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Posts Tagged ‘July Blooming Plants’

Anyone who has a interest in plants will have heard of Linnaeus or at least experienced his worked when looking up a plant name. Carl Linnaeus(1707-1778) was the incredible man who developed the system which we use for naming plants and animals. Linnaeus brought order to already Latin named plants and animals by created a system to classify them by their  physical characteristics. He simplified plant names by giving them 2 parts (binomial), the genus and then the species. Often plants where and still are named from where they come from. One of the 9000 plants Linnaeus named is Verbena bonariensis or Purpletop Vervain or Brazilian Vervain). ‘Bonariensis’ refers to Buenos Aries, Argentina where the original plant sample is likely to have come from.

Verbena bonariensis has clusters of tiny mauve flowers held high above it's foliage.

Verbena bonariensis has clusters of tiny mauve flowers held high above it's foliage.

I first saw this plant at  Park and Tilford Gardens where I worked over the summer in a practicum. It was a nice change from the other Verbenas that I saw and was not too crazy about as they seemed to always get unsightly mildew.  Most Verbenas which we see are annuals and are used in our hanging baskets or bedding out.Verbena bonariensis is well named as Purpletop Vervain as it’s airy stems of flowers are almost like wands of color which is part of it’s charm.

Purpletop Vervain along a path at Glendale Gardens.

Purpletop Vervain along a path at Glendale Gardens.

Verbena bonariensis is a particularly useful plant as it’s flower stems are airy and can weave through other plants easily. It will pop through other plants easily and create wonderful combinations or fill awkward spaces with graceful color in late summer. It is the weaving quality of this plant which makes it a much used plant by gardeners who have just the right situation for it’s use.

This  mauve Verbena bonariensis weaves it's way through a white Agapanthus.

This mauve Verbena bonariensis weaves it's way through a white Agapanthus.

Purpletop Verbena is found growing in Southern Brazil, Argentina and through Uruguay and Paraguay.  It is rated at zone 7-10(-17.7 °C (0 °F)), therefore is often treated as a annual in colder areas. If it likes it’s place it will happily self-seed which in some places can be nuisance. Here we have the occasional cold winter so seeding is never a real problem. Seedlings are easily recognized and removed.  It seems that plants which originate from seed grown plants and not by way of cuttings are said to be more tough.

Verbena bonariensis growing amoung the rocks in the Terrace Garden at Government House.

Verbena bonariensis growing amoung the rocks in the Terrace Garden at Government House.

All Verbenas prefer full sun and good air circulation to prevent  powdery mildew. Purpletop Vervain tolerates most types of soil as long as it is well drained, this will ensure your plant has a longer life. It is advisable to pinch plants back when they are young to produce a bushier plant with more floral stems later int the year. Verbena bonariensis grows 40cm-1.2m(2-5ft) tall and takes a space between 30-60cm(1-2ft) in width.

The bright Purpletop Vervain flowers contrast well with the silvery tones of these plants.

The bright Purpletop Vervain flowers contrast well with the silvery tones of these plants.

Purpletop Vervain is a very useful plant in other ways as well. It is said to be one of the very best butterfly attracting plants and many people can attest to it.  It is often used as a cottage garden plant and is best placed mid border for this use. I have seen it used well in borders of mixed perennials and shrubs. the can be interesting combinations created with variegated and colored foliage of  other plants. Wherever you use it, Verbena bonariensis will add something interesting and people will ask you what plant it is. I know many people have asked me and are always surprised when I tell them this is the more stately cousin to the annual Verbenas in their garden….and they always want to get some!

The tiny long blooming flowers of Verbena bonariensis bloom from June through September here.

The tiny long blooming flowers of Verbena bonariensis bloom from June through September here.

Learn more about Verbena bonariensis:

Who is Carl Linnaeus and why he is so important to science: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/science-of-natural-history/biographies/linnaeus/index.html

Wiki page on Purpletop Vervain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbena_bonariensis

Other gardeners experiences with Verbena bonariensis: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/141/

Until We Meet Again Soon.

