Saturday, February 28, 2009

Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Plena'

It's official - spring is here. When the Snowdrops bloom I know the worst is over and it will soon be green instead of brown again in the garden. These are the double flowered ones which are lovely. I just wish they weren't all pointing down at the ground so you could see their 'faces'. These will stay in bloom pretty much until the weather heats up. They just can't take any extended period of head and will grow long, leggy foliage before disappearing until next spring. We have got these planted all over the place because even though they are not woodland plants, they can be planted under trees because they are come up so early in the season that they are finished ripening their foliage before the leaves come out to create shade. There are a number of different species and this double form and they are not expensive bulbs so there' no excuse for not having them in the garden. They multiply rather rapidly and transplant easily even 'in the green' so you can rearrange them as you wish.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trachycarpus fortunei

This is not exactly an outside plant, though when it is larger it technically should be able to survive winter outside here in zone 6 with some protection (and if it doesn't get way too cold). In other words, it is destined to forever be a houseplant. It is considered one of the hardy palms and is a truly lovely thing that lives in a shaded spot outside in the summer and a not too sunny spot in the greenhouse in the winter. It is evergreen and seems to be quite undemanding as long as I water it and feed it regularly. Our is about 4 years old and maybe 3 feet tall and getting quite bushy. In fact, it is getting a little big for the greenhouse which is really a tiny one, gotten 15 years ago when I didn't realize I would want a bigger one. Maybe just as well because I do tend to fill empty plant spaces with plants (windowsills, ceiling hooks, tables, etc).
Despite the prediction of rain for today, the temperatures will be in the 60s so I hope to be able to work outside for at least awhile. I love my hibernation time in the winter when I have lots of time to work on the website and sew and work on the ongoing renovation of our 'antique' house, but sometime in February I start to get itchy to get back to work in the garden. I think that time has arrived for this year.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Microbiota decussata

A quick post this morning since I overslept. This is the variegated form of Microbiota, though it is shows up mostly as what looks like a very light dusting of snow. If you don't know Microbiota, it is a thing unto itself with the variegated one the only other form. It is a low, creeping thing, sort of like on of the rug junipers, but much more delicate. It is hardy up into zone 2 I think and is sometimes referred to as Siberian something or other. (Sorry - not quite awake just yet) One of the things I like best about it is the winter color which is a coppery chocolate shade. It seems to do best in light shade, though I do have one in almost full sun which also seems happy as long as it gets enough water in the dry parts of the summer.
We did have one customer complain about it when she ordered late in fall and thought I had sent her dead plants because they weren't all bright green and already had their winter color. Just proves again that people don't read the descriptions or order things they don't know and don't explore before the plants arrive. I've heard horror stories from other growers about people who complained when all of the leaves fell off of a maple in the fall. I can't believe that they really thought that maples kept their leaves all winter. She actually thought the tree had died. Another one related to me was from a bulb grower who had someone complain that all she got was dry, hard things when she had ordered daffodils - where were the flowers???? Frustrating to deal with these people, but humorous from a distance.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hamamelis - Part Last

WE're at the end of the Hamamelis, just as I picked the first bouquet to bring in the house last evening. It's amazing how quickly the scent fills the room. My whole kitchen smells like spring as come.
This first one is Primeri. An old one that I don't know too much about, except that it is yellow, and as you can see, has very curly flowers of a pale yellow.

Next is Rochester. I know it is probably named after the city either here or on England, but I can't help thinking of the Jack Benny show whenever I hear the name. I guess that says that I'm getting pretty old if I remember that one. It's one of those sort of rainbow colored ones up close with shades from yellow to red, changing as they go down the petals from tips to the center of the flowers. The effect from a distance is a light orange.

Strawberries and Cream is one of my favorites, not just for the name, but for the unusual color, a creamy pinky sort of thing. I know this is a terrible icture, but I spent all of last spring trying to get a better one, but to no avail. It is one of the last ones to bloom, way out of sequence with the others. It is also the one most likely to be moved this year since it was placed temporarily in a place where it will be way too big in a year or so. Not sure where it's going, but I do know it will move. We've had pretty good luck moving these. Actually it is in a place where several things before it have had to be moved - first a Forsythia 'Lime Time' which was supposed to be a dwarf. When it was five feet tall and wide it went somewhere else. Then there was the Euphorbia 'Jesse'. That one never got the promised yellow color on the top leaves and spread by underground runners and threatened to take over what is otherwise a very civilized bed. It moved to the hedgerow that borders the creek in the back with other less than polite things that have been banished from the more formal parts of the garden.

