium green and turns yellow during the fall.

My plants are getting delivered today. Of all the jobs in gardening the one I enjoy the most is planting. Maybe because it is usually a final step in getting a project done. After all the work getting an area ready it seems easy to place the plants and put them in. Like the old saying goes something like “Plant a tree and you plant a hope.” I guess that sums up the way I feel it.

Yesterday I spent all day fine-tuning the irrigation system. I had to replace a couple of heads and clean some of the valves. I only have one station that is giving me a headache although I have 8 more stations to check. I will probably have to dig it up and replace the valve. I won’t be looking forward to that but it probably won’t be bad either. I wanted to take some pictures because there are literally hundreds of things in flower in the garden right now. Maybe at lunch today I can get a few snaps.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Pink Diamond’

Double Flowered PJM Rhododendron Hybrid
Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Pink Diamond’

I have been cleaning off some of my Compact Flash cards so I can shoot some new pictures. Lately I have been picking the photos I want right off the card with Adobe Bridge®. It is a good program once you get used to it but every once in a while my cards get filled up. Today’s plant is from the Estate’s Rhododendron Collection and this picture was taken April 25th. The plant was purchased at Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton, Mass., about 10 years ago. A lot of the plants in the garden came from Weston Nurseries. I found an interesting page on the Rhododendron breeding program Weston here:

Here is an excerpt:

The Weston Hybrids
Dick Brooks
Concord, Massachusetts
Source: JARS V53:No.4:p195:y1999

“The tendency toward petaloid or double flowers, which you will recall showed up in the early PJM Group hybrid 'Laurie', has been exploited more recently to give us a whole series of double-flowered lepidotes. First to be introduced, in celebration of the nursery's sixtieth anniversary in 1983, was 'Weston's Pink Diamond', a cross of PJM Group and Rhododendron mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink'. As might be expected from this pedigree, it forms a tall (over six feet at maturity), upright plant, semi-deciduous with spectacularly brilliant fall color. The flowers, produced in mid-April here in eastern Massachusetts, are rose pink, with the stamens converted to an inner circle of petals. 'Weston's Pink Diamond' was followed by a bevy of double-flowered lepidotes of complex ancestry, involving PJM Group, pink mucronulatum, white dauricum, white minus Carolinianum Group and 'Gable's Pioneer'.”

I am adding from: glossary

“lepidote: having minute scales. Tiny scales typically cover the undersides of the leaves. Characteristic used to separate the genus Rhododendron into two major groups: lepidotes and elepidotes.”

The Weston page maybe a little to technical for some people’s enjoyable reading but I found it interesting. Maybe because I met some of the people involved and know the nursery. I will never forget the time I went to buy some plants up there and it happened to be the day the PJMs were in pretty much peak bloom. It was an amazing tapestry of purple. Hard to describe, actually, and I did a miserable job. Trust me it was quite a sight.

Here is a link to a article
about Rhododendron.

I have a lot of work to do today and the rest of the week. I’ll probably end up working all weekend. I have been thinking a lot about what I am doing and hope to post a little about my thoughts. I need to find a quiet half and hour though and that is not going to be very likely for a while.

I am not sure what this guy was up to in the garden but I got the sense that it was no good. It looks like something munched on the Columbine leaf in this picture. *rolleyes*

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Golden Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Goldrush')

Golden Dawn Redwood
Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Goldrush'
(met-uh-see-KWOY-uh) (glip-toh-stroh-BOY-deez)

Trashy Tree or Trendy Treasure?

I ask this question because some people might not like the vivid color of the foliage but I do like growing a few trendy things once in a while.

Well I went to the local wholesale nursery to buy some Rhododendrons yesterday and also ended up buying a Golden Dawn Redwood. It is about 7 feet tall. I need a tree for a moist area and thought I would try it. I have two other Dawn Redwoods in the garden, the regular species and a ‘Sheridan’s Spire’. The species tree was planted about 22 years ago and it has grown to enormous size. It is probably 75 feet tall and has a spread of about 25-30 feet on the bottom. It really has turned into a tree! The ‘Sheridan’s Spire’ has been in the ground for about 10 years and has grown to about 30 feet tall, it is much more narrow than the species. ‘Gold Rush’ is said to get not quite as tall and only grows at about two-thirds the speed of the species.

