Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2010

I always like it when I find a plant which is versatile, can be used in many ways and has an unusual or desire color…what more could a plant lover want? I also like to find beautiful plants which can  live in a wide range of climates, be they very cold or very hot. So plants I first encountered in parks or botanical gardens while others I have been introduced to in nurseries where some clever person realized what a wonderful plant it was. This plant i was introduced to because I had to learn to grow it at a former job as a grower in a nursery. Knautia macedonica (Crimson Scabious) is a plant which has great qualities for a plant and adds long period of color into the  garden.

Knautia macedonica has an unusual deeply colored flower which blooms for months over the summer into late fall.

Knautia macedonica has an unusual deeply colored flower which blooms for months over the summer into late fall.

As you might have guessed Knautia macedonica comes from Eastern Europe near the Mediterranean and Black Seas, more specifically the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania and south eastern Romania. In the past this plant was used  to relieve skin roughness and was used as a treatment for dermatitis in the Balkans. Knautias are closely related to Scabiosa and at one time where classified as being from the same family, therefore the common name of Crimson Scabious. They both come from the Dipsacaceae family which also includes over 350 species which grow mostly in Europe, Asia , Africa and Australia.

Crimson Scabious blooms from June until late in the year.

Crimson Scabious blooms from June until late in the year.

There are several species of Knautia other than Knautia macedonica which are good garden plants and also bloom for a long period. Knautia is named after German doctor and botanist Christoph Knaut (1638-94),.He was born and lived in Halle where he published ‘Flora’ (Compendium Botanicum sive Methodus plantarum genuina) in 1687 with his brother Christian. In ‘Flora’ he described 17 different classes of plants. Carl von Linné( Linnaeus) later studied this work when developing the plant classification system we all know and use today.

Knautia macedonica produce masses of small flowers on wiry stems.

Knautia macedonica produce masses of small flowers on wiry stems.

Crimson Scabious is native to limestone scrub lands and grass meadows where the soil can be poor and scant rain falls during the long growing season.  The attractive basal leaves often have a greyish color and dry up during its period of bloom, at that time its blossom stems can easily be seen weaving through other plants and popping out to create interesting color combinations. The crimson color starts out with an almost blackish tone (like Chocolate Cosmos) and takes on a bluish hue as it ages, I have found it is a hard color to photograph.

The powerful red color of Knautia macedonica changes as the flower ages and takes on a bluish tinge.

The powerful red color of Knautia macedonica changes as the flower ages and takes on a bluish tinge.

Crimson Scabious is a plant which can grow in a variety of situations, this is because it a very easy plant to grow. You will need well drained soil which is rich in nutrients, full sun for the best possible blossoms and some dead-heading to keep the plant tidy. I think this is a plant for the middle of the border as it gets quite big and can flop if it is not staked  or cut back. It looks good weaving through strong foliage such as irises, Daylillies or grasses and can be used to cover areas of early bulbs which will have died down by late may and June.

Knautia macedonica may have small flowers...but... they have big impact in the garden.

Knautia macedonica may have small flowers...but... they have big impact in the garden.

Knautia macedonica grows to at least 1m(3ft) tall and by the same wide. There is now a shorter form(‘Mars Midget’) which you can easily grow from seed. There are also a seed color form (‘Melton Pastels’) which give a range of colors from from pinks through lavenders and the traditional red.

If you like intense colors, Crimson Scabious is a must for your garden!

If you like intense colors, Crimson Scabious is a must for your garden!

Although Knautia macedonica is listed as tolerating temperatures down to zone 5 -20c(-4f) it can be pushed much lower in a drier site to the low zone 3(-30c or -20f)It is sucessfully grown in prairie gardens in Saskatchewan. This plant will give you months of pleasure not only in the garden but also in a vase as they make a excellent cut flower which needs no special treatment. Butterflies will come to your garden more often as well.

From bud through to seed-head Knautia macedonica is an intriguing plant.

From bud through to seed-head Knautia macedonica is an intriguing plant.

Knowing Knautia macedonica:

A prairie gardeners experience with Crimson Scabious: http://em.ca/garden/per_knautia_macedonica_mars_midget.html

Martha says…: http://www.marthastewart.com/plant/knautia-macedonica

Growing it in the pacific northwest: http://www.paghat.com/knautia.html

Same time, same place……next week?

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I do not know when I first met this plant as I feel like I have known it all my life. Where I grew up it is on the coldest edge of its temperature tolerance. I know I have seen it many places here in it’s many forms and colors. I think i like the very first form with its strong color and single flowers. Jackman Clematis (Clematis x jackmanii) is one of the true glories of the summer garden whether it is popping through a tree or doing the service of rambling over the ugly stump in the garden. We welcome all that you do for us!

