Thursday, January 31, 2008

Himalayan Blueberry

Himalayan Blueberry
Vaccinium moupinense
(vak-SIN-ee-um) (mu-pin-EN-see)
Ericaceae (er-ek-AY-see-ay)

I planted a couple of these last summer kind of to see how they would do and I was quite impressed. There seems to more and more people planting Blueberries as an ornamental and for good reason. They are a hardy, showy plant that doesn’t require too much care. I have several types of the larger species but the Himalayan Blueberry I have decided to use more as a groundcover. It is classified as an evergreen shrub so we will see what happens in the spring when this gorgeous winter color gives way to the new growth, which is also reddish tinged. I haven’t seen the flowers yet but they are typically Blueberry shaped (kind of an upside down urn) and a dark red. The berries, which are produced in the fall, are purple and can be eaten.

So far I have enjoyed this plant in the garden and will probably pick up a few more. I am going to shear mine in the spring to keep them at about 12 inches. They normally grow to about 18 to 24 inches tall with a spread of 2.5 to 3 feet. I have noticed that Blueberries like regular watering, especially during establishment.

Yesterday the Digital Flower Pictures Blog had its highest traffic day ever, 490 visitors. Thanks to everyone that did visit. I have certainly enjoyed speaking about some the plants I have seen over the last couple years and sharing some of my flower and plant pictures. Since a lot of research goes into this blog it has been a real learning experience for me.

Winter must be getting close to being over as I got two calls to look at work yesterday. I guess it is time to start waking up from hibernation.

For 2008 I vowed to read more garden books. I have a large reference library and I often flip through the books for inspiration or facts. My goal was to read one book a week but it looks like one book every two weeks is probably a better goal. The one I am reading now is called

Image courtesy of

The Sun King's Garden: Louis XIV, Andre le Notre and the Creation of the Gardens of Versailles
by Ian Thompson. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.

I have found the book quite interesting and a better read than I thought. Most of the books on my list are about plants and modern day gardening and I found this historical book fascinating. I will probably have to go to Versailles sometime now that I know some of what went into the creation of it.

Unknown Cymbidium Orchid

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bougainvillea -ABC Wednesday

Bougainvillea x buttianaEnid Lancaster
Nyctaginaceae (nyk-taj-i-NAY-see-ay)

If you are here for Wordless Wednesday please scroll down to the next post.

If you are here for ABC Wednesday ‘B’ is for one of my favorite tropical plants, Bougainvillea. This one was blooming at the New York Botanical Garden last week. I loved the color, not having seen one in that shade before. An Internet search revealed literally hundreds of hybrids and cultivars and a rainbow of colors. This plant is a hybrid (remember from the ‘X’ post) of Bougainvillea glabra x B. peruviana. This cross has produced a lot of different cultivars, which are vigorous and colorful. They often can grow to 40 feet long which is larger than either of the parent plants.

All Bougainvillea are native to South America but have spread across the world. In non-tropical areas gardeners can enjoy them as houseplants, although you need to keep them cut back. If you are growing them indoors it is important to let the plant dry out in between waterings, and I would suggest not fertilizing them. The roots liked to be crowded and don’t be alarmed if the leaves drop off, it is natural (if they don’t come back, that’s a problem).

One from my Florida archives.

Bougainvillea grows as a vine although I have seen it trained into a small tree and a loose shrub. It is thorny and can be used as a colorful living fence. The flowers are the little buds and white trumpet in the center. The real show is the colorful three paper-like bracts that surround the flowers.

This is a ‘b’uilding I took a picture of in Manhattan. It is way downtown. I have a friend who is a brilliant architectural photographer and this is my (kind of sad) attempt to be like him. He tries to shoot flowers from time to time :lol:

Shot with a Sigma 17-70mm @ 29mm
1/200 sec/F 7.1
Ev comp.: -1.0
Circular Polarizer

Here is the ABC Wednesday Blogroll. I have added some new blogs at the end. It seems to be growing and I hope I have time to visit everyone.