This next one is Westerstede, another of the German introductions. This one has been extermely fast growing and very free flowering. The color is a darker yellow which is quite visible from a distance where it lives above the upper pond amidst small conifer and under a Magnolia 'Butterflies' (or is it Butterfly - can't remember)

Last is Zitroneniette. I think that should be Zitroniette or something like that. I'm sure I have that labeled incorrectly. Will check on it later. This one has been slower growing and is in a daylily/rose/daffodil bed, depending on the season. Some of it's problem may have been because a rabbit(s) chose it to nibble several times when it was younger. It is still there, and hopefully won't be nibbled again since it is getting larger. Mr. Puss, our resident outside cat, seems to be keeping the rabbit population down, or at least away from the gardens. He's a pretty cat, but totally wild. I suspect is lives with one of the neighbors down the road because he seems to be well fed and healthy looking. We see him come down the road in the morning and he spends the days hunting in the gardens. In late afternoon or early evening he heads back down the road. We talk to him, but he wants nothing to do with us, never allowing us closer than about 10 feet to him. He's good, if aloof, company.
On to something else tomorrow, though I don't know yet what. If I get greenhouse pictures ready to put up, maybe some of those.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hamamelis - Part Four

Before I get started on today's pictures, two 'housekeeping' types of things. First, my apologies for not writing for the past few days. Blogger was being a problem. Never sure if it is just Blogger, or my slow dial-up connection, or my computer, or the weather , or ... But I'm glad I don't depend on Blogger for making a living or any sort of life and death types of stuff.
Sylvia said it was hard to find Hamamelis in the UK for reasonable prices. My husband had 2 favorite sites he shared with me which I'll share with you along with his comments copied from his email to me. RETAIL SITE...GOOD PRICES AND SELECTION...TOURS AT ONSITE GARDEN CENTRE IN LEICESTERSHIRE CHRIS LANE'S SITE...WHOLESALE ONLY, BUT PICS ARE DEFINING...HE HAS SPRING TOURS AT THE NURSERY LOCATED IN KENT
Anyway, back to plant pictures. This first one is Kohanke's Purple. It is very close in appearance to the second picture which is Kohanke's Red. Sometimes you can't tell them apart and sometimes the red is more purple and the purple more red. They are growing about 10 yards apart so it's easy to compare - and get confused. Glad I have tags at the base of the plants or I might never be sure which one is which.

This next one is a relatively new one in our garden, Livia. It varies from a pretty bright red to this muted, almost raspberry color. It seems to be growing fast and turning into a nice bush.

Moonlight is usually the first to bloom in the garden. I though for awhile it was because it was in full sun along the driveway, but then I realized that we had another on in almost full shade over in the Japanese Garden, so I think it is just an early bloomer, no matter where it is planted. I love the very long, thin petals and the color just glows. About things blooming at the same time. I've noticed that with daylilies, we often have several clumps of the same variety planted in different parts of the garden. No matter what the sun conditions, they will open their first flower of the season on the same day.

Last for today is Orange Beauty which has even thinner petals than Moonlight. It is usually more orange than this and kind of reminds you of grated orange peel, sort of krinkly rather than all smooth. Pretty plant. I like on the lighter colored ones how the red in the centers shows. Of course it's there on the darker ones, but the contrast isn't there to make it stand out.

During my absence we have had really freaky weather including temperatures up to almost 60 and as low as 15, rain, snow, a thunderstorm and an inch of hail. All that in just 3 days. One thing for sure, it's never boring around here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hamamelis - Part Three

The first one this morning is Girard's Purple which is a selected form of the species. It is definitely a better plant. Though it grows about the same, the flowers are much bigger. I love the color, but it is for up close and the scent as it doesn't show up from a distance as much as the lighter colors do.
Next is Girard's Superba. This is an old one also. Girard's Nursery introduced a number of them way back when. You could add their nursery to the list, I guess, as it is one of the best places for conifer, especially unusual things. This is a smaller bush, probably in too much shade, with flowers that are a mixture of colors, reds, pinks, yellow and oranges - all in one flower.
This next one is Harry. Funny name for a plant I think. More like a dogs name. Anyway, I need to get a better picture of this one, but I included it because it shows what the buds look like and the flowers as they are just starting to open. The petals are all curled up in the buds, rolled, I guess, and when the start to open, they unroll and then grow longer. Some never have very long petals, but some, probably in tomorrow's group, have petals that are extremely long and thin.

