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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:

 

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

 

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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)

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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?

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)

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

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copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

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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

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

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 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

 

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

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.)

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

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)

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

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

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

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

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

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Rhododendron ‘White Surprise’ (Zones 6-8)

copyright 2013 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

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

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

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

 

 

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

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2014  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2014 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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

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

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

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

Ain’t Mother Nature grand?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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).]

Bee Update

Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you really need him?

He had the courage to stand up to power, to take on corrupt politicians and industrial barons in order to protect the American people and the environment. (For a comprehensive and detailed account, see Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit, Simon & Schuster 2013)

Now, by protecting the giant companies that produce toxic chemical pesticides, the EPA is a complicit enabler in the wholesale slaughter of bees — and who knows what all else.  Our regulatory agencies are marching arm-in-arm with the industries they were created to regulate. (See May 1, 2013 blog post, “Beauty and The Bees:  Going, Going, Gone?”.)

Teddy must be turning over in his grave.

The latest move by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illustrates well whom it favors. Soon after being sued by beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups who demanded a recall of the EPA approved uber-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, the Agency went into action. In a transparent effort to counter adverse public opinion, it backed off its decision to do nothing until 2018 and instituted a new neonicotinoid pesticide package-labeling scheme (scam?) which states:  “When Using This Product Take Steps To: Minimize exposure of this product to bees and other insect pollinators when they are foraging.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But it’s self-policing — leaving it up to the poison applicator to do the right thing. And we all know how that works out. As did President Teddy Roosevelt.

Note too that the original package is the only place where the protective-use instruction is required to appear. By the time the poisons are in the hands of the applicators — who are not always the initial buyers — the original packaging may be long gone. Moreover, the EPA left no doubt of its true intent when it explicitly provided that the protective directions for use “are not intended to be placed under each crop or site” where the poisons are applied. Why not? Site placement informs the public and might lead to independent violation reporting. Isn’t that a good thing?

In addition, the EPA attached a slew of exceptions that completely eviscerate any protection for pollinators. For example, no pollinator protection is necessary if the poisons are applied after sunset or when temperatures are below 55 degrees F. The EPA is well aware that these poisons are persistent and if applied after sunset will still be lethal to bees the next day and thereafter. Ditto for the temperature exception. Indeed temperature change — upwards — can occur quickly. The Environmental Protection Agency knows these things.

Yet, there is some good news on two fronts: The lawsuit against the EPA  is moving ahead — it’s currently in the pre-trial motion stage. And Congressmen Conyers and Blumenauer have introduced the Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R.2692). There are 38 co-sponsors of the bill.

More good news are the photos below, taken at first light in the garden, of sleepy bumble bees on Rosa ‘Pretty Lady’ and Passiflora ‘Incense’. [ See blog posts, “Superstorm Sandy & Rosa ‘Pretty Lady’ ” (Nov.13, 2012) and “Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’ & Passiflora ‘Incense’ ” (Aug.11, 2012). ]

copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

Surely sights worth protecting.

 

 

Franklinia alatamaha: An American Story

Now you see it, now you don’t!

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

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

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

Here is a restored and hopefully permanent post:

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

 

copyright 2012  -- Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 — Lois Sheinfeld

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot Tips: Something Old and Something New . . .

Something New Up First.

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

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

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

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

 

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

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

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

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

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

 

 

Evergreen Azaleas: La Crème de la Crème

For flower power and multi-seasons of interest in a shady garden, evergreen azaleas are an ideal choice. And this year, despite the horrific winter, they have been garden superstars. It was difficult to choose among them — they were all clamoring to be included —  so I’ve tried to showcase a diverse, interesting selection of old and new introductions possessing good foliage as well as fabulous flowers:

 

Rhododendron ‘Benjamin Morrison’ (photos below of flowers and buds)

Named in honor of hybridizer Benjamin Yeo Morrison, this is one of the 454 azaleas he developed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Introduction Station in Glenn Dale, MD. He began his breeding program in the late 1920’s and succeeded in creating new hardy azaleas with large flowers, known as the Glenn Dale hybrids.  Morrison served as the first Director of the United States National Arboretum, and the Arboretum’s dazzling Spring display of his azaleas in bloom draws hundreds of admirers every year.

