Monday, October 31, 2011

Bluebird Smooth Aster

Smooth Aster

Symphyotrichum laeve 'Bluebird'

(sim-fy-oh-TRY-kum) (LEE-vey)

Synonyms: Aster laevis

There was no update on this site yesterday because we were one of the over 3 million homes that the historic October snowstorm knocked out power to. It is a disaster on the scale we have not seen here for many years, particularly to the botanic community. Not only does almost every tree have some damage but most shrubs do too. My garden is pretty much in ruins including the rescue Kousa Dogwood that we saved several years ago. It had turned into a fine little tree and now lies in splinters on the side of the lawn. I have also had reports of trees being just bent up to being totally uprooted from clients. Today I am going out to make a full damage survey if the roads are open. Lucky for us and ironically just after hearing a report on the radio that power could be out for 7 to 8 days in our area the lights came on. It was nice not to have to be huddled near the fireplace and to have our communications and refrigerator back. This storm was much worse than T.S. Irene.

Today’s flower is a nice Aster seen a couple of weeks ago. I am sure it is pounded into the ground now. The color is more purple than blue yet it carries the moniker of ‘Bluebird’. It is a tall and very hardy perennial that blooms very late. It is also considered mildew resistant. Mildew didn’t seem to be a problem this year with the Asters but we did put a preventive fungicide spray down during the summer.

Since it is Halloween, which has been cancelled (never heard of that one before) in many local towns, here is a scarecrow picture from a local nursery display.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Candy Wind Hibiscus

Tropical Hibiscus
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Candy Wind'
(hi-BIS-kus) (RO-sa-sy-NEN-sis)

I am sure this flower isn’t going to look great when I roll into work on Monday morning. A late season container garden replacement in a 4 inch pot it wasn’t worth digging up and putting in the conservatory. There are a few much larger Hibiscus inside now and I have never been a fan of how well they do over the winter. They have a lot of insect problems and don’t really bloom that well. One advantage to brining them indoors is the fact that you have a big plant to start off with in the spring. The Hibiscus usually snap back soon after being put outside in May. I have found giving them a light fertilization program during the late stages of winter seems to agree with them.

This macro shot was captured using my compact camera, a Nikon P6000. It can focus really close and usually always gives good color rendition.

Our area is still under a Winter Storm Watch for tonight. The anticipation on these events are sometimes worse than the actual storm itself. It is still New England and anything can happen with the weather.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cosmic Eye Coreopsis


Coreopsis 'Cosmic Eye'


Synonyms: Tickseed

Just to break up the Chrysanthemum jag this site has been on here is a recent (2009) introduction of Coreopsis. It is outstanding as the red eye really stands out in the garden. The combination of red and yellow is probably one I wouldn’t think of right away but it works. Since this was on the long lost flash card of the P6000 I am not sure when it was taken but probably early summer. You can keep Coreopsis blooming most of the season if you lightly shear off the spent blooms. ‘Redshift’ is still going pretty strong and a good contribution to the fall garden.

Coreopsis is a tough drought tolerant perennial that can cover tough dry areas in the garden. If it is happy it can colonize large areas as a groundcover. It is easy propagated by division and that means a lot of free plants. It is equally at home on the border and with a little careful management can really be a star in the front or mid sections mixed with other perennials and annuals.

‘Cosmic Eye’ gets to a height of 12 to 18 inches (seldom if ever needs staking) and is hardy to USDA Zone 5 (-20 °F, -28.8 °C).

We are under a Winter Storm Watch for Saturday morning and evening, 4 to 8 inches of heavy wet snow is forecasted. That was a bummer to wake up to. It could be a disaster as many of the leaves are still on the trees. In case you don’t know a Winter Storm Watch means “Severe winter conditions, such as accumulations of heavy snow and/or ice of 4"/10 cm or more possible within the next 36-48 hours”. Ugh. that doesn’t sound too good.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kiku Chrysanthemums

Kiku Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum ‘NYBG Selection White’


This is another picture from the Fall Flowers of Japan show at the NYBG. The flowers left a deep impression on me. They were very proud flowers and each seemed to be reveling in their beauty. To give an idea of the scale each flower was 5 to 6 inches across. While most people don’t like the smell of mums I found the aroma to be heady and refreshing. It brought some childhood memories of pinching the large wholesale crop of mums my parents used to grow.

