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Archive for July, 2009

One of the hardest thing for new students who are taking Horticultural courses is being exposed to a form of Latin for the first time; Botanical Latin that is.  We were given a test to see how well we could spell the botanical Latin names of the first plant we were learning and of course we all failed (it was planed this way!). We learned from this experience how difficult and how it would be first on the list of things we would have to study every night. Many people created ways to remember the plants spelling and pronunciation.  One plant I remember people doing this for was the plant Buddleja davidii or (Butterfly Bush),  they did it like this: My ‘Bud’ ‘Lea’ and ‘I’ went out with ‘David’, or something like that.

Buddliea davidii fully in bloom, note the tiny orange centers of each flower.

Buddleja davidii fully in bloom, note the tiny orange centers of each flower.

There is some confusion with the name Buddleja and it’s spelling. When I was in school we learned it as ‘Buddliea’ which is logical in botanical spelling terms. The spelling ‘Buddleja’ was actually said to be spelling mistake made by ‘Linnaeus ‘ with the name ‘Buddle’ . In botanical naming protocol, the original name should take precedence over newer spellings,  The letters ‘J’ and ‘I’ are seen as being interchangeable and can be considered orthographical variants in this case.

A recently planted Buddleja Davidii 'Black Knight' planted at Government House.

A recently planted Buddleja Davidii 'Black Knight' planted at Government House.

There are about 150 species of Buddlejas which only a few are grown outside of botanical gardens. Buddleja was named after Rev Adam Buddle (1660-1715), an English botanist and Pere Armand David(davidii).  This Buddleja was named and described by Franchet in 1887. Buddleja davidii is by far the most commonly grown. It was discovered in central China(Sichuan and Hubei provinces) and was introduced into cultivation in 1890. It was an immediate hit and was awarded an Award of Merit in 1898.  That form of the plant had a  mid-magenta purple flower color, since that time many color forms have been found. There are at least 3 variegated form which are highly sought after.

Buddleja davidii 'Harlequin', a sought after sport of 'Royal Red'.

Buddleja davidii 'Harlequin', a sought after sport of 'Royal Red'.

Buddleja davidii have been a very successful introduction into cultivation and where they are happy they can become something of a pest by self-seeding and forming thickets.  This need not be the case as butterfly Bushes are easy to control by deadheading after they bloom and can be cut right down to 2ft if need be.  Butterfly Bushes are adaptable to many areas including difficult coastal zones. Their late season bloom is useful to give color in this hot time of the year and they have an added bonus of being pleasantly fragrant. They can be used in deep shrub or perennial borders, massed planted, cottage style gardens, as specimens and as butterfly attractants.

A 'Buddleja davidii' pruned into a tree, very attractive and fragrant.

A 'Buddleja davidii' pruned into a tree, very attractive and fragrant.

It is easy to grow a Butterfly Bush, you need full sun for the best bloom, rich well drained soil and water during their prolonged growing season. they are considered to be fairly drought tolerant. They grow into quite large opens shrubs 3m(12ft) x 4m(15ft) wide and can be pruned into a more tree form if wanted. The form B. davidii var. nahonensis is smaller form(1.5m or 4ft) which has become popular in small gardens. They grow best in a temperature down to -15c(-1f.)  In colder areas they will be cut down to the ground, but, because they are so fast growing and bloom on new wood you can expect a crop of flowers.

Buddleja davidii 'White Cloud'  in a 'white' garden display.

Buddleja davidii 'White Cloud' in a perennial border.

More on Buddleja davidii:

About buddlejas in general; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddleja

Adam Buddle:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Buddle

Growing Buddlejas: http://www.gardenseeker.com/plants_a_z/buddleja_davidii.htm

Until We Meet Again Here….

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Growing up in the North, my experience with bulbs was limited. We could not grow many of the showy plants that came from bulbs or if we did we would have to dig them up and store them over the winter in the garage if we had one which did not freeze. This stopped many people from growing things like Gladiolas and other more showy and multicolored flowers. it is a pity. When I moved south to go to school I saw this incredible red orange type of tall sword leaved plant which looked like the for-mentioned Gladiolas. It was not that, but a fiery Crocosmia blooming during the hottest days of summer. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is the most robust and showy of the bunch.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer': One of the most powerful of all colors in the garden.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer': One of the most powerful of all colors in the garden.

