August 31, 2009

A rainy day in the greenhouse

I know I mentioned this before, but late August is actually a slow time in the garden, aside from picking vegetables and repotting the summer dormant tender bulbs in the greenhouse, a task which is just about done, most of the chores are routine ones, like fertiliing orchids and summer growing bulbs, or cleaning and organizing, two things I really hate doing, as anyone who knows me, knows.

I thought for a change, I would show you some of the less fancy parts of my garden. Shots of the greenhouse, not set up for a shoot, or cleaned up, but simply, shot as it really looks on a normal Saturday. Here, the potting bench as I finish repotting Cape bulbs. The foliage was cut off of the dormant Moraea and Babiana, and some of it comes from the Romulea species. Most of the Narcissus species are not being repotted this year because I ran out of time, and in the back, you can see the Nerine sarniensis pots,ready to start growth. I have extra bulbs and offsets if anyone wants, I was going to donate them to PBS, but I never seem to get them into the main, I am such a slug sometimes! Trying to do too much, I guess, at once.

My potting bench was built out of Mahogany ten years ago, but it is alreadu starting to decay in spots. This is a pretty humid greenhouse in the winter, and since I keep a pile of soil on it most of the time, it rarely gets to dry off. People always comment at how much we can jam into the greenhouse every autumn, and it's true. Here in New England, even the Rosemary has to be brought in, and so many large clay tubs and pots come it, that even this potting bench has very little room on it. The upper shelves in the middle are strong, so I can lift large tubs of lemons and camellia onto them, also, the cieling is 18 feet tall inside, I can stand on these upper benches in the middle, and walk around without touching the ceiling. Now that I cut down the tall Acacia trees, there is even more room ( and sun). I plan to only bring in 2/3rd's of what came back in last year, so that I can have room for new things. MY list of must-gets are long, a big sand bench for alpines, a collection of tropical Rhododenron from Borneo, some R. Madennii species, new Cymbidiums, and some semi hardy shrubs. But now that Joe want's half of the greenhouse, I may have to clean out more! Yes, this greenhouse has a little bit of everything.

Pots of Nerine sarniensis just after their first watering of the season. I time it to match the first drop in temperatures, fall rains and the shorter day length. In a couple of weeks, the flower buds will start emerging.

These seedling Gasteria came from gardening friend Roy Herold, he shared some of his crosses this spring. They have already doubled in size. The pots are from my kiln, not quite Guy Wolf, but getting better ( and larger). I love Gasteria, especially when viewed as a collection. They all seem to bloom for me in March, and their long flower stems are so interesting with their subtle variety in bloom and leaf color. RIght now, the larger pots are outdoors getting as much sun as they can take on the steps of the deck, but in a few weeks, they will be relocated back under glass along with these.

These Primula polyanthus hybrids are from Barnhaven Primroses in France. The owners visited us this spring, when they we're here for the American Primrose Society national show at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. )Joe was elected national president at that meeting, so since I am expecting more Primula guests in the year to come, I thought that we should have some decent forms in the garden. Barnhaven are the premiere source from polyanthus, the farm moved from Oregon in the 1930's, to the UK, and then France.

Mmmm..... Stuffed Cyclamen graecum Leaves

I know, it's a little overkill for a kitchen sink ( pardon the dirty stock pot), but with all of the rain we've been having, the cyclamen make it in again, even though these lost alot of flowers in the rain, they are still starting to bloom. Two more weeks, and the window will be full, as will the walk outside of the greenhouse, since I brought the pots all outdoors to get a good, soaking rain to start them into growth.

In this season of transition, the first cool nights, hot days, autumnal rains, bulb plants from the Mediterranian and South Africa begin to emerge from thier summer rest across our planet. It's one of the wonder of the plant kingdom. Cyclamen species are particularly seasonal, as such, most species are begining to emerge in the forests around Rome, in the gardens of those living in the northern hemisphere, and on the Greek Isle of Rhodes, where, the leaves of Cylamen graecum are surely being picked for eating. Yes, eating. hmmm Check this out.

