August 26, 2014

AROUND THE GARDEN IN AUGUST

THIS BEAUTY IS A PINEAPPLE LILY, OR EUCOMIS VANDERMERWEI 'OCTOPUS'


As prepare to depart for Sante Fe to attend the North American Rock Garden Society annual meeting, I thought that I would share some random images from around the garden this last week of summer.


I've also started something new - writing for eHow, a site which has impressed me with how they have reinvented themselves over the past 6 months ( they no longer are a content farm guys'), in fact, they are some of the most professional and nicest people I have ever worked with. You can check out one of my posts here, a post about growing greens in the home garden for autumn and winter harvest. I'm really trying to raise the bar with these articles which obviously are targeting new and less experienced gardeners. I would love to hear what you think as I am taking a slightly more advanced approach with my content. New gardeners deserve more inspiration beyond how to grow succulents and air plants.    So it's more like: 'Go ahead - you can grow awesome Chinese Cabbage ...and here's how' as my approach. Still simplified, but not dumbed down.




Heirloom tomatoes are just beautiful. Not always tastier than hybrids, I still can't help myself in planting far more than I need. It's been a terrific year for tomatoes, which surprises me as it has been cool and damp. I have already canned 24 quarts and it isn't even Labor Day yet.


GOMPHRENA 'PINK ZAZZLE™', VIRTUALLY STEROIDAL IN SIZE, WITH FLOWERS NEARLY 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER WHICH ARE ABIOUT FOUR TIMES THE SIZE OF TYPICAL GOMPHRENA.



DAHLIAS AND CHINA ASTERS.



THE SELF-SEEDED NICOTIANA LANGSDORFII CONTINUE TO BLOOM AROUND THE WALK LEADING TO THE GREENHOUSE. THIS SPECIES IS STILL MY FAVORITE OF THE FLOWERING TOBACCO.

WE HAVE BOTH ITALIAN AND RUSSIAN BEES, OUR FRIEND JESS MADE LOGOS FOR THEM WITH HER LASER MACHINE.




OUR AGAPANTHUS ARE REACHING PEAK BLOOM, ALL ARE IN LARGE TUBS ESPECIALLY THIS WHITE SELECTION, BUT THE BLUE ONE CALLED 'STORM CLOUD' WAS DIVIDED THIS YEAR, SO IT HAS ONLY PRODUCED A FEW FLOWERS.





August 25, 2014

A VISIT WITH THE ULTIMATE PLANTSMAN, GLEN LORD

Glen checks a wisteria bonsai in his garden ( and greenhouse) in Leominster, MA

There is something reassuring about visiting another plantsman ( or plantswoman) - you know, another person who is so obsessed with collecting plants, that they often have multiple collections, which may seem random to the untrained eye, but always fascinating to the informed and equally 'ill'  collector. When two plant men get together, hours can pass just chatting about the details - soil mixes, bulb sources, recent discoveries to share. The best part? There is no need for any justification. 

So it was when I visited Glen Lord, a close friend yes, but one whom I rarely visit - because, well…he lives 20 minutes from me. Glen usually finds his way to my garden and greenhouse, sometimes I think just to refresh his collection, but in so many ways, Glens collections are so much better than mine - that I don't' see what he could possibly find at my home that would interest him.

Like many plant collectors, Glen is highly knowledgeable - a practical genus when it comes to remembering and identifying plants - he's a handy friend to have around for certain - if only to rationalize a recent purchase of a rare plant, or to bounce ideas off of. I last visited Glen about 2 years ago ( maybe 3!)  but his collection has grown (or outgrown) his Leominster, MA house and yard - I think that it might be safe to say that he will need to find a larger place to live soon, as there are only so many bonsai's one can keep on their driveway before their car needs to be parked in the street. Glens house is easy to find, for in a rather ordinary neighborhood, I quickly found it even though I was lost. Plant people are not easy to hide.

Punica 'Nochi Shibari', a gorgeous salmon and coral colored pomegranate blossom.

Glen has a fascinating job - as a Bonsai expert, he is responsible for the careful tending of the Arnold's Arboretum bonsai collection at Harvard University (safe to say that one must be a bonsai expert if one is responsible for trees which are hundreds of years old), and he makes and designs some fascinating garden tools, which I will be sharing with you soon. His garden, like so many other plant collectors, is a jumbled, organized but not really designed, botanically interesting collection. His specialty? Variegated plants, rare novelties, cacti and succulents, Japanese collectible plants ( like Rhodea, Neofinetia and Acuba) and extraordinary bonsai. Here are some images from my visit.


Punica 'Gosai Ryu' a pomegranate with bright salmon roe colored flowers, and variegated foliage.



Venus Fly Traps as a collection? Why not.


Not all pines are dull - check this one out - Pinus Tani Ma no Ykui  or Tonima no yuki. Totally not Yuki. Glen has a very extensive collection of evergreens.



Morus 'Ho 'O" a spectacular, novelty mulberry with interesting leaf growth.

Petasites japonicas purpureus, a plant that I asked glen about, and he told me that he got from us. Hmmm.. Of course, when grown in the ground and not in a bonsai pot, the leaves can be 50 time larger. I love this.

