The latest member of the clumping monardas of the Electric Neon series is ‘Electric Neon Purple’. Here it is in our garden this summer, looking absolutely fabulous. Look for this in our upcoming Fall catalog.
Looking lovely in the dryland garden now is the amazingly vigorous Agastache ‘Queen Nectarine’. This amazing giant measures 3.5′ tall x 3.5′ wide, and is adorned at any given time, May through October, with hundreds of flowers, perfectly designed for hummingbirds. Many of the non purple-flowered agastaches struggle in our hot, humid, rainy summers, but not this one. Hardiness zone 5a to 8b.
Gloxinias that I knew growing up were the typical florists Gloxinia my aunt and grandmother used to grow as house plants, with broad velvety leaves and large, brightly colored bell-shaped flowers.
Who knew you could grow Gloxinias in the garden? Well here comes Evita!! This selection of Gloxinia nematanthodes hails from 4,000′ elevation in Argentina (which introduces an increased level of cold hardiness for the temperate garden). Although it is late to emerge (June in NC), it makes an amazing 1′ x 4′ groundcover that is loaded with brilliant, 1″ orange-red blooms from August until frost. Your friends and hummingbirds will be thrilled!
Lobelia cardinalis is native to 41 out of the 50 states in North America. The cardinal flower is tolerant of many different soils from moist bogs to average garden soils, and is perfect for use in rain gardens. Cardinal flowers are also a magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies. Lobelia begins blooming in summer and will continue until fall with an array of flower and foliage colors to blend nicely in your garden, from the brilliant red flowers of the species, to the hot pink Monet Moment, or the burgundy foliage of Black Truffle.
You can order cardinal flowers online or visit us at our fall open house September 9-11 & 16-18 to see the cardinal flowers blooming in the garden and pick out that perfect plant for a spot in your garden.
Canna lilies are a great addition to your sunny summer garden or rain garden. Their large bold leaves come in a variety of colors and variegation patterns, and provide the perfect foil for brightly colored flowers from orange, to brilliant reds, rose to white. Cannas add color to the garden from late spring to fall and are an excellent attractant for butterflies and hummingbirds.
Here’s a recent photo from the garden of one of our favorite full sun, summer-flowering perennials, Sinningia ‘Arkansas Bells’. This amazing African violet relative thrives with cactus and agaves in our full sun rock garden, flowering from April until September, during which time, the hummingbirds have to wait their turn. We don’t currently offer this because not enough folks purchased it last time, which drives us a little nuts! It’s only winter hardy to 5 degrees F in the ground, but makes a superb container plant in colder zones. So, why do more people not buy this? Please convince us to propagate some more since it is so wonderful.
It’s hard to believe, but September is here and it’s time for our final Open Nursery and Garden for 2015. We hope you’ll join us to see all the gems that look great this time of year and stock up for the fall planting season with all the cool new plants from the fall catalog.
Plants, Plants, and More Plants
We also hope you’ve had time to enjoy the Fall Plant Delights Nursery catalog. We’re so excited by the new offerings, especially the clumping, heat-tolerant, mildew-resistant bee balms. These are a huge breeding breakthrough for anyone who likes monardas and attracting pollinators into the garden.
Other members of the same (Lamiaceae) family are also putting on quite a show now.Agastaches, first cousins to bee balm, are simply amazing in fall. In particular, Agastache ‘Peachie Keen’ and ‘Rosie Posie’ have been standouts in our trials and are still in full flower here. These are perfect for a sunny, well-drained spot in the garden where you can observe all the cool insects and hummingbirds which will visit.
While we’re talking members of the Lamiaceae family, we must mention the salvias. The Salvia greggii cultivars are putting on their fall show, as are many other fall-flowering species. Our favorite fall-flowering salvia has to be Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’. We moved a plant of this amazing giant into one of the new beds near the sales greenhouses, so people who don’t wander the gardens extensively will still get to enjoy it.
Final Open House for 2015…and More Plants
Did we mention we’re in the midst of our final Open Nursery and Garden for 2015? Friday through Sunday, September 11-13 and 18-20 (8-5 Friday and Saturday and 1-5 Sunday) are the final opportunities to visit until February 2016. We hope you’ll bring your want list from the fall catalog or just come and stroll the gardens.
There’s so much to see in the garden this time of year, including an array of ornamental grasses and a number of fall-flowering bulbs.Cyclamen hederifolium is flowering throughout the dry shade woodland garden, Also, an incredible array of shade-loving tricyrtis (toad lilies) are at their peak with their unique orchid-like flowers. For a bright spot in the fall shade garden, there are few plants as capable of adding as much sunshine as Boehmeria ‘Glow Light’…truly radiant.
We’ve had a great lycoris (surprise lily) season and a number of late-blooming crinum lilies are flowering nicely. Peak lycoris season at JLBG is August, but there are several cultivars which flower into September as you’ll see when you visit. Crinum lilies begin as early as May for us, but many re-flower through September, while others don’t start until fall. Their cousin, the mini-hippeastrum-like Rhodophiala bifida is also providing a bright spot of red throughout the garden now. Be sure to see what these genera have to offer for your fall garden.
Several more fascinating new plants from the fall catalog that are now looking great in the garden include Silene subciliata, Heteropterys glabra,Gloxinia ‘Little Red’, and Sedum ‘Dynomite’. Be sure to enjoy these stars out during open house…they’re hard to miss.
The dark blue-flowering leadworts (ceratostigma) are simply fantastic now as are the light blue-flowered caryopteris. Even buddleias (butterfly bushes) are showcasing their fall blue-lavender flowers. We think you can never have enough blues in the garden.
Other colors abound now including echinaceas (if they were cut back after their early flowering), dahlias, rudbeckia, verbena, hedychium, lobelia, ruellia, achimenes, and so much more. Bring your camera, bring your friends, and we’ll provide the great weather. We hope you’ll be able to visit!
Open Nursery and Garden Dates for 2016
February 26 – 28 and March 4 – 6
April 29 – May 1 and May 6 – May 8
July 8 – 9 and July 15 – 17
September 9 – 11 and September 16 – 18
Friday and Saturday 8a-5p
Rain or Shine!
News from PDN/JLBG
With our steady growth over the last couple of decades, we experienced an office space crunch, so to alleviate this, we were fortunate to recently purchase the adjacent 6-acre horse farm. While it’s sad to lose our wonderful neighbors, the Yde’s, we are excited to have more room. To get more office space, the nursery will be booting us out of our current home in the middle of the garden as soon as we build our downsized retirement home on the new property.
We are blessed to have acquired the services of one of America’s finest architects, Frank Harmon, of Raleigh, who, along with his team, have designed our new residence. (Tony was classmates with Frank’s late wife, Judy, at NC State…back in the day). The purchase will also allow us to re-configure the Open Nursery and Garden parking areas, which we believe you will enjoy. Be sure to follow the changes over the next year during each Open Nursery and Garden.
Anita will be leading her first class at the garden this fall, but it’s not about plants. Join Anita as she leads a sensory garden walk designed to awaken the senses and quiet the thinking mind. Anita will show you how experiencing the gardens through the senses will nourish the body, mind, and spirit. If your mind is open to new experiences, don’t miss this incredible opportunity to gain new insights from a truly amazing woman…yes, I’m prejudiced. You can learn more about Anita at http://AnitaAvent.com or read her wonderful Sensuous Gardening Blog at http://www.sensuousgardening.blogspot.com/. Seating for this class is very limited.
Remember to sign up for our other classes offered this fall:
- Josh Taylor’s Photography Class
- Tony’s Garden Walk
- The World of Soils
Read the class descriptions here.
In news from the horticultural world, corporate giant, Ball Horticultural has purchased the 153-year-old Conard-Pyle Company from owner Steve Hutton, whose family has owned the business for the past 65 years. Even though you may not recognize the company name, Conard-Pyle is the manger/distributer of Knock-out roses…perhaps you’ve heard of them. They also introduced the “Blue Hollies”, the industry standard holly in the Northeast US.
Gardens of Germany
Our friend, landscape architect, Roland Oehme, son of the late landscape architect, Wolfgang Oehme is taking a plant trip to Germany and is accepting travel companions. This isn’t an organized tour per se, but a chance to visit gardens, nurseries, and study German garden design. The cost is $2500-$3000 including airfare. If you’re interested, you can email Roland at his company, Green Harmony Design, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We were saddened this month to learn of the passing of plantsman Nick Nickou, MD, of Branford, CT, who passed away at the age of 94. In addition to being a physician for 40 years, Nick was a keen gardener and plant explorer (China, Russia, Greece, South Africa, Patagonia and more). We are fortunate to have a number of plants that Nick shared, growing in our garden, including his two most popular introductions, Athyrium ‘Branford Rambler’ and Athyrium ‘Branford Beauty’. What an amazing and wonderful life!
