Archive for February, 2012

2012 Winter Interest Plants

Posted in bulbs for shade, Camellias, evergreen, garden to visit, hellebores, landscape design, Shade Perennials, Shade Shrubs, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 29, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Camellia japonica ‘Berenice Boddy’ in full bloom in February in the Cresson garden.

On Friday, February 24, and Monday, February 27, Charles Cresson presented the second annual Winter Interest Plant Seminars for my customers in his beautiful garden located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US.  I did a post on the seminars last year (to read it click here) and thought I had covered the topic.  However, our very warm winter meant that many different plants were in bloom so I want to show you what we saw.


The weather was cold and rainy on Friday, but participants didn’t let it stop them from enjoying Charles’s presentation.

Monday was warm and sunny which allowed more time for dawdling in the garden.  The snowdrops were a big hit.

The attention to detail in Charles’s garden is amazing.  I thought I would show you some of the “hardscape” features, many of which Charles built himself:


The rock garden with hellebores, Algerian iris, and spring-blooming hardy cyclamen.

Garden shed with the original green roof.

Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, photo by seminar participant Lucretia Robbins.

Charles has a spectacular collection of winter-blooming shrubs, many of which are fragrant.  We were all surprised by which one was the most fragrant at that time of year:


Chinese holly, Ilex cornuta, retains its berries through the winter.



Sweetbox, Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna ‘Purple Stem’, adds the additional feature of ornamental stems to sweetbox’s many desirable attributes.



Bodnant viburnum, V. bodnantense ‘Dawn’, is very fragrant.



Flower of Bodnant viburnum


The adult form of English ivy, Hedera helix ‘Poetica Arborea’, produces beautiful berries but is also considered very invasive.


Camellia x ‘April Tryst’ is blooming early.


I like the male flowers of Japanese skimmia, S. japonica, as much as the berries on the female plants.



Winter daphne, D. odora, is one of my favorite shrubs because of its wonderful fragrance, excellent habit, evergreen leaves, and lovely flowers.


And the winner is….  Yes, Japanese mahonia, M. japonica, was the most fragrant plant in Charles’s garden even with all the excellent competition above.

Winter-blooming herbaceous perennials were also well represented:

The pink flowers and evergreen leaves of heath, Erica x darleyensis ‘Furzey’.

Evergreen heart leaf ginger, Asarum virginicum

Fragrant Algerian iris, I. unguicularis, was a big hit.

Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, photo Lucretia Robbins

A gorgeous anemone-flowered (ruffle around the center of the flower) hybrid hellebore—my favorite type of hellebore flower.

The most evergreen hellebore of them all, bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus.

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’

Hybrid hellebore with the very robust and extremely fragrant snowdrop ‘Brenda Troyle’.

The tour included a wonderful selection of winter-blooming bulbs, including choice snowdrop cultivars.  Here are just a few:

Seeing this large patch of the very fragrant snowdop ‘S. Arnott’ sent participants back to add it to their purchases for the day.

Spring-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. coum

The common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, multiplies quickly and looks great when massed.

Evergreen leaves of fall-blooming hardy cyclamen, C. hederifolium

A single bulb of a rare yellow-flowered cultivar of the species snowdrop, G. woronowii, just sold for $1,145 on UK eBay.

A silver-leafed form of spring-blooming hardy cyclamen.

The species snowdrop Galanthus plicatus has been in cultivation since the 16th century and comes from Russia and Turkey.  It has beautiful leaves with a unique folded (explicative) pattern.

For all of you who couldn’t actually attend Charles’s seminars, I hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour.

Carolyn

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens now has a Facebook page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Nursery Happenings: The 2012 Hellebore Seminars are sold out.  To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  Snowdrops are still available for pick  up at the nursery, but mail order is closed.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

A Wonder of Nature

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, Shade Perennials, winter, winter interest with tags , , , on February 21, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

One of the first plants to bloom in my garden is winter aconite.  It usually starts blooming in February and continues into March.  I treasure its cheery yellow flowers with their shiny green collars because they brighten what can otherwise be a cold and dreary time of year.


