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When I was going to horticulture school we learned mostly practical plants, not many where exotic or unusual. This is perfectly locical as we were going to be the designers and sellers of materials for people who did not know what was best for their yards. As I learned the trees and shrubs I would travel up and down the streets and avenues in the area I lived looking for new specimens I was learning. One winter day I went out and was walking along a school edge and admiring the symmetry of the tree species which was planted along the property edge, all of a sudden I realized this was a row of Tulip Trees(Liriodendron tulipifera)  which I found so appealing. I then had a new appreciation for the tree and why it was selected for us to learn about.

The typical shape of a Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) leave is seen here decked out in fabulous fall color.

The typical shape of a Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) leave is seen here decked out in fabulous fall color.

The Liriodendron species is very old, in fact it dates back to the Cretaceous era. This era was 145.5 to 65 million years ago.  At that time Liriodendrons grew in across the northern hemisphere. It is believed that the last ice age  Liriodendrons retreated into to two area, eastern North America(L. tulipifera) and China(L. chinense) and developed into 2 distinct species that we know today. Liriodendron tulipifera now grows in eastern North America from Florida to southern Ontario and west into parts of Texas and Missouri and Iowa. It is in the Great Smoky Mountains along the Tennessee , North Carolina state borders were it grows its best.

There are many Tulip Trees throughout  Victoria, these trees are along the Heywood St. entrance in Beacon Hill Park.

There are many Tulip Trees throughout Victoria, these trees are along the Heywood St. entrance in Beacon Hill Park.

The name Tulip tree is something of a puzzle, people wonder if it refers to the tulip- like leaves or the flowers.  In botanical latin Liriodendron refers to ‘greek’ Leirion meaning a lily and ‘dendron’ meaning a tree. Liriodendron= a ‘lily tree’. Then we add tulipafera or’tulipa’ the latin name for the Tulip flower. Liriodendron(lily tree) + tulipifera(Tulip) = Tulip Lily flowered Tree.  Although the leaves do look like tulips in their own way , it is the rarely seen flowers which are high up in the tree which are refered to. The flowers of this species are very primitive and are formed in a spiral of pistils and stamens in a conical receptacle. Surrounding the conical form are 9 narrow sepals which take the place of petals and on the inside of these is an orange stripe.

The unusual pale green 'Tulip Tree' flowers ishigh in the tree and often not easily seen.

The unusual pale green 'Tulip Tree' flowers is high in the tree and often not easily seen.

Tulip Trees are the largest broad-leaved trees in eastern North America and the wood they provide is a very good quality hardwood. Other common names they go by is Tulip or Yellow Poplar or even Yellow Wood. The wood quality is hard, finely grained and taking a high polish, this is why it is used for such things as furniture, veneers and paneling and toys. The first use of this wood was for dugout canoes made by the native  people who found the huge trunk size useful for the purpose.

Massive Tulip Trees are an important source of lumber in Eastern North America.

Massive Tulip Trees are an important source of lumber in Eastern North America.

Liriodendron tulipifera can grow to about 42-50m(150-165ft) in an urban situation which makes their placement difficult in most small garden plots. Tulip trees are really best for large lawns or park-like settings. They are excellent trees for boulevards and other street tree settings.  They have the added attraction of being fairly pest and disease free, I never see leaf damage on these trees around here. Another bonus is the beautiful golden and brass shades seen in the autumn as these trees shed their leaves in autumn.

The Attractive autumn color of the Tulip Trees line this walk at St Ann's Academy in Victoria.

The Attractive autumn color of the Tulip Trees line this walk at St Ann's Academy in Victoria.

Liriodendron tulipifera is an ancient tree but is easy to grow.  It grows best in full sun or  light shade in the hotter, drier parts of North America. It likes deep, rich, slightly acidic soil which does not dry out during hot spells in summer and fall. They have fleshy roots which are poorly branched and probably brittle therefore care must be taken when planting beneath them when they are young.  These trees tolerate -25c(-20f) or zones 5 through 9.

The conical arrangement of the Tulip Tree seed-head falls apart to reveal single-seeded samaras.

The conical arrangement of the Tulip Tree seed-head falls apart to reveal single-seeded samara.

Propagation of Liriodendron tulipifera is easily done by seed or grafting for the more attractive forms. There are at least 2  very attractive variegated forms. Other forms are fastigate or have more unusual growth habits.

The furrowed bark of Liriodendron tulipifera is attractive and easily recogonizable.

The furrowed bark of Liriodendron tulipifera is attractive and easily recogonizable.

