Friday, April 30, 2010

Crystal Palace Gem Zonal Geranium

Zonal Geranium
Pelargonium x hortorum 'Crystal Palace Gem'
(pe-lar-GO-nee-um) (hor-TOR-um)
Synonyms: Fancy Leafed Geranium, Fish Geranium, Horseshoe Geranium

This picture was snagged at a local wholesale nursery while waiting in the check out line. The chartreuse and green leaves were really an eye catcher and this specimen had been trained into a little tree making getting the picture easy. The flower color was bold and set off nicely against the foliage. This is certainly a time tested variety of Geranium having been introduced in 1869. The cultivar name 'Crystal Palace Gem' is named after the elaborate glass building designed for London's Great Exhibition.

Picture showing the unique foliage of 'Crystal Palace Gem' Geranium

It is always amazing to me when a plant can last in the trade for that long. It seems it must have been doing something right. It was lucky that there had been a freeze advisory the night before so everything tender was piled into the greenhouse. It was a really nice show and there were quite few fragrances lingering about. Last night the adjacent county (Litchfield) had a freeze warning but it is going to straighten out around here over the next few days with much warmer temperatures. It has been really windy and cold the last couple of days.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Unusual Rhododendron


Unusual Rhododendron

For the past couple of years I have had the pleasure of tending to this Rhododendron. Its color and habit are unusual for this area. It has been doing a lot better since we have been putting up burlap protection during the winter. After we started doing that it has rewarded us with a lot of flowers. I would find the color hard to describe as the buds are almost a completely different color than the flowers. This plant gives off kind of a warm pastel glow when the sun hits it right.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

White Eastern Redbud


White Eastern Redbud
Cercis canadensis 'Alba'
(SER-sis) (ka-na-DEN-sis)
Synonyms: Canadian Redbud, Judas Tree

Monday, April 26, 2010

Corydalis


Corydalis
Corydalis magadanica
(kor-ID-ah-liss)
Click Here for a Larger Version


Corydalis magadanica is native to Siberia and is considered rare in its natural environment. It is just starting to get into the horticultural world after being introduced in 1993. It likes rich and moist soil and partial shade. I haven’t tried to grow it as this specimen was spotted at a local retail nursery in what I call the super expensive Alpine section of plants. It is an early bloomer and those types of flowers are usually always welcome in the garden. It grows 12 to 28 inches tall and the bleeding heart looking foliage is really nice looking.

We got a half inch of rain yesterday, hooray! Walking outside after it was over was wonderful. Everything had a very refreshed feeling to it and the nasty coat of pollen that was stuck to everything was gone. It has been a terrible allergy season so far and the rain seems to help break that up a little. We are due for some more rain today which isn’t great since we have 20 yards of mulch scheduled for installation in White Plains today. Oh well, there is always Tuesday to get it done.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Trailing Verbena


Trailing Verbena
Verbena x hybridaAztec Coral
(ver-BEE-nuh) (hy-BRID-uh)

The annuals are making their way to market. It is still a little cold to plant them outside here. We had a frost advisory on Friday night although I didn’t see any frost it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. According to this interactive map of the last frost date map of the United States, May 1st is our last killing frost in this area. I would probably give it an extra week or to since the weather has been so whacky.

This Verbena had a nice color and I find them to be a well-behaved plant that is good for bedding and containers. There was a problem with slugs last year but in a normal year they flourish and come in a wonderful selection of colors. I have found they are heavy feeders and appreciate a little extra fertilizer during the growing season.

This next photo is Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata). This little purple one is growing all over my neighborhood and it is a bright sight. It is an easy plant to grow if given the right conditions. Those conditions are full sun, not overly rich soil and not too much water. It does like to be lightly sheared after flowering. I enjoy the bright colors, ease of cultivation and early bloom this goundcover gives.


We are getting some much needed rain here today. April has been dry as a bone. Not good for pictures or doing some nursery shopping but I will probably try anyhow.


