Monday, April 30, 2007

Clove Currant (Ribes odoratum)

Clove Currant
Ribes odoratum

I wasn’t familiar with this plant until I saw it blooming at Wave Hill. I had heard about it but never seen it. I think that it was in top form both with flower and foliage. The color was set off nicely by the Hally Jolivette Cherry ( Prunus x ‘Hally Jolivette’ planted behind it. The scent was amazing and I could smell it quite a distance away. It took me along time to appreciate yellow flowers but now they are some of my favorites. The hint of red in the flowers and buds adds a lot to the beauty. I don’t think this is the kind of plant you would want next to your front door. It would be better in a mixed shrub border or the edge of naturalized woodlands. I realize I probably saw this group at its height of appearance for the year. I am not really recommending this plant but I did enjoy seeing it. Ribes can be an alternate host of the White Pine Blister Rust.

I took this picture of the Ribes and the Cherry with my point and shoot camera. It is a Nikon Coolpix 8400. It is a real nice camera and I just figured out that it shoots in the ‘SLR-type’ 3:2 aspect, if you want it to. It normally has a 4:3 aspect, which is okay for some pictures but I would rather use the 3:2 aspect for composition.

The botanical description of Ribes said the following:
“Leaves usually alternate, often 3-5 lobed, crenate or dentate”
Crenate means:
“Scalloped with shallow, rounded teeth”

Synonyms: Buffalo Currant, Yellow-flowered Currant, Missouri Currant, Ribes aureum var. villosum

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Corn Leaf Iris (Iris bucharica)

Corn Leaf Iris
Iris bucharica
(EYE-ris) (buk-AR-ee-kuh)
Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ay)

This is a small species Iris. They differ from the larger Iris by being generally bulbous and not rhizomatous. However, I. bucharica is an exception, it uses a corm-like structure with fleshy roots. It is cute yet refined Iris that also has distinctive foliage that really does look like corn. When I planted these I had read that they like a rocky hillside in their native Central Asia. I planted them in a rocky, sandy fairly inhospitable place. I knew I was taking a chance with an expensive plant (about $2 per corm) but it worked out fine. They really haven’t spread much actually I think I have lost some of the original but they are always there in the early spring, with enough flowers to make it worthwhile. The long-lived flowers are wonderfully fragrant and a cheery color. This Iris grows well in the rock garden and can be used in containers. They are Hardy to USDA Zone 4 and possibly 3.

I am going on a couple of appointments today to look at some work. Even though I am a little behind in my normal chores you have to keep looking forward. I am going to go and try and get a few pictures after that.

I updated my Santa Fe albums at my other site. I got about 10 new pictures as well as a bunch from other trips to the area. This is the Cross of the Martyrs in Fort Marcy Park.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Passion Flower (Passiflora perusii)

Passion Flower
Passiflora perusii

I saw these two delicate Passionflowers in the Wave Hill Conservatory. The red one, although you could almost call it orangey, was blooming abundantly and seemed not to be going out of control like Passiflora caerulea does when it is grown inside. I didn’t know it but there over 500 species of Passionflower. This is the best reference to Passionflowers I found and ended up surfing around for a while was Passiflora Online.

If you have any questions about Passionflowers they should be answered there. I grow Passionflower in Connecticut in containers. This can be quite unwieldy but even though some are rated to Zone 6 I don’t see them making it in the ground around here. I have discussed my cultivation of the genus here and here. One of those posts tells the story of my famous Passionflower picture ;-).

Passiflora citrina was also blooming. It had an almost translucent yellow flower and nice buds. There was a third species, Passiflora murucuja, but the buds were closed up. It looked like, and I wanted so desperately, the flower would burst open any second but there was no joy. I even tried cajoling the bud to open with a gentle brush of my fingers but that didn’t work. I later read that the flowers are very short lived so maybe that was a spent flower I was trying to get to open.

My two Passions survived the winter in the greenhouse. Next week I am going to start bringing them out during the day and soon they can stay out for the season.

For further reading:

The botanical description of Passiflora said:
“Stamens 5 on a gynophore”. Which means: “A stalk bearing the gynoecium above the level of insertion of the other floral parts.” Which of course lead me to lookup gynoecium, which is “The pistil or pistils considered as a group”.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Narcissus 'Barrett Browning'

Narcissus 'Barrett Browning'

This is a nice classic type of Daffodil. The Daffodils seem fine after that crazy winter we had, it seems to be one of their finer years. The tips of the foliage got singed by the cold but on most types this really doesn’t take away from the flowers. ‘Barrett Browning’ is just one of the hundreds of types of Daffs blooming right now at work. It classified as division 3, which are small-cupped daffodils of garden origin. See more about the classifications of Daffodils on this previous post .

I decided to take some Daffodil shots despite the fact the poor flower has been photographed practically to death. I tried a few abstracts with not much success. I have put myself on a bit of a picture diet. I am only allowing 48 pictures (I figure that is 2 rolls of film) per outing so I have try and make the abstracts count.

