Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peppermint Mountain Laurel


Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia 'Peppermint'
(KAL-mee-uh) (lat-ee-FOH-lee-uh)
Synonyms: Ivybush, Calico Bush, Spoonwood, Sheep Laurel, Lambkill, Clamoun

Today’s flower is one of the best native flowering shrubs that grows in this area. The species has a white flower and often forms thickets in areas where it is happy. ‘Peppermint’ is a cultivar and like most of the garden origin varieties it grows smaller than the wild plants.

Mountain Laurel is the state flower of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It generally blooms in late May and June with flowers that can last two to three weeks if the conditions are good. That is nice since it kind of extends the Rhododendron and Azalea seasons, both of which it is related to. The wood is strong and grows in underground burls which are valuable for furniture and tobacco pipes. Mountain Laurel seems to grow in sun or shade here and likes moisture. I have found that it does not do well in foundation plantings or too much shade. It is very difficult to transplant native plants but we have done it before.

When I first started gardening there were virtually no cultivars available and now there are many ranging from striped, banded and almost completely red ones. Most of the cultivar development has been done by Connecticut plantsman Richard Jaynes. His book, Kalmia: Mountain Laurel and Related Species, is one of my favorite plant books and is a must for anyone wanting to know more about Mountain Laurel. Mr. Jaynes now runs Broken Arrow Nurseries in Hamden, Connecticut. It is a nice nursery with a lot of rare and unusual treasures. Mr. Jaynes is usually there and will talk plants with you. The nursery is doing some mail order now but in the past I have always picked up things.


Here is a link to a page with a lot of cultivars:
Mountain Laurel Cultivars
For more flowers from around the world check out Today’s Flowers.
It starts at 6pm GMT.

23 comments:

Sunita said...

Beautiful flower! This is the first time I'm seeing a mountain Laurel.

Tammie Lee said...

Lovely image and beautiful flower! Thanks for all the info about it as well.

auringonkukka :) said...

beautiful flowers!!
have nice week!!

Maria said...

A greaut flower! I always thought that laurel can only be used as spice, and I did not know about the beautiful blossoms. They do look like rhotodendrons! What a gorgeous flower!
Thanks for sharing!

People with Cameras said...

Wow, so unique. I've never seen anything like this.

ilanadavita said...

Beautiful flower. Thanks for all the information!

Arija said...

A beautiful photo of your candy striped Kalmia. I used to have two pink ones in my mountain garden. They are just so prett , like someone made them with an icing tube.

david mcmahon said...

Never sen those before. They are really striking.

fishing guy said...

DF: Those are really colorful, very nice captures.

Sara Chapman in Seattle said...

I don't see much mountain laurel out here in the Pacific Northwest, or perhaps I haven't been looking for it, but I will. I also like snaps very much, fashionable or not. They bloom so long, and in mild winters actually make it through to bloom another year, especially in Sonoma County, CA, where I used to live. And great cut flowers! They did it once or twice up here in Seattle also. Maybe next year.

Sandra said...

I've never seen this flower - it's really beautiful.

Barbara said...

This is a beautiful flower. thanks for sharing Smiles B

Raven said...

Very unusual flower which I have never seen - just beautiul

Gill - That British Woman said...

what a lovely looking flower, so pretty,

Gill in Canada

Juliana RW said...

Lovely...

My entry this week : in HERE. I hope you have time to visit. Thanks

Darla said...

I have never heard of this flower, it does look like a piece of peppermint candy!

Judy said...

I love those peppermint stripes!! I have only encountered mountain laurel in books, but it is lovely in real life!
And all the information, too!
Thanks for sharing!

Two Barking Dogs said...

I does look like a candy cane! Lovely. Thanks for sharing

blossom said...

So, that's a mountain laurel. They look like those that my mom crafted - she'll be happy to learn the name. Thank you. Lovely flowers.

Carletta said...

Beautiful!
It is remindful of a peppermint candy.

Lilli & Nevada said...

never saw these before they are beautiful

Jon said...

Great shot...this is a new one for me...I'm glad I learn something new everyday or at least try to.

Jon at Mississippi Garden blog

Christy said...

How beautiful. This would make a great Holiday flower if one could get the right conditions. May-June doesn't quite fit that bill though now does it?