}

February 6, 2011

An Edgeworthia on the Edge. It's Worth It.



EDGEWORTHIA CHRYSANTHA PAPYRIFERA  'AKEBONO', A RARE SHRUB IS  BEGINNING INTO BLOOM UNDER GLASS.

Outside, the world is encased in ice, but in the greenhouse, my sort-of, winter garden, rarely seen tender shrubs from China and South America are starting to bloom. The first of these shrubs to bloom this mid-winter is an Edgeworthia chrysantha 'rubra', an even more unusual strain of an Asian shrub where even the more common species is rare enough.

I first saw Edgeworthia on mid February day, not unlike today, where temperatures rose above freezeing. I was spending a Sunday walking in Tokyo when I was struck by an oddly blooming shrub, with branches all bare and woody, but with small arching branches with tubular waxy fragrant blossoms the color of heirloom chicken eggs, golden yellow and white. I was dumbstruck, for I had never seen this plant before.

Fast forward 8 years to today, in my Massachusetts green house, as I strolled around in the early morning sunlight picking some Camellia's for my fathers 97th birthday party here at the home. I turned the corner, and there was my shrubby Edgwothia growing in a large clay tub, and the dormant buds that look like coins on fuzzy pipe cleaners, tiny buds the colors of Clementine oranges, were beginning to open. 
These two images are shared by a reader, Mike Huben, taken at the Planting Fields Arboretum on Long Island, NY.  If you check the link under my comments section to another readers Flickr page, you can see how confusing the nomenclature is between the two species.  Either way, both species are fine additions to any Zone 7 garden. Edgeworthia are magical while in bloom.



This rarely seen shrub (which is too tender to survive in our New England climate) is kept under glass from December until April, so I choose to grow in in a large tub. In this way, I can bring it into the glass house for the winter after the frost nips the foliage and it drops off. Edgworthia papyrifera has a fascinating history in Asia, where it is still highly treasured in the mountains for China for use in the making of fine papers. As a garden plant in warmer zones like Zone 8-10, it is known as an early-blooming plant that shows it's daphne-like blooms in late February and early March. Under the protection of glass, it will bloom earlier.


This is the first year that I am growing Edgeworthia in a container, after seeing one at the New England Flower show two years ago being grown in a large terra cotta pot, and after seeing a lovely specimen in Tokyo's Ueno Park, where it was blooming in the snow planted in the ground,I knew that I had to get one.. Both of these specimens that I has seen, where the more conventional white forms of Edgeworthia papyrifera. Apparently, there is still some disagreement between taxonomists on whether the species grown in cultivations are E. papyrifera or E. chrysantha, ( one reader makes the argument that the species I have is actually E. papyrifera 'Akebono' because it's branches are so thin and because the peduncles are long rather than short ( who wants short peduncles, anyway!). (The peduncle in case you are wondering is the stem that attaches the blossoms to the branch.


It will be fun to watch these 'coins' of buds open on this species, I will share more photos as well as the entire shrub, so that you can see how the entire shrub looks. I am becoming enamored with many shrubs from warmer zones for culture in my cold greenhouse. The shrubs make winter bearable, for instance, today, with the sunshine today, and the warm moist air under glass, if felt better than any spa treatment.



February 5, 2011

MY Top 10 Wish list from Gardens That I Visited in 2010


Pseudolarix amabilis, The Golden Larch

NUMBER 1          THE GOLDEN LARCH

I saw this growing at a botanic garden, and fell in love with it's yellow, long needles which were very lush. Up close, it looked amazing, but from a distance, it seemed to glow. Gotta get it!


Throughout the year, I see plants that I feel that I must have, but either they are annuals, and it is autumn, or they are shrubs, bulbs or trees that would need to be searched out, or started in the spring. On these cold January nights, I like to look through my notebooks, by iPad and my photos in iPhoto (since that is often how I capture what I want- an image with a tag, while walking thought a botanic garden, or someones garden). My memory just isn't that good, so it's easier to document what I want to add to my garden, digitally. I thought that I might share with you some of the plants I want to grow this year, some of these are common, and others are not. Some are trees and shrubs, others, just plain old annuals or new varieties that I have seen in person and fell in love with. A few, like the nasturtiums at the end, are just rare vintage varieties that I have been looking for, but some that might be worth growing in containers in the greenhouse since I know some retail nurseries are starting to propagate them. So, enjoy this wacky list of this and that.