The nursery world lost a giant this month, with the passing of retired Monrovia Nursery President/CEO, Bruce Usrey. Bruce worked with Monrovia for over 45 years, starting in plant production and working his way up to CEO and, in his later years, Managing Director. Bruce oversaw much of the tremendous expansion of Monrovia during the 1980s through the 2000s, when Monrovia became a household brand. Bruce is survived by his wife, Susie, another 40-year Monrovia veteran.
Most everyone who grew houseplants from the 1970s through the 1990s has probably heard of Peters Fertilizer, which is a worldwide industry standard for quality and performance. Many of us vividly remember their famous blue fertilizer dye, which stained our hands and made those we subsequently dined with stare with horror.
We are sad to report that Peters founder, Robert (Bob) Peters just passed away at age 97. Peters rewrote the proverbial book on liquid fertilizer during the green industry heyday. Peters started his fertilizer company in 1947, but sold it in 1979 to the Grace Company, which later became Grace-Sierra. Grace-Sierra was subsequently gobbled up by Scotts in 1993. Disenchanted by the workings of a large corporation and their unequal promotion of their Miracle-Grow brand, Peters re-purchased the rights to their fertilizer in 2002, but not their original name. They subsequently started a new company, selling the old Peters fertilizer as Jack’s at www.jrpeters.com.
Connect with Us!
Until next month, connect and follow us and the cats on Facebook, Pinterest, and our blogs at https://blog.jlbg.org and http://www.sensuousgardening.blogspot.com/, where you may sign up to follow our regular posts from the nursery and the botanic garden.
tony and anita
The amazing Manettia cordifolia has been in full flower for several weeks, and will continue for quite a while. As you can imagine, this is hummingbird central. Anita and I spent a good bit of time the other evening snapping photos of this amazing vine.
It’s been absolutely amazing to watch the swarm of honeybees, ants, and hummingbirds feeding on our giant 30′ tall flowering agave. Here’s an updated photo of the blessed event from yesterday. This weekend’s final summer open house is the last chance to see it in person.
Summer Open Nursery and Garden
Come see our 30 foot flowering agave at our final Summer Open Nursery and Garden Days this weekend. Visitors from around the country have been showing up to see our giant agave in flower, a 16-year-old specimen of Agave salmiana x Agave asperrima, with the first flowers opening right on cue for our summer open days. This is the tallest century plant we’ve ever flowered, with the tip of the spike topping out just a few inches below the 30′ tall mark. We’ve got our giant ladder perched nearby so Jeremy can make his daily pollinations, all while fighting off attacking hummingbirds.
We hope you’ll have time to walk around the garden while you’re here. The newly-opened, full sun Souto garden is looking fabulous, with so much color it’s almost overwhelming. Changes also abound throughout the older sections of the garden. Anita has suggested the removal of several formerly fenced and hedged areas to create more openness…we think you’ll enjoy these changes as much as we do.
Summer Nursery & Garden Days Final Weekend
July 17 – 19
Friday and Saturday 8a-5p
Rain or Shine!
Daylilies You’ll Notice — Royalty in the Summer Garden
If you visit during the summer, you’ll notice some rather impressive daylilies in the sunny areas. We’ve long enjoyed daylilies for their ability to add color to the summer garden and now have them showcased better than ever.
The prevailing daylily breeding trend since the 1970s has been to shrink the height of daylilies to appeal the masses. Obviously, this worked, since Hemerocallis ‘Stella D’Oro’ can be seen lining highway medians across the country. As horticultural contrarians, however, we enjoy taller daylilies, which we feel add much more visual interest to the garden. We don’t object to a few daylilies in the 3′ range, but rarely find the shorter varieties at the top of our favorites list, although some true dwarf rock garden daylilies would be fascinating.
Hemerocallis ‘Autumn Minaret’ is certainly the best known of the taller cultivars, topping out in our garden now at 6.5′ tall…yes, you read that correctly. This 1951 late season introduction was hybridized from one of the taller natural species, Hemerocallis altissima, which is actually a very small-growing plant that just happens to have a 5′ tall flower spike.
Hemerocallis ‘Purity’ is another summer-flowering favorite. The well-branched 5′ tall flower spikes hold hundreds of yellow-orange flowers over a very long time. We can’t imagine a summer garden without this gem. While we typically don’t rave about many daylilies that flower below 3′, there are a few noticeable exceptions. One that we continually tout as one of the best is Hemerocallis ‘Black Eyed Susan’. Without question, this amazing plant is one of the most floriferous and stunning daylilies we grow. Although it only manages 32″ in height, its show power in the garden is truly hard to match.
We’ve got many more of the taller daylilies in our trials, and have even moved a bit of pollen around this summer between some of the taller varieties, so we hope you find these “off the bell curve” daylilies worth including in your own garden.
Black Bamboo Death – The End is Nigh
The bamboo world has been rocked over the last few years as most of the black bamboo has begun its flowering cycle. While flowering is good in most plants, such is not the case with bamboo since, like agaves, it dies after flowering. Like century plants, a bamboo plant also takes about 100 years to flower but unlike agaves, bamboo offsets don’t survive. Since most bamboo is grown from divisions, when a particular clone flowers, it flowers everywhere around the world within a certain time window, influenced slightly by growing conditions.
Black bamboo began flowering worldwide in 2008, with many in the US starting only in the last year. Bamboo flowers are brown and insignificant, so most folks won’t even notice until the plant begins a steady decline. The sad part is that everyone’s black bamboo will die, but the up side is that more plants will be grown from seed and the new generation crop will have another 100-year lifespan. Also, all those folks who were lied to by retailers who told them black bamboo clumped will have their problem resolved. The take home lesson is that if you’re buying the running black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra), be sure to ask if it’s a new generation plant from seed or the clone which is currently flowering.
Yucca Birth Records Confusion — Who’s Your Daddy?
For many years we’ve had a fascination with yuccas and have long been convinced that the taxonomy of the Southeast native species was a mess. Reading several recent DNA papers along with some older works from the early 1900s, we realized that most of what is labeled Yucca filamentosa is actually Yucca flaccida…a completely different species.
We’re in the process of updating all of our names on the website and apologize in advance for the confusion. All of the variegated cultivars of Yucca filamentosa, except for the cultivar ‘Variegata’, are actually selections of Yucca flaccida.
Yucca filamentosa, however, is a real plant. The real plant is what is known in the trade as the coastal boat-tipped yucca. We are currently propagating some true Yucca filamentosa for inclusion in a future catalog. If you vacation along the East Coast from NC south to Florida, the small yucca you see on the dunes is Yucca filamentosa.
Also growing on the southeast coastal dunes are two other species, Yucca aloifolia and Yucca gloriosa. It has long been theorized that Yucca gloriosa might represent a natural hybrid between Yucca aloifolia and Yucca filamentosa and, sure enough, the new DNA work confirms that theory. Consequently, the name should be written correctly as Yucca x gloriosa. Now it makes sense that when we were studying yuccas last year on the NC dunes, many plants seemed to be intermediates between the three parent species. We guess our eyes were not deceiving us after all. Two papers on the subject were shared by Larry Hatch of Cultivar.org and are found below if you are scientifically nerdy enough to care.
- Homoploid hybrid origin of Yucca gloriosa: intersectional hybrid speciation in Yucca
- Ecology And Evolution Of Southeastern United States Yucca Species
On our many Southeast US botanizing trips we discovered other natural hybrids along with another new southeastern native yucca species that seems to have never been named. We will be working to get it described and published in the near future…an exciting time for those of us who love yuccas.
Perennial Plant Registrations
Our friend Larry Hatch is looking to fill a gap in the registration of new perennial varieties. There is supposed to be a system in place for anyone who wants to officially register, for posterity purposes, any new perennial that they name and introduce. While some genera of plants like iris, daylilies, and hostas have a dedicated registrar and a functioning system, most genera of plants either don’t have a registrar or the system is too cumbersome. The New Ornamentals Society is working to streamline the process with a new no-cost registration system. We encourage you to give it a try here.
Fern Hardiness Oops
In our trials from this winter, it has become obvious that one of the ferns we offer isn’t nearly as hardy as our liner supplier had indicated. We lost all plantings of Dryopteris labordei ‘Golden Mist’ at 9 degrees F this winter, which is a far cry from its purported Zone 5 hardiness. The problem stems from a taxonomic confusion. Dryopteris labordei is considered a synonym of Dryopteris indusiata, the latter of which is a Zone 5 plant. Obviously, the two plants are not the same. While it’s still a great fern, we are shifting its winter hardiness to Zone 8a-9b. If you purchased this based on our previous hardiness listing, just drop us a note and we’ll add a credit to your account or issue a refund. Please accept our apologies for this incorrect information.
