Monday, December 31, 2007

Nature's own fireworks. Happy New Year!

Cold weather is predicted for mid-week but in the meantime the Camellia is putting on quite a show. Happy New Year to all! I hope to see many interesting plants and gardens in the new year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Is it spring? Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I saw this forsythia trying to bloom this morning. I went out later and took a photo of it, 56 degrees F on a cloudy drizzly day. Funny that this forsythia is trying to bloom when the temperatures have been mostly in the 30's and 40's. The temperature spiked up today but will go down again tomorrow and all next week. Maybe the plant knows more than we do about what the weather will be in the near future?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bloom day December!

This was going to be a challenge to find anything blooming outside but I managed to find something, the Camellia Spring's Promise. This one blossom is trying to open but I can see a couple more about to start. It's too early for the Witch Hazels but it looks like it will be a good year for those so perhaps I'll have something for January's Bloggers Bloom Day. All the rest are indoors.

Camellia 'Spring's Promise' a hardy and very reliable bloomer.

Our Christmas cactus bloomed early and is nearly spent. The last of the flowers are pretty much in the droopy stage.

I'm happy to write that the Singapore Plumeria (frangipani) is still blooming though there are only a few buds left. This tree was very happy this year, blooming outside on our deck from early summer and indoors since we brought it in in October.

Fragile and delicate looking flowers of a Begonia my wife rescued before the first frost. The plant is starting to look very gangly and the flowers which were a red are becoming lighter and lighter, the red becoming pink fading to white.

The biggest jade plant we have which is about three years old has bloomed for the first time this year. The flowering is almost at an end but there are still a few stragglers.

The first flower of a Dendrobium orchid to bloom. There are many more buds on the plant so we can expect a good show later this winter.

Not a flower picture but the morning sun glistening through the ice encased branches of the bald cypress and service berries.

Friday, December 14, 2007

All bloggers can once again link their blogs and ID on Blogger comments

Apparently Blogger heard from a number of dissatisfied people using Blogger. People using other blog formats had to post anonymous comments nor could they add a link to their own sites when using Blogger' comment form. This has apparently been corrected. Here's Blogger' explanation of the new comment form.

The latest from Blogger Buzz
OpenID Commenting
December 13, 2007 — permalink
After just two short weeks of testing on Blogger in draft, OpenID commenting is now available for all Blogger blogs. This means that your friends and readers can leave authenticated comments on your blog using their blog URLs from OpenID-enabled services such as, LiveJournal, and AOL Journals, or with their AOL/AIM accounts.

We've chosen a few popular OpenID providers to highlight on the comments form, but OpenID is, well, "open"! You can use any OpenID service to post a comment by choosing "Any OpenID" and filling in your OpenID URL.

You'll see the OpenID icon (OpenID icon) next to the names of commenters who posted with their OpenID. This icon assures you that the person who posted the comment is the same person blogging at the URL their name links to. Say goodbye to comment spoofing!

Turning on OpenID commenting on your blog

If you've set your "Who Can Comment?" setting to "Anyone," OpenID will be enabled on your comments pages right now! To change your comments settings, go to your blog's Settings | Comments tab in Blogger, and select "Registered Users" or "Anyone" in the Who Can Comment setting:

Getting an OpenID URL for your site

Blogger provides helpful shortcuts to, LiveJournal, TypeKey, and AOL, but you can use any URL that you control as your OpenID URL by using delegation.

For example, say you have a LiveJournal account with the username "brad." This gives you an OpenID URL at You could comment with this URL, but you'd rather have your comments link to your homepage at

By copying two lines of HTML into the <> tag of, you can turn it into an OpenID URL. Then, you can use to sign your comments, while logging in to LiveJournal when you do so.

Delegation gives you complete control over what URL you use to represent yourself online, and complete control over what service you want to use to login with. Sam Ruby wrote a great article about OpenID delegation that we recommend if you're interested.

LiveJournal, AOL,, and TypeKey aren't the only OpenID providers out there. If you need an OpenID account, you can also get one from myOpenID, Verisign, or any other service that implements OpenID.

The "Other" URL field

Right now, the only way to add a URL to your name when commenting is to sign your comment with OpenID. We apologize for removing the URL field from the comments form prematurely two weeks ago. That was a mistake on our part that came from launching OpenID support on Blogger in draft.

Ironically, our testing of OpenID, a feature that lets you use accounts from all over the web to comment on Blogger, made it appear that we were trying to force you into getting a Google Account. We regret this appearance, since we're strong supporters of OpenID and open web standards in general.

If you haven't set up OpenID, you can still link to your blog — or any webpage, for that matter — by using the standard <>(I can't add the tag symbol...blogger won't accept this html in the body of the post, Ki) tag inside the comment form.
— Eric

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back to Anemones: Anemone Canadensis

After just two posts on Anemones, I'm already out of sequence. The Anemone Canadensis in the first photo bloomed in late spring. This Anemone was the second one to bloom after the early Anemone Sylvestris. At first glance I thought the second two photos were of the first plant but the flowers look different. The leaves have the same palmate characteristic so I thought they were the same plant but I'll have to do more checking to be sure.

I also found out that Hepatica acutiloba the sharp lobed Hepatica is now classified in the Genus Anemone, as Anemone acutiloba. So I should dig up my photos of my H. acutiloba and add it to my Anemone list. Anemones are also closely related to the late spring blooming Pasque Flower.