I have a special affinity for R. ‘Benjamin Morrison’ because it was recommended to me by my friend, the late Hank Schannen, an extraordinary plantsman. It was his favorite evergreen azalea.

copyright  2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright  2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Rhododendron ‘Martha Hitchcock’ ( photos below)

Martha is another bi-color Glenn Dale azalea. When Morrison was asked for a list of his “choice cultivars”, Martha Hitchcock was one of the nine he recommended.  “The flowers are so wonderful”, he said, “anyone would be a fool to pass them by”. But he also said that as a young plant Martha is “stringy-looking”. Don’t let that worry you. Have patience. I know from experience that given time to establish, Martha Hitchcock will not disappoint.  ( B/T/W, in case you are wondering, Martha Hitchcock was not married to Wild Bill; she was the wife of A.S. Hitchcock, a botanist and author of the classic treatise, Manual of Grasses of the United States.)

Copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

Copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Rhododendron ‘Marshy Point’s Lavender Miss’ (photo below)

Would you believe, a Martha Hitchcock look-alike on hormones?  Semi-double flowering R. ‘Marshy Point’s Lavender Miss’ is an exciting new introduction from an outstanding, albeit not well-known azalea breeder, Harry C. Weiskittel, founder of the wholesale family owned and operated Marshy Point Nursery in Maryland. (Weiskittel also introduced ‘R. Marshy Point’s Humdinger’, in my opinion one of the best multi-season blooming evergreen azaleas. See my Blog posts of March 1, 2013 and November 2011.)

copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Rhododendron ‘Marshy Point’s Daisy’ (photos below)

My most recent Weiskittel azalea addition, Daisy, is a knockout. In May and June gorgeous, large, single, peachy-pink flowers cloak her pristine, shiny green foliage. And the foliage suffered no winter damage this year. Amazing! (Don’t tell the others, but I think she’s my new Marshy Point favorite).

copyright  2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Rhododendron ‘Amoena'(photo below)

Amoena is a very hardy, old-timey, Japanese Kurume hybrid, a group of azaleas with breeding and selection going back hundreds of years. With masses of tiny hose-in-hose vibrant magenta flowers in May, bronzy-green foliage in the fall, and at maturity a majestic presence, she would be an awesome addition to any garden. Yet for many years she has been out of fashion, out of favor, and impossible to find in the trade. That’s changing, slowly. Grab her if you can.

copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Note: For evergreen azalea culture information see my Blog post: Azalea ‘Marshy Point’s Humdinger’ (March 1, 2013).

 

 

Update: The Encore evergreen azalea, R. ‘Autumn Embers,’ survived the winter looking more everbrown than evergreen. It did bloom in the Spring but it was a sparse display — nothing like its Fall flowering. I’ll give it one more year before making a final judgment. Update 2014: Plant removed.

And Clematis ‘Omoshiro’ from Klehm’s Song Sparrow Nursery did bloom for me in the Spring. (See Blog post, The Next Best Thing 2013: Part 2, Jan.26, 2013).  In fact, my Omoshiros are still in flower, both in the ground and in containers. Enchanting plant. (photo below)

copyright  2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

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

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

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

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

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

 

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

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

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

 

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

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

 

Early Spring: Snowy White Dazzle For Shade

PIERIS x ‘Spring Snow’ (z. 5-8)

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

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

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

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright  2013  –   Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  –  Lois Sheinfeld

 

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

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

 

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld
copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

 

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  –  Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013  –  Lois Sheinfeld

 

Winter Superstars: Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ & Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt. Aso’

I was longing for Spring but Mother Nature’s Evil Twin wasn’t finished with us. As soon as the snow melted enough to see bare ground, we were zapped with yet another storm on March 8th—my birthday, no less—causing more havoc and ruin. It’s enough to make your head spin.

Thank goodness for the intrepid and beautiful Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’. ( Zones 5-8 ). This award-winning, sweetly fragrant Witch Hazel bloomed on, despite the strong winds and heavy snow. Pallida has lovely yellow flowers with vibrant reddish-purple calyxes and foliage that turns a rich banana-yellow in the Fall. According to Witch Hazel guru, Chris Lane, “It sets the standard on which to judge all others.” ( See Lane’s authoritative reference, Witch Hazels, Timber press, 2005.)

Witch Hazels do best in compost enriched, well-drained, acid soil. It’s important to supply sufficient moisture, especially in times of summer drought. Mulching helps. My Pallida flourishes with filtered sun in winter and early spring before the oaks leaf out and in high shade thereafter. It’s sited in front of a white pine that serves as an ideal backdrop for the hazel’s flowers.

Hamamelis 'Pallida' (3/8/13):   copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

Hamamelis ‘Pallida’ on March 8:  copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

H. 'Pallida' post storm:  copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

H. ‘Pallida’ post storm:   copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

Another winter-wonder worth mentioning is the magical Salix chaenomeloides ‘Mt Aso’ (Zones 6-8), a Pussy Willow adorned head-to-toe with fabulous pink catkins. Irresistible!

