Friday, May 30, 2008


I'm running late this morning, so I'll finish the irises tomorrow. Just an observation today on ticks. I hate ticks as much as the rest of you probably do and this year seems to be a banner year for them. I find 3 or 4 of them walking on me almost every day. Luckily none attached. Last night when I was folding laundry I picked up a white shirt and there was a tick walking on it. This little guy had made it through the wash and the dryer and was going on like nothing had happened. How many other things can you think of that could do that ?????

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Iris - Part One

This is an Arilbred Iris. The colors are often very different from what I'm used to in iris - some almost metallic. I think I had a little about this before, but we grow them in with our hardy cactus so that they have perfect drainage and they've been happy there and multiplying for quite a few years.

This is a Tall Bearded or German Iris named 'Babboon Bottom'. I had never seen a picture of if, but it was one of those plants that I bought purely for the name. Just couldn't resist. As it turns out, it is quite a beautiful thing. This is planted in a short row next to my vegetable garden on a small gravelly ridge which keeps them out of standing water when we have a heavy rain. Iris seem to be or two sorts, those who love and/or live in the water and those who can't stand wet feet.

This is a medium sized (height-wise) iris. They keep coming up with new designations and not being a totally crazy iris collector, I just buy what I like and don't worry as much about classifying them. This is called 'Ditto' and grows near the upper pond, also in a gravelly mound.

This is Iris ensata 'Pinkerton'. These used to be called Japanes Iris, but I think that ensata is the more politically correct name. These come in all sorts of colors, mostly purples and lavenders but I love this pink one. There are all sorts of patterns which have been developed and different combinations of falls and standards. Maybe when they come into bloom, any day now, I'll do a whole post on these which like damp places but will grow dry also.

Here's one that really prefers wet feet. This is Iris fulva 'Red Dazzler', a selection of the species. It is growing in the shallow part of one of the ponds and we also have some growing in the bog. It is a lovely brick red color and rather short, maybe only 15 inches tall. If happy, it does multiply quite well.

Unfortunately this one no longer grows here. It is of a group called Pacific Coast Hybrids. They come, as their name implies from the west coast, mostly I think from the northern half of the coast. We can keep them alive for a few years, but something about our climate just doesn't agree with them.

This is one of my miniatures. They are just so cute. The flowers aren't necessarily all that small, but the plants are only about 8 inches tall. They are fast increasers so you'll have enough of these to share or spread around quickly. Another that likes to be on the dry side. This one is 'Robin's Egg'.

More on different types of Iris tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Small Ponds

This is one of our two lotus ponds. Unlike waterlilies, lotuses require a rather huge space so we have one in each pond and the ponds are about 12 feet across. They don't have to be really deep, I think these are about 18 inches.

This is the pond where we grow our miniature water lilies. This is also about 12 feet across, but deeper, probably about 3 feet. There are 10 or 12 different waterlilies in this pond because they don't take up nearly as much space.

This is a smaller pond with just a couple of waterlilies and a clump of iris. It is in a slightly shadier location, so we don't get flowers here as early as in some of the sunnier ponds. Waterlilies need at least 6 hours of full sun a day to flower well.

This is a tiny pond, probably only 4 feet across and hold just one waterlily, Peach Glow. You can tell that this is sunnier by all of the Duck Weed on the surface. I need to scoop a lot of that out because it keeps the water cool and water lilies need heat. This used to be a small peat bog for Saracenia (pitcher plants) but the deer were too fond of them and mostly destroyed the planting, so we dug it out and put a waterlily here instead. So far the ponds you've seen are lined with rubber roofing scraps we got for almost nothing.

This is an iris bog which is also a shallow pond, only about 6 or 8 inches of water - which means that when it doesn't rain this one has to be refilled frequently.

Now for the really tiny ponds. These are mostly just a foot or 2 across and are made from feed bowls from the farm supply store. They are a heavy rubber and not bothered by freezing and thawing and are cheap, especially compared to those preformed ponds, of which we have 2 and which were a real pain to dig since they are irregularly shaped. This one has a Skunk Cabbage in it.

This one is growing nothing but frogs! It is surrounded by ferns, hostas, lamium and moss.

This one is hard to see, since it is in so much shade, but there are 3 very small ponds which are in one of my miniature hosta beds. All are surrounded by rocks and I am starting to get some Saxifrages growing around the edges.