Trailing Tulip Trees:

Some great pictures of the elusive flowers: http://ontariotrees.com/mondaygarden/article.php?id=0095

Always a good source of plant information: http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/l/lirtul/lirtul1.html

Wikis’ page on Tulip Trees: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liriodendron_tulipifera

Until we meet again here….

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I am always looking for great plants to write about and often stumble upon new finds in the most unexpected places. last year while looking for different color forms of Lilacs I came across a plant which was growing through a clump of them which would bloom soon, I decided to come back later and find out what form it was later. I knew it was a rose and it looked familiar, I had seen it somewhere before. In fact I see  it every time I go to St.Ann’s Academy because the rose in question turned out to be a very healthy ‘Felicite Perpetue’ Rose (Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’).

 Rosa 'Felicite Perpetue' is a delicate looking Rambling Rose.

Rosa 'Felicite Perpetue' is a delicate looking Rambling Rose.

Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ is a delicate yet vigorous Rambler which has been known since the early 19th century. Antoine A. Jacques  was the head gardener to Louis Phillipe, Duc d’ Orleans  for many years and took care of his estates which included Chateau Neuilly. Duc d’ Orleans( later the king of France) loved plants and had a vast collection for A.A. Jacques to work with. At Chateau Neuilly Jacques made some crosses of roses and named at least 3 which have gone on to become famous on their own. Those roses where  ‘Adélaïde d’Orléans’ in 1826, Rosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’ in 1827 and the less famous ‘Princesse Louise’ was introduced in 1829. Both ‘Adélaïde d’Orléans’ and the ‘Félicité Perpétue’ Rose both are easily found a rose nurseries, while the other is harder to find here at least.

tRosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’ is climbing up the veranda in the Novitiate Garden at St. Ann's Academy in Victoria.

Rosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’ is climbing up the veranda in the Novitiate Garden at St. Ann's Academy in Victoria.

There is some controversy to whether the crosses of Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ and her sisters were done on purpose or where accidentally. A.A. Jacques said at the time they were accidental. other people believe they were planned as one of the parent plants is believed to be Rosa sempervirens which native to southern Europe but not in the area where ‘Felicite Perpetue’ was found. Rosa sempervirens gave ‘Felicite Perpetue’ was it’s nearly thornless flexible stems and attractive clean foliage which is evergreen in most areas. ‘Felicite Perpetue’ is now the most widely grown semperviren hybrid grown in the world.

The foliage of the 'Felicite Perpetue' Rose is always attractive and clean looking.

The foliage of the 'Felicite Perpetue' Rose is always attractive and clean looking.

One of the reasons that Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ has been so successful is its tolerance to a wider range of soil conditions than many other Roses. Often these old Roses are found growing on old homesteads or abandoned gardens, such is the case of the one I found growing through a clump of old Lilacs. The Lilacs and Rose were definitely not part of the planned landscape found at the Institute of Ocean Sciences on Pat Bay near Sidney B.C. You will not find it easily as it is not seen from the roadside, instead you have to look carefully in the thickets of Lilacs to find it hanging down from above.

Here is Rosa 'Felicite Perpetue' at the Institute of Ocean Sciences peeping through the Lilacs.

Here is Rosa 'Felicite Perpetue' at the Institute of Ocean Sciences peeping through the Lilacs.

Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ grows best in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. It tolerates drought better than many roses and will bloom in more shady places. The leaves do not suffer from the dreaded black spot or mildews here, I have never seen it on any plants. The only thing that is a problem is aphids which are very common here. The stems are flexible and have few spines and have an attractive wine color which is shown of by the flower buds which are pink. This is a vigorous plant which can grow to over 6m(20ft)in height and width in choice growing places.  Here it rarely attains more than 4.5m(15ft) and is often seen hanging down from within trees or shrubs. Little pruning is needed other than the occasional shaping, remember when you are pruning that this rose sets its blooms on the previous years growth of lateral stems and you should do any major trimming soon after it blooms so you do not lose the following years flowers.

A Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’  flower has as many as 40 petals.

A Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ flower has as many as 40 petals.

As an old hybrid Rosa ‘Felicite Perpetue’ flowers once a year and produces masses of smaller 3cm(1.5in) diameter blossoms which are produced in clusters. The dense rose-tinted buds contain as many as 40 petals which open a lightly fragrant creamy white, heat and sun exposure does effect color and deepens it. The flower petals do not fall of the flowers therefore deadheading after the blooms have finished is advised. Little pruning is needed other than the occasional shaping, remember when you are pruning that this rose sets its blooms on the previous years growth of lateral stems and you should do any major trimming soon after it blooms so you do not lose the following years flowers.

