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Archive for September, 2010

This September has been extraordinarily wet, in fact we have set a record for the most rain for this month every and still almost week to go. Most plants are loving it as the long summer drought is over early and this is guaranteed to save some of their lives. Some plants think it is fall already while others think it is spring and are blooming out of season. One plant which is in its glory during the waning days of summer is Hardy Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica) all its lovely forms.

One of the many forms of Fuchsia magellanica blooming in the Hardy Fuschia Garden at Glendale Garden.
One of the many forms of Fuschia magellanica blooming in the Hardy Fuschia Garden at Glendale Garden.

Fuchsias have been known for quite some time, the first type was brought back from the island of Hispaniola in 1703 by Charles Plumier( a french monk and botanist). He decided to name the plant after Lenard Fuchs(1501-1566) an early and important physician and professor of medicine in Germany. Magellanica commemorates Ferdinand Magellan(1480-1521) a Portuguese explorer who was the first to sail around Cape Horn from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean on the very southern tip of South America.

Fuchsia magellanica 'gracilis' shows off the delicate flowers which have been refered to as Ladys Eardrops.

Fuchsia magellanica 'gracilis' shows off the delicate flowers which have been refered to as Ladys Eardrops.

Fuchsias are found primarily in South America with Fuchsia magellanica coming from the farthest south; southern Argentina and Chile and to Tierra del Fuego. In Chile and Argentina it grows in the interior away from the coast up to the timberline there. It grows in damp to wet areas often on the edges of water(lakes, stream and rivers) or in swampy areas. It is  in an area of high humidity with heavy rainfall, this is a good clue why it likes areas like the pacific north-west and lurks as an escaped alien lining roads in south-west Ireland.

Fuchsia magellainca var.gracilis 'Aurea' brightens up any garden space.

Fuchsia magellainca var.gracilis 'Aurea' brightens up any garden space.

Over the years since it’s discovery many forms have been selected from Fuchsia magellanica, there are quite a few flower and leaf forms, some bright and showy and many others more subtle. The flowers range in color from the well-known fuchsia pink and blue through all pink, pale blush pink and then into white with a greenish tip. The flower itself also ranges in size and shape, most commonly being the long elegant drop, other forms are shorter to wider.

Fuchsia magellanica 'Hawkshead' has pure white flowers and light green foliage.

Fuchsia magellanica 'Hawkshead' has pure white flowers and light green foliage.

Leaf colors  of Hardy Fuchsia range from the standard green into golden ‘Aurem’ and several variegated forms; ‘Sharpitor’ with sage green with creamy edges, ‘variegata’ with more pinkish tints  and cream edges, ‘Versicolor'(‘Tricolor’) with even stronger rose tintng.

Fuchsia magellanica 'Versicolor' give an overall feeling of greyish-ness as the variegation is irregular and can disappear completely.

Fuchsia magellanica 'Versicolor' give an overall feeling of greyish-ness as the variegation is irregular and can disappear completely.

Hardy Fuchsias are very adaptable and useful in the garden. Although they come from a wet climate they have adjusted to the garden very well. They need rich moisture retentive soil to grow their best. They can take full sun as long as they have adequate moisture. At Glendale Garden here there is a Hardy Fuchsia Garden where many forms are tested, this area is mainly in full sun and exposed to the elements all year. It is a tough test for the Fuchsias to grow there and they come through with very well every year. They can grow in full sun to full shade, but the best placement is in part shade such as that provided by deciduous trees or those with smaller foliage so the light is dappled.

Fuchsia magellainca var. molinae 'Sharpitor' comes from England and is a very beautiful plant.

Fuchsia magellainca var. molinae 'Sharpitor' comes from England and is a very beautiful plant.

Hardy Fuchsias grow into attractive delicate looking shrubs which range from 75 to 200cm(2-6ft) tall and can grow to nearly as wide. The variegated forms tend to be smaller in height but nearly as wide. These plants can fill many uses in the garden, from specimen to accent though informal hedge to container plants. They fit well into perennial or shrub borders. They are said to be both deer and rabbit resistant.The large plum-colored oblong fruit is said to be edible, I have not tried it though.

Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae (Alba) is one of the more commonly seen color forms.

Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae (Alba) is one of the more commonly seen color forms.

Hardy Fuchsias bloom on new wood and can be cut down nearly to the ground in the late winter before they start to grow a-new. My grandmother cut her plant down to 15cm(6in) every year. They also can be pruned at any time for shaping or removal of damaged limbs.  One thing to keep in mind is they are slow to leaf out or sprout so do not throw it out it will come back. These are carefree plants with few if any seious pests or diseases. Often they come through the winter almost untouched here even though they are deciduous. They are rated at taking -10c(14f) with some varieties such as ‘Riccartonii’ and ‘Hawkshead’ said to withstand zone 6 -15c(5f).

This unusual flower form of Hardy Fuchsia('Miss Popple'?) is seen at Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach.

This unusual flower form of Hardy Fuchsia('Miss Popple'?) is seen at Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach.

Fuchsia links to follow:

The Fuchsia garden at Glendale: http://www.glendalegardens.ca/hardyfuchsias.php

Hardy Fuchsia in Chile: http://www.chileflora.com/Florachilena/FloraEnglish/HighResPages/EH0306.htm

Fuchsias in West Cork, Ireland: http://stoneartblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/fuchsia-magellanica-west-corks-adopted.html

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So we are finally starting to have cooler nights. The last week was more rain than sun. Some trees are starting to color up and the sour tang of decay is beginning to creep into the air. There are a few plants which are in their glory now this late in flowering year. One group which stands out are Asters, their lavender blues are seen along roadsides and in gardens everywhere. Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’ (Monch Aster or Frikart’s Aster)is arguably the best of this mighty group of plants.

Aster x frikartii 'Monch' combines the best of its parents to create a wonderful plant.

Aster x frikartii 'Monch' combines the best of its parents to create a wonderful plant.

Frikart’s Aster was a planned meeting of 2 species to produces a plant that combined the best of the parents.  We do not know exactly why these plants were selected by Carl Ludwig Frikart (1879-1964) but we are grateful for the outcome. Little is known about Frikart other than he ran a nursery in Stafa, Switzerland and is said to have had a large rock garden which was built in the 1930s.

This clump of long lived Aster Frikartii 'Monch' is found in Playfair Park.

This clump of long lived Aster Frikartii 'Monch' is found in Playfair Park.

The two Asters Frikart decided to combine were Aster amellus and thompsonii.  Aster amellus is called Michealmas Daisy or Starwort in Europe where in comes from. It grows from France east through Italy into Czechoslovakia. It has more attractive leaves than most other Aster species and is more tolerant of dry conditions than most others. It also less effected by most of the common disease of Asters such as leaf spot and mildews. The other Aster selected was Aster thompsonii which comes from the Himalayas and is most commonly seen here as the form ‘Nana’ It has larger lavender blue flowers and wiry dark stems. I have grown both species and must say that they both are neat attractive plants with less pests or disease than other better known species.

The single flowers of Aster Frikartii 'Monch' make beautiful subjects for use in boquets.

The single flowers of Aster Frikartii 'Monch' make beautiful subjects for use in boquets.

Carl Ludwig Frikart began crossing amellus and thompsonii and named his first successful crosses after the famous mountains in his native Switzerland. Three were named in 1918: Eiger, Jung Frau and Monch, of these ‘Monch’ became the most famous and planted throughout the world. He continued making crosses and later released ‘Wunder von Stafa’ (‘Wonder of Stafa’) named after the town were he lived, it is still grown and is available especially in Europe. Later Alan Bloom of Bressingham Nursery would add the cross ‘King George’ to the list.

'Monch' Aster fits well in this mixed perennial and shrub planting at Government House.

'Monch' Aster fits well in this mixed perennial and shrub planting at Government House.