The blackest of black, perfectly black mini peppers, all from this lovely variety called Black Pearl.

NUMBER 2             BLACK PEARL ORNAMENTAL PEPPER

I photographed many, many many black peppers this year, but this one variety for absolutely the blackest. I must have it, and lots of it. I am already thinking of what I could pair it with in containers and in the garden. 'Black Pearl' seeds are available in some catalogs, I've seed them and I have already ordered them.



I am going to try more Gesneriads in Pots

NUMBER 3        SINNINGIA TUBIFLORA

OK, I want more ( since I know that there are other cultivars and colors available) but whenever I Google this, all I get is some of the photos from my own blog. What's up with that?) The fact is, these are rather new, and their roots look like potatoes and they are just as prolific ( the pot below is so full of tubers ,that I had to break it to get them all out. These are just catching on, so it will take a few years before more people grow them, but I do want more. I will be ordering more of these 'hardy' Sinningia's from Plant Delight's Nursery this year, I see they have more to choose from. 
Not truly 'hardy' here in New England, ( zone 9 is where you could keep it outdoors in the garden), but as a potted tub plant for the summer container garden, it can make a magnificent specimen if allowed to grow in a large enough tub like this one. Allow to dry off in the autumn, you could simply drag the tub into the cellar and let it go dry, this one is now in the greenhouse under a bench were it is about 38 Deg. F and dry.


Number 4 -     I am in love with  Blackberry Lily or Iris Domestica after seeing this bed planted at a botanic garden this fall.

You've all seen this in catalogs, but for whatever reason, I've never actually seen on in fruit. Belamcanda chinensis, or Blackberry Lilies are not true lilies, nor blackberries ( these fruits are not edible) but they are Iris relatives that are grown more for their flowers, than for their fall displays of seed. But we should take some lessons from our turn-of-the-century gardeners who knew and loved this border irid. In 1910, you would have found this plant common in gardens, but when was the last time you ever saw it in a garden? Their orange or yellow speckled flower is lovely, but even new varieties are being introduced by Joe-Pye Weed Garden, in colors like purple and mauve. Just be sure that when you Google this plant, you must also try looking for it under it's new genus name or Iris, or Pardanthopsis. even on source tells me that it is now Gladiolus. Regardless, it's easy enough to find if you search for it as Belamcanda or Blackberry lily. ( Officially, I think it is now Iris domestica, believe it or not) but whatever you call it, plant it in large numbers. One plant will not look like much, I suggest at least 12 plants if you can afford it.

The old-fashioned color form for Belacamda chinensis ( Iris domestica)




Number 5     - Most promising new annual, Gomphrena 'Fireworks'

Hey, it doesn't look like much in photos inside seed catalogs, and if looks even worse in nursery six packs. But in the garden? How did I ever miss this? We saw these at a botanic garden from a distance across a parking lot, and I was actually shocked once I read the label. So, this easy-to-grow annual is on my must-have list this spring. obviously, plant is large numbers.

Gomphrena 'Fireworks

Number 6       Enhance late fall plantings with Lespedeza thumbergerii, the Pink Bush Clover.

This was planted along with the above Gomphrena, and it was a perfect match that I will honestly steal! Lespedeza thunbergii

Lespedeza thunbergii cv. Gibralter




CEROTHECA TRILOBA

Number 7    The South African Foxglove for the late summer garden, Cerotetheca triloba


Ceratotheca triloba

South African annuals are hot right now, at least they are with the garden geeks and botanic gardens, were you will seed them plants in large sweeps, but I can see why. Ceratotheca  means "having horned capsules' which you can see here clearly. Also known as the South African Foxglove, but it is not a true foxglove. IT grows 4 -6 feet tall in one season, and is easy from seed ( if you can find it). This pink variety is on my wish list, as is the white form, you might find young plants at your most stylish and informed garden center this spring, but they will not have flowers.




Number 8     Tropaeolum moritzianum from John McFarlane's site on collectable Tropaeolum

Finally, rare, or rarely grown or lost-to-the-trade, Nasturtiums, or Tropaeolum. It seems that I keep adding more and more Tropaeolum to my collection, especially in the greenhouse, but I was surprised to find that some of the more annual cultivars and species are just as interesting. Tropaeoli, moritzianum from Mexico has fringed blossoms and lush, lobed foliage. I have seen photos of it in collections at Kew in England, but I have yet to find seeds for it.