See more flowers from all over the world at Today’s Flowers .

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yellow Magnolia


Yellow Magnolia
Magnolia x ‘Hot Flash
(mag-NO-lee-a)
Click Here for a Larger Version

This is a very yellow Magnolia and it was just starting to bloom last weekend. That gives it the potential to extend the magnolia blooming season. One thing I learned while researching this post is there are many more yellow Magnolias than I thought. There is a ‘Yellow Bird’ in my garden and it is still flowering, with the buds the deer were kind of to leave me.

‘Hot Flash’ is suppose to form a small tree to 30 feet with both big and bold foliage. The nursery wanted $495 for about 12 foot plant. It did have a lot of buds and was a handsome specimen. There were only two for sale. This Magnolia is a cross between M. 'Woodsman' x M. 'Elizabeth’. ‘Elizabeth’ I am familiar with, while not common, it is easy to see large trees of that variety. I have not seen ‘Woodsman’ before and will keep my eye out for a look.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fiesta Border Forsythia


Border Forsythia
Forsythia x intermedia 'Fiesta'
(for-SITH-ee-a) (in-ter-MEE-dee-a)

This seems to be a dwarf Forsythia as it has been planted for at least 15 years and only managed to get to about 5 feet tall. The foliage is variegated with green and kind of a lime color. It gives a nice effect when out of bloom. It has always been a well-behaved and low maintenance shrub. In contrast to ‘Fiesta’ on the other side of the Juniper in this picture is a large planting of Showy Border Forsythia. It is in an almost constant state of unruliness and needs to be pruned several times a year to keep it from growing over the driveway. “Fiesta’ seems to bloom a little later than the traditional types of Forsythia although that is a casual observation and not a for sure fact.

I hope everybody’s Earth Day was happy. Mine was okay. I did have to cut down a tree that had toppled over during the winter and I felt a little bad about that but there was no way to save it. On the bright side I found a Bumble Bee that had gotten a little too cold the night before under a Rhododendron and moved him to the sunshine and in a little while he recovered and flew away.




This daffodil was blooming near the ‘Fiesta’. It was pretty and definitely a little late. Most all of our daffs have gone by.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Red Japanese Maple


Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum 'Shindeshojo'
(AY-ser) (pahl-MAY-tum)
Click Here for a Larger Version

Every spring I try and capture some of the glory of the emerging new growth on the japans Maples at the Estate. This year they came out so fast that there wasn’t time to do a comprehensive study. This cultivar is not a great tree if you are going to have just a few Japanese Maples. It is a weak grower that can form an ungainly specimen if left to its own devices. For a week or two during the spring it has an amazing red color and that is its best time. The summer brings on more of a green-pink color with some red new growth. Fall color is good but not like the spring. 'Shindeshojo' is what I consider a medium sized Japanese Maple. It has grown to about 8 feet tall in 15 years and seems to be spreading out a little now. There have been several winters where it got pretty bad winter snow damage.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Korean Fir Cones


Denuded Korean Fir Cones
Abies koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke'
(A-bees) (kor-ee-AH-nuh)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Globe Daisy


Globe Daisy
Globularia punctata
(glob-yoo-LAR-ee-uh) (punk-TAH-tah)

This is a plant that I hadn’t seen before. Its flossy headed flower was cute and a bit like Ageratum. It pretty much stumped Google and the most information that was available is that it is an alpine type plant that is native to temperate Asia and Southern Europe. Anyone who was grown it should feel free to chime in on the comment section with cultural info. This was spotted on my nursery adventure on Sunday. It was $24.95 for a quart (small) pot so I didn’t pick any up although the flower color was nice and they were blooming from a bushy dark green low rosette.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pansy Close up


Pansy
Viola x wittrockiana
(vy-OH-la) (wit-rok-ee-AH-na)

It wouldn’t be spring if there weren’t a couple of Pansy macro photos posted here. This was taken with my Nikon Coolpix P6000 and the minimum focusing distance on this camera continues to astound me. This photo was taken about 1.5 to 2 inches away from the flower and it probably could have been closer. The Pansies have been doing well this spring and this light purple one was bought to be combined with a really deep purple Pansy. We added a few white Ranunculus (what is the plural of Ranunculus?) just to give the planting a little extra boost.

