Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Death of a plantsman...

I am a subscriber of the Plant Delights Nursery newsletter, and love Tony Avent's writing.  He often includes news of goings-on in the horticulture field, including stories of those who have recently passed.  This months newsletter gave me the sad news that Bob Stewart of Arrowhead Alpines passed away from his battle with colon cancer.  I had fully intended to make a trip to MI to see the nursery and meet Bob and Brigitta this past September, but we really didn't have the extra money to make the trip.  And certainly not the huge sum I would need to load the car with plants.  Seriously, they have one of the largest selections of perennials and other odd plants anywhere and I'm thankful that Brigitta will be keeping the nursery in business.  The catalog was always an enjoyable read, and I've learned a lot about plants that I've seen available nowhere else.

December has seen the passing of other well known plantsman, including Wolfgang Oehme, Dr. John AA Thompson (inventor of SuperThrive) and Kim Jong Il.  Ummm what?  Yes, Kim Jong Il.  From the PDN newsletter:

"Finally, the strangest of the plantsmen to pass away this month has to be North Korea’s Kim Jong Il...yes, you heard me right. The story goes back several years, when the late Dutch plant breeder Kees Sahin, who was friend of Kim’s dad, was visiting North Korea with Japanese plant breeder Motoderu Kamo. Kamo gave the elder Kim one his begonia hybrids, which was subsequently named Begonia ‘Kimjongilia’ for Kim Jong Il’s 46th birthday. Kim was so taken with the begonia, that he declared begonias the National Flower of North Korea. After supplying Kim with more begonia genetics, Kim Jong Il began what would become the largest begonia breeding project in the world. According to Kees, Kim would fly over his begonia fields in his helicopter and make his final selections from the air. At the time of Kim Jung Il’s death, there were sprawling greenhouse complexes all across North Korea, all for the purpose of housing Kim’s massive begonia collection. For international begonia shows, Kim would fly his prize begonia hybrids to the show with one person holding each begonia in the back of a cargo plane, to keep from damaging the plants. Also, according to Kees, Kim’s head begonia breeder became so renowned internationally, that Kim had him killed for upstaging the Dear Leader. As Dave Barry liked to say...I am not making this up!"

So... anyone know where I can buy one?  

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Botanophilia spring catalog is online!

The online catalog has been updated with new plants for spring 2012.  The downloadable catalog will be finished soon.  We've also updated and lowered our shipping charges.  Shipping is now $12 for up to 3 plants, $4 per plant for more than 3 plants.  We've also added in-store pick up options which will not charge you shipping but will charge you sales tax.  Please note: if you select in-store pick up let us know in the comments what date and time you would like to stop by so we can have your order ready!

Lastly- FREE SHIPPING on orders of $100 or more until March 1st!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hanging Hostas of Hampshire

I thought I'd share this video from youtube.  Thanks to Hostaholic1 for uploading!

The Hanging Hosta Garden in Lindford, Hampshire is the creation of June Colley and her partner John. The collection of over 1300 hosta cultivars is diplayed in several garden settings including an English Garden, a Waterfall and Stream Garden and an Islamic Garden. Many of the hostas are displayed at eye level to give a wonderful tapestry of foliage and colour. The garden is open to the public by appointment and in July under the National Garden Scheme. 
See the website  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall Color In The Garden

Fall color is peaking in my garden now, even if all of the trees are pretty much bare already.  Here are some of my favorites.

Abelia mosanenssis is developing nice yellow fall color.  Not the gorgeous orange tones every nursery is claiming, but still very nice.  I LOVE THIS SHRUB!

Acer palmatum 'Aureum' developing beautiful yellow-orange tones.  This has been a fantastic Japanese maple here in WI, regardless of the lack of care it's gotten.  Hard to find, and underused as most people seem to not care for maples with green leaves.  Hardiness, fall color, and green stems make this maple one that should be much more widely used.

 Amelanchier 'Autumn Brilliance', Cornus sericea gold leaf, and Panicum virgatum 'Northwind' all looking fantastic.  The cornus looks like it will be coloring up late this year, which is not a bad thing.

Aronia melanocarpa not quite peaking yet.  This is one of my favorite shrubs for year long interest.  White flowers in spring, dark green glossy foliage in summer, red fall color, and black berries in winter.  What more can you ask for?  This one is a large variety, they were 9' tall before I cut them to the ground last year.  They're reaching up to 3' only a year later.  'Iroquois Beauty' is a great compact variety to about 4' x 4'.

