Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Color in winter: berries.

Several winters ago it became quite evident that we had planted mostly deciduous shrubs because the yard looked bleak, brown and bare. We busily remedied the situation by planting many more evergreens, both broadleaf and conifers.

We also planted shrubs with colorful fruit, especially several deciduous winterberry hollies and Nandina.

The photos are of plants bearing fruit and berries for their color. I will post the various kinds of conifers we planted in a later blog.

A viburnum in late fall.

Pieris japonica. The tiny swollen reddish purple bumps are not fruit but buds which will open in spring.

The evergreen holly 'Nellie Stevens' in fall and as it appears now.

Two types of winter berry holly.

Hydrangea paniculata. Not a very colorful plant but interesting nonetheless. The light panicles contrasting with the darker seed heads makes it look quite nice.


Dogwood in late fall.

St. John's wort earlier this fall.

Crab apples earlier in fall. I notice that some of the crab apple trees still have fruit attached even this late into the season.

I snuck this dwarf Nandina in because it still has nice colors because it has been a relatively mild winter this year.

When I was uploading the photos, I was struck by how similar the berries of different plants looked.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What to do with sprouting garlic?

We eat a lot of garlic so we usually buy a bunch in those web sacks. The only problem is, the garlic sprouts even if kept in a cold, dark place. So what to do? My wife wanted to see if the garlic would flower, like forcing paperwhites. She placed the garlic cloves on pebbles in a nice container filled with water up to the bulb end. The garlic immediately grew quite rapidly but I don't think we'll see it bloom.

It is nice to have some greenery in the house though and I think it looks rather interesting and nice in a minimalist kind of way. It was certainly worth the experiment.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hooray! My blog can be viewed again in Internet Explorer

Joey's recent comment about not being able to see the blog in its entirety made me look up the blog again using Microsoft's Internet Explorer. And voila! IE can once again render the complete site.

People using the IE browser have not been able to view the blog for about a month since I experimented with some html page elements changes. Apparently I had a broken html code so IE was not able to render the blog pages. I use FireFox and it has the ability to fix small broken bits of code so I was unaware of this problem until Pam/Digging and Annie in Austin alerted me to the problem.

I have tried to locate the broken code without success. I was about to use a completely new template to fix the problem because an estimate I read said that 80% still use IE as their browser but the problem resolved itself despite my not trying to find a fix for at least a week.

Well, I'm glad for the fix and thankful that I won't have to add all the page elements again in a new template. What a relief!

I'll make sure this time to save a copy of the html template as a Word file.

The BBC reports: "Medicinal plants 'facing threat' "

I wasn't aware Magnolias were used medicinally. I love the beauty of the flowers and the structure of the tree branches but never thought they had any pharmacologically active properties. The BBC reports that many medicinal plants are at risk of extinction. "Magnolia - Has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years as it is believed to help fight cancer, dementia and heart disease. Half the world's species threatened, mostly due to deforestation".

"And half of the world's species of magnolias are also under threat.
The plant contains the chemical honokiol, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat cancers and slow down the onset of heart disease."

Some other plants at risk are: "Yew tree - Cancer drug paclitaxel is derived from the bark, but it takes six trees to create a single dose so growers are struggling to keep up
Hoodia - Plant has sparked interest for its ability to suppress appetite, but vast quantities have already been "ripped from the wild" as the search for the miracle weight drug continues".

It would be unfortunate to lose 1/2 the species of Magnolias let alone even 1%. I wish we had more space in our yard to plant more varieties but we have to content ourselves with 10 different species. :) Some are shown below.

You can read the whole article here or click on the BBC link above.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Micro-blogging! MBlogs useful for Garden blogging?

I just read an article about the Micro-bloggging site Twitter. Apparently posts/messages are limited to 140 characters (characters, not words) and can be posted through the website, text messaging, email, IM or MP3. Seems pretty lame but who knows what it can become. I notice Senator Obama uses it to post short messages.

There two other competitors whose website are easier to navigate and you can actually see some blogs or is it mblogs on the intro page. Of the two, Jaiku and Cromple, Cromple seems a bit easier to navigate but Jaiku is now part of Google so I'm sure it will become the more popular mblog vehicle. Also, check out Pownce.

Will this become a useful device to jot down gardening thoughts? For me garden photos are important and my time is so stretched, I don't foresee doing a mblog in the near future but maybe someone will give it a shot? Please let me know if you do!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Anemones. The final posting of photos.

My favorite of all the anemones, 'Whirlwind'.

Anemone 'Avalanche'

A comparison of 'Avalanche' on the left and 'Whirlwind' on the right. 'Avalanche'is a larger flower but otherwise indistinguishable from 'Whirlwind'. At least I can't see any other difference.

Anemone 'Max Vogel'. This was the first year these have bloomed and it produced only a very few flowers. Very pretty though so I hope the plant will be established this year and produce many more blooms.

The prolific and vigorous Anemone hupehensis var hupehensis and a photo of its seeds.

Anemone x hybrida 'Alice'. Delicate and quite lovely in a mass planting. Grows vigorously.

The somewhat woebegone and bedraggled Anemone 'Victor Jones'

Anemone hybrida 'Party Dress'. Although it is an excellent flower in color, shape and form, I was a bit disappointed in this Anemone because the stems are thin and weak so the heavy flower droops and the stems buckle so the flowers are mostly on the ground or you see the back side (stem side of the flower) unless you prop it up.

The tall vigorous and lovely 'Honorine Jobert'

I think these are Anemone japonica 'Margarette' the darkest rose colored anemone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - January 15th

I was pessimistic that there would be many flowers outdoors this time of the year. The witch hazels bloomed just in time and the camellia is ever reliable but I was surprised to find a couple of other plants blooming. With the exception of one witch hazel photo, these were taken at daybreak this morning.

Yellow Witch-hazel, Hamamellis japonica?

We have two red flowered Witch-hazels. This one appears to be slightly more orange and starts blooming a week earlier than the one in the two photos below. Hamamelis × intermedia (H. japonica × H. mollis)?

Witch-hazel, Hamamelis × intermedia? (H. japonica × H. mollis)

A really tough Primrose. Note the frozen look of the leaves. We have several others but none show any signs of buds or flowers.

English Daisy, Bellis Perennis 'Pomponette' trying mightyly to bloom.

The valiant and reliable Camellia Japonica 'Spring's Promise'
My Photo
Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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