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Posts Tagged ‘June 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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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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When I moved from the lower mainland to the Victoria area I noticed several plants growing here which I had not seen before. First there was the Oceanspray(Holodiscus dicolor) which grew everywhere along the rocky drier areas.  Then there is the abundance of Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana) which are so starkly noticeable in the winter landscape. Arbutus(Arbutus menziesii) trees grew everywhere as I live on the peninsula.  Soon after I settled into my new residence i was invited to dinner at a friends place which was near a lake. After dinner she showed me around her property and I saw for the first time the wonderful Vanilla Leaf(Achlys triphylla) which is an unusually attractive plant.

Achlys triphylla also known as 'Vanilla Leaf'.

Achlys triphylla also known as 'Vanilla Leaf''.

Vanilla Leaf (or ‘Sweet After Death’) is truly a beautiful plant which is often seen along trails in dappled spots of light, where it wanders amongst  the flora. I have found it in the vicinity of some of the most delicate and rare species. It also will pop up in thicker darker understory locations deep in the forest growing between the Mahonia, Salal and Sword Ferns.

Achlys triphylla Happily Growing in a Spot of Light.

Achlys triphylla Happily Growing in a Spot of Light at Horth Hill Park.

For me finding a patch of Achlys  triphylla growing along a path I am walking on is indeed a treat.  The main treat is the charming foliage which looks like a Clover leaf on steroids. The flowers spikes which are in bloom now are an additional bonus.  If I find one leaf I know there will be others as this is a plant which spreads by underground rhizomes(roots).  Along a path near my home I found a small colony, since then it has expanded gently to become more noticeable.  Horth Hill Park in North Saanich is a fine location for Vanilla Leaf hunting, I was there this week looking and found it in several places in fairly deep shade growing down a steep slope as well in spots of dappling.

A Mature 'Vanilla Leaf' with it's Charming Scalloped Leaves.

A Mature 'Vanilla Leaf' with it's Charming Scalloped Leaves.

The Latin name Achlys from the Greek goddess of hidden places and in this plant refers to where this plant is found, often deep in the woods.  The common name Vanilla Leaf or ‘Sweet After Death‘  is refers to the sweet fragrance of the dried leaves. The vanilla scent of the leaves is caused by the presences of natural coumarin which is a powerful blood thinner. Native peoples used to hang bundles of dried leaves in their resedences to deter bothersome inscects which swarm.  It is said that the leaves were at one time used to treat such ailments and tuberculosis, cataracts and used as an emetic(to cause vomiting).

'Sweet After Death' Growing Along a Path in North Saanich.

'Sweet After Death' Growing Along a Path in North Saanich.

Achlys triphylla makes an attractive taller(to 30cm,12in.) ground cover which would look smashing with more delicate Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Ferns and other rich woodland plants. Vanilla Leaf requires rich humusy, moisture retentive soil which is on the acidic side. It will not tolerate strong sun and will burn in it, so dappled is best. It grows best in zones 6 through 9.  If these plants are happy in their situation they will happily colonise and form healthy spreading clumps. It is best to buy these plants from a reputable nursery where you know they have not been dug up from the wilds.

Attractive Vanilla Leaf is Slug Proof.

Attractive Vanilla Leaf is Slug Proof.

Learn More About Achlys triphylla:

Wikipedia has a very good page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achlys_(plant)

More on it’s medicinal features:http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Achlys+triphylla

Horth Hill Park: http://www.crd.bc.ca/parks/horth-hill/index.htm

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The first gardening job I had was working for the summer at Park and Tilford  Gardens in North Vancouver. II was lucky as it was like an 4 month extension of education for me. Park And Tilford Gardens was at one time a well know distiller of the same name which was sold and turned into a shopping center on the condition that it kept the well known garden there.  The tiny space which is the garden had been neglected and then reclaimed to opened to the public.  The space is made up of 8 small themed gardens in a 3 acre site.

Magnolia sieboldii also known as the Oyama Magnolia.

Magnolia sieboldii also known as the Oyama Magnolia.

It was particular famous for it’s collection of Magnolia trees. As you moved from the display garden into the the colonnade on the right side was a shrub like tree with large attractive smooth green leaves that is  now  beginning it season of bloom. This is the beautiful Magnolia sieboldii or Oyama Magnolia. It slowly blooms over a longer period than most other Magnolias which is only one of it’s many features.

Oyama Magnolia with lighter color stamens.

Oyama Magnolia with lighter color stamens is likely to originate from Japan.

One thing that makes Magnolia siboldii attractive is that their flowers droop down so you look up into them. This downward facing flower is one of the features which shows off it’s attractive interior structure which is very primitive and found in Magnolia species.  the bizarre cone-like carpel is surrounded by many thick stamen which range from a rich dark blood red to a pale flesh color. There are both color forms in the Victoria area. The difference in stamen color tell us where the plant comes from. The plants which have the fleshy colored stamens are likely to originate in Japan(Honshu to Shikoku through to the Kyushu Islands) or southern China( Anhui, Fujian and Guangxi) and are  designated as Magnolia sieboldii subsp. japonica.  The red stamen plants come from a wider area including Korea and northern China(Manchuria) and are Magnolia sieboldii subsp. sieboldii.

The Other-worldlyMagnolia sieboldii  Seedpod Still Ripening.

The Other-worldlyMagnolia sieboldii Seedpod Still Ripening.

Oyama Magnolias are usually low multi-stemmed shrub trees which are wider than they are tall, growing 3.5m(10ft) by 4m(12ft) wide. The best placement of these trees is a elevated so the flowers are more visible. In Victoria the best location for this is most surprising, in a retail shopping center.  Look behind the Harris Green Village Shopping Center on View Street, at the bottom of the steps and going up into the shopping area there are several including a large one at the the top along the sunnier wall.  These are the pale stamen form. If you want to see the dark red form  of Magnolia sieboldii there is one in Beacon Hill Park along the stream  which runs between Goodacre and Fountain Lakes which parallel Blanchard Street. make sure you visit this species of Magnolia in the evening when it’s fragrance is most potent.

Magnolia sieboldii on View Street behind Quadra Village Shoping Center

Magnolia sieboldii on View Street behind Quadra Village Shoping Center

This is one Magnolia which is a forest dweller who does not like full sun.  All the Oyama Magnolias I have ever seen have been in sites which are sheltered from midday sun which would burn their leaves.  Care must be taken whenever you plant a Magnolia as it has fleshy brittle roots which can easily break, this is the time of most danger for these trees. they like fertile, moisture retentive soil which has some humus in it. It needs adequate water during the dry season here for good growth.  Do to it’s delicate roots it is not advisable to plant underneath(the trees in the above picture are under-planted with Pacysandra, a lush ground cover). Treat this tree as a specimen in your garden as it will be loved by all who see it.

Magnolia sieboldii in Beacon Hilll park in Early Spring.

Magnolia sieboldii in Beacon Hilll Park in Early Spring.

Oyama Magnolias bloom slowly over several months, from May sometimes into early August.  They are hardy to -20c(-5f) in North America but in their native setting have been known to withstand -40c(-40f). They are rated zone 6 through 8 here.

More Information on Siebolds’ Magnolia:

More information why this is a great plant: http://www.greatplantpicks.org/display?id=2619&searchterm=all

On the Magnolia flower structure: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/trmar98c.htm

Park & Tilford Garden: http://www.greatervancouverparks.com/ParkTilford01.html

Beacon Hill park map showing it’s features: http://www.beaconhillparkhistory.org/graphics/mapsA.htm

Until We Meet Agian Later This Week:

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