Some more information on the origin of Pansies can be found here. It would seem every flower has a story behind it. I know that it is fall type of plant in a lot of areas but to me the Pansy is always a true harbinger of spring and I always look forward to seeing their happy faces.

This was an interesting little Daffodil that was booming on Friday. It has several flowers per stalk and is highly fragrant.


See more spring flowers from all over the world at Today’s Flowers .

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Red Trillium

Sweet Wakerobin
Trillium vaseyi
(TRIL-ee-um) (VAS-ee-eye)
Synonym: Red Trillium, Vasey's Trillium, Stinking Benjamin
Click Here for a Larger Version


This is one of the most distinguished plants in our woodland garden. It is perennial having returned for about 25 years now. There are all sorts of things that make the Trillium special. The way they reproduce is kind of interesting having their seed spread by ants and mice from the Wikipedia article the process is explained like this:

At maturity, the base and core of the Trillium ovary turns soft and spongy. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants extract the seeds from the decaying ovary and take them to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they can be protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant garbage.” This process is called myrmecochory and is a good example of mutualism, with both species deriving benefit from the action.

These were shot with a Nikon P6000

Our plant has not popped up anywhere else but we do discourage both ants and mice. You should never pick a Tillium flower as the plant can take a long time to recover. As a matter of fact it is protected against picking and collection in many US states and parts of Canada. The white Trillium, which is a little easier to see than the red, is the official flower of the Canadian province of Ontario and the state flower of Ohio.

I am glad this flower had its head turned up for easy photographing. They are often, as were the others in the group, nod downward because of the weight.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Red Tulip

Red Tulip
Tulipa
(TOO-li-pa)

This Tulip was blooming at work. Actually it kind of looked like it had exploded. The genus in general doesn’t seem to be dealing with our heat very well. I just heard that April has been averaging 17 degrees above normal, which is amazing. Usually when speaking of fluctuations in the average temperatures it is only a few degrees either way. March also was the warmest on record. No wonder the garden is blooming and growing at such an incredible rate. Today we are supposed to get a little rain and that will be good since no one even has their outdoor water faucets turned on let alone their irrigation systems.

I accidently turned on the auto bracketing feature of my camera and like it. It is providing some interesting dark backgrounds to the photos. To me it is the most amazing piece of machinery. Since I haven’t really been taking my camera to work it has been a slow spring as far as photography goes. Even when I have the camera there is a severe limit on how many photos get taken. I trying for more keepers and so far happy with the results. Since I have been going on and on about the Pink Dogwoods here is a little broader shot of some of the trees. Picture your whole backyard flanked by these blossoms.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pink Dogwood Flowers


Pink Dogwood
Cornus florida var. rubra
(KOR-nus) (FLOR-ih-duh)
Click Here for a Larger Version


This post is a tale of two pictures in more than one way. First are the pictures of my favorite flowering tree the Pink Dogwood. As I posted a few days ago we are working at a garden that has a lot of Pink Dogwoods planted. Although there are a lot of other things planted and some nice geographical figures in the garden the Dogwoods are clearly the pièce de résistance. They have just been coming out more and more the last couple of days and that has led to a pleasant working environment.

The tale of two pictures unfolds with one picture of the Dogwood underexposed and the other overexposed. Since the light was changing it was hard to get the exact right shutter speed. I usually always tend toward slight underexposure because that is easier to deal with post processing than overexposing. The flowers were so beautiful it is pretty easy to get something nice when you point the camera at them. People often ask me how do you take nice photos of flowers and my answer is usually start with a beautiful subject in good light first, that is half the battle.


