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Posts Tagged ‘Blue flowers’

We I was small we would visit my grandmother(my father’s mother) in Williams Lake which was closer than my other grand parents. She came from Scotland and had an accent any many things from her family at her home. She also special scented soaps and that scent I now always associate with her. The soap was Lavender scented (from Yardley) and I still love that fragance. Here in Victoria we are able to grow that most famous of aromatic plants in many forms. The Lavender plant which most reminds me of the soap in its scent is Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ (Hidcote Lavender).

'Hidcote' Lavender Lavendula angustifolia 'Hidcote' has the fragrance that most reminds me of my grandmother.

'Hidcote' Lavender Lavendula angustifolia 'Hidcote' has the fragrance that most reminds me of my grandmother.

Lavenders are plants which originate form the mountainous areas of France and Italy and Spain. The numerous species of plants have been used for millennial for fragrance, medicinal, herbal and culinary purposes. Different Lavenders have slightly different scents, some are more resinous(pine scented) while others are are less potent and kind of dusty (almost musty). What we think of as ‘true’ English Lavender scent is Lavandula angustifolia with bright flower that are dried for sachets stuffing pillows,  used in oils lotions, soaps and pomanders. The scent is said to be calming and is used that way in herbal medicine. The flowers have many culinary uses from sweets to teas and inclusion in meat dishes and other savory foods.

Hidcote lavender is included in this herb garden.

Hidcote lavender is included in this herb garden.

Hidcote lavender is a true English Lavender selection( selected in 1950) which is named after the world-famous  garden at Hidcote Manor near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.  Hidecote Manor was an estate whose gardens were developed by Lawrence Johnson (1871-1958). Johnson was born in France to an American father who was a wealthy stockbroker. Lawrence Johnson has nor formal horticulture training but was extremely artistically talented. Lawrence when to Cambridge and graduated with a degree in history from Trinity College and later joined the British army fought in the Boer War and World War 1. In 1907 his mother bought Hidcote and he went to live with her in the 200 acre estate.

A contemporary west coast drought tolerant garden with Hidcote Lavender as one of the feature plants.

A contemporary west coast drought tolerant garden with Hidcote Lavender as one of the feature plants.

For the next 41 years Lawrence developed 10 acres into a magnificent series of garden rooms each with its own surprises and unique features.  he was much influenced by Gertrude Jekyll the Arts and Crafts movement which was primarily located in Great Britain.  The gardens of Hidcote were seen as being so important that the National Trust selected them for their first example of gardens to include in their collection of places of cultural heritage. 150,000 people visit the Hidcote gardens every year to learn and get inspiration from them.

A modern use of Hidcote Lavender(Lavanduala angustifolia 'Hidcote') seen in this garden at Parkside Victoria.

A modern use of Hidcote Lavender(Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote') seen in this garden at Parkside Victoria.

Most lavenders grow well on Vancouver Island even though we have much more rain that would occur where they originate, drainage is important. Here in Victoria most gardens are on top of a layer of clay and fine sand which means placing any Lavender is tricky. Hidcote Lavender seems to do the best of all the different species which are grown here as it is quite hardy and will take more moisture that some others which will regularly die or be severely damaged during colder winter here.

Hidcote Lavender is just one of the massed plantings used to create color throughout the year on the main street through Brentwood Bay.

Hidcote Lavender is just one of the massed plantings used to create color throughout the year on the main street through Brentwood Bay.

Growing Hidcote Lavender is easy in the right place. You need full sun and well-drained soil especially in wetter climates. The best plantings I have seen are completely exposed to the elements such as those in the Terraced Gardens at Government House. There they grow in rocky niches in soil which probably is not that deep and they will bake in the summer. Although Hidcote Lavender is a shorter dense plant it will do well with a cutting back after the flowers start to fade in color. This will set a flush of new vigorous growth before autumn dormancy will set in. Hidcote lavender grows up to  30-45 cm. (12-18 in.) tall and about as wide. It is  rated at tolerating -34 c.(-30 f.) or zone 4.

