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Posts Tagged ‘colorful berries’

When I moved to go to school I soon missed the outdoors in the way I had experienced it during my life. I was no longer able step outside and wander in the woods within a few steps of the home I had lived in. It was not until I moved to the island I am on now that I had time to find the wild again as it was much closer. Now I wander in the woods and along paths where wildflowers and nature is close to undisturbed. People here care a great deal about keeping it that way. I have had the chance to become re-aquainted to some plants which were beloved by our family here. The Maianthemum family offer up 2 of these loved plants and 1 other which is new to me. I a particularly fond of Maianthemum dilatatum( Wild Lily of the Valley)

 Maianthemum dilatatum (Wild Lily of the Valley) is now is the same  botanical family as the real Lily of the Valley(Convillaria majalis).

Maianthemum dilatatum (Wild Lily of the Valley) is now is the same botanical family as the real Lily of the Valley(Convillaria majalis).

Maianthemum family has recently gone through several changes which are important to note: first it has expanded to include the species which were once known as Smilacina.  The other more important thing is that Maianthemum species was moved from the Lilacae (Lily)family into the Ruscaceae family which includes Convillaria(Lily of the Valley) now. It shows the close relation of Maianthemum and Convillaria.  This realignment is quite interesting botanically as it changes what we used to think of as Lilies(Lileaceae).

As a child I would pick armloads of Maianthemum racemosum (Smilacina) and give them to my mother to put in vases at home.

As a child I would pick armloads of Maianthemum racemosum (Smilacina) and give them to my mother to put in vases at home.

Around here you will most like come across Maianthemum dilatatum in the moister areas of the woodlands. I first came across it along the path that ran next to the house I lived in for many years. Not far away I found it growing with horsetail under the Rhododendron plantings at Dominion Brook Park, the contrast in textures was interesting. I was delighted to find it on my first visit to Finnerty Gardens where it is used as a lush groundcover. I now see it in many places which are shady and somewhat damp throughout the year.

 This bright Rhododendron luteum is set of by the lush Maianthemum dilatatum covering the ground so completely at Finnerty Gardens.

This bright Rhododendron luteum is set of by the lush Maianthemum dilatatum covering the ground so completely at Finnerty Gardens.

The similarity of False Lily of theValley  to Convillaria is somewhat hard to find as the leaves are so broad and the flowers are not bell-shaped. Both plants are highly fragrant and all parts are poisonous to consume in any form. Mainathemum dilatatum is found in a large area running from Northern California along the coast through Alaska on to the Russian coast south into Korea and finally into Japan.  Maianthemum was named by Linnaeus most likely after M. canadense which was already known from samples collected in eastern North America.

The leaves of Wild Lily of the Valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) remind me very much of that of some Hosta cultivars with their overall shape and vein pattern of the leaves.

The leaves of Wild Lily of the Valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) remind me very much of that of some Hosta cultivars with their overall shape and vein pattern of the leaves.

There are other members of the Maianthemum family which are more refined, the already mentioned M. canadense is a charming smaller version of dilatatum. Maianthemum stellatum grows here and was originally classed as a Smilacina which is seen in its foliage. It has few flowers and is delicate, I first came across it near Playfair Park at the top of Judge Place growing along a seep area.

Maianthemum stellatum is a delicate colonizing plant found in the woodland across northern areas on North America.

Maianthemum stellatum is a delicate colonizing plant found in the woodland across northern areas on North America.

All the Maianthemum species I have mentioned here can be vigorous spreading plants and care must be taken when placing them in your garden so they do not overwhelm other weaker plants. The most agressive of these plants is M. dilatatum which creeps into gardens and provides a seemingly smothering coat of  leaves. These plants grow by creeping rhizomes(roots) which are able to branch and spread more widely. They all like rich moisture retentive soil which does not dry out completely during hot periods. These plants prefer dappled to fairly deep shade and will go prematurely dormant if they are too exposed to overly bright, dry situations.

