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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

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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.

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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

July 2016: Summer Fragrance

Health Alert: A new study has found a link between exercise and a reduced risk of 13 cancers. People who exercised moderately had significantly less risk of developing cancer than those who were sedentary. And increased exercise dramatically reduced the risk.

While formal exercise is a non-starter for me, I hope to reap health benefits by working endless hours in the garden. Natural beauty and intoxicating floral aromas are good for the soul as well as the body.

I’d like to share with you a sampling of outstanding summer-blooming fragrant plants that have been time-tested in my garden:

Rosa ‘Compassion’ is an award-winning, very fragrant, repeat-blooming climbing rose. With disease-resistant foliage and beautiful apricot-pink flowers, it’s always a hands down favorite when I lecture on roses. I grow Compassion in a large container set beside an arch. In December, I cloak the entire plant with protective conifer branches. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Lollipop’ is a deciduous, hardy, summer-blooming azalea with mildew-resistant foliage. Numerous pink flowers possess a lovely sweet fragrance. Provide moist, well-drained, acidic soil. (Photo below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Daphne x transatlantica ‘Blafra’, a/k/a Daphne Eternal Fragrance, is an ideal plant for a large or small garden. For a shrub of modest size — 2 to 3 feet tall — it packs a wallop of a return: masses of small, white, intensely fragrant flowers with a long bloom season from Spring to Fall. Be aware that Daphne has a well-earned reputation for being temperamental and unpredictable, ofttimes dying for no discernible reason. But so far — five years and counting — Eternal Fragrance is happy growing in shade in rich, moist, well-drained soil. Maybe this cultivar is the exception — eternal after all. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea) is a winter-hardy, trouble-free, native shrub, with multi-seasons of interest. In Summer, it produces large panicles of showy sterile and fertile white flowers. When the fertile flowers open in July, they release a delicious fragrance that carries on the air. The sterile flowers slowly change from snowy white to pink. And in the Autumn, the foliage turns vibrant shades of red and orange. In addition, as a special bonus, when the shrub is established in the garden its woody stems will exfoliate.

Oakleaf Hydrangea can grow quite large — 6 to 8+ feet tall, and the same across. (The shrub is stoloniferous so volunteers pop up around the mother plant adding to its girth.) My plants thrive in shade with compost-rich acid soil. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Finally, the native woodland wildflower, Chimaphila maculata (Striped Wintergreen a/k/a Pipsissewa), comes and goes in the garden beds and in the gravel paths and driveway. This diminutive charmer has tiny, nodding white flowers with a green button eye. The flower’s luscious perfume is to die for. Wish I could bottle it. (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

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

NOTE: I have been asked the name of the gorgeous, long-lived peony I mentioned in the Post of Jan.27: “2016 What’s New: Klehm’s Song Sparrow”. The peony’s cultivar name is ‘Largo’. (Photo below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

June 2016: Rhododendron Razzle-Dazzle

Charles Owen Dexter is one of the most admired and interesting American plantsmen. He didn’t begin breeding Rhododendrons until his early sixties, yet his output was phenomenal: In the 1920’s and 30’s he produced well over 100,000 hybrid seedlings. Hundreds of these seedlings were given to public botanical gardens and the like, as well as to individuals.

Unfortunately, since Dexter didn’t keep breeding records or name his plants, confusion followed: Often the same seedling was grown in two different places with two different names. Or even worse.

Consider the controversy over the award-winning Rhododendron ‘Janet Blair’. The plant was growing amid a group of Dexter hybrid seedlings in the garden of Rhododendron hybridizer, David Leach. Leach named, introduced, registered, and sold the plant as his own, not as a Dexter hybrid. In fact, R.’Janet Blair’ was David Leach’s most commercially successful introduction.

Modern testing has now proven R.’Janet Blair’ to be identical to the Dexter hybrid, R.’John Wister’.

Whatever the legal or ethical ramifications  — i.e. bragging rights, royalties, etc. — Dexter’s R.’Janet Blair’/R.’John Wister’ is a plant worth having. In addition to its virtues of fragrance, beauty and good health, it blooms at an early age and reliably thereafter. One of my favorites. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I have two other Dexter hybrids with an interesting history. In the 1930’s, Henry Francis du Pont acquired from Charles Dexter several flats of seedlings and planted them at his Delaware estate, Winterthur. From the original seedlings that survived and flowered, sixty or so were selected as good doers and were given identifying numbers. Tiny seedlings of some of these numbered plants — propagated from cuttings — were included in the plant sale at the 2004 American Rhododendron Society Convention in Pennsylvania.

And that’s how Dexter’s Winterthur 7 & 8 came to grace my garden.

