≡ Menu

Yellow lady’s slipper is a herbaceous perennial and member of the orchid family, Orchidaceae.  It is native to North America where it grows in deciduous woodlands of most of the US.  Plants grow 1-2.5″  tall from a fibrous fleshy root system and has many unbranched stems bearing three or more alternate sessile  leaves that are dark to yellow green.   The  leaves are elliptic, up to 8″ long, hairy, and with wavy margins.  The central stem is hairy and carries 1 to 2 terminal  flowers from late spring to early summer.  Each flower as 3 petals.  The lower petal is yellow with purple veins,  up to 2″ long, and shaped like a pouch with an opening on top and sometimes reddish brown dots inside. The two other petals are spirally twisted, 1-3.5″ long,  softly hairy, and yellowish green or brownish. Yellow lady slipper is easier to grow than other native orchids.   It is sometimes listed as a variety of Cypripedium calceolus, a native of Europe and Asia,  but  is not grown in the US.  The genus name, Cypripedium, comes from the Greek words Kypris referring to the island where Venus was worshiped, and pedilon, meaning slipper referring to the shape of the flower. The specific epithet, pubescens, is the Latin word pubens meaning downy and refers to the soft hair on various plant parts. [click to continue…]

This herbaceous perennial is native to the Northern Hemisphere from Canada to the Carolinas and westward where it is found growing in swamps, marshes, stream edges, and other wet areas. A member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, marsh marigold is not a true marigold or even in the same family. It likes full sun to part shade and wet boggy soil so is useful as a plant for the wettest part of a rain garden and also does well on the edge of ponds or streams, and in bog and water gardens. [click to continue…]

Also called small yellow foxglove, this short-lived perennial is a member of the plantain family, Plantaginaceae that also includes snapdragon, turtlehead, and Veronica.  It is native to southern Europe and northwest Africa but was introduced in to the US and can now be found wild in such habitats as weedy meadows  and open woodlands.  The plants  have a taproot and  grow 2-3.5′ tall at maturity.  They form a rosette the first year and then in the second year produce a tall flowering stem with sessile leaves  that are oblong to lanceolate, have serrated margins, and are 4-6″ long.  The tubular  1″ long flowers are nodding, pale yellow,  and appear in terminal one sided  racemes 12 to 18″ long in late spring to summer.  These flowers are less showy than some of the other foxgloves but are attractive in cottage and informal gardens. The genus name, Digitalis, comes from the Latin word digitus meaning finger and refers to the appearance of the flowers.  The specific epithet, lutea, is the Latin word for yellow and refers to the color of the flowers. [click to continue…]

Salad burnet is a herbaceous perennial and member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes cherry, pyracantha, and lady’s mantle.  It is native to Europe,  northern Africa, western Asia and Siberia where it grows in grasslands and shrublands but was introduced to North America by the early colonist .Plants form a loose rounded rosette of leaves up to 12″ tall and 24″ wide.  The leaves are pinnately compound and consist of 4-12 pairs of rounded to elliptical, toothed leaflets, up to 1″ long.  The tiny greenish to pink flowers appear in rounded heads in mid summer on terminal stalks up to 24″ long.  The upper flowers have only female parts, the middle flowers have both male and female parts, and the lower flowers have only male parts. Plants like average, medium moist, well-drained soil and full sun but tolerate some shade.  Burnett can be propagated by seed or division in spring. It is  hardy in zones 3-8.  The genus name, Sanguisorba, comes from the Latin words sanguis meaning blood and sorbeo meaning to soak up and refers to the use of the plant to stop bleeding.  The specific epithet, minor, is the Latin word meaning smaller, and refers to the relative size of the plant. [click to continue…]