Last month saw the passing of one of the giants of the waterlily world, Patrick Nutt, 85, longtime curator of Aquatic Plants at Longwood Gardens. Pat was revered throughout the water lily world for his encyclopedic knowledge and as a water lily breeder, promoter, and educator. Pat will be best remembered as the breeder of the internationally-renowned giant water lily Longwood Victoria, which most summer visitors to Longwood have no doubt gazed on in amazement. Pat began his career at Longwood Gardens in 1957 and remained there for the next 38 years, until his retirement in 1995. Even after his retirement, he continued to be a regular at Longwood Gardens while also traveling around the world, collecting and researching water lilies. Our condolences go out to Pat’s family and friends…life well lived!
Connect with Us!
Until next month, connect and follow us and the cats on Facebook,Pinterest, and our blog, where you may sign up and follow our regular posts from Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden.
-tony and anita
Our native cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis is simply on fire in the garden now, with spikes reaching 5-6′ tall. As you can imagine, the hummingbirds are enjoying the tasty treat. Moist to wet, organically rich soils grow the tallest plants, although cardinal flower also grows in typical garden soils but just doesn’t get as tall. I can’t imagine a summer garden without this beauty.
I picked a lovely night to write to you from our home patio, where I’m sitting adjacent to the falling water sound of the Mt. Michelle waterfall, punctuated by the intermittent peeps from nearby mating frogs, each in search of a suitable companion. It’s not yet the cacophony that we’ll have in a few more weeks, where up to eight different species of poorly harmonized frogs will be trying to communicate simultaneously like a restaurant full of cell phone users. In the dark of this evening, it’s fascinating to watch the mosquitos continually trying to attack my cursor as it moves around the laptop screen. So, what is the best way to clean blood off laptop screens…inquiring minds want to know?
We’ve just added another three dozen new plants to the website, many available only in very limited quantities. Shop Now!
It’s been quite a start to the year in most parts of the country, with spring arriving far too soon. Many folks had their gardening chores recently interrupted by another round of winter including some major snows in parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and surrounding states. We thought we were going to get by without a late frost, but on April 10 temperatures at the nursery dropped to 32 F and later on April 25 we hit a frosty 36 F, with many hostas in full leaf and even elephant ears beginning to grow. Our garden curator, Todd Wiegardt, the garden staff, and our wonderful volunteers spent a day and a half covering the most susceptible plants. So far, most of the plants we covered seem to have fared fine. We don’t bother covering plants like bananas, cannas, and elephant ears for such light frosts since they are engineered to bounce right back despite being rendered a temporary pile of black mush.
For those who follow us on Facebook, we detailed our experiments with the new product, Freeze-Pruf. It was our hope that it would serve as a replacement for the long, drawn-out process of covering plants, but no such luck. We’ve also posted our first video about the process of protecting sensitive plants in the garden from a late spring frost. You can find the video on our website here.
We continue to post an insane number of plant photos from the garden on our Facebook page. This has become an wonderful way for us to share exciting garden plants several times each week. You’re sure to be seeing lots of agave photos, as we have six blessed events that will soon take place on our Southwest-themed patio. Yes, our Agave palmeri ‘Cutty Shark’, Agave protoamericana ‘Blue Steel’, Agave victoriae-reginae, Agave striata, a second Agave protoameriana, and Agave ‘Stormy Seize’ began spiking recently…three on April 10, one on April 17, and two on April 24. Strangely, all started spiking on Tuesdays…hmmm. Based on our past experience, the taller agaves usually take 45-50 days to reach their full size and flower. We’ve got a couple more agaves that are looking sort of pregnant, so there could even be more. Spring is shaping up as quite a year for agave breeding.
We’ve recently added a really neat advanced search feature on the website. You can click boxes like “ferns” and “zone 6″ and get a list of ferns for zone 6, or find all the red-flowering hummingbird-attractive flowers for zone 5. We hope you’ll check it out and let us know what you think. Advanced Search
Especially busy is our shipping/customer service department as we enter what we affectionally call “snowball season”. Snowball season in the mail order business is when, no matter how fast you run, the giant snowball of incoming and pending orders rolling down the hill behind you is getting bigger, faster, and closer each day. The dilemma is that no matter how much staff we hire, customers still outnumber us by 1000:1. To help with the snowball season, we’ve hired lots of new shipping staff and welcome recent NCSU Landscape Architect graduate, Allison Morgan, to our Customer Service staff.
The nature of mail order is that most folks want their plants between late April and late May, which is sort of like squeezing a theater full of people out through one set of double doors during a fire drill. While we try to get orders out the door the week they arrive, this becomes a logistical impossibility for the next four weeks. This rush combines with our other annual nightmare where plants that have been ordered early but not shipped don’t emerge from dormancy in spring. While our growing staff does a great job, some plants simply don’t cooperate with our plans, which creates problem orders on our end and disappointment on your end. In some cases, we will have more of a particular plant ready in a later crop, but in other cases, the production time for a new crop may be several years. We thank for your patience and understanding during the next few weeks and thank you so much for keeping those orders coming. Trust us, there is nothing more anguishing for us that to not be able to supply an ordered plant.
At the same time, we’re excitedly gearing up for our Spring Open Nursery and Garden event, May 4-6 and May 11-13. Hours are 8am-5pm on Friday and Saturday and 1-5pm on Sundays. The gardens are looking particularly amazing, so we hope you can visit. On Open House days visitors are allowed to purchase plants on site, walk through the gardens, and have their gardening questions answered by our staff. The gardens have several areas to picnic, so we’d love to have you bring your lunch to enjoy in the gardens. If you are visiting from outside the local area and would like to car pool with others from your region, please use our Facebook page to connect. If you don’t have a GPS/navigation device, you can get printed directions, at http://www.plantdelights.com/Visiting.asp
We are holding our Plant and Garden Photography class during the second Saturday of our Open House on May 12 from 8am-4pm and have only a few spots remaining. If you’re interested in joining us, you can find out more online
Plant Delights was very blessed to have been featured in the March/April issue of “American Gardener” Magazine. If you aren’t a subscriber, we will have extra copies at Open House. You can also find a condensed version online
For a while, I’ve been following the recession-era demise of one of America’s top destination garden centers, Matterhorn Nursery of Spring Valley, New York, whose business is up for auction this weekend. It’s a very sad fall for Matt Horn and his wife Ronnie, who have operated the 36 acre garden center and display garden for over 31 years. Matterhorn filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in fall 2010 after the recession cut their sales by over 50% and a deal to raise money by selling off 15 acres of the property to a nearby municipality fell through. At the time, Matterhorn said they were in the midst of their “sustainable” renovations including installing solar panels, biomass boilers, green roofs, and other “feel-good”, but poor ROI’s (return on investments). After over a year in Chapter 11, it was unfeasible for the company to remain viable with such a high debt load so the property will be auctioned. If you have a desire to instantly own one of the country’s top garden centers, you can find the auction information here.
For the last couple of decades Matt was the poster boy, out-of-the-box thinker for everything a garden center could and should be. In short, Matterhorn was everything to everyone…if you could dream it, Matt had probably already done it. Matterhorn was set up like a European village with mini-shops throughout the property selling everything from outdoor furnishings to food and drinks.
I always enjoyed hearing Matt speak at trade meetings, but always marveled how they managed cash flow and debt load. Unfortunately, Matterhorn now joins an all-too-long line of nursery businesses to have finance issues collide head on with the economic slowdown. Matt and Ronnie will continue to run their landscape design and maintenance business, and knowing them, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back in the retail business in the future…best of luck, my friends.
Calls are coming in from around the Southeast US about the latest horticultural scourge…kudzu bugs. These beetles are voracious, going through kudzu faster than Newt Gingrich does cash. Not only do kudzu bugs eat kudzu, but they also eat crops like soybeans and related ornamental legumes. When kudzu is dormant, these ugly light brown beetles, which are attracted to bright colors and heights can actually loiter on cars and homes, waiting until kudzu begins growing again. Research has shown that these tough critters can even hold onto a car going 80 miles per hour..now that’s a video I want to see. The kudzu bug infestation began in the Atlanta, Georgia area and has now spread from Alabama to the edges of southern Virginia. There really isn’t much to do to keep them out of your home other than to carefully caulk the cracks in your house. As far as damaging the ornamental legumes in your garden, we’re just going to have to see what they attack, but prime candidates are close relatives like lupinus (lupines), baptisia, indigofera, erythrina (coral been), amorpha (lead plant), and cytisus (scotch broom). Here’s a video of the critters. Finally, if you or your spouse are having trouble sleeping, especially after a hard day in the garden, your prayers have been answered. Move over Ambien, the long-awaited three volume set, Algae of the Ukraine is now available. This riveting 1639 page hardcover set, sure to make the NY Times best seller list, includes nomenclature, taxonomy, ecology, and geography of all the greats: Cyanoprocaroya, Euglenophyta, Chlorophyta and many more. You’ll be the life of the party when you whip out volume one and begin extolling the virtues of the Ukranian Dinophyta. If you hurry, the English language edition can be yours for the bargain price of only $235 as long as supplies last. www.koeltz.com Be sure to let me know if that doesn’t put you to sleep.