OK, I know, strange to many of us but I happened across the site History of Greek Food, and here is what they have to say abour our precious Cyclamen graecum leaf thanks to Blogger Rachel Laudin.
“In ancient years the cyclamen was especially known for its medical virtues (it contains a powerful purgative poison). Its tuberous Rhizomes (thickened roots) have cyclamin which is a toxic saponin, so never try to eat them. The leaves of Cyclamen graecum have a bitter- sweet taste.
The best known florist’s cyclamen, Cyclamen persicum, is an important edible wild plant in Iran and Palestine. Its leaves are also cooked filled with rice, minced mutton meat, spices and eaten with yogurt (Palestinian Za’ matoot, Iranian dolme). I do not know if the leaves of this species have different taste.
However, the Greek cyclamen recipe is old and almost forgotten. In fact, the use of local Mediterranean food plants stands at a crucial point. As you know, Eastern Mediterranean communities were very much centered around cultivated and wild food both for subsistence and profit. After World War II the consumption of wild plants and seeds changed following the socio – economic changes. Unfortunatelly the amazing traditional knowledge regarding wild plants resources has not been infused to the young generations and I wonder if it already is on the brink of disappearance.”

August 29, 2009

Buckle Up Butter Cup, Tropical Storm Warnings

A yellow Kniphofia blooms in the front yard. Common for you? The are not common in a New England Garden, for this is as exotic as a tender Banana would be in Zone 5. Recent introductions though are bred from newly collected species that are from higher elevations in South Africa, and these are proving to be hardier for norther growers. It all comes down to where you plant it, and, if sited well, these plants can become long lived and impressive perennials. Just remember..... Fast drainage, full sun, and a fast draining spot in the winter too, for it's not the cold that makes these difficult in the north east US, it's the spring thaw and refreeze. Use plenty of gravel in the hole, and site it in a raised or elevated spot in the sunniest spot in your yard. Try Ellen Hornig's nursery Seneca Hill Nursery in upstate New York for the best species that are hardy in ZONE 5b AND colder regions.This is a Zone 7 plant, but it has survived for 3 years.
This weekend we are enjoying the rainy remnants of tropical Storm Danny, a storm which is churning the seas barely a hundred miles from our garden, off of the coast of Massachusetts. Even though we are not getting the wind, here in central Massachusetts, 35 miles from the coast, we are getting the rain bands. I love rainy days like this, they are cozy and cool, and at the end of a hot summer ( listen to me! I mean, a long three weeks of summer), a cool day like this makes one just want to light the fire, settle in a big chair and nest. Today, I am cooking, catching up on emails, and even sneaking in a little greenhouse work.

In know it may sound crazy to people who garden in Zone 6 or higher, but the idea that we have a Kniphofia growing in our front yard is not only noteworthy from the New England perspective, it has been slowing cars down. This 'Coolknip' form was planted three years ago, but it still only produced one stem of flowers, which seem to emerge late in the summer, a few weeks before frost. The plant is getting larger though, and this year, it is nearly twice the size from last year.

A view of my 'work in progress', the front yard.

This steel urn feels so, um....1990's, but lately I've been planting formal little plantings in it with succulent cuttings, it looks rather nice now, doesn't it? I like how one summer of sun can merge the cutting into a solid form which accents the formality of the overall design on the urn.

In the greenhouse, all is not dead. Here, the Clivia that were not moved outside for the summer for evaluation, are sharing a bench under the shadier side of the house. It's nice to see so much room in here after the big summer cleaning this year. Now, Joe is trying to convince me that he wants half of the greenhouse so that he can, in his words " keep my junk away from your junk".Two gardeners sharing, is not a new concept, but to those of us who must share a garden, it's a constant battle for space.
So here's the deal...If he buys the new furnace this year, I'll pay for the heat this winter. ( wait, I pay for the heat everywinter!) But I do need a new furnace quick, before mid October, so perhaps this deal will work.

