Archive | 2014

December 2014: Pieris japonica ‘Bert Chandler’

l am in awe of the evergreen shrubs that delight the eye in the winter landscape. In my garden, they must also earn their keep for the rest of the year.

As you know, I’m very partial to deer-resistant — deer-proof for me — shade-loving, fragrant-flowering, evergreen Pieris; I grow, lecture, and write about a diverse assortment of wonderful cultivars that enjoy multi-seasons of interest. Pieris japonica ‘Bert Chandler’ is my latest addition and addiction.

My young shrub hasn’t flowered yet but Bert is really all about the foliage. In the Spring, his new growth emerges pink, then turns white, and finally a rich green. A heavenly display! (Photos below.)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I’ve paired Bert with two complementary plants: a pink-flowering Rhododendron (seen above peeking out from the top of the first photo) and, mirroring Bert’s foliage, a pink and white flowering Enkianthus. (Photo below.)  A charming May threesome.

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Finally, either as another companion plant for Bert, or, as in my garden, a stand-alone-star, the luminous Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’ (a/k/a “Floating Clouds”) deserves to be on your holiday wish list. (Check out the photo below of Ukigumo in May, newly dressed in bridal-white. Magical!)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Wishing You All A Wonderful Holiday And A Joyful, Healthy, New Year!

 

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:

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Dogwoods:

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Parrotia:

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Euonymus Berries:

 

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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

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Fall 2014: Autumn Splendor

Elaeagnus umbellata (Autumn-olive)

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

A favorite of migrating songbirds, this large, tree-like shrub has a reputation as an aggressive garden bully. It’s a reputation well deserved. Blame it on the birds: They find the succulent, red autumn fruit irresistible and disperse the seeds far and wide.

Yet, for many years I have grown and treasured five multibranched, shapely plants. Yes, I’m forever pulling up unwanted seedlings, but, on balance, Autumn-olive’s virtues far outweigh the bother.

Every Spring, the shrub’s lovely white flowers release an intoxicating perfume that travels on the air. (Love those fragrant plants!) And the abundant berries produced in the Fall are very showy. As are the silvery undersides of the shrub’s green foliage.

Given acid, well-drained soil, Autumn-olive is easy-care, hardy, drought tolerant and shade tolerant.

And, most important, if you grow Elaeagnus umbellata, the birds will thank you.

Note: Autumn-olive is very similar to Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), which sports gray-green foliage and yellow fruit.

 

Viburnum sargentii ‘Onondaga’

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

What a grand shrub this is! Introduced by the U.S. National Arboretum in 1966, Onondaga, a multi-season performer, deserves a wider audience. In Spring, the new soft foliage emerges bronzy-pink before turning green. Then in May, the shrub produces fabulous lace-cap type, bicolor flowers, with dark-pink budded centers edged with snowy-white florets.

And, as shown in the photos above, it’s a showstopper in the Fall when the leaves turn to shades of glowing pink.

My 8 foot plant flourishes in shade and for over fifteen years has been easy-care and disease-free.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. More garden splendor to come.

Fall 2014: The Fragrant Garden

Isn’t it amazing what some academics will do to distinguish themselves from the rest of the herd?

Kate McLean, who teaches at Canterbury Christ Church University in Britain, is wandering the streets of New York conducting Smellwalks and collecting data for the creation of a Smellmap of the city. No kidding. She has already Smellmapped several cities in Europe.

“It’s a completely different way,” she said, “of knowing the world.”

On Wednesday, September 10, she led a nosy group of 24 on a sniffing tour of Brooklyn. According to the New York Times’s intrepid reporter, who covered the event, they experienced and recorded smells of “car exhaust, subway grit and festering sewer”, not to mention a “pungent stench” reminiscent of “conditions perilous to human life”. (The New York Times, 9/12/2014, p. A27.)

Different strokes for different folks. All I want to smell are the delicious, sweet perfumes of my fragrant plants. Please join me now on an autumn Fragrantgardenwalk focusing on a favorite tree, rose, and vine:

Cercidiphyllum japonicum  (Katsura tree)

For about a week, the senescent foliage of this beautiful, deciduous tree has been filling the garden with the scent of caramel. It’s intoxicating — like living near a candy factory.

