Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sir Alf Ramsey Dahlia

Informal Decorative Dahlia

Dahlia 'Sir Alf Ramsey'


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rainbow Sorbet Rose

Floribunda Rose

Rosa 'Rainbow Sorbet'

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lucky Red Flame Lantana

Lucky Red Flame Lantana

Lantana camara ‘Lucky Red Flame’

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

Lantana flowers have been featured on this blog many times before, which is testament to its free flowering and photogenic qualities. Here in the north there are no concerns about it becoming invasive because the winter kills it off every year. Even in gardens where there have been hundreds of them planted year after year I have never seen a seedling.

Lantana is a tough plant that needs little in the way of water and grooming. The leaves are considered to be allergenic but I have never gotten a rash from handling them. Using gloves to handle the plants is advisable. The leaves and berries are considered toxic but again I have caught my dog nibbling on the leaves with no ill effects.

My experience is they do not do well in the house over the winter. It is just a lack of vigor and they can be prone to insect problems, which doesn’t seem to happen outdoors.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Woolly Blue Violet

Woolly Blue Violet

Viola sororia

(vy-OH-la) (so-ROR-ee-uh)

Synonyms: Sister Violet, Viola papilionacea

This is a classic flower that can be invasive, which sometimes causes some ill will towards it. To me it is usually an asset, especially in deep shade. This black and white is from a nice strain that inhabits the walk to the tennis court. The markings and shadings are very nice and it doesn’t seem to reproduce too rapidly.

Viola sororia is a common wildflower that can be variable. Some distinguishing traits include heart shaped leaves, flowers and leaves are on separate stems that come from the roots, the flowers are held just above the leaves and the flower petals are not spurred. It is the state flower of four states (Wisconsin, Illinois, Rhode Island, and New Jersey). The flowers are edible as are the roots.

Visit Today’s Flowers for flower pictures from around the world.

Bonus picture for Sunday.




A black and white Daylily from the summer.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Barbara Karst Bougainvillea


Bougainvillea 'Barbara Karst'


This variety of Bougainvillea is one of the better ones for cultivation in our area. We have had it in a pot for several years now. It usually blooms during the winter and invariably needs to be dug out of a corner when it starts to bloom. I don’t try and use it during the summer anymore since it usually only has a couple of scattered blooms. It is nice to have and I am jealous of the people that can grow it outdoors year round. This specimen is kept in control by occasional shearing because in a container the natural kind of wild growth habit wouldn’t be acceptable. Other than that it takes virtually no maintenance except a handful of granular fertilizer once in a while.

This photo shows the actual white flowers of Bougainvillea. The colorful parts are bracts, which are modified or specialized leaves. It is one of the showiest examples of bracts that I know of. They help in attracting pollinators.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pink Petunias

Pink Petunias

Petunia hybrid


These Petunias seemed very happy this summer. Blooming with abandon and happy faces. Towards the end of the season the petunias got a little too much rain and fizzled but during the summer they were producing waves of color in the container garden.

We are back at work after a lovely holiday. Just some cleanup and installation of 100 tulip bulbs. Time to put some of these gardens away for the season.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Collarette Dahlia

Collarette Dahlia

Dahlia 'Alpen Cherub'


First things first, Happy Thanksgiving to all the American readers here. I hope the day is full of family, friends and good food. We are travelling this year to my brother’s area near Hartford (about 1.5 hours away). I am looking forward to seeing everyone.

Most of pictures posted here lately have been taken at times stretching over the last several seasons. There was one mum and a hardy geranium blooming in the garden this week but generally it is a dull and dreary landscape we are now dealing with. Since the foliage is now down you can see all the damage to the trees that happened during the snowstorm of a couple of weeks ago. The earlier Tropical Storm didn’t help either. It is just nature carrying on its business but it looks heartbreaking to me. Sometimes I just want to stop the truck and try and help some of the broken trees along the roads but haven’t so far.

Today’s Flower is a Collarette Dahlia. It is an especially elegant and sophisticated form of the familiar flower. “Alpen Cherub’ is a nice bushy free flowering variety. The flowers are small by Dahlia standards (2-4 inches across) but make up for that by blooming in well coordinated waves. It blooms proudly and the delicate shading on the extra petals is truly beautiful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rainbow Orchid

Rainbow Orchid


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Compound Leaves in Black and White

Compound Leaves in Black and White

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blue Agave

Blue Agave

Agave tequilana

(a-GAH-vee) (te-kee-lee-AH-na)

Synonyms: Tequila Agave, A. palmaris, A. pseudotequilana

This is a little stand of Blue Agave we saw growing in Southern California. While the main purpose of growing this plant is to get the sap from the heart to distill tequila it seems to make a nice looking landscape plant too. The dusty blue and arching leaves are pleasant to look at but the leaves are very pointed and can present some danger to gardeners and farmers.