We anxiously waited a very long time for the tiny seedlings to bloom (2015 for 7 and 2016 for 8) but that simply increased our joy and celebration when it happened. (Photos below of 7 & 8 growing next to each other, followed by a closeup photo of 7’s flowers.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

[Note: When Winterthur numbered the Dexter hybrids, alongside the numbers 7 & 8 Henry du Pont noted: 7 (“pink, good flower”) and 8 (“clear mauve”). Our plant 7 is indeed pink and the flower is indeed good, but 8’s flower isn’t mauve. In fact, 8’s flower looks very similar to 7’s flower. Methinks maybe there was a tag mix up at the 2004 plant sale. No matter. We love both plants and applaud the American Rhododendron Society for making them available for home-garden purchase.]

 

2016 was a very good year for Rhododendron bloom. Worthy of mention here is a plant with a Dexter connection, R.’Cape White’, hybridized by Jack Cowles, the Superintendent/Horticulturist at the Dexter Estate from 1959-1967. Cape White’s flowers have raspberry buds that open to violet pink — before they fully open, the flowers look like cherry-vanilla ice cream cones — and eventually the high-domed, ruffled flowers fade to a light lavender. Quite somethin’. The bees agree. (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

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

The Dexter Estate is now called Heritage Museums and Gardens, Sandwich, MA, and is open to the public. Among other things, there is a significant collection of Dexter and Cowles hybrids. In addition, for purposes of fund-raising, they offer members of the public an opportunity to name a Rhododendron. Check out the website: heritagemuseumsandgardens.org

 

Finally, let’s look to the future of Rhododendron breeding. Here are some of the outstanding hybrids bred by an accomplished modern-day breeder from Long Island, New York, Werner Brack. (Photos below.)

courtesy of Werner Brack

courtesy of Werner Brack

Royal Star X Purple Lace courtesy of Werner Brack

Royal Star X Purple Lace
courtesy of Werner Brack

Shoreham courtesy of Werner Brack

Shoreham
courtesy of Werner Brack

White Elegance copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

White Elegance
copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

The future is golden.

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. That’s him in the yellow slicker. (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!

Spring 2016: A Singing Bird May Come

According to an ancient proverb: “If you keep a green tree in your heart, a singing bird may come.”

Last month, at a rally in an indoor arena filled with thousands of jubilant supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, a tiny songbird suddenly appeared and flew over to the podium to be with Bernie. A joyous and magical moment.

Talking about birds, did you know that a group of Flamingos is called a Flamboyance? I found this delightful nugget of information in a small gem of a book released this year by Ten Speed Press: Maja Safstrom’s “THE illustrated COMPENDIUM OF amazing ANIMAL FACTS.”

Sadly, we aren’t all blessed with Flamingos, but we can easily achieve Spring Flamboyance in the garden by planting Rhododendron ‘Amoena’. This gorgeous, old-timey evergreen azalea is a hardy, vigorous shrub, and a reliable May bloomer. Mine flourishes in sandy acid soil in shade. (Photos below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

If you prefer understated elegance, one of my favorite early Spring bloomers — sharing the same culture requirements as Amoena — is the evergreen native shrub, Chamaedaphne calyculata ‘Tiny Tom.’ In April, Tom’s elegant wand-like stems are cloaked with dainty, snowy-white, dangling bells. (Photo below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

For long-blooming elegance, you can’t beat Helleborus — my  hellebore flowers opened in March and continue to bloom despite subsequent snow storms and frigid weather. Helleborus does best in sweet soil. I amend my acid soil with lime and wood ash. (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

 

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

HOT TIP: To ensure success in the garden this year, plant Trifolium purpurascens and enjoy a steady supply of lucky four-leaf clovers. (Photo below.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Trifolium purpurascens is not widely available. My well-grown healthy plants were purchased by mail order from Bluestone Perennials, in Ohio. (bluestoneperennials.com; Phone: 800-852-5243).

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.

February 2016: Natives Only? Humbug!!!

The frantic media chatter over this month’s South Carolina Primaries brought to mind my sweet South Carolina connection, the lovely azalea, Rhododendron ‘Keowee Sunset’. About fifteen years ago, I planted Keowee as a companion to the red-flowered Rhododendron ‘America’ — a Dutch hybrid import — and they grew together and flourished.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

My garden is a colorful mix of native and non-native trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals, supporting a wide range of wildlife, including birds, bees and butterflies. Yet the native-only-gang (hereafter nog) insist that only native plants can support wildlife in general and pollinators in particular.

Recently, this assertion was proven groundless. A Royal Horticultural Society’s multi-year, controlled scientific trial/study concluded what we home gardeners know from personal experience: Diversity of plant origin — flowering plants from different countries and regions — is a strength, not a weakness, in supporting pollinating insects in gardens.

The nog are guilty of the Sharpshooter Fallacy: They shoot first and draw the bulls-eye after. First they reach a conclusion and then chase after something or anything to support it.

Consider the arguments put forward by a leading nog spokesman, Douglas Tallamy, a professor at the University of Delaware. He would like to ban non-natives and fill gardens with native oaks because they support 557 species of caterpillars — and some caterpillars provide food for some birds.

