Sunday, November 30, 2008

Aristolochia peruviana - Rare Flower

Aristolochia peruviana
(a-ris-toh-LOH-kee-uh) (per-u-vee-AN-uh)

This was a very unusual flowering vine. The colors were outstanding and the vine itself was not rampant like some Aristolochia can be. This plant had a much more delicate appearance. There many species of Aristolochia and this page is good photo reference for them: Aristolochia Species Photos.

You can see some of them are pretty outrageous. This was the first year I have grown the more common Giant Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia gigantea) and it was a lot of fun to have in the garden. It bloomed off and on all season with minimal care. Here is a link to some general cultural practices for Aristolochia

Right before the first frost we wrenched the Dutchman's Pipe out its pot and put in the greenhouse. It was forgotten (oops) for a couple of weeks but it survived and I potted it up on Friday. We are also growing the hardy Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia durior, but the flowers are much less showy.

Most catalogs describe Aristolochia peruviana (didn’t see a common name) as rare and unusual. This picture was shot at Wave Hill in the Bronx. It was on the ‘wet’ side of the Conservatory. The building has a dry wing where the Cactus and Succulent Collection are, a middle room that a lot of different seasonal flowering plants are featured and a humid side. Although a little small by normal Conservatory standards they make it up in the plants they do have, It is a wonderful collection of plants.

This is pretty much what the season looks like around here only this picture has more color.

For the first time I am participating in
Today’s Flowers . It starts at 19:00 GMT on Sunday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trigeneric Orchid Hybrid

Trigeneric Orchid Hybrid
Brassolaeliocattleya g. Orange GloryEmpress

Not sure where this Orchid picture is from but it looked sunny and bright so I decided to use it. Wikipedia defines Brassolaeliocattleya as one of the showiest Orchid hybrids. It is a hybrid between Brassavola, Cattleya and Laelia parents. It is often abbreviated as Blc. They are prized for its showy labellum, which I had to look up and found this definition:

The labellum (or Lip) is part of an Orchid, Canna or other less known flower that serves to attract insects that pollinate the flower, and acts as a landing platform for those insects. The labellum is a modified petal and can be distinguished from the other petals and from the sepals by its large size and often, irregular shape. It is not unusual for the other two petals of an orchid flower to look like the sepals, so that the labellum stands out as distinct.

From Wikipedia

The Holidays are on! There is much to be done and since it is a nice day I have to get a lot of stuff done. My wife has agreed to buy me camera for Christmas. Oh joy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pink Enchanted Forest - Skywatch Friday

Pink Enchanted Forest
Skywatch Friday
Cornus florida var. rubra
(KOR-nus) (FLOR-ih-duh)

Today’s Skywatch post is from Greenwich, Connecticut. We were laughingly referring to this garden as the Pink Enchanted Forest. The whole backyard is ringed by Pink Dogwood and at the peak of the bloom there was kind of a pink tinge to the garden, more like a glow. It was my first year taking care of the garden and I must admit these trees floored me with their beauty. One thing was the Dogwoods, and many other flowering trees, had an extended bloom period this year. These dogwood flowers went to pink and almost white before falling off. The pictures were taken on May 1st.

In the sunny areas it was just a wall of color. The trees are about 12 by 8 feet and have been pruned well. They are relativity new having been planted about 5 years ago. Normally I wouldn’t post this picture since it is a litle over saturated and underexposed but I wanted to try and show the color. There are about 30 more Pink Dogwood trees in the yard.

Pink Dogwood is one of my favorite flowering trees. It is probably its ability to look really beautiful without being overwhelming. The stature seems to fit it perfectly and the fall color and winter outline are a couple more reasons to have it in the garden. Overall I think it as a classy tree.

To see hundreds of other sky photos from around the world check
Skywatch Friday Main Page

Pink Flowering Dogwood Berries

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

These berries are from a Pink Flowering Dogwood and I am not sure if there is any difference between them and a White Dogwood’s berries. The berries don’t seem to last too long on my trees. The birds tend to eat them up quick.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans out there and to every one else out there that wants to give thanks for something. This year has had its up and downs but again I find myself to be thankful. I am on my way to Simsbury, Connecticut for a family meal. Some friends will be there also. Thanksgiving usually means to me the final stretch of our season at work. So starting tomorrow we are going to try and finish up everything including putting some of the big pots indoors, planting some stray plants and bulbs, and giving everything a final cleanup.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Red Maple Leaves – Ruby Tuesday

Red Maple Leaves – Ruby Tuesday
Acer rubrum
(AY-ser) (ROO-brum)
Synonyms: red swamp maple, swamp maple, Carolina red maple, water maple, Scarlet Maple

These are probably my favorite for fall color around here. I am guessing this is the cultivar ‘October Glory’ since it colored so late and so well. This year the Maples were stupendous with the Sugar Maples being the most outstanding. The yellow background for this picture was provided by a Norway Maple (Acer platanoides).