This other picture is from a shrub that I saw at the NYBG. I featured Buttercup Winterhazel (Corylopsis pauciflora) awhile back and that is a nice shrub it doesn’t, however, compare to the beauty of the Chinese Winter Hazel (Corylopsis sinensis). Maybe it was just the huge patch that was in flower that literally took my breath away as I rounded the corner at the end of the Daffodil and Daylily Walk. That has been the best thing I think I have seen all season.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gold Tide Forsythia

Gold Tide Forsythia
Forsythia x 'Courtasol'
Oleaceae (oh-lee-AY-see-ay)

While searching for information on Gold Tide Forsythia I came across these blog entry called A Tale of Two Forsythia Shrubs . The name of the blog is ‘May Dreams Gardens’ and it is quite a nice blog. I love my ‘Gold Tide’ although it seems to get a bit bigger than the advertised height of 20 inches. I keep my group sheared to about 24 inches. It is an easy plant to grow and is a reliable bloomer here in Southern Connecticut. I started with 6 plants but really only needed 4 as they spread nicely. They are really easy to keep lower if you want them that way. They can easy come back after a harsh shearing. I generally try and do it after they have flowered and then touch them up a little in the summer.

You can see that it is cascading nicely over my stonewall. If you click on the link you will see there was a lively exchange about Arnold’s Dwarf Forsythia. I happened to take a picture of my specimen yesterday and remember thinking it was the first time I had seen it with a lot of flowers in the 22 years it has been planted.

Arnold's Dwarf

It isn’t my favorite Forsythia that is for sure. I find it a bit too coarse in my opinion. Again my Arnold’s has exceeded the listed height growing to about 4 or 5 feet. I could have kept it lower, I guess. I would like to try ‘Golden Peep’ which is a dwarf Forsythia that has a bit more of an upright shape.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Mr. Lincoln’

Hybrid Tea Rose ‘Mr. Lincoln’
Rosa (RO-zuh)
Rosaceae (ro-ZAY-see-ay)

This is my first spring writing this blog and I can see it going to be overwhelming to describe everything that is going on the garden right now. I want to thank everyone who leaves a comment. I sometimes don’t get notified by email that there are comments but I do appreciate your input.

What a difference a weekend makes. Everything exploded in flowers and growth here in Connecticut over the weekend. Just a short list of what is blooming at the Estate now:

Around 6,000 of the 10,000 daffodils. All types and heights. There aren’t any big plantings, mostly in small groups of single cultivars. I once had the idea of photographing every type of Daffodil in this garden and after trying one year I said forget it.

4 or 5 types of Magnolia including the dark purple ‘Rikki’.

One of my favorite groundcovers, Creeping Veronica (Veronica umbrosa 'Georgia Blue'). Not invasive like some Veronicas, beautiful.

Okame Cherry.

There is quite a Pieris collection and it is in peak bloom right now. Some of the species and japonica cultivars have already finished. Some early specie Rhododendrons.

Tomorrow’s featured plant if the pictures come out. Dwarf ‘Gold Tide’ Forsythia (F. 'Courtasol'). There is also a huge patch of Showy Border Forsythia that is growing on basically a sheer hill. You need to be roped from the top when you prune it. It is actually a great plant for steep areas.

I took today’s picture in Santa Fe. They were still in pots from the nursery. That seemed to make the flowers a little smaller. My ‘Mr. Lincoln’ got up to about 7 feet tall two years ago when I had the bright idea of planting some Cannas and Dinnerplate Dahlias amongst the roses. It worked okay and actually looked good except everything grew way too tall. So this rose can grow tall. It has had black spot a few times but seems to get over it with a little spraying and is a heavy producer of flowers. The person that owned this rose hadn’t planted it yet for fear of the frost, so she was putting inside at night. I guess Santa Fe gardening is not that far away from Connecticut gardening, after all. There was a light frost on Saturday morning there but not enough to do a lot of damage. I like red roses, they just are classic to me, and this is a good one. I also like ‘Chrysler Imperial’ and ‘Opening Night’ for reds.

One more thing. I visited a private garden where I took this picture. The garden itself was under construction in some areas but it had a lot of potential and you could see a lot of work had been done. This person had such enthusiasm about having a garden that it just floored me. She had been waiting all her life to get a garden. I have been a little cranky in the garden this spring but after seeing this person be so overjoyed at being able to work in a garden it really made me think. Yesterday while I was getting a lot of work done I took a couple of minutes, here and there, to really look around and enjoy everything I was seeing. It was so simple and so enjoyable that I think I will do it again today.

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
William Shakespeare

Mr. Lincoln facts
Type: Hybrid Tea (Non-Patented)
Fragrance: Yes, damask rose
Petal Count: 30-35
Bred by: Swim and Weeks (US, 1964)
Introduced in United States: Conard-Pyle (Star Roses)
Parentage: Charles Mallerin x Chrysler Imperial
All-America Rose Selection (AARS); 1965

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mystery Vine

Maybe somebody can help identify this flower. I took this picture on the Key West, Florida garden tour. It was growing on a fence and looked like a vigorous vine. The color was superb and it had some nice details on close inspection. If nobody knows it I will post it over on the UBC Plant Forums, as I haven’t seen one that stumped them yet.

I am back from Santa Fe and will again, hopefully, be updating this site on a regular basis. The celebration of my Mother’s life was both a great party and a bittersweet sad affair. We had a circle of sharing where everyone spoke of memories and impressions and right in the middle of it a flower delivery came. It was the most beautiful white Roses and purple Iris. While it was probably just good timing, to me it symbolized her joining us.

Santa Fe is a place I have visited many times. Not only did my Mother live there but my sister and her husband own the Hypnotherapy Academy. I had never been there this time of the year, however. I am always amazed at the beautiful gardens that people make in such a desert place. There were a lot of flowering trees that I had never noticed, particularly Crabapple, Ornamental Pear and Thundercloud Plum.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saucer Magnolia Buds

Saucer Magnolia Buds
Magnolia x soulangiana

These pictures are both Saucer Magnolias. The white one is ‘Pristine’ which has a white lily-shaped flower and a nice fragrance. I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico until Monday so the next update won't be till Tuesday.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Species Tulip (Tulipa humilis)

Species Tulip
Tulipa humilis var. pulchella
Albocaerula Oculata Group
(TOO-li-puh) (HEW-mil-is)

This flower just increased my love for Specie Tulips. Everything about it was pretty much perfect, even if its name is a mouthful. Here is a good web page for information about Botanical Tulips.

