Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trees of Note

Here are three trees that I'm especially fond of, which we bought several years ago. The first is the Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia 'Ogon', the second a Japanese maple, Acer palmatum 'Aka shigitatsu sawa' and finally another Japanese maple, 'Beni otake'.

Metasequoia 'Ogon' (Japanese for gold), aka 'Gold Rush' Dawn Redwood. These trees literally glow in the garden even on an overcast day. We bought three but one died after I moved it two too many times. It's a fast grower - approximately 4 feet per year. The regular Dawn Redwoods seem to grow faster and spread more but I prefer the narrower growth habit of the 'Ogon'. The tree is deciduous so like the Bald Cypress, it will lose it's needles in the fall.

Some interesting information from Wikipedia: "Metasequoia was first described as a fossil from the Mesozoic Era by Shigeru Miki in 1941, but in 1944 a small stand of an unidentified tree was discovered in China in Modaoxi by Zhan Wang; due to World War II, these were not studied further until 1946 and only finally described as a new living species of Metasequoia in 1948 by Wan Chun Cheng and Hu Hsen Hsu. In 1948 the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University sent an expedition to collect seeds and, soon after, seedling trees were distributed to various universities and arboreta worldwide for growth trials.

In the late 1980s, it was discovered that many of the second generation trees in cultivation suffered from inbreeding depression (extremely low genetic variability) which could lead to increased susceptibility to disease and reproductive failure. This was because most of the trees were grown from seeds and cuttings derived from as few as three trees that the Arnold Arboretum had used as its source. More widespread seed-collecting expeditions in China in the 1990s sought to resolve this problem and restore genetic diversity to cultivated Metasequoia."

Further: "Conservation

There remains one Dawn Redwood forest, consisting of barely 5,000 trees[2]. Since its discovery, the Dawn Redwood has become something of a national point of pride, and it is both pretected under Chinese law and planted widely[2]. As such, it's not likely to go extinct, but Dawn Redwood is critically endangered[3] in the wild. Though cutting of trees or branches is illegal, the demand for seedlings drives cone collection to the point that natural reproduction is no longer occurring in the dawn redwood forest[2]. Alhough the species will continue to live in yards, parks and on roadsides all over China, the Metasequoia forest ecosystem could disappear when its mature trees die."

How tragically sad.

Acer Palmatum, 'Aka shigitatsu sawa'. This is the red form of the 'Shigitatsu sawa' which according to the Vetrees book Second Editon,1987, (means ' "snipes quacking, fly up from a swamp." Further, " 'Shigitatsu sawa is also the name of a place in Sagami-Oiso. In the Genroku Era (200 years ago) the poet, Michikaze O yodo, lived there and called it Shigitatsu sawa. Quoting from a old poetry book by Priest Saiygo: "In the evening, in Fall, at Shigitatsu sawa, even a person whose heart is vacant, feels sad."

This is a relatively slow growing tree, considered to be a dwarf by the Japanese. The contrasting veining and interesting shaped leaves make it an unusual collectible. It is in the Reticulatum, variegated group of Japanese maples.

Beni otake Japanese Maple. Translation: Big red bamboo

It is in the Linearilobum group.
The purplish-red strap-like leaves grow in layers and give the plant a bamboo-like appearance. The leaves hold red color in the summer and and are a brilliant crimson in fall. The Japanese name means 'big red bamboo' but this tree is actually of American origin.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More Images of Spring

Allium bulgaricum Nectaroscordum. After I took this photo and viewed it on the computer screen, I noticed the bells seem to have a wonderful glow which I was not aware of when taking the picture.

Similarly this unknown variety of Salvia glows with the same light.

One of the numerous columbines we seemed to have collected. I especially like the up facing flowers on this one.

Jacob's Ladder, Polemonium 'Bressingham Purple'. It was a mistake to have bought several of these plants. They are all leggy and the flower stalks readily fall over even in full sun. They have been planted in part sun but I put one out in full sun anyway and it seems to be the best one of the lot.

Maianthemum racemosum "(Treacleberry, False Solomon's Seal, or False Spikenard)".
We purchased this plant at a wildflower preserve plant sale. The flowers are small and insignificant but it will be interesting to see how this plant will do after a year in the ground.

The first of the Oriental poppies to bloom. (Papaver orientale) 'Cedric Morris', salmon pink?

Anemone canadensis? This is a prolific spreader of seeds. Many new plants are coming up so I'll have to do some hoeing to get rid of them. Each plant has a small solitary flower at the terminal end of the plant.

First of the 'Home Run' roses to bloom.

Our biggest Rhododendron in full bloom. Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)'roseum'?

Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' growing happily now that I've moved it from an overcrowded location.

And our freebie rose looking like it should be in a Dutch master painting.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bad Color Mixes

To be filed in the do not do category. We often buy plants which are past bloom or are sold with the wrong tag and end up unwittingly planting them next to others with the resultant color clash. Usually mother nature is able to somehow ameliorate the situation but sometimes the dissonance is so apparent that nothing can save the mistake. The following are a few examples of our color faux pas in the French sense and not gaffe in the English sense.

This first example is not too bad in my opinion but the hot pink of the Azalea somehow doesn't quite agree with the purple pink Rhododendron.

Ufff! Orange and purple.

Well how about adding red to the orange and purple! =:-(

Or purple orange and pink. There is a columbine under the orange mountain Azalea which has pink flowers too so this was altogether not an great arrangement. By the way, I am not colorblind.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

GBBD May! An Embarrasment of Riches.

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Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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