Brexit Redux – Part III

The next morning, we were in for a weather event. The storm that had swept over North Carolina a few days before had followed us to the UK, and predictions were for torrential rains and 60-80 mph winds. For the night prior, we had stayed at the lovely Colesbourne Inn, part of the Colesbourne Estate and Gardens. Colesbourne Inn Our rooms were built in the 1100s, making it one of the older inns in which I've had the pleasure to stay in my travels. Despite the age, the rooms had been well updated with the modern conveniences on the interior and made for a delightful accommodation. We enjoyed a lovely dinner with Sir Henry and Carolyn Elwes, the current heirs of the estate, along with Dr. John Grimshaw, who formerly managed and re-invigorated the estate gardens. The food at the Colesbourne Inn is quite extraordinary...highly recommended.John Grimshaw was a trouper, agreeing to take us around Colesbourne in the difficult weather. Taking photos of galanthus in the pouring rain and Read more [...]

Brexit Redux – Part II

From Ashwood, we headed south, stopping for the evening near the town of Shaftesbury at the small, but lovely Coppleridge Inn. We arrived just after dark, which made the last hour of driving down narrow winding roads more treacherous than we would have preferred, but at least we arrived before the dinner hour wrapped up. The English love of drinking is legendary and sure enough, it seemed that everyone in the town was at the Coppleridge Inn pub for their evening rounds of drinking and socializing. Coppleridge Inn Pub After a lovely breakfast at the Coppleridge Inn, we headed out on the short 10 minute drive into the quaint town of Shaftesbury for the annual Shaftesbury Galanthus Festival...my first chance to see rabid galanthophiles in action. Galanthomania (maniacal collecting of snowdrops) has exploded in the UK, like coronavirus in the rest of the world, with both being quite costly once you become infected. We arrived at the Shaftesbury Art Center, where we were asked to Read more [...]

Brexit Redux – Part I

With the ink barely dry on the Brexit signing in early February, and well before Coronavirus panic hit, it was time for a return trip to the UK for another round of plant collecting. Accompanying me is Walters Gardens plant breeder, Hans Hansen of Michigan. Who knows how much more difficult it might become to get plants from across the pond into the US in the future. In reality, it's pretty darn difficult even now. Our trip started with a return to John Massey's Ashwood Nursery, which is widely regarded as home to the top hellebore and hepatica breeding programs in the world. Although I'd been several times, I'd never managed to catch the hellebores in flower, and although it's hard to predict bloom timing, we arrived at the beginning of peak bloom. We were able to visit the private stock greenhouses, where the breeding plants are housed, and what amazing specimens we saw. Below are the latest selections of Helleborus x hybridus from the handiwork of long-time Ashwood breeder, Kevin Read more [...]

For the Love of Hostas

Hostas are incredibly tough plants and will get along fine in almost any garden...but they look their absolute best with just a little extra attention. Here are some tips to grow beautiful hostas in your garden. Despite hostas durable nature, there are many myths circulating about growing hostas, one of which is the term Originator's Stock. Originator's stock is simply a superfluous term for saying that the plant in question is the correctly named clone. Click here for more debunking! Read more [...]

Agave x striphantha

When creating hybrids, especially with plants like agaves, it takes many years to know exactly what the offspring will look like. We have a pretty good guess, since we've done this for so long, but here's an updated photo of a cross we made in 2013 of Agave striata x Agave lophantha. The hybrid, that we call Agave x striphantha is now 3' wide, which is the same width of the Agave striata parent. We expected the hybrid to stay a bit smaller, but it did not. What we still don't know is what will happen when it flowers. Agave striata is the only hardy species that doesn't die after flowering, while the flowering rosette of the other parent, Agave lophantha cashes it in after its sexual encounter. Hopefully, it won't be long before we know about the hybrid, and hopefully it will produce viable seed. Learn more about growing agaves. Agave x striphantha (striata x lophantha) This is the Agave striata parent This is the Agave lophantha parent. Read more [...]

Gardening for winter

Here are a couple of images of the gardens at JLBG to show how we garden for the winter months. By selecting and designing your garden for the winter season, it will automatically look great during the other three seasons. Plants featured include hellebores, rohdea, ophiopogon (mondo grass), sabal palm, Illicium 'Florida Sunshine', and a number of conifers. Here's one of our woodland streams featuring Aucuba 'Limbata', carex, and rohdea. With proper plant selection, the garden in winter doesn't have to be a lifeless canvas of mulch. Read more [...]

Winter Bloomers

Walking around the garden in mid-winter, we spotted a couple of nice woodies in full flower in addition to the winter blooming perennials. The first is one of many witch hazels we grow...in this case, Hamamelis 'Orange Peel'. Hamamelis 'Orange Peel' Growing nearby is Distylium buxifolium, also in full flower. D. buxifolium is a cousin to the better known D. myricoides. As best we can determine, it was not in cultivation in the US until a recent wild seed collection by Scott McMahan of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Our plant is 3 years old from seed and measures 3' tall x 10' wide. Distylium buxifolium in flower Distylium buxifolium flowers closeup Read more [...]

The Bloomin’ Garden!

Here some images of plants blooming in the garden this week. Camellia 'Cinnamon Cindy'Camellia 'Lady Vansittart' Camellias are a great evergreen plant for the garden and depending on the species they offer blooms from fall, sporadically through the winter and into spring. Edgeworthia 'Snow Cream'Helleborus 'Cinnamon Snow' Edgeworthia and hellebores are both winter bloomers and the blooms pair well floating in a bowl of water. Iris unguicularis 'Winter Echoes' Read more [...]

Friday Morning Podcast

Here are some seed and seedpods from the gardens and the greenhouses today. Aucuba - zone: 7a-9bHesperaloe - zone: 7a-10b Muhlenbergia lindheimeri - zone: 6a-9bOpuntia - zone: 7a-10b, at least Aspidistra - zone: dependent on speciesDalea - zone: 3a-8b Read more [...]

Asarum – Wild Gingers

Plants in the genus asarum are small but exquisite, deer-resistant woodland perennials that thrive in moist but well-drained conditions with light shade. Many asarum species are evergreen and make a great ground cover in the woodland garden. Here are some images of asarum in the garden this morning. Asarum are one of our specialty collections at Juniper Level Botanic Garden, with 86 species and 529 unique clones. Join Tony in the gardens during this Gardening Unplugged video garden chat about wild gingers. The flower color of asarums are usually burgundy or purple, but we are always on the look out for variants. Towards the end of the video Tony shows a yellow flowered form, Asarum ichangense 'Ichang Lemon', which we hope to have available for 2021. We do have another yellow flowered form we are offering for the first time this year, Asarum 'Tama Rasya'. Asarum 'Tama Rasya' Read more [...]