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Archive for February, 2009

My prim(e) name is usually connected to a Rose.

P.v

P.v

I come in many colors, pink, yellow, white and in between.

Magenta

Magenta

This is a common color you will see in me!

I am a very old fashioned plant  and am referred to in many old stories and poems.

I am Vein

I am Vein

People often say I’m vulgar.

I think I am more of a star in a star!

Pure and Pristine

Pure and Pristine

If you need more come back tomorrow.

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(Coast)Silk Tassel Bushes or Garrya elliptica are a very unusual plant to come across. The first time I saw one I was thrilled, I had never paid attention to the rather boring ungainly shrub located at the top of the long perennial border at Playfair Park in Saanich. It was early in the year and I knew  that this garden had a wonderful collection of Rhododendrons which I wanted to check on, they were not in bloom yet,  instead I found a Garrya.

Winter Damaged Garrya at Playfair Park.

Winter Damaged Garrya at Playfair Park.

The first thing I realized on seeing this plant for the first time is that at other times without its catkins I might have thought it was an Elaegnus which has similar leaves but not flowers. Garryas are dioecious meaning they are male or female plants(Holly is another plant like this). They both have long catkins but the males clones are the most prized.  Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ is the most commonly grown male clone which can have catkins which are up to 12in (30 cm) long.

Garrya Male Catkins

Garrya Male Catkins

Garrya ellipticas are true west coasters and don’t like living far from the ocean, this is because there are smaller temperature swings when closer to a large body of water (marine effect).  Their range extends all along the coast from southern Oregon through California. There are a total of 18 Garrya species found along the West coast  from Washington state through to Panama and east to Texas

A Happy Garrya at Glendale Gardens

A Happy Garrya at Glendale Gardens

Here in Victoria We live in a rain shadow which keeps us drier and warmer than the  the British Columbia mainland. We have a very moderate climate which is similar to their native habitat of Chaparral, mixed evergreen forest or coastal Sage scrub. Garryas’ where first found by David Douglas in 1828 and named for Nicolas Garry who was the Secretary of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  He assisted Douglas in his explorations in the Pacific Northwest.

A well placed Silk Tassel Bush

A well placed Silk Tassel Bush

Placement of Silk Tassel Bushes here here is a very tricky thing. They like full sun to part shade preferably in mixed deciduous trees and shrubs to show off their winter blooms. The most important thing is to make sure this plant is kept out of the drying burning winds that can occur during a cold snap such as the ones we have during the November to March period.  Best placement is bottoms of slopes or beside walls or fences. Another use is as a transitional plant from a  naturalised setting into the more structured garden.

Winter damage to the evergreen foliage.

Winter damage to the evergreen foliage.

Garryas are easy to please,  for luxuriant growth they ask for no less than 25 in.(25cm) of rain. They are not very particular to soil and tolerate clays if they are well drained and nutrient rich. They will grow into a substantial 12ft(4m) by 12ft(4m) multi-stemmed shrub which is deer and rabbit resistant. They can be lightly pruned after blooming primarily for shape, do not too far down into the bush.  Although these plants can take temperatures as low as 4f(-10c) they prefer a warmer climate.  Zones 7 through 10 is recommended.

Lnks to this weeks Subject:

A very informative site about Garryas

http://groups.ucanr.org/sonomamg/Plant_of_the_Month/Garrya_Elliptica.htm

Playfair Park in Saanich is one of my favorite parks for great plant specimens. I will be regularly writing about the plants here.

http://www.saanich.ca/resident/parks/playfairpark.html

David Douglas, an important plant explorer who introduced many species into cultivation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Douglas

Which plant will I write about next week? It’s still a mystery to me, check back on Wednesday for a clue.

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My ‘Common’ and ‘Latin’ name is often said to be the same.

My Glossy Coating

My Glossy Coating

I have a shining disposition.

I can be a male or female, and most likely I will be  male when you find me

Blooming Time is Now.

Blooming Time is Now.

I am a delicate thing that persists long after my blooming season is over.

I’m a west coast kind of soul which is most happy in a warmer place.

Floral Fuzz

Floral Fuzz

Don’t be alarmed by my floral fuzz, it’s quite Innocent and won’t harm you a bit.

If you put me in the wrong place I might burn from the exposure!

G.E.

G.E.

My silky tassels are the most famous part of me as they can be up to 12 in(30cm) long which dangle and sway in the breeze.