Outside in the rain, A Japanese Neofinetia begins to bloom. It's fragrance will be strong tonight, so sweet, like cotton candy.

August 24, 2009

Late August Containers, and Daphne

Tis the season for Fuchsia's, and these upright forms are my favorite for displays since they can be used in pots, and staked vertically. Their hanging blossoms are like asian lanterns, dropping. I was reminded of my first job, as a gardener, at a private estate while in high school, and I would have to water the standard fuchsia's every day, or twice a day, if the weather was hot. Now, 30 years later, I am doing the same (maybe I should hire some high school kid?).

A Sinningia tubiflora blooming on the terrace stairs. (Look Brian.....it bloomed!!)

This plant was send to me in a on-line plant trade, by me new friend and gardener , and blogger friend Brian Morely,

Some blog postings by others, showing their gardens, and tours, such as MSLO alum Margaret Roach, visit her fab blog here, inspired my to rearrange some of my containers, or at least the shade loving ones, for we have far too in the garden. I don't have as many Begonia as I has last year, but then again, I am not trying to. Here, Begonia, Fuchsia, treeferns and other shade loving plants like some orchids and mounted antlerish ferns, are all enjoying the steamy, damp weather brought on by the remains of Hurricane Bill.

Fall is coming! This Cyclamen graecum is starting to bloom while in the hot and dry greenhouse, so I brought it outdoors to begin enjoying the rain. I will move many of the other early species out this coming weekend, since they are anxious to begin growing, and I just can't hold them back any longer, even though the night time temps are still hot. Somehow, ( day length, temps, etc) they know it is time to grow, and I must release them to the autumnal rains earlier than expected. Already, the C. africanum, C. cyprium, C. trocopteranthum and C. hederafolium are all beginning to show signs of growth. I'm afraid the the greenhouse will continue to be too warm for some of these species, or, too moist and warm, a recipe for disaster. Outside, the air movement will be better, I think.

Campanula x 'Mai Blyth'
A new Alpine Campanula blooms in one of the new stone troughs, along the studio. I thought it might be too shady here, but last fall, I planted 12 new troughs, in various sizes, most with primula, saxifraga and tiniest alpines in Tufa rock. These are rather modern, black terrazzo troughs I bought at a sale in Boston, and they are all rectangular, or round, and all contemporary in form. I felt it best to arrange them all together rather than with the hypertufa troughs near the greenhouse walkway, since these have a completely different feel, style wise. They are set on granite gravel, and interplanted with Japanese maples, dwarf evergreens, Japanese Tricyrtis cultivars, and Japanese River Grass, Hakonechloa varieties. It all sounds much better than it looks.

The Daphne are all blooming again, especially the ones in the alpine gardens. Daphne arbuscula, D. cneourm,'Pygmy Alba', d.alpinium, D. x thauma ( my fav,), and all of the D. 'Laurence Crocker' crosses. This is new for me, but it is surely a result of my ignorance combined with new knowledge obtained from plant explorer Josef Halda ( who introduced into culture, many of the Daphne we alpinists know today). Josef, when staying with us on his NARGS tour this spring, to my horror, took sheers and cut all of my Daphne, back, harshly. I freaked, since I had been told to never prune Daphne, for fear of viral infections. "No' he said. ' Cut them all back after bloom, and you will get a second flush of bloom and more characteristic, dense growth, as one see's in the wild". And since he had just been collecting in Burma for 5 months, and introducing new Gentians and Daphne to Kew , National Arboreta and many to Harvey Wrightman Alpines, he would know!

BTW, order your Daphne species now from Harvey, his are the BEST.

A late evening shot of the Daphne alpina

Daphne x thauma, a pale pink Daphne, is blooming as dusk sweeps in, and when I really shouldn't be taking a photo. This early spring bloomer, was cut back in April, it is reblooming now. Daphne season for me, begins with some species in late February as the earlier species bloom while snow is on the ground, and it is safe to say that when considering the entire Daphne family, it is the only plant family where I can find a blossom each and every month of the year, even in January.

