Saturday, December 31, 2011

Poinsettia Wreath

Poinsettia Wreath

This was probably one of the best uses of Poinsettias I have witnessed. A really amazing sight. At first I wanted to rush over and see how it was done but pulled back and was happy just to gaze on it. Its magical secret construction remained a mystery. Christmas wreaths have a long tradition steeped in history. Since they don’t have a beginning or an end they are considered eternal.

For my own personal experience I remember my parent’s nursery making several hundred wreaths per season. As a very young man I would make excursions out into the woods for things like bittersweet berries, pine cones and evergreen cuttings as early as October. I got a small piece of the action for my efforts. We would also buy boxes of Fir, Holly and Pine clippings and set up a kind of assembly line. All the wreaths were handmade and sold out each year.

Just to finish off the year with a flower here is a nice kind of perennial/wildflower. It is a very spirited little plant that is underused.

Roadside Toadflax

Linaria aeruginea 'Neon Lights'

(lin-AR-ee-uh) (air-oo-GIN-ee-uh)

This plant is nice for alpine and rock gardens. In the border it needs to be planted heavily and can then hold its own. ‘Neon Lights’ comes as a color mix although this patch had all the same color flowers. It likes full sun and has low water requirements. Upon close inspection the flowers look a lot like baby snapdragons.

Just a note to say Happy New Year to everyone visiting this blog. According to Blogger there were 351 posts here this year (the same as 2009) and I kind of felt guilty taking off the 14 days. This site should be going over one million page views in the upcoming year. What’s the old phrase, “If I had a dollar for every time……” . Thank you for your continued support.

Another fresh new year is here . . .

Another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear,

To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me

To live each day with zest . . .

To daily grow and try to be

My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity

Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs!”

William Arthur Ward

Friday, December 30, 2011

Spotted Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis Orchid

Phalaenopsis hybrid


Synonym: Moth Orchid

If you are going to grow spotted flowers you might as well get one like this. It was truly an eye-catcher when this one showed upon the for sale rack at the local nursery. It was a little too expensive for me so it went to another happy home. Phalaenopsis are among the most popular Orchids and in my opinion one of the easiest to grow at home. While the new hybrids seem more adapted to home cultivation and produce more and showier flowers the basic species is easy to have and get to flower. The trick is to try and reproduce some of the same conditions that the plants like in the wild.

Since it is getting towards the end of the year I have been cleaning up my office and doing some backing up. One of the extra hard drives in my older computer (yes, I use two) seems to have frozen up. Lucky almost everything on it was backed up so it is a minor irritation instead of a calamity.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lucetta Austin Rose

English Rose

Rosa 'Lucetta'


Synonyms: AUSemi, Austin Rose

It seems like it has been awhile since we had a rose photo here. The roses did pretty well despite the weather last season. It was difficult trying to keep them looking fresh with all the rain. The tropical storm in August really did some damage to the flowers and foliage but the plants themselves seem to snapback pretty good.

In the big rose garden we have been adding more and more Austin type English roses. 'Lucetta' has been a bit of a star in that department. My only complaint is the flowers fade to almost white after coming out with a little pink/apricot color. There seems to be either some misnaming going on or the flower color is a little variable.

The disease resistance and the habit of this rose are stellar (like most Austin roses). It was introduced in 1983 and can get quite large if left to its own devices Up to 10 feet tall but we maintain ours at about half that height.

Here are some particulars on 'Lucetta':

Type: Shrub. English Rose

Color: Blush pink fading to almost white

Fragrance: Mild

Petal Count: 9-16 petals. Semi-double.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris

Iris germanica

(EYE-ris) (jer-MAN-ih-kuh)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pink Glory of the Snow

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

Stella De Oro Daylily


Hemerocallis 'Stella De Oro'


Synonyms: ‘Stella d'Oro’

If someone asked me to name the most overused plant in the gardening world my answer would be 'Stella De Oro' Daylily. It is remarkable how it has appeared in so many landscapes over the years. Of course this leads to kind of dual situation. On one hand it wouldn’t be so popular if it wasn’t reliable and nice looking on the other hand it becomes a bit pariah for being so popular. To me it is okay with a nice warm flower color, small stature and ability to rebloom. There are just so many other nicer Daylilies to choose from but I imagine it often comes down to a question of supply (what the local nursery has). My friend was cracking me up by referring to this flower as a “ditch lily” instead of a daylily.