Enjoy, and until the next newsletter, we’ll see you on Facebook!
We hope you’ve all received your 2011 catalogs by now. If not, it’s probably been confiscated by a postal carrier who also has a penchant for gardening, so give us a holler and we’ll send another. We were very honored to be named one of the seven “Best Mail-Order Plant Sources” by Garden Design Magazine in their December 2010 issue.
We hope you’ve also had time to check out the new version of our Plant Delights website, which includes a number of new items and features. Until you’ve worked on a website this large (27,000 pages indexed by Google), you can’t imagine the time involved. We mentioned last August that we had switched websites, but the new site didn’t live up to our expectations, so for the new year we switched out both our entire nursery database and website systems.
I’m not going to begin to tell you that we’ve worked out all the bugs, so please bear with us as we solve problems that we don’t yet realize are problems. What the new website will allow is faster turnaround of changes and hopefully better Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so more folks in cyberspace can find us.
Because we also have more in-house control of the site, we’ve been able to add several new features. One of these is a “wish list”, where you can tell us which and how many you want of sold out items. If your wish list includes plants that we can produce quickly, then we will. We’ve also added the capability to find plants by categories on the homepage, such as Deer Resistant Plants, Hummingbird Favorites, or Ornamental Grasses.
We’ve recently added several new plant articles including ones on arisaema, curcuma, cyclamen, hedychium, and tricyrtis.
In the plant exploration section, we’ve added images to several of our older expeditions for the first time, including China, Korea, Mexico, and Argentina. We’ve also changed the images in the later galleries to hot links, which should make it easier to follow and know which photos belong where.
We continue to add new plants to the on-line catalog as they become ready including some new ones this week. Most of these plants are available in very limited supply, so if you see something that strikes your fancy, don’t delay. Some of these plants are first time offerings including the hard-to-find Arisaema dahaiense. New plants are listed here.
If you’d like to enter our Top 25 contest for the $250 gift certificate, remember that only 3 weeks remain before our entry deadline of February 15.
I’m traveling around the country this spring and this week I’m in the Big Apple to speak at the Metro Hort’s Plant-O-Rama series for horticultural professionals at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The details are below, so if you’re in the area, be sure to drop by.
While I’m in NY, I’ll also be appearing on another segment of the Martha Stewart Show, which will air live at 10am on Wednesday January 26 on the Hallmark Channel. If you’re so inclined, be sure to tune in and watch our segment on ferns.
If you enjoy traveling to visit great gardens, there are a few spaces remaining for the upcoming JC Raulston Arboretum’s tour to England from June 11-20. The tour, led by Assistant Director Mark Weathington, includes Kew Gardens, RHS Garden Wisley, the Chelsea Physic Garden, Beth Chatto’s Garden, Roy Lancaster’s home garden and The Sir Harold Hillier Arboretum (led by Roy Lancaster). The tour will also include some special private gardens and nurseries, so don’t miss this incredible opportunity. For more information go to the JCRA website or email Mark directly at email@example.com
Speaking of tours, we have a number of bus groups who visit PDN every year, while we hear from others who would like to join a bus tour, but don’t have enough folks to fill the bus. If this is the case, let us know once you have finalized your dates and we’ll help publicize your tour here in our monthly e-newsletter.
In the garden this month, we’re starting to see signs of life despite still being in the midst of a winter that has included a number of healthy winter storms. The flower buds on Helleborus x hybridus are beginning to swell, but no color is showing quite yet. Many folks like to cut the old foliage from their lenten roses, but the key is good timing. If you cut the foliage too early, you lose the protection that the foliage provides for the developing flower buds while exposing the plants to more sun, which speeds up flowering…not always a good thing in midwinter. Our rule of thumb is that we remove all of the previous year’s foliage only when we see the first sign of color in the flower buds. This year, it looks like that’s going to be in mid-February.
Unlike Helleborus x hybrids, Helleborus niger is already in flower and its hybrids, including H. x ericsmithii, H. x ballardiae, and H. x nigercors, are showing flower color and can be cleaned up now. While these hellebore hybrids were once quite rare, recent breeding breakthroughs and tissue culture advances have made these wonderful plants much more readily available.
There has recently been a big uproar in the nation’s capital over a plan by the US National Arboretum to remove a section of the Glen Dale azalea display. Azaleas lovers across the country have launched an email campaign to prevent the arboretum staff from removing the azaleas. While I like azaleas as much as anyone, I have a different take on the issue. The azaleas in question are breeding rejects from the USDA program which produced the Glen Dale Series. The breeding work of the late Arboretum director, Ben Morrison, produced the release of 454 azalea cultivars. Do we really need more azaleas from a program that has yielded 454 named varieties? When most breeding programs are concluded, the culls (rejects) are typically discarded. For some reason, these culls were never discarded, and over the years folks have become emotionally attached to these plants and consequently are now protesting the plan to discard them. The land at the US National Arboretum is some of the most expensive land in the country and is not the place to maintain a collection of cull azaleas…no matter how nice they look for a couple of weeks in spring. My suggestion to concerned members of the Rhododendron Society and the general public is that they raise private money and pay for the plants to be moved to a nearby park, which has more space and is in an area which is not focused on genetically important collections. Perhaps then, the USNA can replant a complete, labeled collection of the named Glen Dale hybrids along with other important hybrids that can serve as a real reference collection instead of the mass of unlabeled, unnamed plants that exist there now.
Congratulations are in order to Dr. Harold Pellett, the retired University of Minnesota professor and executive director of the Landscape Plant Development Center (LPDC) in Minnesota. Harold is the 2011 recipient of the prestigious Scott Medal, awarded by Pennsylvania’s Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College. Harold’s work is responsible for several plant introductions for the northern and midwest regions including Physocarpus ‘Center Glow’, Pyrus ‘Silver Ball’, Diervilla ‘Cool Splash’, and Clematis ‘Center Star’ (we’re ignoring those illegal trademark names that LPDC uses).
We are saddened this month to report the death of a couple of horticultural stalwarts. On January 9, we lost our good friend Clif Russell, 79, of Churchville, PA. Clif and his wife Norma spent much of their life as missionaries in Peru, but returned to the US in the mid 1970s, and in 1981 started a wholesale perennial nursery, Russell Gardens Wholesale. For those who had the good fortune to visit, Clif’s nursery was a treasure trove of rare and unusual plants. Like many of us, his passion for plants and obsessive nature often overrode his business decisions. Many of the cool plants found in nurseries and gardens throughout the Northeast started their lives at Russell’s. Clif is survived by his wife, Norma, and five children: Clifton Jr., Jay Timothy, Andrew, Alan, and Kent.
January 12 saw the passing of horticultural icon, Fred Case, 83, of Saginaw, Michigan. Fred was a high school science teacher who retired from the classroom but never stopped teaching. Fred was an active conservationist known worldwide for his books, including “Orchids of the Western Great Lakes Region” (1964), “Wildflowers of the Northeastern States” (1978), “Wildflowers of the Western Great Lakes Region” (1999), and “Trilliums” (1997). Even in his twilight years, Fred continued to tromp through the woods, studying the native flora. Fred was awarded the Edgar Wherryi Award from the North American Rock Garden Society in 1974 and the Scott Medal in 2004. Fred was preceded in death by his wife Roberta (Boots) Case in 1998, but survived by a son and daughter-in-law, David B. and Sheri Leaman Case. We were fortunate to have visited the nursery a couple of times and always found it an incredible learning experience.
Thanks for taking time to read our newsletter and we hope you will enjoy the new catalog and website.
Happy first day of spring! I know many parts of the country are still covered in snow, but at least the calendar now makes it official. It’s been a roller coaster late winter as we opened for our Winter Open House to 70 degrees F, followed the next day by 36 hours of rain, then 2″ of snow, then consecutive lows of 16 and 15 degrees F…then back to 70 degrees F. How would you like to be a plant? Unlike humans, who can go inside on bad weather days, our plants are stuck to fend for themselves…pretty impressive, if you think about it. On the good side, this has been the first winter in six years we’ve gotten meaningful hardiness data on many of our trial plants…especially agaves.
Damage on agaves may take more than a month to show up after the plant has been affected by cold, so don’t get too excited when your plant looks great the morning after. Conversely, don’t fret over the older leaves turning black, as this is normal. The older leaves on an agave lose winter hardiness, while the new younger growth remains fine. Although I haven’t been able to confirm our theory, it appears the sugars (plant antifreeze) produced in the leaves tend to migrate from the older to the newer growth, leaving the older leaves more susceptible to winter damage.
We are also trialing a number of clumping bamboos including many in the genus borinda. All of the borindas have lost their foliage at 9 degrees F, including B. boliana which showed absolutely no damage at 12 degrees F, and despite West Coast reports of 0 degrees F tolerance without leaf burn. All plants in the genus bambusa also lost their leaves, but this was expected based on past experience. It will take a few months to determine if any of these will resprout from the canes or if they will need to be cut to the ground.