 I love witch hazels, and Hamemelis xintermedia 'Jelena' is looking absolutely fantastic, even though she's dropped most of her leaves.  Lots of buds promise a late winter show, disappointingly this is one of the few non-fragrant witch hazels, but I won't argue with orange flowers in March.

Not the best fall color of the bunch, but my still-potted Orixa japonica is showing a brownish-yellow color that looks quite nice as the leaves are still glossy.

Gaillardia 'Frenzy' still blooming its fool head off.

 One of my favorite peonies, P. ITOH Going Bananas looks GREAT spring through fall.

Another great peony, 'Little Medicine Man' showing some nice orange undertones masked by burgundy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies'

I'm a big fan of Asters.  There are a heck of a lot of them and they provide a wide range of beautiful fall colors.  One of my favorites is A. oblongifolius 'October Skies'.  I've had this variety in my garden for 4 years now and in typical perennial fasion every year is better.  It grows about 24-30" tall and is easily 36" wide.  This is one of the latest blooming Asters, and is in peak bloom as everything else is slowing down for the season.  You can see in the October picture that it will be blooming for sometime as there are still buds to open.  The only real drawback is it does need a little support so it doesn't sprawl all over the place.  I use a large grow-through hoop for this and it works great.  The hoop isn't easy to see to begin with and the plants in front of the aster make the support invisible.  There are other great varieties of this species, including a newer light pink called 'Dream of Beauty' which I'm planting this fall.

Grow-through hoop

October - Full Bloom!
September - Just starting to bloom

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Plant Geek is looking for work

Due to the economic situation, my department (and my position) are being downsized.  The garden center will still be open, and there should still be some cool plants available but I will no longer be part of the staff.  I'll be officially unemployed on Oct. 14th.  If anyone is looking for a slightly used plant geek, let me know!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This month's myster plant.  The only hint besides pictures- it's incredibly fast growing.  It was planted from seed in April 2010 and is now in a #15 squat pot.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Your gardens must be beautiful!"

This is the comment I get most often while talking to customers at work. They don't believe me when I tell them that they actually look pretty terrible. Working in horticulture, I don't have time to weed in spring or early summer. I also have a dog that is keeping me from planting or spraying in one area. So, here is photographic proof that my gardens are nasty looking.

First is the driveway garden.  A crazy mess at the moment, but I'm slowly getting it under control.  My dog tramples anything near the house in this garden, and everything used as foundation planting along the house.  Quackgrass is taking this garden over quickly... wish I could spray it since pulling it just makes it angry.

 Here is the foundation planting where this is no longer a dog to trample everything.  This is newly planted, and will hopefully start to look better if I can keep it weeded.
Around the corner from the previous picture.  Just need time to clean it up and it will be ok.

And now for the shot that redeems all this ugliness.  My butterfly garden is pretty good.  In the process of some editing, and still needs lots of weeding but I enjoy it and the critters it brings.  No Monarch caterpillars this year though, despite having 3 species of Asclepias for them to munch on.

This garden is also nice, although not very colorful.  Unfortunately we haven't had the time the last 2 years to grow the huge variety of food we had been.  Despite the fact that this garden didn't get planted until the last week of June and the Tomatoes and Peppers are bearing late, it looks awesome and everything is healthy.

Eggplant 'Thai White Ribbed'
Tomato 'OSU Purple'

Pepper 'New Ace'
Chard 'Bright Lights'

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mystery Plant

Here is another mystery plant.  Do you know it?

Summer Color

I have plenty of summer color right now, so I thought I'd share some of it with you.

Anaphalis margaritacea is native to most of the US and is an overlooked garden plant that is a great host for American Lady caterpillars.
Chrysanthemum 'Mammoth Lavender'

Garden shot

Geranium psilostemon - Blooming since June 30" tall and no flopping!

One of my seedlings Hemerocallis ('Golden Zebra' x 'Peppermint Ice')

Hemerocallis 'Johnny Cash'

Hemerocallis 'Regency Heights'
Hemerocallis 'Siloam Show Girl'
Sedum 'Mr. Goodbud'

Silene regia 'Prairie Fire'

One of my introductions Silphium perfoliatum 'Lemonade Stand'

Critters are color too!  Black Swallowtail on fennel

Asclepias 'Silky Red' - Annual for us and one of my favorites.

