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Archive for May, 2009

Bright Brushlike Bloom.

Bright Brushlike Bloom.

I am a fuzzy spike which is like a wand in the dark,

but my fame comes from the scent of my leaves which I am named after.

The Edge of My Edges.

The Edge of My Edges.

I come in several parts, each one being separate.

I like it dappled and burn in the sun.

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The first gardening job I had was working for the summer at Park and Tilford  Gardens in North Vancouver. II was lucky as it was like an 4 month extension of education for me. Park And Tilford Gardens was at one time a well know distiller of the same name which was sold and turned into a shopping center on the condition that it kept the well known garden there.  The tiny space which is the garden had been neglected and then reclaimed to opened to the public.  The space is made up of 8 small themed gardens in a 3 acre site.

Magnolia sieboldii also known as the Oyama Magnolia.

Magnolia sieboldii also known as the Oyama Magnolia.

It was particular famous for it’s collection of Magnolia trees. As you moved from the display garden into the the colonnade on the right side was a shrub like tree with large attractive smooth green leaves that is  now  beginning it season of bloom. This is the beautiful Magnolia sieboldii or Oyama Magnolia. It slowly blooms over a longer period than most other Magnolias which is only one of it’s many features.

Oyama Magnolia with lighter color stamens.

Oyama Magnolia with lighter color stamens is likely to originate from Japan.

One thing that makes Magnolia siboldii attractive is that their flowers droop down so you look up into them. This downward facing flower is one of the features which shows off it’s attractive interior structure which is very primitive and found in Magnolia species.  the bizarre cone-like carpel is surrounded by many thick stamen which range from a rich dark blood red to a pale flesh color. There are both color forms in the Victoria area. The difference in stamen color tell us where the plant comes from. The plants which have the fleshy colored stamens are likely to originate in Japan(Honshu to Shikoku through to the Kyushu Islands) or southern China( Anhui, Fujian and Guangxi) and are  designated as Magnolia sieboldii subsp. japonica.  The red stamen plants come from a wider area including Korea and northern China(Manchuria) and are Magnolia sieboldii subsp. sieboldii.

The Other-worldlyMagnolia sieboldii  Seedpod Still Ripening.

The Other-worldlyMagnolia sieboldii Seedpod Still Ripening.

Oyama Magnolias are usually low multi-stemmed shrub trees which are wider than they are tall, growing 3.5m(10ft) by 4m(12ft) wide. The best placement of these trees is a elevated so the flowers are more visible. In Victoria the best location for this is most surprising, in a retail shopping center.  Look behind the Harris Green Village Shopping Center on View Street, at the bottom of the steps and going up into the shopping area there are several including a large one at the the top along the sunnier wall.  These are the pale stamen form. If you want to see the dark red form  of Magnolia sieboldii there is one in Beacon Hill Park along the stream  which runs between Goodacre and Fountain Lakes which parallel Blanchard Street. make sure you visit this species of Magnolia in the evening when it’s fragrance is most potent.

Magnolia sieboldii on View Street behind Quadra Village Shoping Center

Magnolia sieboldii on View Street behind Quadra Village Shoping Center

This is one Magnolia which is a forest dweller who does not like full sun.  All the Oyama Magnolias I have ever seen have been in sites which are sheltered from midday sun which would burn their leaves.  Care must be taken whenever you plant a Magnolia as it has fleshy brittle roots which can easily break, this is the time of most danger for these trees. they like fertile, moisture retentive soil which has some humus in it. It needs adequate water during the dry season here for good growth.  Do to it’s delicate roots it is not advisable to plant underneath(the trees in the above picture are under-planted with Pacysandra, a lush ground cover). Treat this tree as a specimen in your garden as it will be loved by all who see it.

Magnolia sieboldii in Beacon Hilll park in Early Spring.

Magnolia sieboldii in Beacon Hilll Park in Early Spring.

Oyama Magnolias bloom slowly over several months, from May sometimes into early August.  They are hardy to -20c(-5f) in North America but in their native setting have been known to withstand -40c(-40f). They are rated zone 6 through 8 here.

More Information on Siebolds’ Magnolia:

More information why this is a great plant: http://www.greatplantpicks.org/display?id=2619&searchterm=all

On the Magnolia flower structure: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/trmar98c.htm

Park & Tilford Garden: http://www.greatervancouverparks.com/ParkTilford01.html

Beacon Hill park map showing it’s features: http://www.beaconhillparkhistory.org/graphics/mapsA.htm

Until We Meet Agian Later This Week:

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You wonder what my Dagger Eye is, wonder no more.