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One of the hardest thing for new students who are taking Horticultural courses is being exposed to a form of Latin for the first time; Botanical Latin that is.  We were given a test to see how well we could spell the botanical Latin names of the first plant we were learning and of course we all failed (it was planed this way!). We learned from this experience how difficult and how it would be first on the list of things we would have to study every night. Many people created ways to remember the plants spelling and pronunciation.  One plant I remember people doing this for was the plant Buddleja davidii or (Butterfly Bush),  they did it like this: My ‘Bud’ ‘Lea’ and ‘I’ went out with ‘David’, or something like that.

Buddliea davidii fully in bloom, note the tiny orange centers of each flower.

Buddleja davidii fully in bloom, note the tiny orange centers of each flower.

There is some confusion with the name Buddleja and it’s spelling. When I was in school we learned it as ‘Buddliea’ which is logical in botanical spelling terms. The spelling ‘Buddleja’ was actually said to be spelling mistake made by ‘Linnaeus ‘ with the name ‘Buddle’ . In botanical naming protocol, the original name should take precedence over newer spellings,  The letters ‘J’ and ‘I’ are seen as being interchangeable and can be considered orthographical variants in this case.

A recently planted Buddleja Davidii 'Black Knight' planted at Government House.

A recently planted Buddleja Davidii 'Black Knight' planted at Government House.

There are about 150 species of Buddlejas which only a few are grown outside of botanical gardens. Buddleja was named after Rev Adam Buddle (1660-1715), an English botanist and Pere Armand David(davidii).  This Buddleja was named and described by Franchet in 1887. Buddleja davidii is by far the most commonly grown. It was discovered in central China(Sichuan and Hubei provinces) and was introduced into cultivation in 1890. It was an immediate hit and was awarded an Award of Merit in 1898.  That form of the plant had a  mid-magenta purple flower color, since that time many color forms have been found. There are at least 3 variegated form which are highly sought after.

Buddleja davidii 'Harlequin', a sought after sport of 'Royal Red'.

Buddleja davidii 'Harlequin', a sought after sport of 'Royal Red'.

Buddleja davidii have been a very successful introduction into cultivation and where they are happy they can become something of a pest by self-seeding and forming thickets.  This need not be the case as butterfly Bushes are easy to control by deadheading after they bloom and can be cut right down to 2ft if need be.  Butterfly Bushes are adaptable to many areas including difficult coastal zones. Their late season bloom is useful to give color in this hot time of the year and they have an added bonus of being pleasantly fragrant. They can be used in deep shrub or perennial borders, massed planted, cottage style gardens, as specimens and as butterfly attractants.

A 'Buddleja davidii' pruned into a tree, very attractive and fragrant.

A 'Buddleja davidii' pruned into a tree, very attractive and fragrant.

It is easy to grow a Butterfly Bush, you need full sun for the best bloom, rich well drained soil and water during their prolonged growing season. they are considered to be fairly drought tolerant. They grow into quite large opens shrubs 3m(12ft) x 4m(15ft) wide and can be pruned into a more tree form if wanted. The form B. davidii var. nahonensis is smaller form(1.5m or 4ft) which has become popular in small gardens. They grow best in a temperature down to -15c(-1f.)  In colder areas they will be cut down to the ground, but, because they are so fast growing and bloom on new wood you can expect a crop of flowers.

Buddleja davidii 'White Cloud'  in a 'white' garden display.

Buddleja davidii 'White Cloud' in a perennial border.

More on Buddleja davidii:

About buddlejas in general; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddleja

Adam Buddle:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Buddle

Growing Buddlejas: http://www.gardenseeker.com/plants_a_z/buddleja_davidii.htm

Until We Meet Again Here….