Last but not least is a pond just outside of my kitchen door. This one has a Golden Club growing in it. It is one of the few water plants that is truly a shade plant. It just won't grow in the sun.
More on the plants growing in the ponds in a different post.
Glad I finally found out how to put up lots of pictures at once. Sure made talking about small ponds easier.
What I didn't get a picture of is one of our medium sized ponds. Those are made with kiddy wading pools. We cover the bright blue with black trash bags so I looks more natural and then put some dirt in the bottom as we do with all of our pond. They are lines, but natural at the same time.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Peony 'Walter Mains'

Apologies for not having written for the past few days, but it has been an incredibly hectic week here what with a garden club visit, the constant weeding, a wholesale order of hostas arriving to be potted up and trying to finish planting the vegetable garden. I think I've got the multiple pictures thing figured out (thanks to my much more computer literate daughter) and will try it tomorrow with the promised pond pictures. Also to come soon, a new peony section to my website with all of the pictures I have been taking. The peonies are just stunning this year after a disappointing show in 2007. It was just too dry and hot after having their buds frozen 3 times. The colors are just exquisite and deep and the flowers big and with nice thick petals that seem to hold up to the rain. I've been taking pictures every day and when it rains later today and tomorrow, I'm going to try and organize them and then I'll give you a link to see them all. It would take weeks to do them a few at a time here on the blog since we have over 200 different tree peonies and probably 800 herbaceous ones. Just one picture today for a teaser.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Iris pseudacorus

This is Iris pseudacorus 'Turnipseed', one of the water irises that are blooming now. Pictures of all of the smaller ponds will come tomorrow, I hope. I did get them taken, but they have to be resized before I post them and I just haven't had the time. We had a lovely visit with a garden club from Meigs County yesterday evening and between and inch and a half of rain and getting ready for the visitors, I haven't been near the computer enough to get them done, so today we can just look at some of the plants growing in the ponds.

OK, I still haven't figured out how to get the pictures to end up in the right places. Now 'Turnipseed' is the second picture (make that 3rd picture) and Pseudacorus species is on the top.

I'll add a few more pictures and see what happens.
Well, I guess I could have figured out what would happen. The top picture now is Pseudacorus 'King Clovis' is the top picture. This is a larger flower on even taller scapes.
I think I'll quite for now so I don't have to keep explaining the changing order of the pictures. Again, if anyone can tell me how to intersperse pictures with writing, I'd appreciate it, especially before I try to post 8 or 10 pond pictures.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Upper Pond

I was trying to find a picture of the upper pond, showing the whole thing, but couldn't find one this morning, so here's a picture of one of the frogs that lives there. This was our first pond and was made by lining what was probably a natural pond at one time back when this was a dairy farm. There is a spring just up the hill from it that feeds it in damp weather. Since most all of our ponds are lined we do have to refill them if we don't get enough rain. It's amazing how much evaporation takes place when the sun is beating down and the temperature is in the 90s.
The speckled leaves are from a waterlily called 'Arc en Ciel' or in English, 'Rainbow'. The taller leaves are Lotus. Right now the lotus leaves are only about 4 inches across and just on the surface. With warmer weather they will be almost 18 inches across and stand up to 3 feet above the water. These large ponds with the rubber liners and a bit of work to make with all of the digging and setting in of the liners and finding rocks to edge them with to cover the liners and hold them in place. We also have a number of smaller ponds which were much easier to do and hold only a couple of plants or none at all and are just a bit of water in the garden for an accent. Some pictures and how to's for them tomorrow.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Bog

At the other end of the gardens from Lake Amanda we have a bog. Around the edges are hibiscus and iris and a few other things. It follows a normal wet/dry cycle as bogs like, more wet in the winter when it looks more like a pond and sometimes totally dry in the summer. It's kind of long and not terrible wide, maybe only 15 feet and goes from very shallow at the end where the skunk cabbages grow to the dam at the other end where the water is about a foot deep. It is a favorite place for the frogs in the springtime and they just hang out there and sing and sing and sing. Right now it is full of wriggling tadpoles. On good years they turn into little frogs before it gets dry. On bad years we feel sorry for them and run a hose back there and refil it for them so they have time to finish growing and get out. There are a whole bunch of ponds near the bog, so the frog population in that part of the garden is huge. All mostly small frogs. The bullfrogs, the huge guys with the deep voices, live in the upper pond. I guess you can see by now that I love water gardens. Just something so relaxing about water. In the pond with the miniature water lilies our newts babies are swimming everywhere. They seem to only go in a 'herd' unlike the tadpoles who just scurry everywhere as fast as they can go.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lake Amanda