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I first came across the lovely Eranthis hyemalis or Winter Aconites at my grandmothers garden in South Surrey near Vancouver. My mother showed me them blooming under a huge Cherry tree and there where hundreds of  the golden gems dotting the ground . She wanted to know if she could grow them in Prince George(where I grew up), I said I didn’t know and would find out for her. As they seemed to be extremely dwarf Buttercup type plants I hoped they would grow in the north(zone3). It turns out that they can with protection as they are hardy from zone 3 to 8. Both my mother and grandmother are both dead now and I have thought about these delicate plants off and on through the years and wondered why were they so uncommon?

Winter Aconites blooming in the sun.

Winter Aconites at Glendale Gardens blooming in the sun.

I hadn’t seen any Winter Aconites until last week when I was out looking for a suitable plant to highlight for this weeks article and stumbled upon them at one of my favorite gardens. I knew at once what I had come across and  knew I would just have to write about them. after finding them at Glendale Gardens I wanted to see if they were planted elsewhere. The first place i thought of was Finnerty Gardens which are located on the grounds of the University of Victoria, so, I went there and was not disappointed. There were several groupings of them located near the edges of  of the developed gardens.

A group of Eranthis hymalis at Finnerty Gardens.

A group of Eranthis hyemalis at Finnerty Gardens.

Each plant is quite small but it’s impact is huge. they hug the ground being at the most 4in(10cm) high. Each stem bears a single large 5 petaled blossom which  is 3/4 to 1 in(2.5cm) across. Each flower is charmingly encircled by a delicate green ruffle. If these plants are happy they will increase and create carpets of bright blossoms followed by delicate foliage and then finally go dormant in late spring.

Glorious Gleaming Golden Winter Aconites

Glorious Gleaming Golden Winter Aconites

The tiny Winter Aconites  are truly one of the delights of spring which you won’t notice the rest of the year as they go dormant over the rest of the year. Being a member of theRanunculus family they do not like being moved which may have lead to their scarcity in gardens. This means they need careful placement. Fortunately there are many suitable locations which they can grow.

Fully opened Winter Aconites February 17 2009

Fully opened Winter Aconites February 17 2009

Ideally they are placed somewhere slightly out of the way that can be easily seen. Often good placement is at the base of a deciduous tree or in a rock garden niche which has sufficient moisture in the spring when they are erupting into a glowing show. They mix well with other spring bulbs such as Galanthus and Crocuses and other early blooming plants such as Primulas which bloom in the late January through early march period. It would also be possible to intermingle them with very low growing groundcovers which are not too dense.

Several healthy clumps of Eranthis hyemalis.

Several healthy clumps of Eranthis hyemalis.

Winter Aconites originate in Europe,  growing from France through Italy and crossing the sea into Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. They have happily naturalised in other areas of Europe as well. They grow there in deciduous woodlands  such as those dominated by Horse Chestnuts(Aesculus hippocastanum) and rocky places. Winter Aconite are relatively easy to grow as they are not too particular about soil and will accept any as long as its not at an alkaline or acidic extreme. It should be rich in nutrients such as a loam and able to retain moisture in the important early spring growing period.

Winter Aconite blossoms in detail.

Winter Aconite blossoms in detail.

If you are lucky you can find a neighbor who will share these dainty giants with you as they are best lifted and the tiny tubers divided up. The next best is to purchase the dormant tubers and then soak them a few days in damp peat before planting in the late summer about 1 in deep. Sow freshly collected seed in the location where they are to grow and then be patient as it tales 1 to 2 years before blossoms will be seen. Always remember to mark where you have planted the tubers or seeds so you will not accidentally disturb them while they are dormant.

Links to This Weeks Subject:

Finnerty Gardens where many of these pictures where taken is a hidden jewel at the University of Victoria grounds. It is a good place to learn the names of plants as many have been marked:

http://external.uvic.ca/gardens/index.php

A good source of information on Winter Aconites

http://www.hort.wisc.edu/mastergardener/Features/bulbs/winteraconite/winteraconite.htm

I look forward to chatting with you again next Sunday, right here.

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I am a Glowing Golden Globe peaking out across Southern Europe and all of Asia.

Glowing Golden Globe

Glowing Golden Globe

I often am found in the forest, but not always.

Green Ruffles

Green Ruffles

I have a green ruffle around each of my flowers.

I am dainty yet stocky all at the same time.