Crocosmia(often called Montbretia) are a species of bulbs which are found in South Africa which has an extraordinary array of species, said to be the most in any area in the world. This genus is very small with only 12 species being named. it was named in 1851 by Jules Émile Planchon, who was a well known botanist who spent most of his career at the University of Montpelier as well as as the Royal Botanical Gardens in London.  Crocosmia are from the Iris(Iridaceae) family and this is particularly reflected in the upright spiky foliage. Crocosmia are grown from corms just like their close cousins Crocus and Gladiolas.

A Perfect Planting of' Lucifer' Crocosmia in Brentwood Bay.

A Perfect Planting of' Lucifer' Crocosmia in Brentwood Bay.

There have now been an amazing 400 cultivars created with the best of them now fairly common throughout the world. They are easily reproduced from the corms which form chains of smaller ones which can be separated and grown into new chains or clumps. Crocosmias also set large amounts of fertile seed which is easy to germinate and grow into attractive new plants which will have bright red oranges to chrome yellows and every shade in between. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is a selection which comes from Alan Bloom (1906-2005) who has named several other well known forms. Alan Bloom is a very important plantsman and over his career he introduced more than 200 new perennial cultivars into the gardens of the world from his nursery at Bressingham Hall  which later became the world famous Bressingham Gardens.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' gleaming in the long boarder at Playfair Park in Saanich.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' gleaming in the long boarder at Playfair Park in Saanich.

‘Lucifer’ is said to be hybrid of Crocosmia and Curtonus which are often lumped together. It is unclear if it is a true hybrid between two closely allied plant genera or just a cross between 2 or more species in the Crocosmia genus only.  One thing is clear though, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is well named with it being the most brilliant of all colors. It also seems to be most vigorous  of the named Crocosmias I have seen; with the plants I photographed this week being as tall as me!

These Crocosmia 'Lucifer' at the same height as me.

These Crocosmia 'Lucifer' at the same height as me.

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is an easy chioce to add to your garden.  Crocosmia require average soil with medium moisture retention especially during their growing and blooming season which extends into later summer. To get an impressive show plant your corms in groups of 3 or more, about 3in( 7cm) deep, right side up.  They enjoy full sun to make their stems rigorous and strong. If they are happy new corms with form and clumps will expand and can easily be divided. When moving the plants it is important to make sure you get all the tiny corms which will reappear if not removed completely.  To keep them tidy, remove the spent flowers and cut off any browning foliage if it bothers you. Spider Mites are one pest which can be a problem here and can damage the foliage and flowers. They are hardy to -10c( 20f) and sailed through the winter here and look more spectacular than usual.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' looks smashing with many shades and shapes of foliage.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' looks smashing with many shades and shapes of foliage.

Crocosmias are stiff upright plants which work well in the back of boarders as well as used in mass plantings as you have seen. They often are used as specimens because they are so showy and standout from other plants at this time of the year. They look great with many other foliage plants and you can play with the flower colors. I like seeing white Shasta Daisies with Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ because the whites are whiter and the red looks even more potent.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' makes an attractive cut flower.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer' makes an attractive cut flower.

More on Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and others.

Species Crocosmia and what thier is to know about them.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocosmia

Growing Crocosmias.  http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=H680

Bressingham gardens and the Blooms family http://www.bressinghamgardens.com/familyhistory.php

Alan Bloom who all plant lovers should know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Bloom_(plantsman)

Until We Meet Again Later in the Week…..

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Since I grew up in a very cold zone 3a( can get as cold as -40c/f) we were severely limited in what kind of plants could be grown. The growing season is short and fast, it can freeze into June and has beeen known to do the same in late August too. Fortunately many good vegtables can be grown as they many have quick seasons being annuals. Salads are supreme!  Once we conquered vegtables next we wanted to do herbs. This was more of a challenge. The first one my mother was given was Chives( Allium schoenoprasum) which has survived and thrived admirably there, producing year after year and happily seeding so we had to give it’s offspring away.

The Familiar Papery Purple Chive Flowers.

The Familiar Papery Purple Chive Flowers.

…..  To Read The Rest ot The Story Go Here: http://thegardenpalette.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/chives-are-our-choice/

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When I moved to Vancouver Island I noticed right away the change in the native plants. On the southern tip of the island it is drier than the mainland and you find species not found elsewhere. The tree lupines are one of the plants which grow here, so is Oceanspray(Holodisus discolor) which is like a tree-form Astilbe. I also noticed some plants in gardens which I had not seen anywhere else. These where not uncommon plants, just forms which seemed almost endemic here. These where likely brought long ago by people who moved to the area and then passed about as plants were. My mother was given pieces of Daylily and Iris from her mother and then the clumps are split when someone enthuses about how beautiful they are…. and the cycle repeats. This must  be what happened here to see so many places with Hemerocallis fulva ‘Kwanso’.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' a very ancient triploid double flowering Daylily.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' a very ancient triploid double flowering Daylily.