In August, there are many flowers on many of these shrubs, but it is easy to not notice them amongst the stronger flush of bloom around them, for, after all, this is August. But it is in the very brown month of February and March, when the Daphne blossom reigns. In much the same was a single Crocus flower or a single Forsythia is lost, if seen in July, a single petal of violet or golden yellow in March, stands out remarkably from the dormant world around it, like a jewel colored parrot in a bland, green jungle. August, had many parrots, and the Daphne is lost.
Some very poor shots, but the sun had long set, and the mosquito's were biting! But you get the general idea.

August 23, 2009

A Rare Event - A Nerine falcata Blooms

There are a few bulbs in my collection, that I lug back and forth from the greenhouse, each year, as they slowly mature. Many of these South African bulbs are challenging, and demanding such as Boophane disticha, or some of the Cyrtanthus species. I adore Nerine sarniensis as many of you know, but the genus has a few rarer species, one of which is this, Nerine falcata, a close relative of N. laticoma, both are summer growing species that adore hot temperatures, and dry winters under glass.

According to the collector of the seed, "there are three main groups of Nerine. - winter-growing, summer-growing and evergreen species. Although some are very common and others extremely rare, none are too difficult in cultivation givent that you have an alpine house, or greenhouse, for none can freeze. The main key cultural point is to allow for their correct time of growth and dormancy.

A relative of N. laticoma this is horticulturally very distinct with upright light green leaves below huge spherical umbels of strongly recurved, large, bright-pink flowers each borne on a 25cm long peduncle.

The flower stalk is topped off by, what else but long peduncles and when topped off with the large brightly coloured flowerhead, is rather is show-stopping.
Culture is not too challenging, again, if you can provide exactly what it needs. I suppose, if you live in San Diego or southern California, you may grow this outdoors, if you can find one. I grow my plant in a large, long tom pot, which is filled with granite rock chips and sand, so it is extremely fast draining, and, extremely heavy. I really never expected this plant to bloom, for I have have the bulb for about 8 years now. Last week while watering the summer growing bulbs on the gravel bed, I saw this bud emerging, so this was a surprise.
The bulb of Nerine falcata is large and it needs a good sized pot or a free root run to do itself justice. They like high, even very high, summer temperatures which is rather odd for Nerine species, but unlike N. sarniensis, or N. bowdenii, this species demands a completely dry winter period.

I fertilize rather heavily during the summer, early in the summer with 10-10-10-, then in late July, 0-6-6. Flowers are borne from the current season’s growth, in autumn, so it is up to your horticultural skills if they flower or not. This bulb is 9 years old, and this is the first year it has bloomed. I wonder if last year's hot temperatures helped the bulb form a flower bud deep inside. The pot usualy sits on scalding hot granite, and I allow it to dry out between waterings, after all, it is planted practically in rock and sand, but it seems to relish this treatment, and of course, this year, I am very pleased for the treat.

A lucky honey bee treats himself to some Nerine nectar.

August 20, 2009

Wicked Plants ( and Tattoos) the Dark Side of Horticulture

Time for a little summertime fun. Those who know me know I have an addiction to not only rare plants, but to all tattoos of them, especially on myself. Why not, as an artist and designer, and a gardener, it was a natural connection. Besides once one gets one tattoo, the rest just seem to grow. Not unlike, well, weeds. Today, tattoos are neither 'edgy' nor 'fringe'. Culturally, they are as common as pierced ears, and to youth culture, pierced other things.

I was inspired to write this post after admiring the cover design of this new book by Amy Stewart.

It is so exciting to see such phenomenonal connectivity surrounding a book about plants. So this post started with the phenom of Amy Stweart's book, Wicked Plants, and all the influence germinating after it's release earlier this summer. Celebrated both by botanical intellectuals and by the masses who follow and spread the seeds of popular cuture, Amy's book(s) entertain and inform in a ways few other books can. Her 'gift' goes beyond the assemblage of words and ideas, a gift I certainly lack (and spelling), but my fascination is with how she assembles her multiple influences.