I hope everyone’s Christmas dreams came true yesterday. The gifts I received seemed to be a little more useful then in past years. The music store gave Karen the wrong guitar so I have to return it today. Hopefully they will still have the closeout model I wanted. Anyone that reads this blog knows I love pop princess Selena Gomez. She is just getting over a family tragedy and I wish her the best on that. I did score two Selena movies yesterday including the major release of Monte Carlo, which I think was originally going to star Nichole Kidman.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Red Fox Poinsettia


Euphorbia pulcherrima ‘Red Fox Premium Miro’

(yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (pul-KAIR-ih-muh)

Since it is Christmas Eve here is a shot of a nice Poinsettia. Not my favorite plant but nice to have around during the holiday. When I went to get a couple of ‘Points’ at the local nursery I couldn’t believe how many had been sold since the last visit. I wasn’t hopeful about snagging some nice ones but did find this nicely colored one. The cultivar name may not be correct it is more of a strain type of name.

No matter the name it is still brightening up the house and adding a little cheer to the house.

Like a lot of other families our celebration will be a little scaled back from previous years. The only thing we couldn’t scrimp on was our granddaughter’s presents. Nothing like seeing Christmas magic in a six year olds eye. She doesn’t understand about the economy and how work went this year so she will be getting her usual large haul of stuff. I hope all of your Christmas dreams come true. I can’t wait to start playing my new guitar but have figured out I need a new amplifier (oh no $$$ lol) but will have to continue with the one I have for awhile (like spring). Right now I am using a Line 6 Spider IV75.

It's a nice amp but overly complicated in my opinion. I sometimes wonder if the engineers and designers actually use the products they put out.

"Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl.

But it warmed more than your body.

It warmed your heart...filled it, too, with melody that would last forever."

Bess Streeter Aldrich (1881-1954), American author, 'Song of Years'.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mandevilla Vine


Mandevilla splendens

(man-de-VILL-uh) (SPLEN-denz)

Synonyms: M. boliviensis, Dipladenia

This staple of the tropical vines seems to get a few new varieties every year. We enjoyed the light pink on this one this year and it is still blooming in the greenhouse. The cultivar was not marked when it was purchased but is a nice one. The flowers seem to get a little pinker as the flowers age.

The naming on this plant seems to be a little mixed up. I will always call it Mandevilla. This Brazilian native used to be called Dipladenia but I believe that is no longer considered correct. To reach its full glory the plants need full sun and adequate moisture, although it will tolerate some dry spells when established. Since it is tropical we usually grow it in containers where it reaches up to 6 feet tall. It does need a little training and support to look neat but the work is minimal.

"A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines."

Frank Lloyd Wright

American Architect


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Orococo Begonia


Begonia 'Orococo'


This is a trailing/ scandent type of Begonia that is especially suited for hanging baskets. The textured green (with red highlights) leaves provide a nice backdrop to the delicate white flowers. It was introduced in 1984 and has been charming gardeners ever since.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Japanese White Birch Trunks

Japanese White Birch Trunks

Betula platyphylla 'Japonica'

(BET-yoo-luh) (plat-TY-fil-uh)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spiffy Daylily


Hemerocallis 'Spiffy'


This orangey-yellow Daylily is nice to have in the garden. It’s striking color and good habit combine to make it a standout in the Daylily border. Introduced in 1980 it has been stunning gardeners for 31 years. The Daylilies in our garden have been trying to grow a little during are recent warm spells. It hasn’t really been that warm but enough to have the Daylilies throw out a few more leaves. That is going to shut down as the temperature here is 15 degrees F (-9 C) this morning. A bit nippy to be sure but closer to our normal. Winter officially starts in 2 days and it seems like it is going to be a long one. I don’t like the cold but the shortness of the days is what really gets to me this time of year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Silver Vase Bromeliad

Urn Plant

Aechmea fasciata 'Primera'

(EK-mee-uh) (fash-ee-AY-tuh)

Synonyms: Silver Vase Bromeliad

Luckily the tag was still in this beauty when it decided to graciously burst into bloom. Since it is a popular cultivar it probably wouldn’t have been that hard to figure out but having the proof is nice. I am glad you can’t see me spending hours trying to identify the different flowers and plants on this blog. It is often an agonizing process but I am determined to try and not post any incorrect identifications. Back in the film days and when memory cards were really expensive I would write down the names in a little notebook, which was tedious and often confusing. Now I just take a picture of any tag or sign associated with the flower. I guess that is one way cheap technology has helped me.