Ground clematis is a herbaceous perennial and a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes delphinium, columbine, and anemone.  It is native to eastern, central, and southern Europe where it grows in river valleys, hillsides, scrub and the edges of woodlands.  Although it can be used as climber a if supported, it is usually allowed to crawl on the ground.  Plants have pinnately compound leaves that are divided into 5-9 entire leaflets 1-3″ long.The leaflets are ovate, pointed, and short stalked.  The starry white 3/4″  wide fragrant flowers are carried in large terminal and axillary panicles from late spring to early summer and are followed by silky silvery seedheads.  Ground clematis can be used as a ground cover or allowed to trail over low shrubs.  The genus name, Clematis, comes from the Greek word klemetis meaning climbing plant.  The specific epithet, recta, is the Latin word for upright.   [click to continue…]

Book Review: Infinite Succulents

Succulents are familiar plants to many gardeners but to author Rachael Cohen they have the potential of being living art. In her book, Infinite Succulents, Cohen shows readers that succulents are versatile, low maintenance, and offer great variety in color, form, and texture so that they are especially valuable for craft projects. Instructions for over a dozen crafts are complemented by tips for maintaining and caring for succulent art. [click to continue…]

Common yarrow, also known as milfoil, is a rhizomateous herbaceous perennial native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere Asia, Europe and North America where it grows in open areas such as  in meadows, abandon lots, lawns and along roadsides.  It is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes daisies, goldenrod, and lettuce.  Common yarrow prefers full sun and well-drained soil and is frequently seen growing in thin,  poor soil.  It is an important plant for many beneficial insects and should be treated with respect.  Although the species is considered weedy and invasive in many places, many cultivars and hybrids are good garden plants valued for showy colorful flowerheads. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Canna warscewiczii

This herbaceous perennial is a member of the Cannaceae family that is most closely related to banana, ginger, and bird of paradise.  A native of Brazil and Costa Rica, it has smooth, unbranched, stout stems that are purplish green and sheathed with purple rimmed green leaves.     The leaves are  oblong with a heart shaped base and up to 1.5′ long.  The crimson flowers are up to 3″ long and appear in terminal simple racemes from late summer into fall when they give way to light red prickly seedpods up to 1″ in diameter. The flowers are not as large as those of the hybrids and are therefor less susceptible to rain damage.  A good choice for a container, border, or tropical garden.  The genus name, Canna, comes from the Greek word kanna meaning reed.  The specific epithet,  warscewiczii, honors Joseph Warsczewicz 19th ce Polish gardener and plant collector who travelled in Latin America collecting orchids and eventually became the supervisor of the botanic gardens in Krakow. [click to continue…]

Genus Astilbe for the Garden

Also called false spirea, Astilbe is a genus of herbaceous perennials and members of the saxifrage family, Saxifrageceae, that also includes coralbells (heuchera), Bergenia, and Tiarella.  Most astilbes are native to Asia  where they grow in woodlands and mountain ravines.   Plants grow 8″ to 4′ tall from thick fibrous-rooted crown that are often woody.  The leaves are usually divided 2-3 times with toothed leaflets and form a handsome clump that is an asset in the garden even when the plant is not blooming. The tiny flowers are carried in plum-like clusters 6′-24″ long and may be red, magenta, rose, pink, lavender, lilac, cream or white.  Red flowered hybrids tend to have a bronze tinge on their stems and leaves.  The genus name Astilbe comes from the Greek words a meaning without, and stilbe meaning brightness and refers to dullness of the leaves of some species. [click to continue…]

A native of southern Europe, Adriatic bellflower is a prostrate evergreen herbaceous perennial and a member of the the Campanulaceae family that also includes ladybells (Adenophera), balloon flower, and Lobelia.  It has gray-green toothed leaves that are kidney shaped in the basal rosettes but heart shaped on the flowering stems.  Clusters of  1-1 1/2″ star-like blue flowers with white eyes are produced in the leaf axils in spring and persist for 2-3 weeks.   Adriatic bellflower is a good choice for rock and wall gardens, and the front of the border but is vigorous and may have to be restrained.  the genus name, Campanula, comes from the Late Latin word campana meaning bell and refers to the shape of the flowers.  The specific epithet, garganica, comes from the name of Mt. Garganica in Italy where the species was discovered in 1827.   [click to continue…]