Another rainy day out there today. The large bulb order is here and it is going to take a lot of digging to install them. Perhaps my eyes were bigger than my shovel. It is really not going to be a problem finding space and getting them in but it was more than I expected (the packages looked so small in the catalog).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gold Fever Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum ‘Gold Fever’


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chesapeake Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum ‘Chesapeake’


Monday, October 24, 2011

Rare Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum ‘Chiru momiji’

This was my favorite flower in the Fall Flowers of Japan exhibit. The buds were amazing looking and I remember thinking that I had never seen anything quite like them before. The flowers had not quite come out on the stems in the display but didn’t look as good as the buds. Google has been stumped on both yesterday’s mum and today’s. That usually doesn’t happen as just about any plant has some reference on the Internet.

These were both shot with the D700 and 60mm Nikon lens. The pop up flash was used in the second shot because the lighting is almost never good in a greenhouse. I have the flash set to -.7 to take some of the harshness out of it. A pop up flash isn’t really a great way to go but it works in a pinch. For Christmas I am going to ask Santa to bring me a Speedlight add on flash. It is not something I would use all the time but can be helpful in certain situations.

Almost all of the macro pictures on this site are manually focused. While the auto focus system on the D700 is great (51 points) I have found it doesn’t always focus on the part of the flower that I want. This also eliminates back focusing where the camera focuses on something behind the subject. It takes a second or two longer to get the photo manually but there are less junk photos when I get home and look at them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Flowers of Japan

Chrysanthemum 'Yugiri'

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Fall Flowers of Japan exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden. It was totally amazing and in my mind better than the other Kiku Shows they have had. All of the major Chrysanthemum growing techniques were out in force and set out perfectly. I arrived later than normal for a show at the garden and the crowds were growing but there was enough space to get some pictures without trouble. ‘Yugiri’ was a triple stem type and the flowers were so huge and perfect. The flowers were totally enchanting and still in great condition well into the show, which opened September 17 and runs through October 30th.

The fall garden was looking good outside the conservatory. The collection of Korean mums (NYBGs own strain) was in peak bloom and many of the perennials were looking good. I didn’t do the pumpkin maze but did gaze with wonder at the world record pumpkin displayed in the fountain area. It weighed 1,818.5 pounds (824 kg)! I didn’t really have a lens wide enough to take it all in. Among the record holder were several other 1,500+ lb. specimens.

There will be a few more pictures here of the show this upcoming week.

Since it is Sunday come join us at today's flowers. Here is a bonus snapshot for Sunday.

Syrphid fly
(Toxomerus geminatus)

Just when I was thinking I haven’t taken an insect picture in a while this Hoover Fly landed on the mum I was going to take a picture of. These insects do not sting and are beneficial to the garden. The population is way up here and the Asters at work were literally a cloud of Hoovers.

This picture was taken with my back up camera. A d70s with the 105mm Nikon macro lens. Pretty nice to have back up equipment this good.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Melody Allegro Dahlia

Decorative Dahlia

Dahlia 'Melody Allegro'


This Dahlia may have been mismarked as it seems a little different than most of the other ‘Melody Allegro’ I have seen. We didn’t grow a lot of Dahlias this year mainly as a reaction to the fungus we had been experiencing in the last couple of years. Of course there was no fungus this year and the several that we planted in the cutting garden did great. Other than a little nibbling by the woodchuck it was care free gardening. I don’t really mind sharing a few tidbits with the animals (they have their place in the garden’s eco-system too) but when they become overly destructive then something has to be done. Luckily we didn’t get to that point other than spraying a little light repellant twice during the season that was it.

This picture is from my compact camera a Nikon P6000, which I recently found in my office after a few months (had it in my spring jacket pocket). I must admit it was great having the camera in my pocket at work again. It is an amazing piece of machinery that takes beautiful pictures.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Condilla Daylily


Hemerocallis 'Condilla'


This Daylily was blooming about two weeks ago making it the last flower in the Daylily collection for the year. It’s large and colorful flowers were kind of a last hurrah from that part of the garden. ‘Condilla’ is a Trophytaker Daylily, which makes it special. There are several attributes that a Daylily must have in order to be considered a Trophytaker. The plant must flower twice as long as a normal daylily giving it a minimum bloom cycle of 42 days. It also must be hardy in USDA Zone 5 (many are hardy in Zone 3 and 4) and it must have superior long lasting foliage. You can see that the requirements are setting you up for success in the garden and I will always select a Trophytaker over a ‘regular’ Daylily.

