Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crape Myrtles in Midwest

Crape mytles are a small woody ornamental in the South. However, we can push the envelope and have a small shrub here in zone 5b. It may burn down to the ground or you may have some amount of the wood from the previous season hanging on. Don't panic when your plant doesn't bud out until early summer. They will be the latest shrub to get going each year.

Consult your local garden center pro to find out the hardiest for our area. If you can carry more wood through the winter, the more mature plant is more impressive. If you like to increase your chance of more wood in the spring, Larry Limburg of Clearfield Farms in Douglas County recommends putting a wire cage around the plant just like rose care. He stresses putting a foot of hay, as opposed to straw, inside the cage to insulate the plant. The average soul may consider this to be high maintenance butis not necessary to be successful

Plant on the south side of the house is the best advice Ken Wood of Family Tree Nursery and Garden Center can give you. In this type of microclimate, Ken estimates you will burn all the way to the ground every six out of every 10 years.

So have a little fun googling crape myrtle images and lust over the tree form. But take solace in knowing you can have a beautiful shrub.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

green flowers

i'm reading a great book titled - "green flowers - unexpected beauty for the garden, containers or vase." i've always had a thing for green flowers and have enjoyed the book. here are some of the selections for our zone:

columbine 'chocalate soldiers' - brown petals with larger green bracts.
clematis 'plena'
amaranthus 'viridis' green form of love lies bleeding - looks great with burgundy one in vase
kousa dogwood -early spring flower is beautiful with a tan and white/green combo flower
snow-on-the-mountain 'silver queen' great volunteer in the garden (above left)
lisianthus 'piccolo green' simply elegant form of texas bluebell
green snowdrop 'virescens'
helleborus 'double green' grow close to house so can be seen in early march
daylily 'green flutter'
hydrangea 'limelight'
bells of ireland - easy to grow annual is favorite of hip florists
nicotiana 'Lime Green' - stunning in garden or vase
rudbeckia 'green wizard' - imagine yellow form without petals
tulips 'spring green' 'greenland'
calla lilies 'green goddess' 'captain eskimo' great name!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Iris dichothma - The Vesper Iris

The Vesper Iris opens in late afternoon in a matter of minutes just as the evening vespers would have been heard in old monasterys. Iris ditchoma has traditionally been the last of the iris family to bloom but some reblooming bearded irises hasve taken that title away
I was genuinly excited to pick up three small plants at the Powell Garden Plant Sale last spring. i'm planning cvan evening garden by our patio and the star of the show with 4ft high flower stalks will be the vesper irises. Being Australian both the blackberry lily and pictures of the vesper remind me of my dear kangaroo paws. Apparently, both blue and white flowers can appear on the same plant.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

For the love of a rose.

Photography courtesy of Michael Gordon

It brought a big smile to my grandmother's face when she recounted the story of how the rose Peace was created. The Meilland family in France were the hybridizers and were successfully trialing it around Europe before the beginning of World War II. On the last Clipper flight to leave France before the Nazis came in was a box of cuttings sent to a notable rose hybridizer.

The family was unsure if the plane had been shut down by the Nazis or if the cuttings had made it into usable condition. After no communications for four years, they received a letter from the grower informing them that 3-25-40 had been a complete success. The huge flower with yellow petals with touch of pink blush had enchanted rose growers around the world and the introducer was inspired to call the rose Peace. The date it was first introduced to the rose world, was Sunday, April 29, 1945 -- the day Berlin fell. And on the day it received the All-American Rose Society Award, Japan surrendered. This is the hardest thing for me to grasp, within the first nine years over 30 million bushes were sold. And Francis Meilland was the leader for worldwide plant patents, so he made a ton of money and built the Eiffel Tower (just kidding!)

Of course, this was before I surrendered to blackspot. So I just have the memories of my grandparents plant and the huge Climbing Peace bush that was front and center in front of the old house in Sydney.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Mitchell's Daylily Backyard Paradise


After forty years in the gardening world, I was six when I started, I can only think of three times my breath hss been taken way and when I entered the Mitchell's Prairie Village backyard was one of those times. Jock had invited the Joco Master Gardeners to tour on the weekend before our visit but I can't get the wheelchair around in crowds. So Jock invited to my mother and I for a private tour.

When you pull up to the Mitchell's unassuming front yard, you have no idea that when you open the gate you will be greeted by hundreds and hundreds of blooms. This garden is more than just the flowers. Jock and his wife have crafted flagstones surrounded by small pebbles to meander through the entire backyard. The center of the garden is divided by a glorious waterfall complete with tropical water lilies and lotuses.

Jock is a retired doctor and has focused on hybridizing daylilies since retirement. All his plants are meticulously and subtly labeled to aid in his hybridization work. The program is all about self-satisfaction not getting named daylilies to the market. The last image above is his latest creation he is most proud of to date. So far there are only three rhizomes and I can't wait to get my hands on one when he gets enough rhizomes to share.

Jock has graciously offered to create new garden beds with daylilies for me at Trinity. Jo Roderson of American Daylillies & Perennials in has also graciously offered to provide me with daylillies at no cost to me. BTW, if your looking for the highest quality of plants, check out their website at

Thanks Jock for taking my breath away. Somehow I think it will be a long time before somebody else or some plant takes my breath away again.