The Dawn Redwood is from China and was first described in fossil records during the early 1940’s. Some live trees were then discovered in China the same year. It is a deciduous conifer and the opposite buds on persistent stems separate it from Common Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum). The needles are also shorter and come out much earlier in the spring on the Dawn Redwood. I hope that ‘Gold Rush’ develops the nice looking cinnamon colored bark and has the same open airy feeling that my other Dawn Redwoods have. The fall color is kind of a rusty pink, which although it doesn’t sound it is attractive. My ‘Gold Rush’, which is also known as, ‘Ogon’ is about 7 feet tall and was 75 bucks. The salseman was telling me it was conifer of the year a couple of years ago and sure enough he was right, except is was last year.

The American Conifer Society selected it in 2006 as one of their Collector’s Conifer of the Year.

Since this is Digital Flower Pictures and not Digital Foliage pictures I thought I would post a picture of the yellow Rhododendron. I got some other nice rhododendrons while I was at the nursery. I picked up a yellow David Leach hybrid called ‘Capistrano'. It should look nice with the other yellow hybrid I have called ‘Hong Kong’.

I have two appointments to look at work today. One is an old customer that I am really looking forward to seeing. They live in Manhattan and come out to their house in Connecticut on weekends. The other is a potential new client.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rhododendron 'Cunningham's Blush'

Rhododendron 'Cunningham's Blush'

Another one from the Rhododendron Collection. This one is ‘Cunningham’s Blush’. It is a nice pink that blooms on a slow-growing 5 foot plant. I also have ‘Cunningham’s White’ which is an early bloomer that often blooms sporadically in the fall.

Description courtesy of:

“This plant is a cultivar of the species, R. caucasicum, which is native to the Caucasus of Eastern Europe. It was classified and introduced by Peter Simon Pallas, 1741-1811, who was a German student of Russian and Siberian flora. This species would the primary parent of a series of hybrids known as the Caucasicum Hybrid Rhododendrons. ‘Cunningham Blush’ was an early hybrid introduced around 1830.”

I have a big day today. We have having a memorial service and party in remembrance of my Mother and after that I going to buy some plants.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rhododendron ‘Tiana’

Rhododendron ‘Tiana’
Ericaceae (er-ek-AY-see-ay)

I am leaving for work early this morning but thought I would post a couple of photos from yesterday. The Rhododendron collection at the Estate took a real hit last winter. Several old established shrubs bit the dust. A tree came down and sheared half of the Bloodgood Japanese Maple off and crushed about 6 or 7 rhodos. Sometimes it seems that I wasn’t destined to grow Rhododendrons but I keep trying. There are about 100 cultivars on the property and when they all bloom it can be quite a sight. I think it is going to be a rebuilding year. I am buying a few new ones this spring as replacements. I do know that right now is a bad time to judge the conditions of the plants because later when the new growth comes out they look a lot better. This one is ‘Tiana’ and it is a nice white with red blotch in the throat. The flowers fade to a light pink. Mine is about 5 feet tall and is spreading nicely. I would rate it high for foliage, habit, hardiness and flowers. It is a yakushimanum cross that had a fuzzy underside of the leaves.

This is a picture of the new growth on Dwarf Blue Spruce.

This picture shows just a little of the damage from yesterday’s storm. The ride through Ridgefield was tough with a lot of road closures. The storm didn’t do anything to the garden I was working on. Another house that I work on occasionally had a huge Linden Tree that was snapped off about 10 feet off the ground.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Exbury Azalea

Exbury Azalea

These are some Exbury Azaleas that were blooming at work. It has become kind of a generic term but I think these are actually the real thing. I tried to find some information on Exbury Azaleas and didn’t find what I was looking for. Which was a simple explanation of the history and classification of them.

This was one of the best:
“Exbury Hybrids: In 1922, Lionel de Rothschild of Exbury, obtained several Knap Hill seedlings from which he bred a further series of hybrids during the next 15 years.”

Also check out the
Exbury Gardens Homepage

That looks like quite place. I like the idea of an Azalea Bowl.

This is snapshot of some of the big Azaleas I moved last fall. Whew, looks like they came through it very well. The Crabapple, on the left was covered with flowers last week but the White Azaleas weren’t blooming. I should have taken a picture from the same spot and blended them together.

I was spreading mulch all day yesterday. I have already put out about 40 yards and have to order a lot more. I was thinking mulch is kind of like the hamburger of the tree world.