In the Spring, the Katsura tree’s lovely heart-shaped leaves emerge a rosy-pink, then turn green for the rest of the growing season. Before the leaves drop, they turn yellow with hints of pink, and only then release their fragrance into the air. (Photos below)

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

There are upright and weeping varieties of Cercidiphyllum. I grow both forms. And when the trees advance through the growing season on different schedules, I reap the benefit of an extended window of yummy aroma. (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

Katsuras do require adequate moisture. They don’t like it dry. Otherwise, they have been problem-free.

 

Rosa ‘Lyda Rose’

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

For fragrance, beauty, good health, hardiness, and continuous bloom from May to frost, USA-bred Lyda Rose is unmatched. The bees agree. ( Note the photos below with the bee pileup—two bees sweetly nestled in one flower!)

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

Lyda can take a bit of shade. And she’ll do well in a pot. Trust me: To know her is to love her.

 

Clematis terniflora  (Sweetautumn Clematis)

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

When I walk out my front door onto the front porch, I’m greeted by the sweetly fragrant flowers of the autumn clematis vine. By wrapping an Ilex pedunculosa in its soft embrace, it managed to climb 14 feet into the air, peek over the porch railing, and say Hi.

Moreover, the vine attained this height in one growing season. A piece of cake for an established plant; it can grow to 20 feet after being hard-pruned to the ground in Spring. And once established, it should be hard-pruned because it flowers on new growth. When the flowers fade, they produce interesting, showy seed heads.

The vigorous vine does tend to volunteer all over the place — ofttimes unnoticed until the flowers appear in the Fall. This may be a major drawback for some, especially in formal gardens. Yet, for the most part, I allow it to scramble about. I like pleasant, flowerly surprises.

BTW, Clematis terniflora does not harm its host plant.

 

Fragrant plants add so much pleasure to a garden. Why not grow a symphony of sweet scents?

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’

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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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

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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

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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

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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.)

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

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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

July 2014: Celebration of Roses

Happy 4th of July! Hope you have a fabulous holiday.

With celebration in the air, it’s an ideal time to tell you about a few things — garden related, of course — also deserving of celebratory mention:

W. Kordes Sohne in Germany has been breeding and selling roses since 1887, but it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the nursery adopted a new focus: establishing a breeding line of very healthy roses grown without chemical pesticides. Kordes garden roses must now endure seven-year trials for disease-resistance, fragrance, flowering and vigor. Only those meeting the highest performance standards are selected for introduction.

I grow a number of these special roses, and in my organic garden they meet every expectation.

Because I am in the process of switching from slide to digital-photo presentations, at a recent slide-lecture, “Growing Roses Organically”, I didn’t have slides of two favorite Kordes roses. I welcome the opportunity to feature them in this Post:

Rosa ‘Zaide‘, a tall shrub rose introduced in 2007, was recommended to me by the owner of Palatine Roses. (Palatine offers the largest selection of disease-free Kordes roses in North America:  www.palatine roses.com) I love everything about Zaide. She blooms in abundance until frost, is winter hardy, has healthy foliage and yummy fragrance, and her flowers are gorgeous from bud to full bloom. (Photos below)

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Ditto for the enchanting climber, Rosa ‘Jasmina’, introduced in 2005. Moreover, add Gold and Silver Awards in international competitions and the coveted ADR award. [ADR (Allgemeine Deutsche Rosenneuheitenprufung) winners are chosen after three-year trials without plant-protection sprays, in eleven different geographic areas in Germany; they are evaluated for disease resistance, winter-hardiness, abundance of flowers, flower form, fragrance and growth habit. The Common Core of the plant world!] (Jasmina photos below)

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, a word about a pig. After many years of trials and tribulations in the garden, namely, introducing a Piggy planter to a never-ending selection of new plants and new locations with wretched results, at last we hit upon a winner. Every Spring we fill a cedar container with butterfly loving lantana, but when the container didn’t survive last winter’s brutal assault and we could not find a suitable cedar replacement, Piggy was drafted.

