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This winter has been remarkably hard for plants. It started with a terrible and extreme cold snap in November before many plants had totally hardened off for the winter.  The problem at that time was the cold came before the snow which protects more tender plants. On Wednesday morning I woke up to look out of my bedroom window to see an unexpected snow storm had dumped a large amount of snow. The cold came with winds the next day, but many plants this time are protected with a blanket of snow. By the time the snow stopped for the day there was about 30cm.(1ft.) on the ground.

A surprise morning vision of white put a crimp im my plans for the day.

A surprise morning vision of white put a crimp im my plans for the day.

In the afternoon there was even more snow and I and many others had started to shovel out paths and sidewalks. Trucks were up and down salting streets. The winds had picked up and with the strong breeze can the chill factor overnight. The temperature dipped down to -6 c. (20 f.) but the wind chill was -16 c (3 f.), an all time record for this time of year. With the roads being in dangerous condition I decided to stay at home until Friday afternoon. By that time the melt was on and snow piled high in parking lots.

Damaged Cotoneaster foliage is browned form the cold winter weather.

Damaged Cotoneaster foliage is browned from the cold winter weather.

The piles of snow can take a while to melt and during that time damage the plants that are covered by it. This is particularly true in the large parking lots where snow is not removed and is just pushed out of the way.

I wonder how long it will take to melt this pile of snow?

I wonder how long it will take to melt this pile of snow?

I know this year has been cooler already that last year. The buds on the Climbing Hydrangea by the gate were expanding and I was checking to see if the Forsythia was ready to bloom yet. Last year at this time were well in advance in the garden.

 The same day we got our big snow this year the Forsythia was fully in bloom last year.

The same day we got our big snow this year the Forsythia was fully in bloom last year.

The Annual flower count starts March 1st and lasts until the 7th here every year, it should be a challenge this year to find the billions which are counted every year.Last year they had a record number. There is more inclement weather forecast for tonight and the rest of the week.

 This years famous Victoria Flower Count should be way down from other years.

This years famous Victoria Flower Count should be way down from other years.

I mainly worry about those plants that made through the first cold in November and have now been hit again. The damage to broad-leaved evergreens is especially apparent with many of the larger leaved Rhododendrons looking sad .

 Winter damage on the large leaved Rhododendrons at Finnerty Gardens as seen in January.

Winter damage on the large-leaved Rhododendrons at Finnerty Gardens as seen in January.

The forecast for tonight is possibly more snow and the roads will be slippery in spots for sure. We gardeners are always trying to push the boundaries of what we can grow in our area, here it is more tender and tropical plants people want in gardens. When we have unusually cold snaps like this it reminds us how lucky we are that it does not last for more than a few days at a time.

Counting the Days of Flowers:

Victoria really does have a flower count every year: http://www.flowercount.com/

Victoria snow storm pictures from last week: http://www.howlabit.net/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=2575

Victoria during the storm is not safe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D03rK2sdEeo

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 46,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 49 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 129 posts. There were 335 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 439mb. That’s about 6 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 15th with 274 views. The most popular post that day was Cheers for the New Year.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were blogcatalog.com, blotanical.com, search.aol.com, my.yahoo.com, and gardenersgreenthumb.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for cornelian cherry dogwood, viburnum dawn, cornelian cherry, vining plants, and viburnum x bodnantense ‘dawn’.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Cheers for the New Year January 2010
2 comments

2

And the Winner is Viburnum x Bodnantense ‘Dawn’. February 2009
5 comments

3

Delicate Yet, So Dangerous. May 2009
2 comments

4

A Very Un-Dogwood Like Bloom. March 2009
5 comments

5

Want Something Exotic Looking For Your Garden? August 2009
3 comments

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When I was a small child bright and vibrant colors excited and fascinated me.  There was the clear yellows of the Daffodils out at the lake, the brilliant blue of the Siberian Irises at home. Near the end of the school year i would see the crimson-red of some Oriental Poppies (Papaver orientale) in a yard as I passed by. The silky smooth red petals with their black basal blotches always made me want to pick them for my mother…but I knew I would get in trouble so I did not.

This amazing Oriental Poppy is most likely called 'Harlem'

This amazing Oriental Poppy is most likely called 'Harlem'

Oriental Poppies are not one species but are bred from several species which are very similar and found in the same general area. The first species was Papaver orientale which we know came to us in the early 18th century, it was sent to  European gardens by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort(1656-1708) who was a French botanist. He is important for first defining the concept of genus and species in plants. The next poppy species was Papaver pseudo-orientale which was introduced in 1788. The final species was Papaver bracteum which was introduced in 1817.