When my original winter aconite plants got this big, I was thrilled.

Winter aconite is in the buttercup family and is native to Europe.  It is about four inches tall and prefers woodland soil in deciduous shade.  It wants to be cool in the summer but not too dry, and it will not tolerate wet soil.  It grows in zones 3 to 7.  Winter aconite is a bulb (technically a tuberous rhizome) and goes dormant when the weather gets hotter.  Some sources state that it is poisonous to humans, but there have been no reported incidents.  It is deer resistant and black walnut tolerant.


When the patch started to fill in like this one I was ecstatic.

You can order winter aconite as a dried bulb.  It is recommended that the bulbs be soaked overnight to increase success.  Despite soaking, I never got more than one or two bulbs to grow into plants.  I tried several times.  Then a friend of mine gave me some growing plants (thanks Julie!), and my little patch of winter aconite began in earnest.


After several years, my patch looked like this.

Winter aconite naturalizes well once you get the initial plants going.  The best way to spread it is to collect the seeds and sprinkle them where you want them.  If you don’t collect the seeds, they tend to germinate around the base of the mother plant.  My winter aconite has been so successful that, after ten years,  I was able to sell growing plants in my snowdrop catalogue (although next year I need to give the patch a “rest”). 


Winter aconite covers this much ground in my woodland.

Now we get to the “wonder of nature” part.  Right down the street from my plant nursery is a public park owned by Radnor Township (Pennsylvania, US) called Ithan Valley Park.  The property was originally an old Main Line estate.  During the early 1900s, it was owned by the botanist John Evans, and he maintained an arboretum of exotic plants there.  Evidently his collection was amazing, but today few of the original plants remain.


Winter aconite in Ithan Valley Park

At some point John Evans planted winter aconite on his property.  The conditions there proved to be ideal with the cool, moist woodland soil and deciduous shade that winter aconite loves.  Today Ithan Valley Park is covered with sheets of winter aconite every February and March.  There is so much yellow that I think it must be visible from outer space.  It truly is a wonder of nature that I want to share with you.


The winter aconite in the park grows thickly.




Trail entrance, Ithan Valley Park


The stone wall of the old estate is in the background.


To truly appreciate the spectacle, you need to visit in person (I apologize to my non-local readers).  Ithan Valley Park is located at 642 South Ithan Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA  19010, at the intersection of South Ithan and South Roberts Roads.  Time is of the essence because the winter aconite will only be blooming for a few more days.

I am linking this post to the Winter Walk-off 2012, which is a challenge by Les at A Tidewater Garden to share what can be seen within walking (or biking) distance of your home.  Every photo in this post was taken at Ithan Valley Park, 8/10 of a mile from my house.

Carolyn

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens now has a Facebook page where I can post single photos, garden tips, and other information that don’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Calendar:  If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide.  For details, click here.

Nursery Happenings: The 2012 Hellebore Seminars are now available for registration.  The March 19 seminar is sold out, but there are still two spaces on March 16.  To view the brochure, click here.  To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

February GBBD: New Hellebores for 2012

Posted in evergreen, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, Shade Perennials, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Phoebe’ is a beautiful double hellebore selected by Dan Hinkley formerly of Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, WA, as were most of the hellebores pictured here.  They are all superior forms.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (“GBBD”) hosted by May Dreams Gardens (link available on February 15) where gardeners from all over the world publish photos of what’s blooming in their gardens.  I participate because it is fun and educational for me to identify what plants make my gardens shine at different times of the year.  This month I hope that my nursery customers and blog readers will get excited about adding colorful hellebores to their own shade gardens to extend the garden season through winter.

My garden is located in Bryn Mawr (outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, U.S., in zone 7A (old 6B).