Bromeliads aren’t my favorite plants but I do give them high marks for ease of care and being able to grow under low light conditions. I usually overwater mine but the soil should be allowed to dry a little between waterings and although my experience has been that he plants will live in water it is best not to leave them in standing water. Also the “urn’ needs to be flushed with fresh water regularly or drained.

There are over 250 species of Aechmea that are native to Mexico and South America. There is also eight subgenera. 'Primera' is bright and bold with its pink and purple flowers and silver splashed thornless leaves.

Since it is Sunday come join us at Today’s Flowers. Sorry blogger has been a real pain when I am posting links lately so here is a text link for Today’s Flowers: Sunday means a bonus snapshot. This Foxglove picture has been hanging around and I want it out of my pool folder so here it is.

Strawberry Foxglove

Digitalis x mertonensis

(dig-ee-TAH-liss) (mer-ton-EN-sis)

Synonyms: Merton's Foxglove

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Single Date Dahlia

Single Flowered Dahlia

Dahlia 'Happy Single Date'


This Dahlia performed well in the cutting garden this year. It always seemed to have some flowers whenever you looked at it. The flowers are relatively small by Dahlia standards but are nice enough to overlook that. The plant is also beautiful with lush dark foliage and dark stems. We also had ‘Happy Single Romeo’ in the garden and that dark red was a strong performer.

I am nursing a bit of a headache today for imbibing in several pints of Guinness at my friend’s gig last night. I had only planned on attending for a few songs but the night grew short before I knew it. The manager of a super big wholesale nursery that we buy a lot of stuff from was there. It was nice to see him socially and we had more in common than I would have guessed. He told me that today is a big sale and that he had to blow everything out of the nursery. A lot of pots are going to be $1 for perennials. That sounds good and I will probably take a ride down there. If I can’t use the plants at work I will just plant them in my meager garden.

This second photo would have been better if I was ready for the bee to fly but I wasn’t. It still came out pretty good by luck.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lucky White Lantana


Lantana camara 'Lucky White'

(lan-TAN-a) (kuh-MAR-uh)

Synonyms: Balucwite

Not too long ago ‘Lucky Flame Red’ Lantana was featured here. This is another member of the Lucky series and it has many of the same attributes as its red cousin. ‘Lucky White’ is a compact and well branched cultivar of Lantana that is equally at home in containers and window boxes as it is as a bedding plant. My personal preference is the solid colored Lantanas like this one even though it has a touch of yellow in the centers.

I am glad it is Friday even though it is going to be a busy weekend. I have to get my shopping done. We got a couple of cameras for family members and that was easy. I seem to be the default camera person around here. “What kind of camera should I get?” is often the question asked of me. My answer is usually “the best you can afford right now.” Just about always I do recommend a Nikon.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Strawberry Rose Daylily


Hemerocallis 'Strawberry Rose'


Looking back in the archives I have become amazed at how many Daylilies I have been photographing. It must be that they bloom during the time when it is conducive to being outside and carrying a camera. Some of the flowers have made an impression on me including ‘Strawberry Rose’. It’s delicate color, curved petals and ruffled edges just screamed class and elegance. It arrived in gardens in 1980.

This next Daylily is from the collection at the farm. A big nursery planted it about 20 years ago. It looks like that they went through the stock of fancy daylilies at the nursery and grabbed a few of each. Of course now the flowers have kind of staked out their own claim and have their little area in the bed, which is about 25 feet long by 10 feet wide. It is a pleasure to see them all blooming with a kind of random allure. This one has a large flower that is held proudly and tall.

