Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tatarian Aster

Tatarian Aster
Aster tataricus 'Jin-dai'
(ASS-ter) (tat-TAR-ee-kus)
Synonyms: Tatarian Daisy, Tartarian Aster

If you don’t like big and somewhat coarse perennials this plant is probably not for you. Having grown both the species and this cultivar I have to say that 'Jin-dai' is superior in almost every way. It is shorter at 3 to 4 feet, compared to the 8 feet tall of the species and more compact and classy looking. Tatarian Aster is a great plant for the back of the border as its large green foliage provides a good backdrop to earlier blooming perennials and when it finally starts blooming very late (later than many species of Aster). It provides some nice color in the autumn season. It can also be used in the natural or woodland garden.

This perennial likes moist acidic soil and full sun although it can grow in part shade with reduced blooms and floppy stems. Since it is native to southern Siberia it is very hardy but likes good drainage during the winter. It can spread aggressively in the garden and precautions should be taken if that is not desired. This Aster is sterile and does not set seed so seedlings aren’t a problem.

Since it is almost the weekend here is a really big beer from the Big E. As good as this looked it was 10 am when this picture was taken so we didn’t sample any.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis Orchid
Phalaenopsis “Yellow Haze’
Synonyms: ‘Amber Rain’, Moth Orchid

This Orchid stumped Google as a cultivar of Phalaenopsis, which doesn’t happen too often. With 50 species in this genus and the ability to hybridize easily that isn’t really surprising. It was blooming in the greenhouse at Planting Fields amongst their great Orchid collection.

Phalaenopsis Orchids are generally easy to grow. They like temperature that range from 85 degrees F to about 60 degrees F. They like frequent watering without being soggy. After the Spring starts they are heavy feeders and can be feed with a dilute mixture a once a week. Towards the end of Fall it is best to cut that down to once a month. Phals are considered low-light Orchids and don’t like a lot of strong sunlight (that can burn the foliage).

I am having problems logging into blogger to comment on other blogs, which is weird since it allows me post. I haven’t figured that one out yet.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Formal Decorative Dahlia

Formal Decorative Dahlia
Dahlia ‘Hy Sockeye’

After having some business in Long Island yesterday I scooted over to Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. They were having the annual Dahlia show but it opened really late and I couldn’t stick around for that. I was a little like the kid at the candy store with my face pasted against the glass looking at the flowers. Lucky for me the Paul Callahan Dahlia Garden is adjacent to the show so I snapped a couple quick pictures including this black and white macro of ‘Hy Sockeye’. It was a little bit of a relief to see that the Dahlias in the garden weren’t up to the usual standard as I found the same thing in my gardens.

Too bad there wasn’t a tag on this Dahlia as it was my favorite. Not the biggest flower (4-5 inches across) but stunning in color and detail. The Dahlia flowers with the different colored tips always catch me eye and I thought this one was exceptional.

Here is a bonus flower since it is Sunday. See more flowers from all over the world at Today’s Flowers .

Pink Canna Lily
Canna x generalis
(KAN-uh) (jen-er-RAY-liss)

This flower was blooming outside the greenhouse at Planting Fields. The color was a little washed out probably from the hot location. Pink is not the most usual color for Cannas and it was nice to see it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Indian Corn

Indian Corn
Zea mays indurate
Synonyms: calico corn, flint corn

Fall is here with the arrival of Indian Corn. This is an open-pollinated type of corn and each kernel may have different genes and colors then its neighboring ones. It also has very low moisture content, which protects it from freezing more than standard corn.

The highlight yesterday as being able to handle this authenticate 1967 Jimi Hendrix Fender Stratocaster at the Big E. There was a picture of him playing it at the exhibit. Conservative value 100,000 to $200,000 US dollars.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Red-Leaf Hibiscus

Red-Leaf Hibiscus
Hibiscus acetosella
(hi-BIS-kus) (a-kee-TOE-sell-uh)
Synonyms: False Roselle, African Rose Mallow

You can imagine my surprise upon coming upon this plant while hiking the wilds of central Maui last winter. It was growing as a wildflower but is actually native to central and eastern Africa. So it was a long way from home but since it grows easily from seed it was probably an escapee from a garden. The leaves on this plant seem to be tasty to insects like most of the 200 other species of Hibiscus. That is too bad as the foliage is the most dramatic part of Red-Leaf Hibiscus, although the flowers are a nice shade of red.