Like Witch Hazels, Willows appreciate moist, well-drained soil, but require more sun. Mt. Aso, relatively new to my garden, is faring well with filtered morning sun. As you can see from the before-and-after snow storm photos below, the pink “pussy willows” have been doing their star-turn for months, despite MN’s ET’s never-ending winter assaults. Amazing!

 

catkins emerging before storms: copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

catkins emerging before storms: copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

closeup of catkins emerging: copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

closeup of catkins emerging: copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

catkins between storms: copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

catkins between storms: copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

catkins post storms:  copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

catkins post storms: copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

It has now warmed up a bit. Dare we hope for an early Spring?

March 29 Post Update: Mt. Aso is a bottomless well of interesting. Check out the Springtime Fashionista in pale yellow, dove grey, and a sprinkle of pink.

copyright 2013  --  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 — Lois Sheinfeld

Skimmia japonica: Shade Plant Sublime

When we left northern California and returned to the east coast in the early 1980’s we bought wooded acreage in Southampton N.Y., built a house and started a garden.  Actually, 14 lilac bushes went in before the house was finished.  I couldn’t wait.

Lilacs are my favorite flowers.  They need a cold spell in order to bloom, so for the twelve years we lived in La La Land, zone 9, I was lilac-deprived.  (We did have one small shrub in a pot that we fed ice cubes all winter while we sang, “New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town”.  It rewarded us with two or three flowers every year.)

California nurseries tried to sell us on “California lilacs,” a/k/a Ceanothus, which we scornfully rejected. They looked nothing like real lilacs. ( Of course I would now kill to have a glorious, sumptuous, blue flowering Ceanothus in the garden. Figures, doesn’t it? )  But I digress.

After the house was built we lined one side of a shady path with a group of the woody ornamental shrub Skimmia japonica.  A friend of a friend was experimenting with them and urged us to try some.  At the time I hadn’t heard of  Skimmia, no one I knew had them, and they weren’t available at local or mail-order nurseries.  Now, 25 years later, what a difference.  Skimmia is everyone’s darling, and rightfully so.

Through lectures and meetings I have certainly done my part in spreading the word about its many virtues and happily take the opportunity to do so here:

Skimmia is a reliable, prolific bloomer, even as a young plant, and even in shade, which is its preferred location.  Lovely creamy-white flowers open in April, releasing their delicious fragrance into the air.  Large reddish flower buds are produced in early autumn and carry over winter, so the shrubs appear to be flowering in the snow.  And in late summer, female plants produce clusters of fat, fire-engine-red berries — which the birds ignore until spring — so that highly decorative flowers and fruit adorn the shrubs at the same time.

Skimmia japonica is dioecious and requires both male and female plants for fruit.  I don’t grow the self-fertilizing variety, Skimmia reevesiana. The jury is out on its performance: reviews are mixed, some good, some not.

No doubt about Skimmia japonica’s garden worthiness.  In addition to fabulous flowers and fruit, the shrub’s magnolia-like, thick textured, dark green leaves are evergreen, and if rubbed or bruised emit a strong herbal scent that repels deer.  Fragrant flowers, evergreen foliage, decorative fruit — and deer resistant! To my mind, as close to perfect as a plant can get.

And yet, with all its superlative qualities, Skimmia isn’t a prima donna requiring constant pampering.  Far from it.  But there are a few essential culture requirements:  moist, acid, well-drained organic soil, and most important, SHADE.

Skimmia is winter hardy here on Long Island, zone 7, and despite periods of horrific and loony weather we have never lost a plant.  Zone 6 may be somewhat iffy but given a bit of protection surely worth a try. (Sort of the reverse of our lilac in a pot with ice cubes.)

One other thing. My shrubs are over 6 feet tall.  The plants I now see for sale and in gardens mature at 2 or 3 feet tops.  The current garden trend does seem to favor dwarf plants.

Large or small, Skimmia japonica is an outstanding plant of enduring merit.  One of the best.

 

Skimmia japonica copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

Skimmia japonica   —   copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 

Note: Setting The Record Straight.   Growing along the same path as Skimmia japonica, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’ has been in dazzling bloom since mid-January.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Orange Peel'   --  copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Peel’ —
copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

Because of its sweet fragrance, I chose Orange Peel over the similar orange-flowered Witch Hazel, H. x intermedia ‘Jelena’.  While Jelena is a looker, her flowers have no scent. ( See the authoritative reference in the field, Chris Lane’s 2005 Royal Horticultural Society Plant Collector GuideWitch Hazels. )

I’m surprised that garden writers continue to wax eloquent about Jelena’s wonderful fragrance. In The King and I, the King of Siam said it best: “Is a puzzlement!”

