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2017 Early Spring: Camellias & Honeysuckle

Spring is really here!

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

And Mother Nature is full of surprises.

For the past three years, none of my hardy camellias bloomed and some suffered dieback and death. According to camellia guru, David Parks of Camellia Forest Nursery, the plants don’t appreciate dramatic shifts in weather — which is our new reality. So, reluctantly, I decided: No More Camellias!

Imagine my amazement this Spring when I found Camellia japonica ‘Korean Fire’ — and others — full of flower buds. I don’t get it. Last winter wasn’t much different from the previous two. But I’m not complaining. Hey, when it comes to plants, it doesn’t take much to make me a believer. I fast ordered a new beauty, Camellia ‘Erina’, and re-upped with my local Camellia Group.

Camellia ‘Korean Fire’, an award winning shrub, was raised from seeds collected in 1984 from wild plants growing on islands off the west coast of South Korea. This area endures frigid, harsh winter weather, which clearly accounts for Korean Fire’s winter hardiness; while flowerless for three years, the shrub never sustained winter dieback. Moreover, before being released commercially, Korean Fire was subjected to decades of field trial evaluations for winter hardiness, leaf quality, vigor, etc., and surpassed all expectations. Photos below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Camellia ‘Erina’ is quite unusual.The plant has pink and white buds that produce a profusion of dainty white flowers with golden tufted centers. An elegant plant with perfect miniature camellias. I couldn’t resist. Photos below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

(Note: There is some confusion about Erina’s parentage. Camellia Forest received the plant from a collector as Camellia tsaii v. synaptica ‘Erina’. But the leading authority on camellias, Dr. Clifford Parks, pointed out that Erina’s flowers and leaves are smaller than that species. There also seems to be a bit of an identity mix-up with the Camellia ‘Elina Cascade’.)

 

Finally, despite Mother Nature’s assaults, the Fragrant Honeysuckle, Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty,’ blooms reliably every year. From late March until late April the shrub’s creamy-white flowers release intoxicating perfume that carries on the air. A most welcome sign of Spring. Photo below.

copyright 2017 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I purchased the camellias Korean Fire and Erina, as well as the  honeysuckle Winter Beauty, from Camellia Forest Nursery. You can click onto their website at LINKS.

September 2016: Ode To Late Summer

Recent editions of an Oxford Junior Dictionary, aimed at seven-year-olds, eliminated the following words that the editors considered no longer relevant to the lives of modern children: “acorn”, “dandelion”, “fern”, “nectar” and “pasture.” I find this very sad.

Sadder still, was this Summer’s abysmal weather. In recent years, hot, muggy days and drought, likely caused by global warming, resulted in lasting damage to the landscape. So I too must identify and edit, weeding out plants — including long-time favorites — that will not thrive in a “modern” garden.

Yet, thankfully, Mother Nature’s bounty is infinite. Despite the egregious growing conditions, there were a number of garden successes worthy of mention:

Phlox paniculata.  This summer I grew several colorful, fragrant, mildew-resistant Phlox in a large container. I’m still enjoying the rewards — along with grateful hummingbirds and butterflies. Photo below. (See also post of January 2016, “What’s New: Klehm’s Song Sparrow”.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Clerodendrum trichotomum. Another plant that fills the air with delicious fragrance, Clerodendrum, commonly called Harlequin Glorybower, blooms for me in late August/early September. When the white tubular flowers fade they are followed by lovely pink calyxes. Not a bad investment for the dog days of summer. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Moreover, in October, the calyxes open to reveal pea-sized, showy, metallic-blue fruit. (For photos, see post of October 2012, “Autumn Update: Iochroma & Clerodendrum.”)

Glorybower is stoloniferous and begets many volunteers. While some regard this as a fault, I welcome fragrant, fruiting gifts from Mother Nature. So do the bees. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Henna Coleus (a/k/a Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Balcenna’). Henna is an award-winning Coleus and a 2016 trendsetter: Ruffles are the new IN THING for Fall couture and Henna has ruffles a-plenty. A Garden Fashionista. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Apart from frilly edges, Henna flaunts chartreuse centers splashed with reddish-purple, and burgundy undersides. A fabulous foliage plant for sun or shade. And Henna plays well with others. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

It has been suggested that Coleus flowers should be removed because they cause the plant to become leggy and unattractive. Not a problem with Henna, which either flowers very late in the season or not at all. (I rather like the long spikes of pale blue flowers that attract butterflies and I don’t remove them.) Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Rhododendron bureavii x yakushimanum is an outstanding foliage plant. Rhododendrons are usually celebrated for their flowers, but this shrub’s sensational new stems and foliage covered in orange suede take top billing. It is one of the most admired plants in my garden. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate.’ While this Mimosa Tree produces flowers that are magnets for butterflies, it is the exquisite purple foliage that makes it a must-have plant. And ‘Summer Chocolate’ is hardy, vigorous, and easy-care. Photos below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Update: Cornus kousa ‘ Milky Way’ still a-flower in September. Photo below.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

2016 Garden Treasure: Cornus kousa ‘Milky Way’

As recently reported by The New York Times, the Yao people of Mozambique have formed a working partnership with wild “honeyguide” birds: After communicating through an exchange of sounds and gestures, the birds lead the Yao to beehives hidden high up in trees. After the tribesmen subdue the bees and extract the honey, the birds happily eat the leftover beeswax, a good source of calories.

Impressive! But these wild birds have nothing on my helpful, domesticated Grandpets. Consider my Grandcat, Callie. When there is computer work to be done, she is always ready to lend a helping paw.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

IMG_0011

 

And sometimes more than a paw.

Callie on Computer.one

 

 

My Granddog Zoe, on the other hand, has no interest in computer work.

zoe

 

But when there was a Donkey invasion, she rose to the occasion by bravely facing down the enemy.

IMG_1323

 

I treasure my “helpful” Grandpets.

 

And when I choose plants for the garden, I treasure those that truly work for me, not the other way around. One of my favorites is the Kousa Dogwood, ‘Milky Way’. As a general rule, kousas bloom in the month of June. The amazing Milky Way blooms continuously from June through August—oft-times into September. That is flower power! (June, July, August photos below.)