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When I moved to Vancouver Island I noticed right away the change in the native plants. On the southern tip of the island it is drier than the mainland and you find species not found elsewhere. The tree lupines are one of the plants which grow here, so is Oceanspray(Holodisus discolor) which is like a tree-form Astilbe. I also noticed some plants in gardens which I had not seen anywhere else. These where not uncommon plants, just forms which seemed almost endemic here. These where likely brought long ago by people who moved to the area and then passed about as plants were. My mother was given pieces of Daylily and Iris from her mother and then the clumps are split when someone enthuses about how beautiful they are…. and the cycle repeats. This must  be what happened here to see so many places with Hemerocallis fulva ‘Kwanso’.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' a very ancient triploid double flowering Daylily.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' a very ancient triploid double flowering Daylily.

Here near Sidney I found little seaside cottages with gardens brimming with great big clumps of this unusual form of  the Tawny ‘Kwanso’ Daylily.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso comes full circle having been recently replanted at the Sidney Information Center with it's period plantings.

Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' comes full circle having been recently replanted at the Sidney Information Center with it's period plantings.

It’s parent Hemeocallis fulva is not know in the wild, although it first appeared in China and Japan. It is a triploid and is self-sterile and has be reproduced by division of it’s rhizomes. It was brought here from Europe in the 17th century and it was so successful at this that it has become naturalized in parts of North America and Europe.

Hemerocallis fulva or the Tawny Daylily, which has spead in North America and Europe.

Hemerocallis fulva or the Tawny Daylily, which has spead in North America and Europe.

Another form of the Tawny Daylily is seen commonly as well. It is Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea which is native to Japan where is grows in the grass near the oceans on Western Honshu and Kyushu islands. It blooms in late October there.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea, the 'Tawny Lily' which is planted in Brentwood Bay.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea, the 'Tawny Lily' which is planted in Brentwood Bay.

Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea is said to be smaller in stature and the leaves appear to be a darker green. Here it is best seen in a planting in Brentwood Bay where it is used as a mass planting in the middle of the roundabout and is repeated at intervals in a perennial planting which runs along West Saanich Rd through the community. It has been interesting to see how this planting design has fared since it’s installation several years ago.

The 'roundabout' in Brentwood Bay palnted with Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea.

The 'Roundabout' in Brentwood Bay mass planted with Hemerocallis fulva var. littorea.

Anyone who loves Daylilies can understand the importance of this species in breeding of new varieties which there are now hundreds. All other known Hemerocallis are yellow toned to yellowy orange and pinkish. Breeding new colors only really began in the 1920’s with Dr. A.B. Stout who started a program to expand the color range. Since that time over 45,000 new hybrids have been introduced which range from nearly white through blood red to blackish purple.  The flowers themselves have changed to having broader petals to show off their extravagant colors. Many new plants have been breed to be shorter in  overall stature  and to have longer bloom periods.  More recently a new addition to the Hemerocallis fulva family has been seen; a variegated form of ‘Kwanso’ (H.f. var. Variegata) with white stripes running through it’s leaves.

The variegated Tawny 'Kwanso' Daylily in 2006 at Govenment House in Victoria.

The variegated Tawny 'Kwanso' Daylily in 2006 at Govenment House in Victoria.

Growing Daylilies is easy which is why they are such successful plants.  Tawny Daylilies need a bright sunny site with well drained, rich soil. They need a fairly large area as they can grow  into a 1m(3ft) by 1m(3ft) clump quickly. Daylilies make excellent subjects for mass planting and can make an attractive informal edging as the foliage is attractive, durable and does not get ratty looking during the late summer. Keep Daylilies tidy by removing the spent flowers stems when they are finished. Most forms are quite hardy and will easily withstand zone4 (-20c or -15f). Propagation of Hemerocallis fulva forms as well as all Daylilies is by division which is very easily done in the spring.

The broad foliage is an attravtive foil to the facinating Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' blossom.

The broad foliage is an attractive foil to the fascinating Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso' blossoms.