This is the first large pond we put in (if you don't count the depression we lined and called a pond). This one is across the creek and had been a grassy spot with some Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) and Taxodiums of several types. There was also an old Redbud and a Norway Spruce. The whole thing started as a part of the ongoing 'get rid of the grass so we don't have to mow' thing. Getting the mower across the creek wasn't fun since we didn't have a bridge back then. Hank suggested a pond in the middle of the garden and said he'd make it about 4 feet by 6 feet. That sounded nice. While I busied myself with other things, he worked on digging the pond. When he had finished it was 14 by 28. It just kept growing until it was the size he liked. It has turned into quite a nice pond over the years with mostly iris which will be in bloom in a week or two. We tried some waterlilies, but it is a bit shady for them since they like a lot of sun. There is a Nuphar (probably didn't spell that right) which is a native Lotus relative with yellow flowers. We have some quite large goldfish which started out as 10 cent ones from the pet store and have thrived. The name came from out kitty, now about 14 years old, Amanda who was the chief supervisor on the project. Needless to say, she was quite incensed when the pond was filled and she could no longet play and dig in the hole.
The gardens around the pond have developed into a quite nice quiet shady place with all manner of shade plants in amongst the hostas. The Uvularias have just finished blooming but the Dicentras are still lovely. Asarums are coming up along with Arisaemas and ferns. Going east up the slope is a collection of 20 or 30 hollies underplanted with hostas. Hollies are just starting to bloom now. Last year we had almost no berries because the bloom came just before a frost and all the blossoms were frozen. This year should be quite different as it has been for all of the flowering plants. A nice and quite pleasant change.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Fairy Ring

Moving east along the front of the garden there are more hostas. This is just a small section. The garden is a square, probably 50 feet by 50 feet, but it might be larger since I'm not good as estimating things I can't see from my computer. It is primarily planted with hostas and was started in about 1995 and expanded a few years ago when we decided that we didn't need quite that much grass. There is a black walnut tree in the center with 5 concentric rings of hostas (all the same plant in each ring) moving out from it in decreasing sizes, then the grass walkway and then more hostas of all sorts with ferns, astilbes and other shade plants. There are some hollies, a forest pansy redbud and japanese maples in the beds for some shade and height and larger things around the edges. It is truly a 'room' within the larger garden as a lot of our gardens are. The moods change from one garden to the next so they are each like their own little world. The pictures weren't all supposed to be clumped at the top like this, because I added the second and third after writing some text, but there they are at the top. If one of you more familiar with blogger could comment - Melanie, if you're reading I know you know how to do this - I'd sure appreciate knowing how I could intersperse pictures with text.
Out to weed and weed and weed. Hopefully it won't rain as much today as yesterday when I finally quit because I was so wet and cold. Rain predicted here every day for at least the next week. I almost feel like I'm back in Ireland except we don't get the wonderful rainbows when the rain stops.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Garden in Front of our House

Moving logically through the gardens, after you leave the Japanese Garden you will be in front of the house. It was built in the 1860s and is pretty much in its original condition. This was taken about 10 years ago and the trees are all much taller now, so much that you wouldn't be able to wee that window next to the chimney. It used to be quite sunny there, but now when I sit in my office I look out on shady and green. This front is primarily hostas with a few ferns and other shade plants. The primary shade is from 2 huge sugar maples which are about as old as the house. The only difficulty with them, other than the occasional branch which lands in the yard now that they are getting older, is the amount of water they use. In a dry year the hostas really suffer unless we can water them well. This year the hostas are looking quite good and if this rainy season keeps up we should have a good gardening year for a change. Maples aren't the worst for sucking water up, though. The hemlocks (tsuga) are much worse. We didn't realize it in the beginning and tried planting a shade garden under a lovely hemlock. Everything died and now except for the 'Geezer Garden' (the one next to the side door where Hank says we can wheel him out when he gets to be a Geezer and he can still enjoy at least one garden) where we have a permanent resident sprinkler, hemlocks mostly just have forest floor or some ivy underneath. I guess you get used to the fact that gardens come in all sorts, and some trees just want to be by themselves.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Iris Arilbred

