Archive

Botanical Art

A spectacular aurora photographed by Ryan Fisher in Canada's Northwest Territories on January 11, 2015. Click image to link to the aurora gallery at Spaceweather.

A spectacular aurora photographed by Ryan Fisher in Canada’s Northwest Territories on January 11, 2015. Click image to link to the aurora gallery at Spaceweather.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

House sparrows bathing. Photo Zachary, Creative Commons.

House sparrows bathing. Photo Zachary, Creative Commons.

Cat Grass for Cats – good or bad?
Though no one can deny that cats eat grass, there are only theories as to why they do. Some claim it is to get extra niacin, a B vitamin abundantly available in most fresh young grain grasses. Perhaps cats eat it to make themselves vomit. Some people believe cats eat it to help pass fur balls along while others say they just need the fiber for other nutritional purposes.
Geoff Stein/Dave’s Garden

Rise in mass die-offs seen among birds, fish and marine invertebrates
An analysis of 727 studies reveals that there have been more instances of rapid, catastrophic animal die-offs over the past 75 years. These mass kills appear to have hit birds, fish and marine invertebrates harder than other species.
Science Daily

Unusual number of UK flowers bloom
Botanists have been stunned by the results of their annual hunt for plants in flower on New Year’s Day. They say according to textbooks there should be between 20 and 30 species in flower. This year there were 368 in bloom.
BBC

Together, humans and computers can figure out the plant world
As technology advances, science has become increasingly about data–how to gather it, organize it, and analyze it. The creation of key databases to analyze and share data lies at the heart of bioinformatics, or the collection, classification, storage, and analysis of biochemical and biological information using computers and software.
EurekAlert

The Sustainable Sites Initiative
Landscapes are considered sustainable if they reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities.
United States Botanic Garden

Nectar of the Gods
The Exotic Love Vine (Ipomoea lobata) is proving to be the most vibrant and heavy bloomer in my fall garden — just when I think it can’t possibly get any better, it does.
Great Stems

William Curtis and “The Botanical Magazine, or, Flower-Garden Displayed”
The world’s longest running botanical magazine was (eventually) named after its founder William Curtis (1746–1799), who was an English botanist and entomologist. From 1771 to 1777 Curtis worked as demonstrator of plants and Praefectus Horti at the Chelsea Physic Garden…
New York Public Library

A Garden Aristocrat
The U.S. National Arboretum’s National Boxwood Collection is one of the most complete collections of boxwood in the world.  There are around 150 different species and cultivars planted in this verdant corner of the Arboretum.  Some have blue-green leaves, others have leaves variegated with splashes of cream or yellow.  Some are dwarf and mature at a height of less than two feet.  One variety, ‘Graham Blandy’,  grows upward in a narrow column like an exclamation point in the garden.
United States National Arboretum

Search the Botany Collections
The plant collections of the Smithsonian Institution began with the acquisition of specimens collected by the United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842). These formed the foundation of a National Herbarium which today numbers over 5 million historical plant records, placing it among the world’s largest and most important.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

20 gorgeous peonies
Our guide to favorite varieties in pinks, reds, yellows, and more.
Sunset

Designing with Dwarf Conifers
My tiny lot did not afford much space for full-size trees and shrubs, but I knew I could make room for a few dwarf conifers, which usually don’t get taller than 1 to 6 feet in 10 years.
Fine Gardening

Horticultural Artists Grow Fantastical Scenes at the Montréal Botanical Garden
The process works a bit like this. To start, horticultural artists build metal frames for their sculptures. They cover the frames with soil netting and then plant seeds of different flora in that soil, much like a ceramicist lays tiles in a mosaic.
Smithsonian Magazine

Sex and the single evening primrose
Sex or no sex? Using various species of the evening primrose as their model, researchers have demonstrated strong support for a theory that biologists have long promoted: Species that reproduce sexually, rather than asexually, are healthier over time, because they don’t accumulate harmful mutations.
Science Daily

Detail of the roof of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. Photo Almonroth, Creative Commons.

Detail of the roof of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. Photo Almonroth, Creative Commons.

Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart. ~Russell Page

Limonaia in Tower Hill Botanical Garden, Boylston, Massachusetts. "Preservation of citrus and other tender plants started out as crudely as building a pergola over potted plants or beds or simply moving potted plants indoors for the cold season. Known in Italy as limonaia, these early structures employed wood panels in storerooms or open galleries to protect from the cold," says Wikipedia. Photo Muffet, Creative Commons.

