Friday, March 30, 2012

Rosa 'Bengal Fire''s not the only rose in the collection blooming in March!?!....

but it's the only one that didn't defoliate at all last winter. I'm not saying that it held a good number of leaves; it didn't lose any leaves at all. Of course it was a warm winter, but still... The more time I spend around this rose the more I appreciate it. The flowers are simple and single, I like the color, though maybe it isn't for everyone, and there's no fragrance. But, it flowers all summer, this year it'll be all spring, summer, and fall. There are essentially no thorns. The foliage stays completely clean even in the face of our intensely humid and hot summers. Most of the season the new growth is red; you can see small shoots in the bottom picture. It's a nice shrub with red flowers all season.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Paeonia ostii

This is one of our nicest tree peonies. While the full doubles are spectacular, I tend to like the simpler singles or semi-doubles, probably at least partly because they aren't so heavy that they "face down".

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Epimedium latisepalum....a nice evergreen Chinese epimedium

On any given day I have a different favorite plant. Or a different favorite epimedium; this plant is always challenging for favorite epimedium. The flowers are huge and held nicely up in the air, but it's the posture of the leaves that appeals to me. I'll try to get a picture tomorrow that shows what I mean. Trifoliate, they are held lightly atop almost vertical leaf stems and angled so that they sit at about a 30 degree angle facing away from the base  of the plant. As though they had closed ranks to defend the center and have only coincidentally maximized their potential for receiving solar radiation. I am reminded of Roman shields in a phalanx. The effect is quite structural and controlled; our plants are sited about 10' from the path and are far enough apart that they maintain their individual structure. They are striking and attractive.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ypsilandra thibetica...we waited along time for this to flower

And it couldn't be plainer. Hey, it's nice. I don't want to hurt it's feelings. Actually pictures of it show a much more attractive plant. White petals are missing. There are three possibilities. They're coming, they're done, or this  is it. I see petals, they're greenish so I'll just watch them to see if they turn white. I''m not feeling optimistic but I'm going to do it anyway.

It's in the Melanthiaceae, a family with some of my favorite genera: Xerophyllum, Helonias, Trillium, Veratrum, ... . I have a vague childhood memory of vastly preferring dicots to monocots. At this point in my life I could almost grow only monocots. That's not true; I'd miss a lot of dicots especially Asclepiads. Anyway, things change.

I planted it in a perfect spot about five years ago. It did well for two years. Then a tree fell on it. A huge Cedar that went down in blizzard conditions. The next year, newly exposed by the loss of the tree, they roasted in the sun. The year after that, Amanda took pity on it and moved it into a shady location. I thought it was too shady; I was wrong. They marked time for two years, didn't seem to grow much and didn't flower. But this spring they finally bloomed.

The tree peonies have begun to flower in the Asian Collections