Golden Eye

Golden Eye

Buttercup is one of my more famous cousins. Now can you guess who I am?

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I am a member of the Victoria Horticultural Society and as a member have the opportunity to go to events they sponsor.  The presentation that was put on in November was by Dr. John Grimshaw, the Garden Adviser to the Colesbourne Park gardens  in Glouchestershire in Great Britain.  Colesbourne Park was the ancestral home of John Elwes (1846-1922), the discoverer of the Snowdrop(Galanthus elwesii) which is named after him. He was a notable plant collector who was supposed to go on a trip to Cyprus in 1874 but had to change plans at the last moment. Instead he ended up going to Turkey. In Turkey he visited  a mountainous area near Smyna (modern day Izmir) in April where he discovered Galanthus elwesii, a little garden gem.  This Galanthus is called the ‘Greater’ or ‘Giant Snowdrop’ and is the first Snowdrop to bloom in the Victoria area.

 aGalanthus elwesii blooming.

Galanthus elwesii blooming.

I was surprised when photographing Galanthus this week that this was the form that bloomed first, I had assumed the Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) was the first. G elwesii is the most robust of the Snowdrops which are commonly seen in yards, naturalized along roadways and in the lawns of older homes here.

Naturalized along a country road.

Naturalized along a country road.

This species is larger in all parts; it’s leaves are wider and more notably glaucous, and the  broad petaled flowers are larger in all ways. It is an attractive glistening jewel ranging in height between 5 to 9 in (12-25cm) and  here it tends to the taller side. Everyone knows the dainty hanging 3 petaled blossoms with the noticeable green markings on the tepals or inner petals.

Fully opened Ganathus elwesii

Fully opened Ganathus elwesii

The other species commonly found here is the more delicate G. nivalis (Common Snowdrop) which appears to bloom about a week later. It has much narrower and greener leaves and stands only up to 6 in (15cm). at the most. It is originally found in a wide area of Europe from Spain through to the Ukraine and has naturalized in many areas in between. Being that it comes originally form Europe is was the first Snowdrop to be written about by John Gerard  in 1597 in his famous ‘Great Herbal’.

Naturalized Common Snowdrops

Naturalized Common Snowdrops

There are in all 19 named species found in Europe and western Asia which happily cross with each other. This has given us an astounding 250 cultivars, hybrids and clones. Many of these are extremely rare and expensive to obtain. Many plants in the Victorian age had passionate followers and Galanthus was no exception, mad Galantophiles collected and wrote about the plants. Surprisingly these dainty plants pack a potent honey scent , so they would make an enjoyable small bouquet.

Could this be a cross between nivalis and elwesii?

Could this be a cross between Galanthus nivalis and elwesii?

Fortunately for us these are easy plants to grow. Snowdrops like rich humus soil which is moist but well drained. They like open sunny positions mush like areas they would naturally grow. Snowdrops do tolerate cool shady places especially if they are grown in a very hot climate. Galanthus can have problems with botytis and gray mold if they are kept in a too damp location,(I have never seen this here). They will quickly multiply and produce clumps which can be lifted and divided when the flowers are spent and leaves are starting to yellow.  This is easily accomplished by replanting the bulbs singly at the same depth they grew in. these dainty plants can fit into almost any garden scheme, rock gardens,  early spring ground cover, early spring color and any niches that need filling. By carefully selecting where and what kinds of galanthus to plant, flowering will start in january and continue though March and into early April. Galanthus are hardy to -20c -Zones 4-8 but prefer cool winters.

Links for the Week.

Colesbourne Park

http://www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk/colesbourne_park.htm

Henry John Elwes, an interesting and important man in garden history. Look under the History link.

http://www.snowdrop.org.uk/

Galanthus elwesii

http://www.rainyside.com/features/plant_gallery/bulbs/Galanthus_elwesii.html

Galanthus nivalis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galanthus_nivalis

Until we meet again, same place, same time.

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This week I am changing the guessing game. From now on I will give one clue a day for several days and the the big unveiling on Sunday.

 

Purity of White

Purity of White

I am the purest of white to brighten this dim time of year…..February blooming,  good, any ideas who I am?

 

Blades of Three

Blades of Three

 

Not one, not two, but, I come in parts of  THREE!

 

White

White

 As gallant as I am I will not give yewe the answer, so guess again.

 

Gspot

Gspot

 

 Check back on Sunday to solve the mystery.

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