There was a post on this site on the fall color of Acer rubrum here two years ago. There is a little more information on the trees there. They are a nice shade tree that usually grows fast and straight.

This picture was a Red Maple leaf and a Chrysanthemum that was in my front yard. There is a 75 foot tall Swamp Maple in the front yard that I am worried may eventually crush the house. I need to climb up there and cable it but keep putting it off. It really cools the house during the summer.

More Ruby Tuesday at Work of the Poet
It starts late Monday on EST time.

Sunday, November 23, 2008



This was one of the largest Aster plants I have seen. It was a beautiful color. The plant looked blue from the distance and a little more lavender as you got close. These were taken in Newtown, Connecticut. There is a beautiful garden at the police station but I can’t seem to find out the name of it. The children’s garden is enchanting and there is also a small vegetable plot. The garden has a good selection of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. It looked very well maintained when I was there.

Inside the potting shed at the garden they had stapled all the labels of the annuals and perennials they had planted. This is a great idea and I am definitely going to do it next year. It might have to be adapted to poster board but it should help me remember the varieties, which is sometimes difficult to do. Putting the labels in the ground is not very effective and one year we used an envelope to save them but this will be better.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Longwood Orchids

Longwood Orchids

While rummaging around in my ‘old’ pictures I found a couple from the Orchid Room at Longwood Gardens. We are trying to organize a trip to the gardens for the Christmas display. Last year foul weather messed up our plans. These pictures, which don’t have any cultivar information, were shot with the kit lens from the D70s. The camera came with a AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED lens. Let’s try and break that down a little (don’t want to get too technical):

AF-S means the lens has a built in auto focus motor.

DX lens are made for the smaller image area of the sensors on DSLR cameras. It may not cover the whole area of a 35mm film camera. There are a few full frame DSLRs but they are at the high end of the price scale.

Zoom is just that. The lens covers multiple focal lengths and can be adjusted to suit the composition of the picture. This is opposed to ‘prime’ lens, which only has a fixed focal length.

Nikkor is Nikon’s brand designation for the lenses it produces.

18-70mm is the zoom range. On my D70s, since it has cropped senor, it translates to approximately the equivalent to a 27 - 105 mm lens on a 35mm camera.

f/3.5-4.5G is the largest aperture the lens is capable of. Generally the smaller the number the better the low light performance of the lens will be. Here is a definition of aperture from . The 3.5 number is the largest aperture at 18mm and the 4.5 is at 70mm. G means the lens does not have an aperture ring and that means changing the aperture must done with the command dial on the camera.

IF stands for Internal focusing, which means the lens doesn’t expand or contract when focusing. This is standard on most modern lenses.

ED means Extra low Dispersion and is related to the manufacturing process of the glass used in the lens. ED glass is generally considered better to help prevent chromatic aberration. All ED lenses have a gold band around the barrel.

These are just some of the designations that Nikon uses for its lenses. Other companies use their own systems to describe their products. In general they will be describing the same things. The main point when I am shopping for lens is whether or not the lens is compatible with my camera, the focal length and the maximum aperture size.

The 18-70mm is a great kit lens but I don’t think I would buy it separately. The lack of a macro function is a real downer but overall it is well built and able to take some beautiful pictures.

Well anyway I hope you enjoy the orchids I think they are fairly unusual.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Willow-leaved Sunflower

Willow-leaved Sunflower
Helianthus salicifolius
(hee-lee-AN-thus) (sal-iss-ih-FOH-lee-us)

This picture was taken in October of 2005. It turned up while I was trying to organize some of the photos on my hard drive. The same patch of Willow-leaved Sunflower bloomed beautifully this year too. It is an easy perennial plant to grow and we haven’t done anything to it other than taking a few small pieces off the side to spread out the patch a little bit. You don’t really notice this plant in the garden until it starts blooming. That is really late in the season here in Connecticut and then it really shines. It flowers for quite a long time and can even take a few frosts. Next year I am going to plant it with another long lasting perennial, Aster frikartii.