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

When the flowers finally fade, the tree produces an abundance of green lollypop-like fruit that eventually turns scarlet red. Irresistible to songbirds. And in the Fall, Milky Way’s dark green foliage turns glorious shades of autumnal orange. Moreover, when established, the trunk bark exfoliates like a Stewartia. A stellar multi-season performer.

Kousas are free of the dreaded anthracnose disease that has devastated our native dogwood population, Cornus florida. Indeed, for the twenty years Milky Way has graced my garden, it’s been entirely disease-free. Provide rich, acid, well-drained soil.

NOTE: August heat-waves and drought create problem conditions for plants. But not for the August blooming, shrub-like, hardy perennial, Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’. This is its fifth season in my garden and every year–regardless of weather–the huge, gorgeous flowers attract hummingbirds, bumble bees and me!  A late-summer WOW plant.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Spring 2016: Beautiful Gardens of Virginia

A recent study concluded that viewing pictures of nature can help people recover from stress. According to Magdalena van den Berg, who led the study at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the effects would probably be magnified if someone could visit nature and see actual greenery.

I can attest to that. My garden is a constant source of comfort and pleasure. And at the April 2016 American Rhododendron Society/Azalea Society of America Convention in Virginia, I was afforded the opportunity to tour many fabulous gardens. Here are a few highlights:

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden had a number of interesting design features.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Walls were adorned with Lady Banks roses (Rosa banksiae).

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And extraordinary trees were showcased, especially the Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia).

 

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

[Note: The Ginter added this surprising No No to the usual list of visitor guidelines:” The Use Of Drones Is Prohibited.” A sign of the times.]

 

Striking in design was a private, Japanese influenced garden, with a tea house by a pond surrounded by colorful Japanese Maples. Especially lovely were the images of the maples reflected in the water.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Further enhancing the beauty of the garden were the pink double blossoms of the elegant Japanese Cherry Trees (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’).

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

In another private garden, a dazzling Viburnum drew many admirers — including my husband. (Note the wonderful blossoms marching two by two up and down the stems. My kind of buddy-system!)

 

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And then there were the glorious flowering Azaleas. Notable among them:

The fragrant flowering deciduous native Azalea, Rhododendron austrinum ‘Escatawpa’.

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And the evergreen Azalea hybrids, R. ‘Herbert’ and R. ‘Linwood Lavender.’

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

All are winter hardy in my area, Northeast Zone 7a. Sadly, not so for my two favorite Azaleas: R. ‘George Lindley Tabor’ (a\k\a ‘Taber’) and its sport R. ‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing’. (The large, showy, pure-white flowers of Mrs. G.G. Gerbing are so irresistible, I’m tempted to ignore her zonal shortcomings.)

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, I loved the winter-hardy shrub, Kerria japonica, a golden-flowering Diva flaunting her stuff in a private shady garden.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Kudos to the hosts and organizers of the 2016 ARS/ASA National Convention for an outstanding, rewarding experience!

2016: March Madness & The Stumpery

After our oak trees produced a record number of acorns, I expected a long and frigid winter to follow. It was anything but. While we had loony temperature swings — 50 degrees one day and 2 degrees above zero the next — for the most part we enjoyed the warmest winter in years.

Following the February snowstorm depicted in the photo below (taken from my kitchen window) it was pretty much smooth sailing into Spring.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Here are some March highlights from the garden:

The first daffodil.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

White flowering Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ and pink flowering P. japonica ‘Valley Valentine’ blooming a month earlier than usual.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Early Pussy Willows (catkins) of the Goat Willow (Salix caprea).

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

The stunning magenta flowering Witchhazel (Hamamelis ‘Amethyst’).

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And, then, just one week later, it was Spring! (Spring photos of the garden below)

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Spring photos??? Huh???

I guess Mother Nature could not resist a Last LOL.

Hot Tip: Beetles killed one of my beloved, half-century old, majestic pine trees. Instead of having it hauled away, I honored the tree by creating a garden Stumpery with its trunk. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And please indulge my re-cycled oak tree, Spider Man, who rightfully demanded equal blog time. (He has managed to come thru many a winter with hat and sunglasses intact!)

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Simple joys in a time of vicious terrorist attacks.

April 2015: Salix caprea ‘Pendula’ & Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis

 

Spring has truly sprung! Good riddance to this:

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And say hello to a few fabulous early Spring bloomers:

Salix caprea ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Goat Willow) never fails to impress. In my garden, at the ripe old age of 22, it continues to produce decorative large gray catkins (pussy-willows) that open to bright yellow flowers. The bloom is a magnet for the exquisite Mourning Cloak Butterfly. ( Photos below).

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

First discovered on the banks of the River Ayr in Scotland, this deciduous small tree appreciates moist soil and is very cold-hardy. (Zones 4-8). At one time, Salix caprea was fed to goats — i.e., its common name — so if you have goats, beware. Otherwise, I have found it to be pest and disease free. 

Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis is a handsome, low-growing, fragrant-flowering, evergreen shrub, an ideal ground cover for a shady garden. The early Spring flowers are tiny but release a delicious fragrance. (Photo below). When the flowers fade, a green berry is produced that matures to black.

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

While the shrub is stoloniferous, the volunteers don’t travel about but stay close to the Mother plant. (Photo below). Thus, far from being a nuisance, a single Sarcococca plant can quickly and efficiently cover a designated area.

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

In my organic garden the shrub has suffered no pest or disease problems. Moreover, unlike most plants that like to see the sky above their heads, Sarcococca will flourish planted under trees or shrubs. Just provide shade, and acid, well-drained, organic-rich soil. ( Zones 6-8).

2015 What’s New?: Camellia Forest Nursery

For hundreds of years plant explorers have trekked around the globe in search of fabulous new plants to enrich our landscapes. And the practice continues. David Parks, owner of Camellia Forest Nursery, recently flew to the Guangdong province of southern China “to look at some Camellias.”

The Camellias in question, hybrids of the summer blooming species Camellia azalea, enjoy an extended flowering season — from August to February. David is now working on bringing these extraordinary plants to the U.S. (Photos below of Camellia azalea and two of the hybrids.)