Pinus parviflora - A stately Japanese white pine bonsai

The Japanese adore Acuba selections, particularly those with variegated leaves. Glen's collection which started with many which came from Barry Yinger, has many varieties. Most spend the winter in his greenhouse.


Selaginella borealis and Spirea alpina


Schlumberger Christen Aurea Varietgata (invalid, but Glen wants to call it Blond Moment).
I would call it - Not your granny's Christmas Cactus.

Rhodea 'Seruga Nishiki'. A select variegated Rhodea, which is marginally hardy in New England, but rarely seen.


Lewesia as a bonsai.


Tucker cools off in the shade, waiting for dinner.

August 21, 2014

OH,STEPHANOTIS

OUR RESCUED STEPHANOTIS VINE BLOOMS HIGH IN THE GREENHOUSE. 


Plants are like people. No, not in a Jerry Baker way (but come to think of it, I might want to re-read his book. My innocent 12 year old brain was somewhat defenseless against his seductive premise about plants ), but I have started to wonder lately about how plants are somewhat like our friends. No, not 'friends' as in comrades or cohorts, more like acquaintances,  passing through our life. Well, OK. More like 'friends' in a 'Facebook' way. I know each a bit, some better than others, some which I feel bad for and keep around (ugh!), and others, which I tolerate for one reason or another.

I have even 'Unliked' a few.

I have a multitude of plant 'friends'. The many plants in my life come from all over the world, just like my human people friends. Some, I rescued, took pity on and brought home ( yes, even I do that). Others, force their way into my collection, either 'gifted' by well intending human friends, or sometimes mysteriously self-seeded. This handsome Stephanotis vine was once sitting on the 'for sale' table at our local supermarket (Wegmans), discounted for quick sale or even worse, some 'chamber where it would be 'put down'.

Joe held the yellowing vine up high, as if he was in the Lion King, and made his way out to the center aisle - the poor plant - coiled around a wreath or wire, disgraced buy being hot glued into a faux French country ceramic planter without drainage.

 I nodded an obvious approval.  "OK, we can take it home".

Stephanotis (no, we didn't name it) was re-planted in a large clay pot with warm, fresh soil (hey, it was January), and placed high on a bench in the warm, sunny greenhouse. Throughout the winter, he slowly grew, uncurling leaf by leaf, extending tendril-like new growth that ran throughout the greenhouse rafters, twirling here, and twisting there, playfully enjoying the winter, and then spring light as it streamed in warming its stephanotic soul.



This past weekend, I strolled through the greenhouse to check on some Nerine repotting which I never finished, and I caught the scent - the scent of Stephanotic awesomeness. Only one bunch of waxy, white fragrant blossoms yet still worthy of any wedding blog. So high in the rafters were they, that I had to first stand on a bench, and then step onto the second height bench just to pick them.  I don't think that he minded. 

The bouquet now sits in our bathroom ( I know, right?) Their scent brings me back to my college days in Hawaii, as many vines grew around the campus, where I would pick a few to bring home when I walked back late from the library. 







August 14, 2014

SIX GREAT CUT FLOWER DAHLIAS TO GROW


My love affair with the Dahlia is growing. So many dahlias are giant, dinner plate monstrosities, with blossoms larger than 10 inches in diameter, or in difficult colors with which to work with such as sulfur yellow or brilliant red with gold, but with so many to choose from, many in delightful tints and colors, forms like pom poms and spiders, others with such formal symmetry that cake decorators copy their petal formations for cup cake toppers, that I thought I would delve into the dahlia world a little deeper, and see if I could scout out some of the best cut flower varieties. Here are my discoveries and recommendations based on what I grew this year:

click below for more:

August 12, 2014

A SUMMER PORCH DISPAY OF TRAINED FUCHSIAS AND THE WORLD DOG SHOW


This summer I have been assembling and training a collection of about 25 upright fuchsia, which I am training to be either standards ( topiary) or bush uprights, a method of growing fuchsias once popular in conservatory displays at botanic gardens and private estates were gardeners trained fuchsias for summer displays in greenhouses or on the porches of grand, summer cottages in Newport and Connecticut. Me? I just find upright fuchsias so much more interesting than weeping varieties often found at garden centers. Tall canes with a single stem trained upright, carefully pinched and trimmed until a woody stem  is formed, and then a bushy flower chandelier with pendant blossoms, some lifted to eye level where one can appreciate them more.

My Fuchsia's this year are just starting to bloom, here are some of my best trained varieties:

Click below for more!

August 5, 2014

RANDOM BOUQUETS FROM THE SUMMER GARDEN

I thought that I would walk around the garden and pick a few hand-tied bouquets for the house. Here is what I found: rather random, but still botanically interesting. A blue palette with China aster, brachycome daisy, tweedia, purple basil, dill, Nicotiana langsdorfii, echinops and Salvia 'black and Blue'


Mid Summer, those last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August marks the high point of the summer. It's when many iconic summer flowers reach their peak - zinnia's, China asters, snapdragons, Cosmos, and it marks the time when some of the late summer flowers are just beginning to bloom, like Dahlias and Gladiolus. Here is what I picked today for the house and for neighbors!

Click below:

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