It has been really cold for this time of year the last couple of days. Kind of like mid to late December. In a few of the more southern gardens that I take care of there was still a few annuals and late perennials blooming and looking good. Not anymore! We still have a lot of things to do so I hope it warms up a little bit next week.

Due to blog scraping by unauthorized sites the feed for this site is again going to the short version.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dwarf Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hamelin'
(pen-ih-SEE-tum) (al-oh-pek-yur-OH-id-eez)
Synonym: 'Hameln'

Pennisetum is a ‘go-to’ genus for our gardens. One or more of the cultivars usually finds a way into the design. 'Hamelin' is nice since it stays somewhat smaller than species. If you want a Fountain Grass that is really small try ‘Little Bunny’ but I have found they can get a little lost amongst the other plants. We tried a new Oriental Fountain Grass from Sunny Border Nurseries called 'Karley Rose' (Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose') and that did well but I want to see what it does after the winter and next season. ‘Moudry’ is also another nice cultivar of alopecuroides, it gets black seed heads which are interesting. The fact that Fountain Grass is deer resistant is also another big plus for growing it.

One thing I have noticed about 'Hamelin' is that it is sometimes mismarked at the nursery. This maybe a local phenomena but it has happened to me a couple of times.

Here is a flower picture. It is another of the NYBG Series of Korean Chrysanthemums. The color is perfect for fall, I think.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shimmer Surprise Poinsettia

Euphorbia pulcherrima 'Shimmer Surprise'
(yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (pul-KAIR-ih-muh)
Ruby Tuesday

I was going to post a Red Crabapple for Ruby Tuesday but this is more fun. A small block of ‘Shimmer Surprise’ was nestled in the ocean of beautiful Poinsettias growing at the local wholsesale greenhouse, Valley View .

My spirits couldn’t help but be lifted when I went to the greenhouse and saw all the color. The plants are gorgeous and the prices are good too. We usually end up buying ten 8 inch Poinsettias and a couple of the 14 inch pots.

This Poinsettia was living up to it name. The bract color (remember it is not the flower) is considered the ‘Jingle Bell’ novelty type but the white and pink added more to it than just ‘Jingle Bells’. Looking over the big block of plants you could see everyone was different, which was almost a little hard to take in. This Poinsettia is probably not for everyone but to me it was bold and innovative.

Here is a link to a page of Poinsettia cultivars. There are many more than this but I noticed a lot of the popular ones here. There is some more information on ‘Shimmer Surprise’ in the novelty section.

Frazier’s Greenhouse/Oneonta, NY

Here is another site with a lot of Poinsettia cultivars:
Alabama Cooperative Extension/Chazz Hesselein

More Ruby Tuesday at Work of the Poet

Reblooming Tall Bearded Iris

Reblooming Tall Bearded Iris
Iris 'Bountiful Harvest'

This Iris was blooming at the NYBG last week. It even had several stems of flowers. Seeing this flower was really nice in the fall garden, the blue and white mixed well with the green grass and the autumn colors.

About a week later I saw this Tall Bearded Iris in Sonoma. I wish the picture of it mixed with the yellow roses came out. It sounds a bit like a strange combination but it was really beautiful. I haven’t see many of these Irises this color. After briefly trying to look up which cultivar it is I gave up. There were too many that were close.

Juno is feeling much better but she is still going to the vet.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blue Anise Sage - Argentine Skies

Blue Anise Sage
Salvia guaranitica 'Argentine Skies'
(SAL-vee-uh) (gwar-uh-NYE-tik-uh)
Synonym: Brazilian Sage, ‘Argentina Skies’

This Salvia has a unique sky blue color that mixes well with pastel colors in the garden. It seems slightly shorter than ‘Black and Blue’ and a little less dramatic. Several sources have listed the hardiness zone as USDA 6 but I am wondering if that is correct. If I had known this earlier I would have left a few test ‘Black and BlueSalvia in the ground instead of ripping them all out last week. Speaking of ripping up the Salvia it has a peculiar root system that almost looked like tubers. I would to hear from anybody that has over wintered it that far north.

Salvia is the largest genus in the mint family (Lamiaceae), there are about 900 species in the genus. I keep seeing new ones and it seems to be an easy to grow, carefree genus to work with. ‘Black and Blue’ really brings in the hummingbirds. I want to try ‘Purple Splendor’ next year. I have never seen it but it sounds nice :lol:

This is some fall color of an unknown Hosta cultivar. Hosta gets great fall color (if the deer or rabbits let it) that is quite persistent.

