It's always cool to have really fun plants in the garden, and few can match this selection of our North American native, Manfreda undulata. Manfreda 'Cherry Chocolate Chip' is the work of our friend Hans Hansen, who has created some of the finest perennials on the market today. For us, Manfreda 'Cherry Chocolate Chip' stays evergreen to about 5-7 degrees F, below which temperature it becomes deciduous. Sun from a few hours to half a day is perfect for this drought tolerant succulent. I can envision fun landscape ideas using coral or sea shells to create a magical underwater-looking landscape. If you use this in a seascape, please share your images. Now, I can't get my mind off ice cream...back in a few minutes.
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This spring, we introduced a new seed strain of century plant, named Agave 'Durango Fandango'. These arose from a cross made by one of our volunteer agave curators, Mike Papay. Agave flexispina pollen was applied to a hardy selection of Agave schidigera. As with all agave crosses, it takes a while to full evaluate the offspring, but we wanted to share photos of our plants that went into the ground in March 2017 from 1 quart pots. Since both parents mature around 2-3' in width, we expect the same from the offspring, but one of the nice surprises is the stunning red border that becomes more prevalent as it grows. Since both parents are winter hardy in Zone 7b, we expect the same for Agave 'Durango Fandango'. If you want to try this or any of our agave hybrids, remember that the amount of plants available is limited by the seed set from the cross, and there will be no more once those are gone...until one of the offspring flowers, which could take many years. Read more [...]
We had an interesting end of the day Friday, when a microburst/funnel cloud, complete with an abundance of 2.25" hail, passed over the nursery and gardens. Colocasias were immediately transformed into Monstera deliciosa...aka Swiss Cheese plants. Eighteen irrigation pipes in the nursery were shattered along with the roof of our potting barn. On the bright side, our compost pile will grow considerably after we finish raking debris.
Our little weather encounter pails in comparison to our gardening friends in Texas and Louisiana, who are beginning the recovery from Hurricane Harvey. Mercer Botanic Garden just north of Houston was under an 8' deep raging river for 3 days. Crews are still accessing what will no doubt be catastrophic damage.
We've yet to hear back from our friends at Shangrila Gardens in Orange, Texas, but can't imagine the news will be good since the main feature of the garden is the incredible canal that traverses the garden.
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Our friend Hans Hansen had told us about a redbud he was growing from the former Wavecrest Nursery, that was a cross of Cercis canadensis and Cercis chinensis...a cross considered difficult, if not almost impossible. I visited last week to get cuttings (yes, it roots), and found a stunningly beautiful small tree with glossy dark green foliage. It has the floral density and trunk flowering of Cercis chinensis with the winter hardiness of Cercis canadensis, enduring Michigan winters of -12F, so far.
Here's a photo Hans shared of it in flower this spring. Surprisingly, it's never been officially released or named, so we've christened it, Cercis 'Wavecrest' to honor the amazing nursery, where it was discovered as a seedling. If our cuttings take, we'll work to get this into the trade and in the hands of collectors. Read more [...]
In 1998, Massacheusetts allium breeder, Mark McDonough share a plant of his newly named Allium 'Millenium' with us to introduce in 2000 to celebrate the new century. After 17 years on the market, Allium 'Millenium' became an overnight success when it was just selected as the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. This is a yuuuge honor as it joins a very select company of award winners.
Allium 'Millenium' is now produced by the 100,000's. I just took this photo in the production fields of Walters Gardens in Michigan. All of these were produced from a single quart pot they picked up from us 7 years ago. Pretty impressive!
We don't feel that breeders usually get enough credit for their amazing work, so here's the man behind Allium 'Millenium', breeder, Mark McDonough of Massacheusetts. A well deserved congratulations, and thanks for letting us be a small part of this amazing story!
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We'll never get tired of growing plants from seed and the anticipation of seeing what unique traits might arise. This week, we were thrilled to "discover" our first white oxblood lily, Rhodophiala bifida in our research trials. We deflowered it this week with its own pollen in the hopes of producing more white clones. Fingers crossed. Below are a few of our other seedling selections that will be coming soon.
Rhodophiala bifida 'Hill Country Red' is the industry standard clone
In 2017, we released our first clonal selection, Rhodophiala 'Carmencita'
Coming in the next couple of years is a very early flowering seed strain with orange red flowers that we've named Rhodophiala 'Red Baron'
Here is a still unnamed 2013 seed selection.
Here another unnamed selection with nice white central striping.
Another lovely pink 2013 selection
One final shot. As you can see, it's easy to get carried away with seedling selections.
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Flowering a new plant for the first time is always exciting, and this week we enjoyed our first Habranthus ruber. This Brazillian rain lily is quite rare, and probably only a few exist in the US. We’ve already selfed this to get seed, and we also spread its pollen far and wide to other rain lilies to see what color combinations might be possible. We doubt this will be reliably winter hardy for us in Zone 7b, but it should produce fascinating offspring.
Over the last few years, we’ve made quite a few intergeneric hybrids within the Amaryllid family…one known for rather odd mating habits. Our crosses involved 2,3, and occasionally four genera together. Today, one of our bi-generic (2 genera) crosses flowered for the first time, confirming its hybrid origin. In this case the parents were Habranthus robustus x Zephyranthes ‘Labuffarosea’, so it’s our first xZephybranthus. The foliage tends more toward the habranthus parent, while the orientation of the flower and the petals go more toward the zephyranthes parent. This is somewhat akin to crossing a human with a chimpanzee.
Please join us in sending get well wishes to plantsman Noel Weston, a friend of 35 years, who owns Lakeview Daylily Farm just around the corner from PDN/JLBG. Noel was found unresponsive at his nursery last weekend after suffering a major stroke, and is currently in ICU (visitors are not yet permitted). Noel was the City of Raleigh Horticulturist for 30 years before retiring to his daylily farm, where he spends seemingly every waking hour. Above is Noel with his daughter, Erin Weston. You can send you wishes to the family through Erin's Facebook page. Read more [...]
Have you ever stopped to look at fern spore patterns? If not, take time to turn over your fern fronds. My favorite spore pattern comes from the fern genus, Coniogramme. These produce what is known as anastamosing veins…your new word for today. Anastamosing is the connection of separate branching patterns…in this case, veins of spores. Free art…compliments of mother nature.