These are even more beautiful in person as the falls are a more metalic bronze color. Quite unusual. We have them growing in the cactus scree where they grow in mostly gravel. They are originally from the area around Turkey and need exquisite drainage to thrive. We have a number of varieties in this area, but this is my farovite. They have no problem with our cold winters if they just don't get wet feet. And speaking of cactus, our first on, Claret Cup, is blooming now. Way earlier than the rest. It was a hard one to get started as it doesn't have the flat pads of the opuntias, but is a ball cactus.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blue Eyed Mary

This is a lovely little wildflower which we originally found growing down the road. It is less than a foot tall and spring blooming. Over the 3 or 4 years it has been in the garden it has spread to a patch about 2 feet across and we have started transplanting small pieces throughout the garden. It will go dormant once hot weather arrives, but comes right back in early spring. We have a number of wildflowers in the garden, most transplanted from other parts of the property - ferns, mayapples, trilliums, gingers and others. Our garden is formal in some respects, but also a bit woodsy (that's what happens when your garden is in the middle of 108 acres of woods - lots more, actually, but that's the part we own) and informal so bits of whimsy fit right in. One more 'blooming now' picture tomorrow, then back to the garden tour.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Japanese Garden Update

As promised, a current picture of the Japanese Garden, this one looking from the opposite directions since it is now so hard to get to the place where I took the other one. The variegated tree on the right is a dogwood and the purple in the back is an azalea. There are hostas along the walk to the left and most of the rest that you see are Japanese Maples. A little color yet, this time of year, but soon to be just hundreds of shades of green.
We seem to have bird's nests everywhere, some in their usual predictable places, but always some surprises. I had a family of wrens just behind my head in my packing area with their nest in a plastic bag hanging on the wall, so I got 'yelled at' constantly when I was getting orders ready to ship. There is another nest in the back of the building now. We have a family of cerulean warblers in the bird house in the tree peony bed. The doves seem to favor the tall spruces. Robins always build at eye level and right next to a path, so that when you are walking around you have to remember where they are because the mother robin will swoop out of the nest as you get close and usually just miss your head. Sparrows are nesting in the center of one of the tall, huge grass clumps that I didn't get cut down fast enough and now can't until the babies are out of there. The rufous sided towhees also build ground nests and though I haven't actually seen where they are, they seem to be everywhere. We often have birders come to look around with their binoculars. We don't usually have any really rare birds, though we do occasionally have eagles, but there are just lots of them. My phoebe's and hummingbirds and the white eyed vireos just came back and I have heard the catbird, but not seen it yet. We feed year round and even put a feeder just outside of the bay window for the cats to enjoy. The birds learn quickly that the cats can't get them and just ignore them.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Japanese Garden Again

This is a view looking towards the maples. I promise to take a new picture (as soon as I finish weeding in there), but this is more recent and shows some of the maples. Sometimes it all seems to blend together in a sea of hundreds of shades of green, only adding colors in spring with bulbs and hellebores and in fall with all of the wonderful maple colors. I do like all green, though, sometimes. It is so restful compared to a field of daylilies. Maybe that's why I like hostas - cool and green and quiet. We had almost an inch of rain over the last 24 hours and so the green is even more pronounced this morning. As I sit here, where I could see as far as the driveway yesterday, today I can't see clearly more than about 15 feet. Wonderful! I hope the Lilacs didn't get too water logged. They have bloomed so heavily this year that they were really leaning. They are huge and old. Hank started them from cuttings given to him by a neighbor when he was a little kid - and that was a long time ago. They have been moved to several states, but have been here, just getting larger and larger, since the mid 1970s. The peonies are just starting to bloom and rain seems to make them grow overnight. Jack-in-the-Pulpits have sprung up overnight as did the Dracunculus vulgaris. It should bloom soon. That I will get a picture of. It got frosted last year before it was ready to photograph. We're still not past our last frost date, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. The forecast doesn't look like I need to worry, but until Memorial Day, I never totally relax about my babies out there which are now way too big to cover.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Garden Tour