There a line of quite violent weather that moved through the area last night. A lot of trees and wires were down. Lucky it didn’t hit my neighborhood but it might have hit some of the garden areas, sigh.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Weeping Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika ‘Bruns’)

Weeping Serbian Spruce
Picea omorika ‘Bruns’
Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ay)

Yesterday broke a long streak of consecutive daily posts for me. I wanted to spend some time here but with going to the airport the night before and having to leave early the next morning it didn’t happen. I have been working on a house in Darien that has been slowly upgrading and adding some garden areas. There is a lot of construction going on inside the house and I had to remove some of the landscaping in the front of the house earlier this year. It is the house that I am growing the lone Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei 'Zuni') I have under cultivation. I did get another request for one and if I go out to Long Island to buy some plants I going to look around for one.

Last year I installed a perennial border below a stonewall in the back of the house. It is bisected by a set of flagstone stairs that lead up to a large patio. At the bottom of the stairs there is a path that leads to the swimming pool. Whenever I do a border like this I try and plant a couple of anchors on the ends and in this case by the side of the stairs. For the edge of the stairs I used Dwarf Blue Spruce, I have forgotten which one but it is a slowing growing cultivar, real blue too (I think it might be Picea Pungens 'St. Mary's Broom'). On the far end I used a Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’). Since it is a relatively small tree it works as a specimen. The coral twigs add another season of interest. When I went to the nursery for the perennials I picked up a Weeping Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika ‘Bruns’). It is a cute little tree with weeping branches but an upright habit (if that makes sense). This spring I was doing our usual sprucing by the gardens when I noticed these red cones. They are just beautiful, and really look nice against the greenish-blue foliage. According to Iseli Nursery Bruns Nursery in Germany selected this tree in the 1920’s. They say a 6-10 inch growth rate with a ten-year height of 5-8 feet. I read somewhere else that it has a final height of about 14 feet. Nice addition to the garden, I think and it is a little more interesting than the regular P. omorika 'Pendula'.

Just for fun I wanted to post a picture from my yard. It maybe the first one. This is a nice Azalea that blooms every year no matter what. I think it maybe a Kurume Hybrid. The color is one of my favorites for Azalea. I like the Kurumes for the compact habit and heavy bloom.

A little news I almost forgot. My Photography is being featured in an on-line magazine from Australia. It can be found at:
New Paradigm Journal

One of my dream trips would be traveling to Australia and New Zealand and I have been saving my frequent flier miles for a business class ticket for several years now. I need just 10k more. So maybe this is an omen. The people at the magazine are real nice and they have an interesting site.

I hope over the next couple of weeks I plan for some introspection about why I am a gardener, what I know about gardening and what I want to accomplish. I hope to be posting some of my thoughts.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Camassia (Camassia leichtlinii)

Camassia leichtlinii
(kuh-MAS-ee-uh) (leekt-LIN-ee-eye)

Wow I have a full plate today, I am going to try and finish a job in Darien today but realistically I probably won’t finish until noon tomorrow. I have to pick someone up at Newark Airport around 10 pm tonight. I had better get a nap when I get home. At least I finished everything I wanted to around the house yesterday.

Today’s plant is one of the few bulbs I know that will grow in a wet area. The flowers are lovely as are the buds and foliage. My little group of a hundred has multiplied over and over again through the years. Since I don’t have much time this morning here is a Wikipedia link to Camassia.

Synonyms: Camas, Quamash, Indian Hyacinth, and Wild Hyacinth

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dwarf Witch Alder (Fothergilla gardenii)

Dwarf Witch Alder
Fothergilla gardenii
(foth-er-GIL-luh) (gar-DEN-ee-eye)

Since I have houseguests coming from Santa Fe for the week I have much to do around the house. Like cleaning up and moving the stuff out of the extra room (no more storage area). I don’t have much of a garden because I am renting the house I am living in but I am going to tune up the outside too. For the most part I spend almost every day in great gardens and that is enough for me. I guess I live vicariously through my customer’s gardens and the trips to the Botanical Gardens.

Just a couple of words about today’s plant, I love it! Last year I thought this one was dead since it been having a slow decline. The area that it is located in has seemed to get wetter each year but I cut it back and fed it and it has come back. It never ceases to amaze me how plants can hang on and how well they respond to a little extra care. I think this one is one of the dwarf ones and is quite old as it predates me in the garden. It is a lovely elegant shrub when it is happy. The foliage on this one is a bluish/green and it has a whole second season with great colors in the fall (orange, yellow and red).