The other story of two pictures is yesterday I received a nice email asking if someone from Iran could buy one of my pictures for a book cover. The photo had gotten lost in the shuffle when my other website had been upgraded a couple of months ago. The person had been trying to contact me but with the various filtering the government over there puts on the internet it was difficult for the person to even email me. Although Iran doesn’t participate in the copyright laws this person wants to do the right thing and buy the rights to the photo to use for their book. I am not sure if it will work out and if I can even snail mail them a copy on a CD if they can’t buy form the website. For now I am not showing which picture it is but will at a later date.

The other picture in the tale of two photos is a nursery whose website I was visiting looking for plants. While looking at the crabapple selections I found one of my pictures advertising a variety. It even had the watermark and copyright symbol on it. Before I blow the whistle on the user I will send them a cease and desist letter this weekend. If they do the right thing and remove the photo or at least post a link to my site you will never see their name here. If they don’t I will probably have to bad mouth them and get a little more serious. Some people just think that if a picture has been posted on the net they have the right to do whatever they want with it. This one got me a little more riled than usual because they are selling a commercial product with it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shrubby Cinquefoil Pink Beauty


Shrubby Cinquefoil
Potentilla fruticosa 'Pink Beauty'
(poh-ten-TILL-uh) (froo-tih-KOH-suh)
Family: Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ee)
Click Here for a Larger Version

This is a nice variation of the common yellow flowered Potentilla that you see most of the time. Actually I have been seeing less and less of this shrub in gardens. It gives nice color but the secret is to hard shear it a couple of times a year to keep it from getting to big and not flowering enough. It can grow in about any soil that is well drained. It has moderate water needs and is quite hardy. I have observed it growing as far north as Alaska.

The ant in this photo is just a lucky capture. As far as the many Potentillas I take care of I have not noticed any ant problems associated with their culture.

If you want to see a picture of my dog, Juno, use this link to Facebook.
Joe Yunckes at Wag’s Doggie Day Camp took it. I know Facebook can be funny about outside links so I hope it works. If you want to be friends on FB let me know. I really resisted getting involved with the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter but have been using them to keep up with friends and family in ways I didn’t before.

Maiden Pinks



Maiden Pink
Dianthus deltoides
(dy-AN-thus) (del-TOY-deez)
Click Here for a Larger Version

These won’t be blooming in our area for a couple of months but I really want to learn to grow them reliably which means researching what they want for optimal growth habits. It can be frustrating when you try a plant several times and it cops out every time. To me that usually means we are not providing the right cultural conditions. From everything I have read on Dianthus culture the following two points have stuck out at me. One that it actually like a little bit of shade and two, that I have probably overwatered it in the past. I have a feeling I may be loving them to death if you what I mean.

So I will be optimistically be out there planting some again this year with high hopes of the beautiful carpet of color this flower can provide. After all if you are gardener and don’t have some optimism you might as well hang up your trowel and rake. With the new varieties of Maiden Pinks they are coming out with like this ‘Arctic Fire’ there is now more reason to try and get them to grow.

'Arctic Fire' Dianthus

For more flower pictures from around the world check out:
Today’s Flowers .

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Purple Crocus



Purple Crocus
(KROH-kus)
Click Here for a Larger Version

Well since people seemed to like the Purple Pansy that was posted here a couple of days ago I thought this group of Purple Crocus might be nice to see. A couple of the people that left comments on that post said they had a hard time photographing purple flowers. I haven’ t found that myself but it is a little hard to get a true purple sometimes. These flowers actually were a little darker than what is represented here. Photoshop probably could have corrected that for me but I decided to leave it as the camera recorded it. IMO red is a much harder color to capture than purple. Although after participating in Ruby Tuesday for a couple of months my fear of trying to take pics of red flowers seemed to dissolve with the practice I got from doing it.

