Friday, July 27, 2012

Espaliered Plants: A Special Design Solution

Fine gardening and architectural gardening techniques have been around since the alleged construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 600BC by King Nebuchadnezzar II,  and well before.  The practice of espalier, which was more functional than artistic, became prominent during Roman times and especially during the Middle Ages.  Fruit trees would be grown against walls inside courtyards so they were accessible.  During the Middle Ages they were grown inside the castle walls.  I am sure if I worked hard here, I could come up with a good Monty Python reference.

Donald Wyman, a famous horticulturist and head of the Arnold Arboretum for decades, wrote an article in Arnoldia, the publication of the Arboretum in Boston, in 1969 called Espaliered Plants .  This will provide an excellent summary of the practice, forms and plants used in the past.

The work of Espalier is really to learn how to control and manipulate the growth of plants.  

Currently, the practice of espalier is more architectural and design focused, however some of the most popular plants for espalier are still fruit trees, especially apple.  It is often a formal design element, but anyone with a sunny wall can grow a tree in this fashion.  If you have a bare wall on your terrace or have a small or enclosed garden space, this might be the perfect option to bring something special to the space.    

Rose Alee at Giverny, painted by
Claude Monet 1920-1922
 Espalier can also refer to training trees over other structures as well.  On the private estate I managed we had a 100' long wrought iron alee (a structure that covers a pathway) on which we had trained about 100 European Hornbeams (Carpinus betulus).  The plants were tied to the structure and pruned once a year to accentuate the form of the curved structure.  In the heat of summer it was always one of the coolest places to relax, a form of horticultural air conditioning.  The feel of this alee was similar to that evoked in the Monet painting above with the supported roses arching above the path with planting on the sides.

River Road Farms, a nursery in Tennessee, specializes in growing and training espaliered plants.      Spend some time on Peter Thevenot's site to appreciate the various plants and forms he uses for his work.  He trains plants in all of the formal styles and expends tremendous effort to deliver near perfect plants.  Also, you can check out his thorough article in Fine Gardening on the subject.

Trained red Japanese Maple at Stonegate Gardens
However, your garden may not be styled formally and you may also not have the time or inclination to attain this level of perfection.  The vertical space against a wall or fence can be filled with a two-dimensionally grown plant such as these two images from Stonegate Gardens Nursery.  They just require some annual pruning and shaping to keep within the confines of the space.  These are grown on a wooden trellis and just need to be unsecured and then re-attached to the support structure on your wall.  This can be in the form of a trellis, wire or metal supports to keep the plant and branches anchored.

Trained American Smokebush, Cotinus obvatus
at Stonegate Gardens
The plants you can use are only limited by your imagination, and if you start with some small plants rather than the pictured full-grown plants, the cost to experiment is minimal.

Some plants that I have worked with that make excellent espalier are:  Cotoneaster, Japanese Maple, Viburnum, Magnolia and Euonymus and Apple.

I encourage you to look around your garden for a space that could benefit from this technique.  Maybe you want a fence or a structure to separate spaces and a you would be willing to do something different.  Lot's of people have a cement or stone foundation that would look nicer if it were covered, or the side of a garage that could be brought to life.  The area doesn't have to be a confined space, it could be a space that needs vertical interest and still could have a planting bed in front.

Remember that these living structures are semi-permanent, so the materials you use to support need to be permanent.  You don't want to grow an espalier against a wooden fence that will decay in ten years, unless you add some permanent structure for support after the fence is gone.

I hope this helps you to look at your spaces with another new perspective and open your eyes to different possibilities in your landscape.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Butterfly Season

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - Common and beautiful in
New England

Red Admiral - Spending its summer up north after
migrating from Texas and Mexico
Dorsal view of Red Admiral

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Designing with Ornamental Grass and some BFFs.