Since I had put some pictures of parts of the daylily fields up the last 2 days, I thought I might continue with an informal tour of the gardens. This is a section we have always called the Japanese Garden because it contains a large part of our collection of Japanese Maples. Funny, though, none are shown in this picture, but rather an assortment of conifer and magnolias. This pictures was taken at least 8 years ago so if you were walking with me this morning, you probably wouldn't recognize it. The white magnolia is too tall to smell the flowers up close any more and all of the conifer have grown so tall that they no longer make a wall which separates this garden from the front yard, but rather, you look through some of them now, more like a sheer curtain than heavy drapes. There are also a number of small ponds interspersed and lots of shade plants - hostas, gingers, ferns, woods orchids and wildflowers. It goes up the hill to the right into a mixed conifer mini-forest where the trees are quite large and it is always cool even on the hottest of summer days.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More Daylily Fields

Here are two pictures taken from up the hill where you can see more of the daylilies (and the collapsing barn). These were taken in 2006. I have one taken last summer which is totally green, or at least mostly so. Between the drought giving us less, smaller and misshapen bloom, the deer here were starving and thought daylilies would be nice for a snack. Usually our spray program keeps them out, but last summer we had the only water anywhere near here so they came in for a drink and just had dinner too. I can't imagine wanting to eat things as bad as they taste with the sprays on them, but I guess starvation is a big motivator. Last summer was the one where I planned to get pictures of all of our daylilies since I finally had a digital camera, but that was not to be since I never even got to see bloom on most. Maybe this year.
Although it is hard to tell from these pictures, they are taken from waaaaaay up the hill. Living in the foothills of the Appalachians gives us a quite hilly landscape. We truly do live in a 'holler' whose name 'Hoot Owl' goes way back. People think we made it up and it's so cute, but we just used the place name that has been here for well over a hundred years. From where the pictures were taken I was about 100 feet in elevation above the barn and the top of the gardens is 100 feet more uphill - a quite steep hill. The top of the property which is in amongst the conifer that we planted 30 some odd years ago is yet another 100 feet or so up according to the topographical maps. Gardening here is certainly good exercise, though I will admit that sometimes I look at those hills and wonder just what I was thinking when I created gardens at the top.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Other Barn

This picture is of our other barn and was taken during daylily season (obviously) a few years ago and you can seethat it is already starting to deteriorate. This process started about 8 years ago. We went out one morning and it seemed to be a bit tilted. When we investigated we found that a groundhog had dug a hole under one of the support poles and caused the whole thing to shift. We have put supports on the outside to keep it standing, somewhat, or it would have been on the ground already. The corner you can see has pretty much collapsed, but the rest is still usable, at least at this point. To keep this about plants - these daylilies are one of our older beds, 12 rows of about 30 plants each. They are some of the original ones we got in the late 70s and early 80s. Funny how things we got as new introductions at the then outrageous price of something like $25 are now considered historic daylilies. Kind of makes one feel a bit old sometimes. There are a lot from Munson and Durio there and Reckamp along with tons of Wilds. We actually still have the catalogs they were ordered from. Lots of fun browsing on a cold winter day.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thank You

Just a quick note to thank all of you who have written responses to my writings. It's really nice to know people are reading and have an interest in the plants I write about. It promises to be a beautiful sunny day here today so despite the fact that I'm going to spend most of it after Church digging and packing orders, I hope to find time to just enjoy all of the emerging plants - and take some more pictures.
This is one of our barns, both over 100 years old and not in the best of shape these days, but still nice for pictures.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tulip 'Red Riding Hood'

At least I think that's what this one is called. I love variegated foliage and it's not as common in tulips as in some other plants. Don't think I've ever seen a daffodil with striped leaves, come to think of it. These also are growing in gritty, extremely well draining soil where they can bake in the summer heat. Tulips which are closer to the species seem to be more reliable, but I suppose that could be said of lots of plants. It is a fairly common complaint among some daylily growers, especially those in more northerly climates, that some of the modern daylilies, especially those of the evergreen persuasion which are bred in the south, just don't have the hardiness of the older ones. True, there are more buds (hence more flowers), but if the stems can't support the weight, is that really an advantage? Ditto for some of the peonies with lovely huge very double blooms. I like plants that can stand up by themselves and don't require me to buy or devise some sort of crutches for them. Despite the fact that I spend at least 10 hours a day gardening, with a garden this size, plants really have to be able to get by without constant attention. Now, I do spend a lot of time weeding, though not as much as I used to because we have eliminated some weed types and we mulch heavily, and a lot of time pruning and tweaking, and we do water when needed, but I think a garden should also be a place where you can just sit and enjoy the plants and not constantly worry about what you need to do next. Gosh, and I though I was just going to write about tulips this morning. :-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Tulip 'Monsella'