Whenever someone asks for a tulip planting I always try and include a few separate groups of the Specie Tulips. They are reliably perennial and they seem slightly less palatable to the deer then the showier hybrids. I am not saying deer don’t eat these flowers but I have seen them leave them alone.

I took this photograph in the Rock Garden at the NYBG. It is a really amazing place and if you are after some pictures you can usually find something of interest there. The garden is closed November-March. I am not sure what the beginner photography class thought of the guy laying on this stomach taking a picture of a 3 inch high Tulip but it was worth it. If I hadn’t wanted to get a picture of it I would have never bent down and look at the detail. You have to keep your eyes open in the Rock Garden because many of the plants are very small and can be easily missed. Here is a page on the History of Rock Gardening in North America: History of Rock Gardening in North America.

Synonyms: Crocus Tulip

The botanical description for Tulipa said, “ Leaves alternate…sometimes crispate”. Crispate: “curled or ruffled, as the margins of certain leaves”.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Early Spiketail (Stachyurus praecox 'Rubriflora')

Early Spiketail
Stachyurus praecox 'Rubriflora'
(stak-EE-yoor-us) (pray-koks)

Last Saturday as previously posted I went to Wave Hill Gardens and the New York Botanical Garden. They are quite close in distance but quite a bit different in feel to the gardens. Both are world-class plant collections and it was quite a treat to see both gardens in one day. I have been posting photos from Wave Hill all week so I thought I would change it up a bit and use a picture from the Ladies Border at the NYBG. My photographs came out pretty well and I think I would call it a successful afternoon. I learned a few more plants that’s for sure.

This plant was a new one on me. Apparently it is not cultivated much in American gardens. The first picture is ‘Rubriflora’ and it did present a much redder appearance than ‘Magpie’. Theses plants were located in a shady end of the border. It looked like it got only a couple hours of sun. The ‘Magpie’ was in more sun. I don’t really know what the leaves look like but I will post them later in the season when they come out. The flowers are chain-like and from a distance I almost thought they were a catkin or seedpods. On closer inspection they are very nice flowers with the appearance of Mahonia or even Pieris. It gives the nice looking twigs a gracefully pendant look. This shrub is an early bloomer and gets up to about ten feet. The fall colors are said to be a nice mix of yellow and red, again contrasting with those dark branches. I did see it is hardy to USDA Zone 6 so it might be worth a shot here if I can find it.

This picture is of Variegated Stachyurus (Stachyurus chinensis 'Magpie') and I posted it so you could the beautiful way the flowers hang down. Here is a picture of the foliage.

I am entering this picture in the monthly photo contest on the gardening forum I am a member of. The theme is ‘All creatures great and small’.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Variegated Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Orido nishiki’)

Variegated Japanese Maple
Acer palmatum ‘Orido nishiki’
(AY-ser) (pahl-MAY-tum)
Aceraceae (ay-ser-AY-see-ay)

This is one of my favorite Japanese Maples. This one was growing in a pot at Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx. It is hardy in Connecticut as I have one in the ground in New Canaan and that has turned into quite a handsome tree. Japanese Maples grow very well in containers. I had two in big pots for about 10 years and they grew beautifully. A couple of years ago I decided to plant them in the ground and they have been doing well ever since. It is easier to keep them small when growing them in containers. This is a quite vigorous cultivar in the ground but Wave Hill’s container specimen was perfectly pruned and shaped which is hard to do in the garden. My tree, which hasn’t even thought about opening up its leaves yet, is about 10 feet tall and it planted on the side of an elevated wooden deck. This allows the foliage to kind of poke through the railing and it gives a nice effect. All leaves seem to be variegated a little differently and that adds a bit of interest when viewed closely.

I use Japanese Maples all the time since they are an easy to grow tree without too many problems. The Green Laceleaf Japanese Maple is good for the shade garden. Some of the Orange ones do well there too. A lot of the cultivars have great emerging foliage and if you don’t look closely you can miss it. It is my favorite time of the year to photograph them. Acer is now included in Sapindaceae or the soapberry family. It was recently moved there along with the Horse Chestnuts and Buckeyes (Hippocastanaceae). Here is a link to my favorite book on Japanese Maples by J.D. Vertrees .

Acer palmatum 'Beni komachi’

I took this picture with a Nikon Coolpix 4300 a 4-megapixel camera. It is still one of my favorite cameras. This one is from 2 years ago. Trying to keep up with learning a botanical term a day the description said the leaves of ‘Orido nishiki’ are double dentate.

double dentate:
“Leaf margins are deeply toothed, usually with the teeth directed outward, and toothed again.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Texas Nipple Cactus (Mammillaria prolifera)

Texas Nipple Cactus
Mammillaria prolifera
(mam-mil-AR-ee-uh) (pro-LEEF-er-uh)

This Cactus was blooming at Wave Hill, this time in the Conservatory. It was in about 14 inch pot and it was loaded with flowers. It also looked very spiny. This one was quite attractive with the mix of the red fruits and the pale yellow flowers. I wouldn’t say that Wave Hill has a huge Cactus collection, far from it, but they do have a nice collection of the smaller growing varieties.

