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.


  1. Matt:
    I am so enjoying my visits here.... another certifiable plant addict!
    I love the perennial Cyclamen and have C. hederifolium blooming in the garden this week. I wish that I could over-winter Daphne, but my Z5 winters seem too harsh! Thanks for giving me a place to visit more as the garden begins its downward spiral.

  2. Love Sinningia tubiflora. We grew it in large swaths at Brookgreen Gardens in Pawleys Island, SC. When in flower the walkways smelled of Fruit Loops. All it lacked was the rainbow of colors!

  3. Teza, you should have no problem growing these Daphne in Ontario, that's where I got them from. I too am Z 5 / 5b. Just be caution of site, look for good drainage, and a snowcover, would be preferred.

  4. Thanks Compost. SC sounds great, I can only imagine what a bed of Sinningia tubiflora would look like. Here, it spreads fast in a pot, I would imagine that in a milder climate, it grows much more robust.

  5. Matt, I've been out of town, so I just got caught up on my garden visits...thanks for the mention, I'm hoping I'll get a second flush on my Sinningia too!Just picked up my mail...Plant Society was burning my fingers as I walked in the door-how cool, all I need is a glass of vino and my evening is set! Brian Morley


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