We’ve got a different take on going tubing. For us, tubing is something we do, starting in mid-June each summer, when we sit and enjoy our patch of Sinningia tubiflora. This amazing South American (Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay) gesneriad (African violet cousin) forms masses of underground potato-like tubers, which produce these amazing stalks of sweetly fragrant flowers for months each summer. These are reportedly pollinated by sphinx months. Sinningia tubiflora is insanely drought resistant and so easy to grow if given enough sun. Since it forms a large mass, don’t plant it near smaller, less-aggressive neighbors.
Blooming now in the crevice garden is one of our favorite edimentals. If you haven’t heard this word before, it’s the new combo term for edible ornamentals. Crambe maritima, known as sea kale, is a plant we first grew for its fragrant flowers, only to find it incredibly tasty, both fresh and cooked. We are constantly grabbing a leaf for a garden snack. Best of all, Crambe maritima is a perennial that doesn’t need to replanted yearly. We can’t imagine why every lover of kale doesn’t grow this. Dry full baking sun is all that’s required.
Flowering this week is our selection of Magnolia floribunda ‘Bridal Bouquet’. When we visited Yunnan, China in 1996, we were able to return with three seed of Magnolia floribunda, a species which seemed completely absent from American horticulture. The resulting seedlings were planted into the garden, where two promptly died during the first winter. Thankfully, one survived and is still thriving today 25 years later.
Magnolia floribunda ‘Bridal Bouquet’ forms an upright, somewhat open evergreen that sometimes starts flowering as early as mid-January. This year, thanks to our consistent cold, it waited until early March to start its floral show. The flowers have a distinctive and fascinating fragrance that we find unique among our magnolia collection. We have shared cuttings with several woody plant nurseries and donated plants to a few rare plant auctions in the hopes of getting this more widely cultivated.
The genus Sinningia is a South American gesneriad (African violet and gloxinia relative). Hummingbirds and butterflies just love the tubular flowers of Sinningia, and several species including Sinningia tubiflora, are quite fragrant.
Sinningia flowers come in a wide array of colors from white, to yellow, pink, red and all shades in between. Sinningia species are drought-tolerant and heat loving…perfect for hummers and the southern garden.
We hope you will join us in our excitement over the wonderful perennial sinningia.
Hymen flowers (aka Hymenocallis) are still going, as the Northern Mexican species now perfume the garden. The genus begins flowering in spring, and if you grow a wide range of species, you can have flowers until late summer/early fall. Here’s a photo we recently took of Hymenocallis pimana in the garden. While many hymenocallis prefer very moist soils, we grow this in a dry bed with agaves and cactus. Starting in early evening, the flowers emit a honeysuckle-like fragrant to lure evening moths for reproductive activities. While we also like the more commonly sold Dutch hybrids, which are actually intergeneric crosses with the South American Ismene, we think the North American native species are far superior as garden plants, so we’ve always wondered why these don’t sell nearly as well as they should.
Early June is an amazing time for crinum lilies in the gardens here at Juniper Level and here’s one of our favorites, photographed yesterday. Crinum ‘Improved Peachblow‘ is simply amazing…great flower form, sturdy stems, pink buds that open white, and a fragrance that’ll make a honeysuckle jealous. Crinum lilies are very easy to grow, but flower best in a moist, sunny location.
One of the great winter-flowering evergreen perennials is in full flower now. Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis, aka sweet box is a fascinating boxwood relative that forms a dense groundcover in shade. What make sweet box special are the intensely fragrant flowers toward the end of winter. All sarcococca are similar in form and flowering, varying mainly in height and fruit color.
The native midwestern trout lily, Erythronium mesochorum showed it’s lovely face for the first time this week. We sowed lots of seed last year, so hopefully we’ll have enough to share in a couple more years.
Even after the early flowers of the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, finish, the lovely green petals and developing seed pods are quite attractive.
The Iris unguicularis have been amazing this winter. This is our collection from Crete, where they grew in large grass-like masses. Although this clone isn’t as floriferous as some we grow, the intensity of the color is quite special, and like all of the forms from Crete, the foliage is quite short. We may have enough of this for a 2017 introduction.
For the first time in several years, we are able to share our superb collection of the native, evergreen Pachysandra procumbens ‘Angola’, that we collected near Angola prison. This is the earliest, most vigorous, and most fragrant flowering form of this superb native that we’ve ever encountered.
Not only is Silene virginiana ‘Jackson Valentine’ superb in flowers, but it’s also pretty nice with its purple winter foliage.
We’ve been enjoying the late-flowering hostas over the last few weeks, with many just beginning. One of our favorites is Hosta ‘Sugar and Spice’…a stunning sport of Hosta ‘Invincible’ with fragrant flowers and variegated foliage. We put this as one of the best performing hostas we’ve ever grown..great foliage, great flowers, and great vigor in the garden.
This has been an amazing summer for crinum lilies at Juniper Level. These mostly African species and their hybrids are wonderfully fragrant, hard-to-kill bulbs for the sunny garden. Above is Crinum x baconii ‘Maureen Spinks’…one of the showiest summer-flowering hybrids.
Another of the milk and wine striped crinum lilies is Crinum x digweedii ‘Stars and Stripes’…here’s a recent photo from the garden. It just oozes with fragrance!If rosy pink is your thing, Crinum ‘Rose Parade’ is looking quite nice in the garden. Crinum winter hardiness ranges from Zone 6 to Zone 8, depending on the species used in the cross. You’ll find the hardiness zones for each in our on-line catalog, where we offer 40 varieties…probably one of the largest selections you’ll find. Enjoy, and have a great weekend in the garden!