Thursday, November 30, 2006

Paper Bark Maple (Acer griseum)

Paperbark Maple
Acer griseum
(AY-ser) (GREE-see-um)

I could have used a little bit more depth of field on this photo. I probably also could have taken it nearer sunset when the setting sun lights up the peeling bark like fire. This is a fine little Maple for just about any garden setting. In addition to the beautiful bark, the fall color and the emerging new growth are all showy. It truly is a tree for all seasons as during the summer the green foliage is nicely shaped and remains clean and handsome looking. I have seen the oldest and probably largest specimen of Acer griseum in the United States. It is located at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. The famous plant collector Ernest Wilson discovered the tree on a trip to China and the Arboretum introduced the tree to North America in 1907. Funny thing about the old specimen was that the trunk had turned a kind of a sunburned color and most of the flaky parts were high in the air. So I actually enjoy a smaller specimen where the exfoliating bark is closer to the ground. My Paperbark goes well in a part shade but the tree can take full sun (in this area). It can grow in moist areas but mine is located in a fairly dry area. Basically it is not a real fussy tree. It had to get transplanted after about 5 years of being planted to get some pipes through the area. That was 7 years ago and while that slowed it down it is still growing strong.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Philippine Ground Orchid (Spathoglottis x parsonii)

Philippine Ground Orchid
Spathoglottis x parsonii

This picture is from the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Gardens. It is quite a building. It houses plants from several different climates including some very large trees. They call this permanent exhibit the World of Plants. My favorite part is the desert area and the small transitional room that leads to the seasonal exhibits. Most all of the ‘climates’ open on to the world-class water gardens. Which are compact but chock full of botanical delights. This is a Victorian style glasshouse that was built in 1902. I think they refurbished 10 or 15 years ago. It is always a wonderful adventure for me. This is one of the 2% of my pictures that was taken indoors.

This Orchid was blooming and its color was quite striking. When I looked up this particular species of Spathoglottis there wasn’t a lot of information. It is hardy in Zone 10 but can be grown outside during the summer and indoors during the winter. Spathoglottis x parsonii is a natural occurring hybrid between Spathoglottis plicata and S. vanoverbergii. Its native range is in the Philippines. The genus has about 40 species stretching from India to Australia and some of the Southwest Pacific islands.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monarch Butterfly and Korean Chrysanthemum

Monarch Butterfly
Danaus plexippus
Korean Chrysanthemum

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago on a really windy day. This poor fellow was holding on for dear life. He seemed a little groggy in the chilly morning and I was happy to get a snapshot of him. Most of the pictures didn’t come out in the gusty wind. I get more and more requests for Butterfly Gardens. It is easy to attract them with the right plant material.

Here are some of my favorites:
Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Verbena (Verbena spp. )
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)

Don’t forget to plant some of the host plants. Most species of butterfly have to lay its eggs on particular plants. It is best to locate these plants in an ‘off-area’ as the emerging caterpillars can do some damage.

Here is a picture of a Monarch Caterpillar I took in Key West, Florida.

Monday, November 27, 2006

This is some kind of African Daisy I think, maybe the Cape Daisy, (Osteospermum). It grew wonderfully in the container garden this year. It seemed like such a short season this year but I guess it was as long as any other. It really held on to the bitter end blooming until last week. Not knowing the name of a flower has never stopped me from taking a picture of it, especially if it is beautiful. It is kind of fun trying to find out what kind of flower it is. If I had more time now I could probably nail the name down. My wife says this picture really sums up my photography style. I am not sure, I don’t usually think that way.

I am preparing this Sunday night, as I have to leave early tomorrow. I have a big week planned. With the 6 plus inches of rain this month I am getting a little behind. I have a lot of correspondence to write for work and I have left until the last minute. If anyone can identify this flower please leave a comment!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Harvest Gold Crabapple (Malus x ‘Harvest Gold’)

Harvest Gold Crabapple
(Malus x ‘Harvest Gold’)

Growing Crabapples is always a mixed bag for me. If the conditions are right they are one of the most beautiful flowering trees in this area. Often times the conditions are not right and you end up with a fungus and insect ridden tree. This doesn’t seem to affect the growth or life of the tree. Selection of a disease resistant type is paramount to your being happy with your Crabapple. I think siting the tree is another important element. It is fine for the field or the end of a border but I will not plant them as a specimen lawn tree. Another thing that happens to Crabapples is when they are blooming if there are heavy rains the flowers all turn to a brown mush. The fruit is nice but the birds often get it fast. It is persistent when left by the birds.