Two vintage varieties that were once common with collectors in the late eighteenth century are rumored to be available again. These two may look like simple Nasturtiums for the annual garden, but they are actually clones that are named, and thus, must be vegetativly propagated from cuttings. These both have ruffled, double blossoms and were both conservatory plants from the old glasshouses of estates and royalty. Of course, I must have them for my greenhouse, so again, if anyone can find them, please let me know. I do know that a wholesale grower was marketing cutting this winter for commercial use, so I know that they are still available. 
Nasturtium 'Hermine Grashoff'

 Nasturtium ' Darjeeling Gold' - old conservatory varieties of nasturtiums grown in containers under glass, are making a comeback.



Number 9      Hybiscus acetosella

Not rare, but I don't want to forget looking for this tropical for planting in some of my color schemes in containers and in the garden. Pink and Merlot foliage? Bring on the coral flowers!


Number 10       Gladiolus 'STAR PERFORMER'


I know! A gladiolus!  But as many of you know, we went to a gladiolus society show this summer, and I have to admit, there were many amazing varieties there that are not commercially available yet, unless you order from one of the small, micro growers who breed their own plants, cross their own varieties and then enter them in shows like this. My want list is long, and includes colors like chocolate, and bronze, but one variety captured my attentions, simple because, it was extraordinary. The variety named 'Star Performer' has been winning gladiolus society shows everywhere, and I could see why. Sure, it's magenta and pink, but I don't care, I have to find a place for this bulb in my garden, maybe even in my purple and yellow garden, for once you see this variety live, it will change your life.

It was taller, more floriferous, more flowers open than any other Glad, and it grows strong. This plant is alot like a dog who is winning all of the dog shows around the country, and you just know that it will will Westminster. Look for this plant, if you want to impress your neighbors! ( not available retail it seems, and not at Home Depot or any garden centers). Try Pleasant Valley Glads and order it now before it sells out, but it may not, it's still a secret.! I mean, who buys glads? I do, that's who.

Other glads from Gladiolus nurseries are just as awesome. Try some of these newer varieties rather than ordering them from bulb sites or bulb catalogs.










February 4, 2011

Outside, It's the Yukon, Inside, It's Miami

ROMULEA KOMSBERGENSIS, RAISED FROM SEED PLANTED IN 2008.  A SMALL SOUTH AFRICAN BULB SPECIES RARELY SEEN.

As the snow continues to pile up, we at least are getting a break today, with bright sunshine and temperatures that rose from a lost of -1 last night, to 28 deg. F today. In the greenhouse, it seems everything is beginning to bloom, the air smells like violets and the camellias and South African bulbs are all starting to open up with new species opening every day. Here are a few, to share for Friday Flowers.


THE BACK OF THIS ROMULEA IS PARTICULARLY STRIKING



CAMELLIA'S BLOOM IN THE GREENHOUSE, AS THE SNOW CONTINUES TO PILE UP OUTSIDE, IT WAS HIGHER THAN THE CURVED GLASS, BUT I HAD TO SHOVEL IT DOWN TO THE BOTTOM PANES. MORE SNOW TOMORROW, IT'S CHEST DEEP HERE.


THE SNOW IS HIGHER THAN MY WAIST, BUT I LIKE TO BELIVE THAT IT IS INSULATING  THE FOUNDATION. WITH SINGLE PANE GLASS, IT'S A LITTLE SCARY WHEN THE SNOW TOUCHES THE GLASS.


HYACINTHOIDES ARISTIDES, A FRAGRANT TINY RELATIVE OF THE COMMON HYACYNTH, BUT RARELY SEEN IN COLLECTIONS. IT MUST BE GROWN AS AN ALPINE PAN, UNDER GLASS.


Many small winter-blooming rare bulbs are beginning to bloom now. The Romulea's are starting, and in a few weeks, the Gladiolus species and the Lachenalia will start. Even though it is cold outside, the sun already feels strong.

OXALIS


AN INTERSPECIFIC CLIVIA CROSS BLOOM

ASPHODELUS ACAULIS


Our State bird, the Black Capped Chickadee 

I really hate bringing up the snow issue again, but it is quite remarkable here in Massachusetts. We had another 20 inches this week, and more on the way this week. The roofs are all leaking, and we have had to pay a tree company to shovel off the roof because the ice dams that are forming near the edge of the roof are backing up water which is melting and coming into the house.  At least the dogs like it.