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Posts Tagged ‘bronze foliage’

I haven’t written about any large leaved  plants other than Hostas yet, well this week is my chance to do that.  These are not by any means the the largest but they will be classified a coarse in texture.  Making space for one of these plants if you possibly is well worth. I first saw some of these plants working in a perennial nursery on the lower mainland and fell in love with them even though they looked really odd in one gallon pots. When i see Rodgersias, any species of them in a garden I am trilled by the beauty of their leaves.

Bronze tinted Rodgersia aesculifolia emerges in the spring.

Bronze tinted Rodgersia aesculifolia emerges in the spring.

there are 5 species of Rodgersia which are known to us. The first to be found was Rodgersia podopyhlla. This plant was named by the famous Botanist Asa Gray (Gray’s Manual of Botany) in 1885. He chose to name the plant for Rear Admiral John Rodgers(1812-1882) who lead a pacific expedition(1852-1856) where this first species was found.  Rodgersia popdophylla is the only species which is found in Japan on the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido as well as in Korea.

Rodgersia podophylla is the most commonly grown species seen in parks here in Victoria.

Rodgersia podophylla is the most commonly grown species seen in parks here in Victoria.

The other 4 species of Rodgersia all come from Asia, ranging from most of  China, south in to Myanmar through into Nepal. Rodgersia aescutifolia was found by Pere David in 1869 and he later discovered the species Rodgersia pinnata in 1883.  Rodgersia sambucifolia was found by Ernest Wilson in 1904 while he was in Yalung, in western China. Rodgersia nepalensis is the most recent discovery which is still not commonly grown here. R. henrci is now considered a form of aescutifolia.  The former species R. tabularis has been removed and given it’s own name Astilboides tabularis, it has large round leaves and slightly different looking flower scapes.

Rodgersia pinnata and it's selected=

Rodgersia pinnata and it's selected forms offer more of a range of flower color.

The species of Rodgersia are known to interbreed which has created difficulty in horticulture in naming plants accurately, none the less these are all beautiful plants which add much to the look of a garden. There are also newer color forms with deeper brown and blackish tints. Rodgersia has the darkest leaves which often have tones of black and flowers sepals and stems which can be in dark maroon tones.

Here Rodgersia sambucifolia has deep maroon and black tints of early autumn at  the U.B.C. Botanical Gardens.

Here Rodgersia sambucifolia has deep maroon and black tints of early autumn at the U.B.C. Botanical Gardens.

Rodgersias are remarkable adaptable and hardy given the right care.  These plants are normally listed as shade plants but take full sun if they are given adequate water. They are water suckers and this why they are often seen near or along water edges. Full sun will mean better flowers and more vigorous and deeply textured leaves.

This remarkable floral display of hybrid Rodgersias is in full sun at Finnerty Gardens in Victoria.

This remarkable floral display of hybrid Rodgersias is in full sun at Finnerty Gardens in Victoria.

Rodgersias have large leaves and spread slowy creating loose clumps of leaves. Most well grown plants will form a clump which is 1.2m(48in) high(including floral scape) by the same wide. The exception is Rodgersia sambucifolia which only grows about 1m(36in) high and wide.  The all apreciate rich humusy soil which retain moisture well during drier times of the year.  Site away from drying winds and sites where they might scorch from the sun in more southern sites.

Beautiful Rodgersia pinnata leaves emerging from a bed of Vancouveria hexxandra and Dicentra formosa.

Beautiful Rodgersia pinnata leaves emerging from a bed of Vancouveria hexxandra and Dicentra formosa.

Rodgersias are surprising hardy, lately I have been reading about gardeners on the prairies who successfully grow many of the species and they seem to thrive with some extra mulch covering them for the winter.  The prairies( Alberta through Manitoba) are definitely cold with winters which haves periods with temperatures below -40c(f) zones 2b through 3b.  This all comes as a surprise as they are rated at -20c(-4f) in most publications. Late frost there can damage the leaves and flowers are not so commonly seen, but its really the leaves you  really, really want!

The floral scapes of Rodgersias are made up of  hundreds of tiny, fragrant flowers.

The floral scapes of Rodgersias are made up of hundreds of tiny, fragrant flowers.

Rodgersias can be incorporated into your garden in many ways. Look to put them in a large perennial border or a shrub border, use them for contrasting texture. they look very well in woodland settings as well as shade gardens. The foliage, flower and seed heads add color throughout the year. Fall foliage color can range from blacks, browns, reds and yellows depending on species and growing conditions.

Finding your Rodgersia:

Technical key to tell Rodgersia species from each other:  http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=128667

A closer look at Rodgersia podophylla flowers: http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/potd/2007/12/rodgersia_podophylla_1.php

Wiki lists all 5 species of Rodgersia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodgersia

Now what should I choose for next week…..

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