The Poppy of my childhood is most likely called Papaver orientale x 'Allegro' and has the common coloring of the species.

The Poppy of my childhood is most likely called Papaver orientale 'Allegro' and has the common coloring of the species.

All these species are found in the same general area ranging from northern Turkey and the southern Caucasus through into north-west Iran where they grow in isolation from each other. No one knows where they were first crossed or if  it was on purpose. The red-orange Poppies were grown in gardens through the Victorian times but  they were not really favorite types of flowers. Collectively in trade these crossed species are called Oriental Poppies and sold as Papver orientale.

I am always a sucker for white flowers and the same hold true for this pure Papaver orientale x 'Royal Wedding' flower.

I am always a sucker for white flowers and the same hold true for this Papaver orientale 'Royal Wedding' flower.

Interest in Oriental Poppies did not pick up until 1906 when Amos Perry(1841-1914) found a salmon colored flower blooming in a crop of the common orange-red type. He carefully saved it and named it Papaver orientale ‘Mrs. Perry’. Soon he had a plant everyone wanted to buy. From finding this one plant his nursery embarked on a careful breeding program to select new flower colors to sell.  The next named color also came by accident in 1913, people complained that their salmon ‘Mrs Perry’ Poppies were blooming white. the Nursery quickly apologized and replaced the plants for the white ones and named the newly found form ‘Perry’s White”.  From this time into the 1930s many new colors from deep maroons to   some forms with unusual leaves and buds were named, many have not survived through until now.

A big, fat bud of Papaver orientale x 'Harlem' is going to bloom in a few days.

A big, fat bud of Papaver orientale 'Harlem' is going to bloom in a few days.

More recent program of breeding Oriental Poppies has been successful in Germany. A nursery of Helene Countess von Stein- Zeppelin has breed  some glorious named forms which include ‘Aglaja’(‘Alglaya’), ‘Karine’, Derwisch’and ‘John III’ to name some of the better known ones.

Papaver orientale x ''Turkish Delight' does not have a dark basal blotch at the base of each petal.

Papaver orientale 'Turkish Delight' does not have a dark basal blotch at the base of each petal.

In the last few years the dark mauve purple Papaver orientale  ‘Patty’s Plum’ has created a sensation in the Poppy world. it was discovered  by   in Somerset, England in the compost dump at Kingsdon Somerton Nursery which is owned by Patricia Marrow. it has been known since the 1990s and sold to the public since 1999.

The color of Papver orientale x 'Patty's Plum' varies somewhat with the weather conditions.

The color of Papaver orientale 'Patty's Plum' varies somewhat with the weather conditions.

We are so fortunate that so many colors of Oriental Poppies are now available and  are easy to grow. Papaver orientale can take the cold and survive nicely at temperatures of -40c(-40f) zones3-9 which why I saw them in my childhood in chilly Prince George. They like poor soil which is well-drained to produce less foliage. For the best flowering full sun is a must. they like a weak feeding of fertilizer or mulching in the spring as well as ample watering when they are in full growth mode. Remove spent flowers and water less later in the season. Their size ranges from .75 to 1.2m (28-48in) and spread is similar as they often are floppy if not staked up.

Papaver orientale 'Picotee' is one of the more interesting flower forms  which is commonly seen.

Papaver orientale 'Picotee' is one of the more interesting flower forms which is commonly seen.

Many color forms are readily available at local nurseries or you can grow them yourself from seed, they are easy to germinate and will bloom in the following year from seed. There are several fine seed forms in reds, salmon, pink and white available. Division of clumps is only done in the fall as they do not like having their roots disturbed.

Peruse Poppy information here:

The back story of Oriental Poppies: http://overplanted.com/profiles/oriental-poppies.php

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Pitton_de_Tournefort

The book I recommend if you are interested in anything related to the Poppy family: http://books.google.ca/books?id=f4Bv56KX_mMC&pg=PA9&dq=papaver+orientale&hl=en&ei=b9H4S-37GpXqNZKksYQI&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=papaver%20orientale&f=false

Until we meet again here deep in the plants….

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Moving Daze!

I have just moved this last week. I am having some issues with my internet and phone and will not be able to post any new plants until at least February 15th. Now you know whyIam calling this a DAZE!…because I am in a state of distress and disorganization.