I haven’t grown M. x ‘Harvest Gold’ as this picture was shot in someone else’s garden. They have been happy with its performance. It has white flowers, yellow apples and grows to 25 feet. The soft red pedicels are a nice contrast to the yellow fruit. This particular tree was about 15 feet with a good branching structure and a good crop of the apples.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Pink Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant')

Pink Glory of the Snow
Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'
(kye-oh-no-DOKS-uh) (FORBZ-ee-eye)

I have been going through a lot of spring pictures for submission to a publisher. This one ties in to this time of year because you need to plant the bulbs in the fall. It is a great bulb for naturalizing or for the rock garden and as one website described a ‘socks and shoes’ plant for taller daffodils. These bulbs are also a good companion to the smaller botanical type Tulips. They are extremely hardy and seem to return every year with little fuss. They multiply by seeding and that seems to work out well. Chionodoxa bloom very early and the show lasts quite a long time. The white form ‘Alba’ and another species (Chionodoxa luciliae), which produces smaller blue flower, are a wonderful addition to the early spring garden.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hedgehog Agave (Agave stricta)

Hedgehog Agave
Agave stricta
(a-GAH-vee) (STRIK-tuh)

This picture was taken at a friend’s greenhouse. He just got this plant and it is quite handsome. It grows in the wilds of Central Mexico and gradually spreads with rosettes, forming a patch. That is not going to happen in the greenhouse as it is in an 8-inch pot. It sure does have a ‘sharp’ look about it. The slender leaves all form a sharp black point. One thing I like about the Agaves I have seen is they seem to grow with kind of a symmetrical habit. I will have to see if the six-foot flower stalks will emerge from this one. He will have to support it somehow as it could never stand up in its present pot. I think flowering for most Agaves end the plants life, which makes it monocarpic.

We got several inches of rain here yesterday. It seems like today is going to be nice, so maybe I will get the camera out. It is getting harder and harder to find flowers to shoot. There are a few odd mums left and I saw some other flowers at work including Potentilla, Mello Yellow Spirea and some Dianthus. They just seem to be sporadic flowers that a freeze will surely cut down.

(Synonyms: Agave striata)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Golden Barberry (Berberis 'Golden Carousel')

Golden Barberry
Berberis 'Golden Carousel'

This is actually a spring picture. I have been going through the archives because someone contacted me about possibly using some spring flower shots. I found several that I never processed and have been scouring my hard drives for some other appropriate material. One thing I love about digital flower photography is you can see right when you took the picture. Among other things I have been searching by date for any files created in April and May. I could see all the dates that took pictures this spring. It seemed like I was getting out with the camera every four or five days.

I think this is part of the ‘Carousel’ series of Barberries (along with ‘Ruby Carousel’ and ‘Emerald Carousel’). This cultivar is a fantastic plant that has dramatic new growth. These flowers could probably be called insignificant, as they are really small and a little hidden along the branches. They are plentiful and pretty and add a bit to the general color of the plant. The fall color is quite good, also. I saw some people were recommending part shade but mine is in full sun here in Connecticut. It never seems to get too big which is a nice attribute and has a little less coarseness than some of the other Barberry.

Here is a snapshot of the new growth.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dwarf Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua ’Gumball’)

Dwarf Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua ’Gumball’
(lih-kwid-AM-bar) (sty-rak-ee-FLOO-uh)

This is a funny little tree. I sometimes think that large parts of it are dead in the spring. I have learned to have patience with it as it usually fills in nicely. My tree has remained very short, about 7 feet in 10 years, compared to the species, which can get 90 feet tall. ‘Gumball’ has a very tight and twiggy branching pattern and it does remain very round. Mine is grafted on a standard about 3 feet off the ground. It doesn’t seem to produce those annoying seedpods. If you are looking for an unusual dwarf tree this might be your ticket. Mine is planted next to a pond spillway and hasn’t had any detriment from the wet soil (the spillway leaks a little).