Almost forgot this Bougainvillea I saw blooming at Wave Hill. It had variegated bracts which added to the overall dramatic color.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Orange Star Impatiens

Impatiens walleriana
Synonym: Busy Lizzy
(im-PAY-shuns) (wall-er-ee-AH-nuh)

This picture was a little lesson for me. I didn’t write down if this was ‘Accent Orange Star’ or ‘Mega Orange Star’. I think it was from the ‘Accent’ series since it didn’t get very tall and the flowers weren’t the two inches wide that the ‘Mega Orange Star’ gets. I always enjoy having some Impatiens in the garden. The colors they keep coming up with are amazing to me. One thing I don’t like is the ever-growing trend of making them shorter and shorter. I like them a little taller for some areas. One time I accidentally fertilized my Impatiens with a very high Nitrogen lawn fertilizer and they grew to about 4 feet tall. The downside was they hardly had a flower all summer.

Most people are familiar with using Impatiens in the shady areas of the garden. They don’t need deadheading but require regular water to look their best. I found that the Deer do like to eat them so try and use a protected location. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. I have been using them in containers a lot lately and that has worked out very nice. At the end of the season I often bring some into the greenhouse for a little color for the winter. I have noticed indoors they need some fertilizer and have to be pinched back to prevent legginess.

This Cactus was growing in the Conservatory at work and I thought that since the Impatiens flower had kind of a geometric pattern to it I would post this one along with it. It is a specimen of Mammilaria supertexta.

I have been waiting all day to post this and am finally using Karen’s DSL to do it. Apparently when the cable guy was fixing the cable on the pole in front of my house he fixed it so good that it doesn’t work anymore.

Sunday, January 27, 2008



I am not of the species of this Acacia tree but it was a beauty and quite a shock to see in full bloom in the Bronx. I thought at the time I snapped this picture last week that it would be easy to figure which Acacia it was but it turns out there are 1300 plus species to choose from. I did learn that most are native to Australia but there are 300 or 400 that are native to the warmer areas of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

It used to bother me if I took a picture and didn’t know exactly what the plant was. It still does but not as much. I figure that soon or later someone will tell what it is or I will see it again in person or a book where it is marked. With this picture at least I know the genus and that will make identification a lot easier. I constantly finding out about new plants and that is one thing I love about the Botanical World, there is always room to explore and meet some new citizens.

There seems to be some milder temperatures headed this way for next week and that sounds great. Anything I can get done in the garden now will be less work in the spring.

Does anyone want to see Azalea season more than me? Probably not! This is one of the collection of late blooming Dwarf Japanese Azaleas at the Estate. They start blooming in June and end in August. I will take any blooming Azalea at this point.

Sorry that I have to keep on putting the 'short' feed on this site. They are people that are using it without any links or acknowledgement. So we are back to the short feed for awhile.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bengal Clock Vine

Bengal Clock Vine
Thunbergia grandiflora
(thun-BER-jee-uh) (gran-dih-FLOR-uh)
Synonyms: Blue Sky Vine, Sky Flower

Today’s pictures are again courtesy of Wave Hill. This vine was growing in a small pot, which is unusual since it quite vigorous. In climates where the ground doesn’t freeze it can quickly cover its trellis and may have to tamed to fit into the area allotted to it. This vine can easy be cut back if unwanted growth occurs, Outdoors it prefers some light or shifting shade (especially in hot climates) and rich organic soil. The lush heart shaped leaves adds to this native of India attraction in the garden.

This is the most commonly seen blue type of flowers but violet colored and white flowered forms are also available. The flowers are beautifully shaded and shaped. In this second picture it is mixing in with some Coleus flowers. I never really get to see the flowers of Coleus since I am always pinching them off. They are quite a pretty blue.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Euphorbia fulgens
(yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (FUL-jenz)

Wave Hill had a nice collection of different Euphorbia fulgens blooming when I was there two weeks ago. I couldn’t find out much about this plant other than it is closely related to the Poinsettia and is a native of Mexico. The milky sap is said to be a skin irritant so care should be used when handling the plants and cut flowers. It is quite popular as a cut flower, with a vase life of 7 to 10 days.

There were several foliage and flower types represented in the Wave Hill collection and I am showing these two because the pictures came out the best. I think the dark red flowers with plum colored foliage was my favorite (not pictured here). I still haven’t figured out all the tricks about shooting indoors in a greenhouse.