The Next Best Thing 2013: Part 3

Fairweather Gardens

Many of my favorite plants have come from Fairweather Gardens (www.fairweathergardens.com), and I’m excited about its 2013 catalog offerings. Here are my choices:

True to its name, Hemerocallis ‘Milk Chocolate’ is a exquisite, brown daylily. I already grow a bunch — but more is better.  I’m not aware of another source for this wonderful, uniquely colored plant.  Z. 3-9.

copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

Rohdea japonica 'Galle'

Rohdea japonica ‘Galle’

Rohdea japonica ‘Galle’ is a 12-18 inch high, evergreen, shade perennial.  A handsome ground cover or edging plant, Galle has shiny, dark green leaves, short stalked pale-yellow spring flowers, and carmine-red berries in the fall. Z. 6-9.

 

 

 

My red-flowering Cytisus scoparius ‘Burkwoodii’ was so knock-your-socks-off gorgeous it took my breath away. (See photos below) That is, before the voles killed it.  Now that I’ve discovered VoleBloc ( See April  2012 Post, “Hot Tips: Vole Damage Protection” ), I can safely invite this ornamental woody beauty back into my life.  I’ve ordered three replacement plants. Happily, Fairweather assures me they will be blooming size. Cytisus is an easy-care plant: Provide sun and infertile, sandy soil; once established, there’s no need to feed or water. Z. 5-8.

 Baby 'Burkwoodi'copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

Baby ‘Burkwoodii’
copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

 Mature 'Burkwoodi'copyright 2013  -  Lois Sheinfeld

Mature ‘Burkwoodii’
copyright 2013 – Lois Sheinfeld

Finally, I’ve chosen a new and distinctive tree to grace my garden:  Abies pinsapo ‘Aurea’ ( Golden Spanish Fir) is an eye-catching conifer with dense, sharp, prickly needles that emerge golden yellow before turning chartreuse green. This uncommon, slow-grower is suitable for a large or small garden and appreciates well drained soil with protection from intense afternoon sun. Z. 6-9.

 Abies pinsapo 'Aurea'

Abies pinsapo ‘Aurea’

 

 

Note: Fairweather Gardens is a small grower/nursery, so there are limited quantities of each plant. If you are interested, order now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Best Thing 2013: Part 2

Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery

A long time ago I visited the New York Flower Show in Manhattan and was seduced by a beautiful peony from Klehm Nursery.  The New York Flower Show may be defunct, but for twenty years and counting I’ve been a Klehm plant groupie.

The nursery specializes in and hybridizes peonies and daylilies but it has also been my go-to place for fabulous woody ornamentals and perennials.  Here are some of my 2013 picks:

Paeonia 'Guardian of the Monastery'

Paeonia ‘Guardian of the Monastery’

Tree Peony, Paeonia ‘Guardian of the Monastery’, is a vision with dazzling flowers  in shades of mauve and lavender with purple flares.  From spring to fall, Klehm ships these 3-to-4 year old woodies in pots.  (Note:  I’m delighted that apart from daylilies and herbaceous peonies all of Klehm’s plants are shipped in their containers.)  Zones 4-8.

 

 

 

 

Clematis 'Omoshiro'

Clematis ‘Omoshiro’

Clematis ‘Omoshiro’, has large, 5-7 inch, lightly fragrant, pale-pink flowers with a dark-pink edge and reverse.  I am surprised that the name Omoshiro means amusing, interesting.  In this case, don’t you think WOWIE! is more apt?  The plants are two-year-old trellised vines that will probably bloom the first season.  (That’s my experience with Klehm clematis, not a Klehm guarantee.)  Zones 4-9.

 

 

 

Pinus cembra 'Big Blue'

Pinus cembra ‘Big Blue’

Pinus cembra ‘Big Blue’, is a dense, slow growing, showy, evergreen conifer with long blue needles.  I am very fond of blue plants and the birds love conifers. A win, win.  Zones 2-8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

x Heucherella 'Gold Zebra'

x Heucherella ‘Gold Zebra’

x Heucherella ‘Gold Zebra’ is a ground-cover or edging plant sporting gold leaves splashed with dark red swirls.  There are white flowers in the spring, but this shade perennial is all about the foliage.  Zones 4-9.

 

 

 

Klehm’s 2013 catalog can be easily accessed by clicking on this blog’s LINKS.

 

2013: What’s New?

Happy New Year!