EUREKA!  Some Pig.

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Let the celebrations begin.

May-June 2014: Seeing Red 2

Wait. Have patience. Do nothing.

Hard advice for a gardener to follow, but follow we must. This harsh winter brought a number of plants to their knees. Some, like the hydrangeas, died to the ground — all of the top growth was gone. Others, namely several evergreen shrubs of Osmanthus fortunei ‘UNC’, lost most of their leaves and looked like bare-stemmed corpses.

Wait. Have patience. Do nothing.

When plants have suffered severe winter die-back, they must be allowed time to recover. One of my favorite garden writers, Henry Mitchell, advised waiting several months — a year for tender shrubs — before signing the death certificate. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait that long. Within a month all were showing new growth. Didn’t lose a one. They were down but not out.

Moreover, some plants didn’t suffer at all — in fact, they never looked better. My last post celebrated a few. Here are a few more top-performing, winter-defying reds:

Remember Rhododendron ‘Francesca’ in bud? Her flowers are equally lovely.

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Deciduous azalea, Rhododendron ‘Arneson’s Ruby Princess’, looked OK in 2013, but this year she was an attention-grabbing knockout in both bud and flower.

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Ditto for award-winning peony, Paeonia ‘America’.

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And my go-to container annual, the glorious Begonia ‘Encanto Red’, is off to a fine start.

copyright 2014  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

Encanto Red will bloom non-stop until frost. See photo below taken in October last year. Something to look forward to.

copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

May 2014: Seeing Red

I’m seeing red.

The demonic photo-eating terrorists have returned.  Since my last Post, countless photos have again disappeared from this blog. I’m bereft. I’m frustrated. I don’t know how to stop it from happening.  A double pox on the varlets responsible!!!!!

Among the missing are several snowy-winter pictures of  my trees and the stately Hanging Tree in Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, New York. Tree-hating varlets! ( See “Winter 2014: Hug a Tree and Danger Alert”)

While it was a touch-and-go winter, the Hanging Tree has now leafed out — an intrepid survivor. So, FIE ON THE VARLETS! Below is a recent photo of Washington Square Park with the Elm on the left, and on the upper right-hand side a glimpse of a red building, New York University’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. Seeing red is not always a bad thing.

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

And I’m especially thrilled seeing the color red in my garden this month. Here’s why:

Early on we delighted in a brief but memorable visit from a hungry, shy Scarlet Tanager, followed soon after by a young male Red-bellied Woodpecker who has taken up permanent residence. He is most welcome, but if he doesn’t find a mate soon and cease his persistent drilling on the house and pitiful, yearning cries, I’m signing him up with a matchmaking service. (Four photos follow, two of each bird.)

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

In my previous Post in April, “Spring 2014: Snow-White Extravaganza”, I waxed eloquent about Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’, showed photos of its fragrant flowers, and mentioned the fire-engine-red new foliage growth to come. It’s here now and it’s spectacular.

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Variegated Pieris japonica ‘Flaming Silver’ also flaunts glowing red new foliage, which contrasts well with the black-red leaves of Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ in the background.  (Note: Maple guru J. D. Vertrees said that “Bloodgood is the standard by which all other red cultivars are judged.” A great compliment, indeed.)

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Similarly dazzling in black-red are the flower buds of one of my favorite Rhododendrons, R. ‘Francesca.’ (Photos below.)

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

A new favorite Rhododendron planted this Spring, aptly named R. ‘White Elegance’, has snowy-white flowers with a vibrant red starburst center. Irresistible! And it flowers at a young age, has good foliage, and can take deep shade. White Elegance was bred by a very accomplished local hybridizer from St. James, N.Y., Werner Brack. (More about Werner and his fabulous hybrids in a future post.) Photos of R. ‘White Elegance’ below. A perfect ending for this smashing parade of RED.