I wish I had more time to write about Fothergilla and all it's attributes. I am posting this next picture not because it is the best flower picture I have ever taken but for reference about a comment I posted at Ki’s Garden Blog. It is quite an interesting blog that shows a mini-estate garden’s journey through the seasons. Just kidding about the estate part but in my mind it shows what you can do with a little slice of America, and in a way is an example of the quintessence of American gardening. They treat gardening over there, as they should, like an adventure. This is a species (I think) of Weigela. It has pink, red and yellow blooms on the same plant. I had forgotten how nice it looks. The plants are about 5 feet tall but I lop off about 1 to 2 feet a year. The garden has about 25 different cultivars of Weigela and this species. I tend to like all of them.

By the time I got home the doctor had already left for the day so I am going to go up to the emergency room for my tick bite. I just can’t seem to extract the piece of tick still stuck inside. That should be fun, maybe I can take a number and come back when they are ready to see me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Inside a Foxglove Flower

I guess every gardener knows what a Foxglove is. This is a slightly different view of the inside of the flower. I grew a batch from seed last year and only one white one came out of several hundred. It is a classic flower that I gat requests for all the time. It is however a biennial and that requires keeping after them if you want them every year.

I had to do some emergency gardening yesterday if you can believe that one. One of my customers called me and told me that a party of 150-200 people was going to happen at her house today. I had her work scheduled for next week. Her husband is on a reality TV show right now and this party is part of his task so not only was it a party but they were going to be filming it. Since the show is still in production I can’t say anything about it but it was fun seeing the film crews running around interviewing his wife and mother and kids. I hope he wins, as I couldn’t think of anyone that deserves it more. This couple are some of the kindest and sweetest people I know.

Just a word of warning to Connecticut and Westchester county gardeners, I have been bit by two ticks this season already. The first one was in the back and the second one I discovered yesterday. It bit me in a sensitive area of the chest (it begins with ‘n’, ends with ‘e’ and has two ‘p’s in the middle). I don’t think the whole thing came out so I am going to have to go to the doctor after work today. It is painful every time my shirt rubs up against it. This last bite was the first time I hadn’t sprayed my boots and pant legs with Deep Woods Off for a month. It seems like a bad tick season. For gardeners lucky enough not to know what these insects are here is a link:
Of course now all I feel is things crawling all over me.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Weeping Eastern Redbud

Weeping Eastern Redbud
Cercis Canadensis 'Lavender Twist'
(SER-sis) (ka-na-DEN-sis)
Synonyms: Weeping Canadian Redbud, Judas Tree, Covey

The jury is still out on this tree for me. I have seen it popping up all over the place so it seems to be getting more popular. It sure is pretty when it’s blooming but I have to remember to see what it looks like during the summer. It has a strongly weeping shape and slightly darker colors then a regular Redbud. The Estate has a small collection of Redbuds including the one that always makes me laugh, a White Redbud (Cercis canadensis f. alba). Most of them are doing fairly well and seem to have off and on years. This year they are doing well.

I had another frog posing for me yesterday. I was installing a pump in a water garden and this fellow just wouldn’t move. He sat patiently whilst I shot a couple of pictures of him and then I had to nudge him off the rock he was on into the pond. Overall it was a good day for wildlife in the garden. I saw a Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon) noisily flirting around one of the ponds in the morning. Good luck trying to get a picture of him, he seemed to get a little agaitated when we came around. Later in the day I caught a baby Northern Brown Snake (Storeria dekayi) and after keeping it in a jar for a while I let him go. Later I was tipping an Umbrella Pine and out flew a Cardinal from its nest. I couldn’t see if there was anything in it but will keep an eye on it. Finally in the late afternoon three hawks started to fight and were swooping all over the garden attacking each other. I think that there is a pair that has a nest nearby and they were defending their turf. It was quite a sight. All this kind of goes along with my theory that these gardens are a sanctuary for a lot of different species. Lucky it is on a fairly large parcel but I have watched the development along the edges grow and grow over the years. Maybe all the plants are attracting them but you never know what is going to happen next. I remember last year I was tip pruning a Blue Spruce with my pole pruner when a Hawk flew out of it. Scared the heck out of me.

This last picture is Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) bark. It is tree you don’t really see too often in Connecticut. I don’t think it likes the hot and humid summers or the polluted air. This is from a large specimen (about 75 feet tall) and I had to limb up the branches to about 30 feet because of dieback. It is not a true fir tree (not in the genus Abies) and it’s scientific name means False Hemlock.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pink Flowering Almond

Pink Flowering Almond
Prunus glandulosa 'Rosea Plena'
(PROO-nus) (glan-doo-LOW-suh)

This is probably the weakest growing shrub I know of. Each year it gets hit with some sort of infection that makes it look hideous. Sometimes it is toast as early as June 15th. When it is on it is beautiful and this year it is on. It might have helped that a couple of years ago I cut it back hard, with kind of a live or die attitude, and it threw out some new stems. This year I have treated it Bayer All-in-One Flower Care to see if that helps. I don’t mean to disparage this plant but it needs kind of an out of the way place that it can fade into after blooming. It never has covered up the air conditioner it was supposed to and I do wish I had planted it elsewhere but now that it is out in bloom (probably the heaviest bloom I have seen on it in 15 years) all is forgiven.