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

Camellia Forest Nursery:

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

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

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

 

Symplocos paniculata (Sapphireberry)

Symplocos paniculata (Sapphireberry)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Fabulous Camellias for Northern Gardens: Autumn Flowering Sasanquas

Camellia lovers, no need to envy Scarlett O’Hara her camellia friendly, hot, sultry, climate.  Thanks to the breeding efforts of Clifford Parks, William L. Ackerman, and others, we now have an extraordinary selection of beautiful, winter-hardy, evergreen camellias available for northern gardens.  I am particularly fond of Fall blooming sasanquas that defy cold, frosty conditions and grace my garden with a profusion of flowers (often fragrant) when little else is in bloom.

Consider my three favorites:

C. x ‘Survivor’ lives up to its name and then some.  It has survived  -9 degrees F. without injury.   A sasanqua and oleifera hybrid, ‘Survivor’ blooms for months, displaying an abundance of small, single, white fragrant flowers from pink buds.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Another snowy-white flowering lovely, C. sasanqua ‘Setsugekka’, has large, fragrant, semi-double flowers, pink buds, a long bloom period, and particularly nice dark-green foliage.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Pretty in pale pink, C. sasanqua ‘Jean May’, flaunts her showy, fragrant, multi-petaled blossoms from September until winter’s hard frost.

copyright 2012  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

All three recently suffered thru a brutal October-November assault from Hurricane Sandy and a nor’easter, with no ill effect to bloom or to foliage.  (Would that my other plants had fared as well.)

Camellias prefer well-drained acid soil rich in organic matter; composted leaf mulch would be a welcome additive.  Apart from this basic rule, here are a few additional time-tested culture tips for Northern gardens:

First, the best time to plant is in the Spring, between mid April and late May, so the camellias have time to establish before their first winter.  Fall planting may be ideal for the South, but too risky for Yankee gardeners.

Second, the best location for camellias is a north or northwest exposure with protection from wind; exposure to early morning winter sun can cause leaf burn or even death.

These essential culture tips and much more practical information can be found in the book, Beyond the Camellia Belt, by the noted cold-hardy camellia breeder, William L. Ackerman.  A must-have reference.

I purchased my dazzling trio from Camellia Forest Nursery.  (See Links).

SUPERSTORM SANDY & Rosa ‘Pretty Lady’

Thank goodness, after two hellish weeks we finally have power again.  Suffering a nor’easter hot on the heels of SUPERSTORM SANDY, we had all but given up hope.

The garden is a mess, littered with fallen trees, branches, leaves, and blackened plants.  So it is with both wonder and delight that I can report that one shrub, the floribunda rose ‘Pretty Lady’, is in pristine condition, blooming away and wondering what the fuss is all about.

Funny thing, I never intended to buy this extraordinary rose.  Years ago, after watching a DVD about an English rose garden, I went searching for a hybrid tea named ‘Lovely Lady’, a favorite of the garden’s curator.  It wasn’t available on this side of the pond, so eventually I stopped looking.

Then sometime later I saw R. ‘Pretty Lady’ listed in a mail-order catalog.  Not remembering (as is my wont) that my quest was for ‘Lovely’ not ‘Pretty’, and for hybrid tea not floribunda, I ordered it.

Happy I did.  Rosa ‘Pretty Lady’ is a marvelous find.  She is fragrant, very disease resistant, and a nonstop bloomer with lovely pale apricot-pink flowers and lustrous, dark green foliage.  ( Check out pre-storm and post-storm photos below).  Fate works in strange ways, doesn’t it?

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012  -  Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Slowly but surely we are recovering from the storms, and I’m looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with family.  If you also have turkey on your mind, here’s a tip:  Before roasting, use the aromatic stems of rosemary to spread marinade on the bird and then throw the stems in the pan to flavor the juices.  Much better than synthetic brushes which are impossible to clean.

Moreover, according to Bancke’s 1525 “Herbal”, rosemary gladdens the spirits and delivers one from evil dreams. “Smell of it oft,” Bancke further advised, “and it will keep thee youngly”. (Who wouldn’t want that?)

And when ancient Greek scholars sat for examinations, they wore garlands of the herb to improve their memories.  Hasn’t quite worked yet for me, but hope springs eternal.

Autumn Color: Lindera angustifolia

I’m besotted.  Every day I stand in awe before Lindera angustifolia, the Asian Spicebush, utterly transfixed by its dazzling Fall foliage display of fiery orange and pink.  (Not to mention the elegant silvery-gray leaf reverse.)

The shrub is new to my garden and now I can’t imagine the garden without it.