‘Condilla’ has big flowers (4.5 inches across) that are borne on a sturdy 20 inch scape. It is considered one of the best Double Daylily introductions ever. It was introduced in 1977.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Asian Corsage Orchid

Asian Corsage Orchid

Cymbidium Featherhill Fanfare ‘Desert Sands’


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Babylon White Verbena

Babylon White Verbena

Verbena hybrid 'Babylon White'


Monday, October 17, 2011

Montego Sunset Dwarf Snapdragon

Dwarf Snapdragon
Antirrhinum majus 'Montego Sunset'
(an-TEE-ry-num) (MAY-jus)

Here is an annual that is quickly disappearing from nurseries and farm stands, which means it is disappearing from the landscape too. In this area you hardly ever see them anymore. Now I can understand not planting the tall floppy types but the ‘Montego’ strain is a dwarf that behaves nicely and blooms until the last day of the season. To me they are one of the best cool season flowers you can get because the color is so wonderful, especially ones like ‘Sunset’, which makes a carpet of fall colors.

Hopefully the snapdragon can make it back from the brink of obscurity and once again be an annual that brightens up our fall and spring plantings. It turn out that the Snapdragon is in a bit of an unsettled state according to modern botanists. The plants are now considered to have three sections with the species divided up among them. It is safe to say the biology of the Snapdragon is constantly being rewritten with some new species being discovered.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Purple Pillow Grayleaf Geranium

Grayleaf Geranium
Geranium cinereum 'Purple Pillow'
(jer-AY-nee-um) (sin-EER-ee-um)

The Hardy Geraniums were fantastic this year. Even with all the rain they bloomed through the season and in one case still blooming in the perennial border (mixing nicely with the left over mums from last year). We were diligent in keeping them trimmed up but that was about all the maintenance they needed. Just put these plants in full sun or partial shade and provide good drainage and you will be enjoying them for years.

‘Purple Pillows’ has a nice strong color. Most of the other varieties are blue and are a great way to add blue to your border. Since these plants are not very tall (12 inches) it is best to have them near the front of the border. Personally I like them best when they are semi-sprawling and poking their flowers up here and there. The foliage is finely cut and attractive with excellent fall color.

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

After months of not being able to find my compact camera I had written it off completely. Yesterday when cleaning up my office I found it! Both of these pictures are from the card that was in the camera.

Coreopsis grandiflora 'Sunray'
(kor-ee-OP-sis) (gran-dih-FLOOR-ah)

Another long blooming low maintenance perennial.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Orange Garden Mum

Garden Mum
Chrysanthemum x morifolium
(kris-AN-the-mum) (mor-ee-FOH-lee-um)

This little spray of mums was perfect for its job. It came in a 4 inch pot and we used it to fill in a couple of the annual containers that didn’t look good. There were a variety of colors but this orange one stood out among them all. It couldn’t have fit an another flower on its tiny little frame. For a total of about $25 the group of little mums really filled in for the fall season. We have now begun a program of trying to over winter our hardy mums since over the last 2 winters we have had about a 50 percent recovery rate. Now that all those mums are brightening up the garden it makes it an easy decision.

I was glad to see at least some of the mums for sale in small pots. The trend at local growers seems to be to put everything in larger pots and that is okay for bedding but for containers it doesn’t work as well.

The two pictures are a little depth of field experiment I was conducting. The light was like the weather dark and gloomy. It looks like the lens lost a little of its sharpness on the shallow depth of field shot (bottom picture).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hardy Chrysanthemum

Hardy Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum 'Sheffield'
Synonym: Dendranthema ‘Hillside Pink Sheffield’

The mum season is in full swing now. It’s nice to have some of these true perennial types in the garden. The color and habit of this plant is both elegant and classy. There was no fungus on the foliage this year, which was nice despite our rainy summer and fall.

The weather forecasters totally blew the forecast this week. Each day they have been predicting ran and while it has been cloudy with a little drizzle it still hasn’t really rained. It sure has been dark and gloomy.