Here near Sidney I found little seaside cottages with gardens brimming with great big clumps of this unusual form of  the Tawny ‘Kwanso’ Daylily.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso comes full circle having been recently replanted at the Sidney Information Center with it's period plantings.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' comes full circle having been recently replanted at the Sidney Information Center with it's period plantings.

It’s parent Hemeocallis fulva is not know in the wild, although it first appeared in China and Japan. It is a triploid and is self-sterile and has be reproduced by division of it’s rhizomes. It was brought here from Europe in the 17th century and it was so successful at this that it has become naturalized in parts of North America and Europe.

Hemerocallis fulva or the Tawny Daylily, which has spead in North America and Europe.

Hemerocallis fulva or the Tawny Daylily, which has spead in North America and Europe.

Another form of the Tawny Daylily is seen commonly as well. It is Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea which is native to Japan where is grows in the grass near the oceans on Western Honshu and Kyushu islands. It blooms in late October there.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea, the 'Tawny Lily' which is planted in Brentwood Bay.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea, the 'Tawny Lily' which is planted in Brentwood Bay.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea is said to be smaller in stature and the leaves appear to be a darker green. Here it is best seen in a planting in Brentwood Bay where it is used as a mass planting in the middle of the roundabout and is repeated at intervals in a perennial planting which runs along West Saanich Rd through the community. It has been interesting to see how this planting design has fared since it’s installation several years ago.

The 'roundabout' in Brentwood Bay palnted with Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea.

The 'Roundabout' in Brentwood Bay mass planted with Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea.

Anyone who loves Daylilies can understand the importance of this species in breeding of new varieties which there are now hundreds. All other known Hemerocallis are yellow toned to yellowy orange and pinkish. Breeding new colors only really began in the 1920’s with Dr. A.B. Stout who started a program to expand the color range. Since that time over 45,000 new hybrids have been introduced which range from nearly white through blood red to blackish purple.  The flowers themselves have changed to having broader petals to show off their extravagant colors. Many new plants have been breed to be shorter in  overall stature  and to have longer bloom periods.  More recently a new addition to the Hemerocallis fulva family has been seen; a variegated form of ‘Kwanso’ (H.f. var. Variegata) with white stripes running through it’s leaves.

The variegated Tawny 'Kwanso' Daylily in 2006 at Govenment House in Victoria.

The variegated Tawny 'Kwanso' Daylily in 2006 at Govenment House in Victoria.

Growing Daylilies is easy which is why they are such successful plants.  Tawny Daylilies need a bright sunny site with well drained, rich soil. They need a fairly large area as they can grow  into a 1m(3ft) by 1m(3ft) clump quickly. Daylilies make excellent subjects for mass planting and can make an attractive informal edging as the foliage is attractive, durable and does not get ratty looking during the late summer. Keep Daylilies tidy by removing the spent flowers stems when they are finished. Most forms are quite hardy and will easily withstand zone4 (-20c or -15f). Propagation of Hemerocallis fulva forms as well as all Daylilies is by division which is very easily done in the spring.

The broad foliage is an attravtive foil to the facinating Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' blossom.

The broad foliage is an attractive foil to the fascinating Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' blossoms.

Further information on Tawny Daylillies:

Paghat’s experience with the Tawny Daylily: http://www.paghat.com/daylily.html

Growing Daylilies; how to do it best: http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/daylily2.html

A more technical description of Hemerocallis fulva: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=200027676

Visit Brentwood Bay: http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townID=30

Until We Meet Again Later This Week…..

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When we first come to be interested in flowers and gardening we often are totally in awe of the range of colors in flowers, we are like ‘kids in a candy shop’ and want to try every type and color tone. Slowly as we are exposed to other gardens and by reading(if we do) we learn more about composition of a garden and what makes for good design. We become more connoisseurs of  more subtle things like shape, texture of leaves, buds and bark. This is when we start to pass from being a consumer of gardens and plants to be more of a student of them and can fully appreciate what is trying to be achieved.  Astilbes are like this to me, I first was agog in their range of colors and then learned to love their texture within not only their flowers but their beautiful and useful foliage.

