For the past 25 years I’ve cultivated my woodland gardens. For the first decade I cleared the tangled woods, studied the indigenous plants, planned paths and materials. I worked on creating a natural looking shade garden focusing on the large oak trees and Kalmia that inhabited this spot of land before I showed up.
A lot of thinking and sweat went into this garden. I selected what shrub trees, like the untold numbers of small cherries, that needed to be removed. Purged, or shall I say, paid someone to purge the thick growths of poison ivy. Fought and pulled, yanked and grunted bales and bales of ivy from the trees and ground in a continuing war for dominance.
When the bones were clear I began to plant. The lists of shade tolerant shrubs and perennials read like a who’s who of my garden. Mistakes were made. Shade is not shade. Lessons learned. Successes were savored. Learning that gardening in shade reduces the need for weeding, plus you perspire less. Perfect!
But Sandy decided she knew better and redesigned my garden. She blew in and knocked down three large oak trees and a beech thereby instantly transforming my beloved woodland shade garden into a sun-splashed mecca. Thousands of weeds instantly rejoiced by dancing in the new sunshine, prancing in the beds and mulched walkways. Ivy rebounded with a vengeance of superiority, eyeing triumph. Scores of broken and battered kalmia, enkianthus, leucothoe, rhodi’s, azaleas, viburnum, hammemelis, and andromeda wept.
And now?? Lessons begin again.
Looking for low-maintenance in the sunshine? Remembering our club trip to the Highline designed by Piet Oudorf, my Dutch hero, I’m creating new plant lists with sunshine in mind to cover the time for my new gingko to grow and spread. Shade my grandson will perhaps enjoy in case I miss it.
Amsonia, salvia, achillea, aster, coreopsis, Echinacea, eremurus, liriope, persicaria, rudbeckia, sedum, helianthus, and grasses, yes many textures and heights of grasses. I’m excited now that my period of mourning has passed. Excited by all the new possibilities in the sunshine.
Here are some tidbits of information about some of American’s favorite pies.
Pumpkins are vining annual plants that are part of the Cucurbitaceae or Cucumber family. They are actually winter squash named Cucurbita pepo with the oldest pumpkin related seeds found in Mexico dating back to between 7000 & 5500 BC.
Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica but the traditional American pumpkin that we are familiar with is the Connecticut Field variety. Pumpkins produce both male and female flowers on each vine and are pollinated by honey bees.
Apples are formally named Malus domestica and they are from the rose family of Rosaceae. The fruit is a pome, which is characterized by one or more carpels surrounded by accessory tissue. This tissue is the edible part and is useful in protecting the buried seeds.
Apple trees were widely planted and seeds distributed by John Chapman who became known as “Johnny Appleseed”. This wide distribution of open pollinated seed helped to widen the choice of available cultivars in early America to over 8,000 of which 100 are grown commercially today.
Sweet Potato Pie
Ipomaea batatas or sweet potatoes belong to the Convolvulaceae family. It is an herbaceous perennial vine, with an edible long and tapered tuberous root. Though distantly related to the potato in the Solanum tuberosum family, it is not a nightshade plant. It was domesticated over 5,000 years ago in either Central or South America but is the staple food for many countries worldwide.
For most of American history sweet potatoes were an important part of the diet but fell out of favor as people became more affluent during the middle of the 20th century. There has been a resurgence of popularity with the awareness of the rich dietary contributions offered by this humble plant.
Life is uncertain, Eat Dessert First!
Disclosure: Facts were gathered from the internet especially Wikipedia.
Bulbs (which are referred to as “true bulbs”) grow in layers, much like an onion. At the very center of the bulb is a miniature version of the flower itself. It is composed of a shortened stem covered with modified leaves called scales. Helping the bulb to stay together is something called a basil plate, which is a round, flat area that are the beginnings of the roots on the bottom of the bulb.