Here Hidcote Lavender is tucked in with Heaths, Heathers and small assorted succulents.

Here Hidcote Lavender is tucked in with Heaths, Heathers and small assorted succulents.

Hidcote Lavender can be used in a variety of ways such as in containers, as a formal or informal edging for paths, drought tolerant garden, deer or rabbit resistant garden, mass plantings or specimen plantings, as an accent, in herbal and fragrance gardens or collections.  True Hidcote Lavender is propagated by cuttings but what you get in most garden shops is a Hidcote strain of seed grown plants which generally are very uniform in their growth, color and size. This is an excellent seed strain.

Many forms of Lavandula angustifolia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavandula_angustifolia

Hidcote Manor:http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-hidcote.htm

Lawrence Johnson:http://www.countrylife.co.uk/gardens/article/473685/Great-British-garden-makers-Lawrence-Johnston-1871-1958.html

 

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This is the time of year when many things are being renewed and many thing are being learned. College and university classes are near the end and are graduating, people are moving to new places and jobs and the gardens everywhere are waking up. People new to gardening are digging their gardens maybe for the first time. This might be the first time a child is spending time wandering in a park wondering about the flowers and looking more closely at them. It is hard to find a more child-like plant than that of Primula denticulata (Drumstick Primula) with its over-sized orb of flowers in very appealing flowers.

 The pure white of Primula denticulata 'Alba' has inspired famous gardeners such as William Robinson to view it to be 'one of the finest of all spring perennials'.

The pure white of Primula denticulata 'Alba' has inspired famous gardeners such as William Robinson to view it to be 'one of the finest of all spring perennials'.

 Primula denticulata is something of an enigma to me as I can not find exactly who or when it was first introduced into the garden. It was first scientifically named in literature in 1804 and has been recollected by plant hunters several times since.The plant is found in a fairly wide area of Asia from Afghanistan to Bhutan and into China. It is found to growing at elevations of  1500-4500 m. (5000 – 14750 ft.). There it is seen on grassy slopes, amongst open shrubs and other areas which tend to be evenly moist throughout the year.

Primula denticulata can be quite variable in its height and coloring and this has lead to some confusion for plant collectors looking for new plants in Asia.

Primula denticulata can be quite variable in its height and coloring and this has led to some confusion for plant collectors looking for new plants in Asia.

Primulas are one of the most popular species of plants which are seen in gardens. There are at least 425 species with over 300 of them found in Asia. 33  more are found in Europe and 20 found in North America. There are societies dedicated to single species that are centuries old and many other societies which have their roots in the Victorian era where several species where highly desirable for collections and collectors. Drumstick Primulas have always been one of the most popular and widespread in gardens throughout the world. Primulas should be grown more in gardens and it is a pity that only a few species are seen here in the Pacific Northwest where the cool marine climate is perfect for them.

Colors of Primula denticulata range from pure white, mauves and lavender shades into deep maroon.

Colors of Primula denticulata range from pure white, mauve and lavender shades into deep maroon.

One of the reasons for the success of Drumstick Primulas is its ease in the garden. It really is a beginners plant which would make a good plant for a gift to a new little gardener. It is a fun plant to include in a childs garden for its naturally whimsical form. It is a tough plant which when happy is easy to multiply by division after flowering or by sowing the seed as soon as its ripe right into the garden.

The brightly colored Drumstick Primula here lead you a route off the main path in the Asian Garden at U.B.C. Botanical Garden in Vancouver.

The brightly colored Drumstick Primula here lead you a route off the main path in the Asian Garden at U.B.C. Botanical Garden in Vancouver.

Growing Drumstick Primulas is easy and rewarding for the smiles you will get from your little friends. They like rich moisture retentive soil and enough water that they do not dry out during the warmer times of the year.  They should be grown in areas where they get some protection from hot summer sun, so dappled light is best in most locations. They also need protection for the flower head which is partly developed in the fall and is dormant during the winter months, it does not like drying winds or being frozen in solid ice which will damage the emerging blooms,cover them with some extra leaves. Primula denticulata are quite hardy and are said to easily take -20 c. (-4 f.). Plants are generally are about 30-40 cm. (12-16 in.) tall and slightly less wide.