Responding to the worry that all those caterpillars will defoliate trees, he pointed to an experiment he conducted with a white oak in his garden: “I counted 410 caterpillars, of 19 different species, just walking around this oak for half an hour one July day last summer,” he said. “It wasn’t defoliated. You couldn’t see the holes.”

HUH????

It simply belies reason that 410 caterpillars caused no damage. Gypsy moth and Cankerworm caterpillars defoliated and killed six of my large oaks, and severely damaged many other plants, including the Japanese Maples. This has been the common experience of gardeners in my area. The nog can’t have it both ways. The more caterpillars you have, the more they chomp. That’s a given.

Furthermore, Tallamy also contends that while non-natives may provide nectar for butterflies, their leaves are unpalatable to caterpillars. I guess the butterflies cut class and missed that lecture. In my garden, the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars love eating ornamental Japanese Cherry Tree foliage. And when they mature, the butterflies flock to non-native Buddleia (Butterfly Bush). (Photo below.)

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

The RHS trials, my own garden experience, and the hands-on experience of other gardeners, provide ample proof that bees, butterflies and birds don’t discriminate against non-natives. And while I share Tallamy’s concern for bird survival, perhaps maintaining bird feeders in winter — when there are no berries, fruit or insects available — is a better way to go.  The birds think so.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

All the birds.

copyright 2016 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

But I believe in live and let live. As long as wildlife is not endangered by the use of toxic pesticides and chemicals, everyone is entitled to have the garden of their dreams. Tallamy and the nog with natives-only, me with a generous native\international mix. Each to his\her own.

2016 What’s New: Klehm’s Song Sparrow

In 1990 I discovered that Klehm Nursery (now Klehm’s Song Sparrow) was the source for a gorgeous peony I saw at the New York Flower Show, and I have been a loyal customer and fan ever since. While the Nursery has changed names and location (originally South Barrington, IL.), its commitment to providing a wide mail-order selection of outstanding plants — and, equally important, outstanding customer service — has been constant and unwavering.

Klehm’s 2016 new plant offerings are especially exciting. Here are a few of my picks:

 

Buddleia davidii ‘Glass Slippers’ (Butterfly Bush). z. 5-9.

Photo credit to Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo credit to Walters Gardens, Inc.

A yummy light-blue, orange-eyed, fragrant-flowering, silvery-green foliaged, compact plant that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees — who could resist? Planting Tip: If you have acidic soil, before planting amend with lime or wood ash to raise the pH. Buddleias are partial to sweet soil.

 

Phlox paniculata Bubblegum Pink; P.p. Coral Creme Drop; P.p.Cotton Candy; P.p. Grape Lollipop. zones 4-8.

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Photo credit to Ball Horticultural Company

Many years ago, on a garden tour of Bainbridge Island, Washington, I saw a show-stopping container filled to bursting with fragrant, colorful phlox, and I’m forever trying to duplicate that fabulousness in my garden. Mildew can wreck a phlox display, so mildew-resistant plants are essential. Happily, you can’t do better than the rainbow of beautiful, fragrant, disease-resistant plants pictured above. And did I mention that like Buddleia, these long-blooming, vigorous plants attract butterflies and hummingbirds? My order is in.

 

Carex siderosticha ‘Snow Cap’ z. 5-9.

Photo credit to Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo credit to Walters Gardens, Inc.

This new Asian sedge hybrid is true to the variety siderosticha in every important way: It’s a low growing, long-lived, deer-resistant plant that spreads slowly into a dense mass of foliage. But this isn’t the typical green-leaved form. Snow Cap dazzles with broad snowy-white leaves edged in green, with an occasional green stripe bonus. An ideal woodland/shade garden ground cover.

 

Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii Candy z. 4-7

Photo credit to Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo credit to Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Candy is all about the berries. In Autumn, this deer-resistant, ornamental woody’s branches are smothered under an avalanche of candy-pink fruit. And the decorative berries persist thru winter. Since the shrub is so compact — only about 2 feet at maturity — a front edging row of plants would create a glorious Autumn/Winter destination planting.

 

Note: The gorgeous peony that led me to Klehm 26 years ago is still flowering and healthy. Needless to say, Klehm is also my go-to place for peonies. The Klehm selection surpasses all others.

For easy access to Klehm’s Song Sparrow Nursery website, click on at LINKS.

2015 Year-End Beauty/Spring Promise

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

The sun will soon set on 2015. After the last brutal winter, who would have thought the final days this year would be so unseasonably warm? Morning air even smells of Spring. No wonder the plants are confused. Forsythia and Rhododendron flowers have jumped the gun and opened 4-5 months early. I wish they had exercised a modicum of restraint. Hopefully, others will not follow them like lemmings, for the killing frost will surely arrive any day.

 

Yet, no call for restraint is necessary or appropriate for the fragrant flowering evergreen ground cover , Erica darleyensis ‘Mediterranean White’ and ‘Mediterranean Pink’ (Heath).