Anemones are also known as windflowers. Apparently the name comes from the rather sad tale that the Anemone sprung from the blood of Adonis, Aphrodite's slain lover. The wind is said to open the flowers but also blows away the dead petals in apparent consonance with the sad event. Another source, states: "The English name is derived from its Greek signification (wind) and is due to the fact that so many of its species grow on elevated places exposed to high winds; other writers attribute the name to the trembling of the flower before the blasts of spring."

Also from "The Egyptians held the Anemone as the emblem of sickness, perhaps from the flush of colour upon the backs of the white sepals. The Chinese call it the 'Flower of Death.' In some European countries it is looked on by the peasants as a flower of ill-omen, though the reason of the superstition is obscure. The Romans plucked the first Anemones as a charm against fever, and in some remote districts this practice long survived, it being considered a certain cure to gather an Anemone saying, 'I gather this against all diseases,' and to tie it round the invalid's neck.

Greek legends say that Anemos, the Wind, sends his namesakes the Anemones, in the earliest spring days as the heralds of his coming. Pliny affirmed that they only open when the wind blows, hence their name of Windflower, and the unfolding of the blossoms in the rough, windy days of March has been the theme of many poets:
'Coy anemone that ne'er uncloses
Her lips until they're blown on by the wind.' "

Anemone Canadensis

Anemone ??? The same type of leaves as A. Canadensis can be seen in the background.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

More late photos of fall colors

Blueberry fall foliage.

Usually the leaves of the oaks around the neighborhood just turn tan and brown but this year was an exception. All the oaks showed great color...for oaks that is. Funny but the past two years all the oaks produced a tremendous amount of acorns but I haven't seen a single acorn on our tree this year. Last year I picked up 2 three gallon kitty litter buckets full.

This garish red maple tree was photographed in our local park. The developer who built new houses a block away from where we live, planted maples that had a more vivid red than this tree if that's possible. The trees looked artificial because it was such a uniform neon red. It's like a bad dream, a maple from hell. In my opinion the breeders are getting out of hand trying to produce the most colorful trees. What happened to restraint or naturalness?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More Japanese Maples

Variegated leaves of the A. palmatum 'Orido nishiki'.

A bad picture of Acer japonicum 'O taki' or 'Odaki'. It's a vigorous grower and is attaining a wonderful shape. This is different from the A. palmatums which most people are familiar with. The leaves are usually fuller and rounder in shape than the A. palmatums.

The above three pictures are of the Japanese maple 'Butterfly' a small leaf variegated cultivar. This is one of my favorite Japanese maples. During the summer the leaf margins were white but when the cooler weather set in the margins turned dark pink.

This is our oldest Japanese maple, a red dissectum. It survived a move after being planted in our front yard for three years only to be dug up to be planted near our fishpond. It made the move without showing any stress despite cutting many small roots when digging it out. Our neighbor has the same tree only older and more prostrate. She pruned it in early summer and nearly denuded the tree, hacking off more than 75% of the foliage. I thought she killed the tree but it set even more new growth so the tree is even fuller and lump like than before. So I learned that Japanese maples are very tough trees indeed.

This was a no name Japanese maple I bought very cheaply and it turned out to be a very nice specimen tree. The colors were very vivid reds and gold last year but just turned a muted but elegant purple yellow this year.

The gold leaves of my baby Acer palmatum 'Sazanami'.

This is an unknown cultivar. The leaves are deeply dissected but the tree doesn't have the weeping habit the "dissectums" usually display. The leaves look like those of the Acer palmatum dissectum atropupureum 'Garnet'.

Another unknown cultivar. I bought this unlabeled tree at an end of the year sale. It had unique leaf shape with many lobes so I was especially glad no one beat me to it. I've looked through my Vertrees book of Japanese maples and it may be a A. palmatum 'Otome zakura' but I can't be sure.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Paperbark maple, Acer griseum and Witch hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia in fall colors

I seem to have gotten into a post Thanksgiving funk. I just can't seem to get motivated to do the blog and the interval between articles is lengthening.

It's just occurred to me that I haven't posted many fall leaf pictures so I'll do that before I continue with the anemones.

I planted four Paperbark maples, Acer griseum and they all died. Three were planted in a copse and it was excruciating to see them sprout new growth in spring only to wither and die within the month. I finally wised up and read about the ideal growth conditions for the tree i.e., doesn't like waterlogged areas, shelter from winter winds etc. and planted one more tree after a three year hiatus. The tree actually survived a whole year and hopefully will continue to thrive next spring. The fall leaves are not spectacular but interesting enough to post imho.

The other photos are of a Witch hazel. I believe this is a yellow flowered Hamamelis x intermedia, possibly 'Arnold Promise' but I can't be sure. It hasn't bloomed yet but the flowers are fragrant and quite lovely especially when nothing else is blooming when it is. Hamamelis x intermedia is a cross between H. Japonica and H. mollis the Chinese witch hazel.

The above photo of the paperbark maple leaves was taken at an earlier time. The photo is blurred, probably because of the wind but it shows the yellow orangeish color of the leaves before they acquired a reddish tinge.

The seashells under the tree are supposed to sweeten the soil a bit because unlike most maples the paperbark apparently likes a more neutral soil. I've also thrown eggshells to do the same as well as add calcium to the soil but the birds like to pick up the bits of eggshell and I've seen squirrels do the same although I have no idea what those nasty tree rats could possibly do with the shells.

Witch hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia. The first photo was taken earlier this fall. The second photo was taken on a very windy day about a week ago, it seems we had a lot of those this year so the picture is blurred but you can get an idea of how colorful the leaves are.

We also have a native common witch hazel, H. viginiana which has continued to be a disappointment with almost no fall color, gangly growth and a few flowers. It has the strongest scent though, so I've kept it for that trait alone.
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Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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