Disjunct genera research

Although many folks only know us for our commercial division, Plant Delights Nursery, it is our research division, Juniper Level Botanic Garden that is the most important.  Our collections now top 22,000 taxa, making JLBG one of the most significant plant collections in the country.  We spent last Friday with Dr. Jenny Xiang of NC State University, her lab manager, and two graduate students taking samples of plants needed for her research into continentally disjunct plant genera.  In other words, what happened when the ancient continent of Pangaea split and some members of a genus (i.e. Asarum, Arisaema, Croomia) got caught on each side of the split. How did they evolve after being separated?  Plant samples were carefully taken for genetic testing in China, and immediately dipped into liquid Nitrogen for preservation.  We are thrilled that we had quite a number of relatively obscure plants that were important to the research.  Remember that 10% of all plant purchases at Plant Read more [...]

Sabal sp. Tamaulipas on the move

If you've ever tried to move a Sabal minor (scrub palmetto palm), you probably failed.  Once they pass the seedling stage, they cannot be moved since they develop a very deep subterranean trunk that extends up to 5' deep. Not only that, but roots that are cut do not regenerated like most other plants.  Today, we dug up our 17-year old Mexican Sabal 'Tamaulipas' since it had outgrown its space.  Expecting to find a huge subterranean trunk, we were surprised to only find a short below ground trunk.  I will add that I've never been fully convinced that this is actually Sabal minor, as the experts claim.  It came out so easily, that we are going to try and transplant it and see what happens.  Fingers crossed. Read more [...]

Rhodophiala bifida – Oxblood Lily

Rhodophiala bifida Hill Country Red9

In flower today are the lovely oxblood lilies, Rhodophiala bifida.  This Argentine native bulb emerges seemingly overnight without foliage.  The 1′ tall stalks are topped with bright red, out-facing flowers…first cousin to hippeastrum (mistakenly known as amaryllis).  About a month after rhodophialas finish flowerering, the winter growing leaves emerge and remain throughout the winter.  Rhodophiala prefers sun when the leaves are growing, so it can also be grown in deciduous woodlands where the tree leaves disappear during the winter months.

Eucomis ‘Naude’s Neck’ pineapple lily

I've long enjoyed pineapple lilies, but Eucomis autumnalis 'Naude's Neck' has to be one of my favorites.  Why, you ask...since it has no colored leaves or spotted foliage?  Most pineapple lily flower stalks tend to fall over after flowering due to the weight of the developing seed, but not Eucomis 'Naude's Neck'.  These flower spikes are as thick as the neck of an NFL lineman and remain looking great for up to three months after flowering.  I just took these photos of our plants in the garden...very compact and absolutely delightful.  They also last insanely long when used as a cut flower. Read more [...]

Gaillardia ‘Grape Sensation’

Gaillardia aestivalis Grape Sensation3

Looking great in the garden now is a personal favorite, Gaillardia ‘Grape Sensation’.  This Stephen F. Austin State University Arboretum selection of the Texas native is not only a  huge color break from typical gaillardia, but it the best performing and longest-lived blanket flower that we’ve every trialed.  Good drainage and plenty of sun are the keys to success.

Sarracenia flava pitcher plant – “Feed me”

I could sit and watch pitcher plants all day as prospective food is constantly lured into the waiting pitchers.  Here's the latest victim this week...a wasp, unaware that he's the next meal for this hungry Sarracenia flava.  Pitcher plants are quite easy to grow, both in the ground and in containers.  In pots, we grow them in straight peat moss that sits in a tray of water.  Lots of sun is the only other key and you'll be rewarded with hours of cheap thrills watching nature at its most cunning.  I think these are a great way to get kids interested in horticulture. Read more [...]

Earthquake News from CA

Just heard back from Bill McNamara, director of the Quarryhill Botanical Garden in California’s Napa wine country, and the garden came through the earthquake in good shape with only a few books shaken off the shelves.  Thank goodness, since this is one of the most amazing collections of Asian plants in the country.  I’m sure everyone has visited this national treasure.  Our thoughts are with those in the area who were less fortunate.

Zephyranthes katherine (rain lily) flowering

I hope you all had a great weekend in the garden!  With our cooler temperatures, plants are already starting their fall flush...what a great time to plant and move things around the garden.  I want to share a recent exciting horticultural moment for us...nearly a decade ago, we were given seed of a rain lily from Northern Mexico, which we promptly planted.  Most rain lilies flower for us within 1-2 years, but this one had languished in our trial beds until last week, when it finally sent up a flower.  Imagine our shock to find that we have a superb form of the rarely cultivated Zephyranthes katherine. We can only guess that perhaps it needed the recent cold winter to trigger flowering.  Now, we need to figure out how to get it propagated to share. Read more [...]

Liriope ‘Sideswiped’

Liriope muscari Sideswiped in flower7

I just caught Liriope muscari ‘Sideswiped’ in full flower making a lovely show.  This unusual selection of the clumping monkey grass has irregular horizontal banding instead of vertical edges…like a zebra miscanthus.  The non-weedy liriopes really make a lovely summer show in the garden…just beware of the aggressive spreading Liriope spicata that neighbors share all too readily.