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

For twenty-five years these low-growing, shrub-like plants have bloomed continuously from November thru early Spring, unfazed by frost or snow. Amazing! Moreover, they are easy care, disease free plants. Provide well-draining soil, regular water, and in order to maintain their compact, dense growth, prune after flowering. There is one downside: voles love ’em! (To avoid vole damage, see my Post, April 2, 2012,”Hot Tips: Vole Damage Prevention”.)

 

 

Another dazzler, Rhododendron ‘Marshy Point’s Humdinger’, has been flowering since Fall and will continue to bloom until frost. Then, after a well deserved rest, this wonderful evergreen azalea will produce abundant bloom again in the Spring. (Spring and Winter Photos below of Humdinger showing off in the garden and in the house. For detailed culture information see my Post, March 1, 2013, “Azalea ‘Marshy Point’s Humdinger’.”)

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Colorful berries and buds also add interest and beauty to the December winter garden. Like the yellow-orange fruit of Crabapple X that the birds planted in the garden years ago. (Truth be told, all the crabs I planted have died from cedar apple rust disease, but, for some unknown reason, the bird-planted-crab flourishes. Needless to say, I don’t know the cultivar name and the birds ain’t talkin’. Photos below include Crabapple X’s beautiful buds and flowers as well as berries.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Camellia ‘Crimson Candles’, a hardy, vigorous, disease-resistant variety, is bursting with buds that are just beginning to take on the showy, rich-red color they will flaunt all winter. (Photos below. For more information and a photo of Crimson Candles’s rosy-red flowers, see my Post, “2015 What’s New? Camellia Forest Nursery”.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

Pieris flower buds are also showing color, as in the photo below of Pieris x ‘Spring Snow’. (I have already written extensively about a number of shade-loving, deer-resistant, fragrant-flowering Pieris, including Spring Snow. For culture information and flower photos of P. x ‘Spring Snow’ as well as P. japonica ‘Mountain Fire’, see my Post, April 2014, “Spring 2014: Snow-White Extravaganza”.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, the natural splendor of a mossy cushion.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

From my garden to yours: Have a joyous, healthy New Year!

Autumn 2015: Flora Electric

This autumn the garden was—and is still— beautiful, splashed-painted like a Jackson Pollock in shades of orange, red, pink, purple, and gold. And, not to be outdone, the local farm stands produced an extravaganza of magnificent pumpkin displays.

Now, in an unsettled time of international, brutal terror attacks, Mother Nature’s gift of beauty is especially welcome:

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

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

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

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Family, friends, the garden. Much to be thankful for.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sept./Oct. 2015: Early Autumn Delights

A FEW GARDEN CREATURES:

Was Mother Nature a bit tipsy when she designed the odd, multi-featured, Large Tolype Moth, seen here attached to our kitchen screen door? So strange, I could scarcely believe my eyes. Gotta love it!!!

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

Happily, Autumn also signaled increased sightings of our beloved box turtles, young and old, like this mature turtle with fabulous starburst markings.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

PLANTS:

Canna Tropicana, featured in my last Post, and purple-leafed Canna ‘Australia’, continue to produce their lovely, hummingbird-magnet flowers. (Photos below.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

And along with many other red-berried woody ornamentals in my garden, the native shrub Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, and the Chinese shrub Tea Viburnum, Viburnum setigerum, attract both local and migrating songbirds. (Photos below)

(NOTE: Lowbush Blueberry plants, Vaccinium angustifolium, are our native ground cover. The berries ripen in summer but are plucked by the birds even before they are fully ripe. There are no berries left in Autumn. Blueberries are included in this Autumn Post (third photo below) solely at the insistence of the birds. They sent me a singing telegram.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Yellow berries are not favored by birds—-at least not when red fruit is plentiful. (It has been suggested that red (and blue) berries recommended for human consumption because of anthocyanins, potent antioxidants, also attract birds for health-promoting reasons.) Their disfavor is a big plus for us: we get to enjoy the extended showy display of yellow-berried fruit produced by the Asian shrub Linden Viburnum, Viburnum x dilatatum ‘Michael Dodge’.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

I’m always entranced by the striking Autumn beauty of Hydrangea x ‘Sweet Chris’. This plant never disappoints. (Photos below. See also Posts: August 3, 2014 and July 8, 2012 for photos of Sweet Chris’s gorgeous summer flowers and for plant information. Click on at ARCHIVES.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, for months now, massive quantities of acorns have been falling from the oaks — often onto our heads — blanketing plant beds, decks, etc.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

For the last two years, substantial mast output was followed by brutal winters. Many believe there is a connection between the two. If so, it doesn’t bode well. All the more reason to appreciate the remaining days and joys of Autumn.

2015: Late Summer Delights

Fall is fast approaching. BEGONE hot, muggy, droughty, weather!!! All too often I’ve had to drag the hose about in a 90+ degree heat wave. Not a great summer, this.