Chocolate cosmos that overwintered in my garden

Petunia 'Black Velvet'

Verbena bonariensis

Eupatorium 'Phantom'

Agastache 'Black Adder', Eryngium yuccifolium, and Fennel

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I have 2 newer Coreopsis varieties in my garden.

 'Route 66' has been a great performer so far, it went in last year from a quart pot and is now quite large.  Other varieties I've tried with red coloration in the flower have been far less vigorous than this one.  'Route 66' also has finer foliage than other varieties, revealing a strong verticillata parentage which is probably a good reason for its hardiness. 

'Star Cluster' is a new variety in the big bang series from hybridizer Darrel Probst.  This series as a whole is performing well here in WI.  I will try to re-shoot this picture soon, as it is overexposed despite being shot on an overcast day and looking great on the camera screen.  'Star Cluster' has red coloration in the center of the flower, which will extend throughout the petals in cool weather.  This one is extremely tall and sturdy, almost 30" tall in my garden and standing straight.  I really like this variety, and so far it is performing well. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spring Color

I've finally had a chance to get out and take some pictures of the spring color in my gardens over the last week or so.  Everything is definitely behind this year, due to our very cold temps.  We've had a few warm days now and the plants are responding to warmth very quickly, doubling in size in a a matter of days.

Cornus sericea unnamed gold mutation
 First up is a neat shrub I found a number of years ago.  It's a red twig dogwood that provides a bright spot of gold in the spring then changes green through the season.  All other traits seem normal, growth has been fast I will guess it will hit 8' tall and wide.  There are other gold-leaf selections out there that are similar, I don't know that I'll name it or introduce it for sale.  I am growing some seed from it in hopes for a variety that stays gold all season.

Arabis sturrii
  Arabis sturrii is a great spring bloomer that forms  low cushions.  White flowers in May followed by green glossy foliage the rest of the season.  It's a good nectar plant for early season butterflies and moths.

Corydalis 'Blackberry Wine'

  Corydalis are in bloom now.  C. cheilanthifolia is now finished and 'Blackberry Wine' is getting started.  These are great plants for spring color and seasonal texture.  They like partial shade and good drainage.  'Blackberry Wine' will bloom sporadically through the season.

Epimedium 'Fire Dragon'

 Epimediums are in full bloom for me now.  They've been gaining in popularity in the past few years.  One of my favorites is 'Fire Dragon' which has fairly large (for an Epimedium) flowers that last much longer than others in my garden.  'Amber Queen' is fairly similar, I'm not sure how long the blooms will last.  'Lilafee' is a nice purple flowering variety is petite.  'Niveum' is a great white variety.  These are all easy to grow in shade to partial shade and are tolerant of dry soil. 

Epimedium 'Niveum'
Epimedium 'Lilafee'

Hepatica acutiloba is an underused woodland plant that does great in a shade garden.  Flowers range in color and can be white, pink, or blue.  They put on a good show of small flowers in spring, then the glossy foliage looks great all season. 

 The various Heuchera, xHeucherella, and Tiarella are looking great now, 'Southern Comfort' and 'Fire Chief' are looking great.  All of the new ones I planted have returned beautifully.  Tiarella 'Cascade Creeper' is coming up well, this is one of my new favorites.  There are some great new varieties this year that I can't wait to get planted: Heuchera: 'Apple Crisp', 'Pear Crisp', & 'Electric Lime'.  xHeucherella 'Redstone Falls', 'Yellowstone Falls', & 'Solar Eclipse'. 

 Iris lutescens var. campelli is a diminutive species of bearded iris with light purple standards and slightly darker falls.  I've struggled with this one for awhile, but I've finally found a spot where it seems happy.  I have other dwarf bearded hybrids in bloom as well, and they are always among my favorite spring bloomers.  If you don't have any dwarf iris, pick some up.
 Mertensia virginica alba.  I picked up a white form of Virginia bluebells last year, and it's in bloom now.  I probably should move it to a spot more suitable to its spreading nature.
Hostas are an obsession of mine (I have over 300 varieties) and the gold varieties are always my favorite as they come up.  'Dawn's Early Light' and 'Nancy' are especially bright.  Both look great all season as well.  'Dawn's Early Light' changes to bright green/chartreuse but has pebbled round leaves and a great mound habit.  'Nancy' stays a fairly bright chartreuse and has a good form.

'Dawn's Early Light'