Camellia azalea copyright David Parks

Camellia azalea
copyright David Parks

 

Summer’s Sheen at Zhaoqing copyright David Parks

Summer’s Sheen at Zhaoqing
copyright David Parks

 

Tama Beauty x C. azalea 2 copyright David Parks

Tama Beauty x C. azalea
copyright David Parks

 

Equally exciting is Camellia Forest’s impressive inventory of 2015 available plants. Among them:

Camellia ‘Crimson Candles’

Credit Camellia Forest Nursery

credit Camellia Forest Nursery

A recent introduction from noted cold-hardy Camellia breeder, Dr. Clifford Parks, this beauty has it all. An abundance of dark red flower buds adorn the plant all winter (ergo the name ‘Crimson Candles’) and in early Spring it chases the winter blues away with bright rose-red flowers and bronzy-red new foliage. Add cold-hardiness, vigor and disease-resistance. My order is in.

Camellia ‘Black Magic’

Credit Camellia Forest Nursery

credit Camellia Forest Nursery

If you plant this unique late Spring bloomer as well, you will have the season covered. Black Magic is widely sought after for its unusual, glossy, dark red flowers and serrated evergreen foliage. One of a kind and interesting all year round.

Chionanthus retusus ‘Tokyo Tower'(a/k/a/ ‘Ivory Tower.)

 

Credit Camellia Forest Nursery

credit Camellia Forest Nursery

In 2006, a small plant created quite a wow at a Plant Propagators Meeting and sold for a whopping $500.00. This remarkably beautiful upright form of Chinese Fringe Tree is heavily cloaked in Spring with snowy-white clusters of fragrant flowers. The tree’s dark green leaves turn yellow in the Fall and its polished brown bark exfoliates. At maturity, the tree can grow to 15 feet high and three feet to six feet across. Hardy in zones 6-8.

For easy access to the Camilla Forest Nursery website, click on at LINKS.

Fall 2014 Thanksgiving: Outrageous Orange

The academics are at it again.

Earlier this month, while you stood in line waiting to vote, did you notice people sniffing each other? You know, like dogs. A recent study out of Harvard, Brown, and Penn State Universities concluded that we are attracted to the body odor of people with similar political views. (I kid you not. See: The New York Times, Oct. 5, 2014, Sunday Review, p.5.) As explained by one of the researchers: “I believe smell conveys important information about long-term affinity in political ideology that becomes incorporated into a key component of subconscious attraction.”  Oh.

Huh??????

From street smells (See prior Post of September 18, “Fall 2014: The Fragrant Garden” ) to people smells. What will these surprising folks think of next?

Delighted to report that my attention is focused elsewhere, on sight, not smell. We are but a whisper away from Thanksgiving, and Mother Nature has finally given us much to be thankful for: My garden is awash in the dazzling colors of Autumn. This year, orange predominates in spectacular shades of apricot, peach and burnt orange.

First, to set the stage, an abundant pumpkin display at a local farm stand:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And now a few stars of my autumn garden:

Oaks:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Dogwoods:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Parrotia:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Euonymus Berries:

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Japanese Maple:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And, finally, my husband’s favorite rose, the luscious Rosa ‘Just Joey’:

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Note: Under CATEGORIES click onto Great Recipes for Thanksgiving treats.

 

 

 

Fall 2014: Betula lenta & Peattie’s Native Trees

It began life on the shady east side of the house, this gift from Mother Nature, improbably nosing its way up through a path of dirt and gravel to reach the light.  Even as a seedling, I knew it was special.

Growing straight and tall with no help from me (save supportive adoring looks and whispered sweet nothings), the object of my affection developed into an elegant tree, unlike any I had.

Yet, that’s not entirely true. The lovely tiered branching was similar to a nearby dogwood and the foliage was almost identical to a white-barked weeping birch which succumbed to disease years before.

A romantic dalliance between a dogwood and a birch?  No. I don’t think so.  Besides, no way their progeny could possess the tree’s resplendent mahogany-red, Black Cherry Tree like bark.

Actually, the richly painted bark was a dead giveaway, but I didn’t get it until a tree guru came to visit.  He took one look, broke off a twig, handed it to me and said: “Smell this.”  Ah hah!  Unmistakable.  The delicious, heady aroma of wintergreen.  I should have known.

My treasure, Betula lenta, commonly called Sweet Birch or Cherry Birch in apt tribute to its unique aroma and bark, is native to the U.S.A. For years, the tree was the primary source of the extract, oil of wintergreen, used to flavor medicine and candy.  Author Donald Culross Peattie informs us that the sap was also the essential ingredient of Birch Beer; and in his noted work, A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America (Houghton Mifflin Co. 1950), he shares an old-time recipe:

Tap the tree as the Sugar Maple is tapped, in spring when the sap is rising and the buds are just swelling; jug the sap and throw in a handful of shelled corn, and natural fermentation — so the mountaineers tell us — will finish the job for you.”

(Hopefully, this brew didn’t finish off the mountaineers as well!)

In the foreword of his book, Peattie voices an intention to aid in the identification of trees, and the book includes valuable, detailed descriptions. But he also prized what makes a tree most interesting and important to man. “Almost every tree in our sylva,” he observed, “has made history, or witnessed it, or entered into our folkways, or usefully become a part of our daily life. To tell a little of these things is the main purpose of this book.” And these fascinating, informed discussions make the book a must-read.

Someone once said to Peattie: “I see you could not resist the temptation to be interesting.” Unfortunately, his book is out of print. Do search it out. It’s a treasure.

And so is my gift from Mother Nature, Betula lenta (Cherry Birch).   Photos below.

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2011 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

2014: Variegated,Vivacious, & Vigorous

When we lived in California, friends gave us an opulent orchid plant from a specialty nursery. It arrived with registration papers evidencing a royal pedigree as long as your arm.  In short order Her Orchidness checked us out, concluded rightly that she was adopted by peasants, and promptly committed suicide. We were devastated.

From that time, with few exceptions, we have tried to avoid iffy plants that require a lot of pampering. Don’t like it when they die. And careful selection is even more important now that Mother Nature has turned into a Loony Bird.

I’m nuts about variegated-foliage plants but they are particularly problematic; too often, while the standard form may be hardy and vigorous, its variegated version is not.

Therefore, it is entirely appropriate on Labor Day to celebrate three wonderful variegated plants that will work for you, not the other way around. All have survived and thrived in my garden despite Mother Nature at her most demented:

Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Wow. A hardy, variegated Japanese Maple. For me, it doesn’t get better than that. And Japanese Maple guru J.D. Vertrees has deemed Ukigumo one of the “most outstanding” variegated cultivars.