This plant is native to the Jalisco area of Mexico where it likes to grow at an elevation of 5,000 feet. The heart of the plant has a high production of fructose and they are harvested after about 12 years. Once the agave flowers it dies with each flowering stalk producing several thousand seeds.

Sunday, November 20, 2011




This is one of the over 500 species of Aloe. I really tried to track down which one but it was entirely futile. This plant didn’t have the big spikes that some Aloe have but its low kind of geometric flowers were interesting. The color was nice too. We have been growing some Aloe plants for several years in the greenhouse and they have not flowered yet. They do well inside and are often seen blooming in conservatories.

Aloe is a genus that has been providing medicinal benefits for thousands of years. Still used to treat various skin maladies such as burns and sunburn the juice is also used to treat various digestive problems. Native mostly to Southern Africa only a few of the species are used in medicine (Aloe vera being number 1). The sap is considered to be an allergen and should be tested on a small area of skin first.

Four vegetables are indispensable for the well being of man; Wheat, the grape, the olive and aloe. The first nourishes him, the second raises his spirit, The third brings him harmony, the fourth cures him.”

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)

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

xLaelocattleya Orchid

Lc. Gold Digger 'Fuchs Mandarin'


Ugh another Orchid genus to learn. As with a lot of other Orchids the Laelocattleyas are in a state of taxonomical flux. I just enjoyed the deep color and amount of flowers on this particular plant.

Friday, November 18, 2011





Not really sure which of the many available Coreopsis this one is but it has been an outstanding perennial for the last two years. The bright double flowers have been brightening up a small strip bed by the driveway and slowly increasing in size. Up until about two weeks ago it was still blooming but the snow and cold finally got to it. It is plants like this that make gardening easy. Other than a little trimming and some deadheading no maintenance was required. I hope we can divide this one next spring and spread the joy to somewhere else in the garden.

On my desk right now I am trying to design a new vegetable garden for a long-standing client. The existing garden is a good mix of perennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees and firmly established. We finally decided on a spot for the “farm” and pending a few trees being removed are ready to go. I want a functional and esthetic design that uses the space to fullest extent but still looks good.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Girard's Renee Michelle Azalea


Rhododendron 'Girard's Renee Michelle'


This azalea was photographed this spring. It was kind of by accident we ended up with ‘Renee Michelle’ in the garden. It just happened to be the best looking Azalea at the nursery at the time. We didn’t end up regretting that because it has been a nice addition to the Azalea collection. The color is cheerful and the compact growth habit is nice. Getting up to a final height of 36 inches it fits into it's smaller growing space nicely and has bloomed heavily during the two springs it has been in the ground.

Girard hybrids are a fairly new introduction. They have been especially bred to withstand northern temperatures. They come in a good range of colors and have some fall color. Leaf retention through the winter is better than most types of Azaleas.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jiuhbao Gold Orchid

Oncidium Jiuhbao Gold 'Tainan'


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dahlia Macro

Dahlia Macro



Monday, November 14, 2011

Black and White Kiku Chrysanthemum

Kiku Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum ‘Usukurenai’


This flower was huge and a very soft pink color. After walking through the show in color I decided to take some quick snaps in monochrome. Since the sun was sun shining brightly into the greenhouse it offered enough contrast to get a few nice black and white flower pictures. I cannot imagine the dedication involved in growing these majestic flowers and have them all come into bloom for show time. They were pretty much perfect. While not as great as the Kiku shows of previous years I am glad the NYBG decided to have a Chrysanthemum show. I can still smell all of the flowers and they were obviously beautiful.

Since it is getting near winter now I have begun the process of culling a lot of photos for use here during the season. Some didn’t make it on this blog for different reasons and some files are being opened for the first time. There were two “rolls” of Orchid pictures that I hadn’t looked at when they were taken so there will be some nice Orchid photos here coming up in the next weeks.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Purple Mist Chrysanthemum

Global Warming Chrysanthemum

Dendranthema ‘Purple Mist’

(den-dran' thah-mah)

I have said before that I emphatically resist gardening trends until they become firmly established. It was against this policy that I picked out several Global Warming mums at the nursery. “Latest blooming strain of Chrysanthemum ever” was the advertising tag they were using. I really do love growing the Sheffield strains of mums since you know they are truly perennial and a well behaved garden plant so when the colors on the plant tags indicated colors I hadn’t seen before 8 plants ended up in my basket. I was happy to see they were the same price as the regular perennials. That is usually one reason I don’t like the trends because they usually have an outlandish price premium attached to them.