The species is definitely worth considering if you have a large area for a tree. The star shaped maple-like foliage is glossy green and turns a beautiful mix of color in the fall. This tree can easily be mistaken for a Maple, however Liquidambar leaves are alternate. Something I learned when I looked this tree up is that it has aromatic foliage that smell like camphor. I guess I will have to wait until next year to check that out. The bark can develop a nice corky winged appearance. The wood is used for several commercial purposes including being an important ingredient in plywood. According to Wikipedia “The trees yield a gum known as storax, used in herbal medicine. This gum contains a small amount of the aromatic hydrocarbon styrene; the styrene extracted from Liquidambar orientalis gum resulted in the discovery in 1839 of the first known polymer polystyrene.”

I have been growing another cultivar called 'Rotundiloba'. It seems like a nice tree but hasn’t grown much. The leaves are rounded and it exhibits the same fall color as the species. It is said not to produce the spiky (they look like little mace heads) seedpods.

I got the estimate on my camera today. It is $200 to repair, which is a little more than I thought, but still well within the worthwhile range. The camera shorted out when Karen inserted the flash card the wrong way (on the Coolpix 8400 you have to put in upside down). I will post the name of the company fixing it when I get it back. So far they seem very efficient. I missed the camera the other day when I was in NYC. I find a Point and Shoot to be better for taking pictures down there. It is going to take 5-7 days to fix, which is a fast turn around.

(Synonym: Redgum)

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Winter Red' Winterberry Holly

Winterberry Holly
Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red'
(EYE-lecks) (ver-ti-si-LAH-tuh)

My Winterberry Holly never seem to quite end up with as many berries as this specimen I saw at Rosedale Nurseries in Westchester County. I am not sure why, maybe because some of them are growing in part shade. Even if you don’t have this many berries it is still a nice plant to grow. On 10/21 I posted a shot of ‘Winter Gold’ Winterberry and they always seem to have a heavier crop of berries than my ‘Winter Red’. This is probably related to something I am unintentionally doing and I haven’t been able to figure it out.

I am not looking forward to this week. I have six days of work planned and only three days to do it. Last night when I took the garbage out there was a rain and snow mixture, and that doesn’t bode well for all the clean up and other work I have to do. I guess it is time to pay for all those nice temperatures we have been having the last couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenenii)

Dwarf Fothergilla
Fothergilla gardenenii
(foth-er-GIL-luh) (gar-DEN-ee-eye)

This is one of my favorite under used shrubs. This one is the dwarf form but Large Fothergilla (Fothergilla major) is just as nice. The white bottlebrush flowers in the spring are pretty and have an unusual texture and are fragrant. The real show is the awesome red, yellow, orange and purple fall color.

Fothergilla likes to grow in part shade to full sun. It accepts moist to wet soil that must be acidic. This native to the Southeastern United States is a slow grower to about 4 feet. It sometimes times takes awhile to get going but after that it is long lived and trouble free. A very versatile shrub that can be used in mixed shrub borders, the woodland garden and even foundation plantings.

I was in Manhattan yesterday dropping off the camera that Karen broke. I know she didn’t mean to break it. I was a little sad at handing over the camera at the repair store on 13th Street. They didn’t think it was going to be a big deal to fix, which was good news. Everything was so crowded in the city that it was difficult to get any pictures. I visited the Green Market in Union Square and that was interesting. They had some unusual things and I could see why the native New Yorkers were swarming the place.

I am working today since it is going to be a short week with the holiday. I am not complaining there will be plenty of rest coming up during the winter.

(Synonym: Dwarf Witch Alder)

Here are a couple snapshots from the market.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Possumhaw (Ilex decidua ‘Warren’s Red’)

Ilex decidua ‘Warren’s Red’
(EYE-lecks) (dee-SID-yoo-uh)

This plant never fails to deliver a good crop of brightly colored berries. It is not exceptional during the summer but it isn’t bad looking either. ‘Warren’s Red’ was discovered as a sport at Otis Warren and Son Nursery in Oklahoma City. It grows much smaller than the species. Mine has been growing at the side of a man-made pond for several years so it tolerates wet soil. It is about 5 feet tall and 4 or 5 feet wide, which is smaller than the listed size. I never have had to prune it. It is growing next to a planting of Red and Yellow Twig Dogwood that didn’t turn out the way I wanted. As a matter of fact I decided to remove them yesterday. I hope to get a few more ‘Warren’s Red ‘ to replace them. It looks similar to Winterberry Holly but seems to hold its foliage a bit longer. It seems like it gets a heavier crop of berries every year, which my Winterberries don’t always do.