Clematis x jackmanii 'Superba' gives an injects an incredible shot of color into gardens during the long days of summer.

Clematis x jackmanii 'Superba' gives an injects an incredible shot of color into gardens during the long days of summer.

Jackman Clematis are named for the famous family of nurserymen who developed them. The first member we meet is William(1763-1840) who started the nursery on 50 acres of land in St. Johns Woking, Surrey in England. He had sons George(jr.) and Henry who later took over the nursery in 1830 and this where the real story begins. George jr. (1801-1869) was the real nurseryman while his brother was ran the business. The business was renamed Jackman and Sons Nursery after George.  The nursery grew and was prosperous, later George’s  eldest son also named George (1837-1887)came to work in the business. The two Georges’ decided to start a breeding program with Clematis to create new forms in 1857. They crossed Clematis lanuginosa with viticella and within the first batch of seedlings was the famous Clematis x jackmanii with its dark purple color and broader petals.

This Clematis x jackmanii leans against a arbour post in the hot July sun.

This Clematis x jackmanii leans against an arbour post in the hot July sun.

As soon as the first Jackman Clematis started to be sold to the public  it was enormous success, everyone wanted one of these beautiful plants. It set a new standard for this species of plants.  Soon there were other members of the family to buy and in a broad color range , running from the original deep purple through red, pink, white, shades of lavender and mauve. Several double forms were also named. In 1872 the book ‘The Clematis as a Garden Flower’ was released by George Jackman in collaboration with  Thomas Moore. A second edition which was enlarged and updated was  issued in 1877.

Clematis 'Perle d Azur' is one of the more spectacular forms of Jackman Clematis.

Clematis 'Perle d Azur' is one of the more spectacular forms of Jackman Clematis.

The Jackman family carried on in the nursery business for several generations until the business was sold in 1967. The Jackman name will always be associated with the best that Clematis can be. Jackman Clematis all are strong growers and often bloom for several months.  One of their best attributes is when they bloom later from June into August and often they will have a repeat with the flowers having fewer petals in September.

Clematis 'Gipsy Queen' is easily recognizable with each petal having a maroon stripe though it.

Clematis 'Gipsy Queen' is easily recognizable with each petal having a maroon stripe though it.

Clematis are said to be tricky to grow, but having seen them in all kind of places from near-desert conditions to the rain forest here I know they are very adaptable. They like other members of the Ranunculus(Ranunculaceae) family do not like to have their roots disturbed. They can sulk and be slow to return to their glory.

Clematis x jackmanii can be a massive grower if it is planted in the right place.

Clematis x jackmanii can be a massive grower if it is planted in the right place.

Selection of  the right site for your Jackman Clematis is most important. Most members of the group grow up to 3m(10ft) high and a similar width while producing a multitude of vining stems if they are happy.  All Clematis like to have their roots in the shade and their stems in the sun for producing the most luxuriant leaves and flowers. In extreme southern sites or excessively stronger sun an eastern exposure is the best. Here in the Pacific Northwest they do nicely in full sun. They like light loamy well-drained soil best. drainage is important to avoid sudden Clematis death which is like a fungus.  Give them plenty of moisture during their growing season

This is the first blossom I have seen of Clematis x jackmanii 'Alba' in the St. Ann's Academy garden.

This is the first blossom I have seen of Clematis x jackmanii 'Alba' in the St. Ann's Academy garden.

Jackman Clematis can be used in a variety of ways. They are impressive growing over fences and on trellises. If you have something to hide let a colorful Clematis help out. Often they are seen in trees which bloom earlier in the year or paired with climbing Roses. We should be more adventurous with our planting and have a sense of fun, the Jackman’s took a chance and changed the garden world in ways that will last forever.

I love the creativity and sense of fun found in this garden in East Vancouver, the Clematis x jackmanii 'Superba' is a beguiling welcome here.

I love the creativity and sense of fun found in this garden in East Vancouver, the Clematis x jackmanii 'Superba' is a beguiling welcome here.

Although Clematis x jackmanii are rated as tolerating -2oc(-4)  or zones 4 through 9 I think they can be pushed to cooler places as I have seen healthy ones in zone 3 or -35c(-30 to-40f). They would need extra mulch and care not to go through the freeze/thaw/ freeze which damages so many plants.

