Plants I Need Part 2

We’ll call this one the Botanical Garden Edition as I took most of these photos at the various botanical gardens I worked and studied at over the years.  Some of these plants I have waited ten years to grow and now I finally can.  I just have to find them.

This first plant caused quite a sensation at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden when I was an intern there in 2003. This amazing specimen was right at the entrance to the perennial garden and no one could go past it without stopping and freaking out over it. It is Angelica stricta 'Purpurea' I am not sure where Lily Ricardi got it originally but I know she shared some seed with Annie's Annuals so I will hopefully be able to get it at some point. I actually collected seed from this specific plant and sent a bunch of packets out all over the world to various friends from a garden forum I posted at back then.

Another exciting plant that Lily introduced me to that summer was Mathiasella bupleuroides a very unusual umbellifer from Mexico that was named after botanist Mildred Mathias. At this stage it looks almost like some sort of bizarre Hellebore but once the flowers fully open it is quite unique. Despite the fact that it is a North American plant it is probably easier to get in England than it is here but I'm sure I'll track it down eventually.

Dierama pulcherimum is another one that stops people in their tracks. It is from South Africa so it does quite well in California gardens so I am not sure why I don't see it more often. I try to put it in gardens that I design whenever I feel it is appropriate. I have a Dierama mossii that I started from seed a few years ago that I have been nurturing in a pot. I'm sure it will be happy to finally get in the ground. There is a dark purple cultivar called 'Merlin' that I want to get ahold of as well.

Agrostemma githago is a pretty Mediterranean annual that makes a great cut flower. Like Dierama the flowers are at the end of gently swaying wands that add movement to the garden. Annie's always seems to have this in stock and I have the perfect place for a row of them along the white picket fence bordering my driveway.

I'm not sure what it is about Catananche caerulea that I love so much but I have wanted to grow it ever since the first time I saw it in bloom in Mendocino. I pretty much love all little daisy flowers but these are not shaped or colored like a typical daisy.

Now with Jasione perennis (aka J. laevis) I just love to say the name. Jasione. Say it with me. Jazz-e-oh-nee. So ridiculous sounding. I love it.

Lily had quite a collection of Eryngiums and I would like to grow many of them but Eryngium maritimum stood out as a favorite. It grows in dunes across Europe and is sort of silvery green but also with a hint of that metallic blue that it shares with some of the other Eryngiums. If I remember correctly gophers loved them so I'll have to protect mine with chicken wire. I just know there is an army of those little devils waiting for me to start planting.

Another one that is fun to say. Himalayacalamus hookerianus 'Teague's Blue'. I am so excited that I actually found a source for this plant and specced it for a garden I just finished designing. I really hope the homeowner likes the design and goes ahead with it. I know she will love this plant. There are a lot of really interesting bamboos but the colors on this one are sort of otherworldly. And it is a clumper too so it isn't going to eat your entire yard!

I'm not actually sure how Crambe cordifolia will do on the California coast. I have never seen it growing here. But it is a common staple in English gardens. A bit like babies breath on steroids. These plants were in the order beds at Kew but I saw them planted at almost every garden I visited in England last May and June. If I can get my hands on some I would love to give it a try here.

Digitalis are one of those delightfully collectable plant genera. So many different species and cultivars and so many of them are beautiful (or at least interesting). They brownish and orangish ones used to be a nightmare to ID because it seemed like every book on the subject gave conflicting info. But Google images seems to have helped narrow things down and I feel pretty confidant that this is Digitalis laevigata. Hopefully the seed that I ordered will actually be the correct plant as well.

How can you not love Verbascum bombyciferum. First of all another fun name to say. And then it is like a jacked up lambs ear that goes crazy and creates this huge spiky candelabra of yellow flowers but the inflorescence is still all fuzzy. Verbascums are already fun plants as it is but to have one that is fuzzy like a pet is way cool. They are monocarpic but they seed around after they bloom and die.

And finally a plant that is so cool I am posting not one but two photos of it. The incredibly bluest of blues, Techophilaea cyanocrocus from Chile. What is it about Chile having plants with all the best colors? Remember Puya chilensis from last time with its intense chartreuse flowers?

Here they are at the old alpine house at the New York Botanical Garden. My friend Marc is manager of the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections at NYBG. I figure if I trick him into coming to visit me and hold him hostage maybe they'll trade me one of those plants to get him back. I mean they don't need ALL of those, right? I just NEED one!

Well hopefully you liked this latest edition of plants I need and maybe learned about a new plant or two that you can now lust after yourself.  And hopefully in the next year I will be growing some of these in my garden and will have new pictures to share.

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.

Clematis I Have Met

I promise this will be my last post on Clematis for a while (until I get some more pictures of them).  Just following up with some pictures of various Clematis I have encountered in my travels and ending with a cool double Clematis in my old garden.

click images to enlarge

Clematis montana var. rubens at The Royal Botanic Garden, Kew.

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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.

Nostalgia for England part two

While I was in England I spent most of my time at Kew where I was working in the Duke’s Garden as an intern.  I wouldn’t exactly call Kew the most beautiful of gardens as far as design is concerned.  It is mostly a botanical collection of plants and any nicely designed parts depend on the staff working in that section or just luck that a grouping of fine specimens happen to be blooming near each other.  It is rather a hodge podge.