I grow the double ‘Elegance White’ for its distinct reddish purple spots and its symmetrical pointed leaves.

Because of the mild weather, I am overwhelmed with work at my nursery and behind on blogging.  So I am combining my GBBD post with a post on all the gorgeous new hybrid hellebores I will be offering this spring at my snowdrop and hellebore seminars and at my Hellebore Extravaganza on March 24.  They are coming into bloom right now so they definitely qualify for GBBD.  I will save the new species hellebores for a later post.

I decided to start with the doubles because, although I generally prefer single flowers, I love double hellebores.  Their flowers last for months.  In addition to the two above, I offer:


Hybrid hellebore “Double Rose”


Helleborus x "Double Purple"Hybrid hellebore “Double Purple”

My absolute favorite type of hybrid hellebore is known as anemone-flowered.  In this form, the nectaries around the center of the flower create a ruffle of mini petals matching the color of the flower.  I collect anemone-flowered hellebores (those of you who bought my calendar can see one in the February collage) but have never found them for sale.  I am thrilled to be able to offer one this spring:


The ruffle in the middle of this anemone-flowered hellebore picks up the beautiful colors of the larger petals (actually sepals).  Slate is also a very desirable hellebore color, and ‘Slate Anemone’ is similar to ‘Starling’, another Hinkley-selected hellebore.

I am also excited about the nine new single hybrid hellebores that Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will carry this spring representing every color of the rainbow.  I don’t know if I can pick a favorite:


‘Gold Finch’ has rounded petals of buttery yellow spotted with red flecks.


‘Black’ has striking near black flowers with a perfect rounded shape.


Helleborus x 'Pink Tea Cup'‘Pink Tea Cup’ is early-blooming with soft blush pink flowers reminiscent of cherry blossoms.

‘Raspberry Mousse’ has two-tone pale rose flowers with creamy white veins, and dark rose edges and reverse (the back of the flower).

‘Phoenix’ has apple green flowers edged in burgundy and with a burgundy center.


Slate gray petals with a metallic sheen and burgundy highlights in the center and veins make ‘Slate’ very desirable.


‘Painted Bunting’ has white flowers with a bold burgundy red central star, radiating red veins, and red picotee edges.


‘Velvet Lips’ has bright wine-red flowers with a soft creamy-yellow center and a shiny darker reverse.  I would buy this beautiful hellebore for the name alone.

The Yokoyama nursery in Japan has achieved the first ever cross between Christmas rose and hybrid hellebores to produce ‘Snow White’, this gorgeous early-blooming pure white hellebore with large, flat, outward-facing flowers; easy to grow like all the hybrids but easy to see the flowers too!

I tested all these hellebores in Spring 2011 by planting them in my garden.  This year I am being rewarded with big healthy plants loaded with flowers.  Stop by and see for yourself after I open on March 15.

Carolyn

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens now has a Facebook page where I can post single photos, garden tips, and other information that don’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Calendar:  If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide.  For details, click here.

Nursery Happenings: The 2012 Hellebore Seminars are now available for registration.  To view the brochure, click here.  To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.  This post is part one of my exciting new hellebore offering.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens Goes International

Posted in bulbs for shade, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The BBC News Magazine was hours away from publication when they emailed to request a photo of me with snowdrops.  My husband and I had a quick photo shoot and this is what we came up with.

We interrupt the regularly scheduled flow of posts on this blog with breaking news.  The owner of Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is prominently featured in the BBC News Magazine lead article for February 2 entitled “Snowdrop Fanciers and Their Mania”. 

All kidding aside, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I am in the company of Matt Bishop and John Grimshaw, two of the authors of the “snowdrop bible” Snowdrops: A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus, and Chris Ireland-Jones, the owner of the famous English snowdrop nursery Avon Bulbs.  You know what a snowdrop fanatic I am so this is the ultimate compliment.  To read the article (I am in the second half), click here.

