Saturday, January 12, 2013

Flowers in the snow

I always thought the Christmas-blooming hellebores were a myth—something that only happens in England or in much warmer zones.  But it’s early January and I have flowers in full bloom in the front yard. Not such a common occurrence in Buffalo. This must be one of the helleborus niger variety, which really does flower in the depths of winter. I guess it would have been flowering under the snow, if there were any.

Also up, if more expected: snowdrops.  I was never one to care much about "winter interest," which usually means evergreens, seedheads, and sculptural grasses. When it's cold outside, I'm inside. But 50 or better temps with flowers? That's interesting.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blush noisette

This is one of the energizer bunnies of the rose world. It dates from 1817 and was bred in France, though I had also read that it was bred here, in the south. Probably it's simply used a lot in the south. Mine is kept in a pot and brought into the root cellar in the winter; it's hardy only to 6 and not usually grown in cold climates. (Who knows if that's still a factor.)

BN is in bloom from late May through frost. There are tons of buds on each spray always--almost too many. It's a fabulous rose. It's also one of the first roses I planted here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dirt makes you happy—and keeps you young

Here’s the proof—lovely Sally Cunningham on the arm of daughter Alice as she approaches the outdoor “altar” for her recent wedding to boyfriend Jack. At 60+, Sally is one of the busiest and happiest people I know, in spite of the many frustrations of pulling together a career out of several occupations—gardening expert for Lockwoods Greenhouses, writer and speaker on plants and organic gardening, columnist for Buffalo Spree and the Buffalo News, and consultant for the National Garden Festival.

The wedding was the first opportunity I have had to see Sally’s garden, although I knew, with all her consulting and traveling, that her personal garden was all too often a case of the shoemaker’s children. However, the garden had clearly received some extra attention for this special occasion. It has a lot of cottage garden elements, and fits Sally’s country landscape very well.

Rustic touches include a swing, small treehouse, and a wooden ladder used to hold pots and other garden elements. The plants are our old favorites—rudbeckia, ferns, hellebores, many shrubs, and lots of pots thrown in for late season color. Sadly, Sally can’t have hydrangeas, as these would be eaten by deer, so she included them just for the day, sunken in the ground in pots. Check out what she says about the preparations here.

Wishing every happiness to Sally and Jack!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Miss 2012

Re: Garden Walk visitor comments. There is always one plant that everyone asks about. In the past, it's generally been strobilanthes (Persian Shield) that gets all the attention.

This year, however, my 8-ft tall Castor Bean (ricinus) is the one. Which is fun because then I can enjoy the look of horror in their faces when I explain how poisonous the seeds are (possibly the most poisonous plant in the world for this reason). Though not illegal.

Runners-up? All the colocasia (elephant ear)--do I bring it in, how does it get so big, etc. And the tall rudbeckia "Golden Glow." Size matters, it seems. At least this year.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Love the plant; can't remember the name

When I bought this plant at The Plantsmen in Ithaca, in April, it was just a black nursery pot with a few small weeds emerging. Once established in a shady spot, however, it did exactly what it's supposed to do: it grew big serrated leaves and tall stems with small but interesting yellow flowers.

But by then it was July and for the life of me I could not remember what this thing was called. Ken Parker, the native plant specialist at Lockwoods here in Buffalo, came to my rescue. "Stoneroot," he said, looking at my iPhone picture. And so it is. (Colinsonia canadensis, to be exact.)

This might not be for everyone, but it is one of a collection of woodland natives I've been gradually installing. It's medicinal too--supposed to be good for the kidneys. I'm sure mine could use the help, but for now I'm enjoying it for its clearly woodland aesthetics.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A pretty weed, ID'd.

After pulling bales of this out of my garden a few years back, I encountered it again in a charming garden on Euclid, in Lockport. It's part of Lockport in Bloom. (No linkie from this mobile post.)

It looks great here, and I discovered its name: commelina communis (Asian Dayflower).

You've seen it everywhere, I bet, but it rarely looks as nice as this.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Re: satisfaction. You can get it.

And I already have it, lots of it. Lilium “Satisfaction,” that is. Every summer it’s the same. I puzzle over the pods that are hanging heavy on my various lilium stalks and wonder: “Which one is that going to be?”

It is all being revealed now. The physical evidence, as well as the online bulb ordering records, indicate that I added a lot of “Satisfaction” to the garden in the fall, as well as some “Conca d’Or” and Auratum “Gold Band.” So far, the first of these is earliest in bloom—though, as I’ve already noted, most everything will be early.

I’m OK with “Satisfaction.” It is forward facing, rather than down facing (as many of my lilies are), and it has a relatively mild scent. The colors are very like popular daylily colors. But sometimes I wonder if I’m not better off sticking closer to the species lilium, the ones that look closer to lilies as they would be in the wild. I’m looking forward to the Auratum for that reason.

For now, though, I’ll take “Satisfaction.”