I have been enamored with Ornamental Grasses since I was exposed to them while working my first nursery job in California.  While they have always been an important part of our native plant palette, especially in the mid-western and prairie states, not until the last 30 years or so have they become an important part of the residential designer's plant palette.  Even today they are often not included in gardens for puzzling reasons.  The book first given to me regarding Ornamental grasses was The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses, by one of the early american pioneers in grasses, John Greenlee. Another pioneer was Kurt Bluemel, whose website provides excellent information on a dizzying array of grasses and other plant material.

In the forward of the book, Wolfgang Oehme, who recently passed away wrote, "we were building on the knowledge of the late Karl Foerster (1874-1970), the famous horticulturist and author from Potsdam, Germany, who said, 'Grass is the hair of the earth.'  Foerster was a visionary who realized early the function of grasses in softening the garden and giving it a more natural look.  From the time they thrust their green spiky heads through the soil in the Spring, through dramatic summer and fall lushness and brownish, feathery maturity of winter, grasses make a distinctive statement each season.  As Foerster noted, 'How terrible a garden without grasses.'"

Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden formed one of today's most influential Landscape Architecture firms, Oehme van Sweden & Associates in 1977.  They pioneered a natural, low maintenance design aesthetic that has been labeled the 'New American Garden' style.  A quick pause to say that most of us do not have the multiple acre plots and huge dollars required to engage their services and install their beautiful designs, but the concepts and feelings evoked by their designs are accessible to all of us even in brief glimpses.

Piet Oudolf is a contemprorary dutch designer who has also spent much of his time designing with grasses in trying to attain a natural aesthetic.  Like Oehme van Sweden he draws inspiration from the natural world and in many designs will plant grasses and perennials in large drifts.  Take a look at these linked websites and I hope you can appreciate the beauty these visionaries have brought to the designed landscape.

Calamagrostis arundinacea 'Karl Foerster'
flower behind daylillies
Ornamental Grasses are an important part of these styles for their naturalistic look and ease of care.  Most grasses require only average soil, no fertilizer, minimal maintenance and if sighted properly (light, soil and moisture) do not suffer from any major diseases or insect infestations.  When you really spend some time with grasses you come to realize their beauty and diversity.  Some flower (set seed heads) early in the Spring, while others wait until late summer.  Some can be monstrous towering 10'+ beasts that dominate spaces, while others can be small, edge of the border clumps.  Some can have beautifully colored flowers (seed heads) that stand above the foliage and contrast with their green blades, while others have variegated and different colored foliage that contrasts with plants around them.  They all are unique and beg to find a spot in the landscape and border.

Three tips to consider when looking to add Ornamental Grasses to your garden.

First, never look at a grass in a one-gallon container and say that it is so cute and a perfect size.  Study any grass before you purchase so you understand its form and ultimate size. A one-gallon (12" tall) Miscanthus gracillimus will be 6' tall and 4' wide in a few years.

Pennisetum 'Little Bunny' flowers emerging
Second, the larger grasses can be used as individual specimens and provide excellent architectural structure year-round (mostly), but most grasses do well in groups, or drifts, as it will accentuate their movement and grace.  The 'New American Garden' style of Oehme van Sweden emphasizes more natural, larger drifts of perennials and grasses, reminiscent of the American prairie and not of the traditional English border.

Finally, grasses should be left standing in the fall and winter, for many of them provide wonderful interest in the winter and can be quite beautiful when covered with snow.  Some need a little support to stay upright all winter, but it is worth a little work, and come springtime most grasses are cut close to the ground in preparation for a new year.  Following are a few of my favorites.

Reed Grass with daylillies
Calamagrostis arundinacea 'Karl Foerster" (Feather Reed Grass) -  Hands down the best and my most favorite grass.  The plant leafs out early and sets bright green basal foliage about a foot high and right away in late-Spring it forms a big clump of seed heads that stand 3' over the foliage.  The flowers are purple that turn hay-colored as seen in this image and fade to brown in the fall.  With the tall seed heads it is one of the most dynamic grasses as it moves in the wind but does not fall over in heavy rain. It can be used in drifts and stand all by itself, or be in the back of the border and allow its seed heads to be part of the show.  To stand tall and be orderly it needs full sun and some moisture.  While grasses in general tolerate drought pretty well, this plant more than some others does need water.  It looks beautiful in Winter and holds up in the snow.