Wild(False) Lily of the Valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) provides a strong and lush groundcover.

Wild(False) Lily of the Valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) provides a strong and lush groundcover.

 Maianthemum racemosum, stellatum  and canadense are extremely hardy plants and take zone 3-8 (-40 c and f.). Maianthemum dilatatum tolerates probably -20 c (-4 f.).  M.racemosum grows to 1-1.25 m.(4 ft.) tall and easily as wide. The other species will grow no higher than 35 cm.(15 in.) tall and an indeterminant width. M. canadense is the smallest and least vigorous growing plant and could be used in more delicate places. All these plants are highly fragrant, have good autumn coloring and make good cut flowers. All these plants fit into the woodland garden and can be used for groundcover, massing  or as accents. Maianthemum racemosum is a standout plant with attractive foliage, berries and golden autumn coloring which makes it an excellent specimen for a shady garden.

Maianthemum madness:

Pacific Bulb Society listing of species: http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Maianthemum

Wiki listing of all the species http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maianthemum

PNW Flowers listing of M.dilatatum: http://www.pnwflowers.com/flower/maianthemum-dilatatum

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Another grey week and another plant hunt for something special. Usually I have a list of plants in mind but right now it is hard because some of the plants I wanted to do were damaged by an unusually hard freeze which came in early November last year. At that time many of the plants were not hardened off for the winter with the damage especially seen by broad-leaved evergreens which have much browned and dead foliage now. In my wandering last week I stumbled upon two plants of the same family which are stars at this time of the year. They are the Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis) and the Stinking or Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissima). They are the stars for different reasons as you will see!

 Winter or Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis) is sometimes incorrectly labeled by its old name of Iris stylosa.

Winter or Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis) is sometimes incorrectly labeled by its old name of Iris stylosa.


The first stop we make is with the Algerian or Winter Iris with its lovely large violet blooms. It was first described by Botanist/clergyman  Jean Louis Marie Pioret (1755-1834) in his journal ‘Voyage et Barbarie’ in 1789.  He had been sent to Algeria by Louis XVI between 1785-6 to study the flora. The lovely Iris is more widespread and found in area from Algeria and Tunisia across north Africa into Turkey, Greece Crete and Malta. In the vast area it is known to live int there is some variation in color and form.
The type of Iris unguicularis I have found in Victoria seems to be the 'Algerian' form which has the largest flowers of the species.

The type of Iris unguicularis I have found in Victoria seems to be the 'Algerian' form which has the largest flowers of the species.


Algerian Iris produce new leaves in late spring and through the summer. Often you can clip the old leave edges back when they get looking tattered. Iris unguicularis likes the sunniest, driest spot in the garden with the grittiest soil. At Government House in Victoria the plants are perfectly place in the terrace garden which is on a southern exposed rock-face.  The warmer and drier the summer the more blossoms will be produced.  One thing about these plants is they hate to be moved or have their roots disturbed in any way.
 A just opened Algerian Iris in the late afternoon sun has delicate coloring and scent.

A just opened Algerian Iris in the late afternoon sun has delicate coloring and scent.


The Gladwyn Iris is from more northern areas from southern England, Ireland through Portugal, Spain Canary Island on to Italy and finally the island of Malta.
The Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissma) is more famous for its brightly colored seeds which are seen during the winter months here.

The Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissma) is more famous for its brightly colored seeds which are seen during the winter months here.


The ‘Stinking Iris has gained an unfair reputation from its name. One has to crush the leaves and the flower to obtain even a faintly unpleasant scent. Iris foetidissima is a plant which has long been with us. It blooms in the traditional Iris time of late May and June, but, the flowers are small and often hidden in the foliage. The colors range from a creamy ochre into plummy shades.
The flowers of Iris foetidissima are often hidden in the plants foliage.

The flowers of Iris foetidissima are often hidden in the plants foliage.