Ukigumo means “floating clouds”, an apt description. The photos above chart its lovely, blended, green-white-pink coloration changes through the seasons. For optimum performance, this stunning shrub requires shade.

A slow grower, after many years Ukigumo may reach ten feet.

 

 

Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

With its dramatic green and white foliage, unique horizontal branching and vigorous growth, this is truly a beautiful, awe-inspiring Dogwood.

In my garden, it has been moved twice — once when it was molested by deer and again when it outgrew its space — without trauma or setback. And it has come through horrific winters unscathed.  One tough cookie!

Grown in shade, after about twenty years the tree is approximately 18 feet tall and nine feet wide and, apart from the deer, has been problem free.

 

Buxus sempervirens ‘Variegata’

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I was never a fan of Boxwood and came into possession of this plant quite by chance. (See December 2011 Post: “Pest Alert: Box Tree Caterpillar.”)

As you can see from the photos, it’s become quite a handsome plant. And, to my surprise, it hasn’t been beset by pest or disease. And, to my further surprise, I rather like it.

Happy Holiday!

UPDATE 2015: Box died from disease. I don’t recommend it. 

August 2014: Hydrangeas

An overheard conversation in Manhattan reported in The New York Times Metropolitan Diary on 3\3\1993:

Woman One:  “This morning I listened to NBC. They predicted a very cold day and possible heavy rain or snow flurries.”

Woman Two:  “I listen to CBS. They usually predict much better weather.”

After two horrific winters and a dire future weather outlook owing to global warming, “much better weather” has become a pipe dream. The times they are a-changin,‘ and for successful gardening we need to take note of the plants that survived and flourished in spite of it all — as well as the ones that didn’t.

Hydrangeas, the superstars of summer, present a mixed bag. In general, the Hydrangea macrophylla Mopheads took a mighty beating, suffering considerable winter die back, while the H. macrophylla Lacecaps sailed through winter with little or no damage.  (As a rule, both types bloom on old growth; thus, substantial winter die back means few flowers — if any. The Endless Summer group of Mopheads are supposed to bloom on old and new growth but I’m told they have performed poorly and have not lived up to expectations. I’m not a fan and I don’t grow them.)

My blue macrophylla Lacecaps never looked better. And the bees adore them. Definitely keepers. (Photos below)

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Ditto for the dazzling Lacecap hybrid, H. x ‘Sweet Chris’, a cross between H. macrophylla and H. serrata. This bi-color beauty is a heart-stopper, as well as a top performer under adverse weather conditions. The bees are quite smitten as well. (Photos below) See also July 8, 2012 Post: “Summer 2012: Heavenly Hydrangeas”.

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, our magnificent native Oakleaf Hydrangea, H. quercifolia, didn’t suffer any winter damage. All my shrubs bloomed well and when the fertile flowers opened they released— as usual— a lovely sweet perfume.  (The photos below include shots of the oak-leaf-like foliage as well as the flowers.)

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Note: I’m happy to report that my fears for the gorgeous purple-leafed mimosa , Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’, were unfounded. The tree met Mother Nature’s challenge and proved that it is a robust survivor. Who knew?  (Photos below include its companion plant, a sweet confection of a Daylily, Hemerocallis ‘Milk Chocolate’.)

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

Spring 2014: Snow-White Extravaganza

The birds are singing love songs, the bumble bees are buzzing and the forsythia is in bloom. It must be Spring. AT LAST! Thought it would never come.

When Vita Sackville West created the celebrated and widely copied White Garden at Sissinghurst, it was meant to be viewed in  summer; the plants — lilies, roses, delphiniums, etc. — were at their flowering peak in July and August. While I don’t have a White Garden, I’m quite fond of easy-care white flowering trees and shrubs, especially the early Spring bloomers. After our horrific winters, these beauties are a joy to behold:

 

Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ (Zones 4-7)

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

I have been growing this sensational evergreen shrub for over twenty years and I recommend it without reservation. To my mind, it’s a perfect plant. P. japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ has bloomed reliably every year, cloaking itself with an abundance of pendulous, snowy-white, fragrant, urn-shaped flowers that attract bees and butterflies. When the flowers fade, the new foliage growth is a dramatic fire-engine red, fading to copper, and then dark green.

New flower buds form in summer adding to Fall and Winter interest. Truly a four-season performer. And the shrub is deer-resistant. (In my garden it has been deer-free, even before our garden became a formidable fenced fortress.)

Pieris does require organic rich, well-drained acid soil, and adequate moisture. And most important, plant in shade. If planted in sun, Pieris is vulnerable to ruinous lace bug attack.

My shrubs are now about 12 feet tall — ideal evergreens for hiding anything untoward — but you can hard prune after flowering if you prefer smaller plants. Or try Pieris x ‘Spring Snow’, a cross between our native P. floribunda and P. japonica, which won’t exceed 3 feet in height and also produces radiant spring flowers. ( Photo below.) The new foliage has pleasing coppery shades.

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Rhododendron ‘White Surprise’ (Zones 6-8)

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

This lepidote Rhododendron, a Gustav Mehlquist hybrid, is another old-timer in my garden.  Like Pieris, it is a dazzling, reliable  bloomer — never missing a year despite having been moved three times. A can-do plant. The flowers are pure white with just a sweet dusting of lime-green freckles on an upper petal, and they are very attractive to bees. ( In my garden that’s a good thing. A very good thing.)

After fifteen years my White Surprise is about six feet tall. Its culture requirements are similar to Pieris, though it would probably appreciate and benefit from a bit of sun.

(Note: Another Mehlquist hybrid you might like is the compact, semi-dwarf elepidote, Rhododendron ‘Ingrid Mehlquist, which flaunts lovely, frilly pink flowers later in the season. One of my favorites.)

 

 

Prunus ‘Snow Fountain’ (a/k/a ‘White Fountain’) (Zones 6-8)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

My Spring garden is full of wonder and surprise. I’m especially careful when I rake and weed because I never know what  wonderful plants may magically appear — like seedlings of Prunus ‘Snow Fountain’.