British author, Dame Penelope Lively, got it right:  “For me”, she said, “gardening is a sequence of obsessions — the tingle of discovery, the love affair with the latest acquisition”.

My plant is about three feet tall but will reportedly grow from eight to ten feet.  What a spectacular autumn sight that will be!  I feel faint just thinking about it.

Clusters of small yellow flowers will appear on the stems in early Spring, but only female plants will produce berries; the shrub is dioecious and requires male fertilization.  Like its kissin’ cousin, Lindera benzoin (our native Spicebush), L. angustifolia’s leaves have a spicy fragrance, though opinion is split as to whether the flowers are also fragrant.  I’ll let you know when it blooms for me. (BTW, the same spicy, herbal foliage is enjoyed by Skimmia japonica and ensures it’s deer-resistance; deer don’t like the smell.)

In accordance with its culture preferences, I planted L. angustifolia in a shady area that gets a bit of filtered sun in the afternoon.  The soil is moist, acid and well-drained.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Autumn may well turn out to be my most favorite season.

Hot Tips: Osmanthus x fortunei ‘UNC’

On a beautiful autumn day in October, some years ago, my husband and I visited the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina and were immediately captivated by the most wonderful floral fragrance.  We searched all over the Arboretum for the source.  Finally, quite a distance from where we started, we found it, the sublimely fragrant shrub, Osmanthus fortunei ‘UNC’.

Earlier, on the recommendation of others, weighted with the promise of flowers with “overpowering” scent, I rushed right out to buy Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Gulftide’ and O.h. ‘Goshiki’.  How very disappointing. Sure they have fragrance, if you stick your nose into the flowers.  But fragrance on-the-air, blossoms filling the garden with their delicious perfume?  Not!

Don’t get me wrong.  They are both nice plants.  Gulftide has lovely glossy green foliage, and is very cold hardy;  Goshiki has beautiful green and gold variegated foliage.  As I said, nice garden plants. But on the fragrance front, the raison d’etre for my purchase, they fall far short.

Yet on the other hand, another variety, Osmanthus fragrans, delivers on fragrance but isn’t cold hardy here.

Which brings me back to Osmanthus x fortunei ‘UNC’, a hybrid of O. heterophyllus and O.fragrans, and for me the very best of both parents.  This hardy beauty sports handsome, evergreen, holly-like foliage and in autumn produces abundant clusters of tiny white flowers that waft their exquisite perfume all about the garden.  This year the flowers opened mid-September and now in mid-October are still releasing their intoxicating fragrance into the air. ( photo below).  Can’t beat it.  Aromatherapy in my own backyard.

These easy-care plants flourish in well-drained acid soil in sun or shade.  (Mine are in shade.)

O. x f. ‘UNC’ is not widely available — and for a time was not available at all.  I found and purchased my shrubs at Camellia Forest Nursery (See LINKS) which currently offers small, well-grown plants that should reach blooming size in one or two seasons.  Grab them before they fly out the door.

You’ll thank me for this one.

OCTOBER 2013 UPDATE : My small plants bloomed! (Hope yours did too.)

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Autumn Update: Iochroma & Clerodendrum

Iochroma ‘Royal Queen Purple’ has fully lived up to expectations — and then some.

She has been a spectacular non-stop blooming machine for over four months with no end in sight.  As soon as one flower cluster fades, another takes its place, to the delight of hummingbirds and bees.

Planted in a large container, the Queen achieved five feet by six feet and was fertilized only once, not monthly as was suggested.  And she receives filtered afternoon sun, not full sun all day.  She may be royal, but she doesn’t require pampering.

Downside?  Her stems were so heavily laden with royal-purple blossoms, they did need a bit of support. That’s about it.  And I suspect that if she were grown in the ground, even that would not be required.

For me, an unqualified success.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Clerodendrum trichotomum has just begun to reveal its Autumn splendor.  When the pink calyxes open, the pea-sized fruit inside has a greenish hue before turning a rich, metallic cerulean blue.  A sight to behold.

Here in zone 7, the promise of fragrant flowers and blue fruit at the same time was not to be.  ( See “August 2012: Clerodendrum,Hydrangea,Phygelius”).  No problem.  In fact I prefer it this way, appreciating each superb feature in its turn.  Too much of a good thing the other way, don’t you think?

Sited in shade with a bit of filtered sun, C. trichotomum flourishes in my organic garden in acid, well-drained soil.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Both plants add to the garden’s Autumn magic.