The Gladwyn Iris is a plant of the woodlands, hedgerows, scrubs and cliff edges and other rocky sites. It is a plant which likes chalky and limestone  heavy locations. Gladwyn Iris can grow in the sun or dappled shade and like average soil. They like sufficient water when they are growing in the spring and then dry conditions the rest of the year.After blooming it produces larger than average seed pods which ripen through the summer and into early winter when they burst. Inside the pods are usually bright orange seeds which remain colorful throughout the winter. The other day I noticed pods recently opened and others still green and waiting to split. Just like the flowers there are other known seed colors which are sought after and they range from golden yellows to creams and white. Probably the most want of the Gladwyn Iris is Iris foetidissima ‘Variegata’ with beautifully uniform cream stripes running up the leaves.
The variegated Gladwyn Iris(Iris foetidissma 'Variegata') is most sought after, as you see it is stunning in dappled location at Glendale Garden.

The Variegated Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissma 'Variegata') is most sought after, as you see they are stunning in dappled location at Glendale Garden.

Algerian and Gladwyn Iris are about the same height 45-60cm.(12-18 in.) and width They also share the same temperature tolerance to 15 c. (5 f.) or zones 7 through 9. Both plants are drought tolerant when they have been established. They are rabbit and deer resistant but can be damaged by slugs and snails. They make excellent specimens, accents s, mass evergreen plantings and work well in containers. Both of these species are not easy to find in plant centres or garden shops, the best bet would be to find them at garden sales or from specialty Iris growers.

Gladwyn Iris on the upper left and Algerian Iris on the lower right.

Gladwyn Iris on the upper left and Algerian Iris on the lower right.


This Odd Couple of the Irises:

Pacific Bulb Society has interesting note on both plants on this page, look down the page to find the species you are interested in: http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/BeardlessIrises

Algerian Iris:

How to grow: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/4208463/How-to-Grow-Iris-unguicularis.html

Gladwyn Iris:

Wild in Malta: http://maltawildplants.com/IRID/Iris_foetidissima.php

……See you soon when we travel the path of plants again…..

 

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It was a dark and stormy night and the wind was blowing through the trees in the cemetery as I trudged past. I shivered and pulled my coat collar up to protect me from the chill. As I walked along, the shadows moved and I shuddered as I passed the dark eerie Common Yew (Taxus baccata) trees because I knew that these trees were always sacred to the Druids. It was one of the five great trees that stood in their sacred sites.

 A Taxus baccata as you might find it in the wild which is found at St Ann's Academy.

A Taxus baccata as you might find it in the wild which is found at St Ann's Academy.

Taxus baccata is native to Ireland, England , through Europe down into the northern tip of Africa and over to West Asia. It is in northern Europe where Common Yew has been a significant tree associated with various early religions and cults. In Norse mythology we meet the Yggdrasil ‘the world tree’. Yggdrasill means Yew (support)pillar leading some theorists to believe this tree is a Yew instead of the traditional Ash(Fraxinus species) Yew are also connected with the ‘Fairy races’ of Ireland and Wales. Many tales connect these trees to fairy rings, mysterious appearances and disappearances.

 Yew trees in ancient times were placed in sacred sites which later often became cemetaries and church yards.

Yew trees in ancient times were placed in sacred sites which later often became cemeteries and church yards.

 

We are most familiar with Common Yews being associated with Druid culture found in Ireland and Wales, during the Iron Age Celtic period. During that time the wood was turned into many symbolic and spiritual articles such as wands, and staffs. The wood was also used for divination purposes and at festivals. In the 19th century a cup made of Yew wood was found near a village in North Wales, this item was likely used in Druidic ceremonies.

The wood of Taxus baccata is very flexible and was traditionally used for making the deadly longbow of Medieval  times.

The wood of Taxus baccata is very flexible and was traditionally used for making the deadly longbow of Medieval times.