(Synonyms: Possum Haw Holly, Deciduous Holly, Ilex decidua var. curtissii)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Digital Clematis

Digital Clematis

This picture was totally useless until I ran it through Photoshop. With some selective/replace color and some sharpening this is what I came up with. I use a Mac G4 Quicksilver tower and Adobe CS2 Suite. I could play around with it for hours, as there are so many ways to manipulate an image.

Just a short post because I am tired. I planted another 400 tulips yesterday and it wasn’t easy digging. Should look nice though in the spring. With the time change, anxiety of the end of the season, and the amount of work that has to be done, it all adds up to a lot of stress. If I can just knock off a few of the things from my list I will feel a lot better.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley
Convallaria majalis
(kon-vuh-LAIR-ee-uh) (maj-AY-liss)

Berry pictures are always a bit of a stumbling block for me. Usually the light is either too bright or too dark. I keep trying though and while I have gotten a little better there is still a long way to go. I think using a tripod might be helpful. 90% of my flower shots are handheld. Using a tripod is a little cumbersome in the garden sometimes. Take this shot; I was down on my knees as these berries were only about 6 inches tall. It is a little frustrating to keep trying a subject that isn’t cooperative but it is also rewarding when you do get the picture.

Lily of the Valley is a beautiful fragrant groundcover that can grow in sun or shade. I use it mainly in the shade, as kind of a problem solver sometimes. I have been growing the Pink Form and it doesn’t seem to multiply as fast as the white but it is an interesting novelty. I had never seen these berries before and from some research I found out they don’t always mature. They each contain one seed but the best way to propagate it is to dig some of the ‘pips’ up. Speaking of groundcovers when I was at work the other day I was looking at an area that had kind of naturalized. I had been transplanting in little bits of groundcovers and shrubs for kind of a modified woodland garden. Anyway I was looking under an Azalea and I noticed a patch of ground where Pachysandra, Myrtle (Vinca minor), Lily of the Valley and Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podograria), had met up. It looked like a little Carpet Bugle (Ajuga) in there too. I will be watching to see what happens. That is kind of thing that sometimes happens when, over the years, you keep layering plants in.

There are quite a few legends associated with Lily of the Valley. It has been used medicinally though all parts of the plant are considered poisonous.

(Synonym: May Bells, Our Lady's Tears, Ladder to Heaven, Jacob's Tears)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Korean Chrysanthemum

Korean Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum NYBG Series ‘Straw’

This was taken at the NYBG. It is one of several mums that were named ‘NYBG Series’. All were named after their color. This one is ‘Straw’ and ‘Lavender’, ‘Sienna’ and ‘Mustard’ were some of the other cultivar names. I was glad to see them blooming as the mums have pretty much finished up here in Connecticut.

Next year they are going to have a big Chrysanthemum exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden. This was set up near the entrance and illustrates the fabulous ‘ozurukri’ Japanese method of growing mums. These are single plants each grown from a single cutting. The white one was named ‘Moon at the Base of the Mountain and the yellow one was called ‘Sun at the Base of the Mountain’. They were very, very impressive. Can’t wait.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Heavenly Bamboo
Nandina domestica
(nan-DEE-nuh) (doh-MESS-tik-uh)

This plant does well in Southern Connecticut gardens. It is considered invasive by some people but doesn’t really seem to spread or seed too much around here. If you are worried about it use one of the garden types that don’t seed. It is best to check in your area for growth habit and invasiveness. It really is a low maintenance plant for these parts. The berries are probably the nicest part but the foliage is a glossy green and also is attractive. The persistent berries can last well into winter and the birds like them. My favorite time is when the foliage is still green and the red berries come out. Add a pinch of snow and that is fabulous. For people with less space try one of the dwarf types. There are also culitvars that have a deep red fall/winter color.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tahitian Dawn Bougainvillea

