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Archive for August, 2012

Berries, fruits, flowers and foliage-a preview of Fall

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Lobelia cardinalis

One the advantages to living just a few miles from  the Atlanta Botanical Garden is that I can make a quick trip just to see what’s in bloom.  Surprisingly, on the second to last day of August there are a range of horticultural highlights including blooms, berries and interesting combinations of foliage.  An unlikely pair, an espaliered loquat with Colocasia  esculenta ‘Illustris’ is delightful and reminds me of my childhood in south Florida.  My neighbors had a big loquat and I would climb up and sit in the tree, peeling and eating the sweet fruits until I got my fill.   I don’t think the loquats at the ABG bear fruit but I could be wrong. 

Colocasia 'Illustris' and Loquat in background

End of summer flowers that thrive in full sun include perennials like  Patrina scabiosifolia , in flower it is an explosion of  yellow that grows 4 to 6’ tall .  Also blooming is one of my personal favorites, the native sweet coneflower, Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers.’  What makes this selection notable are the rolled ray flowers which give the flower a quilled look.  

Patrina scabiosifolia

Rudbeckia 'Henry Eilers' and Canna

Phlox paniculata and Zephyranthes candida mix and mingle

Another native that I have long admired is the cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis.

Its scarlet tubular-shaped  flowers are a magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies.

This hardy perennial (Zone 3 to 9) easily reaches 2 to 4’ tall and is ideal next to a pond or stream.  Although it will grow in full sun (with lots of moisture) in the southeast part shade is best.   I have seen it growing along the Chattahoochee river banks, in bald cypress swamps and much further North too.  Two plants that I wouldn’t ordinarily think of combining make a sort of instant bouquet, a selction of the common garden phlox, Phlox paniculata and the rain lily, Zephyranthes candida

Many hydrangeas have long since bloomed, but their dried florets add color and texture to the landscape.  I also like the seedpods on certain plants and the various stages they go through like those of  Lilium ‘Black Beauty.’   Garden worthy too are the dark blue fruits of the native fringe tree, Chioanthus virginicus.  The fruits of the dwarf pomegranate, Punica granatum ‘State Fair’ add a unique flair to the garden that lasts for months. 

In my own garden, blooms are sparse but interesting foliage and seed heads put on a show like Amsonias, spiraea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ and cardoon. 

Only Rosa ‘Perle d’Or’ refuses to acknowledge that it’s August and pumps out  delicate pink, fragrant flowers. 

Rosa 'Perle d'Or' in late August

Soon, more fruits, colorful foliage and a few autumn flowers will arrive.

Horticultural Happenings-Fall and Winter 2012-2013

Monday, August 27th, 2012

September 15, 2012Birds, Butterflies, and Bees”-A Silent Auction of Rare, Unusual Trees and Plants at the Trees Atlanta Kendeda  Center, 7pm, $50.00, open bar, cocktail fare, casual attire.       

Erica Glasener and Walter Reeves will be on hand to help you shop for some horticultural  gems, including a selection of Tilia americana propagated from a tree found growing in Atlanta and named  ‘Marcia Bansley’ (former Executive Director of Trees Atlanta), Heptacodium miconioides known as the seven-son flower, it puts on a fantastic show in the fall when the calyces turn red.  Other highlights include a selection of bald cypress, Taxodium distichum ‘Crazy Horse’ with slightly contorted branches and leaves that look more like a juvenile juniper than a bald cypress, variegated kousa dogwood, dwarf ginkgo and more.  Don’t miss out on this wonderful event that supports Trees Atlanta and the great work they do. 

Heptacodium miconioides - seven son flower in autumn

October 13, 2012 Tree Sale- Trees Atlanta, Kendeda Center, 8am-2pm.

Over 200 species of trees, shrubs and perennials, both native and exotic to choose from at this great sale, now in its 13th year.  Lots of activities and great plants.  This was where I purchased Magnolia macrophylla, one of my favorite trees. 

Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes'

January 25-27, 2013 The Southern Gardening Symposium at Callaway Gardens,- a great lineup of speakers including Claire Sawyers, author of The Authentic Garden: Five Principles for Cultivating a Sense of Place, Bill Welch, on Heirloom Gardening and Barry Yinger, Plant Explorer.   For college students, be sure to check out the scholarship they offer to attend the symposium.

Ilex opaca 'Maryland Dwarf' - a rare holly offered at the Auction

Perennial Favorites in August

Friday, August 17th, 2012

August is not a month that I look forward to as far as working in my own garden and I don’t expect too much from the plants.  So, it’s a delightful surprise when despite the heat and many dry spells, a few perennials and a favorite tree put on a show. 

Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva' with Cardoon in foreground

Let’s start with Magnolia macrophylla, the bigleaf magnolia.  I purchased this deciduous tree from Trees Atlanta at one of their annual tree sales in October about 4 years ago.

 (Look for upcoming details about this year’s sale on October 13th). 

Magnolia macrophylla seedpod and foliage in August

This tree gets better every year and I am fascinated by the fragrant flowers, the buds, huge leaves and showy seedpods.  It’s one of my top ten must have trees hardy from Zone 5 to 8.   I also don’t have an irrigation system and it’s done well with a minimum of supplemental watering. 

close-up of seed pod, Magnolia macrophylla

Perennial favorites in my garden now include Joe-pye weed, Eupatorium purpureum.  One of the reasons I grow this native is for its height, about  8’ tall.

Joe-pye weed, Silphium, Rosa 'Perle d' Or'

I know they have dwarf selections but for me, taller is better.  Growing next to  Joe-pye is Illicium parviflorum, a good doer for a broad leaf evergreen that helps form a screen and also provides a living trellis for  another native Silphium perfoliatum .  With the dry weather we had earlier this summer my Silphium,is bending and twisting instead of standing up straight.  It has been in bud for weeks and the flowers have finally opened.  I noticed that the species bloomed about a month earlier at the Atlanta Botanical Garden,  which is just a few miles from where I live.  Maybe it’s the fact that the plants at the Botanical Garden get regular water and mine have to make it on their own.  I’ve written about this intriguing plant before and the way the leaves encircle the square stems so that when it finally does rain, the water collects in the leaves.  My 11 year old daughter thinks this is great, and so do I. 

Silphium perfoliatum buds and foliage in early August

Silphium perfoliatum flowers August 17

Rosa ‘Perle d’Or’ is pumping out lots of flowers and looks great for August. 

I’m not sure about the yellow flowers of the Silphium so close to the pink rose but I’m more forgiving at this time of year.  Growing next to ‘Perle d’Or,’ Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’ still looks good,  especially with Amsonia  foliage as a foil and a cardoon I planted this spring. 

I wish my ornamental grasses were more robust like the Panicums at ABG but maybe next year.  I also have a few clematis in bloom, two without labels and one favorite, Clematis ‘Arabella, that’s been growing in my garden for over five years. 

Silphium and Panicum at Atlanta Botanical Garden in July

The weather seems to be a little cooler but here in Atlanta, summer’s not over yet.   Although, before you know it,  fall will be here with its blooms and bounty.