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)

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

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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)

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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

2014: What’s New? Part 3

The “miraculous power of gardening: it evokes tomorrow, it is eternally forward-looking, it invites plans and ambitions, creativity, expectation…. Gardening defies time; you think in seasons to come.” So said award-winning author Penelope Lively in her latest book, Dancing Fish And Ammonites. And so say I. Fie on this horrific winter! I’m planning for Spring.

Over 20 years ago, the late, great plantsman, Jim Cross, pointed me in the direction of Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, CT.  The Nursery was for a time a rather small operation, with a mimeographed plant list of 4 or 5 pages stapled together, and sales only on site. Broken Arrow’s current inventory includes over 1,500 woody ornamentals and perennials. (At present, Broken Arrow’s website and online sales are not operational.)

For my garden this year, I largely focused on Broken Arrow’s collection of Japanese Maples:

Acer palmatum ‘Koto no ito’ (Zones 5-8)

credit  Broken Arrow Nursery

credit Broken Arrow Nursery

Koto no ito means Harp Strings. True to its name this small, elegant tree has delightful, string-like foliage. New growth is green with red tones, becoming green in summer and then shades of gold, orange and red in the fall. (Note: For many Japanese maples, leaf color is variable, depending on the degree of light exposure; this may account for the differing views on seasonal color expressed by various reference texts.)

 

Acer palmatum ‘Fairy Hair’ (Zones 6-8)

credit  Broken Arrow Nursery

credit Broken Arrow Nursery

This slow-growing, dwarf maple’s mature height will probably not exceed 3 feet. Its unique, fine, thread-like foliage is orange-red in spring, green in summer, and orange-red again in fall. The tree has an ethereal quality, impossible to resist.

 

Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’ (Zones 5-8)

credit  Broken Arrow Nursery

credit Broken Arrow Nursery

Highly prized for its showy, colorful foliage – burnt-orange and pink in spring, chartreuse with touches of peach in summer, and autumnal shades of gold, red and orange in fall – Autumn Moon is a show-stopper.

For comprehensive information about Japanese Maples see Japanese Maples: The Complete Guide to Selection and Cultivation (Timber Press, Fourth Edition 2009)

And for successful companion planting, I like to partner Japanese Maples with Rhododendrons; they have similar culture requirements. A particular Rhododendron favorite is the divine, snowy-white, purple-flared, R.’Calsap’, purchased by me from Broken Arrow over fifteen years ago. (Below are photos of my Calsap in the garden.)

copyright 2013  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

For 2014 I’m also adding to the mix a new plant offering from Broken Arrow, Bletilla striata ‘Yellow Striped’ (Zones 6-9),  a recent woodland orchid introduction from Japan. This lovely has a reputation as a tough, long-blooming perennial. (Photo below.)

copyright  -  Shikoko Garden, Japan

copyright – Shikoku Garden, Japan

 

The orchid has green leaves striped with creamy-yellow, and charming magenta flowers for three to four weeks in late-Spring, early-Summer. It’s a spreader – but not fast enough for some! And it too shares similar culture needs with the maples.

Update 2015: The bletillas didn’t survive. Voles, perhaps?

 

 

 

2014: What’s New? Part 2

Camellia Forest Nursery has a nonpareil inventory of camellias, as well as a fine selection of unique trees and shrubs, many that are hard – if not impossible – to find in the trade. Here are my 2014 choices, plus a few old favorites:

Camellia japonica ‘April Blues’

April Blues is a new addition to the outstanding April Series of zone 6, cold-hardy camellias, introduced by the acclaimed camellia hybridizer, Dr. Clifford Parks. (Dr. Parks’s wife and son are co-owners of Camellia Forest Nursery.) Aptly named, the plant’s deep pink flowers take on interesting bluish-purplish tones in cool weather. The camellia is a late Spring, prodigious bloomer. (No photo currently available.)