Blue Oat Grass in rock garden with daylillies and succulents
Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue Oat Grass)  - In my opinion, this is the best and most reliable of the mounding blue grasses.  Unlike the Calamagrostis, this is a Mediterranean plant that likes dry sun and will rot if the soil does not drain well.  In New England it does well, but will suffer a little in the peak of summer humidity.  This grass forms a nice 2' round mound of spiky silver-blue foliage that does well in front of a border or in naturalized groupings.  Because of its broad form, it can get lost in a border if not given enough room.  It also flowers in the late-Spring with long drooping oat colored seed head, and I prefer to give this grass some room to strut its stuff.  While it is mostly evergreen in New England, it does not have the dramatic structure to provide much interest in Winter snow.  Come spring you do not cut this plant back, but run your hands through the foliage from the base out and pull out the dead blades.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats) - A somewhat different grass in that it does not have the typical blade of grass, but has leaves that come off a main stem, like bamboo.  It stands upright to 3' tall and forms nice clumps.  This is one of the few grasses that will perform in part shade, as it naturally occurs in woodland and stream settings.  Like the Feather-Reed Grass it likes some moisture.  It is stunning when formed in large groups around ponds and water and has a very lush green color in season in part shade.  It will turn a little coppery and yellow in full sun.  In summer the seed heads form in the shape of oat clusters and show very well as they turn oat-brown and contrast with the green foliage.  By fall the grass turns a coppery color and then to brown for Winter.  Another great plant with winter interest, again it might need a little support in the heavy snow.

Pennisetum "Little Bunny" and orientale (Fountain Grass) - As the name suggests, these are the grasses that emulate water coming up and out from a fountain. This genus has over 100 different species of grass in all sizes.   The grass blades tend to be soft and arching, and the flowers come in all colors from black, white, red and in between.  My favorite, "Little Bunny" is one of the smallest at about 1' tall. The Purple Fountain Grass is a favorite for containers though not a perennial in our zone.  The flowers come early in  summer and are true-show-stoppers.  Most plants are covered in soft, foxtail like seed heads that are persistent all season.  Because of their prolific flowering and soft stance in the wind, they are beautiful in groups and drifts as they are constantly in movement in the landscape.  While I like combining grasses with other complimentary formed plants (Iris, daylilly, coneflower), these can stand up by themselves.

Pink Pennisetum orientale flowers fading
While they are easy to care for, they are also easy to divide and provide more plants for your landscape or to give as gifts to others.  Generally you can dig up the plants when they are actively growing (Spring) and cut them into sections. If you take a big plant and break it into quarters, you will have some pretty substantial plants, the following year.  If you break it into eighths or more, it may take a season or two until you get a nice, full, flowering plant again.  With the big plants, like the aforementioned Miscanthus gracillimus, dig in the Spring, when not flowering, and use pitchforks, handsaws, reciprocating saws or chainsaws to cut into pieces.  Then with your hand-pruner clean-up dead roots and stems.  As you might infer, you don't need to be too delicate with grass.  If you want to form some drifts of plants, you can purchase several large plants and divide them immediately.  Five 5-gallon plants can yield you 20 plants easily.

One warning though, grasses can cause significant pain in the form of cuts if you run your hands and arms through them in the wrong direction.  If you are going to run your hands along the grass blades always go from the base to the tip, if you go the other direction you can cause serious pain with cuts and abrasions.  Like paper cuts sweat and dirt get in them and just make for a long day in the garden.  Just feel a grass before you work on or around it and save yourself some agony.