Yet, I would be remiss if I failed to mention a few late summer joys:

Baptisia australis is a multi-stemmed, shrub-like, native perennial with many virtues. In late Spring, the plant flaunts spires of showy, true-blue flowers, which are transformed in August into large, dramatic, purple-blue seed pods. (Pod photo below.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

Pluck a stem, shake a pod, and you have a child’s rattle. Or, better still, if you are a fan of Latin-American music, a maraca. Traditional maracas are dried gourd shells filled with seeds or beans and then mounted on wooden handles. Baptisia maracas are good to go as is. Great fun!

Baptisias are easy-care and attract butterflies. Unfortunately, they also attract root-nibbling voles. (Check out my time-tested method of vole prevention: April 2, 2012 Post, “Hot Tips: Vole Damage Protection.”) Hybridizers have had a go at Baptisia and scores of cultivars are now available with flowers in various shades of blue, purple and yellow.

 

Rhododendron prunifolium is a problem-free, deciduous, native azalea that attracts bees and butterflies. In my shady organic garden, a small plant has grown into a 12 foot tall, 4 foot wide, sensation, reliably cloaked every August with masses of vibrant orange-red flowers. This year I’ve paired it with a container of the equally sensational, hummingbird favorite, Canna Lily Tropicana (a/k/a Canna ‘Phasion’). A fabulous combo. (Photos below.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

A strange, beautiful bug visited the garden this summer. I called the Cornell Cooperative Extension and they provided an I.D: Sphinx moth. (Photo below.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

Apparently, these interesting, heavy-bodied moths aren’t uncommon here, but I never saw one before. It’s most welcome! If you have a question about a bug or a plant, Cornell is an outstanding resource. Call their free Helpline: (631) 727-4126, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon.

 

And finally, everyone loves our newest summer attraction: Swanee.

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

July/August 2015: Summer Fragrance

Smart-phone technology marches on. No, your phone won’t be able to walk the dog or wash windows, but thanks to intensive research and development you will soon be able to send and receive a variety of scents along with your e-mails. If that sort of thing appeals to you.

I’m not a fan. As a general rule, I find synthetic scents harsh and uninviting. For me — as my readers are aware — nothing can match the real thing, namely the captivating, natural fragrance of plants in the garden. Here are a few choice beauties for the summer garden:

Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Lemon Drop’ is a deciduous azalea that produces masses of pale-yellow, fragrant flowers in July. Despite the oppressively hot and humid weather this summer, Lemon Drop’s delicious perfume carried on the air for about three weeks. (In the photo below, the flowers appear white, but they are actually pale-yellow. If rich-butter-yellow, fragrant flowers are more to your liking, try the wonderful Spring-blooming deciduous azalea, R. ‘Narcissiflora’. For Narcissiflora photos, click onto my Post of Jan. 2014, “2014: My Favorite Deciduous Azaleas”.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Passiflora ‘Incense’ will add an exotic and dramatic element to the garden. I planted this sultry, fragrant climber almost twenty years ago. In my Zone 7a organic garden, tropical plants — including other passion flowers — die in winter never to return. Incense, on the other hand, dies down with frost, yet every summer returns with a vengeance. And the plant produces passion fruits! Amazing! (Recent photos below of flowers and fascinating spiked buds. For earlier Incense photos, including one of passion fruit, click onto my Post of Aug.11, 2012, “Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’ and Passiflora ‘Incense'”.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Finally, a Hot Tip. Every summer my driveway is overrun with weeds. I treasure and protect the volunteers of foxglove, iris, and the like, but I’ve devoted many hours hand-plucking the undesirables. My thanks to a member of my garden club who recommended using undiluted vinegar to kill the weeds. I tried it and it worked. I recommend it without hesitation. (Before and after photos below.)

BEFORE VINEGAR copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

BEFORE VINEGAR
copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

BEFORE VINEGAR copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

BEFORE VINEGAR
copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

AFTER VINEGAR copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

AFTER VINEGAR
copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

AFTER VINEGAR copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

AFTER VINEGAR
copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

June 2015: SPLENDID SURVIVORS

THIS WAS THE WORST WINTER EVER!!!

A number of roses I successfully grew in containers for 15+years turned black and died. My 20 year old, 18 foot tall, multi-trunk fig tree — that last year produced an over-abundance of fruit — died to the ground. (Thankfully, it has just pushed up new growth from the roots.) Similarly, the osmanthus and camellias didn’t perish, but they all suffered extensive, unsightly, foliage/stem die-back.

Ditto for the hydrangeas — but not all of the hydrangeas. For the second year in a row the macrophylla mopheads sustained considerable damage, while the lacecaps came through in pristine condition. Two of my captivating, cold-tolerant lacecaps are rather unique: H. macrophylla ‘Lynn’ (Let’s Dance Starlight Series) is the very first re-blooming lacecap and H. macrophylla ‘Sol’ has unusual, handsome, red-flushed, dark-green foliage. (Photo below of Lynn followed by photo of Sol. And for photos and information about other wonderful lacecaps, see Post, “August 2014: Hydrangeas”.)