We’ve had several folks ask how our Wollemia nobilis fared in the cold this year, and the answer is fine. One plant showed a bit of foliar damage, but the other ten or so we’ve planted are untouched. The big problem with Wollemias is excess summer moisture, so be sure your soil drainage is impeccable. We’ve seen extensive foliar damage this winter on plants that haven’t shown any in recent years, one being the hardy cycads. Both C. taitungensis and C. panzhihuaensis had complete leaf frying this winter, but both are fine at the base and will resprout in late spring. I like to leave the damaged leaves until the new leaves begin to emerge, but that’s strictly a personal preference.
We’re actually having a very late spring as some plants are more than a month later than normal…which is a good thing. That being said, we’re in that time of year when other plants insist on waking up too early, followed by more cold weather. We’ve already had several days in the 70s this winter and sure enough, here come the early emerging Arisaema ringens out of the ground. That would have been fine if our temperatures hadn’t decided to drop back into the low teens. Podophyllum versipelle also peeked it’s head above ground, but we expect it to get blasted at least 2-3 times each spring. To deal with early emerging plants, we use spunbound polyester row covers we cut to fit over each plant. The plants are covered with the row covers, then topped with a large container. Row covers vary in their thickness and consequently their amount of temperature protection. Typically a 1.5 ounce fabric provides 6-8 degrees of protection while 3 ounce material provides 10+ degrees of protection. Even the best row cover isn’t much good below the mid-20s F. If you have the option to throw some shredded leaves over the row covers, that will provide added protection. The covers should be removed as soon as the weather permits. We store the cut row cover pieces during the summer so that they can be reused…many for over a decade.
We added a few special plants to the web right before open house including some of our special Arum italicum seedlings. We have been growing these from seed to select special forms, then subsequently propagating our selections by division. In doing this, we wind up with far too many excellent seedlings that aren’t unique enough from each other to introduce them all. This year we decided to offer these as a seed strain we call PDN Clouded Forms. They are different from the typical Italian arums in that instead of having marbled vein patterns, they have a silver center often flecked with green. At Open House this winter, I had a couple of folks comment about their arums spreading by runners to other areas of their garden. This is an oft perpetuated garden myth, since arums, like me and my bad knees, have no ability to run. When arums are allowed to set seed, birds can pick up the seed and deposit them anywhere throughout your garden. This is the only way arums can spread. If you get to the point where you have enough arums, simply cut off the flowers or developing seed between the time they flower in early May and the time the seed ripens in July. We hope you enjoy some of these special selections.
Related to arums is probably the strangest plant we grow, a plant known by the monikers, Pigs Butt Arum or Dead Horse Arum…Helicodiceros muscivorus. This unusual Mediterranean native emerges in late winter and flowers in early spring before going dormant for the summer. The three-dimensional foliage is strange enough, but the flowers that resemble (and smell like) a pig’s rear end, are truly bizarre, making a great gag gift for your gardening friends or a perfect way to get a non-interested child to pay attention to plants. We’ve only got a small number available this season, so get them while they last.
One of the plants I seem to continually talk about in spring is ipheion and the related nothoscordums. If you haven’t grown these, they are small bulbs that make a stunning late winter/early spring show, then go dormant in the summer. This year, we are offering for the first time, the white flowered Ipheion uniflorum ‘Greystone’ from NC’s Norman Beal. I. ‘Greystone’ has smaller flowers than the white flowered I. ‘Alberto Castillo’, but makes a much more compact clump and for us has had heavier flowering. Nothoscordum sellowianum (used to be an ipheion) makes a short 1″ tall fast offsetting clump topped, starting in February, with small bright yellow goblet-shaped flowers. Unlike most nothoscordums, this one is sterile, so you’ll need to divide it if you.d like to share. We have this growing in our full-sun rock garden and I can’t say enough good things about this gem.
As we head into spring, we routinely check our garden soils for nutrient levels and soil pH. Before we mulch, we prefer to add any soil amendments if needed. If our soil needs phosphorus, we use rock phosphate and if the soil need potassium, we use Greensand…a natural source of potassium. If you need to raise the pH of the soil, either calcitic lime or dolomitic lime will do the trick. If our soil test shows a high magnesium reading, we opt for calcitic lime. If you garden in an area with a high pH that you need to lower, then Flowers of Sulfur will do the trick. Once these are applied, then you’re ready to mulch. Timing of mulch application can be a real time saver for weed prevention. There are basically three groups of weeds; winter annuals, summer annuals, and perennials. Mulching isn’t of much use in preventing perennial weeds, but it can work wonders for many annual weeds…especially if they require light for germination, which many do. Some winter annual weeds start germinating in fall, while others germinate best in late winter. Two most popular annual weeds in our climate are chickweed and henbit. A good mulch applied before they sprout works wonders on their control.
We’ve been asked by a number of customers to compile a list of plants resistant to deer, since these have become the number one pest of gardeners nationwide. We’ve hesitated to put together a list because we don’t believe any plant is completely deer resistant and deer tastes, like human tastes, vary greatly. That being said, we spent quite a bit of time compiling our list from available research as well as observation from ourselves and our customers. Please keep in mind deer resistant plants may still get a nibble until the deer realizes it isn’t one of their favorites…even some humans eat things that many of us consider inedible…i.e. liver or tripe. Our list of deer resistant plants as well as a list of plants to attract hummingbirds have been posted in the article section of our website. We welcome your input on additions or deletions.
In the ‘in case you missed it’ category, you’ve got to check out the Floral Bras, compliments of the Quilters of SC that give a whole new meaning to sex in the garden. Actually, the bras will be on tour throughout South Carolina until fall, at which time they will be auctioned to benefit breast cancer patients. If you have a female gardener in your life who is hard to buy for, check these out.
Floral Bras to benefit breast cancer patients
In the ‘where are they now’ category, many plant collectors will no doubt remember Stephen Burns, formerly of the Vine and Branch Nursery in NC. Stephen was J.C. Raulston’s go-to grafter for the odd and hard to graft woodies in the 1980s. Stephen and his wife Rhonda closed the nursery in the late 1980s and moved to SC, where he worked for years at Gilbert’s Wholesale Nursery. From there, Stephen was called to the ministry, where he still works today.
The botanical garden world was surprised to hear of the impending retirement of Missouri Botanical Garden director Dr. Peter Raven, who announced he will be stepping down from his post at the end of July 2011. Peter has been the director at Mobot (as it is called in botanical circles) since 1971 (40 years in 2011). The news was such a surprise because most of us think of Peter as an ageless iconic figure that we all assumed would outlast the garden. Anyone with even a passing interest in plants has benefitted knowingly or unknowingly from Peter’s legacy of work. Peter’s devoted years to researching and publishing Floras of all the world’s plants including the current Flora of China project, which would probably never have happened without Peter’s vision and drive. Peter is married to the former Dr. Pat Duncan, an NCSU Horticulture Department graduate and former classmate of mine. You can read more about Peter and his list of accomplishments, awards, and philosophy at the links below.
Peter Raven at Wikipedia
Interview with Peter Raven
Thanks to David Theodoropoulos for alerting us to a great on-line seed germination reference. This publication from The International Board for Plant Genetic Resources is used by worldwide seed banks to assist them in germinating a wide range of unusual plants. This is not a homeowner guide, but one for scientists that requires a bit of seed germination knowledge to use properly and the information is amazing.
If you’re in the greenhouse or nursery business, you are probably too familiar with the Modine family of heaters, which are the top brand of heaters in our industry. When we got started in the business, we checked out other heating options, which at the time were limited to Reznor and from our research didn’t offer a dramatically better option. It wasn’t that Modine was a bad heater, but in greenhouse applications, the heaters didn’t have a very long life span, both due to the nursery moisture and fertilizer salt residue. I actually wrote to Modine several years ago expressing my concern and asking if they would work with us to develop a cover that would help protect the heaters in the summer when we removed our overwintering greenhouse covers. Unfortunately, they didn’t even choose to reply. After decades of going through a warehouse of Modine parts, Bob Stewart of Arrowhead Alpines told me about the L.B. White brand of Guardian heaters. The White heaters are actually designed for hog production and not greenhouse use, but the beauty is their use in hog production is far more degrading than in a greenhouse. Not only is the cost about half of a comparable Modine heater, but the operation is much simpler, the heat output is variable, and the heater is far more resistant to degradation in outdoor conditions. The White heaters are also ventless, meaning you will not need the standard heat losing vent stack that you typically see extruding from the greenhouse sidewall. If you live in an area where the temperatures drop below the 20s and the heater will run continuously, you will need a small intake and outflow vent since the heater can actual suck all of the oxygen out of the greenhouse and extinguish the pilot light. If you’ve been looking f or a different heater for your greenhouse, check out these heaters.