The common name for this plant is ‘Scarlet Plume’ but that doesn’t really work for the first picture, which was a very nice soft creamy yellow. Euphorbia fulgens actually comes in red, orange, yellow, pink and white flowers. The long pointy foliage seemed to have several shades of green and red on the different plants. The flowers come out in several places along the elegantly shaped curving branches.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Two More Winter Bloomers

Two More Winter Bloomers

I have been keeping my eyes open for flowers and in addition to the Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) that was featured here recently I found my Winter Jasmine and Chinese Witch Hazel blooming. My hat goes off to these plants, which despite the cold temperatures and biting winds have come out to add a little color to the winter landscape.

Weeping Winter Jasmine
Jasminum nudiflorum
(JAZ-mih-num) (noo-dee-FLOR-um)
Synonym: Jasminum sieboldianum

This is an interesting and underused shrub that brings some winter interest to the garden. This one only had a few flowers right now but later in the winter and with the help of a few mild days it will be in full bloom. It can be effective cascading over stonewalls or on sloped banks. While it is rated for USDA Zone 6 I think it does better in Zone 7. If you are planting it in Zone 6 try and chose a warm sheltered location for it.

Following its species name, nudiflorum, its flowers emerge before the foliage. The leaves themselves are small and not very showy. Even with some sporadic flowering later in the year this shrub tends to fade in the background but it emerges very bright right when you need that the most. This Western China native can be difficult to buy, it isn’t offered that often, but is definitely worth the hunt for the medium and larger garden.

Chinese Witch Hazel
Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’
(ham-uh-MEE-lis) (MAW-liss)

There seems to be a little cloudiness in regards to the naming of this plant. It seems a lot of people also call it Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' and you can find it listed under that name also. I am going to let the botanists fight that one out. When I first starting growing this Witch Hazel I was less than enchanted with this one but over the years this shrub has proved to be a reliable bloomer and a good garden citizen. It doesn’t take much upkeep (a great benefit in my mind) other than cutting the occasional sucker from under the graft I also top mine since I don’t really want to have it grow to the full height of 15 feet. Sometimes the dead leaves hang on through the winter and they should be removed to see the full glory of the flowers. ‘Pallida’ is superior to the species mainly because of the heavier flowering. Plant it with an eye towards it being a large shrub but also keep in mind you will want to enjoy the flowers and fragrance up close.

This plant was first collected in China around 1870 and ‘Pallida’ was first cataloged by the RHS in the 30’s. It likes well-drained soil that has organic matter in it. It can benefit from a yearly dressing of leaf-mold compost.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ABC Wednesday - Torch Aloe

ABC Wednesday - Torch Aloe
Aloe arborescens
(AL-oh) (ar-bo-RES-senz)
Synonyms: Tree Aloe, Mountain Bush Aloe, Krantz Aloe, Aloe candelabra, A. milleri, A. natalensis, A. viridifolia

If you are here for Wordless Wednesday scroll down to the next post, please.

Since it is not very tropical outside I thought I would feature a tropical plant. This picture is from my trip to the New York Botanical Garden last week and just as last year when I went at this time the Tree Aloe was in full bloom. The NYBG has quite a collection of Cactus and Succulents and there are two rooms devoted to those types of plants in the Conservatory. It is always fun to visit the wetter areas and then walk through the long tunnel to the dry collection. After that comes the Special Collection area, which always has some interesting flowers.

Aloes need a sunny position in the garden, if you are lucky enough to be able to grow them outdoors. You probably wouldn’t want to grow this species indoors as it can get to 6 to 8 feet tall but there are 400 other species to choose from and many do make nice, slow-growing houseplants. My Aloe plants at work have never flowered so I am probably not the best person to get advice from on cultivation.

This is a yellow form of Aloe that I found growing in the Florida Keys. This one was located in someone’s landscaping on Sugarloaf Key and was a delight to see. The red one is from Big Pine Key.

I was scanning some pictures the other day and came across this ‘A’. I have been to Alaska four times and loved its rugged beauty each time. We took this train from Anchorage to Seward for a day trip.