You might also like one of my older japonica favorites, the lovely bi-color, eighteenth century introduction, Camellia japonica ‘Governor Mouton’.  (Photo below.)

copyright 2012 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Consider, too, the Nursery’s extensive collection of fragrant, hardy, Fall blooming sasanquas, including the sought after but difficult to find pink beauty, Camellia sasanqua ‘Jean May’.  (Photo below.)

copyright 2012  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

In my garden, Jean May has bloomed from September to frost, even in 2012 when she thumbed her nose at the Oct.-Nov. combined assault of Hurricane Sandy and a Nor’easter. The Nursery has a limited supply; grab one while you can. (See also my earlier post of December 2, 2012, “Fabulous Camellias for Northern Gardens: Autumn Flowering Sasanquas”.)

 

Disanthus cercidifolius (Zones 5-8)

photo credit: Camellia Forest Nursery

photo credit: Camellia Forest Nursery

With its pretty, heart-shaped, blue-green leaves that in autumn turn fabulous shades of red and purple, this award-winning, relatively rare, deciduous ornamental shrub is an ideal plant for a shady garden. Disanthus thrives in acidic, organic-rich, moist, well-drained soil – a perfect companion for rhododendrons – and is both pest-resistant and disease-resistant. An added bonus are the surprising, dainty, reddish-purple flowers that show up at about the same time the leaves drop.

 

Acer caudatifolium ‘Variegatum’ (Zones 7-9)

photo credit: Camellia Forest Nursery

photo credit: Camellia Forest Nursery

 

photo credit: Camellia Forest Nursery

photo credit: Camellia Forest Nursery

I’m very excited about this dazzling Taiwanese Striped-Bark Maple that flaunts pink-flushed new growth which becomes a variegated, rich green splashed with white, and then turns a brilliant orange-gold in autumn. Moreover, young trees sport exquisite, creamy-white bark. Amazing! Provide moist, well-drained soil in shade.

 

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Globosa Nana’ (Dwarf Japanese Cedar, Zones 6-8)

While Globosa Nana is a wonderful, award-winning dwarf conifer, it is not generally available. I bought one from Camellia Forest about five years ago and now have a second on order. The plant has an appealing, dense, dome-shaped form and a well-behaved mounding habit so you never have to prune a wayward stem. It is said to have a mature height of from 4-6 feet, but it’s a slow grower. (Photo below of Globosa Nana in my garden, alongside Magnolia ‘Yellow River’.)

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

You can easily access Camellia Forest’s 2014 catalog by clicking on the blog link to the right.

 

As I write this, we are snowed (iced?) in again. What a winter! Not much I can do about it but dream of Spring. And feed our friends.

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

2/23 Update Alert: Camellia Forest’s printed 2014 35th Anniversary Plant Catalog is now available.

2014: What’s New?

We gardeners are a curious, acquisitive lot, always looking over the horizon, searching for the next best thing. I’m delighted to share with you some of my fabulous finds — exciting 2014 plant offerings of favorite mail order nurseries.

First up, Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery, which has an extensive collection of ornamental trees, shrubs, vines and perennials. I’ve been a Klehm customer for over 20 years and gladly attest to the quality of their plants. Almost all are shipped in containers, which not only ensures a safer transport but eliminates the frenzied need to put them in the ground the moment they arrive. A big plus for me.

But enough about me. As Elmore Leonard advised in 10 Rules of Writing, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” So, on to the plants:

Heuchera ‘Blondie’ (zones 4-9)

photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

Most heucheras  produce pink or white flowers for a short time in summer or early fall, but the unique, enchanting mini, Blondie, flaunts an abundance of lovely creamy-yellow flowers in spring, summer, and fall. Colorful foliage enhances the plant’s presence and value. A splendid perennial ground cover or specimen plant for shade.

 

Heuchera ‘Cajun Fire’ (zones 4-9)

photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

A new introduction from Terra Nova Nursery, Cajun Fire is all about foliage; through the growing seasons its leaves change from striking shades of red to a rich maroon. Tall white flower spikes heighten the display in summer. Another choice perennial for a shady garden.

Clematis viticella I am Lady J, ‘Zoiamij’ (zones 4-9)

copyright J. van Zoest B.V.

copyright J. van Zoest B.V.