That hasn’t made getting some flower pictures very easy. This was shot using the 60mm/2.8 micro-nikkor lens. It hasn’t made it out of the bag recently but I really enjoyed using it yesterday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Citrus Petunia

Petunia 'Supertunia Citrus'
Synonyms: Cascadias Sunray, Dancas110

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Copper King Hardy Hibiscus

Hardy Hibiscus
Hibiscus 'Copper King'

This plant has never appeared on this blog before and that surprises me. ‘Copper King’ is one of the biggest and best of the hardy Hibiscus. The finely cut dark foliage combines well with the huge (10 to 12 inches across) flowers. This plant seems entirely hardy in USDA Zone 6 as it has returned for several years now. Introduced by Fleming Brothers Nursery “Copper King’ is a result of nearly 50 years of their breeding between Hibiscus moscheutos and H. coccineus.

This plant isn’t too fussy about the site it grows on but does best in full sun with some regular moisture. Windy sites can be a bit of a problem for the flowers. I generally try to locate the hardy Hibiscus in a warm semi-protected microclimate to give them bit of an extra chance during the winter.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Daydream Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea 'Daydream'
(ek-in-AY-shee-a) (pur-PUR-ee-uh)

This Coneflower was introduced last year by Terranova Nurseries as part of their “Dream” series. The color is pretty amazing and is one of the darkest yellow cones I have seen. It has a semi compact habit, growing to a height of about 21 inches. It looks to me that this plant will be around for long time and it is always interesting to see if these new flowers can make it on the market. For gardeners will test its durability and life in the landscape not a laboratory or closely guarded field tests. One thing I have noticed that new and unusual flowers do not hold a big price premium like they used to. ‘Daydream’ was the same price as the other Coneflowers. Terra Nova is also the name of a great new TV series on Fox.

Since it is Sunday come join us at Today’s Flowers .

Sunday also means a bonus flower. This photo was taken without me realizing that the camera was still in Monochrome. It came out okay anyway. The huge flowers on ‘Summer Storm’ were an easy target. The bigger the flower the easier the macro shot becomes. This cultivar was introduced in 2008 and its color, foliage and temerity is sure to carry it on.

Hardy Hibiscus
Hibiscus moscheutos 'Summer Storm'
(hi-BIS-kus) (mos-KEW-tos)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Black and White Coneflower

Eastern Purple Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea 'Merlot'
(ek-in-AY-shee-a) (pur-PUR-ee-uh)

Another black and white flower for today. This is a strong growing Coneflower with big deeply colored flowers. It seems to be a little more sturdy than some of the others.

My Coneflowers at the Estate have gotten decimated the last two winters. They have almost completely disappeared. I guess a new stock of plants is required to beef up the population. Not only did the cultivars vanish but all the seedlings did too. Very depressing.

On a lighter note some old friends and I have started a band. I have become the de facto musical director. It is a nice position as I can sneak in a lot of songs that I have wanted to perform for years. It is an interesting group and a lot of fun so far.

Since we have a female singer here are a couple of songs that are on the list. The first one is someone I consider an American Treasure. Sometimes beauty and talent collide in a way that is extraordinary. Sheryl impress me with her songwriting, singing, guitar and bass playing and style. She has sold 35 million albums worldwide and been through a lot in her personal life. Her she is singing a Cat Stevens song (sorry about the ad, you can skip it with the button):

Here is another pretty and talented American singer. I have always wanted to play this song:

Friday, October 07, 2011

Black and WHite Dahlia

Hybrid Dahlia

Dahlia cv.


This is one of the Dahlias from the cutting garden. A nice white that has been blooming all summer. Since changing the soil in the area this spring I didn’t have any of the disease problems that have hit the Dahlias the last couple of years. So that proves you are never too old to learn something new about gardening.

Today we are installing the yearly giant mum planting in Greenwich. It has 130 chrysanthemums in 8 and 9 inch pots. The color scheme is bright yellow and red. I had originally tried to get a clear orange colored mum as the client didn’t want any bronze in the flower. Luckily the nursery let me exchange the orange for red when the order arrived at the nursery. I just think they were happy to sell that many mums at once. If there was time the soil would be changed in that area before planting but we are up against the season here now. We had our first frost advisory last night but we slept comfortably knowing all the tropicals were inside at our jobs. Tonight I will have to bring in the few remaining tropical plants at home.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Yellow Submarine Shrub Rose

Shrub Rose

Rosa 'Yellow Submarine'


Synonyms: BAIine, Garden Art Collection

Here is a nice yellow rose to break up the chrysanthemum theme we seem to having around here lately. Another of the Easy Elegance rose types it is a real clear yellow that starts off strong and then mellows as the flower age. These roses are extremely hardy especially for a yellow. The fragrance is mild but still there and nice.