The 300 species of Mammillaria range from the Southwestern United States, Mexico and the Caribbean Islands. There are a few species native to South America also. There seem to be several sub-species under this particular name. There are 2,000 to 3,000 known Cactus species and according to Wikipedia they range in size from “the tallest, Pachycereus pringlei, with a maximum recorded height of 19.2 meters and the smallest, Blossfeldia liliputiana, only about 1 cm diameter at maturity”. I found the Wikipedia page on Cactus interesting and I picked up a few facts that I was unaware of before. Like this part about Cactus flowers, “most of them have numerous sepals (from 5 to 50 or more), and change form from outside to inside, from bracts to petals. They have stamens in great numbers (from 50 to 1,500, rarely fewer)”. Cacti are identified by several characteristics of their flowers. As Mark A Dimmitt says on this website from the The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: “To be a cactus, the plant must produce flowers with the following characteristics: many tepals (combined sepals and petals) that intergrade with each other; many stamens (usually hundreds), and numerous stigma lobes (rarely only three). If a plant lacks such a flower, it cannot be a cactus.

Well that was an epic rainstorm we had here on Sunday. It rained most of the day Monday but not like Sunday night. I think we ended up with about 8 inches (20.32 cm) of rain. Luckily the winds weren’t as bad as they said. There were several rivers that ran out of their banks and a lot of roads were closed. It was one of the biggest storms to hit this area in a long time. When I went down the big hill I live on there were several cars floating around in the middle of Federal Road. I am going to see what the rain did to the gardens tomorrow. I am ready for a lot of erosion.

Synonyms: Mammillaria prolifera subsp. prolifera, Mammillaria stellaris, Mammillaria pusilla, Neomammillaria prolifera, Chilita prolifera

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oxalis palmifrons

Oxalis palmifrons

This was growing in the Alpine House at Wave Hill. It looked to me to be a fantastic ground cover. I found several references on the web but didn’t find the usual flood of information you get with most plants. There wasn't a common name that I could find. I was looking for a picture of the flower but couldn’t find one. I did find someone who had put a flower from a another species of Oxalis and photographed it. It looked real and that is first time I had seen someone do that and I am glad he owned up to it later. I guess you can see anything if you are on the Internet long enough. This plant does not bloom every much. It was growing in a very small pot and I had to take the picture at the angle I did because I didn’t want to include any of the clay pot (I did manage to get a little of the rim in there). The plant itself looked to about 1 inch tall so it was a real ground hugger. This Oxalis is a native of South Africa and can be used in rockeries and alpine garden in Zone 9 and above. I am not sure what the color is on some of the leaf tips but that just added some extra beauty to them.

Oxalis is part of the Oxalidaceae family and there are about 800 known species of Oxalis. They occur across the earth but not on the polar caps. Although they are often called Wood sorrel they are not related to the genus Rumex, which contains the true sorrels. Quite a few will grow in the garden and they grow quite well as wildflowers too. They contain the strong oxalic acid. The description of Oxalis said that it has “dehiscent capsule”:
“The spontaneous opening at maturity of a plant structure, such as a fruit, anther, or sporangium, to release its contents.”
That of course had me looking up “sporangium”:
“A single-celled or many-celled structure in which spores are produced, as in fungi, algae, mosses, and ferns. Also called spore case.”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hoop-Petticoat Daffodil (Narcissus bulbocodium)

Hoop-Petticoat Daffodil
Narcissus bulbocodium
(nar-SIS-us) (bulb-oh-KOD-ee-um)

I visited both the New York Botanical Garden and Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx yesterday. The gardens weren’t that far along but there were a lot more plants blooming there then here in Connecticut. The Daffodil and Daylily Walk was just staring show some of the unique varieties of Daffs. I took a few pictures because I noticed in my archives I really don’t have many Daffodil pictures. I organize my photos by years first and then by months so I can see by season what I have. The Daffodil and Daylily Walk is one of the greatest aspects of the NYBG, in my opinion. I have used it on my jobs many times on a smaller scale. The brilliance behind it is the emerging Daylilies hide the gone by Daffodil foliage. I also visited the Rock Garden and the Ladies Border. I did notice a few of the Magnolias had been tinged by the frost.

Wave Hill is a much smaller and more intimate garden. I noticed they are looking for an Assistant Horticultural Director if anybody is interested. I know some of the staff there and they are a nice bunch of people. The Conservatory is small but wonderfully in bloom. When entering the wave of fresh floral scents were amazing. I couldn’t tell what exactly was fragrant but it seemed to be several plants mixed together. The Cactus and Succulent Collection is always interesting and had several types in flower. The thing I found most interesting was the Alpine House . I have visited it many times and this time there were more plants blooming. You view the plants from outside so you have to kind of stick your camera in there and hope for the best. The fans don’t help, as they gently blow the plants back and forth, so I was using a fast shutter speed. The rest of the gardens really had just started coming out. I am glad that I went yesterday, as today seems to be a complete wash out, with the big Northeaster coming in. We are supposed to get up to 4 inches of rain with high winds. I am glad that there are not too many flowers out, as they would have been shredded by this wind.

The Daffodil pictured here is interesting and something you don’t see too often. I really love dwarf Daffodils in general and this one is a stand out. There is quite a controversy over the naming of this one. I wanted to stay out of that and just use the generic name. It was growing in the Alpine House in a small pot. For more information on Narcissus see this post.

