Monday, May 31, 2010

Abelia mosanensis

Korean Abelia is fairly new to the gardening world. It becomes a fairly large shrub, with a somewhat wild habit. 8-10 feet tall, a little less in spread with gracefully arching branches. In spring, May to June here in WI, it is covered with clusters of Daphne-like flowers that have the fragrance of Gardenia. Buds are formed on the old wood, so any pruning should be done shortly after it's done blooming. Fall brings orange fall color to the leaves. This beautiful shrub is fully hardy to zone 4, and should be fairly easy to grow. Average soil seems to suit it just fine, amend heavy clay with some compost to improve drainage. If you have room for just one large shrub, this is my pick for the year.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New camera=some picture updates

So we finally sprung for a good DSLR camera. An expensive camera doesn't make me a pro, but pictures sure turn out nicer. :) I updated pictures for Pretty Much Picasso Petunia, a couple of Arisaemas, and Pinus mugo Dew Drop.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The various Arisaemas are all in full bloom for me right now. I love going out to the shade garden and seeing these bizarre aroids coming up amongst the various hostas and other shade plants.

Arisaema triphyllum is the most commonly encountered species, and also probably the easiest to grow. Nearly everyone who's spent time in the woods is familiar with Jack in the Pulpit. There's quite a bit of variation between populations, some spathes being green and some being purple. Also there is a form with white veins called 'Starburst', and a form with black leaves called 'Black Jack'. Additionally there is a large form, growing up to 30" tall with leaves 24" across!

Arisaema draconitum is a less well known native. It has done fairly well for me, but is not very showy by itself. I think a colony would be more effective than a single plant.

Arisaema sikkokianum is probably the next most well known, and definitely the most coveted by gardeners. It's incredibly showy, no description I can give will do it justice. There are some forms with silver-centered leaves. These have not performed as well for me as the solid green leaved forms. It may be just coincidence, but I've lost 3 silver forms and not a single green form.

Arisaema serratum hasn't been very showy for me so far. I think I need to improve the soil for it, since it should get almost 3' tall and hasn't gotten taller than 15". I have seen this species looking fantastic in other gardens.

Arisaema ringens has big, glossy, plastic-looking leaves and interesting purple spathes. This species has been easy to grow and hasn't failed to impress me so far.

Arisaema urashima is maybe the most bizarre species I'm growing. It has a beautiful purple spathe, and from inside a whip-like appendage extends to 18". This has also been easy to grow, and can tolerate dry shade.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Petunia Pretty Much Picasso

I'm not big into annuals. I am a plant geek, so I do love quite a few non-hardy plants, but I don't really talk about them. I certainly rarely get excited about something as mundane as a petunia. But the new supertunia 'Pretty Much Picasso' from Proven Winners is really quite beautiful. It works great in all the same applications as a typical Wave Petunia. Like the waves, it is a heavy feeder. We've got some great hanging baskets, and also used it in combo baskets and pots. It's been quite fantastic. If you're going to use petunias this year, give this one a try.


This might seem a bit late for a post about Hellebores, but I was walking in the garden today and realized just how good mine look now that the new growth has come up.

Hellebores are easy to grow and are fantastic year round in the shade garden. All they need is soil that isn't heavy clay or too wet. Mine are growing in clay-loam. I've also grown them in sandy-loam and organic rich soils, and have seen no real difference. They grow a bit more slowly in the clay-loam, but that could be because I'm not watering enough as well. My shade garden tends to be a bit dry.

Nearly all varieties are great garden plants, so find one you like and experiment away! They're also all deer and rabbit resistant. Slugs and snails do chew some minor holes in the new growth at this time of year, but they much prefer the hostas.

'Courage' is supposed to have upward-facing rose-red blooms, but so far they've been downward-facing. It does have a good growth rate however, and looks fantastic this year.

H. niger is the hardiest species, and can be grown into zone 3. Big white flowers are usually upward facing for me. I found one with nice veining in a batch we got from a nursery. It could possibly be a hybrid, but blooms just like H. niger.

'Walhelivor' (Ivory Prince) has done fantastically, and is getting incredibly huge. No problems in zone 4/5. Great looking foliage year round, and outward-facing ivory flowers change to green and are effective for a long time.

H. foetidus is one of my favorites for foliage and flower, but needs winter mulch to prevent it from blooming too early. This one has fantastic green flowers that are unlike other hellebores. This year there was plenty of snow cover, and they're blooming beautifully. Other years, mine has tried to bloom in January and had the flower stalk freeze.

'Hot Flash' is a selection of H. x sternii that I've been growing for 3 years for it's beautiful silver foliage. It is taking a long time to grow, but that's to be expected. I'm glad it can't read descriptions, it hasn't realized it's not supposed to grow here. Listed hardiness zone is 7(maybe to 6). It's even flowering for me this year. Flower is muddy pink and nothing to be excited about, foliage is so great it doesn't matter though.