Limonaia in Tower Hill Botanical Garden, Boylston, Massachusetts. “Preservation of citrus and other tender plants started out as crudely as building a pergola over potted plants or beds or simply moving potted plants indoors for the cold season. Known in Italy as limonaia, these early structures employed wood panels in storerooms or open galleries to protect from the cold,” says Wikipedia. Photo Muffet, Creative Commons.

 

A picture from the Mars Rover? No. This landscape sculpture, nearly six feet in diameter, is 80 feet underwater off the coast of Japan. Diver Yoji Ookata took this photograph in August 2012. Who, or what, made it? Aliens? Click image for the answer.

100 Must-Have Garden Plants
The list of the 100 must-have garden plants, chosen by people like Dan Pearson, Piet Oudolf, Fergus Garrett and others, has just arrived here with my latest copy of Gardens Illustrated.  Even though some old favorites appear among the selections, I have included the entire list with the hope that it might get you to try out something new this season. Inspiration for 2013, but its going to be hotter – Tom.     Juniper Hill

Naked German Monk Likely a Victim of Hallucinogenic Berries
A concerned hiker who spotted the naked man and tried unsuccessfully to assist him notified police in the Bavarian town of Unterwössen, according to news reports. Police found the man cold and disoriented and took him to the hospital.     Yahoo News

Heptacodium miconioides
Although this China-native, fountain-shaped shrub or small tree may now be extinct in the wild, it is becoming increasingly popular as a unique and attractive landscape specimen. The common name refers to the fragrant creamy white flowers in clusters of seven that bloom profusely from late August to late September. Flowers are followed by an equally showy display of purplish-red “fruits”.      Missouri Botanical Garden

Flax
Flax was one of the most important crops to early American farmers and to the economy of our emerging nation. Grown in almost every state east of the Mississippi River, and some beyond, flax was literally the fiber and preservative that helped sustain our people.    Jefferson Institute

Gardener’s Delight Offers Glimpse Into the Evolution of Flowering Plants
Dandy peony, the Double Peppermint petunia, the Doubled Strawberry Vanilla lily and nearly all roses are varieties cultivated for their double flowers. The blossoms of these and other such plants are lush with extra petals in place of the parts of the flower needed for sexual reproduction and seed production, meaning double flowers — though beautiful — are mutants and usually sterile.
Science Daily

Rumex Ruminations
Mainer Merritt Fernald, who was the Harvard wunderkind of botany from around 1900 to 1950, said all of the 17 native Rumex species in North America were edible. He completely failed to mention most of them are so bitter it would take days of boiling to make them palatable, if ever.     Eat The Weeds

Commelina communis
The flowers of this species have a “true blue” color that is found in few other plants. Usually, most “blue” flowers are closer to violet or purple. The Asiatic Dayflower has become the most common Commelina sp. (Dayflower) in Illinois for reasons that are not entirely clear.
Illinois Wildflowers

Oedo Island
Just imagine an island which is green 365 days a year and always covered with beautiful blossoming flowers and trees, most of which you probably know only from botanic textbooks or TV programs showing pictures of remote tropical countries.     Korea Travel Club

Summer-y Summary
Autumn is upon me, here in the nether region between I Don’t Want to Live Here Anymore and Now I Live Somewhere Else.  When you exist in a shadow world such as this, you tread a fine line between the Things that You Have to Do But Don’t Want To and the Things That You Just Aren’t Going To Do Anymore.      A Thistle in My Sensitive Area

A Brief History of Seeds and Plant Domestication
Seed varieties have declined significantly since the beginning of time, and even more so with plant domestication. World blight may come upon us if we continue to depend on limited varieties of corn, soy and wheat. (Hat tip to James Grauerholz.)      Utne Reader

The Sideyard Garden Takes Front and Center in Historic Charleston
What might strike you right away is that there is rarely a front yard here; it is all about the side yard in Charleston. A side yard in my neck of the woods is usually a gardening afterthought or it is used as a storage area for supplies or trash bins. But the side yard is to low country Charleston gardens like shrimp and grits are to its cuisine.     Garden Envy

Rembrandt Peale, “Rubens Peale with a Geranium,” 1801. Click image for Rembrandt Peale Wiki.

Ceanothus (California Lilac), a genus of about 50–60 species of shrubs or small trees in the family Rhamnaceae, is one of the plants I sorely miss from my California gardening days. Colonies of Ceanothus and Manzanita cover miles of the Big Sur coastline. The pictured cultivar, “Dark Star,” grows to eight feet tall and blooms in early spring, filling the air with sweet fragrance. Photo by Pete at East Bay Wilds, a first-rate native plant nursery in Oakland, CA. Click image for more of Pete’s photos of Ceanothus species and cultivars.