November 16, 2008
Nothing "says autumn" like berried plants, and never really appreciated until the leaves fall here in New England, are the berried plants which for most of the summer, look rather ordinary. I am particularly fond of yellow-berried plants, and this Viburnum dilatatum are some of the best yellow berried plants around. Great for attracting birds during the fall migration, and for winter foragers, as well as for color, this is tops on my list.
New Englanders may be familiar with the deciduous holly, Ilex verticillata. the winter berry, seen on road sides and swamps with screaming red berries used to decorate window boxes and wreaths for the Holiday season, but you might not be as familiar with the yellow form, Ilex verticillata ' Winter Gold'. ( Admittedly, a little orange here, since it is exposed to bright sunlight. OTher forms are orange, melon and darker red.
Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldi 'Profusion' is the most brilliantly artificial yet car stopping fall shrub for display. Actually, it carefully sited, it does not look that bad in the landscape and who can resist these berries which lose their color after a very hard frost. They are amazing! This just never looks like a zone 5 hardy plant to me, yet it is. No wonder it is called the Beauty Berry. Look for it sold in the autumn at retail centers, or ask for it in the spring, for it never will be out for sale then. ( it's flowers are barely seen). This is a plant that truly waits until autumn to show its colors.
August 4, 2006
Gardenia blossoms smell better in the moist summer air
If gardenias were wine, connoisseurs would advise that to appreciate the deep, rich, complexity of the scent, one must enhale the blosson in a moist bouyant atmosphere to atruly appreciate it's balance. So, with near 100% humidity here in the New England area of the States, I'd say we are ready for GArdenia tasting. It is this very moist air which not only triggers the potted Gardenia plants to bloom, which have been relovated outside for the summer, but it also brings a certain quality to the rich scent, a quality that somehow makes it more acceptable to those who find it cloying, and a quality which enhances the scent for those of us who love it, like I do.
I think that we may have the largest Gardenia tree in the world. Well, we know it is not, but for a plant that is regarded as fussy to grow in a container, our plant is six feet tall and wide (see inset with Fergus). Each summer is gifts us with hundreds of blossoms, one time over a hundred at one time in bloom. No special treatment fo this old plant,it just gets shoved out in the summer, and pulled back into the Greenhosue for the winter. Sure, the greenhouse helps, but it barely makes it though the winter since it is a trap for scale, aphids and mealy bug. It is the first plant to get any of these. The plant was gifted to us (rescued?) from friends who had kept the plant in thier home during the winters near Boston, so ir's not as it one needs greenhouse conditions. Basically, it doesn't go dry, it rarely has wilted, and occaisional root pruning and repotting has kept the beast healthy.
A pure white Agapanthus stands out in the mid-summer heat
Commonly seen in blue, hence,it's common name, the Blue Lily of the Nile, (although Violet Lily of the Nile might be more accurate to a colorist),I think that this striking white form of Agapanthus is just as quite impressive. This unknown cultivar of ours, was bought (on sale in the winter) at a lage Boston gardencenter without a tag, just because it had beautiful wide foliage. It surprised us to be an excellent form of a "alba' selection, most likely a cultivar from one of the larger plant breeding wholesalers in California like Monrovia or something. Who care what name it has, it still has gigantic flower heads, the size of basketballs and larger even then the purple cultivar called Thunderhead.
I can't say that I have mastered growing agapanthus yet. They dop well enough now that we have the greenhouse, but with nearly ten cultivars in the collection, and a few species like A. inapertus, only two have decided to bloom this year, and last year, the others all bloomed. They all are growing profusely, it just seems that the rest tok the year off. As South African bulb-like plants, although they do not go dormant, they do still get a dry half of the year and a wet, growth time of year. It may be a simple adjustment as dryer and cooler in the winter and perhaps more frequent repotting since they are all quite root bound now.
Although it has been easier with the addition of the greenhouse. I know that many garden writers advise to simply pot them up in tubs or large pots, and after thier summer bloom, drag them to a cool garage or cellar, and let them go semi dormant, at least in the colder parts of the world, like Zone 5 and lower. What's up with this advice? I wonder if they ever have really grown any of the plants that they write about? OR do they just research on-line and repeat poor advice? When I become a garden writer, ( someday) I will promise to write only about those plants which I have mastered or failed with, reporting my successes and advice with authentic accuracy, not acquired information which is second hand, at best.
Fresh Green Papyrus adds balance to white flowers in arrangements and in the garden
I love Papyrus, and the I keep a few species that also go out in the summer, into tubs of water. The cut stems are stylish, in arrangements, and long lasting.
April 21, 2006
This week I pruned the pleached Hornbeam hedge along the stone walk that leads out to the woods behind the house. I also decided to plant a new Pleached hedge of Hornbeams (Carpinus) along a new herb garden that I am planting on a very messy side of the house, since a huge 200 foot long Hemlock Hedge (Tsuga canadensis) that has been providing privacy in our yard since my grandfather planted it nearly a hundred years ago, is weakening and soon will be gone, due to an infestation of the Woolly Adelgid.
Pleaching is a ancient method of weaving branches to produce a hedge, often with the trunks showing. This French method is time and labor intensive, something that should make me reconsider the project, but on the other hand, it makes it seem even more attractive. Pleaching comes from the work Plechier, to weave, and one must use a tree species with flexible branches. Hornbeams are traditionally used, but one may also use Beeches.
The new planting will take at least five years before it starts to look good, but the bamboo structure helps to make the area seem less ugly.
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