 

Other places were the Druidic religion likely touches the Common Yew is in their prominent placement in some of the oldest churchyards in Great Britain, Often churches were placed in known sacred places of Druid and other non Cristian groups to help suppress them and usurp the site and ideas related to it. One of the oldest known Taxus baccata is found in a churchyard in North Wales, it is over 4000 years old.

Taxus baccata with it's dark color and fine needles is often clipped when seen in a garden setting.

Taxus baccata with its dark color and fine needles is often clipped when seen in a garden setting.

 

Throughout history the wood of Common Yew has been associated with deadly things. The needles and the flesh of the seeds(arils) is highly poisonous and many people and livestock have died from it. The wood was much used before the use of iron became widespread. It is very hard and resists the effects of water very well. Yew is a tree of death, used for making longbows, coffins, weapon handles and arrow shafts and disturbingly bleeds red sap. The worlds oldest implement, a spearhead is thought to be 50,000 years old and made out of Taxus baccata wood,The famous longbows of the Welsh were made out of Yew and were first recorded in use in 633. More recently it is used for furniture, tool handles and veneer. The wood is golden smooth with a wavy grain.

All Taxus species contain deadly alkaloids in all their parts except in the brightly colored arils which cover the seeds.

All Taxus species contain deadly alkaloids in all their parts except in the brightly colored arils which cover the seeds.

 

Taxus baccata has a long association with gardens, official and unofficial because they are easily grown and adaptable to many situations. At many large government buildings this tree is used in one of the most traditional ways, as a clipped hedge in the form of Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ or Irish Yew. Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’  is the form which we come across most often in Victoria as it is narrower in form.

 Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata' is used at the corners of the Hardy Fuchsia Garden at Glendale Gardens.

Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata' is used at the corners of the Hardy Fuchsia Garden at Glendale Gardens.

If you want to grow some Common Yew trees, there are somethings to keep in mind. Plants are male or female, with the females having the red berries. Yews can grow in almost complete shade to full sun but seem to be best with more light than less. They are slower growing than most shrubs and are more expensive because of this. Over many years they can attain heights in excess of 20m(65ft) and can live several thousand years. They like a good soil which nutrient rich, stay away from clay if possible.

 A golden Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata Aueromarginata' is seen above a common Yew here at one of the entrances to Hampton Park.

A golden Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata Aueromarginata' is seen above a common Yew here at one of the entrances to Hampton Park.

 

Taxus baccata are fairly drought tolerant and withstand air pollution making them an ideal city plant. They are rated as zone 6 meaning they can withstand -20c(-10f) although they might get some wind burn damage on their foliage.If making a hedge space them 40-45cm apart and pinch them back at the time of planting to make them bushy. Remember that this will be a slow-growing hedge. You may want to use one of the narrower forms.

 The Yew hedge seen here is carefully clipped to maintain its shape and condition.

The Yew hedge seen here is carefully clipped to maintain its shape and condition.

There are several hundred named varieties which have to propagated by cuttings. Most forms are female and may produce seeds. Look for especially narrow forms such as the dark green ‘Fastigiata’ or golden ‘Fastigiata Aueromarginata’ or the female golden form ‘Standishii’ .Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’ has low spreading branches and ‘Cavendishii’ has wide-spreading branches that droop at the tips.

 This Taxus baccata tree grows in almost complete shade during most of the year yet is very healthy.

This Taxus baccata tree grows in almost complete shade during most of the year yet is very healthy.

Yearning for Yews:

Wiki page on the Common Yew: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxus_baccata

The Ancient Yew site:  http://www.ancient-yew.org/home.shtml

Google timeline of Taxus baccata: http://www.google.ca/search?q=taxus+baccata+history&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:*:IE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7GGIE&tbs=tl:1&tbo=u&ei=PL_NTO2zEJS8sAOi9_1w&sa=X&oi=timeline_result&ct=title&resnum=11&ved=0CEgQ5wIwCg

….Hoping to see you here 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 started this blog in january last year one plant has been on the top of the list almost every day. It has the most hits every day other than ‘namethatplant.com. I have wondered why this is, maybe it’s the early time of year that it blooms, or is it the color of it’s flowers, or is it that it has very fragrant flowers…I think it is all of this and it’s genus. It’s genus is Viburnum and there are many other wonderful members to explore. One member which I am seeing increasingly here is  the Korean Spicebush Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) and its wonderful named selections.