See you all soon with new plants and places!

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When I was in Horticulture school we learned many plants ranging from small ground covers, larger shrubs and finally to the majestic trees. Some of these plants are very overused while others are not seen enough, it all depends on how well known and in fashion they are.  One tree I learned is much more common in Vancouver than it is in Victoria and that truly is a pity. What I am referring to is the ‘Katsura’ tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) which has many features that it should be on most peoples lists of ‘must have’ trees.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum or 'Katsura Trees' on a rainy spring day in Vancouver.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum or 'Katsura Trees' on a rainy spring day in Vancouver.

At one time, long ago, Cercidiphyllum japonicum grew wild in a much larger area. Fossil records show Katsura trees lived in Europe and western North America during the Miocene Epoch 5 to 23 million years ago. Now They are found only in Japan and China. They are found in south central China,  particularly in north west Szechwan province where E.H. Wilson found forests of them in 1907. The trees found in China were considered to be a variety Cercidiphyllum japonicum var. sinense at one time and were said to be more tree-like.  In Japan they are found at valley bottoms where the soil is richer and there is more rainfall which these trees need.

The attractively shaped leaves is one of the most appealing aspects of 'Katsura' trees

The attractively shaped leaves is one of the most appealing aspects of 'Katsura' trees

Cercidiphyllum japonicum was introduced into cultivation in a most unusual way. Thomas Hogg  Jr(1819-1892) who owned a plant nursery with his brother James. He was appointed a U.S. Marshal by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 and was then assigned to a diplomatic mission to Japan. While he was there, Thomas sent seeds of Cercidiphyllum japonicum to his brother  in 1865. His brther germinated them. Thomas was in Japan 10 years and also introduced several other well known plants;  Hosta ‘Thomas Hogg’  now called H. undulata var. albomarginata is probably the most famous.

Typical fall color of Cericidiphyllum japonicum found in the perennial border at Playfair park in Saanich.

Typical fall color of Cericidiphyllum japonicum found in the perennial border at Playfair park in Saanich.

Katsura trees tend to be multi trunked specimens which have strongly ascending branches. The leaves are relatively small and delicate compared to what the trunk and branches can become when these trees become more massive with age. It is intersting to note that these trees are also somewhat unusual in that they are dioecious meaning they are male or female plants.

A massive trunk of a Cercidiphyllum japonicum found in Beaconhill Park in Victoria.

A massive trunk of a Cercidiphyllum japonicum found in Beaconhill Park in Victoria.

In an ideal world Katsura trees grow to be enormous, Wilson found forests of trees with trunks of 2(6cm) and 3ft(90cm) widths and had regrown from their original stumps after the original trees had been harvest.  The largest one he noted was a remnant of a 17.5ft(5.33m) wide stump base. In the wild these trees can attain a height of 100ft(30m), but about half this in garden settings.  These trees are the most important source of wood  in Japan, and is used extensively for cabinetry and paneling there.

The color range of Cercidiphyllum japonicum ranges from crystal clear yellows through oranges and crimsons into plums as seen here.

The color range of Cercidiphyllum japonicum ranges from crystal clear yellows through oranges and crimsons into plums as seen here.

As autumn approaches Katsura trees put on a display for the senses, visually they are stunning with a color range few trees can achieve. On any day you will feast your eyes on shades of clear yellow, butter, many shades of peach and apricot, and into more striking crimsons and plums. You will notice they give of a pleasant odor as the leaves turn color, some describe it as ‘honey like’ and others say it has more of a’caramel’ or ‘brown sugar’ quality. How ever you explain it, it is a pleasant surprise which many people look forward to every year.

The striking golden tones of a happy Katsura tree changing color in the fall.

The striking golden tones of a happy Katsura tree changing color in the fall.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum is almost a perfect tree. It is very pest free and adaptive to most locations. In a garden setting it will grow to about 50ft(15m) tall which will fit in nicely to many landscapes. It makes an excellent multi stemmed residential, commercial, golf course or park tree. One thing you must keep in mind when placing it is having an adequate supply of water during the dry months.  Plant them in deep, rich, well drained soil. They need full sun to look their best.  This tree tolerates temperature down to 20f(29c). Newly emerging leaves can be damaged by late frosts.  there are several forms now on the market worth looking into if you are interested. the weeping forms are very attractive in the right location.

The same Cercidiphyllum japonicum in summer and fall. The corner planting along Quadra and Fairfield in Victoria.