I hope this inspires you to spend some time and learn about grasses and see if you can find  space in your landscape to add some of these beauties.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Never Take Your Hori Hori to Jury Duty

More on that later, first, the Hori Hori is one of the best and most useful tools in my Gardener's 'belt'.  Hori Hori is a Japanese name (meaning dig dig), one might commonly call it a digging knife, and if you are in the Marines you would call it your best friend for hand to hand combat.  The good ones are made of stainless steel or carbon steel, are very heavy, with a serrated edge on one side and a mostly sharp edge on the other.  They are also concave on one side that helps in scooping.

Carbon Steel
This is a serious tool that can do so many wonderful things.  It is great for digging and planting annuals, perennials and bulbs.  It will easily loosen soil, cut roots, open bags, help in cultivating soil and threaten speeders going down your street too fast.  All parts of the knife are used when digging, dividing and transplanting plants.  With a little care for the handle and blade it will last a long time.

Stainless Steel
There are many other types of digging knives on the market, but they lack the gravitas of the Hori Hori.  You may have bent a trowel or other tool in the past, but that won't be the problem here as it is thick and unbreakable.  You may want to have a lighter trowel for easy work in soft soil, but this tool will work through any soil.  I have pretty big hands and strong arms and wrists and don't have a problem with this blade, but some of you might prefer the lighter stainless steel version.  It is a little longer and thinner and a few ounces lighter.

About ten years ago when I was running a garden design and maintenance business, we used these tools in our client's gardens.  One day I had Jury Duty in the Republic of Cambridge and had forgotten that I had a new Hori Hori in my work bag (probably the exact same one pictured on top from Hida Tool).   I unwittingly took it with me to Jury Duty as I was planning to catch up on paperwork.  Upon entering the courthouse and passing through security, I noticed that several people had started to move in my direction and a rather large Police Officer confronted me.  He asked if I had any weapons in my bag ( which was a messenger-type briefcase), and I said I was a horticulturist and it was just a bunch of papers, having forgotten said new tool in the bag.

He reached into my bag and pulled out, what in this context, looked like a 15" knife that would be used to cause mayhem.  I laughed and said that it was my Hori Hori, a gardening tool used to dig in the ground.  As you might expect, he and his fellow armed officers were not amused by my light-hearted answer to the question. I was pulled aside as they tried to determine if I was dangerous or just the idiot gardener I professed to be.

The officer said that he would not allow me to take the knife in, and, in fact, he would not give it back to me as he classified it as an illegal weapon.  Since they bought my story that I was a gardener, they let me in to perform my civil duty and was released by the end of the day about one pound lighter without my Hori Hori.

Whether it is legal or not it is a terror in the garden and one of my favorite tools along with the other tools mentioned in my Weeding Post.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Water those ornamental trees...They are thirsty!

As a not so gentle reminder:  Water your trees and big shrubs, they are very thirsty.

Here in New England we are finally into the heat, and drought, that we typically get at some point during the summer.  Our last significant rainfall was June 26 when we received 1.40 inches of rain.  It was a heavy storm that brought rain quickly therefore not letting it soak in before running off into sewers.

The Blue Hill Observatory in Canton is one of the oldest weather recording stations in America and provides excellent weather statistics.  The graphs provided here are from Blue Hill.

In addition to the constant heat and humidity we have had in July, after an overcast June, we have been running above average temperatures and below average rainfall for the past seven months.  June was slightly above average rainfall, but more than half of that came in two quick storms.

Friends and Clients often say, "Doesn't my irrigation system provide enough water for my shrubs and trees."  The answer to this question is,  NO.

Irrigation systems, when properly utilized are mean't to keep your lawn happy and provide sufficient water for annuals, perennials and small shrubs.   The length and depth of watering are not sufficient for trees and shrubs whose roots extend much deeper than the 6-12" of a lawn.