This Maroon Primula denticulata is an intense shade which is eye-catching in the garden.

This Maroon Primula denticulata is an intense shade which is eye-catching in the garden.

Primula denticulata can be used in a variety of ways in a garden such as an accent or in containers. They also make a stunning mass planting. they work well with other spring flowering plants and Primula leaves are quite attractive with their thick heathy green slightly puckered texture. Primulas are generally free from pests except for vine weevil grubs which can eat the roots of the plant, it is worth close inspection to remove these if found. Aphids sometimes are a short-lived problem but generally do not real damage.

The bright green leaves and shining orbs of purple Drumstick Primula glow even on a cloudy day.

The bright green leaves and shining orbs of purple Drumstick Primula glow even on a cloudy day.

Visions of Drumstick Primulas:

A collection of  pictures showing the variation in the plant: http://www.primulaworld.com/PWweb/photogallery.htm

A good description of how to grow where to use these plants: http://www.perennials.com/seeplant.html?item=1.445.200

A good article with many suggestions for companion planting: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/howtogrow/3335307/How-to-grow-Primula-denticulata.html

…………Hope you hop back this way soon…………..

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When I went to work for a large wholesale perennial grower I was surprised by the diversity of material that was sold. They wanted to extend their sales season by selling not only perennials but include other related plant material such as Heather, herbs, small shrubs and in the earliest spring small bulb which you could buy in bloom at the grocer. Within the bulbs sold there were Crocus, small Daffodils, Snowdrops and Iris. The Reticulated Iris (Iris reticulata) were a brilliant blue and always sold out quickly.

The classic Iris reticulata (Reticulated Iris) ia a welcome shot of brilliant blue in the garden.

The classic Iris reticulata (Reticulated Iris) ia a welcome shot of brilliant blue in the garden.

Reticulated Iris are in a subgenus Hermodactyloides which include other closely related species. They are all bulbous with netted tunics(coverings), which is where the latin name ‘reticulata’ comes from meaning netted or networked. All of the species originate in western Asia ranging from Turkey south through Lebanon through into Iraq and Iran, to the east into the Caucasus and Transcaucasia and into the former USSR.  They live in areas high in areas just below the snow line down into the lower mountain meadows and on to rocky hillside where the water runs off and they bake in the summer heat while they are dormant like many of famous bulbous plants of the area.

Iris "George' is a standout form ith its rich coloring.

Iris "George' is a standout form ith its rich coloring.

There are several color forms of Iris reticulata ranging from the almost  icy white ‘Natascha’ through the light blue ‘Cantab’ into the violet ‘Lovely Liza’ and into deep purple  of ‘George’ and ‘Purple Gem’. Other species are sometimes seen in collections but are harder to find at garden centers. Here in Victoria we have a thriving, large garden community as well as many people who are interested in alpine gardens, it makes it possible to see a wider range of Reticulated Iris forms.

The exotic colored Iris 'Katherine Hodgkin' has wonderfully reticulated petals.

The exotic colored Iris 'Katherine Hodgkin' has wonderfully reticulated petals.

Several species have added their coloring and petal form to new hybrids in the Reticulated Iris group. One of the more spectacular of these is Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ is a cross of Iris winogradowii with its pale yellow flowers and Iris histrioides which is pale blue. Iris histrioides  and histrio, both blue play important roles in new crosses that are being made, the both have similarly narrow petals and blue coloring. The markings on these species tends to be dark blue with little yellow seen if at all.

Iris reticulata "Alida' has a distinct solid pale blue coloring with a dash of lemon in its throat.

Iris reticulata "Alida' has a distinct solid pale blue coloring with a dash of lemon in its throat.