Vibrunum carlesii has light to almost red buds which open to pale pink in to a pure white.

Vibrunum carlesii has light to almost red buds which open to pale pink in to a pure white.

Korean Spicebush comes to us from (not to surprisingly) Korea mainly and ranges into areas of Japan. There are two varieties, var bitchiense which is found in Korea and on the Japanese islands of Honshu and Shikoku, it has narrower leaves and the individual flowers have longer tubes. Var. carlesii alos comes from Korea but is found in southern areas as well as the southern Japanese island of Tsushima which is found near the larger island Kyushu.

This Korean Spicebush Viburnum has broader leaves.

This Korean Spicebush Viburnum has broader leaves.

The Viburnum genus is quite large and consists of 150-175 separate species. They are almost all found in the northern hemisphere and are found around the globe through North America, Europe and Asia. There are a few species scattered in mountain ranges of South America and North Africa as well as south east Asia.

Viburnums always have attractive foliage and Korean Spicebush is no exception.

Viburnums always have attractive foliage and Korean Spicebush is no exception.

Viburnum is the original Latin name for the species and it is thought that the particular type was possibly Viburnum lantana. Carlesii refers to William Richard Carles (1849 – 1929) who collected plants in Korea during the years of 1883-85. He was the British Vice- Consul in China from 1867 to 1900.  During that time he was posted to Korea and took several trips to explore the interior of the country. He sent plants which he collected to The Royal Botanic Garden in England.

This Viburnum carlesii is found in a shady part of Beacon Hill Park.

This Viburnum carlesii is found in a shady part of Beacon Hill Park.

Several wonderful selections of Korean Spicebush have been made at the famous Slieve Donnard Nursery in Northern Ireland and these are probably are found in better gardens in my area. They are: ‘Aurora’ which has pinkish flowers, ‘Diana’ is said to be more vigorous, and ‘Charis’ has white flowers.  More recently new forms have been named  in North America.

This Vibrunum carlesii is found in the refurbished Japanese Tea garden found in Esquimalt Gorge Park.

This Vibrunum carlesii is found in the refurbished Japanese Tea garden found in Esquimalt Gorge Park.

Viburnums are fantastic garden plants which offer several seasons of beauty. Many have beautifully veined leaves which turn wondrous shades of amber, peach and scarlets in the fall. Many offer copious amounts of red or blackish berries also.  Korean Spicebush is no exception and this which is why it is an excellent garden plant. The scent where it gets it name is powerful and said to smell like Daphne or cloves.  Use this plant near travelled area, open windows or enclosed areas which have afternoon sun to release more scent.

A recently planted Virburnum carlesii is found in the lower cutting garden beside Government House.

A recently planted Virburnum carlesii is found in the lower cutting garden beside Government House.

Viburnum carlesii is an easy and accommodating plant to grow in the garden. It likes moist acidic well drained soil. It likes to be positioned in an area where it gets afternoon sun or full sun, this promotes better flowering and fruiting. It grows to be a rounded shrub of about 1.8m(6ft) high and slightly wider. It is quite hardy taking -20c(-4f) with no trouble at all. As it sets buds on old wood, the best time to prune is just after it blooms. Pruning is generally not needed except for shaping.

Stronger light leads to better heads of flowers and fruit on a Korean Spicebush.

Stronger light leads to better heads of flowers and fruit on a Korean Spicebush.