The mums got planted in some raised stone planters on the terrace and started to bloom. They were really gorgeous and stately. Then the 12 inches of snow came. I quietly thought ‘better luck next year, mums” but when the snow melted they were still in full color. A little broken down but most of the stems sprang back to attention still giving a nice appearance. The bees and Hoover flies were all over them in a full on feeding frenzy before the winter. There are some flowers in the garden right now but they are few and far between (or not full sized) as a few species seem to be trying to throw out a few last desperate blooms. On the other hand the Global Warming mums are in full bloom and look they want to be flowering now (no desperation). We planted three of the five colors available. The off white is kind of a typical Sheffield color but the purple and orange are really special.

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

Dwarf Double Daffodil

This flower is from last spring and was blooming in the collection of dwarf Daffodils. It is a little underexposed but shows the interesting petals of this cultivar.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Harlequin Orchid

Harlequin Orchid

xDoritaenopsis Chian Xen Mammon


Imagine my surprise when this Orchid burst into bloom at work this week. The camera has not been accompanying to work lately but I was glad to have it to on Tuesday to shoot this beauty. This Orchid looks like a Phalaenopsis type to me, and some research indicating the taxonomy of these types are in a state of flux. They do go under the name Phalaenopsis but there are some subtle differences in the Doritaenopsis (Dtps.) types that are not really apparent without close inspection. The culturual conditions required are similar.

Whatever the name is/was I was basking in the glory of having two of these plants blooming after going through the Orchid collection this fall for clean up and propagation. Two other Orchids were blooming and will be posted here next week.

It was nice to kind of throw off the snowy weather and plant bulbs for most of the week. We had several stunning fall days during the week. There were 1,000 tulips and 500 daffs planted and quite a few minor types like crocus and alliums. The area was very rocky and the occasional big rock removal would yield a nice large hole for a good pocket of bulbs. Sometimes there was only enough room to tuck a couple of bulbs in. This should give a nice appearance in the spring with a hopefully natural look to the whole planting. Planting a lot of bulbs always causes a bit of anxiety and anticipation during the winter. Usually everything comes out beautifully especially after learning to evaluate the planting site’s winter drainage.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tropical Hibiscus

Tropical Hibiscus
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis cv.
(hi-BIS-kus) (RO-sa-sy-NEN-sis)

This Hibiscus was a star in the container garden this year. The flowers were literally glowing and it bloomed all summer. This one and the other Hibiscus didn’t grow very big but they did put on a colorful show. You can see even in bad light this flower had a great color. It was under planted with some New Guinea Impatiens and they seemed to work together nicely. We didn’t bother bringing any of this year’s Hibiscus into the conservatory this fall. There is already a huge one from a couple of years ago and it has started to suffer some acclimatization problems already. It’s going to be a long winter for that plant but it usually hangs on and pushes out some new growth and buds once outside in the spring.

Is anyone else happy it is Friday? It is a holiday here in the US but we will be working anyway. At least the traffic will be lighter with no school and a lot of businesses off.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Key West Sunset Cruise

Key West Sunset Cruise

Key West, Florida

This is from last winter. I have come to the conclusion that a vacation would be a good thing right now. End of the season blues, I guess. Since we have so much work to pack into the end of the season I won’t be going anywhere soon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011





Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Decorative Dahlia

Decorative Dahlia

Dahlia 'Aitara Diadem'


2002 Introduction

Monday, November 07, 2011

Cattleya Orchid


Cattleya Butterfly Wings ‘Orchidlibrary’


A nice colorful Orchid to start off the week. Some of the Orchids are starting to bloom and develop spikes at work. It seems the same plants bloom year after year and it is always a challenge to get some of the others to grace us with flowers. Since it is a general environment (not specialized for Orchids) we sometimes have to put up with what we get.

Like most Orchids the Cattleyas have been going through a bit of flux about the species and hybrids within their group. There are over 110 species of Cattleya and numerous natural and man made hybrids. Breeding has continued during the last several decades to produce many new spectacular Orchids.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Daylily Seedling




This Daylily was blooming at my house on July 2nd. I know its bad but I want summer to come back already. We didn’t have much of a fall so that can come back too. Today is probably my last chance to get a fall foliage shot so I am going out to try. The leaves were just not very colorful this year. After the hurricane there weren’t too many leaves left to turn color and this last storm really took care of the rest of the color. The aftermath of both storms left inches deep piles of shredded leaves in the yard and on the roads. I hadn’t seen that kind of foliage damage ever (the tree damage is historical too).

In the Daylily seedling collection we planted here at the house two years ago I have started a rating system. 1 to 5 depending on the color, growth habit and length of bloom. This yellow doesn’t have a name (terrible way to go through life) but that didn’t stop it from looking good with a plethora of cheerful flowers and a good overall appearance. Rated a #4.

