Hardy Agave for Your Garden

There are many agave that are hardy in our Zone 7b garden that many people would not think would live here. The key to successfully growing agaves is proper siting, planting, and culture. These are pictures taken this week of agaves in the garden. Join us May 4, 2019 at 2:00pm for our Gardening Unplugged garden chat on Hardy Agave for the Garden, during our Spring Open Nursery & Garden Days. Agave ovatifolia 'Vanzie' Agave lophantha 'Splendida' Agave salmiana 'Green Goblet' Agave victoria-reginae Papay Giant form Agave x pseudoferox Read more [...]

Spring Open Nursery & Garden is Just Around the Corner

It's hard to believe that spring open nursery and garden days is almost here. Spring is always a busy time of year and our nursery and garden staff have been working tirelessly making sure the gardens are in prime condition and our sales houses are brimming with beautiful plants. Take advantage of shopping our sales houses for many unique and rare perennials, many exclusively available at Plant Delights Nursery. We are offering nearly 20 varieties of Baptisia this year, more than you will find at most garden centers. Many are from our own breeding program at Juniper Level Botanic Garden and include two 2019 introductions you will find no where else. Join Tony, Friday, May 3 at 10am for a stroll through the gardens as he discusses baptisias, part of our Gardening Unplugged garden chat series. Baptisia Bletilla - Hardy Orchids The hardy orchids also look amazing this year, with seven different bletilla and over 30 varieties of ladyslippers and calanthe available, you are sure Read more [...]

Seeds of Change

At Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden we grow a number of our plants from seed. While many plants will come pretty true to type from seed, there is always the element of genetics and genetic diversity, just as in humans. We are always on the look out for these genetic variations and the next great garden worth plant. Below is a planting of 3 Alyssum argenteum that were grown from seed received from Jelitto Perennial Seed. All planted at the same time and same conditions, side by side, you can see the plant to the far left is already in flower, the middle plant is just starting to bud, and the far right is denser and more compact in its growth habit. Alyssum argenteum - Jelitto form Below is another seed grown crop of Alyssum saxatile 'Sulphureum' and you can see the variation of flower color from a creamy, buttery yellow to a bright golden yellow. So we are always excited about growing crops from seed and discovering the variations nature has in store. Alyssum Read more [...]

Lies, Damn Lies, and Plant Labels

We just snapped this photo of Lemon Thread Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Lemon Thread') in the gardens here at Juniper Level, and wanted to share since it illustrates our constant rants about trusting nurseries, plant tags, and websites to give accurate mature sizes. For a woody plant, our typical advice is to triple any size you are given. So, we wanted to see how that advice would work with the plant below.

Lemon Thread cypress was discovered in the mid 1980s as a sport at Oregon's Mitsch Nurseries, so it's a relative newcomer as plants go. Our 20 year old specimen is planted in compost-amended sandy loam without any chemical fertilizers ever. We should also add that we don't believe in shearing plants, which we find a waste of energy as well as a middle finger to natures's beauty. Our specimen now measures 25' tall x 15' wide.

We then searched the web for Lemon Thread Cypress and recorded the sizes from the top 30 sites that came up in Google...see notes below the photo.  Sizes Read more [...]

New Sterile Hellebores

We are rightly skeptical of great new plant claims, since so many new introductions fail to live up to the marketing hype, so we were cautiously optimistic when we planted our first trial plants of Helleborus x glandorfensis a couple of years ago.

These new, thought to be impossible hybrids of Helleborus niger x Helleborus x hybridus, have indeed lived up to the marketing hype. They are similar to the incredible Helleborus x iburgensis hybrids, which preceded them (crosses of Helleborus niger, hybridus, and lividus), but without Helleborus lividus, which produces the leaf veination, but reduces the flower size slightly.

The H. x glandorfensis hybrids (created by breeders in Glandorf, Germany) have dark, black green foliage, with flowers which are ridiculously large for a lenten rose.