Many plants such as daffodils form new bulbs around the original bulb. These bulbs, called offsets, develop from buds within the base of the mother bulb and produce new plants. When these bulbs become over-crowded, the flowers start to diminish in size. This is an indication that it is time to dig up and divide the bulbs.
Examples of True Bulbs: Tulips, Daffodils and Alliums commonly known as Onions
TRUE BULBS ANATOMY
The true bulb has five major parts.
BASEL PLATE: bottom of the bulb which hold the bulb together and from which the roots grow
primary storage tissue
skin-like covering that protects the fleshy scales
consisting of developing flower and leaf buds
develop into bulblets or offsets
Daffodils are classified using two parts of the flower. For the purpose of this description, the daffodil is divided into two regions, the perianth (petals) and corona (cup).
In further classifying daffodils the perianth (petals) is described by identifying first the outside edge of the petal, then the middle, and lastly the inside part next to the corona.
The information I am providing in this article is gleaned from two sources, The American Daffodil Society and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs. Both of these websites offer untold amounts of information and make enjoying the spring displays even more rich.
The Daffodil Society even has downloadable & printable coloring books for those individuals who work with children’s groups. Brent and Becky’s information filled Fall Bulb catalog arrived just in time for Spring so that we can go out to view daffodils in other gardens and make a list for next year’s display.
All daffodils are classified into one of the thirteen divisions described below:
|Division 1 – TrumpetOne flower to a stem, corona (trumpet or cup) as long or longer than the perianth segments (petals).Trumpets usually produce larger bulbs than other divisions. Most have gray/green foliage ½” – 1” wide|
|Division 2 – Large CupOne flower to a stem, corona (cup) more than one third but less than equal to the length of the perianth segments (petals).The group that you see the most often used in gardens; perfect for perennializing, picking, forcing and showing; some of the showiest daffodils are in this division and are the ones that give you more ‘bang for your landscape buck’.|
|Division 3 – Short CupOne flower to a stem, corona (cup) not more than one third the height of the perianth segments (petals).These are long term perennializers, show flowers and late season picked flowers, often with a spicy fragrance.|
|Division 4 – DoubleDaffodils have a clustered cup, petals or both. There can be one or more flowers per stem.Camellia or roselike flowers; with single of multiple blooms; good for shows, showy gardens, picking and bedding.|
|Division 5 – TriandrusUsually more than one flower to a stem, head drooping, perianth segments often reflexed and of silky texture.Fuchia-like blooms often with a fruity fragrance; great in containers.|
|Division 6 – CyclamineusOne flower to a stem, perianth significantly reflexed and corona straight and narrow. Some exceptions exist.With their faces looking like they are standing in front of a fan, they look & perform wonderfully in pots & are terrific for forcing; seem to be more tolerant to partial shade moisture as a group.|
|Division 7 – JonquillaUsually several flower heads to a stem, flowers usually fragrant, stem is round in cross-section and foliage is often rush like.Foliage is often reed-like or at least very narrow & dark green. Most like the hot baking summer sun. Better in southern gardens but some are adaptable in cooler climates. Sweetly fragrant. Most are great in pots.|
|Division 8 – TazettaUsually three to twenty flowers to a stout stem, sweet scented and very short cupped. Perianth segments rounded and often somewhat crinkled.Excellent perennialzers with a musky, sweet fragrance; good for Southern gardens & forcing.|
|Division 9 – PoeticusUsually one flower to a stem. White petals sometimes stained with the corona color at the base, small flat cup edged with red.Excellent perennials with a spicy fragrance, dogwood-like blooms; good for picking.|
|Division 10 – Bulbocodium HybridsUsually one flower to a stem. Perianth segments insignificant compared with Corona.Cultivars in this division are offspring of the species bulbocodium conspicuus, often referred to as ‘Hoop Petticoat’.|
|Division 11 – Split CoronaCorona split – usually more than half its length.A division where the cup of the daffodil is split into segments & spreads back against the petals. Sometimes the cup is smooth, often it’s frilly & many other times it’s in between.11a) Collar Daffodils Split-corona daffodils with the corona segments opposite the perianth segments; the corona segments usually in two whorls of three11b) Papillon DaffodilsSplit-corona daffodils with the corona segments alternate to the perianth segments; the corona segments usually in a single whorl of sixColoration of the corona often appears in sunburst-like streaks.|
|Division 12 – Other CultivarsDaffodils not falling into any of the previous categories.|
|Division 13 – Species All species and reputedly wild forms.Ones that are referred to as species daffodils & most of which are Heirloom & suitable for restoration gardening from 1700 on.|
All photos are from the Brent and Becky’s 2013 Fall Catalog.