Further information on Tawny Daylillies:

Paghat’s experience with the Tawny Daylily: http://www.paghat.com/daylily.html

Growing Daylilies; how to do it best: http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/daylily2.html

A more technical description of Hemerocallis fulva: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=200027676

Visit Brentwood Bay: http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townID=30

Until We Meet Again Later This Week…..

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The plants with the largest leaves I grew up with  in the north  are the  somewhat sinister Giant Hogweed((Heracleum spohondylium), it is a prickly giant Celery which some people can react badly to. One plant I had seen in pictures and had heard could grow up north was the Hosta, a much more refined and better behaved plant.  When I went to school in the Vancouver area I was thrilled to see so many kinds  and color variations which to choose from. Over the years I have grown many Hostas I have bought, scrounged and grown from seed.

Who Can Resist the Crisp, Fresh Green of this Hosta.

Who Can Resist the Crisp, Fresh Green of this Hosta.

The best way I can relate to Hostas is with it’s leaves, the real plant star. I love texture and color. In school I learned to appreciate subtlety of bark and buds of plants while studying at school during the dreary very wet winter here. Foliage  is even more varied and of course Hostas have an extremely wide range of color variation, leaf shape and thickness.

Thick Multi-layered Colors of This Hosta Make it a Standout in the Garden.

Thick Multi-layered Colors of This Hosta Make it a Standout in the Garden.

the Genus Hosta is made up of many species, there have been about 30 named and it possibly 50 will be named overall. They all originate in Asia, with Japan and China contributing almost all of them. Just recently they have been reclassified from the Liliaceae family to the Agavaceae group which is very surprising if you know what an Agave or Yucca is. Hosta is named in honor of Nicholas Thomas Host, an Austrian botanist.

The Thick Glaucous Leaves of a 'Hosta tokudama' cultivar.

The Thick Glaucous Leaves of a 'Hosta tokudama' cultivar.

Hostas have somewhat unstable genes which lead to the discovery of variegated forms and then development of many hundreds of other ‘named’ cultivars coming on to the market every year. The instability also leads to changes in the variegation and to it disappearing altogether in some cases.

This is Probably the Most Common of all Variegated Hosta, One of the Originals.

This is Probably the Most Common of all Variegated Hosta, One of the Originals.

Hosta have adapted very well to living in all parts of the world. There are now several forms living in my mother’s zone 3 (-30-40c) and happily bloom and grow larger every year. They are excellent growing in pots as all of mine are. Many can take quite strong sun and withstand a certain amount of drought with their thick roots.

Hostas Add a Touch of Class to a Container Planting.

Hostas Add a Touch of Class to a Container Planting.

Lucky for us they are so adaptable and easy to grow. first choose your plant, then figure how large it will grow. Some Hostas like ‘Krossa Regal’ or the ‘sieboldiana’ cultivars can grow 3ft(1m) by up to 4ft(1.2m) high and others are tiny rock garden size subjects and need special siting. Hostas like at least some shade from the mid-day sun so they do not burn or yellow out when they are really supposed to be blue in color. Lots of water in the spring while they are growing their new foliage is a must. Rich  moisture retaining soil will help them retain their beauty through the summer.

Hosta flowers are an added bonus. Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' here.

Hosta flowers are an added bonus. Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' here.

Hosta are easy care and have few problems if they are kept clean, so remove all spent leaves at the end of their year. In this area we do have problems with (giant)slugs and (tiny)deer who like to feast on their leaves.  some species seem to be susceptible to a fungus leafspot which also attacks Iris x germanica cultivars, so it might be an idea to keep these two apart.

Even in Their Decline Hostas are Beautiful.

Even in Their Decline Hostas are Beautiful.

More on Hostas:

How to grow Hostas: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1239.html

Yes, there really is a National Collection of Hosta in the U.K. http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plantprofile_hosta.shtml

Wiki has a list of all the many Hosta spieces: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosta

Until we meet again here next week…..

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