Cool Plant(s) of the Week!

This week you get two for one. Two somewhat similar Digitalis species.

Digitalis lanata

And a closer view of Digitalis lanata.

And Digitalis laevigata. Not 100% sure on the ID of this one. It could also be Digitalis trojana.

It gets a bit tricky with the gold and brownish Digitalis. Before the internet (and in the early days of the internet) it was even worse. In many reference books the Digitalis species are hopelessly muddled.  I remembering identifying them being a real pain when I worked in plant records.  But I feel like things are getting better now.  At the very least you don’t tend to get the same exact picture over and over now when you search for images of Digitalis species.

Looking at close-ups of the non pink Digitalis species and it becomes easier to see why Isoplexis was recently moved into the Digitalis clan.  They really are quite similar and some interesting crosses between them are starting to become available.

Isoplexis sp.

In fact I am currently growing some Digitalis obscura seedlings that will have strappy Isoplexis like foliage when they are taller than their current 3 millimeter height.  It occurs to me that aside from those seedlings I don’t have any Digitalis or (the genus formerly known as) Isoplexis in my garden. I need to remedy that.

Revisiting Kew

Kew Rock Garden and Alpine HouseDigitalis parvifloraKew Alpine HousePhaedranassa cinereaAlpine collectionSprekelia formosissima
Tropaeolum tricolorCalceolaria sp.Another view of the Alpine HouseCardiocrinum giganteumCardiocrinum giganteumEchium albicans
Me in the Duke's Garden.The Queen's Garden behind Kew Palace.The Order BedsGunnera and the Palm House

Royal Botanic Garden, Kew 2011, a set on Flickr.

I’ve talked about the time I spent in England in 2004 as an intern at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It was a truly wonderful time for me and I even considered trying to find a job in England.

On this trip I didn’t plan on revisiting any of the gardens I had seen before but since I spent so much time at Kew I thought it would be fun to go back. I really wanted to see the modern Alpine House which was in the early stages of construction while I was at the garden.

The garden was just a few short subway stops away so it seemed foolish not to visit so I planned to go the morning my father and sister were arriving in London figuring by the time they got through customs and made it to the hotel we would be back.

Of course little did I know that our tube stop and in fact the entire line all the way to Kew and beyond were shut down for construction. So it ended up being a long bus trip instead but it was worth it for the nostalgia alone and it was nice getting to show my brother the garden I had worked in and had so many great memories of.

Again the thumbnails will bring you right to my flickr site and each photo has a description and plant name.

Venice Garden & Home Tour

On Saturday I went to the Venice Garden & Home Tour.  It is something I have been meaning to do for a while now and neve got around to.  Advance tickets are kind of pricey at $60 each but proceeds go to the Las Doradas Children’s Center so at least it is for a good cause.  And you get to see 31 homes and gardens so it is a pretty good deal.

Sadly I am having an issue with my digital camera settings so the exposure on some of my photos was a bit off.  But I do have a few cool things to share.

Venice itself is a very artistic and fairly wealthy neighborhood.  In the neighborhood where the garden tour was located each street has a parallel pedestrian alley which makes you feel like you are in a little village.  Some of my favorite gardens were not on the tour at all but were simply neighboring houses.

click images to enlarge

The street that I parked on was less affluent but many of the houses had very nice little gardens. I parked in front of this run down old house with a beautiful Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' growing against the front porch.

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Nostalgia for England part four

This is the finale for this series.  A few more shots of gardens I visited followed by a few flower shots from 2004. I promise the next time I post about England it will be at the end of May when I am there again and the photos will all be current.

Hadspen House Garden. I'm so glad I got to visit Hadspen because the entire garden was torn out a few years ago by the new owner.

Private garden of Derry Watkins of Special Plants Nursery in Chippenham. I like to think of it as the Annie's Annuals of the UK.

Tintinhull. The design of the garden wasn't as grand as the days when Penelope Hobhouse was in charge but the bones of the garden were still impressive.

Allium giganteum and Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Wilmott's Ghost'. Because the weather stays so cool flowers bloom much longer than they do in the northeast US. This photo was taken in July and these alliums were still going strong. This makes plant combinations much easier to plan. In New Jersey where I am from it often gets so hot that plants only bloom for a few days.

Perovskia atriplicifolia with Kew Palace in the back ground. These flower beds were called The Colour Spectrum garden. Nine beds shaped like a flower with each bed representing a different color in the spectrum. My favorite garden at Kew but sadly maintained by an outside company.

The exotic border in the Duke's Garden where I worked that summer.

Echinacea sanguinea in the rock garden at Kew. I thought it was kind of funny that I had to go all the way to England to learn about this beautiful U.S. native plant. I have still never seen this species of cone flower planted here in the states.

The bumblebees loved this Papaver orientale 'Patty's Plum' as much as I did.

Clematis integrifolia is one of my favorite plants and is the basis for my screen name entire leaves.

The colors are insane on this Penstemon 'Catherine De La Mare' at Wakehurst Place. I have planted a few of these in a garden here in west Los Angeles last September. They are getting ready to bloom now and I only hope they are that same shade of shocking electric purple.

Lathyrus odoratus 'Painted Lady'. Who doesn't love sweet peas?

Digitalis 'Spice Island' at Wisley. This cultivar which was new at the time knocked my socks off.