In the description of the Hoop Petticoat Daffodil it says:
“perianth tube 6-25mm” and a look at the dictionary says the definition of perianth is: “The outer envelope of a flower, consisting of either the calyx or the corolla, or both.”

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bodnant Viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn')

Bodnant Viburnum
Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'
(vy-BUR-num) (bod-nan-TEN-see)

I was reading over at Kim’s Garden Blog about the Mouse and Trowel awards for Garden blogs.
Mouse and Trowel Awards

If you click here or on the banner (maybe) you can nominate blogs now and after April 15th you can vote for your favorites. I hope there is a good response and I will probably see a few new sites that I haven’t visited. If you like to read garden blogs and have never been over to Garden Voices you are missing a valuable resource. It feels great to be included with some great bloggers there. They have a lot of them and I can always find a couple of blogs that interest me very quickly. I don’t have too much time to read blogs but I make sure I get to the ones that I like and try a few new ones each week.

Today’s picture is of another very early flowering shrub. I have seen it bloom in February if the conditions are right. I planted these in kind of an off area and the surrounding plants have kind of covered them up. I almost forgot about them but caught a glimpse of pink and found it in full bloom. One of the best parts about photographing this flower is the strong fragrance. It really smells nice. Viburnums in general are an easy, showy group of plants to grow. My only rap is they get a little too big sometimes and should be sited accordingly.

This picture was taken with the Sigma 17-70mm lens. It sure gets some weird Bokeh . That link says this isn’t that good, as it has sharp edges. In general I am happy with this lens, especially considering the price. It is quite different from the Nikon 60mm lens. I don’t foresee buying any more equipment this year so I am going to have to make do with what I have, which isn’t too bad. That weird thing in the right background is a Bald Cypress Tree (Taxodium distichum). It does kind of look like that this time of year.

The description of the Arrow-wood or Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum) had the term corymbs. As in “Flowers in corymbs, sometimes with sterile or showy ray flowers, or in umbels”

“A usually flat-topped flower cluster in which the individual flower stalks grow upward from various points of the main stem to approximately the same height.”

And seen I wasn’t sure what umbels meant:
“A flat-topped or rounded flower cluster in which the individual flower stalks arise from about the same point, as in the geranium, milkweed, onion, and chive.”

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas 'Golden Glory')

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
Cornus mas 'Golden Glory'

This is a small tree I am coming across more and more. I sometimes see large plants in the older gardens I visit but not that many. Its not really rare or anything like that but I think people are starting to see that it is a showy but easy to grow plant. This picture is from a plant I bought from Wayside Gardens in 1990. It has turned into a handsome tree. On this same property there was an existing specimen that I believe is not a cultivar. I actually moved it twice. Once while some major new garden construction was occurring and it sat above the ground (heeled in with mulch) for a couple of months. It didn’t seem to hurt as it almost doubled in size since then. It is now about 16 feet tall with a spread of about 10 feet. I have pruned it fairly hard for the last several years. It has been easy to keep the size down while maintaining a natural shape.

The ‘Golden Glory’ cultivar is a bit smaller but it has larger flowers and leaves and more a slender upright habit, it also flowers more profusely. It is growing in a very inhospitable area and for that my hat goes off to it. It has come a long way from the $29 stick that I bought and it has done it in dry, rocky unimproved soil. This garden has a large collection of Dogwoods. Including a Mexican Dogwood (Cornus florida var. urbiniana) and cross between the Eastern Dogwood and the Giant dogwood (Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’) and numerous Kousa and Florida cultivars. There are a few other species of Cornus growing there also.

Cornus mas is a welcome sight in the early spring garden. It blooms earlier than Forsythia and its flower buds are hardier for northern gardeners. It’s handsome foliage, bark, fall color and fruit can add interest to the garden during the year. It truly is a tree for all seasons. It can grow in most soils, including heavy clay and it is unaffected by most afflictions that some of the other Dogwoods get.

In reading the descriptions of the plants I post on this blog I noticed that there are a lot of botanical terms I either don’t know or are not sure of. I am going to try and take one word from the description and record here. I hope this helps me remember the term and maybe even use it. In the description of Cornus mas it says the cymes are 2 cm. in diameter.

So to the glossary we go:
“A broad, flattish determinate inflorescence, with the central or terminal flowers maturing first.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Early Flowering Lilac (Syringa × hyacinthiflora)

Early Flowering Lilac
Syringa × hyacinthiflora ‘Pocahontas’
(si-RING-ga) (hi-a-sin-thi-FLO-ra)

Okay I have decided to quit complaining about what a crummy early spring we have had, even though there is a chance of snow here for Thursday. Yesterday was a little better weather wise and today it is actually suppose to reach 50 degrees F. I noticed a lot more daffodils out yesterday and that is a good sign. I have been cleaning up one of the large gardens I care for. I spent most of the day pruning some big Junipers. I am not sure what type they are (probably ‘Hetzi’) but they have completely overgrown, which is typical. I have torn out more Junipers than I have planted. I think it is the most misused plant in gardens in this area. They generally just grow too big. The ones I was working on were about 10 feet tall and 30 feet wide. When I looked underneath I could see that it was just 3 original plants. I took about 3 feet off the top and tried to reduce the sides. Of course I have a case of what I call ‘juniper rash’ and it feels like it is getting worse as I remember pruning them yesterday. Don’t get me wrong there are several types of Juniper that I like and I think I will go out and take a picture of some them for this space. There are also certain spots I might consider using them, like the side of a steep dry hill. For the most part I will only be using the dwarf and smaller types and as single specimens in my gardens.