Since it is Sunday take a look at Today’s Flowers. It is a good assortment of flowers from all over the world. Bonus flower for Sunday is:

Bigleaf Ligularia

Ligularia dentata ‘Othello’

(lig-yoo-LAR-ee-uh) (den-TAY-tuh)

Synonyms: Leopard Plant

This is a variety of Ligularia and it seems to be a stronger and slightly larger growing plant compared to the species. The flower color is a little darker and more saturated. A true perennial Ligularia can grow in moist, shady areas that most plants don’t like. Planted in borders it requires a lot of water. It is not the most graceful plant but can be useful.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Kiku Chrysanthemum

Kiku Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum cv.


Another beauty from the Fall Flowers of Japan exhibit. They were lucky the event was staged primarily indoors this year. The snow and continued cold temperatures would have made being outdoors more challenging. The mums at work were totally flattened but were still showing a bit of color when the snow melted. Many sustained massive structural damage but still were hanging on.

Sorry to keep going on about the damage but last weekends freak snowstorm was a natural disaster on a scale we were not prepared for. Many towns are still completely out of power with estimates of the middle of next week as a turn on time. I have not personally had this much chain saw time in many years. A chainsaw is not really a gardening tool but has been this week. It’s hard not smell like that unique blend of gasoline, wood chips, exhaust and sweat at work. It brings back memories of being a logger in Vermont. I am still trying to make amends to the forest for all the trees I cut up there.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Torch Lily

Torch Lily
Synonyms: Red Hot Poker, Tritoma

This dramatic little flower was blooming at the NYBG two weeks ago when I visited the Kiku exhibit. I never knew that they often bloom again in the fall.

Last year when shopping for mums I noticed a pallet of perennials sitting off to the side and asked about them. They were for sale for a dollar each (and looked like they were worth about that). There were a few of the more traditional red/orange types of Kniphofia on the pallet and I decided to take three plants. My track record with the genus had been less than stellar but I figured for that amount of money it was worth another try. After installing them in a perennial border and giving a little extra winter protection (mulch) I promptly forgot about them. This spring they grew and flowered beautifully. The flowers were near the Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) and seemed to distract the Hummingbirds from their usual daily visits to the Monarda. Once again nature and plants were showing me something new. My previous failures with this plant were due to bad drainage I think.

There are quite a few species and cultivars available for Kniphofia. Here is a link to a page with a lot of them.

The cleanup continues at the Estate. I couldn’t even bring myself to take pictures of the damage. The Kousa Dogwood, Azalea and dwarf evergreen collections seem to have made it okay but the Rhododendron collection took a bad hit. We did have to remove one tree yesterday as it was damaged beyond saving. The Dragon-claw Willow (Salix babylonicaTortuosa’) was just too messed up.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

James Galway English Rose

English Rose

Rosa ‘James Galway’

Synonyms: Auscrystal

Another Austin Rose beauty. This rose has a nice color that gets more intense near the center of the flower and also has a nice fragrance. Like most Austin types it is easy to grow and a well behaved garden citizen.

The cleanup at the Estate continues today and will for several more days. My main strategy is to get the big stuff cut up and removed and then concentrate on doing the fine pruning and staking. It was a little disheartening to see the scale of the damage to the garden. Luckily most of the rare and prized plants seemed to get mercy from nature. I started to keep a list of the plant species that we worked on yesterday but stopped after about 4 pages in my little notebook.

Normally I can kind of say to myself “well that’s nature” and just dive into the work but couple of times yesterday I found myself a little down in the dumps thinking about all the hard work it had taken to get the plants to where they were before the storm. As an example we planted a Sugar Maple (Acer sacc. ‘Commemoration’) about 20 years ago that was just a mail order stick. Several years later we had to transplant it to present location, which it seemed to really love, and it grew into a handsome tree about 40 feet tall. When I saw it on Monday its main trunk was splintered about 8 feet from the ground and it is almost a total loss. One leader looks okay and I am going to try and save it but I don’t think it will ever recapture its former glory. The tree was in peak fall foliage before it got wasted.

Several other gardens we tend to had a lot of damage including uprooted large trees, branches on the roof and power lines and just generally crushed shrubbery. The damage is not always readily apparent and it takes a close inspection to find all of it. We are back to chainsaw heaven today.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

White Coneflower

White Coneflower

Echinacea 'Fragrant Angel'


Synonyms: Echinacea purpurea var. alba

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

English Daisy

English Daisy

Bellis perennis

(BEL-liss) (per-EN-is)

Synonyms: Lawn Daisy, Bruisewort

"November's sky is chill and drear,

November's leaf is red and sear."

Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832)