Tahitian Dawn Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea 'Monan'

This plant has been doing well in the conservatory. I really don’t know much about Bougainvillea other than having admired it for the wonderful flower bracts and its tenacious growth habits. I usually just trim off any stringy branches and let it dry out between watering and that seems to work out well. According to this plant has a strong vining habit with growth up to 30 feet. I am growing mine in a pot and it was trained more like a shrubby tree when I bought it. It is always nice to have it blooming, giving a nice tropical feeling to the indoors. One thing I agree with Monrovia about is their warning to take care when transplanting Bougainvillea. It has thorns that are not apparent and they can hurt.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

White Top Pitcher Plant 'Tarnok'

White Top Pitcher Plant
Sarracenia leucophylla 'Tarnok'
(sar-uh-SEN-ee-uh) (lou-ko-FIE-la)

This is an interesting cultivar of White Top Pitcher Plant introduced by the Atlanta Botanical Garden. My Pitcher Plants failed a couple of winters ago when it was really cold here. I had enjoyed them for several years but they are listed as a USDA Zone 7. We are right on the edge of Zone 6 and 7 here. You can get away with growing some Zone 7 plants but they usually succumb to our sometimes very cold winters. If you can plant them in a protected location you'll have a better chance for success. This was growing in the Rock Garden at the New York Botanical Garden with several other species and cultivars of Pitcher Plants. In the Spring this one has a beautiful red flower that is considered double. The color of the pitcher is outstanding with the whites really white and deep crimson veining. According to some websites I visited this Pitcher can get up to 3 feet tall! The ones at the NYBG were more like 15 inches tall, which made them a lot taller than most of the types in the collection. If you have a boggy area and mild winters you should try Pitcher Plants, they always seem to cause a sensation in the garden.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Big Tulip Planting

I am posting this picture in honor of the 400 tulips I have to plant this weekend. I am not really looking forward to it but it all becomes worth it in the spring. I have selected red and white Darwin tulips. ‘Apeldoorn’ is the red and for some reason the ‘Ivory Floradale’ white ones were a lot more expensive. I like Darwin tulips for a couple of reasons. First, they seem to have some of the largest flowers and second ,they are very good about coming back every year. That makes them particularly good naturalizers. I have to go sharpen up my trowel now. Actually I will hopefully be using an electric drill and auger bit but you can’t always count on that.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)

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Burning Bush
Euonymus alatus
(yoo-ON-ih-mus) (a-LAY-tus)

This isn't actually a photograph but a botanical scan. I made it on my all-in-one HP 1610. This is from last fall and it kind of confirmed my feeling that the colors weren't as nice this year. The shrub is in my yard and it is nowhere near this color this fall. I don't recommend this plant as it is considered invasive. It seeds all over the woods here in Connecticut. A couple of large nurseries don't even sell it anymore since it is considered invasive. It can be nice enough in the garden. It does get fairly large if the conditions are right. If you have to use it the Compact form is better for the garden. The best fall color is in full sun. The winged bark can be interesting in the winter. I have taken to hard pruning on the plants that I manage. Reducing it in half is what I strive for and sometimes even a little more. This is especially true on some of the specimens that are in foundation plantings and around walks and borders. A couple of the cultivars I have been growing are Euonymus alatus 'Rudy Haag' a very interesting dwarf form and the rare 'Monstrosus' which has large wings on the stems. The Spindle trees are a different species but are interesting plants and are not too common.

I didn't have any time to scan any foliage this fall. I noticed the Bradford Pears are still hanging in there so maybe I will try and get a branch from there. Scanning is fun because you never know what you are going to get. One trick I have learned is not to press the foliage down with the top. I usually use a piece of white paper placed on the top. That gives it some nice shadows.

We got 2.5 inches (6+ cm., I think) of rain here yesterday. I am sure it did some damage as it was really raining hard for a long time. I guess it will test some of the drainage we recently installed.