Amy's work is affecting cultural influences itself, an amazing task today for any human creator, be you a feature film director, a fashion designer or a cup cake baker. As a practicing design professional and trend hunter myself, I can resepct the Kismet, and the relevance as this book puts a nail in the 'movement of the moment' ( for there are no more true 'movements'), 'the idea of 'now', is created, and is ephemeral. It can no longer be forcaseted. Amy does this through the use of conscious influence awareness. Anyone who can look at the spectrum of influence available to work with today, and then pick and choose from this global cultural palette, and then creates something that connects with people on such a scale as this book does, is a true artist, and deserves reccognition.

As a past judge for two international design annuals ( How Magazine and Communication Arts), I also want to share that this cover design is stunning, and delightfully authentic in the way it is crafted. Surely a few neoluddites will react with disdain for anything 'vintage looking' or 'retro', but as a leading design evaluator, I can spot a faux period cover from a real one, and this design blurs the boundary between true art and period influence in a way that should make any designer proud. I know of at least eight designers where I work who have bought the book just based on the visual impact of the cover. Again, a smart move on the part of the publisher, or whomever was responsible for this choice. ( I would imagine that given the chance to speak to the designer themself, a file of alternative ejected covers exists somewhere!. Sure would enjoy showing those on my design blog!) I am not the first to make the connections between J.K Rowling, the subject, the period cover design, but these are good connections. Rowling exercised informed influence selection, and in the ends, this is not about "looks-like", it's about creative excellence, inside and out. This creation is effective, and indeed, phenomenal. Go, go Amy. We can't wait for your next!

The illustrations inside the book can't be ignored, either. Illustrated by BRIONY MORROW-CRIBBS they are very well done, and add additional value to the book. I can only imagine what she could design if I hired her to design my next tattoo?

Talk about a trend ( or marketing deal), Amy's book also inspired this very interesting collaboration, an exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens with the same title: Wicked Plants.After I purchased Amy Stewart's very hot book, Wicked Plants - The Weed That Killed Lincoln'd Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities, still on the New York Times Best Sellers List, I was was thinking....the cover design is so ...appealling, visually, with its perfectly period ' Dangerous-Book-for-Boys' -ness, ( It was the cover design that first compelled me to buy the book, even before I read the title and realized that it was a plant book). I thought, it's authetic period design felt tattoo like, dangerous, and, and maybe, it appealed to me ( and perhaps to others) because of it's edge. As someone who is tattooed over half of his body ( um...yeah, but they are plant tattoos, so that is ok, right?), I thought that maybe this might be the perfect subject for a post...botanical tattoos.

A bud on Twitter ( Thanks Hyperating) shared this Amorphophallus species combined with Datura metal. A great choice, as any botanical curiosity is. I can never understand why one would tattoo forever, a 'fantasy flower' or a flash rose or daisy ( 'Flash', is what tattoo artists call the clip art tattoos in catalogs, found in any tattoo studio, for those less creative and original.).

This Fucshia feels period, I almost would not fill it in. But the owner used a botanical print as reference, yet the artist obviously improved on it stylistically.

Don't worry, no pics of roses with thorns dripping blood, nor lilies, Lotus, Orchid ( except for the Masdevallia) , Hybiscus, Calla, Forget me nots, fantasy flowers from space or fairies sitting atop of mushrooms. Remember, this blog is about the rare, the unusual, the authentic.

I hoped to find more botanically interesting tat's, not unlike what inspired my own chest piece shown here.My design is composed from both a theme mash which includes plants with thorns, reticulation and exotic patterning. Think, Stapelia blossoms, the fringed flowers of Passiflora, the mottling of Arum, and Fritillaria meleagris, and F. imperialis, also, the flowers of Aristochlia, as well as the patterning in the wings of Hawk Moths, and wasps.

