There have been some amazing advancements in hellebore breeding during the last decade, and near the top of the list is the amazing Helleborus x lemonnierae ‘Madame Lemonnier’. Here are a couple of images from the garden this week of this cross between the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger and the Lenten rose, Helleborus x hybridus. The flowers are a measured 4.5″ wide…the largest flowers we’ve ever seen on any hellebore. Because this is such a wide cross, it’s completely sterile, so must be reproduced by divisions (tissue culture).
When we re-worked one of our recirculating water capture streams a couple of years ago, our grounds supervisor, Jeremy Schmidt, who coordinated the project, wanted to include an old buried log that he had found when excavating another part of the property. It took quite a few staff members to hand carry it and place it across the man-made creek where it resides today. Because it was hollow on one side, we filled it full of planting media and voila…a naturalistic vignette resulted. Here it is this week in the winter garden with several clumps of Carex oshimensis to echo the flow of the water.
One of our most unique agave seedlings is a selection of Agave lophantha in which the tips of the leaves turn bright gold during the cold winter months. Here is our parent clump that’s been in the ground since 2011. Hopefully just a few more years and we’ll have enough to share…assuming there is any interest.
One of the broadleaf evergreen trees that always elicits oohs and aaahs is Castanopsis cuspidata ‘Angyo Yellow’ and the cream centered counterpart ‘Nakafu’. These yellow-variegated Japanese selections of the the Japanese chinquapin is as rare as the proverbial hens teeth. Our 14 year old specimen pictured here in the winter garden is starting to make quite a show. We expect them to eventually reach their mature size of 25′ – 35′ in another few decades. In Japan, they are propagated by grafting, although they will root from cuttings, albeit in ridiculously low percentages. It’s our dream to one day make these more widely available if we can figure out the propagation that would allow this to happen.
We can’t imagine gardening in a climate where we couldn’t grow these amazing bold-textured evergreen winter wonders. Here is Aspidistra ‘Goldfeather’ in the garden this week, glowing in the winter light. For those in colder winter climates, the common name of cast iron plants give an indication of how tough they are as house plants in low light conditions.
Here’s another favorite winter combination in our parking lot drought border, involving Opuntia aurea ‘Coombes Winter Glow’, Agave x loferox ‘Stairway to Heaven’, a new gold variegated Yucca flaccida, all backed by Phlomis monocephala and a lovely tan-colored Andropogon.
In 2008, we met the deeply-lobed Fatsia polycarpa (aralia family) on its’ home turf in Taiwan. From our expedition, we were able to import several seedlings, which are now mature. Only one clone had ever flowered before this year, and cold temperatures always killed the developing buds. Finally, this winter, a second clone, Fatsia polycarpa ‘Taroko Treasure’ flowered for the first time, and these flower stalks have withstood the winter temps, which so far, have only dropped to 21F. If these seed mature, we may finally be able to offer this rarely available species…finger crossed.
Checking our fern spore pots and found this stray Pickerel frog looking for some dinner. Nothing like a warm, damp greenhouse in the middle of winter.
Here’s another example of the fun combos that can be created in the winter garden. Here is Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Kyoto’ in the middle of a patch of Ajuga reptans ‘Planet Zork’, backed by Sedum palmeri ‘Mendoza’…love the use of groundcovers.
We highly value our cast iron plants (aspidistra) in the winter garden. When we started collecting them in 1980, there were only 20 known species. Today, there are over 200 species known to science. Here are a few in the garden this winter.
These are just a few of the 139 different cast iron plant clones we grow. We hope you’ll come see them in person during our upcoming winter open nursery and garden.