In fact, it is dangerous to rely on irrigation system to water your trees and shrubs because the shallow watering brings the feeder roots up to find water in drought rather than keeping them deep and less susceptible to drought.

During this drought protect your investment in ornamental trees and your specimen shrubs with a deep watering.  For your Dogwoods, Japanese Maples, other special trees, specimen evergreens, and anything special in your yard, place a hose a foot or two from the base and turn the water on to a slow trickle (about a third of your average kitchen sink full pressure).  For your smaller trees and shrubs about an hour is fine, putting the hose to the other side after 30 minutes.  For your bigger trees, two to three hours is sufficient, also move the hose around the base and further out.

The purpose is to provide water deep in the root zone, several feet down, and out in the feeder root zone which can extend outside of the drip line (breadth of branches).  This area deep down usually will stay moist given normal rain and weather, but in extreme weather will dry out and cause damage to trees.  It cannot be re-hydrated with irrigation or light hand watering.  It takes a long time for water to get down two feet and to saturate the soil.

Stress and damage are not the only problems when trees dry out.  Healthy trees typically can deal with minor insect infestations, but when they are under stress, insects detect the changes and weakness and will attack them.  A good Arborist will allow insect populations to exist, rather than kill everything, but when trees are weak and stressed, the arborist needs to attack the insect populations because the trees cannot defend themselves.  The "apple a day keeps the doctor away" maxim, applies to plants as well.

Take a look around your property and look for the shrubs and trees that need this help and spend several evenings providing water directly to their roots.  Tie some string or colorful ribbon to the trees you want to water and remove when finished, so you won't skip plants because you forget which ones you watered over the days.  Don't rely on stress to determine which trees to water, because when stress appears often it is too late to save some branches.  This is especially important for evergreens that won't show stress or damage unless it is too late.

Big Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Mountain Laurel, Andromeda will also respond to heavy watering, but their roots are much more shallow, and therefore don't require as much deep water.

If we have an exceptionally dry summer , this might be required several times, but often one good deep watering is enough to keep everything happy.  Two years ago, we needed to water even our biggest shade trees and evergreens, but we would need a longer period of drought and heat for this to be necessary.

Spend this week and weekend taking care of your special plants, it is worth the price of having to replace just one special plant or losing the leader on a new growing tree.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Weeds: Control through better understanding.

Weeding...One of the few reasons to dislike gardening, unless you happen to be married to a woman who actually likes to weed and leaves little piles of pulled weeds around the garden.  Weeds start to come in the early season and are manageable, and then new weeds come after you have pulled the old weeds, and new weeds come again, some look new and some look like the old ones you just pulled.  Then the heat comes and the garden wilts but the weeds thrive and spread and flower and seed and you throw your hands in the air and consider the 400,000 BTU weed torch you see in the garden catalogs that comes with a fireproof suit and asbestos gloves.  Then you read about the idiot who started an Arizona wildfire with an incendiary round of ammunition and take a deep breath.

All along some weeds go away but others laugh in your face.  Over the years, they all come back in various strengths: squad, company, battalion or division.  God forbid, you get some uncomposted compost from a not-so-reputable place and you introduce some new killer weeds to your garden.  My perspective is from that of the suburban gardening plot where beds tend to be manageable and gardens tend to be less than an acre and with few exceptions most of my clients are the same.  While these practices can be used on much larger scale gardens, different strategies may need to be included.

How can we manage weeds efficiently without spending all of our time on kneeling pads and buckets.  I have found the best place to start is to understand the nature of weeds.

I try to come up with a plan of attack that minimizes my time weeding while maximizing the kill rate.  First off, weeds are annuals and perennials, just like the other plants in your garden, and the single best way to manage weeds is to get to them before they flower and then seed.  Annuals are the easiest to manage, but too often you don't get to them before they go to seed, so you are guaranteed another year of weeds.   Pulling crabgrass out of the lawn in the late summer is futile, the plant is finished, cast its seed and essentially a dead plant sitting.  You need to get them when they are young before they set their seed.