Addendum: Photo update of Clerodendrum a few weeks later:

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

August 2012: Clerodendrum,Hydrangea,Phygelius

If, like me, you are mad about fragrant plants, you will love Clerodendrum trichotomum, the Harlequin Glorybower.  The buds on my deciduous shrub have just started to open and the perfume is heavenly.  The flowers are also a welcome late summer gift for butterflies.  Cerulean blue, pea-sized fruit nestled in dark pink calyxes follow the bloom.  (Note the blue caps on the ends of the dancing flower stamens. Putting us on notice of the fruit to come?).  Flowers and fruit may even appear at the same time.  Very showy.

My shrub is about 7 feet tall but in warmer climes Glorybower can grow into a magnificent 15-20 ft. tree. Tree or shrub, it’s disease-and-pest-resistant. The only downside is its propensity for invasiveness. Not a problem for me — yet. (In fact, my plant started out as a volunteer in a friend’s garden).

I should mention that C. trichotomum’s other common name is Peanut Butter Tree; when the leaves are bruised they are supposed to smell like peanut butter. I put it to the test. Result? Stick with Glorybower.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

You can never have enough hydrangeas.  Mother Nature agrees.  She (in league with the birds?) has graced my garden with a bountiful selection of the most beautiful flowering volunteers.  Many of these, in glorious bloom now, are probably the offspring of Hydrangea paniculata.  At least I think so.  The foliage is the same and the bloom time corresponds; short of a DNA test, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc., etc., and so forth.  One of these plants is over 6 feet and flaunts gorgeous, brobdingnagian panicles of fertile and sterile flowers.  When the fertile buds open, intoxicating fragrance fills the garden.  I’m in awe. And so are the bees.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Please forgive me for saying this ad infinitum:  Be careful when you weed.  A volunteer may turn out to be one of the best plants in the garden.  Mine did.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

 

As I reported in May, Phygelius x rectus ‘Moonraker’, planted in the ground last summer, suffered very little winter dieback.  It’s now over two feet, multi-stemmed, with masses of elegant, long, pale yellow trumpets. A big success.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

This Spring I experimented by planting in a container the hummingbird magnets, pristine-white-flowered Phygelius aequalis ‘Snow Queen’ and the glowing-pink-flowered Phygelius aequalis ‘Sani Pass’.  They have been in continuous, harmonious bloom ever since.  (For best effect, I remove the spent flowers).  Check out the closeup photos below:  P.a. ‘Snow Queen’ weeps golden tears and P.a. ‘Sani Pass’ is a party-girl in red lipstick.  A fabulous duo.  Compact and ever-blooming, P. aequalis plants are perfect in pots.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Late summer in my garden.  Not bad at all.

Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’ and Passiflora ‘Incense’: “One is Silver and The Other is Gold”

While I was strolling thru the garden, two summer flowering dazzlers put me in mind of the old nursery rhyme, “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.”  I would like to share these two remarkable plants with you.

First up, Passiflora x ‘Incense,’ my golden oldie.  About fifteen years ago, I was obsessed with the unique beauty and intoxicating perfume of Passionflower vines and planted a half dozen.  With the first frost they all died, never to be seen again — all except P. x ‘Incense’, which died back in winter but returned the following summer and for every summer since.  This by itself is pretty amazing for a tropical vine in zone seven, but as a special bonus Incense produces passion fruit.  The plant is a doer!

And a spreader.  Many baby vines pop up in the garden, traveling underground from the mother plant.  Perhaps a problem for some, but not for me.  I either stick a support next to them (they can grow to eight feet and bloom the first season) or I just yank them out.  One other thing:  Incense requires adequate water, doesn’t like it dry.  Otherwise, it’s easy care and problem free.

P. x ‘Incense’, beloved by bees , butterflies, hummingbirds, (and me), proves its worth year after year.  A hardy Passionflower.  Who would have thought?

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

New to my garden this year, Hibiscus ‘Jazzberry Jam’ (Rose Mallow) had me spellbound as soon as I saw the first flower.  ZOWIE!  Ten inches of ruffled, screaming pink!  And the plant is multi-flowered, blooms for months, and is three feet tall.  I love a bit of razzle-dazzle, don’t you?  Jazzberry is touted as a perennial.  I hope that’s so.  But with all its bells and whistles, even one season would suffice.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Gold and silver.  Old and new garden treasure.