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2016 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

I purchased H. macrophylla ‘Lynn’ from a local source, Lynch’s Garden Center, Southampton, N.Y., and  H. macrophylla ‘Sol’ by mail-order from Hydrangeas Plus, www.hydrangeasplus.com; phone: 866-433-7896.

More good news. Gold stars go to each and every one of my Japanese Maples: They thumbed their noses at loony Mother Nature and came through her devastating winter onslaught without a scratch. I treasure them all, but Acer palmatum ‘Omure yama’ is deserving of special mention. The tree has an elegant form with pendulous branches and soft, willowy foliage. New leaf growth is touched with orange before turning green. And then, in the Fall — ZOWIE!!!! — the foliage turns glorious, enchanting shades of gold and crimson. Irresistible! (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

I bought my first Omure yama in 2007, and a second one this year. (Photo below of Omure 2015 in its mail-order pot waiting to be planted. Lovely form, even as a toddler.)

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

Both trees were purchased from my go-to-source for Japanese Maples: Eastwoods Nurseries, Washington VA. For easy access to their website, click on at LINKS.

2015: Hot Tips & Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Aglo’

Good news alert: Coffee is the new blueberry.

Contrary to the belief that drinking coffee is bad for your health, studies involving about three million participants found otherwise. Persons with moderate consumption — two to six 8-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee a day—had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, heart failure, and stroke, as compared with those who drank none. Ditto for several forms of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Type 2 diabetes. (The New York Times, May 14, 2015, p.A3, “A Surprising Consensus on Coffee’s Health Benefits”)

Hurrah! About time we discovered that something we thought bad for us is actually good. Usually, it’s the other way around. (Remember margarine?.)

And now, not so surprising bad news: In December of 2013, European Union regulators announced that neonicotinoids, a particularly lethal class of pesticides that were temporarily banned in Europe in order to protect bees, may also affect human children’s nervous system. A Japanese study raised similar concerns in 2012. Forms of this pesticide, namely, Imidacloprid and Acetamiprid, constitute the active ingredients in garden products like Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus & Vegetable Insect Control and Ortho Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer, still available for sale and use in the U.S.

Unlike the Europeans, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has done nothing to protect children or the bees from these substances. (Since my prior Posts on neonicotinoids — May 2013, “Beauty & The Bees: Going, Going, Gone?,” and December 2014 “Bee Update” — 42.1 percent of bee colonies in the U.S. were reported lost in 2015, a significant increase over the 34.2 percent loss in 2014. And still the EPA refuses to act.)

More troubling news came in March of this year when the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a respected arm of the World Health Organization, concluded that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s very popular herbicide Roundup, was a probable carcinogen. In the U.S., Roundup enjoys widespread use both in home gardens and commercial farms.

Until the United States EPA steps up and does its rightful regulatory job of protecting us from harm, instead of protecting the bottom line of mega-billion-dollar-corporations, we have to do that job ourselves as best we can. In order to make an informed choice, check the ingredient label on garden sprays and chemicals to see if they contain these deadly poisons. Even better, why not make your garden a toxic-chemical-free zone? It is possible to have healthy plants and a beautiful garden without them. And the birds, bees, and butterflies will thank you.

In my organic garden, Mother Nature’s recent, relentless, devastating, winter onslaughts are the real problem. So, I’ve been keeping track of the garden do-gooders, plants that have survived and thrived despite the loony weather. The divine, May flowering, evergreen beauty, Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Aglo’ is at the top of the list. (Photos below.)

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

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?: Deer Country Gardens

My garden sings with plants I purchased from Heronswood, Roslyn, and Fairweather Gardens. Sadly, all three nurseries have closed. They are missed.

The good news is that Deer Country Gardens, a retail/mail-order garden nursery, has recently opened. Nursery founder Anne Haines, an accomplished plantswoman, has a laudable mission: “To offer trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs, annuals and edibles that are deer-resistant AND great garden plants.”

Included among the “greats”, Deer Country offers a choice selection of Pieris cultivars, a number of which I grow and love. In addition to deer resistance (deer-free in my garden), Pieris shrubs possess many wonderful attributes: evergreen foliage, beautiful, fragrant flowers that attract bees and butterflies, colorful new growth, and, in my shady, organic garden, the plants have been disease and pest free. (NOTE: Pieris may be vulnerable to lace bug attack when grown in sun.)

Photos below: Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire‘s snowy-white fragrant flowers and crimson new growth; and Pieris x Brouwer’s Beauty, first in flower, and later when the light green new growth creates an elegant contrast with the dark evergreen foliage:

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

copyright 2014 -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

In addition to Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ and Pieris x ‘Brouwer’s Beauty’ other fabulous Pieris cultivars available for purchase include: Pieris japonica ‘Katsura’; P.j. ‘Dorothy Wyckoff’; P.j. ‘Forest Flame’; P.j. ‘Scarlett O’Hara’; P.j. ‘Passion’; P.j. var. yakushimanum ‘Cavatine’ (Dwarf).