Red-Leaf Hibiscus is a tall plant that is tender in northern zones. It can grow so fast that it will flop or spilt so it sometimes requires the extra work of staking, which is well worth the effect it can produce in the garden.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reed Stem Orchid

Reed Stem Orchid
Epidendrum cv.
Synonyms: Star Orchid, Crucifix Orchid

I am not sure of the name of this Reed Orchid as it was growing at someone’s house but it is a nice cultivar and seemed happy to be outside for the summer.

Yesterday was a music day as I rushed home to catch Selena Gomez’s live stream concert broadcast from NYC. I think it crashed part way through the show. What were they expecting as Selena has almost 9 million Facebook friends? At night someone invited me to see Big Head Todd and the Monsters at our local concert venue, The Ridgefield Playhouse. Not knowing what to expect the band was quite good and I had a good time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

White Chrysanthemum

White Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum morifolium ‘Aspen White’
(kris-AN-the-mum) (mor-ee-FOH-lee-um)

Monday, September 20, 2010



After doing some housekeeping on my hard drives and writing some back up DVDs I found this picture of a Columbine taken in May of 2008. It isn’t too often you get such a nicely colored seedling. The subtle color on this flower is appealing to me.

Most Columbines in the my garden tend to last only a couple of years before dying off and I am tending to classify them more as a biennial than perennial. The seedlings do continue on in the area and I have made a point of distributing the seed in a little bit larger area then what naturally occurs. This photo was taken with a Nikon Coolpix 5400 camera. It is a nice camera but has been sitting idle on the shelf for quite a while now.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sugar Maple Fall Foliage

Sugar Maple
Acer saccharum
(AY-ser) (SAK-er-um)

The Sugar maples are already starting to color up here in Southern Connecticut and it's a little early but it is probably from all the stress the trees had this summer. Probably one of the most beautiful sights in our forest the Sugar Maples often turn orange, red and yellow on the same tree. They are strong hardy trees that can grow up to 100 feet tall but 70 to 80 feet is more common. This tree is commercially viable for both its sap (Maple Syrup) and timber. I am not going to worry too much about the timing of its fall foliage and just enjoy it while we have it.

Shrub Rose
Rosa 'Midnight Blue'
Synonym: WEKfabpur

Since it is Today’s Flowers here is a nice dark shrub rose. It really should be called ‘Midnight Purple’ and I like how the late season flowers on this rose have a darker and richer color than the flowers during the spring and summer. It does have a nice strong fragrance anytime the flowers are out.

Here is a bonus flower since it is Sunday. See more flowers from all over the world at Today’s Flowers .

False Autumn Crocus
Colchicum speciosum
(KOHL-chik-um) (spee-see-OH-sum)
Synonyms: Showy Colchicum, Naked Ladies, Meadow Saffron

These flowers always pop up in the garden this time of year even though they get no special care and are growing under what has become a handsome grove of White pine (Pinus strobus). They are not used that much probably because they end up a little floppy like these ones. Even though they are referred to as Crocus they are not. They have their own genus of Colchicum and unlike Crocus all parts of the plant are considered toxic. There are now several garden developed cultivars available to gardeners, which feature double flowers and some color variations.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Garden Mum

Garden Mum

This photo is a sign of things to come. This leftover (from last year) mum was starting to bloom in Greenwich. Last year the ‘hardy’ mums were really hardy and they were about 50 that survived the winter. I am not sure why but think it was a combination of the varieties and the weather. After we saw that they were sprouting in the spring the plants were moved to the perennial border where they have been pinched several times during the season. While they haven’t formed the perfect mum like you buy at the nursery the plants have a nice natural form more like a perennial. That makes them fit in the border nicely. I will certainly post some photos of them when in full bloom.

Last night we received some much needed rain. Not all that much but it was refreshing and takes the edge of worrying about watering for a couple of days. It has been the hottest and driest summer I can remember.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Monte Carlo Red Daylily

Hemerocallis 'Monte Carlo Red'

This Daylily was blooming in the daylily Collection at the NYBG earlier this year. Seeing the collection in full bloom was probably the height of my botanical summer this year. Very impressive in both size and scope. Our Daylilies did well this year but only a few rebloomed. I am not sure why that was but it was a little bit of a disappointment.