On the Jackmanii trail:

A very good write up on Jackman Clematis: http://www.floridata.com/ref/c/clem_xja.cfm

about the Jackman Family: http://www.clematis.hull.ac.uk/new-clemnamedetail.cfm?dbkey=15

Read Full Post »

We often came down at this time of the year to visit our grandparents near White Rock. We went to the beach for days, played on the old farm equipment and eating cherries which we picked from the fruit trees. My grandmother loved her garden and especially the flowers she received from friends, I remember her telling me about her wonderful roses, ‘Dr W. Van Fleet’ on the barn and I especially liked the hot pink one which grew up the pole near where we parked our car. It Is called ‘American Pillar’ Rose and is seen in many old gardens here.

The gaily colored Rosa 'American Pillar is common in older gardens here.

The gaily colored Rosa 'American Pillar' is common in older gardens here.

The ‘American Pillar’ Rose has been around since 1902(others say 1909) and is one of the most successful introductions made by an American Rose breeder. It is a cross between Rosa setigera x wichurana along with an unknown red pollen parent.  Both of the species roses had been used in the past are still today for their stellar qualities. Rosa setigera is called the ‘Climbing Prairie Rose and grows from southern Ontario through into Florida, it is an unusually hardy climbing type of Rose. Rosa wichurana is originally a Chinese rose is nearly evergreen and has very good disease resistance and crosses well with other species very well.

The 'American Pillar' Rose is a strong growing rambler which is often seen growing over fences like it is here at St. Ann's Academy.

The 'American Pillar' Rose is a strong growing rambler which is often seen growing over fences like it is here at St. Ann's Academy.

‘American Pillar’ Rose was developed by the famous Rose breeder Dr. W. Van Fleet of Glendale Maryland. Soon after introducing the new ‘Americna Pillar’ Rose it was clear that it was going to be hugely popular and was growing in many gardens along the American east coast. It soon became widely grown in Europe and especially in England. It now is seen in Rose collections throughout the world and is used in many historically based garden designs, there are several important Rose garden here where it is represented.

This Brightly flowering 'American Pillar' Rose is growing along Elk Lake Drive next to the park.

This Brightly flowering 'American Pillar' Rose is growing along Elk Lake Drive next to the park.

Like many plants that have been grown for a long time the ‘American Pillar’Rose is tough and adaptable. I know for sure my grandmother did not fuss about her plants and because she was on well water many of her plants did not get any during the dry summer months. Often this rose is seen here where there had been a homestead which is long gone, this could give someone the impression that these plants grow wild here.

The leaves of the 'American Pillar'Rose are glossy and disease resistant.

The leaves of the 'American Pillar'Rose are glossy and disease resistant.

The ‘American Pillar’ Rose is a vigorous  rambler type plant which can overtake other weaker plants, care must be taken when placing it. It has an overall arching and sprawling habit and will grow to nearly 6m(18ft) in length and 3m(10ft) wide. It makes an excellent specimen to climb a tree and have its bright cheery flowers hang down from the branches.

I found this 'American Pillar' Rose peeping out through a jumble of other plants near the dock at Fulford Harbor on Saltspring Island.

I found this 'American Pillar' Rose peeping out through a jumble of other plants near the dock at Fulford Harbor on Saltspring Island.

‘American Pillar’ Roses are tolerant of poor soils and drier sites which why they survive long after the gardens they were planted in are gone. They like well drained soil which hold some moisture for the drier periods. Remember to give it some bonemeal when you plant it and some mulch every year in the spring. They prefer full sun but are one of the better blooming Roses for shady locations. Wetter weather can promote disease on all Roses, here I have seen mildew for the first time this year on this plant, later growth has been free of leaf damage. They are rated as tolerating -25c(-10f) although i think they would be hardier, there are fine specimens found in parts of Ontario and Quebec.

The large clusters of bright pink flowers with large gold and white eyes make 'American Pillar' Roses very recognizable.

The large clusters of bright pink flowers with large gold and white eyes make 'American Pillar' Roses very recognizable.

Need to cover that ugly fence or cover that dying old tree, ‘American Pillar’ Rose to the rescue!  Give this plant lots of space to spread out and you will be rewarded for many years to come.  Little pruning is needed except to control it and remove weak canes, fortunately the job is easy as there are  few thorns.  Some people claim this plant has a slight fragrance and others do not notice any scent, I am with the later group and do not smell anything.

Rambling about American Pillar Roses:

A simple picture document of this roses growth: http://www.ph-rose-gardens.com/01012.htm

An article on suitable pergola roses for Ontario: http://www.landscapeontario.com/the-romantic-pergola-garden

The rose is found at the famous Annapolis Royal Historical Gardens in Nova Scotia: http://museum.gov.ns.ca/imagesns/html/31538.html

Next week another plant adventure unfolds here, as always…..