Both the H. x glandorfensis and the x iburgensis hybrids have outfacing flowers and do not produce seed. You can't go wrong with any of these amazing hybrids for the winter garden!

Helleborus x glandorfensis Read more [...]

New baby tucked away in plain view

Even though we're in the garden virtually everyday, there's so much to see that we often miss things that are right in front of us.  Case in point...a few weeks ago, our taxonomist, Zac Hill was walking though the woodland garden and noticed that our evergreen Solomon's Seal had been sexually frisky with another disporopsis species in a nearby clump. In the photo on the right is the daddy, Disporopsis pernyi, and on the left, the momma, Disporopsis undulata.  In the center is the baby...a hybrid between the two.

The hybrid clump was actually fairly large, so we'd missed the blessed event by several years. According to disporopsis guru, Dr. Aaron Floden of the Missouri Botanical Garden, this seems to be the first time that anyone has documented a hybrid between these two species, so we named our new baby Disporopsis 'Opsis Attract' and look forward to being able to share in a few years.

  Read more [...]

It’s pretty seedy around here

In addition to spring, one of the things we look forward to most each year is the members only seed exchange list from the North American Rock Garden Society.

This amazing list of plants, shared by members from around the world, is truly the place to find seed of rare, hard-to-find plants for rock gardens and pretty much any kind of garden. The seed list typically offers 3000-4000 different plants annually...probably the best in the world. The first round of distribution in January of each year is limited to 25 different seed types (35 if you donate seed), and the second round, which just went live, allows members to select another 100 varieties. We just got out order submitted, and now anxiously await their arrival. 

We think the seed exchange alone is worth far more than the annual dues, but there's so much more from tours, to meetings, to networking, and a great journal. So, if you want to become a seedaholic, here's your path to addiction!

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Delicate trillium

In flower now at Juniper Level Botanic Garden (JLBG) is the newest published species of toadshade, Trillium delicatum, which became official last week!  Trillium delicatum, which from a distance could be confused with Trillium decumbens hails from central Georgia, where it's found growing in floodplains. DNA studies found that it is more closely related to the Alabama-centered Trillium stamineum. 

This leaves only fifteen more potentially new species in the Southeast US that are currently being studied for future naming...pretty exciting times. 

As an ex-situ conservation garden and since we do not endorse sales from plants collected in the wild, our JLBG propagation team are working to make this available from seed, so keep your eyes peeled. 

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New discovery – treasure or trash?

We field quite a few calls each year from folks who think they've just found the next million dollar plant and want to know how to monetize their discovery. Sadly, it's not as easy as it sounds. Take our latest discovery above...a nearly albino form of the hardy orchid, Bletilla striata that popped up here in our propagation department.

Despite it looking amazing, does it really have value?

Since it is a near albino, growth will be very slow due to a lack of chlorophyll, so that rules it out immediately for quantity production.

Will the next division also be equally as variegated or will it go back to green?  The answer is...we don't know.

The question then becomes how many people would purchase it, knowing it's going to be difficult to grow and it may never multiply or could revert to green?

In cases like this, a venue like EBay could be the best opportunity to match it with someone willing to take a chance. Each plant is different...so what do you think we should Read more [...]

February 2019 Newsletter

February 2019
Greetings from wet Raleigh, where we’re making good progress with our arc construction after a record-setting year of precipitation that topped out at just over 60” of rainfall…the most ever recorded for Raleigh. Of course, both the east and west ends of North Carolina made our 60” look like a drop in the proverbial bucket.  
 
Our largest coastal town, Wilmington, set a yearly rainfall record of 102”, while at the far western end of our state, Mt. Mitchell recorded just over 140” of rain. I guess we picked a bad year to start growing dryland alpines, but if they survive this year, they should be great going forward.

In the News
A shout out to our friend Jackie Heinricher, founder of the bamboo tissue culture lab, BooShoots in Washington, who has added a new career to her resume…that of race car driver.  I can’t say we have many racers who are also nurserymen. 
 
After Read more [...]