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Plant Profile: Clematis Nelly Moser

This early large flowered deciduous climber is a hybrid cultivar dating from Victorian times when species from Asia were imported to Europe.   It is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes columbine, hellebore, and delphinium.  It has compound green leaves and quickly grows up to 10′ long climbing in/on other plants  and garden structures by twining.  Plants are very floriferous and bloom twice, one in the late spring to early summer and then again in early autumn.  The flattish, star-like flowers are 6- 8″ across and have conspicuous reddish stamens surrounded by  8 pink-lilac petal-like sepals, each with a carmine stripe. The flowers give way to atractive globose seed heads.  The abundance of large showy flowers has made ‘Nellie Moser’ a favorite for growing on porches, walls, arbors, trellises, fences and other garden structures as well as through other plants and in containers.  The flowers are good in the vase.  The genus name, Clematis, is from the ancient Greek word klematis referring to a climbing plant.  The cultivar name Nelly Moser probably honors a member of the family of Marcel Moser,  clematis breeder. [click to continue…]

Genus Anemones for the Garden

The genus Anemone consists of over 120 species and is a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes delphinium, clematis, and hellabore.  The garden worthy species are usually perennial and  found in temperate and subarctic regions.  Plants have mostly basal leaves that may be palmately divided or lobed and toothed, or palmately compound with smaller stem leaves in pairs or whorls below the flowers.  The flowers lack petals and but have showy 5-20 petal-like sepals that are usually white but may be creamy yellow, pink, blue, or reddish purple, depending on the species.  The bloom time varies with some species blooming in early spring, others in summer or fall. The fruit is a single seeded achene, sometimes with woolly hairs, and persist into winter.  The root system is usually fibrous but is sometimes a tuber.  Anemones generally  do well in some shade or full sun and in average consistently moist soil.  Hardiness varies considerably from USDA Hardiness Zones 2 to tender plants that need at least zone 9.  Anemones are generally healthy and have no major pest or disease problems.  Propagation of fibrous species is usually  by division  root cutting or seed; tuberous species are best propagated by lifting and dividing the tubers as soon as the plants become dormant in spring and replanting in fall after soaking them in water for 12 hours.   The genus name, Anemone, is probably a corrupted Greek loan word of Semitic origin referring to the lament for the slain Adonis or Naaman, whose scattered blood produced the blood-red Anemone coronaria. Photo Credit: Wikimedia [click to continue…]

Also known as tara vine, this deciduous woody climber is native to  woodlands, mountainous forests, and streamsides of Japan, Korea, nothern China and far eastern Russia, and is a member of the Chinese gooseberry family, Actinidiaceae.  Rapidly growing  up 30+’  long, this twining vine can climb into trees or on garden sturctures such as a sturdy trellis.  The broad  ovate  leaves are  dark green and 3-5″ long.  Clusters of male and female greenish-white flowers appear in early summer on different plants and are 3/4″ long and scented.  Fertilized female flowers give way in the fall to green grape-sized, edible fruits that are up to 1 1/4″ long and have a smooth leathery skin.  These fruits are sweeter than the kiwi fruits commercially available and do not need to be peeled.  Plants are grown for both the foliage and fruit. The genus name, Actinidia, comes from the Greek word aktis meaning ray and refers to the way the vine grows which resembles the spokes of a wheel.  The specific epithet, arguta, is the Latin word meaning sharp, and refers to to the toothed margins of the leaves. [click to continue…]

Also known as cilantro and Chinese parsley, coriander is a warm weather annual  native to southern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean but is widely cultivated elsewhere as a culinary herb including the US, mostly in California.  Growing 2-3′ tall, plants form a basal clump of pinnately compound leaves with the lower ones  roundish and lobed, the upper ones finely divided and fern- like.  The very small white to pinkish  flowers appear on short stalked umbels 2″ across and are followed by brownish yellow, spherical seeds.  The leaves, stems, roots and seeds are edible and popular in the cuisine of Mexico, the Middle East, south Asia, and China. Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons
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Swallowtail TigerOne of the most familiar butterflies in the eastern part of the US from the Rockies to the Atlantic coast, the eastern tiger swallowtail inhabits broadleaf woodlands, fields, roadsides, gardens, parks, orchards, and the edges of ponds, streams and rivers. Males are yellow with large black stripes in t wings. Females may have similar coloring but with considerable blue spots on the hind wings. Females may also be black or dark brown with blue on the hind wings. The wingspan is 3 to 5.5 inches with females being larger than males. Dark females are difficult to distinguish from Black Swallowtails, and both male and yellow forms may be confused with Giant Swallowtails.