A large patch of Rosa 'Felicite Perpetue' growing in the shade at St. Ann's Academy and blooms every year.

A large patch of Rosa 'Felicite Perpetue' growing in the shade at St. Ann's Academy and blooms every year.

Finding ‘Felicite Perpetue’:

A little about Antoine A. Jacques, gardener and rose breeder: http://www.historicroses.org/index.php?id=40

Rosa sempervirens: http://www.rogersroses.com/gallery/DisplayBlock~bid~152~gid~15~source~gallerydefault.asp

Someone else stumble upon the rose and posted here: http://www.heritagerosefoundation.org/discus/messages/269/1924.html?1148962455

St. Ann’s Academy in Victoria B.C.: http://stannsacademy.com/HistoryResearch/Places.aspx

Where will we meet next… here I hope!

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Where I grew up is now deep in snow, winter truly has arrived. My brothers who live in the area that I grew up will be out finding a tree at the lake to be decorated for Christmas.  Often when I was little one of the excitements was getting the big box of gifts from Grandma who lived in Surrey, it would be sent up on the bus.  Along with the gifts, she always sent homemade cookies, fruitcake and some of the wonderful Holly which grew at their place. The Holly(Ilex aquifolium) was for my mother as it did not grow in such a cold place as Prince George.

Ilex aquifolium 'Argentea Marginata'

Many forms of Holly have been collected, one of the most attractive is Ilex aquifolium 'Argentea Marginata'

Holly has been with us a long time. the Romans used to send boughs of Holly with gifts to their friends for the Saturnalia Festival, which was the most popular of all. Holly was the sacred plant of Saturn. Saturnalia Festival was celebrated from  December 17th to the 23rd and commemorated the dedication of the Temple of Saturn to the the God of the same name. The festival popularity was do to it’s good hearted nature where much jesting and pranks were pulled. Another feature of the festival was the role reversal of masters and slaves.

Ilex 'Balearica'

Ilex 'Balearica' is an unusual form of Holly which has no spines.

From the Saturnalia Festival the Christians where thought to have adopted Holly. it is believed the used the Holly to avoid ill treatment and religious prosecution.  Holly being a common Northern European plant already was an important Pagan plant which was used by the Druids to adorn their heads. It was believed the plant had magical qualities and drove away evil spirits. Holly is now used to symbolize  the crown of thorns Jesus wore with the berries representing his blood.

Ilex 'Wilsonii'

Ilex 'Wilsonii' is a female which has very wide leaves of a Holly plant.

It is interesting that ‘Ilex’ it’s Latin name refers to another plant all together; the Holm Oak – Quercus ilex.  Pliny refers to Holly as ‘Aquifolius’ which is it’s classic Latin name and where our newer ‘aquifolium’ comes from. Pliny said that if it was planted near a home it would repel poison(which is strange because the berries are) and protect the  house from lightening and witchcraft. He also said that the flowers would cause water to freeze.

Ilex aquifolium 'Ferox Argentea'

This fierce looking Ilex aquifolium 'Ferox Argentea' is male and has pricles on the tops of it's leaves.

There are many Hollies now which have been collected as sports or crosses with other simalar species which most commonly include latifolia and or perado var. platyphylla. There are other species also which are attractive garden specimens and may be seen in Ilex species collections. A good collection of Hollies near me is located at Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich, at one time this collection was one of the best in North America.

Ilex perneyi

Ilex perneyi is an unusual species with attractive small leaves.

The first Holly was brought to Vancouver Island in 1851 by Joseph Despard Pemberton. At one time this area was an important Holly harvesting area because the plant grows so well here. Over time the industry has died out do to the extremely valuable land it is on and problems such as leaf miners and twig blight damaging the crops.

Ilex altaclerensis 'Golden King'

Ilex altaclerensis 'Golden King' is a bright form which has a habit of reverting to green.

Ilex aquifolium is interesting in that it has(monoecious) male and female plants, this is easily discerned by the presence of  brightly colored berries on the female plants. Holly is native in Western to Southern Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. it has spread by seed and has become a problem in other areas where it is considered invasive. Here we find it in woodlands where it becomes a prickly problem and is removed along with other pest species of plants. One must take this into to consideration when selecting a plant.

Ilex aquifolium 'Aurea Marginata'

A pair of large specimen Ilex aquifolium 'Aurea Marginata'(male) flank the formal staricase at St Ann's Academy in Victoria.