I am a showy one and the best part is the innermost part.

The Tip of my Dagger...

The Tip of my Dagger...

Here I am again, a little late today.

I am clear and pure, and even smell that way I think.

My lines are uninterrupted from top to bottom.

White on White. Am i Right?

White on White. Am I Right?

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At this time of year we are often overwhelmed by what is going on in the garden. Things are bursting with color, while others are unfurling delicately. All of a sudden the fence which we drove past for the last year is covered with blooms again, what can it be the climbs 30ft into that conifer that I see? Ahh yes, it is the delicate yet so,so rampant Clematis montana (Anemone Clematis) in bloom again.

Clematis Montana 'Tetrarose' Known as the Anemone Clematis

Clematis Montana Known as the Anemone Clematis

Anemone Clematis is well named as far as the flower is concerned. It is named because the flower is very reminiscent of the Japanese Anemone which blooms in the fall. this Clematis has the same color range, petal structure and delicate fragrance which some describe as Vanilla-like. It is not surprising in that both the Clematis and Anemone are from the same family, the Rununculus(Ranunculaceae)  or Buttercup family.

Clematis montana 'Tetrarose' flowers are similar to Japanese Anemone's

Clematis montana 'Tetrarose' flowers are similar to Japanese Anemone's

Clematis montana does indeed come from a mountainous part of the world,  starting in Afghanistan  and moving through  the Himalayan region  east into Hubei province of China. It has been with us for quite a long time having been discovered in the 1818 in Nepal.  It was introduced into the garden by Lady Amherst around 1831. E.H. Wilson(Chinese Wilson) introduced the first pink variety Clematis montana ‘rubens’ which is from China and has lovely purple flushed foliage. More recently new developments have brought us more types, deeper petal colors and even a double or two.

Beautiful Large Petalled Clematis montana f. grandiflora.

Beautiful Large Petalled Clematis montana f. grandiflora.

It is hard not to be charmed by these delicate blooms of Anemone Clematis, especially when they are on a young plant which has not grown woody and wild.   This will pass if it is placed in the wrong spot and starts to overtake a more weaker growing neighbor or house.

Clematis montana Gradually Overtaking This Unsuspecting House!

Clematis montana Gradually Overtaking This Unsuspecting House!

We learn that the Latin meaning of  ‘klema’ is climbing, and that is just what this plant does with glee. These Anemone Clematis can grow to 25-30ft(8-10m) in length and are very tough and tolerant of poor conditions. The only requirements are a cool spot for the for the roots, as much sun as possible for a good crop of flowers every year and lots of water in the spring growing  season. One important thing to remember in placement of the plant is they do not like their roots to be disturbed, so once planted you should not try to move it to another location.

The Interesting Clematis montana 'Broughton Star', a Dark Double.

The Interesting Clematis montana 'Broughton Star', a Dark Double.

Clematis montana can take pruning, as it gets out of control or shaggy. Pruning is best done after it blooms and can be quite severe, I have seen plants that have been cut right down, this keeps them from getting too tall and woody, the foliage will stay where you can appreciate it more. Anemone Clematis are zone 6(-15c or 10f.)

The Beautiful and Delicately colored Clematis montana 'Mayleen'

The Beautiful and Delicately colored Clematis montana 'Mayleen'

Links to This Plant:

The national collection of Clematis montana:  http://www.clematismontana.co.uk/

Growing and placement of Anemone Clematis: http://www.gardenaction.co.uk/plantfinder/clematis_1.asp

A site devoted to all forms of Clematis: http://www.clematis.com/html-docs/homepage.html

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Announcing…..

A Brand New Page …..

The Garden Palette

The Garden Palette

Check my tabs for a surprise……..If you are lost ………GO  HERE https://namethatplant.wordpress.com/the-garden-palatte/

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When I moved from the northern B.C. To Vancouver to go to school one plant which I did not have any experience with was Rhododendrons. Most of the time I have lived on the coast I have ignored them as they are a flourish of color in the spring and then just somewhat shapeless evergreen blobs the rest of the year. I had heard about a wonderful collection of Rhododendrons at Playfair Park and decided I must check them out.

Playfair Park Rhododendrons In May 2006.

Playfair Park Rhododendrons In May 2006.