We have been renovating a lot of the gardens at the Estate this summer. It has been a difficult job, as you have to tip toe around the stuff you want to save and still use a bold stroke to get the desired effect. We would have done a lot more transplanting if the weather had been the least bit cooperative. I was still able to get away with transplanting a few items and they have all lived so far. I have come to the conclusion that even the most carefully planned and maintained garden needs to have some booster work in 10 to 15 years. It really can’t look its best without it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Very Early Belgian Chrysanthemum

Very Early Belgian Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum ‘Allegra Yellow’
(chri-san' thah-mum)

This was the first named mum I have seen blooming this season. It is a new cultivar and it was living up to its early blooming habit as these pictures were taken about 2 weeks ago. I will be happily shopping for some mums this week to replace some of the worn out annuals that didn’t like our Texas style summer.

Here is a shot of some of the mums lined up at the local nursery Valley view Greenhouses. They also had some Poinsettias started, which was a little off putting. I was glad to see that they were growing a lot of mums. It goes against a lot of the growers around here whose growing seemed to be so tentative this year. Its nice to know there is a place to get color if you need it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Black Orchid

Black Orchid
Coelogyne pandurata
(koh-el-LAW-jin-ee) (pand-yoor-RAY-tuh)

This Orchid is native to the island of Borneo where it grows as an epiphyte in the damp woodlands at lower elevations. It was discovered in the 1850’s and has charmed collectors since then. It likes to grow under Cattleya Orchid conditions with bright light, warm winters, high humidity and moisture. It really has a striking appearance with thelime green and black mixing well together on the fragrant flowers. This photo was shot indoors at a local wholesale Orchid Nursery. The price was $115 US for an 8-inch pot with a couple of big flower spikes on it and that was the wholesale price.

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

As a bonus for Flowers from Today here is a nice Peach colored Waterlily spotted this summer.

Hardy Waterlily
Nymphaea 'Peach Glow'

This very hardy Waterlily has a very nice color. One nice thing I noticed was the flowers were held a few inches above the water.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stinky Squid

Stinky Squid
Pseudocolus fusiformis
Synonyms: Stinkhorn Mushroom

We are lucky to have a small patch of Stinky Squid Mushrooms growing in the garden this year. Originally I thought these were called Lobster Claw Fungus but found out recently that they were Stinky Squid (lobster sounds better doesn’t it?) This fungus is widely dispersed in areas of Southeast Asia, Australia, and the United States. It is quite often found growing on garden mulch, as is the case with this specimen. I am sure glad I didn’t touch it, as that black stuff (gleba) is the stinky part. These mushrooms are not considered poisonous but are not recommended for consumption, even if you could get by the smell. Remember the old saying “All mushrooms are edible - once”.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Double Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon
Hibiscus syriacus
(hi-BIS-kus) (seer-ee-AK-us)

The Rose of Sharon has bloomed their heads off again this year. It’s funny that when we installed the estate’s collection of Rose of Sharon this was my least favorite variety. Now 12 years later this one has really grown on me. The plant itself is not too attractive as it s growing tall and skinny. Several hard prunings have helped but out of flower it is not the greatest looking plant. I have begun to appreciate the amount of petals and the color of the flowers. Each one appears to be a little different and that adds to the overall beauty.

Is it too much to ask for a little rain to help the unirrigated areas look a little better? Even the gardens that have sprinklers are suffering a little bit now. It has to be the least lush looking summer I can remember. With plants and nature being what they are some of the plants seem to be enjoying the arid conditions.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Red Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle
Lagerstroemia ' Dynamite'

When this was planted I was under the impression that it was a dwarf plant. In the last couple of years it has grown to about 15 feet tall and that was after getting the height pruned a couple of times to keep the shape looking right, even though top pruning Crepe Myrtles is not recommended. Research has now revealed that this cultivar gets up to 20 feet tall, which is much bigger than originally thought but by a stroke of luck it has enough room to get that big.

It has an amazing shade of red in the flowers. A hard to ignore shade of red. ‘Dynamite’ is considered the hardiest of the Lagerstroemias and it hasn’t failed to bloom in lower Westchester County, New York in the last five seasons. ‘Dynamite’ is also a long blooming shrub/tree and while the advertising is promoting a 120 days of bloom I haven’t seen that yet. Another piece of hype is that the flowers bloom redder each year and I haven’t noticed that either. This one has kept about the same color each year.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Yellow Jacobinia

Yellow Jacobinia
Justicia aurea
(jus-TEE-see-ah) (AW-re-uh)

As seen on the big Island of Hawaii last February.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Compact Shasta Daisy

Compact Shasta Daisy
Leucanthemum x superbum 'Silver Princess'
(lew-KANTH-ih-mum) (soo-PER-bum)
Synonym: Chrysanthemum x superbum

This compact Shasta is prolific bloomer. You could probably call it a dwarf as it only gets to about 12-18 inches tall and just has a smaller and more compact habit than most of the Shasta cultivars. The good news is the flower size is similar to most at about 3 inches across.