I could go on with the daffodil pictures for the next few months, but I think I'll just talk about a few of the other spring bloomers here, some bulbs and some not. This is Tulip 'Monsella' which is one of my favorites. It has lasted for almost 2 weeks so far, but I think the next good rain, predicted for tomorrow, will finish them off. Tulips are mostly annuals here because in our hot, damp climate, the bulbs just don't cure properly after blooming. This is the second year for these and they have increased in size - something unheard of here. They were also planted with Repellex tabs in the holes with them to discourage chewing furry vermin and I'm sure that has helped them to survive to bloom a second year. Bulbs, other than daffodils are sometimes difficult here. Muscari also seem to be pretty safe, as are Pushkinia, Scilla and some of the other small bulbs, but crocus seem to be a favorite. If the critters don't tunnel underground to eat them (or chew off their roots) the larger furry things dig them up. Repellex is amazing stuff, but temporarily off the market to make their label conform with the EPA regulations. The product is fine, there was just some wording they didn't like. We stocked up on it once we knew we wouldn't be able to get it for awhile. It is really a life saver for plants. Hopefully it will be back on the market soon because we're almost out. I don't expecially like working with it because it contains Bitrex, which is why it works which is one of the bitterest substances known. I always wear disposable gloves or use tongs of some sort because if it is on your hands it takes awhile to get off. We bought some of the straight Bitrex powder once to mix in with other repellents, but that was much more difficult because you could taste it if someone opened the jar in the next room. Weird. Those of you who are of a certain age may have had personal experience with Bitrex since it's what they used to put in those anti-thumb-sucking remedies they used to sell to break little kids of the habit.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

More Botanical Latin

This photo has nothing to do with the subject, but it was one of the prettiest daffodils blooming yesterday. It is called 'Cherry Bounce' and is one of the ones I got from Ireland about 10 years ago.
I was going to try and find examples of each of the Latin words I though of to share, but my whole day yesterday from early to sundown was spent putting our display of plants for sale back together after having to dismantle it to huddle the plants together and cover them to protect them from threatened frost (which didn't happen anyway - but better safe than sorry). Anyway, I'm sure you will be able to think of some, maybe many, that use these in their names. ODORUS is sweet smelling, MOLLIS is soft, ALBUS is white, GLAUCUS is grey, FLAVUS is yellow, AURUM is gold, VIRIDIS is green, ARGENTUM is silver, RUBENS or RUBER is red, CAERULEUS is blue, PURPUREUS is purple. DENTATUS OR SERRATUS is toothed, VERSICOLOR is variegated, NANUS is dwarf, HUMILIS is short or on the ground, LONGUS or PROCERUS is tall, FASTIGATUS is pointed (I always thought that meant skinny), PLENUS is full, ELEGANS is tasteful, PALMATUS is embroidered with palm branches, GLABRA is without hair, FLORIDUS is flowery, PAUCUS is few or little, MUTABILIS is changeable, FOLIUM is leaf, SEMPER is always, VIRENS is green (hence, sempervirens is evergreen), GREX is a herd or a flock and is used sometimes for a group of plants - never though of plants as coming in a herd, PARVUS, MINOR, and MINIMUS are small, smaller, smallest. MAGNUS, MAJOR/MAJUS and MAXIMUS are big, bigger, biggest, SPINOSUS is thorny, RIGIDUS is stiff, FOETIDUS is bad smelling, FILIX is fern, VERNUM is spring, MEDIA is center, MACULA is speck(led), PLENUS is full (double). There are tons more and if you're really interested, Timber Press has a quite thick book on the subject. I haven't gotten it yet, but probably will soon. This is at least a start on understanding just why things are named as they are.