But, they don’t grow here

We have long admired the Aril iris, a group of dry-land species, mostly from Middle Eastern countries, which are renown for their ability to die quickly in wet, humid-summer climates.  Well, armed with our new crevice garden, we decided it was time to try our hand at these once more, focusing on what is known as Arilbred iris...aril species that have been crossed with more typical bearded iris. In our case, we focused on the 50/50 hybrids, which the vendor assured us would not have any chance in our climate.  Despite our wettest year on record, here we are, 20 months after planting without a single loss. Here are a couple of photos from last spring, as we await the 2019 show (two center photos) just a few weeks away.  The crevice garden should look amazing for our Spring Open Nursery and Garden days...we hope you'll come visit. The lesson...don't believe anything you're told unless you verify it yourself.  If you're interested in learning more, visit our friends at 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 [...]

Winter Color Combo

Here’s a fun new winter color combo we tried in the garden that looks great now…Nothoscordum sellowianum (the insanely fragrant yellow winter-flowering bulb as a highlight for the purple-foliaged Yucca aloifolia ‘Magenta Magic’…pretty pleased with how this turned out.

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.  Read more [...]

Coum to Papa

One of many real joys in the winter garden are the hardy cyclamen. We can count on the wonderful Cyclamen coum to be in peak flower for our annual winter Open Nursery and Garden Days, starting in late February.  Here is a clump of Cyclamen coum ‘Maurice Dryden’ in flower currently, growing underneath a large evergreen holly. 

Cardamine crazy

Look what’s in full flower now in the winter garden!.  This dazzling spring ephemeral, Cardamine quinquefolia, is just off the charts amazing for the light shade woodland garden. It has formed a stunning 3′ wide patch in four years in our Zone 7b garden. Hardiness is Zone 6a-8b. 

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 [...]

Raining in Winter Open Nursery & Garden

Day 2 of our Winter Open Nursery & Garden Days... Rain or Shine! Our expert  staff are in the gardens and sales area to answer all your gardening questions. Be sure to join us today at 10am for our free Gardening Unplugged Garden Chat series where our Grounds and Research supervisor, Jeremy Schmidt, will be discussing Berm Gardening, and at 2pm Amanda Wilkins, JLBG Garden Curator, explores what's in a plant name and fascinating botanical trivia. In keeping with the damp, cool, New England-like weather....Cousins Maine Lobster food truck will be here today from 11am-2pm.      Read more [...]