I am fortunate that every year at this time I can go to a grocer and buy a tiny pot with several Iris reticulata bulbs blooming in it, enjoy the flowers then plant them out in the garden. We are also fortunate that these plants are undemanding and give us such joy at this time of the year. the most important thing Reticulated Iris need is well-drained soil and a situation where they can dry out during their summer dormancy, this can be created by planting them on a slope or giving them extra gritty soil. Plant the bulbs 10-12 cm. (4-5 in.) deep and about 3 cm.(1 in.) apart.  They grow  1-15 cm. (4-6 in.) tall. they are quite hardy and rate zones 5 -29 c.(-20 f.)through 9. With extra mulch it is likely that they can survive even colder locations.

Tough Reticulated Iris flowers are not effected by winter freezes or snow piled up around them.

Tough Reticulated Iris flowers are not effected by winter freezes or snow piled up around them.

These are small plants that usually produce 1 to 2 flowers per bulb. Mass planting is the best way to display these Reticulated Iris. They are most often seen in container plantings, alpine gardens or rock gardens. Although they are tiny in statue Reticulated Iris are good cut flowers and have an unusual, delicate violet-like fragrance. They can be grown from seed but this is a slow process as it takes about 5 years to produce a flowering bulb. If they are in a favorable place the bulbs can be divided to thin the bulbs out every 2 years. The new bulbs can be moved to other places or massed where they are. One problem we have here are slugs which eat the tender flowers, so remember this when choosing a site for these tiny gems.

The slug damage to this Iris danfordiae makes it all most unrecognizable.

The slug damage to this Iris danfordiae makes it all most unrecognizable.

Marticulate this:

The Pacific Bulb Society page on these plants:  http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/ReticulataIrises

A fascinating site on reticulata with its many forms and colors: http://www.reticulatas.com/

……..Looking forward to seeing you here soon……..

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As I look out my window today I remember what it was like at this time of year; it is the middle of February and still the snow is falling and the piles of it are getting higher and higher. Back then any sunny day would make me anxious for spring to come with the brightly colored bulbs of yellow, purple, blue and even white poking through patches of bare soil. Yes I am speaking of the first flowers of this early spring here which have a big impact. The Crocus are running amuck through the city in the parks and yards and have even gone rogue in some places! I offer up to you the  group of Crocus hybrids sometimes called ‘Dutch Crocus’ to brighten your very early spring.

 These Dutch Crocus Hybrids have incredibly huge flowers, yet have a delicate quality.

These Dutch Crocus Hybrids have incredibly huge flowers, yet have a delicate quality.

There are about 80 different species of Crocus with many subspecies and varieties. Of that group only about 30 species are regularly grown by collectors and us regular people.There are 2 distinct groups ones which flowers in spring and those which bloom in autumn. Of the autumn group we would be familiar with Saffron Crocus which produce Saffron for culinary uses, the spice comes from collecting the stamens from the flowers. Crocus species originate from a large area from north Africa into south-central Europe all of Italy and eastern Europe to Russia and down through former Yugoslavia and Greece, crossing through Turkey and as far east as Afghanistan and south into the Middle East Asia. .

 Crocus 'Pickwick' is my favorite Dutch Crocus with its gloriously striped blossoms.

Crocus 'Pickwick' is my favorite Dutch Crocus with its gloriously striped blossoms.

Most of us are more familiar with the spring blooming named hybrids which are commonly called Dutch Crocus. This group of Crocus have been developed over several hundred years of careful selection of the best flower qualities. ‘Dutch’ Crocus are a group of hybrids which are primarily made up of crosses made from 5 species of which the 3 predominant are C. vernus(with the largest blooms), chrysanthus(color) and biflorus.

 Here Crocus have taken over a lawn at this time of year and have revert to a color which is similar to what they look in the wild.

Here Crocus have taken over a lawn at this time of year and have revert to a color which is similar to what they look in the wild.

No one really knows were these 3 species of Crocus began to hybridise as it is possible their paths crossed in the wild. Vernus is from the Pyrenees in Europe into Yugoslavia, Chrysanthus also is found in Yugoslavia Romania, Greece and into southern Turkey. From there biflorus is found in southern Greece into Turkey and as far east as northern Iran. We do know that several species of bulbs ended up being sent to Carolus Clusius at the Botanical Garden in Leiden in the mid 16th century.