I took this Lilac picture at the nursery when I was looking for a 12-14 foot Magnolia tree. I have been enjoying bud photography but it is sometimes hard to get the right depth of field. The Lilacs growing around here are not as far advanced as I looked at some yesterday and they were just starting to show a little green. I hope to get up to the Arnold Arboretum when the world’s largest lilac collection is blooming. I went a couple of years ago and it was amazing. The NYBG’s Lilac Collection is quite nice, also. I may have to settle for that if I can’t take the time to get up to Boston.

This is a Lilac I have seen growing and it is superb. The dark purple buds open to deep violet single flowers. Developed by the famous lilac hybridizer, Frank Skinner from the Hardy Plant Nursery in Dropmore, Manitoba, to withstand the severe prairie conditions, he introduced several popular hybrids including ‘Pocahontas’ (1935) and ‘Maiden Blush’ (1966). His work in this group of Lilac hybrids is sometimes called the Canadian Hybrid Cultivars. The original early Lilacs were developed in France in the latter part of the 19th century. They generally bloom a week or two earlier than the Common Lilac and can extend the season a bit for Lilac lovers. ‘Pocahontas’ gets up to about 10 feet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Queen's Wreath (Petrea volubilis)

Queen's Wreath
Petrea volubilis
(PEE-tree-uh) (vol-OO-BIL-iss)
Verbenaceae (ver-be-NAY-see-ay)

I saw this lovely tropical vine in Florida. It was quite large, probably 30 or 40 feet and it was covered with these blooms, which on close inspection are quite detailed. Hardy to Zone 10, and I guess that leaves out most of the United States, it can also be grown indoors. I think the NYBG has a specimen of it growing inside the Conservatory. It likes full sun and from what I have read it about it its bloom time is a spectacular show if a little short lived. It is a native of Central America and Mexico. It is also known as Tropical Wisteria and I could see where the comparison had been drawn. Since the leaves are abrasive when touched Sandpaper Vine is another common name.

The fact that I am still speaking of tropical plants here speaks volumes about our spring here in Connecticut. Cold days and even colder nights have added up to not many flowers. I did see some stuff starting to come out yesterday which due to the lack of wind was just slightly warmer. I guess a lot of things will be blooming at once.

Synonyms: Bluebird Vine,

Monday, April 09, 2007

Buttercup Winterhazel (Corylopsis pauciflora)

Buttercup Winterhazel
Corylopsis pauciflora
(kor-uh-LOP-sis) (PAW-ki-flor-uh)

Now is the time of the year that the Winter Hazel become a standout in the garden. It is one of the few things blooming around here. I have tried it a few times and met with less than success but I still enjoy seeing it, I may try again because its failure was probably my fault. Sometimes if a plant doesn’t work out I never try it again and that is not the best way to approach it. I think I end up missing out on some plants because I am wary of the results. This plant is a star performer early in the spring and then it fades into the background. It has a graceful shape that shouldn’t really pruned because then it starts growing at odd angles. Since it is such an early bloomer planting it in a sheltered location is probably a wise course of action. It can tolerate a light shade and looks good on the edge of the woods. I have seen it planted in masses and as a single specimen, both with good results. The drooping yellow flowers are fragrant. There are several other species that grow in the garden. In general I think you find this plant hard to locate and as I remember mine came from a mail-order catalog. Please don’t be turned off by my experiences it is a lovely shrub that is a great addition to the early spring garden.

This is almost a good picture but not quite. I am still trying to figure out exactly what I did to make the flower stand out in an abstract way. This is a shot that would have benefited from a tripod.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

February Daphne (Daphne mezereum 'Alba')

February Daphne
Daphne mezereum 'Alba'

It’s hard to believe a plant that looks this nice and benign could be so toxic. I am glad I didn’t brush up against while photographing it. I have always thought that Daphnes as kind of weak growing but wonderful looking plant. This one was blooming last week despite the crummy weather we have been having. I know sometimes I forget what the weather was like in each month over the years but it seems like this is one of the worst Aprils I have experienced around here in a long time. It seems to me that looking back over the weather averages is not very helpful as April could finish very warm and would appear to be average when it has been cold. The forecast for Connecticut isn’t looking up much as they are forecasting subfreezing temperatures at night and highs only in the low 40s (F). I have probably said this before but for a multitude of reason I am desperate for spring to arrive in its usual way. I saw a Cherry Tree out in bloom where I was working in Darien yesterday. It was in the house next doors yard and it took everything I had not to scale the fence and try and take a picture of it. It looked like an Okame Cherry, which is one of my favorites. There was not one thing blooming in the yard I was working in.

This plant is a native of Europe and the white form is not as common as the pink one. This one gets yellow berries, which again are highly toxic although I have seen the birds eating them. It has the vague appearance of a Spirea and is more upright then the more traditional Daphnes that I grow. If you are going to try this one it prefers moist alkaline soil on the edge of the woods. It can grow in light shade or full sun. Once sited it is best to leave it alone as it resents root disturbance. It’s flowers are highly fragrant This particular plant is about 3.5 feet tall and 4 feet wide after about ten years.