(Syn.: Cork Bush, Winged Euonymus, Winged Spindletree, Celastrus alatus)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Avalanche Birch (Betula x 'Avalzam')

Avalanche Birch
Betula x 'Avalzam'

This White Birch was growing in the Rock Garden at the New York Botanical Garden. Of the 120 plus plants I have researched for this blog this is the only one that the species was unknown. I saw it listed as European White Birch, Paper Birch and Asian Birch. The best information came from:
(Sorry but I still haven’t figured out how to put a clickable link in these posts.) I found that website an excellent source for Betula information. Anyway, it says Storrison-Harrison Nursery brought the tree to the US from Japan in the 1930's. It also said the that it gets 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide, which sounds about right for the tree I saw. It is considered to have higher than average resistance to Bronze Birch Borer. I gave up on White Birch a while ago. I won’t plant it unless the customer ‘has’ to have it. There are just too many cultural problems associated with it. I did recently plant some Purple Leaf White Birch in a purple garden I built. They get treated with Merit every year. I will always try and plant a River Birch these days although if the opportunity arose to use a White Birch I would probably chose this one. The bark was white but had some peeling spots that showed some pinkish underneath. You can tell its getting late in the season when I am shooting pictures of bark.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Angelina Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre ’Angelina’ )

Angelina Stonecrop
Sedum rupestre ’Angelina’
(SEE-dum) (rue-PES-tree)

This picture was taken at Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx. The plant was gorgeous, a real splash of color. I think it would mix well with dark colored foliage plants. Sedums can be a fast spreader so you have to watch it. It is easy to root or new plants can be gained by division. Sedums like full sun and well drained soil. I often plant the low growing Sedums in cracks in garden paths or along the edge of stonework. That shows they can grow in some pretty crummy spots.

I started a new job on Thursday. It is a garden that I have been working on a long time and everything in the front foundation planting is wildly overgrown. I have to move about 12 five foot by five foot Azaleas and assorted other plants. Its hard work but looks a lot nicer when the plants are pulled apart. I am trying to resist running out and getting some new plants for some of the spaces I have made.

I have been keeping track of what I have been shooting by taking a picture of the plant sign or tag. I used to write them down until I got the D70s and it writes all over the card. The pictures are often out of order. I found this to be a much easier way to remember the plants name.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cranesbill (Geranium ‘Rozanne’)

Geranium ‘Rozanne’

This Geranium has been a pleasure in the garden. It came out with a heavy bloom in the late Spring and during the summer I sheared it back hard because it was looking a little scruffy and it rewarded me with a whole new wave of blooms. It has even made it through a few frosts. Mine are planted in a part shade woodland garden and they love it. Its flower is a most lovely color blue that is bold but not overpowering. It forms a small clump about 18” tall and spreads fast but is easily controllable. This is considered to be a true Geranium. Not to be confused with the annual Pelargoniums. It even has a bit of red fall color this time of year. This 2001 hybrid of G. himalayense x G. wallichianum 'Buxton's Variety' has some of the prettiest color I have seen. I have been growing several other cultivars for years and these are a true perennial.

(Syn.: 'Gerwat')

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Birch Bark Cherry (Prunus serrula)

Birch Bark Cherry
Prunus serrula

Yesterday I had to clear out of here. There was some construction going on at the house and thankfully I wasn’t involved in any of the decisions so I slipped down to the Bronx and the New York Botanical Garden. I went in the afternoon, which was totally different, then my usual morning visits. The gardens were beautiful and I always get a special feeling when I go into the garden. They still had a lot of foliage left compared to Connecticut. I guess that 50 miles makes a big difference. I visited the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and they were still tearing down some of the Chihuly show. I pretty much had the place to myself. I got a couple of nice pictures of the tropical before moving on to the Ladies Border and garden in front of the Conservatory. There were still quite a few flowers left. I then headed over to the Rock Garden.

The Rock Garden is a truly amazing place. I am always in awe of the stuff I see in there. The Birch Bark Cherry was nicely highlighted by the setting sun. The bark is outstanding on this tree. I am not sure why you don’t see more often. It stays small (for a Cherry) and the white flowers are outstanding. It is has good fall color also. The bark has a metallic appearance when the sun is shining on it.

I saw one scene in the Rock Garden that pretty much struck me dumb when I came around the corner. It certainly was some of the best fall foliage I saw this year. I took this picture but it didn’t come out very well. As I was standing there with my puny digital camera I knew it could never capture all the color, especially without a tripod. It is one of the few times recently that I longed for a film camera. I ran this photo through the watercolor filter in PS because it was a little soft. The multi-layering of the different colors and the touch of evergreen were just right. The Rock Garden is always full of surprises and it didn’t disappoint.