Introduced in 2005 by Bailey Nurseries this rose comes from the famous breeder Ping Lim. In some ways he has revolutionized rose growing for the average gardener. His Easy Elegance roses have changed rose growing forever, especially for the casual growers. I have found them to be vigorous, long blooming and pest and disease free. My only problem with them is they some times get a little tall and flop over but the plant usually continues to bloom in that position.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Dazzling Stacy Chrysanthemum

Dazzling Stacy Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum x morifolium 'Dazzling Stacy'

(kris-AN-the-mum) (mor-ee-FOH-lee-um)

Synonyms: Prophets Series, Daisy Mum, Dazzling Yostacy

"Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter."

Carol Bishop Hipps

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Pink Veronica

Spike Speedwell

Veronica spicata 'Fairytale'

(veh-RON-ih-ka) (spi-KAH-tuh)

Synonyms: Speedwell, Veronica

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October

Nathaniel Hawthorne


Monday, October 03, 2011

Montauk Daisy

Montauk Daisy

Nipponanthemum nipponicum

(nip-pon-AN-the-mum) (nip-PON-ih-kum)

Synonyms: Nippon Daisy, Leucanthemum nipponicum

What I consider the Queen of the Fall Flowers is now blooming. Montauk Daisies really light up the fall garden and for me it is finally a relief after getting the plants through the whole season and seeing them bloom. Luckily not much affects them through the growing season but we still want them to have nice foliage and a lot of buds. There seems to be a few different fall flowers on the market these days with a steady parade of new Asters, Calibrachoas, and a good selection of Pansies. For a long time Chrysanthemum and cabbage seemed the only thing available.

Montauk Daisies are a tough somewhat deer resistant perennial that looks good during the summer. It can tolerate a lot of conditions that many plants can’t. They are always a treat in the border, massed or just planted as singles.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Hardy Hibiscus

Hardy Hibiscus
Hibiscus moscheutos
'Luna Blush'
(hi-BIS-kus) (mos-KEW-tos)
Synonyms: Swamp Mallow, Rose Mallow

Wow the Hardy Hibiscus were amazing this year. They all returned from the winter and had a show stopping month of flowering. ‘Luna Blush’ was leading the charge and is still throwing out a couple of flowers. The foliage got a little ratty but that didn’t matter as all eyes were upon the beautiful floral display. The compact habit of this plant combined with the large flowers was hard to ignore.

Sunday of course mean it is time for Today’s Flowers. Take a peek at flowers from all over the world.

Sunday also means a bonus picture here. Another of the rainy day flowers. I must profess ignorance about the species and name of this plant. It has to be hardy since this was taken in a bit of a wild area of a parking lot. The vine was big and well entrenched among the native Cedar Trees. The yellow was pretty and the whole vine only had a few flowers on it. Normally they bloom much earlier in this area. It was pretty to look at and I was glad that I didn’t have the responsibility of removing it from the trees.

Yellow Honeysuckle



Saturday, October 01, 2011

King’s Canyon Gerber Daisy

Gerber Daisy
Gerbera jamesonii
‘King’s Canyon’
(GER-ber-a) (jay-mess-OWN-ee-eye)
Synonyms: Barberton Daisy, Transvaal Daisy, African Daisy, Landscape series

This was an unusual flower to see at this time of year but very much welcomed. Gerber Daisy are an easy flower to photograph and I was surprised this came out because of the lighting conditions. I thought it was funny these were offered for sale so late in the season but then read they grow indoors. Always an admirer of Gerbers my cultivation of them hasn’t been so good. The animals around here (both large and small) seem to love them and that makes trying to grow them a challenge but their bold colors and size make them a pleasure to see.

The Landscape Series of Gerber Daisies has been especially bed for large flower size and heavy flowering habit. It sure looks like a winning strain to me.

I am dashing off to Manhattan the second I am done writing this. Our dogs are going too. Ruby (border collie) really loves it down there and that cracks me up. She is such a hillbilly country dog but loves the city. Juno (husky) just tolerates it. She is often scared of people and sometimes the sounds and smells of NYC can get to her. As long as Ruby is there she is generally okay.