After 21 years, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle and the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, the second and third largest flower shows in the country respectively, come to an end this year. Salmon Bay Events, which puts on both shows, is for sale by founders, Duane and Alice Kelly, who are retiring from the flower show business so Duane can start a new career as a playwright. Attendance at both shows has declined in recent years due to the economy. The Northwest Show has just ended and the final San Francisco Show will be starting soon. If you’d like to attend the last show, check out the Garden Show website for more details. For between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000, the shows can be yours, so if you know anyone looking to buy a flower show, give Duane a call.
My speaking schedule for the remainder of the season has been updated. I look forward to meeting you when I visit your region for a program.
As many of us in the mail order industry struggle for survival, we’d once again like to say a heartfelt thanks for those who have ordered this year… Thank you!
Please direct all replies and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and enjoy
Greetings from PDN and we hope all is well in your garden. It’s been a challenging time since we last wrote, from Hurricane Ike to the stock market dropping like a hot potato. Our thoughts go out to the people and gardens affected by Hurricane Ike. At the Stephen F. Austin Mast Arboretum in Nacogdoches, TX, the Pineywoods section of the garden no longer has many pines or woods of any kind. The photos I’ve seen show the Arboretum stunningly devastated. Likewise, Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens in Houston suffered severe damage from both wind and flooding. Moody Gardens on Galveston Island also suffered heavy damage, but has reopened. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were adversely affected by the storm.
Outside of Hurricane Ike, this has been about as good of a late summer and fall as it gets. The temperature in most of the Southeast has been far below normal and we have had good rains leaving us 7.5″ above normal for our yearly rainfall. There are still some very dry parts of the country including areas around western NC, eastern TN, upstate SC, and south to Atlanta.
We’ve just finished our fall inventory as we crunch numbers and figure out which new and returning plants have earned the right to grace the pages of our 2009 catalog. While we’re pretty good at predicting sales numbers, we occasionally overpropagate or the catalog photo just wasn’t as good as we had hoped, so this is your chance to benefit from our errors as we clear out our overstocked plants with a 20% off sale. You can find the list of items which are on sale on our Sale Page. The sale is only valid on orders placed between now and November 2 for delivery by November 15. Enjoy.
We’d like to congratulate Raleigh Landscape Architect and PDN customer, Rodney Swink for being awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects LaGasse Medal for his leadership in management and conservancy of natural resources and public lands. Rodney is the Director of the NC Department of Commerce’s Office of Urban Development … congratulations!
In other news from the gardening world, Dr. H. Marc Cathey passed away on October 8 following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease at age 79. Marc served two terms as president of the American Horticultural Society from 1974 to 1978 and again from 1993-1997. Marc began his studies at NC State University, with a BS in 1950, and later finished his Ph.D at Cornell. In 1956, he began his career at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, MD. After some pioneer work with day length and its use in forcing horticultural crops, he was promoted to Director of the US National Arboretum in 1981 where he remained until he retired from government service. During his career, Marc was the ultimate showman when it came to horticultural promotion. From the New American Garden concept to the Capitol Columns, to the 1990 USDA Hardiness Zone Map, Marc was unquestionably a marketing genius. With his flamboyant personality, Las Vegas style, and oversized ego, you either loved or hated Marc, but without question he tirelessly promoted gardening until the end. If I see you at the bar one night, we’ll share more Marc stories.
If you live in the Research Triangle region of NC, and have an area you’d like to clear of unwanted vegetation, there is help available in the form of the goat patrol. Having used goats here at PDN when we first purchased the property, I can attest both to their effectiveness and their entertainment value. Anyway, if you’d like something with a little more personality than a weedtrimmer, go for it.
Last month I mentioned our Taiwan expedition log was coming, but it took a bit longer than expected to get the 400 images posted.
Visitors to our garden in October are constantly amazed at the fall show of color … other than garden mums. As gardeners, we miss such an opportunity when we don’t take advantage of the great plants that enjoy strutting their stuff this time of year.
This has been an especially great year for dahlias. Typically, dahlias flower in spring and slow down during the heat of summer. Since dahlias prefer cool nights, we get our best flowering of the season when fall rolls around. We are particularly enamored with the dark foliaged types, of which many new cultivars have been recently released, most from European breeding programs. We’re constantly asked about winter hardiness, and in our region of NC, dahlias are reliable when left in the ground over the winter. Based on our experience, it should be fine to leave dahlias in the ground in regions which only hit 0 degrees F for short periods. Since dahlias are tubers, there is no problem planting them in the fall. D. ‘Party’ and D. ‘Flame’ are personal favorites, but then I like my plants a little on the tacky side.
Without question, one of the other great plant groups for fall is salvia. Salvia greggii is actually a woody subshrub that we treat as a perennial. Like dahlias, they start flowering in spring, but their real show comes in fall as the nights cool. Other salvia species with the same traits include the US native Salvia farinacea and the South American Salvia guaranitica. I do not recommend planting them in fall if you are in the same zone of their maximum hardiness. In other words, don’t plant a Zone 7 salvia in the fall while living in Zone 7 … fine in Zone 8, etc. Another group of salvias are those that only flower in fall, triggered by shortening day length. These include the giant yellow-flowering Salvia madrensis, the tall blue-spiked S. ‘Blue Chiquita’, the tall Salvia leucantha and Salvia puberula, and the bright red-orange Salvia regla.
Not only are there good salvias for fall, but there are good salvia relatives that are easy to miss because they were kicked out of the genus salvia for alternative sexual habits. These include rabdosia, perovskia, rostrinucula, leonotis, and lepechinia. Rabdosia longituba is the one of the five that must have shade … no sun or it’ll burn like a blue-eyed blonde. For us, rabdosia comes into flower from late September to mid-October with hundred of tiny blue flowers. It reseeds politely, so plant accordingly. Rostrinucula is unquestionably one of my favorite fall-flowering plants and one I would not garden without. From the ground, it resprouts in spring to reach 4′ tall, and starting in late August, it flowers into November, covered with long, pendent terminal catkins of lavender that open at the top and progress downward while the catkin extends. It’s one of those cool plants that just makes you smile. Lepechinia hastata is the crown jewel of the genus and looks like a 5′ tall salvia. The menthol-fragranced leaves serve as a nice foil to the tall spikes of mauvy lavender flowers that last from late August until frost. Lepechinia is particularly drought and heat tolerant as well as being a favorite of hummingbirds. Leonotis is known in some gardening circles, but virtually unknown in others. Here in our part of NC, we are at the northern end of hardiness range for this gem. Leonotis is just coming into full flower with tall spikes of bright orange flower balls. There isn’t much unknown about perovskia, but after being the ‘flavor of the month’ for years as a staple of ‘The New American Garden,’ its availability has waned in recent years as growers moved on to other new introductions. Despite not getting the headlines it used to, it is still one of the stalwarts for hot, dry gardens. As is the case with most of these genera, drought tolerance isn’t an issue once the plants are established.
The cyclamen, in particular C. hederifolium, have just outdone themselves this year. As always, they start flowering for us in July and continue non-stop into fall. Early on, we had little success with them until we learned they need to be planted where they will be dry in the summer months, simulating their Mediterranean upbringing. We look for areas we can’t keep wet in the summer, despite irrigation, and plant them there. Areas near water-hogging trees and shrubs are perfect … as long as they aren’t completely dark. We find light shade to several hours of sun is perfect. These are great to plant now, since they continue to grow through the winter.
We all recognize the toad lilies as being great fall bloomers for the woodland garden, and I hope you have explored some of the newer and lesser known members of the genus. Most folks start with the axillary-flowering Tricyrtis hirta, which is still one of the best in the genus. Another of the purple-flowering species is the stoloniferous Tricyrtis formosana, which is less hardy, but flowers terminally for a much longer time in late summer. There are also a number of hybrids between T. formosana and T. hirta including T. ‘Imperial Banner’, and T. ‘Sinonome’. In addition to the great variegated foliage, our clumps of T. ‘Imperial Banner’ are simply stunning in flower this fall.
Many folks grow red hot pokers, but most of the common species and cultivars are either spring or summer growers. Kniphofia rooperi is one of the few exceptions, as it starts flowering in late August to early September and is still in flower. I particularly like the flower heads, which are shorter, but much wider than the spring flowering species. If you haven’t grown this great plant, and like pokers, I think you will find it outstanding.
You don’t normally think of coreopsis for flowering in the fall, but southeast US natives, C. helianthoides and C. integrifolia are simply stunning this time of year. Both species are spreading plants, native to wet soils, yet both are amazing garden specimens in the driest garden spots. We’re currently sold out of C. integrifolia, but put this on your list for spring.
We all know ornamental grasses are stalwarts of the fall garden, but few can hold a candle to Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘White Cloud’. Unfortunately this gem comes into flower about four weeks after our fall open house, so visitors don’t get to see it in person. The 4′ tall x 4′ wide clumps of this great native are topped now with airy plumes of white flowers. The other favorite fall bloomer is the giant sugar cane, Saccharum arundinaceum. This grass is not for the faint of heart with its 12′ plumes of lavender, opening in mid-October.