A fine show of blooming Atilbes in the Japanes Gardens at Glendale Gardens, Saanich.

A fine show of blooming Atilbes in the Japanes Gardens at Glendale Gardens, Saanich.

I first really got to know Astilbes when I worked for a wholesale perennial nursery, there we shipped literally thousands of Astilbes a year. They sold least a couple of dozen hybrids form the common types sold strictly by color to those named varieties which were being introduced to North America for the first time. It was quite an awe inspiring sight to see blocks of several hundred of one color type blooming at the same moment.  I soon learned that not only did the flowers have an interesting range of forms(from droopy and open to upright and tight) but the leaves often changed color as they matured some having bronzy tones and others keeping a bright green shade throughout the year.

Astilbe x 'Fanal', one of the most vibrant reds in the flower world.

Astilbe x arendsii 'Fanal' bred by Georg Arends, one of the most vibrant reds in the flower world.

Most Astilbe plants originate in Asia except for A. biternata which comes from eastern North America. Not surprisingly the first plants where grown in botanical collections as early as the 1830s, from that time many more have been discovered.  Georg Arends(1863-1952) is responsible for popularizing Astilbes. He took the many known species and started crossing them to create a completely new group of plants. Many of his plants have become famous since their introduction in the 1920s and 30s and are classed as ‘x arendsii’  One of his famous introductions is the first ‘red’ Astilbe ‘Fanal’ in 1933.  His ‘White(Weisse) Gloria’ from 1924 is considered to be the best of it’s color.  You can still count on easily finding ‘Amethyst, Bridal Veil'(Brautschleier), Cattleya, Granat, Hyacinth(Hyazinth) and Pink Pearl(Rosa Perle) in nurseries today.

Astilbe x 'Peach Blossom' which was introduced in 1902.

Astilbe x 'Peach Blossom' which was introduced in 1902.

There are several other groups of Astilbe hybrids which have been developed; x japonica look alot like x arendsii and have the same species as the parents.  The ‘chinensis’ groups generally all have mauve to magenta colors, more rough foliage texture and flower spikes of a slightly different shape.  A newer group from A. simplicifolia offers more restrained smaller plants which have delicately colored flowers and foliage.

Astilbe chinensis 'Pumila', a minature which is easily grown from seed.

Astilbe chinensis 'Pumila', a minature which is easily grown from seed.

Astilbes are very useful in the garden and are adaptable to many uses. They tolerate shady to bright sun as long as they have a good supply of water which is why they are often seen in boggy places or alongside water. They look attractive from the time they emerge from the ground with their delicate foliage and associate well with other plants such as Hosta, Heucheras, Ferns, Iris and Polygonatums to create beautiful nuanced foliage tapestries.

A lovely colorful shady border with Astilbes at Government House in Victoria, B.C.

A lovely colorful shady border with Astilbes at Government House in Victoria, B.C.

To grow Astilbes you need need rich moisture retaining soil which has lots of humus in it.  They prefer to be situated in shady or dappled sites which are out of  the way during the mid-day heat. Once they have flowered they should be pruned down so they can produce a fresh crop of leaves.  When selecting your plant consider it’s size as they range from miniature which are suitable for a rockery to fairly giant 4-5ft(1-1.5m) tall. They are generally hardy to zone 4(-20C) but with winter protection will survive lower temperatures. I have found Astilbe chineisis ‘Pumila’ thrives at zone 3a(-40c) in my mothers’ garden so much that it has been divided several times and produces large clumps which make a nice carpet there.  To have a longer bloom period select several varieties; x arendsii and x japonicas bloom earlier with chinensis a little later.

A low growing Astilbe simplicifolia hybrid blooming by a pathway.

A low growing Astilbe simplicifolia hybrid blooming by a pathway.

Astilbes are often used as cut flowers. The trick is to cut them before the blossoms have opened. They also can be preserved as dried flowers this way. The foliage is also a nice addition to a bouquet as greenery.

A mass planting of Astilbe at U.B.C. Botaincal Garden in Vancouver, B.C.

A mass planting of Astilbe at U.B.C. Botaincal Garden in Vancouver, B.C.

To Learn More About Astilbes:

A little about Georg(e) Arends and growing Astilbes: http://www.youngamericangrowers.com/app/our_plants.asp

A good article about Astilbes: http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plantoftheweek/articles/Astilbe.htm

Until we meet again next week…..


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