The experience of seeing the variety at Playfair Park which is made up of many species more than hybrids and crosses made me change my mind about ‘Rhodos’. The Rhodos there are big and small leaved, fuzzy or grainy textured, and bloomy along with every color imaginable  blooming over many months. I went back week after week photographing trying to label what I saw and what really took my breath away every year has been the numerous  Rhododendron augustinii and their incredible color. It truly is to dream about.  Now every spring I hunt for Augustine’s Rhododendrons and hope to find new ones at other sites.

Rhododendron augustinii 'Cox's Form' at Glendale Garden.

Rhododendron augustinii 'Cox's Form' at Glendale Garden.

 Augustine Henry (1857-1930) was the first person to discover and send samples of this plant back to Kew in London in 1899. He was trained as an Assistant Medical Officer and was posted with the Chinese Customs Service in Shanghai in 1881 where he quickly picked up the ability to speak the language.

Rhododendron augustinii ssp. augustinii much like August Henry Would Have Seen.

Rhododendron augustinii ssp. augustinii Much Like Augustine Henry Would Have Seen.

From there he was posted to Yichang(Ichanh) in remote Hubei Province (Central China) in 1882. There he investigated plants used in Chinese medicine. While there he started to collects plant specimens and seed to send to England.Later he was stationed in Sichuan and Yunnan, both areas where forms of Rhododendron augustinii is found. over his lifetime August Henry contributed 15,000 specimens including seeds and 500 plants to Kew Gardens and worked with many other important plant explorers of his time. He is truly one of the giants of the plant world as we know it today.

Rhododendron augustinii ssp. hardyii, Found by Joesph Rock

Rhododendron augustinii ssp. hardyii Found by Joesph Rock

As soon as Augustine’s Rhododendron came to England it was a hit and was soon gained an AM(Award of Merit) in 1920.  The pureness of the blue color is unusual in the plant world and is coveted by all who see it. because of it’s color many forms of this plant have been collected. It has been crossed and recrossed with itself to produce dazzling results such as Lionel Rothchilds’ (Exbury) ‘Electra’ from 1937 which is an augustinii X augustinii ssp. ‘chasmanthum’ cross.   

Rhododendron augustinii 'Electra'

Rhododendron augustinii 'Electra' at Playfair Park.

Rhododendron augustinii has since been crossed with other blue and violet flowering Rhodos’ and the results have ranged from the icy blue ‘Blue Diamond’ through violet blue of ‘ Blaney’s Blue’ to the truly bluest of blue of ‘St. Breward’ and many more which have become famous in their own right. 

Rhododendron augustinii x St. Edward.

Rhododendron augustinii x St. Breward. found at Finnerty Gardens.

We must consider ourselves lucky that Augustine’s Rhododendron is an easy adaptable plant to grow. It grows best in a sheltered posistion such as under  or mixed with deciduous trees and shrubs. Rhododendron augustinii requires rich acidic soil which is moisture retaining, but well drained at the same time. Rhodos have shallow fine roots which can easily be damaged so it is advised to use mulch year round with little planting underneath.

Augustine Rhododendrons seen in the Rhodo grove at Playfair Park.

Augustine Rhododendrons seen in the Rhodo grove at Playfair Park.

Rhododendron augustinii plants are rated at zone 7b (-15c or 5f.) and grow up to 10ft(3m) in 10 years. These plants can be specimens in the garden because they have excellent small foliage and often become more tree form with age.

Happy Augustine’s Rhododendron Hunting!

Links to this weeks member of the plant world:

An excellent page of ‘augustinii’ pictures:http://www.rhododendron.dk/augustinii.html

Technical information on Rhododendron augustinii.http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200016341

All about Augustine Henry, a famous and important plant explorer.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_Henry 

Until we meet again later this week….

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Storm Shadows.

I am Very Common Here.

I am Very Common Here.

This is the green unfurling in the spring, and I can be a bit sticky about it.

There are many forms of me here, but I am special amongst this tribe.

Another of My Famous Vanity Colors!

Another of My Famous Vanity Colors!

I am considered to be an early to mid season bloomer.  And bloom I do, in really stormy colors which are unique to me and me alone!

I Love My Colors.

I Love My Colors.

I come in shades which soothe and dazzle at the same time.

I am somewhat unusual for my kind.

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When I moved to the Victoria area I had heard about the wonderful climate, the slower pace and the stunning Garry Oaks. Naturally I was curious about everything, but it being the end of October when I arrived I had to wait to see what the spring would bring. I saw the Garry Oaks and waited in anticipation for the drier weather. I explored and read about the native plant and saw the Erythroniums (last weeks post) and then started to notice the bluest of blue Common Camas (Camassia quamash) blooming from what seemed to be the grass at the side of the road.