Princess Haiku, who has a cool blog, tagged me to write 5 reasons ‘Why I blog’. I am not sure where to link this to so maybe she will be along to help. It was easy to come up with 2-3 reasons and a little harder to come up with the others. It was interesting to me to have to stop and think why I do this. This is what I came up with.

Five reasons ‘Why I Blog’:

1. The money and glamour, silly (just kidding). The number one reason would have to be that I want to gain more knowledge of the Plant Kingdom. I have been working with plants since I was a young boy and I have learned a lot. That knowledge is dwarfed by what I don’t know. Combining digital photography and plant research has been wonderful for me. Writing about the new knowledge has been an excellent way for me to remember things. I read gardening books and magazines and read things on the internet but Blogging has made it a kind of an assignment and forces me to seek out the information on that day, where it might have easy in the past to say, “Oh, I will look that up later”. If it is something that I am writing about that day it is looked up on that day. As funny as the Blogging for money angle sounds I have picked up a couple of gardening jobs and sold some prints.

2. Since I am a gardener I like to do what most gardeners do, share. Weather it is trading a few slips of Daylilies or sharing a favorite cultivar’s name it is all about sharing. It always surprises me that so many people have an interest in plants, flowers and gardening. I love their varying degrees of passion about it. Since I get to grow a lot of plants that a normal person wouldn’t I thought I would share some information on my results. Quite a few posts in my blog are of plants that I am cultivating and I try to add a little about ‘life in the garden’ type of stories without being boring. I know I am living what a lot of people would consider a fantasy life, being in the garden all day, and I try to shed a little light on it. So garden Blogging has allowed me in some ways to go global with my sharing. People come from all over the world and that is fun, and in my own small way try to share what American gardening is and some of the plants that we use.

3. I actually like the structure of having to do something everyday. My quiet moments that I select a picture and look up some information on the plant are worth a lot to me. It is probably something I wouldn’t normally do if I didn’t have a blog.

4. Blogging has gotten me out talking with other bloggers and reading all the fun stuff that they post. I have been growing Crabapple Trees for years but never realized that they were fragrant. I read on a gardening blog that Crabapples were fragrant and sure enough marched up to one the next day to smell it. Gadzooks, it was heavenly! So that is a good example of why I like Blogging.

5. This blog has accomplished one thing for me that has been a truly bright thing. It has me out there shooting trying to get something to share. There have been numerous times since I started this blog that I picked up my camera and said “I would really like to take a couple of pictures to share on the Internet today”. I am conscious of not putting to much pressure on myself about getting a shot. My pictures are much better when I am relaxed and just observing but having a blog has definitely got me out shooting more. The whole idea was to take a picture the day before and use it the next. Obviously I knew I would be dipping into my archives but that is okay too, it allows me to share some of my favorite pictures I have taken over the years.

The flowers on the Flowering Almond start out white and go to pink which gives it a nice two-toned appearance.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles 'Cameo')

Flowering Quince
Chaenomeles 'Cameo'

Flowering Quince isn’t a very showy shrub for most of the year but for a couple of weeks they really do look nice. ‘Cameo’ is an improvement over the other Quince (which I think is a Cydonia) on the property, which I swear sometimes only has leaves for 3 months out of the year. I am also growing ‘Jet Trail’ which has a white flower. The color on ‘Cameo’ flowers is really nice and the foliage is a good glossy green. This Quince is planted in a real hard luck spot and has done well. When I was at Wave Hill they had two or three really dark red Quince in bloom and I thought to myself that any plant that color could always find a spot in my garden.

I thought this picture was fun. It is of a little patch of Phlox subulata which I featured on March 15th.

It was so hopelessly covered with flowers and when the sun was sun shining on it looked as though someone had plugged it in. ‘Candy Stripe’ Phlox was also blooming. Not with the abandon that the violet one was but still covered with flowers. It does not seem to make as pincushion of a shape.

I am finishing up a garden in Pound Ridge today. We just cleaned everything up and mulched it. I had to do some transplanting which I had put off a couple years with predictable results. I will be able to scratch a garden off my to-do list.