Alternate Female

Alternate Female

Swallowtail eastern tiger Papilio gluacus


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Prunus cerasifer is native to southeastern Europe and western Asia and is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes apple, almond, and lady’s mantle.  The cultivar ‘Nnigra’ grows 15-20′ tall and has dark purple twigs and leaves that emerge bronze in the spring, turn almost black in the summer, and orange to red in the fall.  From early to mid spring pale pink,  single, cup-shaped flowers .8″ across with 5 petals  emerge from dark pink buds and cover the branches before the leaves appear.  Red or yellow fruits are occassionaly produced and attract birds.  Plants are prized for both their foliage and floral display and are a good choice for a speciman plant but can also be planted en mass and used as a hedge or screen.  The genus name, Prunus, is the Latin name for on eof the species.  The specific epithet, cerasifera, comes from the Latin words cerasus meaning cherry and fero, meaning carry, and refers to the appearance of the fruits.  The cultivar name  ‘Nigra’ is the Latin word meaning black and refers to the leaf color. [click to continue…]

sundrops & yellow flag iris combinationThese easy to grow perennials make a bright combination in a sunny border. Blooming together in early summer, the masses of yellow sundrop flowers at the base of the yellow flag tie the plants together. The tall flower bearing scapes and linear leaves of the yellow flag give a vertical thrust to the garden while the sundrops provide an anchor. The differences in both plant and flower shape and size provide contrast. The combination, however, may be difficult to achieve; both plants grow well in medium moist soil but sundrops prefer dryer soil and yellow flag prefers wetter soil. Both grow well in full sun although yellow flag tolerates some shade. [click to continue…]

Plant Profile: Rosa ‘Dainty Bess’

Beloved by Bob Hope, ‘Dainty Bess’  loose clusters of 3-5  single flowers on long stems in flushes throughout the season.  Each flower has  5-6 pale pink ruffled petals with a darker underside and open to a cupped-to-flat  bloom form.  The beauty of the flowers however, does not lie in the petals but in the purple color and form of the stamen filaments that make the over all appearance of the flowers exceptional.  An added bonus are the large red hips.  The plants are hardy and vigorous, and have  well branched prickly stems with dull light green foliage that is prone to black spot. [click to continue…]

Cumin is a herbaceous annual native to the eastern Mediterranean  east to India and has been known from ancient Egyptian times.  Although there have been many claims about the medicinal value of cumin in modern times there does not appear to be significant evidence for health benefits and it is grown primarily for the culinary value of its seeds that are used extensively in Mexican and Indian cuisine.  The plants are well branched and grow 12-20″” tall at a rapid rate. The leaves are 2-4″ long and pinnate or bipinnate with feathery leaflets.  In summer small white or pink flowers are carried in compound umbels of 5-7 umbelletes  and give way to fruits  that ripen in late summer to early fall. Photo Credit: Wikimedia [click to continue…]

True currents are  decidiuous shrub in the genus Ribes and are related to gooseberries.  They are are found in northern climates where winters are cold an summers are warm.  The currents may be red (Ribes rubrum), black (R. nigrum) or white (a variety of red current).  They all have a sweet acidic flavor but the white currents are the sweetest.  Currents can be eaten fresh or used for making jams, preserves, sauces, filling for a variety of baked goods, and wine. My paternal grandmother, Helen S. Wright, included 5 recipes for current wine in her book, Old Time Recipes for Homemade Wines. Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons [click to continue…]