Hollies are easy to grow and are undemanding. It prefers slightly acidic soil which is well drained yet nutrient rich, a yearly mulch is much appreciated. These are plants which can take shade or sun very well. Pruning can be done at anytime and they have traditionally been used for topiary. Holly can be used many ways depending on the type you are growing, the more plain types make excellent hedges and shrubs in a border. The more attractive leaf forms are often used as specimens.  Old leaves dry and become very prickly so this is not a good plant for lawns or areas where people want to kick off their shoes or with small children.

Ilex  'Golden Milkboy'

Ilex 'Golden Milkboy' is another bright male plant.

Holly grows to 50 ft(15.5m) tall by15ft(4.5m) wide. It is rated as zones 6 (-10f or -12c) and above. Place your Holly so it does not get damaging dry North winds during the winter.

More about Holly:

Growing Holly: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/ilex_aquifolium.html

Saturnalia Festival:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

Dominion Brook Park: http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Departments/Parks_and_Trails/Parks_Information/Municipal_Parks.htm

Until we meet again later….

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This is an article I wrote for ‘The Society of Friends of  St Ann’s Academy‘.  St Ann’s Academy is where  most of the pictures for this article were taken.

One job I have done at St. Ann’s Academy is checking the plants(trees and shrubs) listed as growing here in 1986 was correct. For the most part the list was correct, some had trees had been removed due to damage or illness. Many new plants had to be added to the list by 2004 when I started doing this work. This was because of the reworking of many areas including the formal driveway, parking lot, courtyard and most especially the Novitiate Garden which had not existed before. Many of the new plants are common such as Box and Yew which are suitable for the style of building and it’s age, others are more decorative. One plant special plant is hidden in the corner of the Novitiate Garden To see it you have to climb the stairs at the back of the church to be able to view it. This plant is the wonderful Mahonia x (media) ‘Charity’ a formidable cousin of our well-known Oregon Grape.

This Mahonia x 'Charity found at St Ann's Academy will bloom for months.

This Mahonia x 'Charity found at St Ann's Academy will bloom for months.

Mahonia x ‘Charity’ is one of several named seedlings of a cross of two species which are native to Asia; M. Japonica and M. Lomarifolia. This crossing was done at the famous Slieve Donard Nursery in Northern Ireland in about 1950. From the seedlings which prospered several were selected for their special qualities and named. They were named by the famous plantsman Christopher Brickwell ‘Faith’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Charity’ Of these three ‘Charity has become the most famous and easily obtainable, why this is I am not sure. I can say every time I see this plant; no matter where it has been or the season, I am impressed.

Mahonia x Charity spring growth.

The wonderful color of the new growth contrasts nicely with the exterior or Government House in Victoria.

Mahonia x ‘Charity’ is one of those gems which blooms in the winter season and then produces a great flush of wine tinted foliage followed by a great show of berries in the spring. The many small flowers are a buttery yellow and held upright on long racemes which are at the top of the plant. The flowers bloom from the base of the racemes up and continue to open for several weeks and not damaged by frosts. The golden spikes are quite a show being 2 ft(1.5m) tall and wide as well as being fragrant.

Mahonia x 'Charity' spring foliage and berries coloring up.

Mahonia x Charity has wonderful spring foliage color and a large crop of berries begining to color up, all feaures worthy of a star plant.

The leaves are typical Mahonia like, but, in giant proportions. Each leaf is made up of an average 17 leaflets. ‘Mahonia x Charity’ leaves are a typical thick leathery medium green with spines along the edges and tip.They can get a reddish tinge in the cooler months that is attractive. The leaves also have a subtle glossiness which looks good all year-round.

Mahonia x Charity leaves and flowers.

The leaves and flower raceme of Mahonia x 'Charity are huge compared to others of the species.

With such large leaves and big flower spikes you would expect big stems and you are right, although they look elegant because this is a multi-stemmed beast. The stems light brown color nicely contrasts with the green leaves.The whole plant can grow to be dense with closely held foliage if it is placed in the right location. Mahonia x ‘Charity’ like to placed where they are in dappled sun during the bright summer months, then with full sun during their flowering season which is anywhere from late October into March depending on where you are. Here it blooms every year during October and November(which is why I am writing about it now).

Mahonia x Charity

This Mahonia x Charity is found at Glendale Gardens and shows off it stems which are quite attractive.

Mahonia x ‘Charity’ prefers rich moisture retentive soil. It is best to place it in a spot where it gets some shade as it will be more yellowed otherwise.You have to be patient with this plant as it is slow to establish and may take several years before it blooms for you. It needs a good-sized space 8 ft(2.5m) by 6 to 8 ft(2-2.5m) wide to be comfortable. It is a very versatile shrub which looks good all year especially now. It is commonly used as a specimen, for winter interest, in large borders which can be mixed shrubs and or with perennials. If you have the space you won’t be disappointed in this Deer resistant shrub.