Read Full Post »

Every season there is a plant that you really notice here on the island which you do not see in elsewhere. That is because we have a unique eco-system. In the winter the Garry Oaks are most noticable, in the spring it is the fields of blue Camas and the delicate Easter Lillies (as old timers call the plant) and during the summer there are these shrubs growing all over with white panicles of tiny flowers which are not seen on the mainland.  That plant is wonderfully named Ocean Spray(Holodicus discolor) and you see it everywhere right now.

The frothy white panicles of Ocean Spray(Holodiscus discolor) is seen everywhere here in the early summer.

The frothy white panicles of Ocean Spray(Holodiscus discolor) is seen everywhere here in the early summer.

Ocean Spray may look like a woody overgrown  Astilbe but is actually a member of the Rose (Rosacae) family, it’s all in the microscopic flower structure you know!  Holodiscus discolor grows here on southern Vancouver Island and then south through to California. It grows surprisingly scattered in areas of the southern  interior of B.C.  into Idaho, Montana and south  ending up in Nevada. sometimes the interior form is classified as Holodiscus dumosus but it is unclear if it is possibly a variety or seperate species. It grows in a range of areas because it is quite drought tolerant and hardy.

A typical Ocean Spray growing amongst the grass and rock.

A typical Ocean Spray growing amongst the grass and rock.

Ocean Spray is 1 of 8 in the species Holodiscus that range down the North and South American coast from British Columbia to Bolivia. The Greek name Holodiscus refers to the ‘disc’ structure in the flower and discolor refers to the leaves which are a greyish color on their undersides.

A panicle of thousands of tiny slightly fragrant, disc-like flowers make up the showy plume of Ocean Spray.

A panicle of thousands of tiny slightly fragrant, disc-like flowers make up the showy plume of Ocean Spray.

Holodiscus discolor was introduced by David Douglas in 1827, at that time is was thought to be a type of Spiarea and was later taken out of that species and renamed. Ocean Spray has long been used by native groups for many things. The wood is known to be very hard and the branches were harvested and used for tools, furniture and many small objects. The wood was often prepared by further hardening using fire and then polishing using Horsetail(Equistum). Arrows, spears and harpoons were also made this way.

Holodiscus discolor is a multi-stemmed shrub which can be pruned to show of the beautiful bark.

Holodiscus discolor is a multi-stemmed shrub which can be pruned to show of the beautiful bark.

When the leaves of Holodicus discolor come out in the spring they often have a nice burnished color which can continue into the early summer, in the fall they turn golden and glow out among the other vegetation.The leaves and flowers were in the past used for medical purposes, tonics were made to treat a wide range of maladies such as smallpox, measles, chickenpox and as a blood treatment.  The leaves were made into poultices and were used on sore lips and feet. The bark was ground,  with oil and then applied to burns.

The attractive leaves of Holodiscus discolor are often burnished in the spring and turn golden tones in the autumn.

The attractive leaves of Holodiscus discolor are often burnished in the spring and turn golden tones in the autumn.

Ocean Spray is a fast growing, multi-stemmed shrub which has an arching habit. It can grow to 5m(16ft) high by almost the same. Water, Soil and pruning can keep it well in control, I have seen much smaller shrubs which grow little over 1m(3ft) in hard to grow in sites. Holodiscus discolor can be pruned up and thinned out to make a more delicate and useful plant. These plants grow in full sun to part shade, they are often seen as under-story shrubs in the Garry Oaks here. Spent flowers can be removed as they are somewhat unattractive when they are finished.

A path in the Woodlands at Government House takes you through a natural arbour of Holodiscus dicolor shrubs.

A path in the Woodlands at Government House takes you through a natural arbour of Holodiscus dicolor shrubs.

Holodiscus discolor can be used in large gardens or borders. It also fits in native gardens, drought tolerant locations and the flowers and seedheads are butterfly and bird attractants. Little is needed to be done as these plant survive on poor to good soils and summer droughts. they also are good for retaining soil on slopes and grow right along the ocean-side (Ocean Spray really is a good name).

I found this wonderful pink tinged Holodiscus discolor and think it should be propagated and sold as a new color variation.

I found this wonderful pink tinged Holodiscus discolor and think it should be propagated and sold as a new color variation.

Holodiscus discolor is rated at hardy to -30c(-22f) or zone 4b-9a.  I think you should choose plants grown locally or at least as close to the temperature range as where you are to assure it will survive if you come from a colder area.

Discussing Holodiscus:

Fact sheet from Virginia Tech: http://www.cnr.vt.edu/Dendro/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=211

Plants for a Future: http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Holodiscus+discolor

Where it is distributed in British Columbia: http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Holodiscus%20discolor

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: