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.

Late Bloomers

Back in February, while attending the World Orchid Grand Prix in Tokyo, you may remember my complaining that my Coelogyne cristata has never bloomed, especially since I purchased one 6 years ago when I first saw the mega-plant in the Tokyo Dome. Well, readers posted what I should do ( basically, provide more fertilizer, and repot, more water, etc....and look what I found today while taking a quick stroll through the greenhouse- only a handful of stalks, but finally, it did bloom. Perhaps next year, I will fertilize it more, and see what happens. The plant spent the summer outside, where the unusually proficient summer thunderstorms drenched the plant daily. I think I should have fertilized it more frequently, but I mixed up a weak manure tea with pidgeon poop and duck shavings. Just playing.

Haemanthus albiflos - getting bigger and blooming on schedule in the greenhouse.

This plant blooms the first week of December for me, so actually, it is blooming a couple of weeks early. This South African is easy to grow, and rewards one with these distinctive shaving-brush like blossoms.

Camellia sassanqua

One often associates Camellias with February and March, but there are some species which bloom in the Autumn. Camellia sassanqua , this particular variety lost its label, can handle some frost, so I leave some pots near the front of the greenhouse along with other plants which look best in the fall, and which can handle some light frosts. With temperatures falling this week into the low 20's, I moved everything in under glass. Officially, winter is about to arrive.

Fergus watches the last of the potted tubs outside the greenhouse get prepared to be moved in for the winter. I think he is hoping for a mouse to appear.

Another annual fall bloomer, my trusty Cyrtanthis alatus x, which I divided this year into a dozen plants. Three divisions have buds, which always surprises me since Cyrtanthis dislike root disturbance. That said, so to Nerine, and I have had nearly 100% bloom this year, a year when I disturbed and divided all of my bulbs. Maybe the disturbance actually stimulates some to flower?

November 6, 2008

Massachusetts Orchid Society Show

LAst weekend ( halloween weekend here), our local Orchid society held its annual show at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts, an hours drive from Boston. Many wonderful orchids were on display, and I was impressed with the quality and variety of species that were shown. The Orchid Society is one group which I am not a member of, I think I passed through my 'orchid phase' a few years ago, but I encourage others to consider joining - this particular chapter is interesting because it meets on weeknights rather than on weekends, which fits my calendar more conveniently.