It is really cold here tonight and I bet these little beauties are wrapped for the evening. I wasn’t sure why flowers close up at night but did find this definition of the process, which is called Nyctinasty onWikipedia:

Nyctinasty is the circadian rhythmic nastic movement of higher plants in response to the onset of darkness. Examples are the closing of the petals of a flower at dusk and the sleep movements of the leaves of many legumes.

Nyctinastic movements are associated with diurnal light and temperature changes and controlled by the circadian clock and the light receptor phytochrome. Several leaf-opening and leaf-closing factors have been characterized biochemically.” It seems it is like most things flowers do a scientific process.



Today is my first weekend at work for the season. My doctors have kindly suggested that I cut down my spring work schedule from 70-80 hours a week in a normal year to about 40 or 50 this year.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Pink Dogwood


Pink Dogwood
Cornus florida var. rubra
(KOR-nus) (FLOR-ih-duh)

For the second time this year I had my camera at work. The creative spark just hasn’t been there and things have been really busy. This picture of the emerging Dogwood flower was all I was able to muster in the 12 shots. It was interesting because the buds were almost completely closed yesterday and today you could almost see them unfolding it was at such a rapid pace. The particular garden we are working on has about 30 Pink Dogwoods ringing the planting beds. They are totally loaded with buds this year and are promising a profusion of color. There are a couple of White Dogwoods mixed in around the rest of the property including those nice native types with the creamy whte color.

Since it is a big garden, among other things probably has about 100 Hydrangeas, it is kind of like sitting on a big bomb of pent up energy that is ready to burst forth at any moment. No matter how many springs I have been through it is always a glorious marvel to see the gardens waking up. Some are fitful and ungainly to start and other offer a smooth and graceful transition to their full glory. Each spring seems different in the way it unfolds but the end results are virtually the same. Our jobs as the stewards of the garden is to try and manage these transitions in the best possible way. I know that it is really us gently prodding nature here and there so things are good from a human standpoint but it is clear that we are not really in control. Everything seems to coming alive at once.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Porcelain Flower


Porcelain Flower
Hoya incrassata
(HOY-a)
Synonyms: Wax Plant
Click Here for a Larger Version

This is an unusual flower that I came across last year. All Hoyas are kind of weird looking and this one fit the genus well. It had a peculiar smell that was umm, less than fresh. The flower itself really didn’t have any color to speak of but was growing in a geometric umbrel. Umbels are a flat or rounded flower where the individual flower stalks arise from the same point. Examples of umbrel type flowers are geranium, milkweed and chives. Hoyas are sometimes classified by the amount of flowers per umbrel. You can see that H. incrassata is generous in the amount of small flowers (20-30) per umbrel.

There wasn’t much information to get on this species of Hoya other than it was discovered in the Philippines in 1904. It doesn’t seem to be overly popular.

Yesterday was a hot day around here with the mercury climbing to about 90 degrees F. A lot of the plants were wilting including the beautiful Lungwort (Pulmonaria saccharata) and even some of the Daffodils. It is expected to cool down over the weekend, which is okay with me.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Monday, April 05, 2010

Narcissus 'Gigantic Star'


Large-Cupped Daffodil
Narcissus 'Gigantic Star'
(nar-SIS-us)
Click Here for a Larger Version

This Daffodil flower dwarfs most of the other ones at work. This bulb emerges from the soil with regular looking grass but when the flowers open you can see they are different size wise. I read somewhere that this is a good selection for warmer climate gardeners as it can live in USDA Zone 8 and has some people pushing it into Zone 9. It is also very hardy being able to live in Zone 3. If you are looking for a bread and butter type of big yellow daffodil I would recommend ‘Gigantic Star’. My experiences withthem have been pleasant.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Tunnel Vision Daffodil



Tunnel Vision Daffodil
Click Here for a Larger Version

In an effort to take some slightly different Daffodil pictures this is what I came up with. The first shot is straight down the throat of a large Trumpet type of Daff. I never realized that dirt get inside there and in hindsight I probably would have cleaned out the trumpet before shooting.