Nejiri Weed Scraper - Hida Tool
Bittercress, Persicaria, Chickweed, Spotted Spurge, Garlic Mustard and Crabgrass are some common annual weeds that we have in New England.  Click the links to familiarize yourself with the plants.  These are annuals, meaning the plant dies in the winter, so there is no need to get on your knees and pull them out by the root.  I use a weeding blade (Kusakichi Brand Nejiri Scraper at Hida Tool Company) or a stirrup weeder (A.M. Leonard) and just scrap these away.  As long as you do this before they flower and don't turn over the soil to much, thereby bringing up old seeds that can last in the soil forever, you will mostly eliminate the weeds in question.  Sometimes the plants will come back but they are easy to knock back again. I can go through a series of perennial beds and shrub borders very quickly and if I do this regularly, weeds only come back when they fly in from my friendly neighbors plots or my compost.  It may take a couple of seasons to get weeds under control in an area that has been overwhelmed, so don't get frustrated and make the most common mistake and give up after a season or two, because one seed set can bring it all back.
Stirrup Weeder Hoe - AM Leonard

I find that regular weeding with my tools and just scraping the weeds provides the best overall management.  Once you get comfortable with your tools you can work right around the base of shrubs and perennials.  Just don't let the weed's flower and set seed.  If you don't have a lot of time, or desire, just go around your gardens with a stirrup weeder and scrape any weeds you see with flowers.  It may not eliminate them all, but it will give you more time to enjoy your garden and perform other fun tasks.

However, not all weeds are annuals.  Many weeds, and often the toughest weeds, are perennials, and like your favorite flowers in the garden, the individual plants come back year after year.  They can spread underground and set seeds to make new plants.  Many of these weeds can be managed by scraping the plants, as long as you keep at them when they re-grow, but the best management is to dig and pop the plants and roots out.  Here is the choice, do you get down and spend lots of times pulling the plants or do you just give it a quick scrape and move on.  It depends upon the weed and how bad the infestation is in the bed.  For bad areas I will pull the weeds and come back and scrape over the season until they are under control.

Clover (perennial and annual varieties), Vetch, Dandelions, Bindweed and Japanese Knotweed are some of the common perennial weeds in New England.  Like it or not, Bindweed and Japanese Knotweed require chemical applications to truly remove them from your gardens.  The root systems are so deep and the plants so aggressive that manual removal will never be completely effective.  They can regenerate from the smallest piece of root left in the ground, and their main root can be several feet below the soil surface.

Chrome Weeder - AM Leonard
Other perennial weeds can be managed by scraping or by pulling the whole plant out of the ground.  There are many tools available (A.M. Leonard Weeder) to aid in 'popping' them out, and the idea is that you need to get the plant and root.  Most perennial weeds won't regenerate if you get most of the plant and root.

I'll never have a perfectly cleared garden, and I don't try, but I can save lots of hours on my knees with regular scraping.  With a regular program you can easily get a grip and collapse the seeding and spreading program of your weeds.  The best part is that in some areas I just leave the weeds to decompose instead of picking them up.

It may sound like a lot of work, but a little time every week can have a tremendous impact.  Once you get comfortable with your tools weeding no longer becomes the dreaded task.

Enjoy your weeding!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Stonegate Gardens: A Special Place