Summer 2012: Heavenly Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are immensely popular and rightfully so; they are showy, easy-care flowering shrubs that work for you, not the other way around.  In the Hamptons, a garden favorite is the familiar mop-head hydrangea, H. macrophylla, a standout with its fabulous pink, blue and purple flowers.  But there are other less well known, equally worthy hydrangea beauties, and I’d like to celebrate a few of my favorites:

Hydrangea x ‘Sweet Chris’ (Big Smile Hydrangea), a cross between H. macrophylla and H. serrata, inherited the best attributes of both parents.  Many hydrangeas are chameleons and change flower color depending on the ph of the soil — pink in sweet, alkaline soil, and blue or purple in acid.  Sweet Chris takes it one exciting step further.  In my garden (acid soil) the gorgeous lace-cap flowers are bi-color with fertile centers of rich ocean blue, contrasted with lacy caps of pink sterile flowers with serrated edges and blue button noses.  A hydrangea designed by Dior.  Irresistible.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

New to my garden this year is Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hanabi’ which means fireworks in Japanese.  (It is sometimes sold as ‘Fugi Waterfall’, or ‘Shooting Star’).  Hanabi’s exquisite, lacecap type flowers have huge pink fertile centers surrounded by long-stemmed, pink-blushed white, double sterile flowers, which parachute from the center like birds in flight.

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

With my acid soil, I expected the flowers to be blue, not pink.  In fact, Hanabi shares a garden bed with the bluest of blue lacecap macrophyllas.  A mystery, to be sure.  Hydrangeas are surprising as well as heavenly.

 

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld

Update on H. angustipetala ‘ MonLongShou’ (Golden Crane Hydrangea):  Back in February I wrote about wanting (lusting after?) this treasure.  (For details and a photo see: “More 2011 Successes and 2012 Obsessions”).  But for months it was touch and go as to whether I could actually get it.  So my grateful thanks to Paige Patterson of Marders Nursery in Bridgehampton, N.Y.;  through her diligent efforts I now have two small plants in my garden.  One came with just a sliver of a flower — yet it was big enough to smell.  I’m happy to report that Golden Cranes’s flowers are indeed fragrant.  Hallelujah!

Finally, be aware that hydrangeas love to make whoopee.  As a result, my garden boasts some extraordinary volunteers.  Yours will too.  Makes life interesting.

June 2012: Roses

No doubt about it.  Roses and hydrangeas reign supreme in June, and this year they are spectacular.

Roses first.

While it was difficult to decide which of my bewitching, lushly fragrant roses to talk about, Rosa ‘Belle Vichyssoise’ won out because of the fascinating history of Belle’s rose-class, the Noisette.

In the early 1800’s John Champneys, an amateur rose hybridizer in South Carolina, developed the first reblooming rose in the western world, R.’Champneys’ Pink Cluster’.  Then, as the story goes, he distributed the rose to a number of people, including his French-born neighbor and nurseryman, Philippe Noisette.  Philippe, in turn, sent the rose or seedlings of the rose to his brother, Louis Claude, a nurseryman in France, who used the roses as seed parents in his own hybridization program.

Louis invited the renowned botanical painter Redoute to draw one of the roses.   On the drawing Redoute wrote:  “Rosa Noisettiana, Rosier de Philippe Noisette.”  The rest is history:  Redoute’s paintings became world famous, along with the name Noisette, and all the hybridized roses in the class are now called Noisettes — not Champneys.

Was Champneys robbed?

William R. Prince, of the Prince Nursery in Flushing, New York, the  purveyor of plants to many notables, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, certainly thought so.  In 1846 he wrote:  “The origin of the first varieties of this remarkable group has been announced erroneously to the world by various writers, arising first, from the want of candor on the part of Philippe Noisette of Charleston, when he transmitted the plants to Paris; and secondly, from the ignorance of those who have discussed the subject.”

Was Champneys robbed?  Probably.

But don’t let this sorry history deter you from enjoying the splendid Noisette, my treasure, Rosa ‘Belle Vichyssoise’.  Unlike most Noisettes which prefer southern climes, Belle is winter hardy here in the northeast, zone 7.  She is in continuous bloom from late Spring thru Fall, flaunting fat clusters of small pink blossoms that perfume the air with intoxicating fragrance.  And she enjoys robust health, a sine qua non in my organic garden. Truly a must-have rose.

I purchased mine from Roses Unlimited (www.rosesunlimitedownroot.com).

copyright 2012 - Lois Sheinfeld

Update on Rosa ‘Golden Fairy Tale’. ( See “2011 Successes”)

This year R. ‘Golden Fairy Tale’ is better than ever. No change in the foliage—-still clean and healthy. It’s the flowers. The shrub is bursting with them; one large stem even jumped the fence looking for new worlds to conquer. The blossoms are fragrant and  beautiful from bud to mature bloom. Another must-have rose.

I purchased mine from Palatine Roses ( www.palatineroses.com) on the recommendation of one of the owners, Eva Schmitz.

 

copyright 2012 - Lois Sheinfeld

copyright 2012 - Lois Sheinfeld