Last for this morning is Jelena. This is also one of the old stand-bys that has been around for years. I don't know why more people don't grow these wonderful plants. Nothing else is going to give you flowers and wonderful scent in February. I bought a winter blooming honeysuckle, bush not vine, but although it has swollen buds that look just ready to come out by January, it rarely blooms before mid-March when we are about to have several acres of daffodils in bloom. We also have a Daphne that is theoretically winter bloomin and is called February Daphne, but it will likely be a few more weeks before that is out either.

I did take a number of pictures in the greenhouse during one of our brief periods of sun yesterday and will try and get them out of the camera and into the computer today. Not much special and nothing that wouldn't grow on a windowsill, but a nice assortment of mostly succulents. I'll do the cactus later.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hamamelis - Part Two

There isn't a huge range of colors in this family, but up close, the subtle color variations are pretty amazing. This first one is Carmine, one of the older ones and a lovely deep red. This one is currently unfolding close to my kitchen window and is lovely. On smaller plants, the old, dried leaves may be retained over the winter and get in the way of enjoying the flowers in the spring. As the plants get older, they do a better job of dropping their leaves. Carmine set so much seed that the problem I'm having with it this year is that there are so many hard, dried seed pods that they are obscuring the flowers. I wish the birds would finish eating the seed which they seem to like, especially the finches.
This next one is Diane , another of the older ones and another that I can see from my kitchen window as I do the dishes. This one is lighter and has hints of yellow/pink towards the tips of the petals which are darker at the base. Colors can vary from year to year depending on temperature, moisture and sunlight.
Next is Feuerzauber, obviously one of the German introductions. I like that they haven't changed the names. That can get really confusing since people who can't read whatever foreign language a plant has been named in may think that they are two different plants. Feuerzauber is along the walk from the house and near the driveway, though in the same section as the first two. It has a lot more yellow than Diane and just glows sometimes.
This one if Firechief and grows up the hill. It is the only one in the area and so far hasn't set seed. Not sure how close together they have to be. I'm not looking for seed, so it really doesn't matter. This one can be the shade shown in the picture or a much darker red, all depending on the conditions that year. On 'lucky' years, it will still be blooming when the daffodils surrounding it come out. They are quite pretty together.

Last for today is Georges, another import. This one can have quite a bit more yellow some years. Hopefully it will survive the damage done by rutting deer over the winter. They/he completely rubbed the bark off of the main stem (it's still a smallish plant) for about 18" all the way around the stem. There are smaller branches below that so I think it will actually survive, but will be a bit smaller for awhile.
The sun is shining and it looks like it will be a lovely, but cold day. I'm going to try and take some pictures in the greenhouse today now that it is brighter. It was just plain dreary in there for the past 2 days despite the lights.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Addition to this morning's post

I knew when I stopped I would think of the rest of the nurseries that we regularly order from. By mid morning I had thought of 3 more, so here goes.
Ensata Gardens has a wonderful selection of many types of irises. We have been ordering Japanese/Ensata and Siberians from them and also some species and crosses. Really nice website which was just updated.
Iris City Gardens is my other favorite iris nursery. I especially like their selection of Louisiana Iris and their older tall bearded cultivars. Newer ones seem to be more susceptible to rot and don't do well here. Greg and Macy's older ones grow like crazy.
Spring Bulbs:
Brent and Becky's Bulbs If I only had one place to get daffodils and other spring bulbs, this would be the place. Wonderful selection and great prices. Much better bulbs than the cheapy catalogs with the flashy pictures.
If I think of more, I'll be back, but this might just do it for awhile.