 

Lady J captured my heart with her small, showy, milky-white centered, purple-edged flowers. It was love at first sight, though I’m rather partial to the entire small-flowered viticella group. They are beautiful, reliable, vigorous, cold-hardy plants, untroubled by the scourge of large-flowered clematis, the dreaded clematis wilt.

As for cultivation, at one time it was generally accepted that clematis should be planted with its feet in the shade and its head in the sun, but that is no longer the case. With adequate moisture, viticellas, for example, do quite well in sun or shade. And while conventional wisdom dictated a clematis preference for sweet (alkaline) soil, now that too is an open question. Nonetheless, when I plant, I add lime to my acid soil.

Klehm ships 2-year-old, well-rooted, trellised plants, which have always bloomed for me the first season. (Note: This has been my experience, not a Klehm guarantee.)

And do check out Klehm’s outstanding selection of peonies. They range from an old-fashioned, fragrant favorite, ‘Mrs Franklin D Roosevelt’, to modern dazzler ‘Circus Circus’ and luscious pink confection, ‘She’s My Star’. (The last two are introductions of foremost peony breeder and Klehm’s Song Sparrow Nursery owner, Roy Klehm.)  Peony photos below in order of mention.

photo credit - Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery

photo credit – Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery

 

photo credit - Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery

photo credit – Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery

 

photo credit - Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery

photo credit – Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery

 

Tip: Peonies do require a sweet soil; if your soil is acid, add lime.

To easily access Klehm’s Song Sparrow catalog, click on their Link from my blog. (See also my earlier January 9, 2013 blog post about the nursery, “2013 The Next Best Thing: Part 2”.)

2014: My Favorite Deciduous Azaleas

Like Alice, I fear we have fallen down the rabbit hole. It’s loony tunes out there.

The New York Times reported that the nation’s largest food and beverage companies are seeking FDA approval to label as “natural” foods laced with genetically modified organisms (GMO’S). (The New York Times, December 20, 2013, p.B3)

Huh?

Hard to believe, but true. The same folks who are spending millions of dollars in a nation-wide campaign to prevent GMO food labeling, thus denying consumers the right to make informed choices, are now shamelessly demanding the right to label their GMO-laboratory-designed-food, “NATURAL”. 

Thank goodness we can retreat to the sanity and comfort of the garden — in mind and spirit, if not in person — and dream about the upcoming joys of Spring, namely, Mother Nature’s sweet progeny, Deciduous Azaleas. Here are some of my favorites:

Rhododendron ‘Arneson Ruby’. (Zones 5-8).

As you can see from the photos, this exquisite show-stopper has ball-shaped trusses of purple-red buds, opening in May to vibrant ruby-red flowers. The plant is a hardy, disease-resistant, upright grower that can reach 5-6 feet in height.

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

If you aren’t into upright and tall, I recommend R. ‘Arneson’s Ruby Princess’ with similar ruby-red flowers on a mounding azalea that most likely will not exceed 3 feet. The Princess shares Ruby’s cold hardiness and good health and possesses the additional attribute of attractive dense foliage. (Photo below.)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

In my garden, R. ‘Arneson Ruby’ grows alongside another May bloomer, Rhododendron ‘Klondyke’ (Zones 5-8), an azalea highly prized for its beautiful, fragrant, golden-orange flowers, complemented by handsome bronzy-green new foliage. (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

 

For those seeking fragrant flowers, Rhododendron ‘Narcissiflora’ (Zones 5-8) is a must-have. This tall, vigorous, old-timer flaunts masses of bright yellow flowers that fill the air with sweet perfume. And as for white-flowering azaleas, there’s none better than the uber-fragrant “twins”, Rhododendrons ‘Snowbird’ and ‘Fragrant Star.’ (Zones 4-8)  (Photos below in order of mention.)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

All of these deciduous azaleas have been time-tested and flourish in my organic, toxic-chemical-free garden. They require acid, well-drained soil and can tolerate — even appreciate — more sun than their big cousins, the Elepidote Rhododendrons. [See also: June 14, 2013 post, “Evergreen Azaleas: La Crème de la Crème”, and for comprehensive information on all things azalea, Azaleas by Fred C. Galle (Timber Press. 1999).]