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Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea syn. B. leucophaea at James Woodworth Prairie Preserve, Glenview, IL, USA, 9 May 2006. Photo Frank Mayfield, WikiCommons.

Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea syn. B. leucophaea at James Woodworth Prairie Preserve, Glenview, IL, USA, 9 May 2006. Photo Frank Mayfield, WikiCommons.

The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land. ― Abraham Lincoln

Hidcote Manor, April 30 2014. Photo HARTLEPOOLMARINA2014, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hidcote Manor, April 30 2014. Photo HARTLEPOOLMARINA2014, via Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. beekeepers lost 40 percent of bees in 2014-15
The survey is part of a larger research effort to understand why honey bee colonies are in such poor health, and what can be done to manage the situation. Colony losses present a financial burden for beekeepers, and can lead to shortages among the many crops that depend on honey bees as pollinators. Some crops, such as almonds, depend entirely on honey bees for pollination. Estimates of the total economic value of honey bee pollination services range between $10 billion and $15 billion annually.
Science Daily

Onagraceae – The Evening Primrose Family
In the site we present a full checklist of all taxa within each of the 18 recognized genera as well as diagnostic images for as many taxa as possible.
Smithsonian 

Nice and Naughty Knautias
Occasionally, one has a nice plant that does well in your garden but is overlooked by many gardeners.  Such plants often serve the triple purposes of a conversation piece, an educational opportunity, and a bragging item.  Such is the place occupied by Knautia macedonia in my garden.
Garden Musings 

May Rain
We have had an astonishing amount of rain in the past three weeks. Steady and generous rain. Lately that rain has been accompanied by very warm temperatures.  Timing is everything-as someone once said.  I am watching what regular spring rain and a little heat is meaning to my plants. All of my evergreens, shrubs and perennials are putting on a lot of weight.  I am delighted with the look.
Dirt Simple

The Toronto Botanical Gardens – Part Two
As mentioned in my previous blog, the TBG is a botanical garden still in its infancy. It covers only a small area around the entrance to the building, and this is divided into even smaller, pocket gardens. I suppose this is almost unavoidable for public gardens like the TBG whose mandate it is to educate – they try to have a bit of everything in an attempt to satisfy every kind of visitor.
The Garden Wanderer

Regal Rheums
I love rhubarb. This perennial vegetable thrived in the temperate New England climate in which I grew up, and one of my earliest garden memories was in a rhubarb patch. I remember running into the vegetable garden every summer to select the fattest, reddest stalks, and, after peeling away and discarding its poisonous leaves, I would chew on the raw stems until the acidic flavor became too astringent.
In Season

‘Thérèse Bugnet’ Rose in Bloom
The wisdom of growing plenty of plants that think that even your worst Winters are an insult to real Winters everywhere has never been clearer. Rosa ‘Thérèse Bugnet’ is so hardy it thrives in sub-Arctic Canada. No cold weather in the Lower 48 will faze it.
Louis The Plant Geek

It’s Not All About the Plants
I’d seen a cardinal flying through the narrow space between the potting shed and greenhouse but just thought she was passing through. Then one day I was working in the potting shed with the doors open and I kept hearing this one note call. As I peered through the door I saw a female cardinal was busy building a nest on the little espaliered yaupon holly growing up the side of the greenhouse.
Rock Rose

Pacific Bulb Society
The Pacific Bulb Society (PBS) was organized in Spring 2002 for the benefit of people who garden with bulbs. This includes both cold hardy and tender bulbs, and all the bulbs in between. By ‘garden with’ we also mean to include plants, shrubs, and even trees that we grow as companions to our bulbs. Membership in PBS is open to bulb lovers around the world.
PBS

Hidcote Manor Garden – Paradise Lost and Found in the Cotswolds
When I first visited Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire several years ago on a hot summer morning in June. It was nothing short of a nightmare! The car park was heaving with coaches, it was over-run with visitors and I came away feeling that I’d been short-changed at a garden theme park … But if you consider that Hidcote and Sissinghurst are to England, what Giverny and Villandry are to France in terms of drawing garden visitors, it is not surprising.
The Galloping Gardener/Charlotte Weychan