Buying Plants

Yesterday someone asked me, as someone with a huge garden just full of things, if I buy many new plants. Obsession is obsession and having enough doesn't mean you don't need more. Yes, we buy lots of plants, both to expand things, replace things that don't quite work and things which have died. There is also a fair share of things we just want and have no idea where they're going to go when we order them, though I've gotten a little better about that category in recent years. Hank, unfortunately has not, so we end up with a few potted things to water for awhile each year while we decide on homes for them in an already packed full garden.
The next question was just where we get things. Other than rescuing things from Lowe's, and buying from our local Athens County nurseries, there are a few places that we regularly order from almost every year - some get several orders a year. Despite the fact that I will probably leave someone out, here is an attempt at a list of places I shop.
For perennials:
Plant Delights Nursery Although in recent years they have tended towards more zone 7 plants, there are always some things I find that are new and different. That does get harder as you get more plants. I can sometimes go through a kind of generic catalog and find that I have everything listed.
For hostas:
Naylor Creek Nursery The listing is huge and the prices quite reasonable and if you order early, there is always a deal on cheaper or free shipping. Lots of things in their listing that you won't find at other nurseries since they seem to be introducing for a lot of small hybridizers.
For unusual things:
Asiatica Nursery There are also a lot of non-hardy things here like a huge collection of Aspidistras, but you'll find lots of Arisaemas and Asarums and terrestrial orchids on the site.
For daylilies:
Ashwood Gardens This one also comes under the category of local nurseries since Richard's garden is only about 15-20 miles from here, but I wanted to list it anyway since he has some really nice stuff - quite different from what is generally available. I especially like his lines that originally came out of 'Lights of Detroit', an older cultivar with a really flat face. He has a new pink and white one this year that I'll have to save some money for.
Heavenly Gardens Jamie Gossard is creating wonderful flowers right here in Ohio. If you like unusual things, unlike those mass produced things you often see that look like everything else, this is the place to go. Not cheap since he only sells his own introductions, but good, hardy plants that do well in the garden.
I have stayed away from southern bred plants in recent years because although some do well, the northern ones just do better.
General little bit of everything:
Forest Farm Nursery If you could only buy from one nursery each year, this would be the place to go. They have trees and shrubs, perennials, vines, ferns - a little bit of everything and at really good prices. Buy things in tubes and save a lot on shipping. Do go thinking that things in tubes are going to be tiny - that couldn't be farther from the truth. If they're not already big, they get that way fast once they arrive. We've been ordering from them for many years and always are pleased with their plants. This is probably the place we order from the most, often 4 orders a year. Their catalog is probably an inch thick, small print (no pictures) and will keep you busy reading for quite a long time.
I know there are more, some we order from occasionally and some more often, but off the top of my head, these are the ones we always order from. Hope you enjoy their websites.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hamamelis - Witch Hazel

This picture was taken about 12 years ago and I can hardly believe how small these bushes are here. They are now at least 10 feet tall and at least as wide and totally fill in this space, making a nice shady spot for some hostas and epimediums.
The next picture is Hamamelis vernalis purpurea, on of several purple flowered versions we growl This one has smaller flowers and the color doesn't make it one of the showier ones in the yard. I would guess we have at least 30 Hamamelis, some duplicates, but mostly one of each.
Below is one of those with the long, thin flower petals. So delicate. The only pest these things seem to have are the birds which sometimes find the flowers tasty. Weird. Now that we have so many, it isn't such a noticeable problem. We have lots of birds, but they just don't bother them enough to destroy the effect of all of the bloom along the stems. This one is a species, Hamamelis virginiana.

I know that it doesn't seem like it, but these are in alphabetical order, or at least the version of logical alphabetical order that my computer does. It I don't post them that way I'll just get confused about where I am.
Next is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Aphrodite'. Most all of the ones one the market are these crosses, though most catalogs will just list them by name. Some of these have been around forever, though there seems to be a new interest in these and a number have come on the market in recent years. Hank, of course, the true collector, has to get each new one as he finds it. Luckily these are pretty inexpensive.

The one below is one of the older ones, Arnold Promise which came from the Arnold Arboretum.
I think I need to take another picture of this one. My older pictures are just not as good as the digital ones I'm taking now and some of those that seemed good ten years ago seem to be degrading and changing colors, not unlike old color photographs.

Next is Barnstadt Gold - lots of interest in these in Germany where a lot of the breeding is taking place so you'll find a lot of German sounding names. Probably one of my favorite things about Hamamelis is that they bloom so early. It can be a disadvantage if we get really below zero temperatures after they come out, but generally they will be in bloom for 2 months - until the warm weather gets here.

The other favorite thing about Hamamelis is the scent. A few bushes in bloom will just fill the yard with the most heavenly fragrance. Not overpowering like some Viburnums or Hyacinths, but just sweet and pleasant. I haven't noticed the smell on ours yet this year, but they're just starting to come out. The next warm, sunny day and the yard will be so nice to be out weeding in...