In the Top 25 this month, there were no new moves into the top 30, although Aloe polyphylla, Agave ‘Creme Brulee’, Anisacanthus wrightii, and Clematis ‘Stolwijk Gold’ lurk close behind. Euphorbia ‘Nothowlee’ continues its climb upward, moving into the 3rd position, where it will need a huge leap to overtake either of the top 2 by year’s end. The lovely and talented Salvia chamaedryoides moves into 7th place, while Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’ also cracks the Top 10. It is amazing to be this close to the end of the season and still find 3 agaves in the Top 10 and 6 in the top 30. Gaillardia ‘Fanfare’ has made a late season move, jumping from 20th to 15th, but no other significant moves took place. We hope your choices have put you in place to win our $250 Plant Delights gift certificate.
We hope you enjoy your garden this fall season as much as we do ours. For a little solace from the constant barrage of 24/7 media, remember, there’s no place like a garden. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your continued support and hope to see you soon!
Please direct all replies and questions to email@example.com.
Thanks and enjoy
Greetings from PDN, we hope all is well in your neck of the woods. In the spirit of the late George Carlin…why is it that woods have a neck instead of say, an arm or a foot? Inquiring gardeners want to know.
The fall 2008 Plant Delights catalog went in the mail Monday and should be arriving at your homes in short order. We hope you’ll find some treasures you just can’t live without. If you can’t wait, the new catalog is already on line at www.plantdelights.com.
Weather permitting, we’re ready to start shipping from the fall catalog as soon as you’re ready to receive your plants. We finally have our stock back up of Colocasia ‘Thailand Giant’ after our debacle that I described earlier. Again, thanks so much for your patience as we work to resolve our screw-up. Another small error in our last e-newsletter, I wrote about Hymenocallis pumila and meant H. pygmaea…sorry.
We mentioned several months ago an upcoming article about PDN in Garden & Gun magazine. Well, the article showed up in the June 2008 issue, and if you haven’t got your subscription yet, you can now find it on-line at gardenandgun.com/stories/features/the_plant_hunter-113.
In the world of writing, Dr. Mike Dirr mentioned the other day he has completed (except for final proofing), an update to his 1998 Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. For those who want to have the latest version of Mike’s plant bible, we’ll pass along printing details as we get them.
One of our first classes to fill each year is our Propagation Class, and while the initial class has come and gone, we are holding a second section on Saturday August 16, from 10am – 4pm. This section will be taught by Amber Harmon, who is in charge of the propagation here at PDN. There are still a few places available, so please call if you’d like to join us.
Headlining the fall events in the Triangle region of NC is the ‘Surround Yourself with Shady Characters’ Symposium, sponsored by the JC Raulston Arboretum. The list of internationally recognized speakers is truly superb, so this is not a symposium to be missed. For symposium attendees, PDN will serve bagels and coffee on Friday, September 26 from 9-10am, and the gardens and nursery will be open from 8am-4pm for viewing and shopping. You can click here to find out more from the JCRA website.
In other important upcoming events, we hope you will participate in the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days, benefitting the JC Raulston Arboretum. The dates are Saturday, September 20 from 9-5 and Sunday, September 21, from 12-5. Since that is a Plant Delights Nursery Fall Open House weekend as well, we hope you’ll spend the entire day visiting some of the great gardens of the region. The cost to visit is $5 per garden, which obviously is not applicable here at PDN, but we will gladly accept the same fee and send the donation along to the Garden Conservancy. You can read more about the area gardens which are participating at www.opendaysprogram.org.
In sad news, we regretfully report the passing of world-renowned plant explorer Peter Wharton, at age 57. Peter was the curator of the Asian Garden at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. I’m sure many of you have met Peter or have seen his handiwork at the magnificent UBC gardens. When Peter, who was scheduled to be in China this fall, went to the doctor a few months ago for a melanoma, the cancer had already spread to the rest of his body so much so, that there was no viable treatment. Peter is survived by his wife and three children.
UBC has established the Peter Wharton Memorial Fund to endow a lecture series in his memory at the garden. For information on making a donation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The UBC Botanical Garden is planning a celebration of Peter’s life on Saturday, September 6 from 2-5pm in the gardens. They have asked those who plan on attending to RSVP email@example.com.
There is so much going on with the plants out in the garden, it’s hard to know where to start. This has been an amazing few weeks of lycoris, as the stalks of colorful flowers emerge from nowhere. Lycoris is a group of Asian bulbs, whose foliage disappears in late spring, making the summer-borne flowers live up to their common name of surprise lily or hurricane lily. Lycoris grow equally as well in light open shade as in full sun. While they are obscenely drought-tolerant, flowering is sacrificed if they are dry for too long in the early summer. Many customers tell us they have much better luck with our container-grown plants than with often poorly stored dried bulbs. We already carry a nice selection of lycoris, but more are in the pipeline thanks to the magic of tissue culture. When we get plantlets back from the lab, we must then line them out in the field for at least one additional year to get them to flowering size.
Another summer flowering geophyte we don’t hear much about these days is the hardy cyclamen. While most catalogs tend to over-hype the flowering abilities of most plants, we find the opposite true for Cyclamen hederifolium. For us, they start flowering in mid-July and continue into the fall. It seems to us this is dependent on occasional summer rain showers, but we have seen consistent flowers each year for the last decade or so. Cyclamen purpurascens is another species in flower now, which makes a nice compliment to C. hederifolium.
Another geophyte that doesn’t get nearly enough attention is the hardy non-weedy oxalis. In the summer months, oxalis are the Timex® of the garden…they ‘take a lickin’ and keep on tickin… There are so many great garden specimens, but without a doubt the Oxalis regnellii types are the best in our climate. Not only is the foliage colorful on cultivars such as ‘Jade’ or ‘Triangularis’, but they are also in full flower during the summer months. We have found them to fare best in part sun to light shade conditions and have grown them in both dry sandy soils and rich boggy soils.
August is also a peak month for crocosmia in NC. I love crocosmia, but we’ve been frustrated for years at how good they looked the first year and how bad they looked every subsequent year. The problem is that many commonly grown cultivars, such as the beautiful C. ‘Lucifer’ simply crowd themselves out. If C. ‘Lucifer’ isn’t divided every year, it’s worthless. You’ll quickly find giving away crocosmia corms is harder than finding someone to take your extra garden squash. Over the years, we have found several that don’t choke themselves out as fast, including three wonderful specimens from England’s David Tristam and a few other stalwarts such as C. ‘Star of the East’ and C. ‘Jenny Bloom’.
I hope many of you have experimented with our ever increasing selections of hardy sinningias, which are simply superb for summer flowering. These drought-tolerant plants are great when grown in reasonably well-drained sites that get from 2-6 hours of full sun daily. I first knew sinningias from the house plant gloxinias purchased as a gift, only to watch them fade away in a horticulture hospice ward a few months later. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine these could be grown as winter hardy (Zone 7) perennials.
If large bold tropical-looking plants are your thing, I hope you are growing Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’. This amazing Argentine native has been flowering non-stop since early spring and now tops 8′ tall. Of a similar stature is the amazing Aralia cordata. This 8′ tall herbaceous aralia makes a monstrous clump, topped in August with large arching sprays of white flowers. This is simply a glorious and easy to grow plant that should be in all gardens large enough to hold it. Last, but not least, are the lobelias which seem to come and go in popularity. Part of the problem with growing lobelias is that gardeners like to mulch them along with the rest of their plants. Unfortunately, lobelias don’t take kindly to mulch, as their rosettes should remain exposed at all times. In the wild, most lobelias grow in moist soils, with some actually growing in standing or running water. While the above is true for hybrids of L. cardinalis, L. ‘Candy Corn’ requires very dry soils and doesn’t even form a winter rosette. If you treat your lobelias well, you’ll have stunning plants in August…just waiting for the hummingbird assault.
I’ll stop here, so you can get out into your own gardens, since I’m sure you’re not reading this at work. We wish you a great remainder of the summer gardening season and hope to see you at our Fall Open House and the JCRA symposium.
As always, we thank you for your continued support and patronage.
Please direct all replies and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and enjoy
It’s starting out to be a great fall at PDN. It’s actually hard to believe that it’s already fall…especially since we still haven’t seen those major hurricanes that we’ve been promised! Not only has the weather been superb, but fall has brought out garden visitors en mass. We just finished the best attended fall open house in our history, followed by a wonderful visit from participants at the 30th Anniversary J.C. Raulston Arboretum Symposium. It was great to have so many folks visiting for the first time and seeing others returning for the first time in a decade. We would like to personally thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend either of these events.
