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Archive for April, 2010

When I was working at Park & Tilford  Gardens during my practicum I worked rotations in all parts of the gardens there. Each section had different challenges and things to learn. Everyday we would have to start with the rotine things like skimming the pool for leaves or deadheading the roses, one day as I cleaned in the display garden I smelled the most wonderful perfume coming from a plant. Being curious I had to find out where the scent was coming from and to my surprise it came from a huge white rhododendron. I asked about this plant and found out it was one of the famous Loderi Rhododendrons‘, ‘Loders White’which I have not seen since that time. Here in Victoria I have discovered several more all with the same delicious scent.

Rhododendron x 'Loderi Venus' has the most sumptuous of coloring in the Loderi group.

Rhododendron x 'Loderi Venus' has the most sumptuous of coloring in the Loderi group.

‘Loderi’ Rhododendron where developed by Sir Edmund Loder (1849-1920) who bought Leonardslee Estate(St. Leonard’s forest) in 1889 from his wifes family.  Sir Edmund then started to plant the estate with a collection of plants which included everything from vegetables and fruit for household use  as well as trees and shrubs. It is here that he did his crossing of two well known species of Rhododendron to produce what we know as Loder Rhododendrons.

Rhododendron 'King George' is considered to be the best of the 'Loder' Rhododendrons.

Rhododendron 'King George' is considered to be the best of the 'Loder' Rhododendrons.

‘Loderi’ Rhododendrons were developed by crossing the pollen(male)of species griffithianum with fortunei (female). The species ‘griffithianum which is very tender contributed the extremely large flowers and often the beautiful bark, and the ‘fortunei’ added its scent, hardiness and more vigorous growth. Both of these species had already been used a great deal for hybridizing as they were some of the first to be brought to Europe.

The species 'fortunei' contributed color, fragrance, vigor and cold hardiness to Loderi Rhododendrons.

The species 'fortunei' contributed color, fragrance, vigor and cold hardiness to Loderi Rhododendrons.

From the original crosses made in 1901 a number of selections of ‘Loderi’ Rhododendrons were made and named. All of the plants are extremely large growing and obtain tree-like size.  Colors range from pure white through creamy shades into a mid pink. All have been award numerous medals in the garden world including Awards of Merit(AM), First Class Certificates(FCC) and Awards of Garden Merit(AGM) which all come from the Royal Horticultal Society(RHS).  Here in Victoria there are several places to view these plant  with the best being Finnerty Gardens. Also look in the Novitiate Garden at St. Ann’s Academy and Glendale Gardens for other forms.

The attractive 'Loderi' bark is seen here in the collection at Finnerty Gardens.

The attractive 'Loderi' bark is seen here in the collection at Finnerty Gardens.

‘Loderi’ Rhododendrons are big plants with some attaining over 10m(30ft) with time, they are also as wide. You will need a large space which is not near a building for them to grow their best. Here they can be grown in almost full sun with no damage seen, in other areas where light is stronger a woodland setting would be more appropriate. Rhododendrons likes acidic soils which are slightly damp as they have shallow roots. Mulching every year is also a good idea. Loderi Rhododendrons are rated as tolerating -15c(5f) at the extreme. Propagation is by cuttings which are slow to produce.

Every year People come to Finnerty Garden to photograph the beautiful 'Miss Josephine Firth', a massive Loderi Rhododendron.

Every year People come to Finnerty Garden to photograph the beautiful 'Miss Josephine Firth', a massive Loderi Rhododendron.

The flowers of Rhododendron 'Miss Josephine Firth' fade to almost white as they age.

The flowers of Rhododendron 'Miss Josephine Firth' fade to almost white as they age.

Notes to Look at:

History of Leonardsee and Loders’ Nursery:http://www.leonardsleenursery.com/history

Rhododendron fortunei:http://www.rosebay.org/chapterweb/specfort.htm

Rhododendron griffithianum: http://www.rhododendron.org/descriptionS_taxon.asp?ID=17

Until we meet again along the garden path….

