Ammocharis…the neglected amaryllid

Since we don’t have an open house in June, I wanted to share photos of Ammocharis corranica in flower now. This easy-to-grow amaryllid has thrived in the gardens at JLBG since 2004. First cousin to the better known genera like amaryllis, crinum, and lycoris, the South African ammocharis makes a very short, but incredibly showy bulb for a sunny garden spot.

Spring fireworks

Magnolia officinalis var. biloba ‘Fireworks’ is stunning in the garden, from its dark purple buds to the vivid pink flowers. Typical Magnolia officinalis var. biloba has white flowers, so this amazing plant is most unusual.

Magnolia officinalis var. biloba ‘Fireworks’
Magnolia officinalis var. biloba ‘Fireworks’

New Notocactus

Several of our volunteers have dabbled with cactus breeding, so here is one of the hybrids we’re currently enjoying at JLBG, thanks to the creative efforts of Mike Papay. The top image is the female parent, Notocactus ottonis (yellow). The middle image is the male parent, Notocactus herteri var. roseoluteus (pink). The bottom image is the new hybrid, Notocactus x hertonis (peachy orange).

Notocactus ottonis
Notocactus herteri var. roseoluteus
Notocactus x hertonis

Are you fashionably early?

Two of our favorite upright phlox are from the fashionably early series from Walters Gardens. These both derive from another of our favorites, Phlox ‘Minnie Pearl’. Here they are in the garden this week, with never a sign of mildew.

Phlox ‘Fashionably Early Crystal’
Phlox ‘Fashionably Early Princess’

Loropetalums…not Low Petalums

Oh my goodness, how terrible these wonderful plants are treated by the hedge-clipper wielding masochistic masses! These amazing plants are large shrubs/small trees…not foundation shrubs…geez! We currently grow 27 cultivars, and need to replace three that we managed to kill. Purportedly some of these newer selections actually stay more compact, but that remains to be seen in our in-ground trials. Here are a few of our older specimens along with their actual measured size.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Crimson Fire’ (advertised as growing 4′ tall x 4-5′ wide) measures 6′ tall x 8′ wide after only 4 years. Growth rate is increasing and it looks like it should reach a mature size of 24′ tall x 32′ wide.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Crimson Fire’

Loropetalum chinense ‘Pippa’s Red’ (below) has reached 35′ tall x 20′ wide in 20 years.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Pippa’s Red’

The bicolor, genetically unstable Loropetalum ‘Ruby Snow’ (advertised as growing 6′ tall x 6′ wide) is 6′ tall x 8′ wide after 4 years, so mature size will probably be 24′ tall x 32′ wide. The dueling colors create an amazing effect.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Ruby Snow’

Loropetalum ‘Shang-hi’ (below), marketed as Purple Diamond, has reached 12′ tall x 16′ wide in twelve years, and the growth rate appears to be slowing.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Shang Hi’

Loropetalum ‘Snow Panda’ (below) is 7′ tall x 10′ wide after 5 years. The original plant, introduced by the US National Arboretum is 10′ tall x 8.5′ wide after fifteen years. It’s odd that our plant is growing so differently here.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Snow Panda’

Loropetalum chinense ‘Zuzhou’ (below) is our oldest remaining loropetalum at 26 years. Mature size is now 20′ tall x 24′ wide. We had older specimens of the original US National Arboretum introductions ‘Blush’ and ‘Burgundy’, but these were discarded to make room for more improved selections.

Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Zuzhou’

Please consider buying a tape measure to help get this sited so that they never need to meet a pair of mutilators (i.e. hedge trimmers) in person.

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!

Crinum ‘Improved Peachblow’

Crinum Improved Peachblow

Early June is an amazing time for crinum lilies in the gardens here at Juniper Level and here’s one of our favorites, photographed yesterday. ¬†Crinum ‘Improved Peachblow‘ is simply amazing…great flower form, sturdy stems, pink buds that open white, and a fragrance that’ll make a honeysuckle jealous. ¬†Crinum lilies are very easy to grow, but flower best in a moist, sunny location.

Stunning baptisias in the garden

Baptisia Blueberry Sunday5 (2)

The baptisias are looking fabulous in the garden now.  Here’s Baptisia ‘Blueberry Sundae’, a hybrid from Hans Hansen of Walters Gardens.  Baptisias are as drought tolerant as catus, but can also grow equally well streamside with their roots in standing water.

Baptisia Cherries Jubilee4

 

Here is our clump of Hans’ Baptisia ‘Cherries Jubilee’ with a nice bicolor brown flower.Baptisia Lemon Meraingue12This is Hans’ Baptisia ‘Lemon Meringue’ in the garden…pretty amazing.

Baptisia Blue Towers21If you want a more vertical accent, Here is our Baptisia ‘Blue Towers’ in the garden today. If you have full sun, we hope you’ll add these great native plant selections to your garden.