 

For shady gardens, the evergreen, low-growing shrub Sarcoccoa hookeriana var. humilis  is an ideal ground cover or decorative edging. In early Spring, it produces tiny, very fragrant flowers that release their delicious perfume into the air, and the plant enjoys hardiness and good health all year round.

courtesy of Deer Country Gardens

photo courtesy of Deer Country Gardens

 

A deciduous shrub that caught my eye, Spirea japonica ‘Double Play Red’, flaunts unique vibrant red flowers and showy dark-burgundy new growth.

photo by permission of Proven Winners

photo by permission of Proven Winners

 

Multi-award winner and universally admired Geranium ‘ Rozanne’ is a must-have perennial. Deer Country offers two gallon plants for only fifteen dollars. Grab them before they fly out the door.

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

 

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

 

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

 

 

 

A quart size of the sturdy-stemmed beauty Digitalis purpurea ‘Candy Mountain’ is a steal at five dollars. Unlike other foxgloves, this enchanting biennial’s rosy-pink flowers face upward, revealing its speckled throat. Anne Haines thinks the plants are “almost certain to bloom this year.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

 

 

Vegetable growers rave about Asparagus officinalis ‘Jersey Giant’, a hardy, long-lived, high-yielding, disease-resistant variety. (Planting instructions are provided on Deer Country’s website.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is but a taste of the amazing feast of deer-resistant plants offered by Deer Country Gardens. For easy access to their website, go to LINKS and click on.

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.

2015 What’s New?

And the snow continues to fall.

copyright 2015 -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 — Lois Sheinfeld

Doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m sitting by the fire reading about the 2015 plant offerings from Broken Arrow Nursery and dreaming about seasons to come. I’ve posted before about this Nursery, so onto the plants:

 

Abies koreana ‘Kohout’s Icebreaker’

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

This very slow-growing mini — increases only about an inch annually — was chosen by the American Conifer Society to be a 2014 Collector’s Conifer of the Year. Deservedly so. A standout evergreen with healthy, dense growth and beautiful silvery needles. In lieu of a dog or cat, highly pettable.

 

Pinus parviflora ‘Tani Mano Uki’

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another unique conifer, this Japanese White Pine cultivar delights with pink buds that open to white needles before eventually turning blue-green.

 

Clethra barbinervis ‘Takeda Nishiki’

 

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

A widely sought after variegated Clethra that’s all about the foliage, Takeda Nishiki sports dramatic green and pink leaves. At maturity, the deciduous shrub can attain a height of 6 feet.

 

 

Epimedium x ‘Pink Champagne’

 

 

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

Pink Champagne flaunts vibrant pink and raspberry flowers that float above the plant’s exquisite purple-mottled foliage. No wonder it is said to be the most beautiful Epimedium bred by the acclaimed plantsman and Epimedium guru, Darrell Probst. A splendid shade-loving, perennial ground-cover.

 

Skimmia japonica

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

male Skimmia — photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

female Skimmia — photo courtesy of Broken Arrow Nursery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superb evergreen, fragrant-flowering shrub for shade. A treasure.  (For a detailed discussion of Skimmia’s attributes and requirements, see February 2013 Post: “Skimmia japonica: Shade Plant Sublime”.)

Rhododendrons ‘Jolly Jim’&’White Elegance’

Being snowed in has lost its allure.

In late January, loony Mother Nature sent nor’easter Juno to wreak her snowy havoc upon us: Ornamental trees were buried by half, outdoor benches largely disappeared, and doors of our home were blocked by over 2 feet of packed snow, cutting off all access to the world outside.

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2015 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

To add insult to injury, even if we managed to escape, our extremely long driveway was impassable. No possible ingress or egress by car or foot. Scary. So, after careful consideration, I took the only reasonable course of action left to me:  I’m in denial.

It’s not a bad place to be. I can ignore all the above and lose myself in dreams of Spring. In May, snowy white is a good thing, especially when it is produced by two accomplished Long Island, New York, plantsmen/breeders: the late Jim Cross with Rhododendron ‘Jolly Jim’ and Werner Brack with Rhododendron ‘White Elegance’.  (Photos below in order of mention.)

copyright 2015 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Both plants are rarely available in the trade. For an opportunity to purchase these and other unique beauties, mark your calendars for the  2015 October 16-18 American Rhododendron Society Regional Conference on Long Island.

Much to look forward to.

UPDATE ALERT: You don’t have to wait until October to acquire the fabulous Rhododendron ‘White Elegance’; a limited number of plants will be available at the May 16, 2015 Plant Sale of The New York Chapter, American Rhododendron Society, to be held at Planting Fields, Long Island. Chapter website: nyrhododendron.org .

2015 What’s New?: Klehm’s Song Sparrow

It’s that time of year again: Mail-order nursery catalogs are arriving with their long-anticipated promise of Spring and of gardening anew. As usual, one of my all-time favorite nurseries, Klehm’s Song Sparrow, has a catalog filled with choice ornamental trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials. I’ve been a Klehm customer for over 20 years and can attest to the quality of their plants and customer service. Needless to say, the most difficult thing is limiting my 2015 choices.