Friday, February 13, 2009


I wandered around the gardens yesterday looking for damage from the wind storm and looking for pictures to take to share with you, but didn't find much of either. What's blooming right now, and the only thing blooming, are the amaryllis bulbs sitting on the piano. This first one is a double white with just a hint of pink along the edges (though it doesn't show in the picture). I have a lot of these potted up and, in fact, just bought 2 more at the feed store for 2/3 off the other day. I really do like them, especially this time of year when everything is so brown and dead outside.
This is just what it looks like, a large, plain red, but the color really glows. I got this one about 15 years ago at a local flower shop when I went looking for something else. Always a sucker for large, beautiful flowers.

Not sure where this peach one came from, but it too has been around for a long time.

This last one I've had for at least 25 years since I know I had it for most of the time I lived in West Virginia. It has a smaller flower, though lots and lots of them. It is a bit unusual because it multiplies rapidly and just fills a large pot with its smaller bulbs. That's one of the reasons you get so many flowers with it because there are so many bulbs. I don't know the name, but I suspect it is a species. I also haven't seen it offered. I guess people like the big ones better. This one mostly stays in leaf all year and has leaves while it flowers, unlike the others. This one also will flower twice a year.
I keep them in the greenhouse most of the winter, only bringing them into the house when they are about to bloom. I guess I have a dozen or so of them by now. They don't seem to care about the amount of light they get while in the house (no leaves for photosynthesis so no need for bright light) so I can put them just about any place to brighten things up. During the summer, I set all of the pots in a bright shady spot on the ground and just water them with the hose as I go about doing other things. Pretty much neglect them, I guess, but they grow nice, lush leaves over the summer. I don't really try to put them into dormancy. They just seem to do it naturally in the fall when I bring them back into the greenhouse. In mid December, the first ones to bloom will start sending up bloom scapes. This is usually Giraffe which is one of my favorites. It is a cream color with red and green stripes. Very Christmassy smaller flower. I've noticed that my red species and Giraffe have only 3 blooms to a scape while the larger ones have 4. The large ones sometimes need to be tied up because they are so heavy they will just topple over. They get put in heavy crocks which helps a bit too. I fertilize them well when they are in leaf and don't bother when they are resting.
Since there isn't really anything blooming outside yet except the witchhazels, though I did see some tiny tips of spring bulbs peeking through yesterday, I think I'll intersperse witchhazels with some of my greenhouse plants for the next little bit.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ferns - Part Last

This has to be one of my all time favorite ferns - a Tatting Fern, otherwise known as Athyrium filix-femina 'Frizelliae'. It is a small fern and quite unusual. It is just so different from any other fern. I think it is pretty commonly available. It doesn't, unfortunately, come true from spores.

Last of the ferns is Woodwardia areolata, or Netted Chain Fern. It is hardy from zones 3-9 and a small thing at not much over 1 foot tall. The fronds are reddish green in early spring and dark glossy green when mature. It is native to acidic bogs and swamps of eastern North America. Despite that, it grows happily in the average shady garden.
Our wind storm was not as bad as we had feared it would be. We were all set to lose our electricy and from the electric company's website, about 10 percent of those in the county did lose their power, but the wind wasn't as high and the thunderstorms not as bad as the forecast so we are quite thankful this morning. The only damage I see is a few chairs and benches blown over. Glad I don't have to spend the day playing 'pick up sticks' again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Polystichum - Holly Fern, Shield Fern or Sword Fern. This is a group which is well represented in the garden here. I thought I'd just put them all up today since there is a chance that I won't be able to write tomorrow as we may not have electricity, yet again. They are predicting thunderstorms for this afternoon and evening with winds up to 60 mph. Temperatures today are going to be near 70 degrees and the wind is part of a cold front that will drop the temperature 30 degrees pretty quickly. The weather people said that those who lost their electrity last time in the ice storm might be the most likely to lose it again in this storm because of the damage already done to trees that might just lose branches that were damaged by the ice but which had not yet fallen. Fun!
This first fern is Polystichum acrostichoides or Christmas fern. It is shiny with narrow fronds. This is an easy one and evergreen here. Eary settlers used it for Christmas decorations, probably because it was one of the few green things around, hence the name. It is common in the moist woods of eastern North America and very common in our woods here. It will also grow among rocks or on dryish slopes and can help to prevent erosion. There is also a western version of this one, P. munitum.
Next is Polystichum braunii, Braun's Holly Fern. This has a narrower hardiness range and though it will tolerate the cold, doesn't do well warmer than zone 5. I try to grow it in the colder spots in the garden, but it suffers in a hot, humid summer. It is uncommon in the wild, but can be found in northern regions of North America, Europe, China and Japan.