Feeding Tomorrow’s Billions: Lab-Grown Meat Products, Vertical Farms, AI-Designed Recipes, and More
Food and agriculture accounts for about 5.9% of the global GDP. Global food retail sales alone account for about $4 trillion/year, and food accounts for 15% of what American households spend each year. It is an industry ripe for disruption.
Singularity Hub

Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea
Cream false indigo is an exquisite perennial, 1-2 ft. tall with a wide, bushy habit. The branches cascade under the weight of the sometimes foot-long flower spikes. The leaves are alternate, 1 1/2–4 inches long, divided into 3 distinct segments; but the stipules are so large that they are sometimes mistaken for leaves.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Rosa 'Therese Bugnet'. Photo Ulf Eliasson, WikiCommons.

Rosa ‘Therese Bugnet’. Photo Ulf Eliasson, WikiCommons.

When people will not weed their own minds, they are apt to be overrun by nettles. ― Horace Walpole

Rheum officinale, Polygonaceae, Chinese Rhubarb, habitus. Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo H. Zell via WikiCommons.

Rheum officinale, Polygonaceae, Chinese Rhubarb, habitus. Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo H. Zell via WikiCommons.

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.

Ian Spomer, Number One gardening collaborator, has an application on his phone that stitches related photographs into a panaroma. This shot is in the back yard, facing east. The tree alley is at left, then the round herb bed, the elliptical bug bed, the kitchen garden behind the garage, the bean teepee and the catnip bed at right. Click on the image and then enlarge it for a detailed tour.

“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.” – Kin Hubbard

The nights are in the 40s and 50s now, with a low of 38 in the forecast for Saturday. Daytime temperatures are in the high 70s and low 80s. Fall is here. The Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is starting to color, as are the imported Amur Honeysuckles (Lonicera maackii), loathed for their invasiveness but nevertheless beautiful twice a year. Masses of unscented white flowers in spring become pea-sized red berries in fall, which hold as the leaves turn a clear yellow. And, in one of Nature’s countless serendipities, Clematis terniflora, the Sweet Autumn clematis (another rampant, naturalized foreigner), comes into bloom at the same time the honeysuckles put on their fall finery.

The Sweet Autumn clematis, Clematis terniflora, weaves its way through the Amur honeysckle, Lonicera maackii.  The clematis fills the evening garden with a sweet scent that some people liken to root beer. Photo Dayton Segard.

Sweet Autumn clematis along the north bank of Burroughs Creek. Photo Ian Spomer.

The big, five-parted leaves of Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, top center) will soon turn crimson and the Hosta plantaginea (bottom right) are beginning to sag. The round-leaved Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia “Aurea”) is reverting to chartreuse-yellow as the weather cools. Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei, bottom left) is another introduced thug, though with attentive pruning it can become something of an asset in the wilder garden. It remains evergreen through winter, taking on a dull red hue. Photo Dayton Segard.

In the kitchen garden behind the garage, a couple of nights in the low 40s took the determination out of the okra. No complaints–I ate well of okra this season, one of the few plants that sailed through the unprecedented heat. Eggplant did fairly well, particularly the long, slender Japanese types, but the tomatoes and peppers shut down when temperatures exceeded 95 degrees for two months straight. Now, with temperatures in the 80s, the tomatoes and peppers are blossoming and setting fruit like mad, racing to make seed as the days grow shorter.

Tomato “Sungold” heavy with fruit, tangled with soft yellow Thunbergia alata and Ipomoea tricolor “Flying Saucers.” Photo Dayton Segard.

The garden was plagued with rabbits until this year’s heat, and old wheelbarrows make bunny-thwarting, moveable substitutes for permanent raised beds. Smaller barrows hold spinach, kale and salad greens. This barrow was home to two kinds of Japanese eggplant, Thai basil, edamame and Scarlet Runner beans (which gave flowers but no beans). Four five-gallon, bottomless buckets (two behind this barrow), each hold one okra plant (Clemson Spineless), and three or four zinnia plants. Photo Dayton Segard.

In the front barrow, Lolla Rossa lettuce has reseeded. Photo Dayton Segard.