(Syn.: Paper-bark Cherry, Tibetan Cherry)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Chinese Mantid (Tenodera aridifolia sinensis)

Chinese Mantid
Tenodera aridifolia sinensis

I saw this Praying Mantis climbing on the Tiger-tail Spruce (Picea torana) I was photographing. I had taken a couple of pictures before I realized it was in there. It actually gave me a bit of a start and I quickly looked around but nobody had seen me jump. It sure is a fascinating insect and it was a little scary trying to real close to. I saw a website where a Praying Mantis had caught and eaten a Hummingbird and I would probably wouldn’t have believed it but they had pictures. This individual stayed calm and posed for about 30 shots. It seemed to be making kind of an odd chirping noise.

I hadn’t seen a Praying Mantis in several years until about 2 weeks ago I saw one at work but of course didn’t have my camera. Then I saw this one and was able to take a picture of one for the first time. It was a little difficult because he was inside the Spruce. I think that is where the weird lighting came from.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dwarf Redleaf Barberry 'Crimson Pygmy'

Dwarf Redleaf Barberry
Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Crimson Pygmy'

I know a lot of people don’t like Barberry. I find it an attractive plant that can be useful. The ‘Crimson Pygmy’ Barberry is a dwarf mounding very colorful shrub. It is an easy way to get color throughout the season. The dark foliage is a nice foil for flowers and grey foliaged plants. If this plant is really happy it can grow a little bigger than what is advertised. Some hard pruning usually brings it back into shape. I also love Golden Barberry. I usually try and slip a couple of Barberry in because they are easy to grow. Most have this nice fall color and the newly emerging foliage is usually a very nice color. The only type I have had seeding is the upright columnar type called ‘Hellmond’s Pillar’. That is a nice type for a tight upright foliage accent. I still haven’t decided if the seedlings are coming true (only time will tell but the color looks good). Among some of my other favorite Barberry cultivars are:

‘Rosy Glow’, upright variegated form. Needs full sun.
'Bonanza Gold' and 'Gold Nugget' are superior gold foliage selections.
‘Ruby Carousel’ is a nice upright red.
'Bagatelle' is a very slow growing red. Much slower and smaller than ‘Crimson Pygmy’.
‘Angel Ring’ is a dense upright red form with a light green margin on the leaves.

These are just a few of the ones available! I just planted “Royal Burgundy’ and ‘Concorde’ so I will let you know how they turn out. I don’t like the Green Barberry that seeds all over the place and is, in my opinion, of little horticultural value. I remove it whenever I see it in the garden. Some people consider Barberry to be an invasive plant but that has not been my experience with the garden types.

This is a shot of ‘Ruby Carousel’ I took last year.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Autumn Crocus (Crocus goulimyi)

Autumn Crocus
Crocus goulimyi
(KROH-kus) (goul-LIM-yee-eye)

This was growing in the Alpine house at Wave Hill. It looked so delicate. I am fimiliar with the False Autumn Crocus (Colchicum speciosum) but I hadn’t seen this native of Southern Greece before. The bulbs were planted in a small clay pot that was sunk in gravel. I looked them up on the net and found out that they like to grow over limestone. They are often found growing in old abandoned fig and olive orchards. I couldn’t find how hardy these are but one site did say they will grow in the UK with winter protection. I guess that leaves growing them in Connecticut pretty much out.

I am going to be planting quite a few bulbs next week. I have order a couple hundred of mixed Muscari, some Daffodils, 200 Giant Crocus, Globemaster Allium and even a few Tulips. I ordered most of the stuff from White Flower Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. They didn’t have many Tulips left but I was able to snag 24 really nice ones. The customer wanted something funky and I ordered some weird ones. This surprised me because I though she was much more of a traditionalist. It is funny because I hadn’t planted any Tulips in years because of the deer problem. Boy do the deer ever love Tulips. I once had them breaking down some temporary fencing that I put up to eat every last bulb. It is a luxury to have two fenced in yards to work in. I am planting 350 Tulips at another house with some Azaleas!

Here is an abstract of the Crocus.