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When my mother was alive I was always sending her plants to grow in her northern garden. I was working at wholesale nurseries at the time and was able to get some of the less common plants for her. I sent many types of plants for the steep border which was at the front of the house. Many plants prospered and were totally happy there and a few struggled. The one plant she loved the best was the Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris). She loved the big purple blooms and then latter the silky seed heads which lasted a long time.

The traditional purple form of Pulsatilla vulgaris is a happy camper here in Victoria.

The traditional purple form of Pulsatilla vulgaris is a happy camper here in Victoria.

Pusatilla vulgaris is just one of about 35 species of Pasque flower which all live in the northern hemisphere.  This plant grows in areas of Great Britain(East Anglia), Sweden to Finland and into the Ukraine. It generally grows in dry grassland areas as well as in chalky soils.  There are other species which are known but slightly different in form. One of the most common of these is Pulsatilla halleri which often hybridizes with other species.

Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Rubra' is one of the glorious color forms which has a real knock-your-socks color.

One can easily imagine where the common name 'Danes Blood' came from when seeing this Pulsatilla.

Pulsatilla have several common names. Pasque Flower refers to when this plant generally flowers, at Passover(Easter), another name ‘Danes Blood’ is because these flowers are said to grow where Danes shed their blood. Pulsatillas belong to the Ranuculaceae family and they resemble other famous members of the family like Anemone. At one time they were called Anemones and are sometimes listed as a subgenus, in older books you will see this occurance.

I particularly like this color combination of the pale Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Alba' with a dwarf Pieris with it's fresh foliage.

I particularly like this color combination of the pale Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Alba' with a dwarf Pieris with it's fresh foliage.

Pusatilla vulgaris is a tough plant which can live in a variety of places and temperatures. My mother lived in an area which goes down to -40c(-40f)  regularly and the plant thrived just as well as it  does here where it rarely goes below -10c(14f).   Here I see it growing in the rocky slope of Terrace Garden at Government House as well as in the fantastic alpine/rock garden at Beacon Hill Park. Even in the Novitiate Garden at St Ann’s Academy there is one in the border under the veranda.

Pulsatillas will produce wispy, silky seed heads which last long after their flowers are spent.

Growing Pasque Flowers is quite easy, they like a spot with good drainage and average soil. They need plenty of water in their growing season during the spring and early summer and less when they become more dormant during later summer and autumn. In places where it does not freeze or snow it is important for them to be in areas where water can drain away easily. They need full sun except in very southern areas where they would prefer some shade during the scorching afternoons. I have seen them growing here in full sun as well as in very shady areas.

These three Pulsatilla vulgaris grow to be bigger more showy plants every years with dozens of flowers.

These four Pulsatilla vulgaris grow to be bigger more showy plants every years with dozens of flowers.

Each Pulsatilla vulgaris can grow to be 30cm(12in.) tall and as wide with the ability to produce many flowers every year. These plants produce a woody root and can not be divided. Pulsatilla are grown as container subjects, in rock and alpine gardens, perennial borders, early spring features, deer resistant gardens and used in native and woodland settings. To increase your crop you will can sow the seed as soon as it becomes ripe. It needs to go through several months of cold before it will germinate, therefore sow it outside in a well marked place. The seed is viable even in very cold climates as long as it has a good coat of snow to protect it.

As the flowers of Pulsatilla vulgaris age the petals often get larger and the color may fade.

As the flowers of Pulsatilla vulgaris age the petals often get larger and the color may fade.

More on Pusatilla vulgaris and it’s forms:

A page on the double form ‘Papageno’: http://www.perennials.com/seeplant.html?item=1.450.350

some great pictures and advise on this page: http://www.robsplants.com/plants/PulsaVulga.php

Until we meet again on this flowery path…

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This week I was planning to do a group of three related species. There was so much information on one species and not enough on another and I have changed my mind, some plants deserve an article all their own. The plant I have chosen is not very common here, but when you see it you will want it. Just yesterday in my research I stumbled across a entry about how this plant has been stolen from a well known public garden here in B.C. and the effect that can have on other people including students. The plant I am referring to is the ‘Crown Imperial‘ (Fritillaria imperialis).