Have I said how much I like plants.  I love plants and as much as space and money allow, and I am always willing to try out something new.  I am also lucky enough to have a wholesale/retail nursery close by that can meet my thirst for something new (and old), and find that special plant for a client's garden.  Stonegate Gardens is located on Rt. 117 in Lincoln on the Weston line.  I was fortunate to work here for a year when I came back to the east coast. Here I re-learned the plant palette and zones in New England and for that experience I found a rare nursery.
A quick aside, I do not plug items or places for money.  If I were to accept money or other compensation I would clearly mention the situation upfront.  This nursery is a wonderful place that I want to share it with everyone.
Lynne Bower is the manager and she and her staff make sure that every year they have a stunning array of plants sourced from all over the country.  While it is always good to purchase and plant material grown in your region, it is not always practical or efficient.  Some plants grown in the Pacific Northwest or the Atlantic States will grow and mature much more quickly than they would if they were grown in Massachusetts.  That said, they do source lots of material from regional growers.
What I like most about this nursery is the superior quality of their plant material and the care that it gets throughout the season. They have a beautiful store, floral shop and sell garden supplies, but their focus is on plants and that is why I love to come here.
I was lucky to spend  a few hours here last week to see what was new and cool and I was overwhelmed.  My post last week on Chamaecyparis covered a number of plants that they had in stock.  The wide selection of Japanese Maples was great with several newer varieties of upright growing lace-leaf selections and as always a tremendous amount of specimen trees ready to fill a special spot on your property

Mostly their courtyard is filled with evergreen specimens and other great plants.  The colors, textures and shapes are mesmerizing and any of the plants would add wonderful architectural structure to gardens. Be careful when selecting these plants, while they may seem small in the container and may be called dwarf, they can grow significantly.  They will always have some interesting espaliered plants.  These are plants that have been trained in two dimensions to go against a wall or delineate separate spaces.  
An Espaliered Smoke Bush (Cotinus)
An Espaliered Red Japanese Maple

 The nursery is organized in a fashion that encourages you to wander aimlessly back a forth, with no rigid pattern, yet major groups of plants tend to be close to each other.  For inspiration I like to walk all over, sometimes several times, in case I missed some special goodies.  Following are a couple of interesting items I saw on my visit.  Along with all these wonderful plants, they do have most of the basics and an excellent perennial section sourced from some excellent growers.  

It is always good to have a local nursery you can visit and see great material, but here you will find an excellent staff, many of whom are tremendously knowledgeable.  That can be a big help in making the right choices and understanding the care your plants need.  You won't get this kind of reliable help from the big nurseries and you won't find the plants that this great nursery has in stock.

Have some fun, go visit a nursery.

This is a dwarf (to 6') Metasequoia
glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood), such
cool find, I wanted to pet it.
Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset'
A Sycamore

Acer palmatum 'Peaches and Cream'
A small orangy, red Japanese Maple
Holy cow!
One of many topiaries, this a variegated

Monday, July 2, 2012

Images for the Week

Some hot and some cool images from the gardens today.  First, and most interesting is the Castor Bean plant(left), Ricinus 'Carmencita', which, despite being completely poisonous (dogs, cats, kids, etc),  is a nice, fast growing annual shrub here, with these outrageous flower/seed pods.

On the right is the native Hydrangea arborescens 'Incrediball' cultivar.  Like the species, it flowers on new wood, meaning it is a reliable flowering hydrangea in the Boston area up to New Hampshire and at least zone 4a.  That is my big hand in the image...the flower is as big as a chicken!!!

A couple of sweet petunia flowers from hanging baskets.  

They are old school, but they do come in so many wonderful and interesting colors and patterns, it is hard to keep from putting one or two in for some solid all season color.

Gerber Daisies (left) come in so many wonderful colors and are excellent for cutting.  You will always be invited back to parties and cookouts if you bring along some of these.  Lantana(right), a heat/sun-loving annual in Boston is a fantastic container addition.

Monarda 'Jacob Cline' in full bloom. As in a previous post, this is one of my favorite summer perennials.  A little deadheading (5 minutes every couple of days) will ensure repeat blooming lower on the plant and give a long bloom time..

The heat has finally brought on the daylillies, while in masses they show the bast, individually they are such elegant flowers.

The heat has also kicked the herbs into full gear with my Nasturtium flowers and leaves being welcome additions to my salads and sandwiches.  The peppery/horseradishy flavor really adds some punch.

Enjoy your summer!