Juno is pretty sick. We have had her up to the doctors several times but her GI track is not performing well. Needless to say this has upset our little household. We are taking her on Monday back to the doctor and I hope they can do something. We have been tending our vet’s garden, which is quite beautiful, in exchange for services, and it has worked out well for both parties.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pacific Chrysanthemum

Pacific Chrysanthemum
Ajania pacifica
(a-JAN-ee-uh) (pa-SIF-ik-uh)
Synonyms: Silver and Gold Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum pacificum, Leucanthemum pacificum

This plant has been growing at the Estate for many years. It has never really flowered so I was happy to see what the flowers actually look like. They apparently need a very long season to open up and the Connecticut season just isn’t long enough. This plant is a great foliage accent plant and it slowly expands to about 1 foot tall and about 4 feet wide. You can keep them smaller with early summer pinching. The white margins on the leaves are really nice as is the overall form and appearance of the plant.

This is what the plant usually finish the season with in Connecticut. Just buds.

Ajania, which is a new name on me, likes less than fertile soil and good drainage. Mine are growing in kind of a rocky, sandy area and they seem to love it. This particular species is from Japan is one of about 30 that make up the genus. They are several cultivars available now including ‘Pink Ice’ and Yellow Splash’.

We are expecting 1 to 2 inches of rain here today so it is going to be a good day to stay inside and go through some of the camera memory cards that are sitting on my desk. It is really suppose to get cold next week so that will be a farewell to some of the few annuals and mums that have been hanging on.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine

Ornamental Sweet Potato
Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita'
Synonyms: Sweet Potato Vine, Marguerite
(ip-oh-MEE-a) (bat-TAT-as)

This plant is a good one for containers. It has been getting overused a little now and it has popping everywhere. From my experience it is an excellent container plant for Connecticut. This is the first year that I noticed it used a lot as a bedding plant. You can see from the bottom photo that it works quite well. They planted some black leaved Sweet Potato Vine as well but that didn’t get as big. The close up picture is from the big patch in the second photo.

I have really been trying some foliage shots this year and not just fall color. If you catch the light right a foliage picture can be as beautiful as a flower picture. There might be a foliage week during the winter on this site. I could probably get together enough pictures that were taken over the year to do that.

Growing Sweet Potato is generally easy although there seems to be a few insects that like it. The darker leaved ones don’t seem to take as much care to look good as the lighter ones. My guess is that there will be more and more cultivars coming out.

This is a picture of one of the Chrysanthemums we got for the Estate this year. It was really beautiful and most fragrant I have ever smelled. A really fresh flower smell not like regular mums. This is just one of the dozens of mums I took pictures of this fall. There are some extra pictures so there will be a few more mums here soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hardy Blue Plumbago

Hardy Blue Plumbago
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
(ser-uh-toh-STIG-muh) (plum-bah-gih-NOY-deez)
Synonym: Leadwort

This plant is one of my favorite groundcovers. The flower color is fantastic, an almost perfect shade of blue. It is also gets a wonderful red fall color and at this time of year they overlap. My experience cultivating Ceratostigma hasn’t been stellar. It hasn’t been very bad but it hasn’t really flourished. The patches of Leadwort I saw in California were growing in some pretty tough conditions. The soil didn’t look great and it was really dry. I will have to try some with those conditions in the garden. Looking back I was probably over watering my Leadwort.

These are pictures from Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma. The gardens were featured a couple of posts ago and these are some of the things the galleries had for sale. There are about 4 or 5 stores that sell a variety of artwork and garden ornaments. The doors in this picture were for sale and if I were outfitting a high-end house and garden in Sonoma this is where I would shop. These were real doors but you could use them as wall panels, too. That would look great as a backdrop to a terrace or an entrance to a courtyard.

These cows were colorful and pretty whimsical. That is one thing I like about California gardens, people aren’t afraid to add some fun elements to the garden. I liked the pink one's hair. There is a little something for everyone at Cornerstone. Everything from these pigs up to $45K sculptures. The little café is nice and has some unusual items.