The same Cercidiphyllum japonicum tree in summer and fall. The corner planting along Quadra and Fairfield in Victoria.

More on Cercidiphyllum japonicum:

Excellent summation of  Katsura trees: http://www.arhomeandgarden.org/plantoftheweek/articles/katsura_tree_11-2-07.htm

A very complete listing of important plant people, scroll down to Hogg: http://www.plantsgalore.com/people/plant-people-H.htm

Wiki’s listing of the famous Katsura tree and relatives: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cercidiphyllum

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When I came to live on the coast i was surprised to see how some plants were used. the climate here is just a notch below where many tender annuals will grow as perennials such as Snapdragons which winter over, sometimes for many years like the ones outside my kitchen window. Others are house plants elsewhere like Fatsia which grows as an attractive shade tolerant shrub here. One of the most surprising to me was the delicate and dainty Cyclamen which even as a house plant where a mystery to us. It was quite thrilling to find that Cyclamen hederifolium(Ivy-leaved Cyclamen)produce an especially abundant display here.

The delicate and dainty Cyclamen hederifolium blossom.

The delicate and dainty Cyclamen hederifolium blossom.

Cyclamen hederifolium was named in 1789 by Aiton but for many years has wrongly been sold as Cyclamen neapolitanum. More recently it has been split into varieties which refer to where it is found. C. hederifolium var. hederifolium and C. hederifolium var. confusum which we non-specialists can say are basically the same. we do know that these plants do grow in a wide area from southern France down into Italy and its islands. Then it moves east through Croatia, Bosnia down through Greece and it’s many islands over to western Turkey. It grows in a wide range of terrains from sea level up to 1400m(4300ft). It ranges from the richer soils of woodlands to maquis and gariques which have dry thin soils and occur on the dry lower mountainous slopes of the Mediterranean area.

The summer drought here does not bother Cyclamen hederifolium at all.

The summer drought here does not bother Cyclamen hederifolium at all.

There are many places I have found these beauties. Playfair Park has the best and most bountiful display right now in amongst it’s Rhododendron collection.  In Finnerty Gardens you will find them dotted about in shady spots. I also found them out along a country roadside where they have naturalized in clumps.Cyclamen is from the ancient greek ‘kylos’ meaning circle which refers to the shape of  the corm it’s growth springs from. One Cyclamen hederifoliums’ common name is ‘Sowbread’ which refers to Cyclamen which is said to be the favorite food of swine in southern France and Italy. Ivy-leaved and ‘hederifolium’ refer  to this Cyclamens the attractive leaves.

The interesting markings of Ivy-leaved Cyclamen are varied and colorful in the cool grey, drab winters here.

The interesting markings of Ivy-leaved Cyclamen are varied and colorful in the cool grey, drab winters here.

There are several species of Cyclamen which are seen regularly in gardens here. Cyclamen coum is the other most commonly grown variety. It is easily separated from Cyclamen hederifolium by it round, kidney shaped leaves and it bloom period which is in the early spring.  Both are easy to grow and have long lasting, attractive foliage.

Cyclamen coum have rounded leaves and bloomin in Febuary and March.

Cyclamen coum have rounded leaves and bloom in February and March.

Cyclamen hederifolium grow from a thick woody corm which is bulb-like.  This corm helps the plant survive the long hot, dry summer season in the Mediterranean.  It is easy to grow these beauties. They like to grow in fun sun to part shade in a location with soil which has at least a good part in leaf mold.  Plant the tubers  with their budding side up  3-5cm(1/2-1 1/2in) deep. Avoid planting in an area which has summer wet as this is the time of rest for this species. Water throughout fall into late spring as this is the growing season. These plants grow well under dappled shrubs and are also excellent container plants. In the wild pink is the most common color, while in cultivation whites are much more commonly seen.

LushCyclamen hederifolium plants are attactive in the dead of winter at Playfair Park.

Lush Cyclamen hederifolium plants are attractive in the dead of winter at Playfair Park.

Ivy-leaved Cyclamen spring from the earth and remind us that summer is waning.  Autumn is about to come forth with all it’s brilliant shades and slowly the seasons change with longer nights to come.

More about Cyclamen hederifolium:

From the Cyclamen Society: http://www.cyclamen.org/hederif_set.html

How to grow Cyclamen: http://www.hardycyclamens.com/grow_hardy_cyclamen.html

Dave’s Garden always has interesting comments from other gardeners: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/1590/

Until we meet again….

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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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