Disclosure: We receive NO financial or other consideration from either of these organizations for linking to their websites.
Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.. Either read their print catalog or view their digital catalog online.
American Daffodil Society. Visit and learn from their information filled website.
The question was posed as to why some Hellebore’s can be entered into Flower Show judging and others are rejected. Here’s the long answer.
Understanding the botany of the Hellebore will help explain the answer to the Flower Show suitability.
The attraction and colors of the Hellebore, Figure #1, are not supplied by petals but rather sepals. Petals are usually lost after a flower is fertilized but sepals and bracts don’t suffer the same fate and are persistent
Sepals (A) normally form outside of petals as a protection and support of the bud and flower. There are usually 5 sepals, two outer, two inner and one both. A group of sepals is called a calyx.
The stamens (B) are the male part of the flower and are made up of 2 parts, the long white filament and the anther that sits on top holding the pollen. There can be up to 150 stamens per flower.
The stamens surround the female part of the flower, the carpel (C). Fertilization of the carpels can be by insects, bees or wind.
Replacing the petal in the case of Hellebores are small nectaries (D) that sit at the base of the sepals and provide food for pollinators. They don’t last very long and are shed at the same time as the stamens when the carpels swell with what will become seeds.
Fertilized Hellebores can seem attractive for quite a long time since the sepals are persistent and the swollen carpels (E) are distinctive. The sepals will tend to loose their color vibrancy over time however.
Because the Hellebore in Figure #2 is a fertilized flower, even though the sepals still appear fresh, this is not the stage when it is an acceptable specimen in a formal Flower Show submission.
So, the short answer to the question of whether the Hellebore in Figure #2 is acceptable for Flower Show judging is: No, since the center is a fertilized seed pod.
My thermostat read 10° last night so when it’s that cold I tend to warm myself by planning what I will be doing this coming year in my garden. It is the calm before the storm.
I like to read so with a hot cup of coffee and sometimes a blanket over my lap I settle down to a good book of how others tend their gardens seeking inspiration and camaraderie. I read new books but often I like to reread those of old friends I have in my library. Christopher Lloyd’s “The Well-Tempered Garden” is a perennial (hee hee) favorite. Other authors are: Dominique Browning, Joe Eck, Nancy Goodwin, Allen Lacy, Fred McGourty, Henry Mitchell and Vita Sackville-West.
For more technical information and garden planning I read Michael Dirr for woody plants and Allan Armitage for perennials. If you’d like to replant a garden with a more natural look I read the work of Piet Oudolf, the Dutch plantsman.
Reading Garden Blogs online are a path to many hours spent without realizing that spring is around the corner or dinner needs planning. I read a few regularly.
Garden Rant is written by 5 different authors and covers amazing amounts of gardening, history and controversy.
Try them at: http://gardenrant.com.
To give myself some ideas and recipes, I always turn to my favorite gardening blog written by Margaret Roach, A Way To Garden. Formerly a Newsday garden writer and the garden editor for Martha Stewart Living, Margaret has, among other wonderful advice, a monthly chore list, which is written for where she lives and gardens in zone 5. This is colder and therefore sometimes slightly later than we are here in our toasty zone 7.
You can find this gem at http://awaytogarden.com.
I was going to list all the various sources for gardening catalogs that will take over your budget and common sense but I’ll just post here Margaret Roach’s resource page, which says it all.