Over twenty years ago at the Philadelphia flower show I saw this luminous weeping cherry for the first time.  Awestruck, I had to have it. Easier said than done. The tree had no identifying tag, it wasn’t part of a sponsored exhibit, and no one knew anything about it. Kidnapping crossed my mind but this angel’s 12 foot wide wingspan smothered in snowy-white blossoms was a tad much for the Metroliner.

As soon as I got home I hit the phones; the tree was identified and two months later a lovely young clone of the Philly angel was mine. Unlike other cherries, Snow Fountain has been disease-free and — save for the nibbling of rabbits — pest-free as well. It flourishes in the shade of deciduous oaks, blooms reliably every year, and is breathtaking in the fall when the foliage turns autumnal shades of red, orange and gold.

Even before all of the tree’s flower buds fully open, adoring bumble bees are paying homage. Moreover, when the fragrant flowers fade, the tree produces tiny ornamental fruit beloved of songbirds. Ergo, the seedling treasures that volunteer in the garden every now and then.

Ain’t Mother Nature grand?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter 2014: Hug a Tree & Danger Alert

Spring is just a shiver away. For me, it can’t come soon enough.

A pox on this winter!!!!! Too frigid! Too much snow! Too much black ice! ENOUGH ALREADY!

Last month we had to flee from our house because we were nearly out of heating oil – we used in two months what we would normally use in four – and couldn’t refill because the oil truck could not get up our driveway. Did I mention that it was a solid sheet of ice? We barely made our escape. A most harrowing experience.

Yet as much as I hate to admit it, the garden is magical in winter’s icy-white embrace – especially the trees.

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent van Gogh said, “in all of nature, in trees for instance, I see expression and a soul”. Surely true of the  “Hanging Tree”, a majestic English Elm in Washington Square Park, N.Y. At 335 years old, it is the oldest living tree in Manhattan, and at 110 feet tall, one of the most stately. And in winter, quite something. (Photos below.)

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

According to legend, this Elm was the site of many hangings – ergo the name, “Hanging Tree” – but there is no real evidence of this. (So instead, why not call it the “Wondrous Tree”? Despite Dutch Elm Disease that has killed millions of its kin and Park renovations that have endangered its root system, it has survived to a ripe old age. Wondrous, no?)

 

When choosing a tree for my garden, apart from winter presence I think about multi-season attributes, like the interesting peeling bark of the Stewartias and Crepe Myrtles. (Two photos below of Stewartia pseudocamellia and then one of Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia x ‘Natchez’.)

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I also swoon over trees with green trunks. I took a chance with an Acer davidii seedling from Camellia Forest Nursery – one never knows with seedlings. Sure enough, it doesn’t resemble A. davidii. It’s even better! The new foliage is a rich burnt orange, creating in Spring a fabulous color contrast with the beautiful, solid green bark. (I call it A. x davidii ‘David Parks’, after one of the owners of Camellia Forest.) Photos below.

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

DANGER ALERT: On the subject of seeds, seedlings, and longevity, The New York Times recently reported that in 2012 Russian scientists grew a flower from a seed buried for 32,000 years in Siberian permafrost. Pretty remarkable. But, according to the Times, now a team of Russian and French scientists are engaged in “a resurrection of a more sinister nature. From Siberian permafrost more than 30,000 years old, they have revived a virus that is new to science”. In the words of one of the scientists: “Sixty percent of its gene content doesn’t resemble anything on earth.” And while they admit that human infection is “a worrying possibility”, they have not stopped the extractions. (The New York Times, March 4, 2014, p.D5, cols.1-4.)

Am I the only one who finds this terrifying?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Franklinia alatamaha: An American Story

Now you see it, now you don’t!

The New York Times reports that United States Supreme Court opinions have cited to materials on the internet that “are very often ephemeral.” In short, you click on and get a whole lot of nothing, and as a result: “The modern Supreme Court opinion is increasingly built on sand.” (The New York Times, 9/24/2013, p. A13.)

Moreover, this disappearing-text-dilemma is not limited to Court decisions; the problem of lost data is universal, affecting all web-users—including bloggers.

My garden club recently visited Longwood Gardens in PA., the former estate of Pierre S. du Pont. There was much to see and admire, including a very fine example of our beautiful native tree, Franklinia alatamaha. Seeing it reminded me of my blog about Franklinia’s fascinating history, so with some trepidation–triggered by the New York Times piece—I re-visited the 2012 post. Worse than I feared: The title, some of the text, and the photos were gone. Simply vanished. A pox on those responsible!!!!!!!

Here is a restored and hopefully permanent post:

I like plants with a back story, a history, and there’s none better than Franklinia alatamaha.

 

copyright 2012  -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 — Lois Sheinfeld

It all began with John Bartram (1699-1777), a botanist and nurseryman from Pennsylvania, who traveled extensively in colonial America collecting native plants for customers in the colonies as well as in Europe, including the English aristocracy. As reported by Andrea Wulf in her fascinating, informative book, The Brother Gardeners, in England, “a landscape garden filled with Bartram’s trees and shrubs had become the way to show one’s wealth and taste.” The Duke of Richmond, for example, planted 400 different American species at his estate.

This “taste” for American plants led to a rash of plant thefts, which in turn, Wulf tells us, led to a Parliamentary Act providing that plant thieves could be sent to an American penal colony. [An American penal colony? Did Wulf confuse us with Australia? I decided to do a little research of my own and discovered that from 1620-1776 about 50,000 British criminals were transported to the colonies in North America to serve out their sentences, primarily as indentured servants. It was not until a decade later that convicts were sent to Australia.]

But I digress. Back to John Bartram and Franklinia alatamaha.

On a plant-hunting trip in 1765, Bartram and his son William discovered Franklinia along the Altamaha river in Georgia. The plants were not in flower, so they could not collect seed. William finally accomplished this task on a solo return trip in 1776, and at the Bartram farm in PA successfully grew plants from the seed.

After 1803 Franklinia was never again seen in the wild; it is believed that every tree now in existence may be traced back to the seeds collected by William Bartram in 1776. Living history in our own backyards!

John Bartram died in 1777 without ever seeing the exquisite flowers of his discovery. (William’s seedlings didn’t flower until 1781.) The tree was named Franklinia in honor of John Bartram’s great friend, Benjamin Franklin, with whom he and other scholars founded the American Philosophical Society. (This prestigious Society was dedicated to furthering knowledge of the natural sciences. In 1803, in preparation for The Lewis and Clark Expedition of exploration, President Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis to the Society to receive instruction from the nation’s leading scientists.)