Just a word to the people that have signed up to follow this site, Thanks! I have a of good flowers picked out to post over the winter plus I am dreaming of visiting somewhere tropical during this winter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lady Emily Daylily


Hemerocallis 'Lady Emily'


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lotus Bud

Lotus Bud

Nelumbo nucifera

Monday, December 12, 2011

Oranges & Lemons Blanket Flower

Blanket Flower

Gaillardia aristata 'Oranges & Lemons'

(gay-LAR-dee-uh) (a-ris-TAH-tuh)

Synonyms: Common Blanketflower

I love this flower however the plant doesn’t seem to make through the winter. Not even a stray one has come back the following year so we are officially treating it like an annual now. The color and habit of the plant makes it worthwhile to grow but it is tough to justify annuals at perennial prices. This has just been my experience here in Southwestern Connecticut. We have tried locating it in good winter drainage areas and it just won’t cooperate. The other varieties seem just as stubborn. It must be perennial in some circumstances as it is a native wildflower to Northern and Western North America. They grow on the plains but not my garden? It maybe a case of loving the poor things to death in the garden. They like a hot, dry sandy soil and it has been recommended to try and recreate the plains type of conditions (hot and dry) when siting in the garden.

My Christmas present arrived. It is still under wraps although I went to music store to play it before Santa actually bought it. It will be exciting to have a new ax. I really wanted to get the blonde model (truly what could be better than a blonde Fender, ha, ha) but they had the black in stock and it was 30% off as a floor model. That deal couldn’t be refused. Plus I already have a black Fender so it fits. The guitar is a unique mash up of two of my all time favorite guitars the Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster. A true hybrid it is based on prototypes and modified guitars seen over the years. It is correctly called a Bastardcaster. Here is a link to it:

Fender '51 Pawn Shop

I also got a postal monkey ‘evil doctor’ case, which is now discontinued.

Buying a guitar without a good case is something I will never do again. Having learned that lesson the hard way.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hardy Water Lily

Hardy Water Lily
Nymphaea cv.


Captured this summer the white flower of this waterlily looked good against the green leaves and black water. I must have been pretty close because the 60mm/2.8 lens was used.

There is a big battle going on in my lens bag between the 60mm and 105mm Nikon macro lenses. The 60mm will always have a place in my heart because it was the first really good lens that I got and it takes really nice pictures. The 60mm focal range is also good for a “walk around” or general purpose lens. It is exceptionally tough and rugged, which is always a bonus when you are owned by me. The 105mm macro lens has been a Nikon standard and is a great lens. The longer reach makes it easier to take some pictures, especially of insects. On the plus side this lens has the beautiful bokeh and it seems to deal with the light and shadows very well. It is totally amazing to me what this lens does in lowlight. On the negative side it is a large lens that costs twice as much as the 60mm. I think a shootout is called for this spring. Where the same flower is shot alternately with each lens under the same settings and lighting. Both are great lenses but usually I just like to carry one with me.

Since it is Sunday come join us at Today’s Flowers. Sunday also means a bonus snapshot.

This field of yellow Daises sure was pretty. I am not sure of the genus/species but think it might be a perennial form of Anthemis.

A lot of people are always asking what my favorite flower is and seem a little disappointed when I say Daisy (must have been expecting something more exotic lol). To me Daisies are just beautiful due to their simple simplicity and elegance. They have the perfect understated sophistication to me. Their trait of blooming en masse is also nice. You can also play “Loves me, Loves me not” with them.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pumpkin on a Stick

Scarlet Eggplant

Solanum aethiopicum

(so-LAN-num) (ee-thee-OH-pik-um)

Synonyms: Pumpkin on a Stick, Mock Tomato Mini Pumpkins, Pumpkin Tree, Japanese Golden Eggs, Ethiopian Eggplant, Solanum integrifolium, Gilo

This picture was taken a couple of years ago but even though it was processed it didn’t make it on to the blog. This is a very interesting plant. One that has many different ways of being useful to a wide range of people. Discovered 2500 years ago the plant entered cultivation in Europe in the 16th Century. You would probably have to classify it as a novelty plant in the garden. Personally I like a few novelty type plants in a big garden it adds a bit of whimsy and fun and they are remarkable for some reason or another. The fruits are edible but are often bitter. The leaves of Solanum aethiopicum are edible too and are considerd more nutritious than the fruits.