Coffee is always a popular theme, but usually in a cup, maybe with a skull on it. Here, blogger Erin McCarthy show off a more botanical solution.

San Francisco shot Eric Tucker of the Millennium Restaurant shared his tattoo with the Examiner, in a recent newspaper interview. Tucker's tattoo choice is a fine, if not appropriately upscale and rustic heirloom Chioggia Bee, needled into his forearm. ( a Chanterelle is tattooed on his other arm).

Which brings up the subject of mushroom tattoos,

I will spare you the fairy caps, and other fabulous flaming fungi you can possibly imagine, and yes,I will leave it at, mushrooms are very popular, especially when topped off with a cartoon frog, or of the red-capped white spotted variety.

Even weeds can be glorified for eternity, but then, don't we all have some weeds that we wish we could pull from out heart?

You must visit the You Grow Girl blog created by Gayla Trail from Toronto. Gayla's tattoo is certainly hipper than your grandmothers tattoo. more like something one would see featured on Design Sponge rather than a tattoo studio site. Her 'tattoo' is actually built in one color, but she allowed her husband Davin Risk to color it in with paint,to see what it would look like in color. I think it looks splendid, and I love the idea of a tomato. And, as a fellow graphic artist, her book looks worth getting too. I love the cover and typeography. Well done.

Bamboo is common in Asian themed pieces, but this become more botanical rather than decorative.

Passiflora may seem like an odd choice for many of us ( although, I have one included in my chest tattoo), but if you think 'Crown of Thorns" you may see the obvious religious connection to an image used in many traditional tattoos. This one is combined with an Octopus, naturally.
So maybe this is the ultimate acceptance of pop culture with our beloved plant societies, for societies are playing along, too...
There are many images at the Passiflora Online plant site here, they even have a tattoo section! Maybe other plant societies can take note, and add a section to their sites. After all, you are complaining that you can't get younger members.....

Even your favorite plant can be tattood for eternity. Not sure about this one, though. I would opt for perhaps something that expressed my addiction to Chioggia beets.

Yes, it has the word 'Devil' in it, so this orchid is a natural. A Masdevallia makes a lovely chest piece, don't you think?

Ginko biloba tattoo ( or Ginko Baloba, as the artist posted). Great line art.

Sure....It was bound to happen......a Ghost Orchid ( with skull).

August 18, 2009

Pardencanda my Belamcanda....and my first issue arrives!

This new variety was one of two rhyzome cuttings that I received from Jan and Marty at Joe Pie Weed ) Oh...reminds me, my Joe Pie Weed is abotu 20 feet tall, no kidding!). You may remember my post of the top 10 plants, my Muddy Boot Awards earlier this year. The Pardancanda 'Heart of Darkness' was sold out, so this is 'Bountiful Blush' When mature, the plant is said to have nearly 300 flowers on it. So far, I am happy with ten.

My first draft issue of Plant Society Magazine arrived today, my little venture into self publishing using HP's new MagCloud service online. ( you can order your copy of the draft here.) I had a few concerns, mostly about the paper stock, and the binding. First, the paperstock is thinner, which is OK inside, but the cover is printed on the same stock, I wish I could print on a heavier stock or the cover on a glossy stock, but either would increase the price. Lulu.com prints beautiful books, which look like fine magazines, but I costed this prototype out on Lulu and it would sell at $26.00 US without shipping, with no profit. Not that I am looking for profit, but eventually I will need to if I want to keep this venture going. For now, this saddlestich ( stapled) version on 80lb paper from Magcloud comes in as the most cost effective at .20 a page, and they deliver directly to you.

Another option would be to print fewer pages, for if the document is less than 60 pages, the weight of the paper can increase to 60 lb, I may try that with the fall issue. Also, I might try an option on Lulu at the same time, if people feel moved to purchase a perfect bout issue on heavy paper and a high quality laminated cover for less than $30.00, if wouldn't cost me anything, and the book would be available on amazon at the same time.