Synonyms: Winter Daphne, Fragrant Daphne

Since there is not much to shoot outdoors I took an abstract of the glass vase that is holding some Forsythia that forced. I am going to be doing some correcting on some old posts later today I have to figure out a way to do that clandestinely. My grammar and punctuation is terrible.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Italian Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana 'Bolero')

Italian Pansy
Viola x wittrockiana “Bolero”
(vee-OH-luh) (wit-rok-ee-AH-nuh)
Violaceae (vee-oh-LAY-see-ay)

This Pansy is new to me. I must say it had a wonderful appearance. Just different enough to pique my interest but not off the wall or garishly different. There was an assortment of colors planted at my local nursery. I looked it up on the Internet and didn’t really find too many references to this plant. The Park Seed Co.
has several types and colors but most seem to come as mixes and the plants I saw were in more blocks of color shades. In general, I was amazed at the selection of colors, flower sizes, and heights of the Pansies that were available. Things have come such a long way.

I have been planting Pansies for years and it occurred to me that I really didn’t know that much about them. According to Wikipedia:
Most of the garden types of Pansy are:
“derived from the wildflower called the Heartsease or Johnny Jump Up (Viola tricolor)”, and:
“Pansies are technically biennials that normally have two-year life cycles. The first year they only produce greenery; they bear flowers and seeds in their second year of growth, and afterwards die like annuals.”
They appear to have been in cultivation for a long time as there is a reference by Shakespeare in Hamlet (ACT IV. Scene V) when Ophelia remarks:
“There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love,
remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.”

I do know that Pansies love cool weather and can even survive short bouts of snow and ice and below freezing temperatures. When I used to do elaborate bedding schemes with annuals I remember I had planted about 35 flats and it snowed and sleeted the next day. The flowers were a little worse for wear after being encased in ice but it really didn’t hurt them in the long run. They do benefit from dead heading the spent blooms and light feeding with liquid fertilizer. During the summer they tend not to do well but I have had them last and perk up in the fall. I wondered about the origin of the name as the dictionary defines Pansy as (among other things) “a timid man or boy considered childish or unassertive” but to me the Pansy is a brave and strong flower that heralds the Spring. So again from Wikipedia: “The pansy gets its name from the French word pensée meaning "thought". It was so named because the flower resembles a human face and in August it nods forward as if deep in thought.”

Friday, April 06, 2007

Giant Japanese Butterbur (Petasites japonicus)

Giant Japanese Butterbur
Petasites japonicus var. giganteus
Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ay)

This isn’t a plant for faint-hearted gardeners or small gardens. I happen to have gotten some about 10 years ago at an aquatic plant nursery. I really didn’t know too much about it but luckily I sited it along a stream that has only a little soil and a lot of ledge rock. This has slowed the spreading as this plant is completely invasive. My patch has nowhere to go so it has been a nice addition to the garden. These flowers come out very early, sometimes when there is still a little snow on the ground. They die back making room for the real show, the giant leaves. All parts of this plant are toxic. The leaves can sometimes get 3 feet across and grow to a height of about 5 feet. That is why you need a lot of room. My patch has spread to about 15 feet long and 4 feet wide and that is all the room it has. It occasionally tries to grow across the small stream it borders but it is easily stopped there. It is great for a bold foliage accent and there are a few other types that have smaller leaves available. There is a certain novelty factor to having it in the garden.

I am suppose to do a transplanting job today and the ground is frozen. I wonder how that is going to work out. Lucky there is only a little frost in the top but isn’t going to make the job any easier.

Synonyms: Sweet Coltsfoot, Fuki

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Spring Pheasant's Eye (Adonis vernalis)

Spring Pheasant's Eye
Adonis vernalis
(ad-ON-iss) (ver-NAH-liss)
Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ay)

This picture is from the NYBG. There was a little patch growing in the Ladies Border and it had survived the late season snowstorm we had. The foliage is fantastic, very finely cut and a nice shade of green. The flower is nice too, a very bright yellow that reminded of a little sun. I had planted one of these that I received as a gift and it bloomed great for two years but I haven’t seen it this year and think that it may have expired. All parts are considered poisonous but this plant is useful in the treatment of heart ailments.

Synonyms: Pheasant's Eye, Yellow Pheasant's Eye and False Hellebore

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Haller's Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla halleri)

Haller's Pasque Flower
Pulsatilla halleri
(pul-sa-TIL-uh) (HAL-ler-ee)
Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ay)

I saw a post on the Pale Pasque Flower on a photography forum a couple of years ago and the poster was from Denmark and he said that it was one of the rarest wildflowers in Denmark, something like ‘only 11 plants’ are in the whole country. So it was fun when I was with a small group in the NYBG last year and we saw this little beauty I was able to say with authority that it’s relative was “the rarest flower in Denmark’ and people were impressed :lol: . This I believe is a more common flower but I haven’t seen it too many other places. It looks like a very nice plant for the rock or alpine garden. I have included a larger picture to show the cool looking silver hairs on the buds.

It going to be a rain day here today. I have a couple of meetings to attend but hope this isn’t a precursor of a lot of rain days this season as I already feel I am behind out in the garden. At least they called off the snow and sleet they were predicting, although the low temperature is expected to be 32 deg. F tonight. Then windy and cold for the next couple of days the weatherman said it is going to feel like early March. I know April Showers bring May Flowers as the great Al Jolson once sang.

"April Showers"
Words by B. G. DeSylva / Music by Louis Silvers, 1921
From the Broadway musical "Bombo"

“Though April Showers may come your way,
They bring the flowers that bloom in May
So if it's raining, have no regrets
Because it isn't raining rain you know,
It's raining violets,
And where you see clouds upon the hills,
You soon will see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a blue bird
And listening for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Nun's Cap Orchid

Nun's Cap Orchid
Phaius tankervilliae
(FAY-ee-us) (tan-kar-VIL-ee-ay)

This is an easy to grow Orchid that has actually naturalized in parts of Florida. There seems to be a couple of ways to spell the name so I hope this is right. It is also easy to propagate and can be done so from the old flower stalks.