Buttery yellow Mahonia x Charity flowers.

Each flower spike is made up of many tiny, highly fragrant, buttery yellow blossoms.

More on Mahonia x Charity:
Gardeners’ World page on this plant: http://www.gardenersworld.com/plant-detail/PL00080263/11042/lily-of-the-valley-bush

Bellevue Botanical Garden page on the plant: http://www.bellevuebotanical.org/plantmonth/fmplantmonthindex.html

Until We Meet Again Later…..

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Bonus, bonus, bonus or should I say Extra!

This entry is an article which I write as a regular series for “Sequoia” the Newsletter for http://www.friendsofstannsacademy.com/default.htm , a group who advocates for the importance, spiritual, social, and cultural heritage of St. Ann’s Academy in Victoria British  Columbia, Canada. I have spent several years as volunteering at this 61/2 acre site which is between the Famous Empress Hotle and the equally famous Beaconhill Park

Main Entrance to St Ann's Academy

Main Entrance to St Ann's Academy

To learn more about St. Ann’s Academy check here.  http://www.stannsacademy.com/

Now on the main feature.

This is the story of how St. Ann’s Academy came to have the oldest Sequoias in Victoria and maybe in B.C.

Celia and Anna McQuade graduated into the order of Sisters of Saint Ann from Saint Ann’s Academy. They were the first students to do so. To commemorate this, their parents Mr and Mrs. Peter McQuade brought two small Sequoia seedlings up from California and had them planted at the school. These trees have grown into the two large trees on both sides of the formal entrance to St Ann’s Academy. These massive trees are Sequioadendron giganteum or commonly called Giant or Sierra Redwood. These specimens being planted in the 1870s are some of the earliest known specimens in Canada.

One of the Sequoias found at St. Ann's Academy in Victoria

One of the Sequoias found at St. Ann's Academy in Victoria

Giant or Sierra Redwood trees are some of the largest living objects found on the earth. In terms of volume they are larger than any other type of tree. This is due to their enormous trunk diameter and vast height. The largest tree known is called ‘General Sherman’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Sherman_(tree)) and has a circumference of 106ft and is over 2000 years old. Some trunks are wide enough to drive a car through (average measuring to 40ft). In height they are also mammoth in size, with the largest being measured at 275 ft but most averaging 150 to 200ft.

The oldest of these trees is known to be at least 3220 years old. Counting the number of rings determines the age of a tree accurately and it also can helps to show the conditions the tree lived through, with thicker rings being the years of stronger growth. These trees are only found in a small area on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and are rare.

One of the things you should do if you have a chance to get close to one of these giants is feel the bark. It’s spongy! The reddish brown fibrous bark can be 2 ft thick and provides important protection for the tree from forest fires and bug infestations. The bark is also is used for horticultural purposes.

Sequoia Cones

Sequoia Cones

You have may noticed whenever you are at St Ann’s Academy visiting that there are lots of cones under these trees and near by, do not be alarmed, some trees have as many as 11000 cones at different stages of development on the tree. On average one of these big fellows will produce 1500 new cones a year.

Since their discovery Giant Sequoias have been a popular specimen tree planted in parks and other large properties. To grow this tree you will have to have a large space as you now know. They prefer well-drained sandy loam and adequate moisture during the dry growing season especially when they are young. Also when young they naturally are protected from the sun by other trees in the area, so full sun is not advised until the tree matures somewhat.

Attractive Sequoia Foliage

Attractive Sequoia Foliage

There are several well-known cultivars:

Pendula’ (old name Pendulum) that has extremely drooping branches on a very narrow tree which can be trained into uses such as hanging over an arbor or fence

Glaucum’(old name Glauca) which has attractive blue green coloring.

There appears to be many more that are likely to come onto the market soon.

To learn more about these trees check these links:

All you could want to know about these trees:

<!– @page { margin: 2cm } P { margin-bottom: 0.21cm } A:link { color: #0000ff } –>   http://users.telenet.be/sequoiadendron/en/giantsequoia.html

Look for new cultivars coming your way:

http://users.telenet.be/sequoiadendron/en/cultivars.html

When in Victoria Visit Beaconhill Park: http://www.beaconhillpark.ca/

One of Victoria’s’ most famous landmarks. http://www.fairmont.com/empress/



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