For now, I have more things to worry about, such as tweaking tiny errors ( many less than this blog since I had the document proofed twice!). Mostly, design issues such as thin type not reading well, font issues, and image numbers. I think most people would not catch these, but a designer may. Also, the body copy feels large, although it was set at 11.5, which is standard for annual reports, it feels large here when printed, so I will need to adjust both the leading and the point size to make it perfectly elegant, I am also I type geek.

Over all, the images printed far better than I could imagine, and once I got over the photo color-copyness of the paperstock, I actually felt a teensy bit proud about the photography and design, even though I am not a photographer, seeing ones images printed can still be exciting. I hope people are not too discouraged by the paperstock, but I would imagine that this project will only improve with time, and that most people will kindly understand that these sort of ventures begin not at big, glossy mags, but with this sort of grass roots naivete.

Some sample Spreads

The east coast of the US is experiencing very hot weather this week, but the greenhouse still needed to be cleaned out. Val and Travis clean out under the benches and helped lug out long Jasmine vines that had taken over most of the inside. Two large Acacia trees were cut out, and now the right hand side of the house is ready for some bleach spray and for the glass to be washed. With our first frost date a month away, I still need to address the big issue of buying a new gas furnace. Ugh.

Pots. ready to be washed.

August 15, 2009

In Bloom Today, August 15

First off, a bouquet of flowers that are all blue and violet. Stokesia, Asters, Scabiosa.
I thought that this saturday I would photograph what was in bloom today, and then post it. Funny, I thought I would have more than this, but I have realized something - August is probably the one month of the year when there really isn't much in bloom in my garden. At least, anything that is horticulturally interesting. Still, there was enough to photograph and to post. Hope everyone else posting on their garden blogs enjoy it too.

Clerodendron ugandense, I love to grow large tubs of various Clerodendron species for late summer color, but this species is less show, but equally pretty since it had true blue flowers, and who doesn't like that! Tender, I take cuttings near frost to winter over in the greenhouse.

China Asters were my mom's favorite flowers, and she would grow rows of them when I was a kid. haven't seen them much since then, and I have found out why. They are very challenging to grow, prone to virus' and wilt. Still, I tried this year, and had great luck. Although I have no dark purple ones.

Odd, I know, but this choice and rare shrub was one of the most expensive plants I had ever purchased. Aralia elata variegata. It's flower heads are huge, and buzzing with bees. The foliage is stunningly variegated.

Acis autumnalis,, the autumn snowflake blooming in the raised alpine bed along the greenhouse. This tiny bulb blooms in August and September and is no taller than a foot tal.

I am smitten by Crocosmia, and surprisingly they have been quite hardy for me, here in my Zone 5 garden. From South Africa, the corms spread slowly, and the plants are starting to form nice, strong clumps.

A Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly on a Stokesia in the Gold and Blue Gravel Garden.

Belamcanda 'Halo Yellow', the Dwarf Blackberry Lily, first year planting that I bought at Plant Delights.

A yellow Crocosmia with a lost tag, still, nice.

A white Agapanthus from South Africa, is much more floriferous than any of my other varieties, mostly violet flowered ones. I divided it this year, and now have four large tubs. The Rudy Throated Hummingbirds love it.

I think it is safe to say that we have the largest and oldest Gardenia shrub in New England. Perhaps 30 years old, and 8 feet in diameter, it was pruned heavily this year so that we could move it back into the greenhouse. Still, every august, I pick dozens of flowers, 27 today!

Another Plant Delights delight, a double tiger lily. I know, a little white trash, but it's a memory thang.

OK, everyone has been posting their Verbena bonariensis shots, so here is mine. I wish they would self seed here, but we are too cold in the winter. So I have to grow them the old fashioned way every year....from seed started early in the greenhouse.

Oreganum and other red, grey and silver plants in my 1950's themed ( color-palette-wise) hanging basket.