Monch Aster is in many ways really well suited for the garden where other Asters are not. Many of the Aster we grow originally come from plants which grow in swampy areas or on the edges of waterside. Aster x frikartii Monch‘s parents come from naturally dry areas. Here we have damp springs and bone dry summers which cause many Asters to develop diseases which are rarely seen with Monch’s Aster

.

The simplicity, large size and purity of color of Monch Aster flowers is one of most pleasing aspects of the plant.

The simplicity, large size and purity of color of Monch Aster flowers is one of most pleasing aspects of the plant.

Monch Aster are easy to grow, they like full sun, well drain soil with some nutrients and less than average water throughout the year. They are fairly compact especially in full sun, growing 60-90cm(2-3ft) tall and with about 50cm(1.5ft). If they are tending to flop stake them up, I have not really seen this here unless the plants are in to much shade.  They are hardy to zone 6 or -15c(5f).

The attractive foliage that Aster x frikartii `Monch`is an added benefit.

The attractive foliage that Aster x frikartii `Monch`is an added benefit.

Probably the best reason to use this plant is its extremely long season of bloom which lasts from late July into October.  Here you will see it in traffic medians in Saanich because its a low maintenance plant which gives color for several months. Frikart`s Aster is very versatile, it can be used in many places. It is seen in sunny perennial and shrub borders, as seasonal color, in containers, mass planted, in dry borders or hard to water areas and as an accent in gardens.

Searching for Monch Aster:

Aster amellus is also called Italian Aster:  http://www.gardening.eu/plants/Perennial-Plants/Aster-amellus/1742/

New York Times article on Asters: http://www.nytimes.com/1991/09/15/nyregion/gardening-asters-can-be-ordinary-or-spectacular.html

Sunset article on Monch Aster: http://plantfinder.sunset.com/sunset/plant-details.jsp?id=321

Until we meet again soon…

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Back to school, those are dreaded words for some, a relief for others and the beginning of a new chapter in life for many more. I must admit I did not like grade school. It was not until later when I had a break from the grind of it, had more perspective and experience in life that I enjoyed it more. Now I think about i more fondly look back at my time in school especially the time I was in Hort. school learning so many new things which I use all the time now. Learning the plants back then was more of a challenge, now it is adverture which takes me across the world and back in time. I first saw Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo or Sacred Bamboo) at Van Duesen Gardens and over the years have always loved it’s simple elegant beauty.

Heavenly Bamboo is a triple treat with wonderful foliage, flowers and bright red berries which appear in the fall.

Heavenly Bamboo is a triple treat with wonderful foliage, flowers and bright red berries which appear in the fall.

Nandina domestica is a plant which comes to us from Asia, there it is found in central Northern India, China and Japan. In Japan it is known as Nantzen (meaning southern sky) is derived from the chinese name(southern heaven)and our latin name is from it.  Nandina is strongly connected with the new year in both China and Japan, in China it is associated with the kitchen god Zhao Jun(Zhen) who is the most important domestic god and protects the hearth and family.

The light delicate foliage and compact=

The light delicate foliage and compact habit makes Heavenly Bamboo very popular here.

In Japan it is especially popular and is often seen at the entrances of houses and is  also used during the holiday season of late December and January. Here it seen in traditional Kadumatsu decorations which are placed in pairs at the front door of  the home. It is also in Japan where Carl Peter Thunberg(1743-1828) first documented Nandina domestica while he was there in 1775-76. His name is one of the most important associated with botanical plants in Japan and he named many of the best known ones of today.

A good crop of berries is seen with this planting of Nandina domestica at U.B.C. Botanical Gardens in Vancouver.

A good crop of berries is seen with this planting of Nandina domestica at U.B.C. Botanical Gardens in Vancouver.

Heavenly Bamboo was introduced to the gardening public in 1804. Also back in Japan at that time there were new forms being discovered and it was becoming popular there as a bonsai subject.Some of the new forms had narrower leaves and lent themselves to Bonsai. By the late 1800s’ nearly 200 cultivars had been named and catalogued there. Sadly many of these forms have been lost although recently many new color forms have been selected by growers in Europe and North America.