Fritillaria imperialis is also known as the 'Crown Imperial' or Kaiser's Crown.

Fritillaria imperialis is also known as the 'Crown Imperial' or Kaiser's Crown.

The Crown Imperial comes to us by the route so many plants have followed, through Constantinople, in 1576  a plant was collected in Persia. From there a sample was taken by Clusius to the Imperial Collection in Vienna. In Vienna it is said to be given it’s common name by Alphonsus Pancus because it was grown in the Imperial Gardens there. Another version says it was named because it has ‘the true shape of the Imperial Crown’.

The most common color of the Crown Imperial is this brilliant orange shade which is a standout in the garden at this time of year.

The most common color of the Crown Imperial is this brilliant orange shade which is a standout in the garden at this time of year.

Fritillaria imperialis are mainly native to south east Turkey but is found through western Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally resting in Kashmir. It is now found at 1000-3000 m(3300-9000ft) growing on rocky slopes and in the scrub.  In earlier times the orange-red blossoms where used as a source of dye coloring for the rugs which were made in the area.

Fritillaria imperialis 'Lutea' the yellow Imperial Crown.

Fritillaria imperialis 'Lutea' the yellow Imperial Crown.

Many historians feel that the Fritillaria imperialis was the plant refered to in the Greek myth of Hyacinthus.  Hyacinthus  was a beautiful young man, (possibly a Spartan Prince) who the god Apollo admired.  It was said that Apollo accidentally killed Hyacinthus when they were taking turns throwing a discus. Hyacinthus wanted to impress Apollo by running and catching the discus and instead was struck by it and died. Another form of the myth says that Zephyr, god of the west wind was feuding with Apollo over Hyacinthus,  when Apollo threw the discus Zephyr blew it off course which caused the accident.

These Crown Imperials have been located on the long annual show border in Beacon Hill Park for several years.

These Crown Imperials have been located on the long annual show border in Beacon Hill Park for several years.

As Crown Imperials have been in cultivation such a long time, several varieties have been found and are now available to grow. Fritillaria imperialis ‘Lutea’ is yellow and is the oldest and dates back to 1665. Other forms are ‘Aurora’ which is orange-red, Rubra is the red form, ‘Premier’ is noted to be pale tangerine with purple tinged veins, ‘Argenteo Variegata’ has leaves which are edged in white and somber orange flowers and  ‘Orange Brilliant’ is said to be a rusty orange. All Fritillaria  have an unpleasant scent which people have said ranges from raw meat to wet fur to musty smelling, this helps to repel rodents who commonly decimate bulbs by eating them.  I have read several sources who say the scent really does work as rodents do not touch these bulbs.

After blooming the flowers of Crown Imperial turn up and produce these interesting, large seed capsules.

After blooming the flowers of Crown Imperial turn up and produce these interesting, large seed capsules.

Fritillaria imperialis have bulbs which are noticeably bowl-shaped and because of this should be planted on their side so water will not sit in and rot them.  the bulbs should be planted  at least 10cm(4 in) deep and the spacing should be 22cm to 30cm(9 to 12 in). These bulbs do not like being moved except when the clumps become big enough to split up. If you live in a cold climate it might be a good idea to plant them in a container and then lift it for storage over the cold months.

Many Fritillaria have an unusual blocky shape and Crown Imperials are no exception.

Many Fritillaria flowers have an unusual blocky shape and Crown Imperials are no exception.

To get the best bloom give Fritillaria imperialis full sun during their growing season. Like many other bulbs they need lots of water when they are growing and very little when they are dormant. They like well-drained, rich soil with plenty of grit to assist drainage during wetter seasons. These impressive plants are quite hardy and rate between zones 5 through 9, -23 c(-10 f).

More about Crown Imperials:

The Wiki page is a good place to start:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritillaria_imperialis

Naming and history of plant: http://books.google.com/books?id=2AknHP_NRBgC&pg=PA74&sig=sdRm87XtnjBYNRRPGrhIvpGgzlI&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

The story of the stolen bulb and how it can effect us: http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/potd/2007/03/fritillaria_imperialis_rubra_1.php

See you soon in a garden….

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Since i started this blog in january last year one plant has been on the top of the list almost every day. It has the most hits every day other than ‘namethatplant.com. I have wondered why this is, maybe it’s the early time of year that it blooms, or is it the color of it’s flowers, or is it that it has very fragrant flowers…I think it is all of this and it’s genus. It’s genus is Viburnum and there are many other wonderful members to explore. One member which I am seeing increasingly here is  the Korean Spicebush Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) and its wonderful named selections.

Vibrunum carlesii has light to almost red buds which open to pale pink in to a pure white.

Vibrunum carlesii has light to almost red buds which open to pale pink in to a pure white.

Korean Spicebush comes to us from (not to surprisingly) Korea mainly and ranges into areas of Japan. There are two varieties, var bitchiense which is found in Korea and on the Japanese islands of Honshu and Shikoku, it has narrower leaves and the individual flowers have longer tubes. Var. carlesii alos comes from Korea but is found in southern areas as well as the southern Japanese island of Tsushima which is found near the larger island Kyushu.

This Korean Spicebush Viburnum has broader leaves.

This Korean Spicebush Viburnum has broader leaves.

The Viburnum genus is quite large and consists of 150-175 separate species. They are almost all found in the northern hemisphere and are found around the globe through North America, Europe and Asia. There are a few species scattered in mountain ranges of South America and North Africa as well as south east Asia.

Viburnums always have attractive foliage and Korean Spicebush is no exception.

Viburnums always have attractive foliage and Korean Spicebush is no exception.

Viburnum is the original Latin name for the species and it is thought that the particular type was possibly Viburnum lantana. Carlesii refers to William Richard Carles (1849 – 1929) who collected plants in Korea during the years of 1883-85. He was the British Vice- Consul in China from 1867 to 1900.  During that time he was posted to Korea and took several trips to explore the interior of the country. He sent plants which he collected to The Royal Botanic Garden in England.

This Viburnum carlesii is found in a shady part of Beacon Hill Park.

This Viburnum carlesii is found in a shady part of Beacon Hill Park.

Several wonderful selections of Korean Spicebush have been made at the famous Slieve Donnard Nursery in Northern Ireland and these are probably are found in better gardens in my area. They are: ‘Aurora’ which has pinkish flowers, ‘Diana’ is said to be more vigorous, and ‘Charis’ has white flowers.  More recently new forms have been named  in North America.

This Vibrunum carlesii is found in the refurbished Japanese Tea garden found in Esquimalt Gorge Park.

This Vibrunum carlesii is found in the refurbished Japanese Tea garden found in Esquimalt Gorge Park.

Viburnums are fantastic garden plants which offer several seasons of beauty. Many have beautifully veined leaves which turn wondrous shades of amber, peach and scarlets in the fall. Many offer copious amounts of red or blackish berries also.  Korean Spicebush is no exception and this which is why it is an excellent garden plant. The scent where it gets it name is powerful and said to smell like Daphne or cloves.  Use this plant near travelled area, open windows or enclosed areas which have afternoon sun to release more scent.

A recently planted Virburnum carlesii is found in the lower cutting garden beside Government House.

A recently planted Virburnum carlesii is found in the lower cutting garden beside Government House.

Viburnum carlesii is an easy and accommodating plant to grow in the garden. It likes moist acidic well drained soil. It likes to be positioned in an area where it gets afternoon sun or full sun, this promotes better flowering and fruiting. It grows to be a rounded shrub of about 1.8m(6ft) high and slightly wider. It is quite hardy taking -20c(-4f) with no trouble at all. As it sets buds on old wood, the best time to prune is just after it blooms. Pruning is generally not needed except for shaping.

Stronger light leads to better heads of flowers and fruit on a Korean Spicebush.

Stronger light leads to better heads of flowers and fruit on a Korean Spicebush.

Links to like:

A good source of information: http://www.hort.net/profile/cap/vibca/

Another informative page on this plant: http://hcs.osu.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/vi_lesii.html

A general Wiki page on Viburnums: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viburnum

The more plants I grow the more I know…

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