On the road, again

Just back from the Perennial Plant Association Symposium, held this year in Denver. The annual meeting, designed for garden professionals, includes plenty of tours and talks.  The meeting attracts garden designers, garden workers, garden writers & speakers, nursery growers, retailers, and perennial plant lovers from around the world. It's a great chance to meet and chat with just about anyone you've ever heard, who works with perennials.  (Front, right with the backpack is Joseph Tychonievich, who wrote the new book, Rock Gardening; Reimagining a Classic Style.  Did I mention that next years' PPA will be in Raleigh/Durham, NC from July 30-August 3.  I'm sure you don't want to miss such an amazing opportunity!  The amazing Denver Botanic Garden was our dinner site, what an amazing place to stroll and learn. Denver Botanic Garden is one of the premier gardens in the US, combining incredible design with an incomparable collection of rare and little-known Read more [...]

Hardy Cactus…thoughts

We've got a thing for hardy cactus in the garden, but haven't propagated many to offer yet. One of our many favorites is Notocactus apricus.  Above is our 17 year old clump in the garden, which is 4" tall x 15" wide.  We've grown a few from seed, but are curious how many folks might consider purchasing one?  We've only been to 7F since 2000, so we don't know if it will take colder temperatures or not.   Visitors to our spring Open Nursery and Garden this year got to see the amazing Trichocereus 'Irridescent Watermelon' (bred by local cacti specialist, Mike Papay) in full flower (hardy so far to 7 degrees F).  Offsets are almost non-existent, so we decided to grow some from seed. Each plant will be different, but all should be quite nice.  So, if we offered these as a seed strain, would you purchase some, knowing each will be slightly different? Read more [...]

Rain, followed by Rain Lilies

Our nearly 2" rain, a few days ago, produced a stunning show of rain lilies in the garden.  Here are some selections from the original Yucca Do collection in Labuffa, Mexico. Between July and October, these flower 2-3 days after each rain. Winter hardiness of each is Zone 7b, although, they may possibly survive in Zone 7a.  They also make fabulous container specimens. Zephyranthes 'Early and Often' (a Yucca Do selection) Zephyranthes 'Lily Pies' (a Yucca Do selection)  Zephyranthes 'Rose Colored Glasses' (a Yucca Do selection) Zephyranthes 'Star Spangled' (a Yucca Do selection) Zephyranthes 'Viva Las Vegas' (a Plant Delights selection for 2018 release) Read more [...]

Hymen Flowers

Hymen flowers (aka Hymenocallis) are still going, as the Northern Mexican species now perfume the garden. The genus begins flowering in spring, and if you grow a wide range of species, you can have flowers until late summer/early fall. Here's a photo we recently took of Hymenocallis pimana in the garden.  While many hymenocallis prefer very moist soils, we grow this in a dry bed with agaves and cactus.  Starting in early evening, the flowers emit a honeysuckle-like fragrant to lure evening moths for reproductive activities. While we also like the more commonly sold Dutch hybrids, which are actually intergeneric crosses with the South American Ismene, we think the North American native species are far superior as garden plants, so we've always wondered why these don't sell nearly as well as they should.  Read more [...]

A Loss for NC Horticulture

It's especially sad for us to announce the all too early passing of former PDN'er Hunter Stubbs, 47, who passed away this weekend from brain cancer.  Hunter was a star student of the late Dr. JC Raulston, and an amazing worker for us, before he moved to Asheville, and became a household name in the landscape community. Hunter's first job there was as landscape manager for Richmond Hill Inn, and his incredible passion for plants led him to start a horticulture symposium there, for which he enticed Dan Hinkley and I to speak on the same program. Hunter went on to become part-owner of the BB Barnes Landscape Division. Like JC Raulston, Hunter almost seemed bigger than life...always smiling, and always positive.  Even at the NC Nursery Show this January, you would have been hard pressed to know anything was wrong. Hunter is survived by his wife Carla, and two children, Hayden and Carson.  Life well lived, my friend.     Read more [...]

Hardy Orchids from seed

I was looking at our patch of Bletilla 'Brigantes'...a hardy orchid hybrid between Bletilla striata and Bletilla ochracea and wondering what its offspring would look like.  I recalled that the late plantsman Don Jacobs grew bletillas from seed in his window sill, so I figured we'd give it a try.  If you've never handled orchid seed, it's a bit like handling tiny dust particles.  We harvested the seed before the pods cracked open and sowed them like we do our fern spores, and sealed them in a ziploc bag.  Sure enough, they germinated, and two years later actually flowered.  These are a sampling of the amazing variation from the 200 seedlings we potted.  We'll select a good representative sample of the variation including any unique individuals and plant them out in trial beds and watch how they develop.  How exciting! Read more [...]

New Redbuds

I had the wonderful opportunity recently to spend the day with NC State plant breeder, Dr. Dennis Werner in his extensive redbud breeding plots. So far, four redbuds have been named and released, including Cercis 'Ruby Falls' (weeping purple leaf), Cercis 'Whitewater' (weeping variegated leaf), and Cercis 'Merlot' (upright purple leaf with better color retention), and Cercis 'Pink Pom Poms' (double pink flowered upright). The new plants in the pipeline are almost unimaginable, from foliage colors to size, form, and even leaf shape. If you've never bred plants, it's hard to imagine the incredible amount of thought, work, and time it takes to create such an amazing array of plants. Even though Dr. Werner has now retired, he will be continuing his work as a JC Raulston Arboretum volunteer plant breeder...how cool!  We're saving some room in our garden for more of these exciting introductions that will be coming soon. Read more [...]