I am again proudly participating in ABC Wednesday. It is getting harder and harder to come up with botanical images this time of year and I may have to rely on the archives more than I would like. I figure we should be getting into the season with some new images around ‘H’ or ‘I’.

Here is the ABC Wednesday Blogroll:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Cactus Flower

More Tree Bark

Tanyosho Pine
Pinus densiflora 'Umbraculifera'
(PY-nus) (den-see-FLOR-uh)
Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ay)
Synonyms: Umbrella Pine, Tabletop Pine

The cinnamon colored bark is one of this tree’s best attributes. Tanyosho (Tan-y-o-show) Pine grows to about 18 feet tall with a wider spread and often has multi-trunks. The needles are a nice green and grow in bundles of two on this Japanese native. I would recommend the compact or dwarf types for most home gardens.

Lacebark Pine
Pinus bungeana
(PY-nus) (bun-jee-AY-nuh)

A very interesting species of pine that has exquisite bark. A native of China, Lacebark Pine can reach 75 feet tall but is slow growing. It is a bushy tree with medium green needles. I have found that these trees don’t like a lot of extra moisture in the soil and they are susceptible to snow and ice loads. I have a dwarf version at the Estate as well as a grove of the larger ones. Both have been rewarding to cultivate.

Just to keep things normal, since the site name is digital flower, here is a waterlily picture I took the other day. Obviously it was growing indoors and I had to lean over the pond to get this shot. The owner didn’t know the name of the cultivar.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tree Bark

Tree Bark

I have wanted to do a post on the various nice tree barks I have been seeing. Often times that is all we northern gardeners have to look at this time of year. It can also be very useful in identifying tree species this time of year. I like that there are so many variations of bark and a lot of times there are variations throughout the life of the tree.

This picture and top photo: Stewartia pseudocamellia bark

The functions of tree bark are quite complex here is a link to a UCLA site that deals with some of the scientific aspects of it:

There are a multitude of reason bark is important to trees. One of the biggest is protection against the elements. It protects against both hot and cold temperature extremes. It also can block insects and diseases from entering the cambium layer of the tree. Since it is sometimes porous it helps the tree breathe while still protecting against water loss.

Bark can be an excellent way to enhance the winter garden. The different colors and textures can also have a nice effect on plants in front or behind the trees. There also medicinal uses from certain tree barks and some hold hope in various cancer treatments. Who can forget all the help bark lends to the garden during the year in the form of mulch?

Not sure which species of Platanus (PLAT-an-us) or Sycamore tree this is but the bark was a wonderful mosaic of colors. I usually tell the American and London Planetrees apart by the number of seedpods. The American species has single seedpods and the London Planetree has two together. I’ll probably feature a couple of more barks tomorrow.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hoop Petticoat Daffodil

Hoop Petticoat Daffodil
Narcissus cantabricus var. foliosus
Amaryllidaceae (am-uh-ril-id-AY-see-ay)

These were blooming in the Wave Hill Alpine House. Like the Conservatory at Wave Hill it is small by public garden standards but it is always packed with interesting plants. These little Narcissus were a bit of tease (since spring is still so far away), but were a welcome sight. They were only about 3 inches tall but the stand of flowers looked very natural in their grouping. I featured another Hoop Petticoat flower from Wave Hill here:
Hoop Petticoat Narcissus
and if your interested the divisions of the different Daffodil types are on this post
The 13 Divisions of Daffodils
That last link also explains the difference between a Daffodil and a Narcissus.

This flower falls into Division 10, the Bulbocodium Hybrids. The pictures are shot at a little bit of a weird angle because I didn’t want to included the clay pot they were in or the others around it.

When I went around the side of the Alpine House I got a little bit of a start when I realized there was a cat hiding out in the Euonymus. At first he played coy but later came out for a better shot. He almost came down to let me pet him but then took off into the plantings. I miss having a cat.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wonder Tree

Wonder Tree
Idesia polycarpa
(eye-DEE-zee- uh)
Synonyms: Flacourtia japonica, Polycarpa maximowiczii, Iigiri Tree, Ligiri

This tree blew me away at Wave Hill. It was simply amazing. I hadn’t seen it before and was thoroughly enchanted with it. I would have sworn that this tree wouldn’t be hardy in Connecticut but apparently it is hardy to USDA Zone 5. It was certainly living up to its scientific name polycarpa, which means many fruited. The long pendulous clusters of orange berries were visible from across the garden.