In rich, acid, well-drained soil with adequate moisture, Franklinia will produce radiant, fragrant, snowy-white flowers in late summer-early fall. (Photo above) In my garden, when the flowers fade, the foliage takes on shades of vibrant red and orange. What a treasure!

Note: Franklinia is quite cold hardy (z5) and seems to do better in the Northeast than in the South–its place of origin–where it is said to be short-lived.

Summer 2013: A Tale of Two Dazzling Dogwoods

Cornus kousa var. chinensis ‘Milky Way’ (Zones 5-8) is a summer celebration all by itself. Believe it or not, it has been in continuous bloom since June, two months and counting. For flower power, no other tree in our area comes close. (Photo proof below: June, July & August.)

 

copyright 2013  -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2013  -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2013  -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

I purchased Milky Way in 1995 because it was said to have an “extended period of bloom”. An understatement, to be sure. It certainly has exceeded all expectation. Moreover, when the flowers finally fade, the tree produces abundant, showy, raspberry-like red fruit beloved by song-birds, and in the Fall, before the leaves drop, its dark green foliage turns glorious shades of autumnal orange. A dramatic multi-season performer.

Kousa dogwoods are free of the dreaded anthracnose disease that has devastated our native population of dogwood, Cornus florida. Indeed, for the eighteen years it has graced my organic garden, Milky Way has been entirely disease-free. The tree flourishes in rich, moist, acid, well-drained soil. While the literature calls for a sunny location, mine does well in shade.

(Warning Note: Be aware that Milky Way is said to have confused parentage resulting in possible variations in the trees offered for sale.)

 

Cornus kousa ‘Summer Gold’ (Zones 5-8), purchased this Spring, is a new variegated dogwood introduction with radiant green foliage thickly edged in gold. Unique and fabulous! (Photos below.)

copyright 2013  -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

For added interest, creamy white flowers appear in Spring and its Fall foliage is a vibrant red. This tree is very compact, 8-10 feet at maturity, making it a perfect addition for a small garden. I planted Summer Gold near Milky Way so I can sit on my bench and admire both at the same time. (The first photo shows their proximity.) They share the same culture requirements.

 

 

Update of Post August 11, 2012

I’m delighted to report that Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’ is reliably perennial. It came back this year a-bursting with flowers. (Photo below.)

copyright 2013  -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

Hot Tips: Something Old and Something New . . .

Something New Up First.

You can never have enough hydrangeas. What would summer be without them? And I’ve just acquired a recently introduced sensation: Hydrangea macrophylla Let’s Dance Starlight ‘Lynn’, z 5-9. Quite a mouthful, but it’s quite a plant, the first lace-cap hydrangea that blooms on old and new wood. A rebloomer and a beauty.

Lynn’s large showy flowers are ph sensitive: pink in sweet soil and blue in acid. Mine arrived pink (see photo below) but in my acid soil I expect the blossoms will eventually turn shades of blue and purple. Among her other virtues, Lynn thrives in sun or shade, and at a compact 2-3 feet would be ideal for large or small gardens. Provide rich, moist, well-drained soil, and encourage new growth and maximum bloom by removing spent flowers.

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I bought Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lynn’ at Lynch’s Garden Center, 175 North Sea Road, Southampton, N.Y., phone 631-283-5515, which has an extraordinary selection of plants and garden supplies. Local one-stop shopping at its best. Also worthy of mention is the helpful and knowledgeable staff.  (Thank you, Jessica.)

 

Clethra barbinervis, Z 5-7  (Japanese Tree Clethra) is the old-timer in my garden. I guess it’s about fifteen years since I purchased a small plant from Broken Arrow Nursery (Blog Link) at the recommendation of Broken Arrow’s owner, renowned plantsman and mountain laurel guru, Richard Jaynes.

I don’t understand why this fabulous tree is not better known, or at least as popular as its kissin’ cousin, the fragrant flowering native shrub, Clethra alnifolia. My tree is now about 16 feet and displays exfoliating bark that reveals stunning patches of burnished cinnamon, much like Stewartias and Crapemyrtles.  Its foliage is a lustrous dark green and in July and August the tree dazzles with an abundance of fragrant, panicles of snowy-white flowers. (Photos below).

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

C. barbinervis thrives in shade. Just provide rich, moist, well-drained soil.

And I’m happy to report that it hasn’t suffered a whit from the nightmarish, mega heatwave we are currently suffocating under. Unlike this gardener.

 

 

Summer 2013: Albizia ‘Summer Chocolate’ & Hydrangea ‘Ayesha’

Yes, Virginia. You can satisfy those chocolate cravings without worrying about calories. It’s a piece of cake in the garden with Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’.

This remarkable tree and I have quite a history.

I’m reminded of a bit of popular garden wisdom: “You should not give up on a plant until you kill it three times.” Silly advice, isn’t it? There are too many fabulous plants and—regardless of the size of your property—never enough planting space to be saddled for years with non-performers. In my garden, as a general rule, it’s one strike and you’re out. Yet every rule has an exception. Reason flew out the window when it came to Albizia julibrissin ‘Summer Chocolate’, the purple-foliage mimosa tree.

When I lived in California, I admired the green-leaf mimosa with its graceful fern-like foliage and captivating pink flowers that attracted masses of colorful butterflies. But it wasn’t until I saw the purple-leaf variety in a Hamptons garden that admiration turned to obsession.

Over the years I searched it out, bought and planted it twice, and twice it died. But the third time was golden. A beautiful, well-grown plant survived the worst winter in memory and flourishes in my zone 7 garden.

Mimosas aren’t picky about soil ph but they do like full sun, and lots of it. The best I can offer is a few hours of filtered sun, so my tree may not produce flowers. Disappointing to be sure, but for me (sorry butterflies) it’s all about the foliage. (See photo below).

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Another unique beauty, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’, was acquired this Spring. The mophead flowers, made up of distintive, tiny, spoon-shaped florets, start off pink, but in my acid soil turn a striking, violet-pink. And the florets eventually open to reveal amazing blue centers, providing a wonderful contrast with the bluest of blue lacecap hydrangeas planted in the same bed. Ayesha also boasts outstanding, thick, dark-green healthy foliage, so important in my organic garden.  (Photos below.)