There are several cultivars available including an orange berried (Turkish Orange) one and a green and white striped type.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Garden Phlox

Garden Phlox

Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavender'

(floks) (pan-ick-yoo-LAY-tuh)

Since we are always on the look out for mildew resistant Garden Phlox cultivars ‘David’s Lavender’ will get a shot next year in the garden. This sport of ‘David’ (white) is a big and heavy blooming choice for the perennial border. It can grow up to 6 feet tall and the flowers are carried in large clusters. The color is classic and adds to the classic look of this relatively new variety.

Garden Phlox has been undergoing a recent resurgence in breeding. There are over 800 named varieties now and more coming out all the time. How about breeding some deer resistance into some of them?

"This plant is a native, and with true American perspicacity and enterprise has forged his way from magenta obscurity to the most prominent place in the floral world."

'My Garden' by Louise Beebe Wilder, 1916

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Loraine Sunshine False Sunflower

False Sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra 'Loraine Sunshine'


Synonyms: Ox-eye, Heliopsis minor

This plant has a beautiful flower but I can’t get by its unique white and yellow veined variegated foliage. It often looks sick and even as lover of variegated leaves it is too much for me. Other than that it is a strong growing perennial that doesn’t need much care. 'Loraine Sunshine' reaches about 2 feet tall and is extremely hardy (USDA Zone 3). Red Aphids can be a problem during the season but can usually be controlled organically with a combination of insecticidal soap and a strong jet of water from the hose. Heliopsis can withstand tough conditions in the garden and once established is drought tolerant.

Wow, what a difference a day makes. After getting a couple of inches of warm rain the tables have turned today. Cold and windy is the forecast and it is true (as I found out walking the dogs this morning).

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Black and White Protea




Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Pansy Orchid

Pansy Orchid

Miltoniopsis Teresa Mulhollan HOF Jumbo


Monday, December 05, 2011

Pink Japanese Camellia

Japanese Camellia
Camellia japonica
(kuh-MEE-lee-a) (juh-PON-ih-kuh)
Synonyms: Common Camellia

I hope no one got caught up in yesterday’s formatting fiasco. If you got additional emails from this site I do apologize. When I first started out on Blogger it had a lot of problems, which after awhile seemed to get straightened out but they are starting up again. Since I want a permanent record of my posts they are written in MS Word and then pasted into Blogger. Communication doesn’t seem good right now. A new template might help because this one is old.

Today’s flower is a garden classic. It looks like a big pink pillow. I would love to lay my head down on it and wake up in the spring but alas we have to make through the biting winds, frozen landscape and short days before the wonder of spring returns.

I am still recovering a little from our trip to the Rockefeller Christmas tree on Saturday night. Crowds were expected but when leaving we got stuck at 6th Avenue and 50th Street. Literally it was human gridlock. Nobody could move forward or back. Finally the police came and opened up some of the barricades and allowed us to cross 6th Avenue. Luckily I had Erika (our granddaughter) in my arms because she might have disappeared if I didn’t. After crossing the avenue it was still crowded but we were able to make a quick escape to our car. What a night.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Large Fothergilla

Large Fothergilla

Fothergilla major

(foth-er-GIL-la) (MAY-jor)

Synonyms: Witch Alder

This flowering shrub was photographed in the spring. If you look in the background the leaves were just starting to come out. Fothergilla is a nice plant to have in the garden especially some of the newer varieties. It gets to be a large shrub but slowly and is easy to manage. The flowers last a long time and are fragrant. The flowers do not have any petals and are considered bottlebrush types (a personal favorite). The Fothergilla flowers are tactile they have a nice rubbery feel to them. Not enough can be said for the fall color on this plant. It is an amazing shower of yellows, reds, oranges and even some purple. Truly an autumn beauty.

Since it is Sunday come join us at Today’s Flowers. Sunday means a bonus snapshot.

Just a nod to all the tulips we planted this fall. They seem to be having a good resurgence in people’s taste. This Peony flowered type is a couple of seasons old but still looked nice.