 

The golden yellow color of Dutch Crocus early in the spring is one of the gaudiest sights in the garden.

The golden-yellow color of Dutch Crocus early in the spring is one of the gaudiest sights in the garden.

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621) specialized in painting flowers and included a golden Dutch Crocus in one of his paintings. By 1629 a yellow Crocus had made their way to England and were being written about.  By the early 1700s lists of bulbs were carefully cataloged with their prices by sellers of the product and more color forms we re becoming known.

 

 

 Crocus 'Remembrance' is an old clone with one of the darkest and richest colors.

Crocus 'Remembrance' is an old clone with one of the darkest and richest colors.

All Crocus species are generally easy to grow and adaptable to most soil types. The one thing Crocus hate is overly wet stagnant soil which causes the bulb to rot. To improve soil drainage add sharp sand.  If Crocus like where they are growing they will multiply by growing many tiny new bulbils which can be removed and replanted. Crocus should be planted at least 15cm(6 in.) apart and 5-8 cm(2-3 in.) deep in the ground. It is best to plant or replant bulbs in the fall 1-2 months before frosts come to the garden, this gives the bulbs a chance to start growing their roots firmly into the ground.

 

This is Crocus 'Snow Bunting', a cheery flower in which each petal base is bright yellow.

This is Crocus 'Snow Bunting', a cheery flower in which each petal base is bright yellow.

 

Dutch Crocus are fairly hardy and take about zone 5 (-29 c. or-20 f.) – temperatures with ease and if you give your plants so extra protection or more snow they can take even colder situations.  Crocus grow well in gardens and can be used as edging plants, accents or specimens in a winter garden. Crocus make excellent container plants and can be transferred into the garden later if you like. Another thing they can be used for is naturalizing in lawns and grassy areas, this is because they will grow and decline into dormancy before you need to do your first mowing. Here there are several parks where the plants have spread into the lawns and look spectacular at this time of the year, later people are unaware that they are walking over the areas where the bulbs have gone dormant.

 

Pacific Bulb Society have very detailed pages on many Crocus species: http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Crocus

 

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder was a fantastic painter of flowers and floral displays: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrosius_Bosschaert

The Wiki page on Crocus is interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocus

……….Hope to see you around these pages soon………..

 

 

 

 

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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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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

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There are many plants that seem almost mythical when you grow up in a very cold climate. Some plants are spices you want to grow like Ginger while others have fantastic forms or leaves like Caladiums and some have intense or unusual colors like sky blue flowers. One plant which definately seemed to be a unreal to me were the big blue Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) which I saw in florist shops or as dried flowers. Now I know they are real!

Late June and throughout summer Hydrangea 'Endless Summer' colors many shrub and perennial borders here.

Late June and throughout summer Hydrangea 'Endless Summer' colors many shrub and perennial borders here.

Hydrangea macrophllya or Bigleaf Hydrangea orignates from Japan and was introduced to us by German naturalist Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold(1796-1866). he was the first European teach western style medicine in Japan from 1823-1829. He was able to  after treating and healing in influential officer he was able to leave the isolated island near Nagasaki( Deshima) where outsiders were forced to live. While he was able to spend time off the island and started a medical school with 50 pupils and they helped him study the plants and animals which were only found in Japan which was his main interest there. During his short time in Japan he traveled to Edo(Tokyo)  to collect specimens and  later started a botanical garden  behind his home with a greenhouse with over 1000 species of plants found in Japan.

In Japan Hydrangeas have important cultural and artistic significance, especially around Kamakura.

In Japan Hydrangeas have important cultural and artistic significance, especially around Kamakura.

The Japanese believe that Bigleaf Hydrangeas was introduced into China from Japan. This may be true as Hydrangea macrophylla (f. normalis) is found growing on Honshu island in and around Tokyo and the island there. Hydrangea serrata is now held to be a form of macrophylla and also comes from mountainous areas of  Japan and Korea.  the Japanese have cultivated and breed flower colors and forms for hundreds of years.