Polystichum proliferum, Mother Shield Fern, is well named. It makes proliferous buds near the end of the rachis and is easily propagated from them. You just have to peg the frond tips down on moist soil or a sand-peat mixture until a new plant roots itself. This one is a warmer zone fern, only hardy down to zone 5 but happy all the way to zone 9. It is native to the high elevations of New Zealand and Australia.

Polystichum setiferum divisulobum (at least the setiferum part) is a common lowland species from southern Europe. This is one with lots of crested and other fancy forms. Divisilobum is a very finely divided one and almost looks feathers - very lacy, though it doesn't show all that well in this picture. The fronds are softer than some other Polystichums like the Christmas Ferns. There are also some named selections of this one.

This last one is Polystichum setiferum plumosomultilobum. I'm not sure this name is accurate since there seems to be a Divisilobus Plumosum and a Multilobum but not one that combines all of those names. They are very similar, so I guess I have one or the other of them. A lovely fern no matter what. There are also some dwarf forms, though I don't have any of them yet.

Only a few ferns to go. Hopefully I can do them tomorrow and we won't lose our electricity.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The first picture is Osmunda claytonia, or Interrupted Fern, so called because if the spaces where there arent't pinnae where you would expect there should be. This one is rather new to the garden, just arrived here in the last 2 years. Like most of the Osmundas it can get quite tall, up to 4 feet. It prefers moist woods to more wet places. Easy to grow and native to eastern North America and eastern Asia.
This one is Osmunda regalis, Royal Fern. This one can get quite tall and does so here, sometimes almost reaching 5 feet. Royal is probably a good name. It is also less fern-looking and maybe more like something else because of the more divided fronds. This is another of those that will grow from zone 2-10. It is native to swamps and other wet sites in North America, tropical America and Europe. There are also crested and purple stemmed versions.
We also grow Osmunda cinnamomea, Cinnamon Fern but I don't seem to have a picture of it. It is called Cinnamon Fern because of the cinnamon colored fertile fronds. Unlike some of the others where the fertile fronds persist into the winter and are good for dried arrangements, there come up in late spring and are gone by midsummer. This one likes swampy or damp areas in lime-free soils. It can take a little sun, but will be smaller than if grown in a shadier site.
Only a few ferns to go - most of mine seem to have occured at the beginning of the alphabet :-)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Onoclea sensibilis

Back later to write about these...
OK, finally back. Wedding Anniversary, trips to town, and ISP with 'connectivity issues' and a number of other things seemed to get in the way of me finally getting something written about these ferns. In some sections of our woods, these are the most common fern, growing in large swales. They seem to be happy in shade but also in sun if they are in a damp or swampy place. Some grow right at the edge of one of our creeks, sometimes submerged in spring after a rain. Some are in nice, humusy, rich, woodsy soil and others, especially near a creek, seem to be growing in sand or gravel, so I would say these are pretty adaptable. I have transplanted a number of them into the gardens, especially in places where I wanted to kind of fill in a shady place which was a little too shady for other things to grow.

