Friday, May 28, 2010

Hail Mary!

I lived in St. Louis for about three years. On "The Hill", known for its fantastic Italian restaurants, is surrounded by beautiful older homes. Most homes feature a statue of Mary front and center.

Of course being a gardener, mine had to be tied into the landscape. Since Mary is traditionally known for blue, I had to have a blue clematis bred in Japan named "Roguchi”. I read about the breeder and his plants in Horticulture several years ago. Once again, I bookmarked the plant in my head and had to have it. The nodding flowers grace Mary on my weathered statue. Hail Mary full of Grace, pray for us.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Iris Butterflies In Flight

The other memorable plant for me in Ken's presentation was Iris 'Butterflies in Flight'. I have seen this Japanese Iris before and I remember bookmarking it in my mind. I was wondering its timing was about the same as 'Caesar's Brother' Plant of Merit Siberian Iris. I doubt it but it creates a beautiful picture in my mind.

Everybody needs a mentor -- even gardeners!

After being a gardener for 35 years, I must stress I was only six when I began, you can't help it but develop a know it all attitude. But the spring I learned that every gardener needs a mentor. I went to the now retired Longview Gardens with an extensive list in hand for both the annuals and perennials. Then Jan Vinyard laid some magic on me and in the course of less than 45 minutes she redesigned my new perennial garden and had tons of other suggestions for my annuals. Being this veteran gardener, I thought I was cheating but I got over quickly.

As a society, we talk about child mentors, professional mentors and spiritual mentor. If you know a gardener, no matter what skill level, I'm sure they would be flattered if you ask them to be your mentor.

Iris Pseudatas; The New Eye Shadow Irises

I just came back from a Master Gardener training session with Ken O'Dell maven plantsmen and a long time volunteer for the Overland Park Arboretum. Ken was a wholesale grower since retired and his major push with the Arboretum is a the major grower for their spring plant sale. Ken presented a wide ranging discussion of working with perennials. It was a standing room only crowd of over 300 people andKen overwhelmed us all with three hours of PowerPoint slides.

However it was two types of rare species iris that inspired me to ask a volunteer sitting next to me to write down the names for me. Iris pseudatas is a cross between iris pseudacorus and the Japanese iris ensata. By water these irises can reach 5 feet but generally around 3 feet in common garden conditions. They are hardy in our area and reportedly bloom over three weeks, but who knows in Kansas at this time of year.
Pictured is 'Beyakuya No Kumi' or Land of the Midnight Sun.

Variegated horseradish

Photography courtesy
Rob's plants

The first time I ever saw this stunning plant was in my favorite gardening book, The Collectors Garden by Ken Druse. It looks like regular horseradish until after three or four years the leaves explode with a mass of cream leaf with some limited green variegation. Being the plant head that I am, I had to wonder how the plant could survive with such limited chlorophyll in the green parts. But after I got over my OCD, I was determined to find this plant. The only source I found was at Forestfarm nursery in a 1 gallon size. I bought two plants and I am at the beginning of the third year. I know I need some help, but I'm really excited to find four leaves that have a significant piece of variegation (as seen in picture above. I guess I will just have to keep looking at Ken's book until I have my own explosion in the garden. I'll keep you updated.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Most Beautiful Tree for The Midwest

Photos courtesy
University of Georgia Atlanta

The first time I saw the Fringe Tree was at a Rose Society meeting. This of course was before I had surrendered to blackspot. A woman brought it to make an arrangement that included the tree. The whites blooms looked like fringes of lace and I decided at some point I had to grow it.

Years later, I found a 3 foot Chinese variety, as opposed to our American native variety, in a 2 gallon pot at Arbor Village Nursery in Holt, select key Missouri. I planted it to close to a window that it looked great for about three years. I had to give it up when we moved to a ranch dueto my spinal cord injury.

I went back to Arbor Village, and this time through their catalogue. It was really nothing more than a stick and with limited garden space I had to put it in a cramped location. It grew too large very quickly and I had to move it last summer. Anyway, it didn't make it through the winter so I went in search of another one. Last wee fringe, one of my best friends and I traveled Skinners Garden Center in Topeka, Kansas, which was the only place I could find any dwarf white redbud. I was so impressed with the quality of their material, I decided to head back there for a day nether fringe tree. I was not disappointed. They had a both American and Chinese and five and 10 gallons and 1 1/2 caliper trees. At the 10 gallon Bush style for about 150 bucks. The the 1 1/2 caliper was 180 and I didn't think my wife would go for that. But when I came home she was like why did you spend the extra 50 bucks to get a tree. So I am trying to figure a way to get my went back to the Topeka and bring back the larger size in a pickup truck.

I was helped by Aaron in their shrub and tree department. He had done some on-the-job training at Gage Park in Topeka he told me there are some mature trees in the park so I can't meet to check them out when they bloom next spring. He also Said that the birds like the black berries that come in the summer. He said that they were responsible for seedlings in the park.

Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful tree for the Midwest. Go check it out.