Links to like:

A good source of information: http://www.hort.net/profile/cap/vibca/

Another informative page on this plant: http://hcs.osu.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/vi_lesii.html

A general Wiki page on Viburnums: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viburnum

The more plants I grow the more I know…

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This time of year, no matter where I am, up north in deep snow, down on the coast in the rain or somewhere else when the sun comes out I want to either work a garden or explore in the woods.  This year the spring weather has come extraordinarily early and since I have recently moved I have started explore new areas in the city. My first stop was to change my library card and to explore  Colquitz River Trail which runs along the river of the same name. I was hunting for the not so elusive Osoberry or Indian Plum(Oemleria cerasiformis)plants which are in bloom now, I stalked along the walk and …..alongside the path were several!

 The Oemleria cerasiformis is one of the first native plants to bloom.

The Osoberry is one of the first native plants to bloom.

On gloomy wet days when I go for a walk I see these shrubs with their glistening white racemes of pure white flowers which hang from the tips of branches like  perfect dew drop earings. The Osoberry is a small tree or more commonly shrub which lives on the Pacific side of the coastal mountains, its range is from Santa Barbara County in U.S.A. north though into southern B.C. One of its common names refers to the fruit (fleshy drupes) which when ripe look like tiny thumb-sized Italian plums, and indeed they have stones  which are also perfect miniatures of that fruit.

The Indian Plum has plentiful fruits, but you better be quick to harvest them.

The Indian Plum has plentiful fruits, but you better be quick to harvest them.

The fruit is ripe when it is bluish black and was eaten by local native groups, they savored them fresh, cooked and dried.   Oso(berry) refers to bears liking to eat them. Birds (Robins), squirrels, deer, coyotes and many other animals love to feast on the fruit as well. Let us not forget the bees which enjoy this early source of nectar.

Indian Plums can be found in many parks here, this group is found by the bathrooms at Beacon Hill Park.

Indian Plums can be found in many parks here, this group is found by the bathrooms at Beacon Hill Park.

Native people also used parts of the Osmaronia cerasiformis medicinally.  Burned twigs were pulverized, mixed with Oolican grease and applied to sores. A tea made from the bark was used as a purgative and tonic. Decotions where made for tuberculosis. It is said to be not only anesthetic  but an aphrodisiac as well. Osoberry is a member of the Rosaceae(Rose family) whos seeds often have small amounts of hydrogen cyanide in them. hydrogen cyanide from these types of sources  has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion if carefully administered by a professional.

Colquitz River Trail is a good area to view Osmaronia cerasiformis.

Colquitz River Trail is a good area to view Osmaronia cerasiformis.

To my eye Osoberry are vase-shaped shrubs which are delicate looking throughout the year, this is partly do to the attractive thin leaves which keep their bright green coloring until the fall when they change to a clear butter yellow. It is not a densely leaved shrub therefore it never looks heavy or lumpy, but has a more wispy quality to it. In the winter without leaves the form of these shrubs can be highlighted.

Finnerty Garden has done a wonderful job pruning their Osoberry into small tree forms.

Finnerty Garden has done a wonderful job pruning their Osoberry into small tree forms.

Osoberry is seen in many areas here, along paths, roadsides, meadow edges  and creeks and in many rocky areas growing under the Garry Oaks. They are in full sun or dappled light. They like rich humusy soils which can retain some moisture during our dry summers here. if they become too dry during the summer they will start to drop some of their leaves. They take pruning very well and this should be done after they have bloomed. They usually are pruned for shape but also can be cut to the ground to revive them and tidy them up.

Osoberry are male or female plants and often grow in thickets under Garry Oaks as seen here at Government House.

Osoberry are male or female plants and often grow in thickets under Garry Oaks as seen here at Government House.

Indian Plum are male or female plants. If you want a good crop of berries for the wildlife or you, you will have to have both sexes of plants.  I have seen incredible crops of berries and have made tasty syrups and jellies which are similar to cherry flavor. These plants grow to 6m(20ft) high and 3.7m wide in places where they are most happy. They are rated zones 7 though 10, cold tolerant to -18c(10f).