Sit down, take a deep breath, rest, relax and learn, since before you know it we’ll be out digging holes again!
I lost some friends.
Sandy came to visit and in a fury broke, smashed and tore away some of my garden friends. These huge and venerable trees were here before I moved into their space many decades ago. They’ve provided me with the backbones of my woodland garden. They helped me design the paths I carved out of the thickets. They offered the strong verticals of a towering garden design.
These old oaks shared their shade keeping me cool in the summer. This shade offered me the opportunity to explore the great variety of plants and shrubs that thrive in their speckled light. Shredded oak leaves of these generous trees have been the basis of the garden mulch that nourishes my woodland garden.
I am mourning the loss of what was.
But now I’ve planted bulbs where the oaks once stood.
I look forward in the spring to enjoying their sunshine.
The term “bulb” is used by most people to refer to plants that have underground, fleshy storage structures. Only some of the plants commonly called bulbs actually are bulbs. The general definition of a bulb is any plant that stores its complete life cycle in an underground storage structure. These underground storage structures store nutrient reserves to ensure the plants’ survival.
Tubers, rhizomes, corms, and bulbs actually all serve the same purpose, just in a different way. They are each a storage unit for food that gives the plant the energy it needs to grow, bloom, and complete its lifecycle each and every year.
The energy is created and stored by the foliage’s photosynthesis. You’ve probably heard that it’s important not to cut back the foliage after the bloom has died. That is because the leaves need to have time to absorb energy for next year’s bloom. Each storage system takes differing amounts of time to perform this task. Examples would be Alliums and Daffodils.
Bulbs or bulb-like plants are usually perennials. They have a period of growth and flowering. This is followed by a period of dormancy where they die back to ground level at the end of each growing season.
As with perennials there are bulbs that are hardy in our climate and others that must be overwintered as house plants or placed in dormant storage.
Bulbs can be broken down into five types of storage structures. These include: true bulbs, corms, (stem) tubers, tuberous roots and rhizomes.
Leeks and Pearl Onions. Graphite drawing by Mary Ahern
The backbone of the shade gardener’s summer display has been Impatiens for as long as I’ve been gardening (which is longer than I’ll post in a public forum. But that long starring role has come to an abrupt halt this year due to the infamous, Downy mildew fungal like disease caused by the pathogen, Plasmopara obducens. The symptoms caused millions of gardeners to drag out their hoses in attempts to combat the disease, which mimicked the appearance of water starved plants.
This tremendous shake-up in the Horticultural industry has growers, breeders and chemists scrambling for solutions and workarounds. It is affecting this billion dollar industry in big and small ways at a time when our economy is struggling. The gardener goes to the nursery to place part of their closely budgeted money to bring a season of color and happiness to their home. The nursery is in a seasonally based business & feels the pressure of cultivating new customers into the Art of gardening as well as taking care of their established base of avid buyers.
Under competitive pressure these nurseries offer their customers plant warranties. It boggles the mind how a seasonal small business would be able to sustain themselves when a calamity like the collapse of the stalwart impatiens plants would affect their bottom line once the warranties start rolling in.
One of the largest growers and breeders of Impatiens is right here on Long Island. Ivy Acres, located in Baiting Hollow, supplies a customer base not only on Long Island but also in New Jersey, Westchester County & Southwestern CT. They are the suppliers to the wholesale nurseries, so the chain of businesses affected continues up the chain of distribution.
What does that mean for us, the local gardener? What that means is that there is immense pressure to bring to market disease resistant replacements for the annual market geared to shade tolerant plants. For the next few years we will be seeing a tremendous array of new opportunities and options as replacement plants are introduced into the Horticultural market stream.
According to Mark Viette on his Sunday morning WOR radio show some suggested replacements for our dearly departed Impatiens walleriana at the moment are:
- New Guinea Impatiens
For more information on this new gardeners heartbreak visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk county and download their .pdf flyer titled “Impatiens Downy Mildew in The Landscape“