Malabar spinach, Basella alba, also took the heat in stride as long as it got a good soaking every couple of days. I thought I was buying the purple-stemmed form, Basella rubra, as the seed packet advertised, but B. alba was just fine, too. The vines weren’t self-twining–I had to weave them through the trellis. The raw leaf is too dense for many palates, too slimy when cooked, but I find it tasty in all applications and certainly a useful and nutritious food plant for hot-weather cultivation. And bonus points because it looks wild and weird. Photo Dayton Segard.

Ian Spomer picking beans. The bean teepee was good in theory, but only fair in practice. Yardlong beans (actually, a cowpea), yellow wax beans and Kentucky Wonder beans were planted in late June. The Yardlongs were extremely vigorous, loving the heat, and gave well before shutting down at the end of August. The yellow wax beans didn’t make it (on the shadiest side of the teepee), and the Kentucky Wonders just started producing about two weeks ago. If we try the teepee again, it will have better sun and plantings of bush beans between the poles to hide bare ankles and maximize usage of space. Photo Dayton Segard.

Q: Know why they call them “Wonder” beans?
A: You spend all summer wondering if you’re going to get beans.
Old farmer joke. Real old.

Plantsman and photographer Dayton Segard in the kitchen garden. Photo Ian Spomer.

Concord grape and morning glory climbing a sculpture by Jordan Briceland on the back wall of the garage. Photo Dayton Segard.

Long shot of the kitchen garden behind the garage. Herb bed on the left, and the bug bed behind. Photo Dayton Segard.

Long, long shot of the kitchen garden, standing in front of the wild cherry tree and looking east through the tree alley. Photo Ian Spomer.

Looking west through the tree alley to the wild Black Cherry tree, Prunus serotina. The twigs and leaves of P. Serotina are highly poisonous, containing prussic acid which converts to cyanide when consumed. Butterfly caterpillars eat the leaves and birds love the fruit, and after several prunings, the tree reveals a beautiful form. This past Tuesday, Winky the Cat, the garden’s monoscopic exterminator, was buried under the cherry tree. Bon voyage, sweet friend. Photo Ian Spomer.

Winky’s grave under the cherry tree, looking south to the creek. The stones will be removed in Spring and replaced with a low, quiet shrub. Photo Ian Spomer.

Looking north this time, to the tsunami of honeysuckle along the fence line. Underneath the honeysuckle? A plush carpet of poison ivy. Photo Dayton Segard.

Many happy hours are spent in the seating area next to the bug bed. Ten people sit comfortably on the stumps, chairs and hay bales. The view is to the south, with the kitchen garden on the left. Most of the plants in the bug bed are highly attractive to pollinating insects: Hyssop, Monarda, Agastache, Liatris, various culinary mints, Asclepias, Lantana, Cleome, Sedum, and Zinnias for the butterflies. Photo Ian Spomer.

View of trees from seating area, looking south. Photo Ian Spomer.

A winter holding bed for seed-grown Munstead lavender, calamint and silver thyme. When the pond on the back patio was installed, excess sand was dumped in this area. The soil drains well and has a slight slope, which should keep the Mediterranean plants happy until final placement in spring. Photo Ian Spomer.

The bug bed’s last hurrah. The blue plumbago is tender, so it gets potted up and taken in for the winter. The soft pink heads of Sedum spectabile “Autumn Joy,” a staple in Kansas gardens, are covered with an amazing variety of insects. Photo Dayton Segard.

Cleome on the fade. Photo Dayton Segard.

A robust Datura inoxia pierced by the ultra-thorny Solanum atropurpureum “Malevolence.” Photo Dayton Segard.

Look at those thorns! I found seeds of “Malevolence” from Rob Broekhuis of Rob’s Plants this spring, and set out a dozen plants in different locations around the yard in June. All were stunted by the heat–reaching only two feet tall, not the standard four–but they’re setting fruit now so I’ll have seed to try for better results next year. Photo Dayton Segard.

Had I sown three times the seed, the Cardinal Climber, Ipomoea sloteri, might have put on quite a show on the old lamp at the front of the house. Still, the idea holds promise. Photo Dayton Segard.

Potted up and ready to spend the winter in the sunny back porch. Photo Dayton Segard.

Winky (2007-2012), keeping an eye on her garden. I hope she always will.