This unripe crop of Indian Plums is high above my head.

This unripe crop of Indian Plums is high above my head.

Help for hunting Indian Plums:

Rainyside has an interesting page: http://www.rainyside.com/features/plant_gallery/nativeplants/Oemleria_cerasiformis.html

Technical information on the berry: http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Oemleria%20cerasiformis

Paghats’ Indian Plum page: http://www.paghat.com/indianplum.html

Until we meet again later….

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Many parking lots and other institutions have parking lots and landscaping which is populated by tough hardy and often broadleaved evergreen plants. These plants have to be attractive and durable and tolerate being neglected. Many of these plants are just green and a background with no real features. A select few are standouts and should be seen in other settings more often. Viburnum tinus (Laurustinus) is a great plant which is attractive and versatile in many ways.

Viburnum tinus

Viburnum tinus(Laurustinus) is used as an informal hedge outside this fence.

Viburnum tinus has been in cultivation for a long time. This is probably do to the fact that is comes from the Mediterranean, an area which is one of the first areas where gardens were developed for pleasure. We do know that it was brought to Great Britain at least 500 years ago and many old plants are found there. It’s evergreen nature and sweet scented flowers which bloom late in the year probably attracted attention to it for use as a decorative plant.

Laurustinus

During the winter Laurustinus is a great show which it's many heads of rosey buds waiting to open.

The common name Laurustinus is thought to refer to the leaves which resemble those of the Bay Tree(Laurus nobilis). The Latin name Viburnum refers to this genus of plant but is thought not to refer to this particular species. the Latin meaning of ‘tinus’ is said to be the true ‘ancient’ name of this plant. It seems to me that Laurustinus is best described as a ‘Bay-leaved Viburnum’.

Viburnum tinus flowers

Although the flowers of Viburnum tinus are small, they are highly fragrant.

Viburnums are from the Carpifoliaceae family which includes many fragrant plants such as Honeysuckles, Beautybush and Twinflower. Laurustinus has a spicy sweet floral scent when in bloom. Other people say that it can have an unpleasant scent which may come from the leaves when they are growing early in the year. I know that the wild Viburnum which grows around here gives off an acidic scent in the fall when it sheds its leaves, it is a scent that I associate with autumn and look forward to experiencing every year. Scent is such a personal thing, one persons perfume is anothers most hated smell!

Laurustinus fruit

Often you will see Viburnum tinus blooming when there still are fruit on the bush.

Viburnum tinus have attractive drupes(fruit) which have a metallic steely blue black color, they are more sporadic and often do not develop well. The fruit of this species is not known to be edible and are said to cause stomach upset, this probably is do to the high acid content. The glossy smooth edged leaves, attractive berries and fragrant but delicate flowers make this a showy plant all year round. the added bonus is Laurustinus is easy to grow too.

The glossy leaves and red tints of the flower buds make Laurustinus attractive in the winter.

Growing Laurustinus is easy. They need well drained soil which is fertile and on the gritty side as they do not like overly wet roots. They do the best in a sunny location for the best flowering. They also tolerate dappled or shaded sites as well. they also are tolerant of ocean exposure and more chalky sites. They can grow to between 2 and 4.5m(6- 15ft)  in height and width depending on the variety you choose. This is a densely leaved plant which is excellent mass planting, informal hedges, winter gardens, shrub borders or containers. It is best to prune it for shape after it has finished blooming. There are several named forms which are more compact and one which is variegated, but is less cold tolerant. These plants are rated for zones 7 though9 (-10c or 10f).

More about Laurustinus:

Paghat’s post: http://www.paghat.com/viburnumtinus.html

Plants for a Future have some interesting notes: http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Viburnum+tinus

Oregon State University page:http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ldplants/viti-i.htm

*****Next Week I will be moving and will not be posting, I hope to post on the following Sunday Febuary 7th.  See you in 2 weeks!*****

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