While we were in California we met up with a friend from Sacramento at the Napa Valley Wine Train. This was the only real shot I got of the ride. It was a nice experience and we had a lot of fun but I would like to try it when the days are a little longer. The train is very plush and the food and wine was great.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tomato Flowers from Cornerstone Gardens

Lycopersicon lycopersicum

(ly-koh-PER-see-kon) (ly-koh-PER-see-kum)

This going to be a least a two part post of my visit to Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California. My first visit to the garden was in late 2005 and it has come a long way in getting established since then. There were several more galleries and gardens open on my recent visit. Since there is a definite agricultural feel to some of the gardens I thought I would start out with this Tomato flower. I don’t remember knowing which genus Tomato was in. Wikipedia’s Tomato page revealed that it is Lycopersicon. It also had a lot of other information about Tomatoes including that “the heaviest tomato ever was one of 3.51 kg (7 lb 12 oz), of the cultivar 'Delicious', grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986.

Cornerstone Gardens is a group of about 20 different small garden galleries. Each garden has a different designer but about the same amount of space. The brochure says “this unique property creates a cultural and creative respite for the community which represents the true connection between art, architecture and nature.” That is true and a good description. This is the first (and I think only) gallery style garden display in the United States. It is designed with the International Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire, France in mind.

There are a lot of opportunities to nice get nice pictures. Since we had my little nephew with us I didn’t stay as long as I would have by myself. A couple or three hours could easily be spent between the gardens and the stores.

The gardens are right on CA 121 just before you get to Sonoma and are open from 10 am to 4 pm.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Torch Lily

Torch Lily
Kniphofia uvaria
(nip-HOFF-ee-uh) (oo-VAR-ee-uh)
Synonyms: Red Hot Poker, Tritoma

These were my favorite flowers I photographed while in California. Not because they are the most beautiful or the most technically proficient but more of the location and how I came upon them. While driving around, a little lost, over Sonoma Mountain I came to a sharp downhill curve and there they were. A nice little stand of Kniphofia in the middle of nowhere. The early morning sunshine was illuminating them nicely.

The genus Kniphofia is named for the German Professor of Medicine and botanist at Erfurt University, Johann Hieronymus Kniphof (1704-1763). This flower has been featured on this site before so if you’re interested click the label at the bottom of this post.

Definitely going to try and get a few pictures today. I can’t really decide where to go but will figure out something once I start driving.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Iceberg Floribunda Rose

Iceberg Floribunda Rose

This rose should be called the Official Rose of Sonoma County as it was planted everywhere. It was blooming heavily almost every time I saw it. There were climbing Iceberg roses and a lot of Iceberg rose trees. In general the rose trees I saw were so much better than the ones that grow around here. Rose culture seemed a little easier as there was hardly any disease and insects feasting on the roses. I am not sure why that it is but many of the roses were not on a spray program and yet the foliage and flowers were beautiful.

Synonyms: Schneewittchen, KORbin, Fée des Neiges
Breeder: Reimer Kordes, 1958
Fragrance: Mild
Petal Count: 25 to 30
Parentage: 'Robin Hood' (hybrid musk, Pemberton 1927) × 'Virgo'
Awards: Royal National Rose Society (RNRS) Gold Medal. 1958

What trip to the Sonoma Valley would be complete without a picture of some wine grapes? Not sure which variety these are.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Golden Spike Winter Hazel

Golden Spike Winter Hazel
Corylopsis spicata 'Golden Spring'
(kor-uh-LOP-sis) (spi-KAH-tuh)

This plant's fall color is amazing to me. It gets kind of a golden-pink hue to it and when the sun is shining on it the leaves really light up. It is a new cultivar of Corylopsis and it cost an arm and a leg. It gets up to 6 to 8 feet tall but mine is about a foot tall and had maybe 12 leaves this year. I may have missed the flowers this year if it had any as it blooms very early.

I had my camera at work the other day and snapped these pictures of this very nice Golden Barberry seedling. It is several years old now and I am debating if we should rip up the stones to transplant it to a better location. It truly grew in about a one-inch crack between the granite paving and the fieldstone wall. It really gets a great fall color and the summer color is bright, bright gold. I think it is worth saving. This year’s seedling roundup at the Estate produced a few nice items. Seedling day, and it is actually a couple of days, is where we go around and transplant all the plants that have seeded themselves. They have to be either out of place or something special to be moved. I got a couple of Viburnums, Dogwoods and Hydrangeas this year.

Here is a flower picture. This Korean Chrysanthemum is nice since it has some blush pink in the flowers. I notice that some of the white ones tend to turn a little pink when they have gone by but this one had the pink blush built in right from the start.