 

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  -  LoisSheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I purchased H.m.’Ayesha’ from Hydrangeas Plus, hydrangeasplus.com, which offers an extensive mailorder selection of healthy, blooming size plants.

 

There are so many extraordinary hydrangeas to choose from, one needn’t be limited to the same-old, same-old, over-hyped, H.’Endless Summer’. As for example, one of my favorites, H. macrophylla ‘Bottstein’, produces a colorful array of mopheads in shades of purple, blue and pink. All at the same time. Even in the same flower. (See photos below.) And in the Fall , its foliage turns a rich, dark, red-purple. ( For photos and information about other exquisite hydrangeas, see my earlier Blog post of July 8, 2012, “Summer 2012: Heavenly Hydrangeas”.)

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

 

 

 

Fabulous Bloomers: Halesia carolina ‘Wedding Bells’ & Nemesia fruticans ‘Opal Innocence’

Luther Burbank, the prominent American horticulturist, once said, “Flowers always make people better, happier…they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” So true. Here are two fabulous flowering plants to savor in your own backyard:

Halesia carolina ‘Wedding Bells’ (Carolina Silverbell z.4-8)

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

Halesia carolina is an enchanting, native understory tree, requiring rich, well-drained, moist, acid soil. For over fifteen years, in my shady garden, it has been a reliable and profuse May bloomer with no pest or disease problems. The cultivar ‘Wedding Bells’ flaunts larger snowy-white bellflowers than the species and to my mind is a showier performer. In the Fall, the tree produces interesting 4-winged seed cases which carry on the show until frost. I also grow a pink-flowering Halesia but while the flowers are lovely, the tree lacks vigor.

 

Nemesia fruticans ‘Opal Innocence’ (z.9-10)

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

As soon as I saw this annual dazzler, I was a goner. Moreover, in addition to its incredible color and irresistible charm, Opal is fragrant and in constant bloom from Spring to Fall. Grow in sun or part shade in the ground or in containers. That is if you can find it— I think I bought them all. ( Mine came from Halsey Farm & Nursery in Watermill, N.Y.)

 

Addendum to Post,”Beauty and the Bees: Going, Going, Gone?”

If you invite your bees over for brunch, be sure (bee sure?) to serve coffee. According to a recent scientific study, reported in the British publication, The Garden ( May 2013), bees feeding on nectar containing caffeine—present in the coffee plant’s flowers—have dramatically improved memories: They are three times more likely to remember a flower’s scent, and thus remember a good nectar source. ( A great tip—for the bees. Would that coffee had a memory improving effect on me. I certainly drink enough of it.)

 

Early Spring: Snowy White Dazzle For Shade

PIERIS x ‘Spring Snow’ (z. 5-8)

I love all things Pieris! With handsome evergreen foliage, vibrant, colorful new growth, and fragrant early Spring bell flowers that attract both fat bumble bees and stunning white-edged, dark-chocolate-brown Mourning Cloak butterflies, no wonder it’s one of my all time favorite garden plants. Oh, and did I fail to mention that it’s deer resistant? (Actually, over 25 years, I’ve planted a good number of Pieris and they have all been deer-proof.) Moreover, all my Pieris are grown in shade and have been disease free. (Be aware that Pieris grown in sun is vulnerable to lace-bug attack which can cause serious damage.)

Pieris x ‘Spring Snow’ is a cross between our native Pieris floribunda and Pieris japonica and inherited outstanding attributes from both parents: rich dark green foliage from japonica and masses of upright, luminous, snowy-white flowers from floribunda. But this hybrid-child also surpasses its parents with a profusion of bloom that cloaks the shrub with dazzling, dense, very fragrant white flowers in early Spring.

And Spring Snow is a slow, compact grower, never exceeding three feet in height, making it an ideal plant for a small or large garden. Moreover, it’s a can-do, easy-care plant. Good winter, bad winter—it doesn’t matter. P. x ‘Spring Snow’ will bloom reliably for you every year and its foliage will be bright, healthy green. Just provide well-drained acid soil and shade. And enjoy.

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright  2013  –   Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  –  Lois Sheinfeld

 

A few other Pieris favorites are: P. japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ which flaunts fire-engine-red new growth that turns bronze and then dark green; P. x ‘Brouwer’s Beauty’, another floribunda-japonica hybrid with light green new growth, an exquisite contrast with its mature dark green foliage; and P.’Flaming Silver’ which astonishes with scarlet-red new growth that turns pink, then yellow, and finally variegated green and white. All fabulous woody ornamental shrubs.

Finally, please indulge me. Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’ demands a mention—and a photo shoot. So, if you want a beautiful, vigorous, hardy tree, that blooms with an abundance of pristine white flowers that perfume the air with sweet fragrance, at roughly the same time as P. ‘Spring Snow,’ you can’t do better than my “very pushy”, albeit beloved, Merrill. (See also my previous post on M. x loebneri ‘Merrill’, entitled  Identity Theft, November 26, 2012.)

 

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld
copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

 

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  –  Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  –  Lois Sheinfeld

 

2013: What’s New?

Happy New Year!

An early-bird 2013 catalog has arrived from one of my favorite mail-order nurseries and my order is in . Here are some of the plants that have caught my eye:

Camellia Forest Nursery:

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Champagne’ is a sport of C.j ‘Nana Albospica’, but is more vigorous and grows twice as fast.  It has white new growth which takes on a purple cast in winter.  Ten year size is 8 feet tall by 6 feet wide.  Zones 6-8.

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Knaptonensis’ is a slow growing dwarf with brilliant white new growth and very short needles that curve around the branches.  Zones 6-8.

Both C.j. ‘Champagne’ and C.j.’Knaptonensis’ like moist, acid, well-drained soil and some shade—especially shade from intense afternoon sun.

 

Symplocos paniculata (Sapphireberry)

Symplocos paniculata (Sapphireberry)

Symplocos paniculata (Sapphireberry) is not a new plant but almost impossible to find in the trade.  In the spring, small white fragrant flowers cover this large shrub (or small tree) and in the fall it produces masses of  sapphire-blue berries. Sapphireberry is a social animal and likes company: plant several to ensure cross pollination and abundant fruit. Zones 5-8. ( And do check out Camellia Forest’s exquisite and extensive camellia offerings. )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can easily access the nursery catalog by going to LINKS on this blog.