The Bluest of Blue Common Camassia quamash.

The Bluest of Blue Common Camassia quamash.

Common or Early Camas have probably been one of the most important plants in establishing a permanent aboriginal population in the Victoria area long before the area was visited by the Spanish and later by Captain Vancouver who visited in May of 1792 and saw the blue Common Camas fields in bloom. They were first discribed by David Douglas in 1827

The Camassia Field Seen From Dallas Road at the Bottom of Beacon Hill Park.

The Camassia Field Seen From Dallas Road at the Bottom of Beacon Hill Park.

West coast native groups were lucky to live in an area of abundant  natural food resources and were able to set up permanent settlements.  Camassia quamash bulbs were the main starch source for the people here. In fact families used to farm designated areas such as the Beacon Hill Park fields which were full of Commoon Camas. Like we do today they weeded, enriched the soil and harvested the Camassia quamash for a food crop in sustainable way. The bulbs were harvested in the fall and then processed.  One favorite method was to pit roast them for 24-36 hours, this produced a it becomes a product similar to a sweet potato except sweeter. These pit roasted Camas bulbs were eaten as soon as cooked.  They are a rich source of inulin and fructose a natural type of sweetener. Another method was to dry the bulbs and then pound them into a powder like material to add to thickens stews and other liquids. The other importance was as trade material, in this case the bulbs were dried and flattened into ‘Camas cakes’ for easier travel.

My Nephew Owen in the Camas Harvest Fields at Beacon Hill Park.

My Nephew Owen in the Camas Harvest Fields at Beacon Hill Park.

Who would not be dazzled when seeing the brilliant blue Camas fields in bloom for the first time. This is one of the prime tourist spots to go and have your picture taken. Many tour buses every day stop along Dallas Road at the bottom of Beacon Hill Park. Some other well known areas for Camas viewing are Uplands Park, Playfair Park, the Government House Woodlands area below Terrace Garden. Common Camas can be seen along  most sunny rural roadsides.

Garry Oak Restoration project of Camas Fields at Playfair Park in Saanich.

Garry Oak Restoration project of Camas Fields at Playfair Park in Saanich.

Common Camas species are part of one of the rarest ecosystems in Canada, the Garry Oak meadows which are endangered by development in southwestern British Columbia. Much of southeastern Vancouver Island was dominated by this ecosystem at one time. When settlers came they found vast open Camassia quamash fields already cultivated by the local population. These fields were perfect to introduce European crops to. Over time most of the meadows where turned over to crops and then to housing and commercial development. We are now learning to appreciate the importance of these areas and are trying to protect and reclaim areas from invasive and non-native plant materials.

The Camassia quamash Fields in the Woodlands at Govenment House.

The Camassia quamash Fields in the Woodlands at Government House.

If you are lucky you will see rare plants such as Shooting Stars(Dodecatheon), Trailing Yellow Violets(Viola), Spring Gold(Lomatium) and the rare Chocolate Lilies(Fritillaria) blooming in more undisturbed sites.

The Delicate and Beautiful Shooting Star(Dodecatheon hendersonii) amoungst the Common Camas.

The Delicate Shooting Star(Dodecatheon hendersonii) amongst the Common Camas.

Fortunately for us Common Camas are an easy plant to incorporate into the garden. They require deep well cultivated soil with plenty of water during their growing season in the spring and early summer. Add well composted material when planting them. Full sun is a must to produce good crops of flowers. If happy Camassia quamash will produce masses of seed which will  germinate and form colonies for you. When grown from seed Common Camas will take 2-3 years before you will see the first blooms. In the wild there is some variation in the blue shades, but all are spectacular. Bulbs are now mass produced and named hybrids have been developed. Common Camas bulbs and plants readily available from reputable nurseries therfore they should be seen more in gardens.

 Camassia quamash in the Terrace Garden at Government House.

Camassia quamash in the Terrace Garden at Government House.

So Much More to learn About Camas and the Garry oak Ecosystem:

Garry oak ecosytems and restoration: http://www.goert.ca/index.php

Paghat’s notes about Common Camas: http://www.paghat.com/camas.html

Cooking with Camas bulbs: http://mrcamas.com/Cooking-with-Camas.htm

Until We Meet Again Later This Week….

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