So it was nice to take some field trips and visit some other gardens.  The first was Wakehurst Place which is Kew’s country estate and a National Trust Garden.  It is also home to the Millenium Seed Bank.  As far as design goes it is the complete opposite of Kew.  The landscaped lawns and collection of trees are breathtaking.  The walled Sir Henry Price Garden is done in a cottage style and was my favorite of all the gardens I visited in England.

After Wakehurst I went to Wisley which is the premiere garden of The Royal Horticulture Society and it takes garden design to the extreme.  It felt overly designed to me. With every group of plants I imagined a committee of a dozen people voting on which plants should be included.  Still it was impeccably maintained and the trial gardens are fun.  There were Delphinium trials going on while I was there and I have to admit it was pretty impressive.

The Sir Henry Price Garden at Wakehurst Place.

There is something about walled gardens that I find irresistible.

Mixed border featuring roses and alliums at Wakehurst Place.

The Elizabethan mansion at Wakehurst Place.

I love seeing these Sequoiadendron giganteum dominating the landscape at Wakehurst Place.

Delphinium trials at Wisley. Take note of the committee.

So impressive. I wanted to hug them.

A double row of Delphiniums. The wee ones on the left are either little bedding cultivars or something went horribly wrong. They must feel so inferior.

I even like the white ones.


Nostalgia for England part one

I promise I will start talking about Southern California soon but this week I have been planning my family trip to England.  No small feat since I have almost twenty gardens on the itinerary.  So I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the three months I spent living in England in 2004 and started looking through my photos of that time.  I am not really sure what the etiquette is for posting old garden photos on a blog but I figure it can’t hurt.  I also started setting up a Flickr account for my photos and wanted to get a little experience with adding pictures to blog posts since I had some troubles the other day.

The first set is mostly to showcase how perfect Wisteria always looks in England.  It has a long bloom period because the weather is cool and they are in full bloom as the fresh new leaves are only starting which I think is key in perfect Wisteria.  Here in Southern California when Wisteria starts blooming it is already fully leafed out.

Wisteria sinensis on a home near the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Wisteria floribunda with an under planting of blue bells at Kew.

This Wisteria sinensis at Kew is over 200 years old. The Ginkgo to the right was planted in 1762.

Wisteria floribunda 'Alba' on the walls of the Order Garden at Kew.

For a change of pace here are some tulips at Kew underplanted with violas. Because of the climate under plantings of plants whose blooms will coincide with the tulips are pretty easy to pull off successfully. Violas, wallflowers, and forget-me-nots are some that are commonly used.

Kew Palace which is home to the Queens Garden and a beautiful Laburnum walk.

And the Queen herself! While I was interning at Kew, Queen Elizabeth II came around to dedicate a greenhouse. As a member of staff I was allowed to stand in line and say howdy. Well I could have said howdy if I didn't have my camera shoved in her face. So I was close enough to tweak the queens nose but I refrained as I didn't want to cause an international incident.

Back to England

Shortly after graduating from The New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture in 2004 I did an internship at The Royal Botanic Garden, Kew in England.  England had a great impact on my formative gardening years when I was self taught from books by great English authors and early days of HGTV (when they still showed gardening programs).  I was determined to study in or travel to England and visit some historic gardens and when a friend was accepted to the School of Horticulture at Kew I had an in.  I enjoyed my time there so much I even looked into getting a job there and staying but immigrating to the UK for an American isn’t easy to do and for a country that has such a vast and important gardening history and culture they sure don’t pay their gardeners well.

Normally I would pick somewhere entirely new to visit.  There are still a lot of countries with gardens I want to see.  But there are two things I missed out on the last time I was in England.  The first was The Chelsea Flower Show.  Now I did actually attend the show.  In fact it was one of the things I was most excited about.  But my aforementioned friend had purchased the tickets and the day of the show she had to meet with her thesis advisor for the first time.  Apparently this expert on Nepenthe was a bit lonely and once they started talking he didn’t want to let her go.  So we already had a late start and then as we rushed to Chelsea she left her wallet on the counter at the Tube station and we had to go back and get it.  So we arrived at the show with just over an hour before it closed.  Knowing that wasn’t enough time to see everything I wanted to see I simply ran around with my camera and took pictures of everything without really getting a good look at it.  I figured at least if I was going to be rushed I would be able to enjoy it later.  But then when transferring the pictures from my SD card to a CD I accidentally deleted all but one of them.  That’s right I took around 230 pictures and deleted them all.  Except this one:

Ora - The New Zealand Garden of Wellbeing

It is pretty cool.  The first garden entry from New Zealand at The Chelsea Flower Show and it won a gold medal but because it is my only picture it is pretty much the only thing I remember about the show.  This time I bought a full day ticket and will have 12 hours to take as many pictures as I want. I will be extra careful not to delete any of them.

The other thing I really wanted to do but ran out of time was to visit Beth Chatto’s garden in Essex.  I especially want to see her gravel garden that never receives any supplemental watering.  So the day after the flower show I plan on taking a train up to Essex and paying Ms. Chatto a visit.  She is 88 years old this year so I feel like I shouldn’t put this off any longer.

Then my family is joining me and we are planning a bit of a family trip around London and southern England. Should be interesting as the four of us (my father, brother, and sister) haven’t all been on a trip together since I was a teen.  Of course I want to see as many gardens as we can fit in so I am hoping that they don’t put up too much of a fight.  There have already been some grumblings but at the very least I am hoping to see Hidcote and Knightshayes Court.  I have a list of over a dozen gardens I want to visit so it is a little overwhelming trying to figure out what my priorities are and how to get to them all in the time allotted and still allow time for touristy things the rest of the group will enjoy.