Since I have never grown this tree it would be hard for me to pass on any cultural information. I definitely want to get one for the estate. I did find out it is native to China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan, has fragrant yellow-green flowers and likes moist, well drained soil. It can grow in part shade also. It reaches a height of 50 feet and you can eat the fruit either raw or cooked.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

ABC Wednesday – Z is for Zinnia

ABC Wednesday – Z is for Zinnia
Zinnia elegans 'Zowie Yellow Flame'
(ZIN-ya) (ELL-eh-ganz)

If you are here for Wordless Wednesday scroll down to the next post and thanks for visiting.

In many ways this plant exemplifies what the breeding in annuals has brought us over the years. Petunias, Marigolds and Zinnias are three types of plants that have benefited from the work of these programs. I don’ think even 10 years ago I could have imagined a Zinnia that looks like this one. I really like the growth habit, flower color and the disease resistance that have been included.

‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ was introduced in 2005 and won the prestigious All-American Selection award in 2006. This Zinnia is both semi-double (flower) and semi-tall (plant). It is easy to grow and makes excellent cut flowers. One trial had the flowers lasting up to two weeks in vases. Since I have already featured this plant before I thought I would do a little more research into Zinnias themselves.

'Heartland Red' Zinnia

Zinnias originate from Mexico and were brought to Europe in 1613. They are named after a medical professor, Johann Gottfried Zinn. Who along with his book on the anatomy of the eye, wrote about the plants he saw around Gottingen, Germany and is credited with making the first scientific description of the flower. There are all types of shapes and sizes available amongst the hundreds of cultivars. The smallest plants are 8 inches tall and the tallest range up to 4 to 5 feet. All colors are available except true blue. Zinnias are not particular to soil and are drought resistant.
Some pink Zinnias I saw this summer in Queens, New York

I can’t believe we made it all the way through the alphabet. Twenty six weeks seem to go by very fast and although botanical pictures are hard to come by this time of year I hope we make another trip through the letters.

Here is the ABC Wednesday Blogroll:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wordless Wednesday ~ Tuesday Edition

Jackson Pollock. (American, 1912-1956)
One: Number 31, 1950

Connecticut sunrise from my driveway.

Fragrant Wintersweet Tree

Fragrant Wintersweet Tree
Chimonanthus praecox
(ky-moh-NAN-thus) (pray-koks)

Thinking I would enjoy the last day of moderate weather I went down to Wave Hill Gardens in the Bronx. What a wonderful winter walk I had around the gardens. I found this plant, Chimonanthus praecox, in full bloom. It didn’t look like a sporadic bloom but it was doing what it did every year at this time. Its translucent yellow flowers were highly fragrant and in various stages of blooming. I can’t really report what it is like to have this plant in the garden but after looking it up I will have to give it a chance. I found out it hardy to USDA Zone 6 and grows to 12 to 15 feet tall. It was planted in a protected location at Wave Hill and I will probably do the same with mine. The only negative thing my research turned up is that it can sometimes take several years to bloom. Since I have learned that you really need to have patience in the garden that wouldn’t really bother me.

I will be featuring some of the plants that I saw at the gardens this week. This was a particularly pleasing combination of Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata), Inkberry (Ilex glabra) and although you can’t see it here a low-growing gray Juniper. Winterberry has been featured on this blog before and if you want more information on it click the label for this post. This was the species, which has slightly smaller berries that are spaced a little further apart than most of the cultivars. The species can be variable though.

Yesterday I also went to get shoes. Not that remarkable for most people but when you wear size 16 EE it is always an adventure and sometimes a nightmare. I had heard of a shoe store that was carrying sizes like that and I walked in and quickly scored three pairs at 30% off. Oh happy joy! If I could find a clothing store like that I would be really happy.

Thankfully the snowstorm only dropped 4 inches instead of the forecast 15. The weatherman can be wrong like that every time as far as I am concerned.