Second Annual Snowdrops & Other Winter Interest Plant Seminars

Charles Cresson pointing out some of his very unusual snowdrop cultivars to last year’s seminar attendees.

I am very excited that winter interest plant expert and gardener extraordinaire Charles Cresson has agreed once again to give seminars on Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plants just for my customers.  The seminars will be limited to 20 people each and will take place in his amazing Swarthmore garden, Hedgleigh Spring.  The brochure telling you the details and how to sign up is here.  If you are a local gardener and interested in attending, I encourage you to email immediately because I expect these seminars to sell out.  For a complete description of the 2011 seminars with many photos, click here.


Since this post is about all things snowdrop, I thought I would show you the first snowdrops to bloom in my garden in 2012:

The very first snowdrop cultivar to open in my garden in 2012: ‘Kite’.  Notice the very long outer segments (petals).


Second to open was Galanthus plicatus ‘Augustus’ with its striking puffy rounded and quilted outer segments.

‘Magnet’ is open and swaying in the breeze on its unusually long and thin flower stems (pedicels).

The double common snowdrop ‘Flore Pleno’ is blooming even though it is usually one of the last snowdrops to open in the middle to end of March.

The aristocratic snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’, said to resemble the pearl drop earrings of Elizabeth I, is also flowering.

The common snowdrop, G. nivalis, is blooming a few weeks early.  I shot this picture to document the date they opened and had a funny feeling that something wasn’t right.  When I uploaded the photos to the computer I realized the plants in the front have four outer segments instead of three—very interesting.

The giant snowdrop, G. elwesii, has been flowering on and off since November, but this patch just opened this week.

I avidly read the Galanthus threads on the Scottish Rock Garden Club forum where galanthophiles from all over the world meet to obsess about snowdrops.  I highly recommend this forum if you are interested in snowdrops and want to learn more.  The forumists are some of the most knowledgeable galanthophiles around but very welcoming and eager to share their passion.  Several of them commented on the varied markings on the giant snowdrops pictured above which got me outside with my camera to record the marks.  Here is what I found:

Every flower in this collage is the same species, G. elwesii, and yet the green marks on the inner segments are all different, from the small single green mark on the middle  right flower to the mark that looks like a mustache and eyes in the middle of the bottom row.  Although I realize this will not excite most gardeners, at least everyone can see the amazing variety.  And variety is the spice of life.



I have recently been honored with the Versatile Blogger Award by four different blogs, and I want to thank them for the accolade.  I try to make my blog posts varied and yes versatile (able or meant to be used in many different ways), and I am glad that my efforts are appreciated.  I am not following the award rules, but instead letting you know who gave me the award in hopes that you will visit their blogs.  Here are the links and some information to entice you to visit them:

Graphicality–UK:  Helene is a very accomplished author.  You might want to check out her recent post on the book she published with her lovely photos of Kew Gardens.  Her current post talks about US grey squirrels invading Britain.

Green Place:  Sheila is in Chapel Hill, NC, and reflects on spirituality, nature and gardening.  She and I also share a love of Maine islands.

The Amateur Weeder:  For a very different perspective, Lyn gardens in Australia and her blog produces “seedlings from the mind of an inconstant gardener.”  I particularly liked her recent post called Designed by Nature.

Women and the Garden:  Patty writes about “the history of the garden and the various roles women played in that history,” and it is  all absolutely fascinating.  She doesn’t post often, but when she does you don’t want to miss it.  Her latest post is on Pomona, the roman goddess of fruiting trees and orchards.

Carolyn

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens now has a Facebook page where I can post single photos, garden tips, and other information that don’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Calendar:  If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide, 20% off through 2/5/12.  For details, click here.

Nursery Happenings: To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here. I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.  The Snowdrops and Other Winter Interest Plant Seminars are also available for registration here.  The Friday seminar has one space left, and there are three spaces on Monday.  Look for an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012. 

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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