Nandina domestica is often mass planted or used as informal hedgeing here.

Nandina domestica is often mass planted or used as informal hedging here.

Here we have come to love Heavenly Bamboo for its versatility, beauty and color throughout the year. It tolerates any type of soil as long as it is well-drained. It is not fussy about light and can take the full sun to full shade although it is best with some protection from harsh midday sun in the summer especially in drier and more southern areas that here. Nandina domestica is tolerant of fairly dry areas as long as it is sheltered from drying winds like most other evergreens. This plant grows by producing suckers from the base, this over time will produce a dense clump. Pruning can be done to remove damaged parts and to thin it out if it gets overgrown.

The leaves are very large and tri-pinnate which gives 'Heavenly Bamboo' its common name.

The leaves are very large and tri-pinnate which gives 'Heavenly Bamboo' its common name.

There are many new forms of Nandina domestica which have recently appeared on the market. They range from the dwarfs  such as Nandina domestica ‘Nana Purpurea’ which grows 60cm(2 ft) which I think are best in containers as they do not have the elegant form as the full-sized ones. Nandina domestica ‘Plum Passion’ has great plum tinted blue-green foliage and grows 2m(6.5ft) by 90cm(3 ft) wide which is the normal size for Nandinas. There are also exciting golden-leaved  and yellow and white-fruited varieties which can be found so be on the lookout for more interesting varieties.

This dwarf Nandina would be best suited in a nice container.

This dwarf Nandina would be best suited in a nice container.

Nandinas are fairly hardy growing in zones 6 though 10 or-10c.(14f.) with little damage as long as they are in a spot shelter from drying winds. If they do lose their leaves in a hard winter they often come back quickly with new stems coming up from the base, the old ones can be removed. In areas where these plants have become a pest it is important to remove the spent flowers so they do not set seed. Speaking of seed, this is a common way to increase your crop of plants, germination is best if sown fresh with all pulp removed from the berries. The other method of propagation is by semi-ripe cuttings in mid spring.

This Nandina domestica is well palced in a sheltered location with some sun.

This Nandina domestica is well palced in a sheltered location with some sun.

Nandina domestica can be used in a variety of ways, as an informal hedge, mass planted, as an accent or for seasonal color. You will see it used in many public gardens as well as better institutional setting as it is a much more manageable substitute for true Bamboos.It fit well in asian, Japanese, understory or dappled and modern gardens very well. The graceful feeling of the plant is much appreciated by gardeners everywhere.

Searching for Heavenly Bamboo on earth:

The interesting forms grown in Japan: http://homepage3.nifty.com/plantsandjapan/page105.html

Carl Peter Thunberg: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Peter_Thunberg

Kadumatsu: http://www.humanflowerproject.com/index.php/weblog/comments/kadomatsu_welcoming_japans_new_year/

Propagation by seed: http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/forums/showthread.php?t=16900

Paghat on Nandina: http://www.paghat.com/nandina2.html

Hope to see you soon…..here again.

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Since I have moved this year I do not have the chance to visit some gardens as much as I used to, this week I went and investigate a few of my favorites. I went to check the plants in them and see if anything had changed, as you know gardens are always a work in progress. I was pleased with the progress, the plants, new and old looked healthy, new features were being added and old ones were being featured more prominently. One plant I wanted to check up on was a huge Eucryphia which grows there. It was just as spectacular as I remebered it to be.

Eucryphia, what ever the species or form are spectacular late summer blooming shrubs and small trees.

Eucryphia, what ever the species or form are spectacular late summer blooming shrubs and small trees.

Eucryphias are a genus that come from the very southern areas of the world. There are said to be 7 species with 5 from the east coast of Australia(and Tasmania) and the remaining 2 from southern central Chile and Argentina. In their native habitat they generally grow to be large shrubs or small trees which are evergreen. They are now classified as being part of the Cunoniaceae family. The first Eucryphia known were glutinosa and cordifolia from South America and are now considered to be threatened there. Eucryphia cordifolia was introduced in 1851 and later in 1859 glutinosa was collected for Veitch Nursery in England.