These are called Sensitive Ferns, not because of any delicacy, but rather because they die back at the first hint of frost. Not bad in the fall, but a problem if we have an early spring and then a late freeze. They do come back, but I know they aren't happy about the whole thing. They spread by underground rhizomes and I wouldn't put them in any place where they don't have alot of room, because they do fill an area rather quickly. I learned that early on and have one lovely bed that still has a few of a named version of this fern called 'Ursula's Red' with red stems that should just go somewhere else, but I leave it and just dig out the extras every spring. These are native to and quite abundant in eastern North America.
In the center of the picture above you can see the fertile fronds that are produced late in the summer. They are good in dry arrangements for winter, especially if you're trying to keep these from spreading too much since picking these fronds off will keep them from spreading the spores in late winter or early the next spring.
My book says that these are 1-3 feet tall, but I've rarely seen them over 18 inches tall here. Another widely adaptable one climate wise going from zone 2-10
I'll call this today's post since it was mostly written today and hope to get back on track tomorrow. I expect that some of the internet problems still came from the ice storm. I talked to a man at church yesterday who had just gotten his electricity back almost 10 days after the storm. I'm glad we weren't out that long. I probably would have been ready to kill something by then. I spent a week without electricity about 15 years ago after a bad snow storm with 3 kids, 4 cats and a dog inside and 4 goats and numerous chickens to take care of outside. That was an experience I don't want to repeat too often. On top of the snow, the temperatures were below zero for the high for a lot of those days. It was an adventure I guess, but I think I'm getting a little old for that kind of adventure these days.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Mattueccia struthiopteris, Ostrich of Ostrich Plume Fern, just has to be one of my favorites. This is a North American native and although there is an oriental version, this is the one you will find labeled as Ostrich Fern. They are big plants, 3-6 feet tall and even a lot taller in the right location. They are very tropical looking though not a warm location fern since they grow from zone 2 to 6. It is vigorous and spreads rather rapidly, sometimes making babies a few feet away. We have these scattered all over the garden since we traded some hostas for a few wheelbarrow loads of these a few years ago with a neighbor who was re-doing a bed and wanted something other than ferns. These need moisture but don't seem to like wet feet. Ours grow in varying conditions, some in rich soil, some in pretty sparse soil on a hillside. Light shade seems to be best, especially if you want large plants. Some in deep shade are smaller here.
These are the ferns you want if you are tempted to try cooking some fiddleheads in the spring. Because they are so prolific, you won't damage your garden by harvesting some once they are established. If you want to try it, cut the fiddleheads when they are 2 to 3 inches tall and still tightly coiled. These come up really fast, so you have to keep watching. Just wash off the coating of loose, large, tan scales under running water with a little bit of rubbing and then boil them for three or four minutes. Drain and eat hot with just a little butter and salt or chill to use in a mixed salad. Think asparagus and use them in any recipe where that would be good.
These ferns make separate fertile fronds which arise later in the summer. These are sort of woody and make good additions to dried arrangements for fall and winter.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm a little late writing today, but better late than never, I guess. These are the last of the Dryopteris. This first is one called Dryopteris 'The King'. Not sure what the cross was on this one or if it is a selection/mutation. This is a baby picture as the clump is much larget now. I'll have to get a new one this summer. It is growing all the way at the back of the garden under a Metasequoia which gives it nice shade. It is in a fairly damp spot and seems to like that. I think it is going to be a good size when it is mature. It is a little more 'feathery' looking now that it was in this picture.
Next is Dryopteris tokyoensis, or Tokyo Wood Fern. It is easy to grow and will do zones 5-8. Average size at 1.5 to 3 feet tall. The fronds are a little more slender than the other Dryopteris that we grow. It is native to Japan and Korea - guess we could have figured that one out without the book. It is a slow grower.
Last in this group is Dryopteris wallichiana or Wallich's Wood Fern. This is larger, up to 4 feet tall and also likes living in zones 5-8. This one occurs naturally at high elevations from Mexico to the South American Andes, West Indies, Aftica, Asia and Hawaii. It is not especially happy in areas with warm summers. Wouldn't have figured that from it's native range. So far it has done well here, but it doesn't seem to make divisions.

We're having snow flurries right now with the sun out. Pretty. We don't need any more on the ground right now, but looking at it is nice.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I think I'll just give you the basics on these ferns since my time is short this morning and if you want to know more about them, go back to my last post on ferns and follow the link to that wonderful fern site I found.
This first one is Dryopteris dilitata or Broad wood fern. I tis and easy one to grow and hardy in zones 4-8. It's usually about 2-3 feet tall, but can get much larger. There are at least 37 named varieties of this one.
The second one is Dryopteris filix-mas or Male Fern. This one is very common in the woods of northeastern north america. Also zones 4-8 and 2-4 feet tall.

Third is Dryopteris marginalis. I know this as Leather Wood Fern but it is also called Marginal Wood Fern. This one can go colder, all the way to zone 2. It is a little smaller than the previous one, probably not over 2.5 feet tall.

Fourth is Dryopteris platypetala. Not in my fern book, but I'll look it up at lunch time and add to this then.

Last for today is Dryopteris remota, a cross between D. affinis and D. expansa. 2-3 feet tall and hardy in zones 4-8.

Off to take a walk. It's cold outside, but sunny and if I'm careful I won't end up on my butt walking on all of this ice. Every place we took a step while things were melting is now solid ice. There's still plenty of snow on the ground to walk in so I'll just avoid the paths as much as possible. More snow, only a few inches, predicted today. That's what they said last week if I remember correctly!