This next shot was kind of an off the cuff composition and it came about since I didn’t really feel like kneeling down on the wet ground. It did ending up showing a good view of the stigma, anthers and filaments that make up the flower. I like the green shading in the very center.

Click Here for a Larger Version

Happy Easter to everyone celebrating the holiday today. The weather is going to be superb here and that is always nice. I am looking forward to seeing all the Easter and spring flowers at Today’s Flowers .

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Japanese Pieris

Japanese Pieris
Pieris japonica
(pee-AIR-iss) (juh-PON-ih-kuh)
Synonyms: Andromeda, Lily of the Valley Shrub, Fetterbush
Click Here for a Larger Version


This shrub is almost always referred to as Andromeda but that is really not correct. Although now its use is so prevalent that it is accepted and I even find myself saying it. I am glad I looked up the phonetic spelling because I was saying peer-ris before and now remember the proper way to say it is pee-AIR-iss.

No matter what you call it this is a great shrub for early spring gardens in our area. It can start blooming in late March and if the conditions are right can last for several weeks. There are a lot of cultivars available now and this photo is of one (don’t know which one). The species doesn’t have that nice pink/red in the flower, although now there are purely pink ones called Flamingo and Valley Valentine. I am confident breeding and selection will continue to bring new types to the market.

These flowers have a lovely fragrance and the plants are deer proof. Deer proof is not something I say very often because there are very few plants that the deer won’t at least nibble on (Boxwood and Daffodils are two that come to mind). Pieris is good about not getting burned during the winter although the buds can occasionally get blasted during he winter. This quality is nice since it is good to see their glossy green foliage during the winter.

I hope you will join me in celebrating my first outside flower picture of the year. There hasn’t been time to even take my camera to work let alone shoot pictures. I stuck the P6000 in my brief case and briefly had it out on Thursday and managed to snag this picture. The weather hasn’t been exactly cooperating with photography but hopefully that has changed for the better.

“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day - like writing a poem or saying a prayer.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Friday, April 02, 2010

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Love & Peace’

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Love & Peace’
Synonyms: BAIpeace, Pullman Orient Express
Introduction: 2002
Click Here for a Larger Version

Here is a kind of time-lapse rose from last year. I took a picture of the rose bud and then a few days later happened to be in the garden again and took a picture of the flower. The bud in many ways is more attractive to me with all its promise of the future packed tightly together. The full flower is not to be ignored on this rose. It is robust and colorful and has a nice fragrance. I am not sure but often times the blending and shading of the colors is a little different in every bloom.

Preliminary investigations of the big rose garden found that the mice had been busy eating the canes under the snow and 40 of the 200 bushes will need to be replaced. It always seems to be something but it wasn’t the weather this winter.

Click Here for a Larger Version

Today we are actually building a garden at my house. I have ordered 90 Daylilies from White flower Farm and they should be delivered soon but there is much preparation to be done first. I was happy to see that WFF is again offering their collection of 50 Daylilies at a reasonable price. They are now calling it the Unique 50 instead of the Nifty 50. I would prefer named varieties but have had pretty good luck with these collections. Once the Daylilies arrive I am going to add some perennials.

Unique 50 Daylily Collection from White Flower Farm

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Navelwort


Navelwort
Omphalodes cappadocica 'Cherry Ingram'
(om-fal-LOW-deez) (kap-puh-do-SEE-ka)
Click Here for a Larger Version

This is a great flower for the woodland garden or rock garden. It likes moisture retentive but well drained soil in partial shade. The true blue color is unusual and most welcome at this time of year. It should be more popular but is sometimes hard to obtain. Its common name refers to the navel shaped seeds, which often give new plants in the garden but not in an invasive way. 'Cherry Ingram' has larger and darker blue flowers than the species. This native to Turkey is related to the Forget-me-not and often the flowers fade to a light purple like its cousin.

Is anyone else ready for April?