Next time: Part 2 ( more nurseries, more plants)

Summer 2012: Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

In the last post, I mentioned that hydrangeas like to make whoopee. Yet of all the flowering plants in the garden, Rose-of-Sharon is by far the whoopiest. I started with two plants, one with white flowers and the other with blue. Now, years later, I have so many colorful, blooming volunteers –white, blue, dark pink , light pink, multi shades of purple etc. — I don’t know what to do with them all.  And they keep coming nonstop. My own fault. I’m so curious to see what colors will turn up, I hesitate to weed out the masses of tiny seedlings. Mea culpa!

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

If you want to avoid that sort of thing, there are sterile (mostly sterile?) plants available, like the lovely, pure white H.s. ‘Diane’ a.k.a. ‘Diana’. Years ago I was awestruck by the beauty of the allee at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. (Unfortunately, I’m told it no longer exists). But without self-sown seedlings, I would miss the joy of anticipation and surprise. In fact, when the plants produced sports with green and white variegated foliage, I was absolutely giddy. In my world, cause for celebration.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Rose-of-Sharon is an easy plant to grow: it will flourish in sun or shade, acid or sweet soil, and while it will naturally grow to tree size, it can also be hard-pruned and thrive as a small shrub with large flowers.  Though reportedly prone to an assortment of pests and diseases, that’s not my experience; in my organic garden, these reliable summer bloomers have been uber-healthy and problem-free.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Do try them.  With Mother Nature’s help, you may even wind up with a sensational volunteer that will knock your socks off.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Prunus ‘Snow Fountain’

My spring garden is full of wonder and surprise. One year I was startled by the appearance of a diminutive red tulip, which grew right through the brown-stemmed skeleton of a withered ageratum. How did the tiny bulb get there? Its a mystery to me.

Equally puzzling are the single daffodils that suddenly unfurl hundreds of feet from the bulbs I planted. Daffodils naturalize, but do they also fly?

Perhaps a bird is the carrier. But only one intent on suicide would molest a toxic daffodil bulb; birds are, in fact, health freaks, sensible enough to prefer rose hips which contain 400 times more vitamin C per ounce than oranges.

And that may explain the rosa rugosa which sprang from the middle of a thick mound of juniper on the north side of the house. An unlikely spot for a rose, so unlikely that I’m rather inclined to think its the work of a squirrel, the ultimate haphazard gardener.

To my amazement and delight, the garden plays host to a wide assortment of extraordinary volunteers, so I’m especially careful when I rake and weed because I never know what wonderful plants may magically appear. Like seedlings of my treasure , Prunus ‘Snow Fountain’.

Twenty years ago at the Philadelphia Flower Show I saw this luminous weeping cherry for the first time. I had to have her. Easier said than done. She was not labeled; she was not part of a sponsored exhibit; no one at the show knew who she was or to whom she belonged. Kidnapping crossed my mind but this angel’s 12-foot wide arching wingspan smothered in fragrant, snowy white blossoms was a tad much for the Metroliner.

What’s a crazed, lovesick, gardener to do? Hit the phones, of course. You know, six degrees of separation. It worked. She was identified and two months later she was mine. (Not the Philly goddess. A lovely, young New York model).

And we are living happily ever after. Snow Fountain is very healthy, blooms reliably and heavily every year, and flaunts dazzling Fall foliage in shades of burnt orange and red. When her flowers fade, she produces tiny ornamental fruit that songbirds love.  And thus, the wonderful cherry tree seedlings which pop up in the garden every now and again.

Ain’t Mother Nature grand?

Copyright 2011

Identity Theft

Where is the FBI when you really need them?  Con artists stole my darling Merrill’s identity, and he is so bloody mad it’s enough to make his teeth curl.  That is, if he had teeth.

Merrill is a gorgeous, fragrant, white flowering magnolia, la crème de la crème of magnolias.  No wonder imposters abound.  A few years ago I was reading Montrose:  Life in A Garden by plantswoman Nancy Goodwin, when at pages 37 and 38 I was confronted by a magnolia purporting to be Merrill, flaunting pink buds and flowers with pink stripes.  There’s no pink in Merrill!  I should know; he has graced my garden in Southampton, New York for over twenty years.

Yet upon further reflection I thought, what if my Merrill is the pretender?  I raced to the study and checked the definitive magnolia references.  Ah, vindication!  The experts agree.  No pink in Merrill.  Goodwin’s magnolia must have been wrongly labeled.  (At pages 181-182, she acknowledges that this happened to another of her magnolias.)

Magnolia x loebneri Merrill was hybridized in 1939 at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, the child of a marriage between M. kobus and M. stellata, and in 1952 was named Merrill in honor of Dr. E.D. Merrill, a former director of the Arboretum.  Merrill is part of the hybrid magnolia group loebneri, which originated in Germany with Max Löbner, who made the first kobus/stellata crosses shortly before World War I.  Why is the group styled loebneri and not lobneri?  I haven”t a clue.  But my meaningful-other says the answer is no mystery.  The German letter ö  with a diacritical mark called an umlaut over it  is pronounced ee and is always rendered as oe when German names are spelled out in English texts, unless the translator is sloppy.  (Is anyone still there?)

In the year of Merrill’s christening, the Arbotetum’s publication Arnoldia reported that Merrill was covered with beautiful white flowers (Arnoldia, vol. 12, no. 6, 1952) and thereafter that Merrill was “[o]ne of the best and most vigorous of the early white flowering magnolias (Arnoldia, vol. 20, no. 3/4, 1960).  Indeed, these observations are entirely consistent with all of the documentation provided me by the Arboretum.  Pink is not mentioned in connection with Merrill, not ever.  Case closed.

Magnolia x loebneri Merrill has much to recommend it:  While I garden in USDA zone 7, Merrill will thrive in zones 5 to 8.  Growth is rapid , two feet a year , and my trees are now over 30 feet tall.  Despite the energy invested in such vigorous growth, Merrill bloomed abundantly at an early age and reliably every year thereafter.  The beautiful, snowy-white flowers have a lovely fragrance which carries on the air.  Come Fall, when the lustrous green foliage turns a rich autumnal gold, plump scarlet red fruit attracts an assortment of migrating birds.

Why settle for less?

Copyright 2011