Happy Labor Day to the American readers here. The unofficial end of summer hopefully will mean lower temperatures and more even precipitation.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Rhapsody in Blue Shrub Rose

Rhapsody in Blue Shrub Rose
Synonyms: FRAntasia

This is one of the ‘new’ roses we got for the garden this year and it has been a steady and reliable performer. Despite the warnings that it is susceptible to black spot and doesn’t like blooming in the heat ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ was covered with flowers when we were tending to the big rose garden on Friday. I like how there are several different shades of purple on the plant at once (this was one of the darker flowers).

‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is the first rose featured on this site bred by British amateur rose breeder Frank R. Cowlishaw. It was introduced in the UK in 2000 but took seven years to make it to the United States when it was introduced by Weeks Roses. It has a nice scent and a petal count of 16, although some of our flowers seem to have less than that.

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

Bonus flower for today is:

Indian Pink
Spigelia marilandica
(spy-GEEL-ee-ah) (mar-i-LAND-ih-ka)
Synonyms: Woodland Pinkroot

It took me years to identify this plant. It had been growing in a semi-shady border that I have been taking care of. It is a true perennial in Connecticut’s climate and has always generated “what is that flower?” type of comments when in bloom. It usually blooms in early summer and sometimes gets a few flowers late in the season. It is a native wildflower in the Mid-Atlantic and southern regions of the US. It really has been a joy to have in the garden.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Pink Cardinal Flower

Pink Cardinal Flower
Lobelia cardinalis

This variation on the traditional red Cardinal Flower was blooming at a local nursery. It was quite beautiful and interesting because I didn’t remember seeing the pink type before. It probably had a name for the variety but I didn’t record it and research shows there are several pink types available now.

Cardinal Flowers are useful in the border and around the pond as they can tolerate quite wet conditions. They like a rich soil but can grow in lean soil if enough moisture is present. They are generally short lived only lasting 1 to 3 years but if the conditions are right will self-seed. If you mulch before winter that can sometimes help extend their lives. This flower is very good at attracting Hummingbirds and is a must for Hummingbird gardens.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dwarf Bleeding Heart

Dwarf Bleeding Heart
Dicentra 'Ivory Hearts'

This little Bleeding Heart has been blooming on and off most of the season. Along with the dwarf pink flowered ‘King of Hearts’ it has been forming a nice carpet of groundcover in almost full sun. It only grows to about 4 inches tall with finely cut ferny foliage and the flower stalk grows to about 12 inches tall. It kind of revolutionized growing of Bleeding Hearts for me. One thing to be aware of is these plants cost about twice what the species does.

Thankfully it looks like Hurricane Earl is going to miss our area. It was a close call but the storm is going to stay off shore. Hopefully we get some rain without the damaging winds and storm surge. After a lot of worry it appears to be a non-event here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

False Forget-Me-Not

Variegated Siberian Bugloss
Brunnera macrophylla 'Hadspen Cream'
(BROO-ner-uh) (mak-roh-FIL-uh)
Synonyms: False Forget-Me-Not

This is from the spring. 'Hadspen Cream' combines two things that I love, blue flowers and variegated leaves. It puts on quite a nice show in the early season. It can look a little ratty towards mid-summer but cutting it back usually rewards the gardener with a flush of nice new leaves. Since it likes shade it is a good candidate for a shady border or even the woodland garden. It does seem to want adequate moisture or the leaves can scorch. Since this plant is native to Siberia it is quite cold hardy (USDA Zone 3). It can be a little hard to get at the nursery and is even a little rare but the popularity is increasing, probably because of its uniqueness and beauty.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Persian Buttercup

Persian Buttercup
Ranunculus asiaticus
(ra-NUN-ku-lus) (a-see-AT-ee-kus)
Synonyms: Turban Buttercup, Persian Crowfoot

Wordless Wednesday