I am really tired this morning as I am slowly getting back into shape. It looks like we are in for some wintry weather and a lot of rain tomorrow and then some more sleet and snow for Wednesday night. Global Warming, huh? Just kidding actually, I am neutral on Global Warming and prefer to let the scientists fight that one out. This does seem to be the coldest Spring I can remember in a long time. I am off to work to see what I can do to clean up after the winter.

Here is a picture of the nice looking buds of this Orchid.

Synonyms: Nun's Orchid, Chinese Ground Orchid, Red Crane Orchid, Swamp lily, Veiled Nun Orchid

Monday, April 02, 2007

Snow Crocus (Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty')

Snow Crocus
Crocus chrysanthus 'Cream Beauty'
(KROH-kus) (kris-ANTH-us)
Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ay)

I came across these wonderfully colored Crocuses in the Rock Garden at The NYBG. They aren’t very tall and grow in a tight bunch but I saw them from quite a distance. The orange stamens were an extra treat when the flower is viewed close up. I was happy to see that they were marked with the name because it cuts down on the detective work. This little gem won the RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1993. I have grown ‘Lady Killer’ Crocus (of the same species) in the garden before and been happy with that so I may try some ‘Cream Beauty’ this fall. I think I have found with Crocus if you are going to plant them it is best to go big or not to bother. 25 corms or better and then you will get a proper show. I like to scatter them over an area and then plant them where they have landed. I read that Crocuses grows well in containers but I think I will just keep planting them in the ground.

This picture kind of kicks off the photography project I have assigned myself this year. I plan on visiting a New York Botanical Garden one weekend a month throughout the season. I hope you will join me as I poke into the corners at the gardens I have visited a lot and take a frontal look at some I have not been to in years (if ever). Here is my short list of places to visit:


Wave Hill

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Planting Fields in Oyster Bay

The Cloisters

I haven’t ever been to these gardens before:

Staten Island Botanical Garden

Old Westbury Gardens


Sprinkle in a trip down to Longwood and one or two to the Arnold Arboretum and it should be a good season. I especially love the Arnold Arboretum because it is canine friendly. Plants and dogs! Two of my favorite things.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Clock Vine (Thunbergia mysorensis)

Clock Vine
Thunbergia mysorensis
(thun-BER-jee-uh) (my-sor-EN-sis)
Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ay)

Synonyms: Hexacentris mysorensis

I have been admiring this vine at the New York Botanical Garden for several years and during my recent trip it was flowering more than I had ever seen it. Getting a picture has been tough and this is the best I came up with. This native of India grows both in subtropical and tropical regions. This one is of course growing indoors. The flowers are very detailed and are attractive to Hummingbirds. The Clock Vine is in the Acanthaceae family. I have linked to a full-length Encyclopedia Britannica Article, which should be available to non-subscribers too.

There is a new Hardiness Map in town and that is sure to stir up some trouble. Since this is a press release I don’t think that they will mind my posting it in full.

<start copy>
New Hardiness Zone Map Reflects Warmer Climate

Latest hardiness zones, based on most current temperature data available, suggest up-to-date choices for best trees to plant

Nebraska City, Neb. – Much of the United States has been warmer in recent years, and that affects which trees are right for planting.

Based on the latest comprehensive weather station data, The National Arbor Day Foundation has just released a new 2006 Hardiness Zone Map which separates the country into ten different temperature zones to help people select the right trees to plant where they live.

The new map reflects that many areas have become warmer since 1990 when the last USDA hardiness zone map was published. Significant portions of many states have shifted at least one full hardiness zone. Much of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, for example, have shifted from Zone 5 to a warmer Zone 6. Some areas around the country have even warmed two full zones.

In response to requests for up-to-date information, the Arbor Day Foundation developed the new zones based on the most recent 15 years' data available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 5,000 National Climatic Data Center cooperative stations across the United States. Hardiness zones are based on average annual low temperatures using 10 degree increments. For example, the average low temperature in zone 3 is -40 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average low temperature in zone 10 is +30 to +40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The new 2006 Hardiness Zone Map is consistent with the consensus of climate scientists that global warming is underway. Tree planting is among the positive actions that people can take to reverse the trend. Tree planters across the nation can go to, click on the Hardiness Zone link, and enter their zip code to determine their hardiness zone.

"The Arbor Day Foundation supports tree planting throughout America," says Foundation President John Rosenow. "Providing the hardiness zone for individual zip codes at is an important part of that goal, by giving tree planters the most up-to-date and useable data available."

"Of course existing trees should continue to be cared for," said Woody Nelson from the Arbor Day Foundation. "Certain species may be more vulnerable to stress with the current warmer climate, but they will continue to provide environmental and economic benefits as they grow. It's just a good idea to consider more tree species diversity for the future."<end copy>

You can download hi-resolution copies of the new map here. If you click around the site you can check your zone via zip code, also.

New Hardiness Maps

There seems to be a little controversy regarding the new hardiness map. A lot of people are saying that basing the map on 15 years of data is a mistake. I can only speak to my little area and I happen to agree that some areas of the Connecticut shoreline are Zone 7. We have quite a few microclimates here in Connecticut and I think gardeners in general are still going to have to think about that. This isn’t going to make me rush out and buy a bunch of Zone 7 plants and think they are going to magically survive do to the map changes. It seems, from my personal observations, that every eight to ten years here that we get a winter that burns the higher zone plants to the ground.