In Lacecap Hydrangeas the fertile flowers are the tiny center blossoms.

In Lacecap Hydrangeas the fertile flowers are the tiny center blossoms.

Hydrangea macrophylla is interesting in that there is a great range of color from deep blue through almost red and many shades in between in the violets. shades also run to white. Color in Bigleaf Hydrangea can be very much influenced by the acidity of the soil. It is not unusual to see a recently planted shrub have slightly different coloring in the following years. If color is important to you  first decide if you want pink or blue, if pink is wanted add a little dolomitic lime a few times a year to make the soil less acidic if you need to. For blue flowers you need to add aluminum sulfate at the rate of 14 ml or 1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) aluminum sulfate per gallon of water applied to the plant.  the ph of the soil should be 5.2-5.5 constantly for a good blue.

A cacophony of reds and violets in a Hydrangea macrophylla border planting at Government House In Victoria.

A cacophony of reds and violets in a Hydrangea macrophylla border planting at Government House In Victoria.

Hydrangea macrophylla is very common here and there are many very old plants found in the older areas of this part of the island. They are remarkably adaptable plants which tolerant a range of conditions. Bigleaf Hydrangea tolerate complete shade to full sun but like it best when they get morning sun and protection from the afternoon heat. They need a rich moisture retaining soil which is nutrient rich to grow their best. They can grow in clays soil which are common here as along as they are not in a posistion of being kept too wet all the time, the more sun exposure and heat – the more water they will naturally need.

This pure white Hydrangea macrophylla is probably "Blushing Bride' and is beautiful.

This pure white Hydrangea macrophylla is probably "Blushing Bride' and is beautiful.

A question often asked about Bigleaf Hydrangeas is how and when to prune. Hydrangeas need little pruning, removing spent flowers after blooming and shaping and thinning are both done soon after flowering as they set their flower buds for the next year soon after this. When pruning have a light touch and remove individual stems which are weak or congesting the plant, this way you will retain most of your flowers for the next year. the only time you might have to do major pruning is after a very cold winter where the tips have been damaged or killed.

Here the slightly gaunt spent Hydrangea macrophylla flowers are left for interest in the garden at Government House.

Here the slightly gaunt spent Hydrangea macrophylla flowers are left for winter interest in the gardens at Government House.

Hydrangea macrophylla tolerate zone 8(-12c or 10f) which means mild winters such as here in the northwest of North America.  They range in size between .6-2m (2 to 6ft) although I have seen some which are closer to 3m(9ft), care should be taken in finding one that fits in the space you have.  Types which are listed(incorrectly) as ‘serrata’ species often are shorter in stature and are very well suited for our smaller urban gardens.

The black coloring in this Hydrangea macrophylla. var.serrata 'Preziosa' adds some drama to the garden.

The black coloring in this Hydrangea macrophylla. var.serrata 'Preziosa' adds some drama to the garden.

The best place to see Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars is at Governement House, Walk the long borders and you will find sections in the shade and full sun. As you go to the back past the winter garden (leading to the Terraces) you will come to another section with violet and reds, these fade to the most interesting slate colors later with a touch of navy in them.  Finnerty Gardens also have a good selection of species Hydrangeas which are found behind the chapel edging the grass area.

for Your Hydrangea Hunting Pleasure:

A short description of Hydrangeas in Japanese culture, art and history: http://blog.alientimes.org/2010/06/a-gathering-of-blues-hydrangrea-ajisai-in-japanese-culture-and-history-revisited/

An extensive listing of many of the cultivars avaialbe today and experiences of people growing them:  http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/b/Hydrangeaceae/Hydrangea/macrophylla/cultivar/0/

Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold who brought us so many Japanese plants before anyone  else: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philipp_Franz_von_Siebold

A great site about Hydrangeas with pages on coloring, pruning and care for the plants: http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/index.html

Soon we will meet again here….I hope!

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