We’d also like to welcome a great new crop of PDN volunteers. Our volunteer program, which started in 2003, has swelled to 12 people, including some that have been here since our program began. Volunteers spend their time helping in either the botanic garden or research divisions. In exchange for their invaluable hard work, they not only go home with excess plants and knowledge, but know that they have contributed to making the gardens even better for the next group of visitors. It is our hope that in the next few years we’ll begin laying the groundwork for a foundation and friends group to assist in the eventual transition of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens to a public garden (hopefully a long time from now). We’ll keep you posted.
From the nursery end, we have a couple of plant snafues to report regarding plants shipped early in the year as Hemerocallis multiflora. Due to a vendor error, the plants that we shipped are Hemerocallis fulva instead of the plant pictured in our catalog, which also turned out not to be H. multiflora. We got the original plant from China and thought we had it identified correctly…guess not. The plant we pictured is now most likely an exceptional form of H. citrina. Also, we had a few of the Echinacea ‘Sunset’ to flower with distorted petals. If you have Hemerocallis multiflora and your plant flowered orange, or an Echinacea ‘Sunset’ with distorted petals, simply contact our Customer Service Department at email@example.com for a credit or refund. Please accept our apologies for this error.
We’ve made quite a few production changes that have helped us produce even better plants for the upcoming season. Due to our hot summers, we have very high losses on some plants that do not fare well in containers. This year, we switched many of our production houses to a new silver reflective shade cloth… the one that many open house visitors asked about. This has made a huge difference in over-summering plants such as hellebores. Where we lost virtually our entire crop in 2005, this year was the exact opposite due to the new reflective shade. I think you are going to be amazed when you attend our winter open house in February.
In the jobs department, we have an opening and are looking to fill our Propagation/Production Supervisor position with a very special person. This is the person who propagates and overseas the potting of every plant that we sell, so it goes without saying that this is a very important position. If you have an interest in learning more or to forward an application, please email Heather Brameyer in our HR Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month, I talked about some of the plants in flower this fall, but I didn’t have time to write about all the ones I wanted to mention, so here’s a little follow-up.
Fall is certainly the season for salvia… especially the S. greggii and S. microphylla types. These desert salvias simply love the cooler nights and begin to flower equally or better than they do in spring. The range of colors is from reds through to whites. If blue is your color, then Salvia guaranitica is your plant. S. guaranitica ‘Argentina Skies’ (light blue) and Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ (dark cobalt blue) are both still in full flower. Need lavender?…no problem, the range of Salvia leucantha cultivars are ready and flowering. If yellow is your color, Salvia madrensis ‘Red Neck Girl’ is just what the doctor ordered. The huge spikes of butter yellow will be opening shortly. If this is too tall, Salvia nipponica and Salvia koyamae are woodland groundcover salvias…very cool.
One of my favorite groups of the fall garden is the hardy gesneriads (African Violet cousins). For purples, try the colorful achimenes with their pansy-like flowers. If orange is your color, the continuous-flowering Sinningia sellovii is just waiting for the hummingbirds… birds not included in the shipment. If you like your plants a little on the bright and gaudy side, the brilliantly stunning Gloxinia ‘Evita’ is one of those plants that you just have to see to believe – just ask anyone who has attended our fall open house. For a little more demure shade of red, Gloxinia ‘Chic’ is just perfect. One last favorite gesneriad is the breathtakingly beautiful Titanotrichum oldhammii with its long tubular yellow flowers highlighted by an orange-red throat.
While many of the hardy hibiscus are still producing a few scattered flowers, several other mallows are still in full swing. The US native, Malvaviscus drummondii with its unusual reddish-orange turban-like flowers is a hummingbirds’ delight. Another great native mallow for fall is Pavonia lasiopetala. The small but bright pink flowers are a welcome addition to the fall garden.
I mentioned a bit about hummingbirds, but this is a great time to think about plants that will entertain and feed hummers as they pass through your garden. If you garden in the South and you don’t grow cestrums, why not? Few plants provide the duration of color and look splendid as we head further into fall. Think big yellow and orange mounds of color! Another hummer favorite is manettia or firecracker vine. This amazing non-intrusive vine doesn’t really get going until late summer and fall, when it becomes a feast for hummers and gardeners who like bright orange flowers. More hummer food… how about Cuphea micropetala? Think flowers that look like miniature cigars. Your hummers won’t mind this smoking section. Finally… I promise, another hummer favorite is Bouvardia ternifolia. The brilliant tubular flowers on this Mexican native just scream for the hummers. If you plant all the aforementioned plants together, you’ll need body armor to get near the bed to tend the flowers.
What else is blooming now? Plenty! Lantanas are at their peak, as is one of the late Elizabeth Lawrence’s favorites, Kalimeris pinnatifida … both, virtual flowering machines.
If you’ve got shade, we’ve even got fall flowers for you. The easy-to-grow hardy Cyclamen hederifolium is in full flower throughout the woodland, as is the stunning pink Begonia grandis ‘Herons Pirouette’. How could we talk about fall shade gardens without mentioning the wonderful Tricyrtis ? …many of which are currently in full flower, with flower colors from purple to yellow. I’ll end with one of the least known, but most spectacular fall woodland plants that we grow, the underappreciated Rabdosia longituba …won’t you please adopt one today?
There’s so much more that I don’t have time to mention, from solidago to aster, and from polygonum to costus. While some of you in the northern zones have already closed down your planting for the year, much of the rest of the country is still in full fall planting mode. We’ll let you continue to browse and hope you’re enjoying your fall garden as much as we are.
While I’d love to join you in the garden, it’s that time of year when the staff locks me away to begin writing the 2007 Plant Delights Nursery catalog. You’d be amazed how well solitary confinement works to stimulate the creative juices and make the imagination run wild… quite similar to too many shots of an adult beverage. Surely, you didn’t think a sane person writes this catalog? As always, there are many cool new plants in the pipeline… just waiting for the 2007 catalog to hit the presses.
For those who entered our Top 25 Contest, be sure to check out how your favorite plants are selling. There was some minor shuffling in the Top 25, but the only new entry was Selaginella braunii that nearly cracked The top 25, by rising to #27. Only a few more months remain before we announce the winner of our Top 25 contest… we hope your picks are measuring up. If not, you’d better get your gardening friends busy!
Please direct all replies and questions to email@example.com
Thanks and enjoy,
Greetings from Plant Delights as we open for our FINAL open house weekend of the year. The first fall open weekend greeted us with near perfect weather… a welcome change from some years in the past. We’ve got the same great weather booked for our final open weekend of the year which starts today, Friday September 15. When the weather finally cooled after the summer heat, the garden has been ablaze with some amazing plants. click for open house information
This is one of the best flowering years we have seen for lycoris (surprise lilies). If you haven’t grown these amaryllis relatives, you haven’t enjoyed the surprise when they burst out of the ground in late summer/early fall with stalks of flower that range from red to orange and from white to yellow. The foliage doesn’t emerge until after the flowers have finished and remains evergreen through the winter and spring. The key to growing and flowering lycoris is to not let the soil stay excessively dry for long periods and to be sure the foliage gets plenty of light while its growing. Lycoris grow fine in deciduous shade, but we have had the best luck in bright sun plantings. All of our plants are shipped growing in pots and not as dry bulbs, which when stored too long can inhibit flowering. click here for our catalog listing of Lycoris
Closely related to lycoris are zephyranthes and habranthus… both know as rain lilies. These easy-to-grow bulbs can remain dry for weeks, then within 2-3 days after a rain, they burst forth with their colorful flowers. The flower colors range form pink to orange and from yellow to white. We have assembled quite an outstanding assortment including many newly introduced hybrids from Master Breeder Fadjar Marta of Indonesia. click here for habranthus click here for zephranthes
The final amaryllid that I must mention is Rhodophiala bifida. R. bifida is the easiest and most reliable of the rhodophiala clan to grow. Hailing from near Buenos Aires, Argentina, R. bifida emerges in late August to mid-September with 1′ tall stalks of blood red flower. In effect, this is a dwarf hippeastrum. Just like the lycoris, the foliage emerges after the flowers. R. bifida typically is available only in blood red, but we are pleased to also have the carmine pink form available in limited quantities. click here for Rhodophiala
There’s plenty more, but I hope you take time to roam through the pages of our on-line catalog. In addition to cool plants, there’s no telling what you will find.
If you still haven’t signed up for the JCRA 30th Anniversary Symposium, time is drawing to a close. This superb lineup of speakers has rarely been topped. Don’t be one of those that who you had attended after the event.
For those who entered our Top 25 Contest, be sure to check out how your favorite plants are selling. The only change in the top 10 is Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’ which zoomed from #12 to #7. Liriope ‘Peedee Ingot’ rose from #14 to #11, while Dicliptera suberecta moved from #20 to #14… that always happens when hummingbird season arrives. Aloe polyphylla makes the biggest jump from #29 all the way to #15. Only a few more months remain before we announce the winner of our Top 25 contest… we hope your picks are measuring up. If not, you’d better get your gardening friends busy!
Please direct all replies and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and enjoy