Selecting the first two plants on my list was not difficult. Nursery owner, Roy Klehm, is an accomplished hybridizer of peonies and daylilies, and since I wrote about his peonies last year (See Post “2014: What’s New”), his daylilies have been rightly demanding equal time. A good place to start:

Hemerocallis ‘Bearded Dragons’

 

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

One look was enough. My order is in for this exquisite daylily with flowers of royal purple edged with creamy-yellow ruffling. Mesmerizing! Think runway and Alexander McQueen.

 

Hemerocallis ‘Rumba Picotee’

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

I was also captivated by the recently introduced Rumba Picotee, an ivory-buff daylily painted with a green throat, a rich purple flare, and a purple ruffled edge. Moreover, the 6 inch flowers are fragrant. A most welcome bonus.

As my readers know, I am a fragrance groupie, constantly on the prowl for beautiful and hardy perfumed plants. Klehm’s Song Sparrow shares my addiction, as evidenced by the upcoming parade:

 

Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’

image courtesy of Proven Winners

image courtesy of Proven Winners

 

The clematis vine, Sweet Summer Love, inherited the important attributes of fragrance, health and vigor from one parent—the floriferous, snowy-white-flowered Autumn Clematis (See Post, “Fall 2014: The Fragrant Garden”)—and from the other parent (unknown), the assets of cranberry-violet color and summer flowering. A winning combination.

 

Clematis tangutica ‘Helios’

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

Golden-flowered Helios has small, coconut scented, bell-shaped flowers in summer, followed by awesome, silky, seed heads. A compact grower, it would be perfect in a container, or growing through a shrub.

Klehm’s ships two-year-old Clematis plants, well rooted and trellised. They have always bloomed the first season in my garden. (Note: This is my experience, not a Klehm guarantee.)

 

Lonicera periclymenum ‘Peaches and Cream’

image courtesy of BallHort

image courtesy of BallHort

 

Every garden should have at least one fabulously fragrant Honeysuckle vine. I have several, but I’m adding super-compact Peaches and Cream for its non-stop, spring to late summer bloom, and vibrant pink buds that open to ivory and peach flowers.

 

Tree Peony ‘Joseph Rock’

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

This rare heirloom plant is celebrated and highly prized for its beauty, vigor and fragrance. An elegant garden jewel that will lend radiance and gravitas to any landscape.

 

Tree Peony ‘Shima Nishiki’

photo credit:  www.songsparrow.com

photo credit: www.songsparrow.com

 

For years I having been searching high and low, without success, for a variegated Tree Peony. Finally, there it was, calling out to me from page 49 of Klehm’s print catalog, the gorgeous red and white Shima Nishiki, plant of my dreams. And it is even said to be mildly fragrant. Amen to that!

Can’t wait for Spring.

To easily access Klehm’s website, go to LINKS and click on.

January 2015: Abelia mosanensis

News Flash! A shocking report out of Japan: A tomato was sentenced to the electric chair.

Well, not really . . . but almost. Researchers from Kinki University, Osaka, successfully rid tomato plants of powdery mildew by zapping them with an electrical charge. And the plants were not harmed. Remarkable.

Perhaps someday we will easily zap away every plant disease. Until then, in my organic garden, I try to avoid problems at the outset by buying hardy, disease-resistant plants. I also favor plants with multi-seasons of interest and fragrance. (Intense fragrance if possible, in order to compensate for one’s likely diminishing sense of smell with age.)

Abelia mosanensis (Fragrant Abelia) possesses all of these attributes and more:

Fragrant Abelia, a native of Korea, is an extremely cold-hardy (zone 5, maybe 4) deciduous shrub. For about a two-three week period in May-June, it produces masses of small, very fragrant flowers with pink buds that open white. (Photos below.) The delicious perfume travels on the air through the garden.

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

I should mention that the plantsman, Michael Dirr, has cautioned that “the plant is bedraggled by late summer in zone 7 . . .  and does not prosper in zone 7 heat.” Maybe so, in southern zone 7 where he gardens. Not so for zone 7 in the Northeast where I garden. In fact, far from it! Here, when the flowers fade, whorls of showy green calyxes (sepals) take center stage and the vibrant plant appears to be covered in charming green flowers, with just a hint of pink, that persist until the leaves drop in winter. (Photos below)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

On the other hand, I should mention that while some sources report that the shrub’s foliage turns red-orange in the Fall, sadly mine has had little to no autumnal color to speak of.

Abelia mosanensis will thrive in sun or shade, in moist, well-drained, acid soil. It’s an easy-care, disease-resistant plant with many virtues. Plants are available from Camellia Forest Nursery.  For easy access to their website, go to LINKS and click on.)

A Happy New Year to all!

 

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:

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

 

Fall 2014: Autumn Splendor

Elaeagnus umbellata (Autumn-olive)

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

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)

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014 - Lois Sheinfeld

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’

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.