This Eucryphia x intermedia 'Rostrevor' is found by the the famous 'Stone Bridge' which crosses Goodacre Lake in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria.

This Eucryphia x intermedia 'Rostrevor' is found by the the famous 'Stone Bridge' which crosses Goodacre Lake in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria.

The most famous Eucryphias are crosses. Eucryphia x nymanensis  was a chance seedling which was found at Nymans, a famous garden which is now part of the National Trust gardens of Great Britain. This seedling was discovered in 1914 in the gardens and is a hybrid between the 2 Chilean species glutinosa and cordifolia. Another seedling(same cross) also was found at Mount Usher in County Wiklow in Ireland. It combines the best feature of the parents and is considered to be the hardiest of all Eucryphias.  It was given an AGM in 1924. These plants are collectively called Eucryphia x nymanensis ‘Nymansay’.

The large Eucryphia found at Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich is Eucryphia x nymanensis and was planted in 1958.

The large Eucryphia found at Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich is Eucryphia x nymanensis and was planted in 1958.

Another easily found Eucryphia is located in Beacon Hill Park by the Stone Bridge which crosses Goodacre Lake. It appears to be Eucryphia x intermedia ‘Rostrevor’. Eucyrphia x intermedia ‘Rostrevor’ is another plant from the ’emerald island’ but was discovered in a garden at Rostrevor,County Down, Northern Ireland. It was found in the 1930s. It is a cross of Chilean species  glutinosa and Australian lucida. The leaves are slightly toothed or not at all and have overall shiny,  smooth look. It is a smaller, more elegant small tree or shrub which has a narrower profile. It too is considered to be very hardy.

The leaves of Eucryphia x intermedia 'Rostrevor' are smooth and glossy.

The leaves of Eucryphia x intermedia 'Rostrevor' are smooth and glossy.

Here on Vancouver Island Eucryphias are seen in some of the more important plant collections public and private. I have also seen them at Government House, Finnerty Gardens and farther up the island at Milner Gardens at Qualicum Beach. The most commonly seen form  is ‘Rostrevor’ although I know that several of the species are grown in private collections which can ocasionally be seen by the public. Eucryphias grow very well in the mild marine climate here.

This huge Eucryphia x nymanensis is found at Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich.

This huge Eucryphia x nymanensis is found at Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich.

Eucryphias are fairly easy to grow. They need humus rich soil which is on the acid side. They like a good amount of water which drain away from the plant and does not sit during the rainy season. They like to have their roots shaded from the heat of day(like Clematis). they do not like to have their roots disturbed so care must be taken when placing them as well as when planting underneath them. They prefer a sunny sheltered positions away from cold drying winds which will damage their mostly evergreen leaves. If they get too much of a chill they can loose their leaves. Give your plant space as it can easily grow to more than 10m(30ft) tall and almost as wide if not pruned. They are fairly hardy and take -10(14f.) or zones 8 to 9,

The leaves of Eucryphia x nymanensis take after its parent E. glutinosa

The leaves of Eucryphia x nymanensis take after its parent E. glutinosa

Eucryphias re at home in a woodland setting  and other slightly shading plants. They are naturally a specimen in the garden at this time of year but also make an attractive accent in many settings such as a shrub or perennial border. Here they grow in a marine setting where the damp of the air helps them in drier times of the year. Some Eucryphia are highly fragrant and also are good sources of honey for bees at this late time of the year. In fact the South American species have in the past been used as a commercial source of honey.

On the Eucryphia Trail:

Techincal information on the genus:  http://zipcodezoo.com/Key/Plantae/Eucryphia_Genus.asp

Chilean Eucryphia cordifolia: http://www.chileflora.com/Florachilena/FloraEnglish/HighResPages/EH0093.htm

Search Gardenweb for Eucryphia dicussions: http://search.gardenweb.com/search/nph-ind.cgi?term=eucryphias&x=19&y=12

……Hope to see you here again soon……

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