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Got Milkweed?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

If you are reading this, doubtless you know the Golden Rule of Biodiversity: plant milkweed. Please. No, I take back the “please”. Just do it. Even if you garden on only a balcony, grow some milkweed in a clay pot. However you manage it (ie “float” its diaphanous seed in the parkway or the alley), be a guerrilla biodiversifier and…plant milkweed.

You know why I am pushy about this plant: because its leaves are the only thing that Monarch butterflies can eat. As noted entomologist Doug Tallamy says, “To have butterflies, we need to make butterflies. To make butterflies, you must use a native species that serve as a host for butterfly larvae [Ed: that’s a caterpillar] as well as a supply of nectar for adult butterflies. Butterflies do not lay their eggs on any old plant. They lay their eggs only on the plant species to which their larvae are adapted”. And that means…Milkweed.

You even have choices when it comes to which milkweed, but three species are commonly available in garden centers or via seed packets:

The Common milkweed [Asclepias syriaca], which has husky leaves, roots that grow to China, and a handsome dusty rose globe of a flower. [If you are worried about this being too aggressive, look for its cousin, Sullivant’s milkweed, which grows slowly, albeit by rhizomes, which means its good in tough-to-grow-anything-else spots. Nonetheless, I like the Common milkweed in gardens–it provides a tall, solid, almost tropical contrast although you might have to tie it up with a strong shoelace.]

 

Common Milkweed flowering pattern

Common Milkweed flowering pattern

The Butterfly weed [Asclepias tuberosa], which has flowers the extravagant color of a Navel orange, does well in dry, “crappy” soils, and makes a great bouquet;

Common Milkweed / Asclepias syriaca

Common Milkweed / Asclepias syriaca

The Red or Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata] has a two-toned pink flower, narrow leaves, and a pleasing way of gracing a moist spot–especially nice en masse if you have a lake edge to landscape.

Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata]

Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata]

And if Monarch’s weren’t good enough for you, at least 11 other species of butterflies and moths reproduce on milkweed as well. Goldfinches eat the insects that get trapped in the flowers and also use milkweed seed “down” for nesting material, and you may see (good) beetles on the plants as well. Biodiversity can be easy if you try!

Milkweed pods and the seeds that float on the air...

Milkweed pods and the seeds that float on the air…

Okay, I’ll be nice again. PLEASE plant milkweed someplace on your property. Or your balcony. And now I won’t be nice: if you work for a municipality, we gardeners expect to see milkweed growing everywhere around town. It’s the law.#

My Ash Was Shot Up Today!

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It’s July 23 and a relatively cool day outside, just right for giving my ash(es) an injection…

P1060374-001

…against the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). If you have a large ash (this is just too hard to write without laughing), I recommend getting shots. Just so you know, our five ash trees, ranging from 10″ – 23″ in diameter, cost $645 to be injected with a two-year treatment. This reduces to an average cost of $65/tree/year. Which is a whole lot less than cutting these trees down, especially because they are wedged in next to our garage, a new-ish fence, power lines, and ornamental plantings. Plus having been innoculated before, they look incredibly lush and healthy now.

And, puff puff, aren’t I something…the company that innoculated them, The Care of Trees, took my suggestion and made dogtags to hang on each tree showing when they were treated against EAB:

P1060363-001

Please have a forester inspect your big ol’ ash today! You’ll thank me later!#

By the way, ash is a very hard wood and if you have to cut down a tree, make sure you use the wood somehow. You can save it for firewood or have a portable sawmill come to your house and make some planks for flooring or tables or baseball bats or…building a log cabin.##

The Blues on the 4th of July

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Happy 4th of July! It’s a great holiday, parades, picnics, pyrotechnics. What’s not to like?

Of course, you can get the blues on the 4th of July-but in a good way, in the garden. Two bulbs must be ordered for your garden because they are indispensable and you cannot have too many of either one. First, let me introduce, Brodiaea corrina:

A side view showing coloration of Brodiaea corrina

A side view showing coloration of Brodiaea corrina

Isn’t she beautiful? I can’t pronounce her name worth a damn (I call her “Corrina”), but these 2″ funnels of blue with darker blue midveins can be planted anywhere in your garden and you will be so pleased with yourself that you’ll glow all day with nary a depressing thought until the evening news comes on.

Then, to keep “Corinna” company, order yourself scads of Allium azureum, aka The Blue of the Heavens, introduced in 1830. A true blue that is so blue that even a pink flamingo turns into a blue flamingo in its company:

Allium azurum: globes of true blue color

Allium azurum: globes of true blue color

Both are available through mail order from John Scheepers, Inc. Order today and thank me next July 4th!#

A WEDDING GARDEN

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Landscape Architecture, Plants, Public Gardens and Parks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s June! Time for graduations (congratulations to our Leah for graduating from UCLA!) and especially for WEDDINGS (congratulations to my husband, John Drummond, for marrying me 25 years ago. Smart move.).

In honor of June weddings, I thought it would be fun to design a garden that celebrates weddings. A “Wedding Garden” would be so exciting to design and install at the Chicago Botanic Garden or other venues so that brides could be surrounded by plants that add to the joy by virtue of their names. (I’ve designed but never installed a Dentists Garden and a Candyland Garden full of “sweet sugary” or “toothed” plants).

By the way, having reviewed long lists of plant names, my research reveals that plant hybridizers have their preferences (who knew?) in names. “Wedding names” mostly come from people who hybridize daylilies [Hemerocallis]. But other types of growers make some interesting choices. For example, Hosta hybridizers like…FOOD. There’s Hosta ‘Guacamole’, Hosta ‘High Fat Cream’, Hosta ‘Golden Waffles’, Hosta ‘Candy Hearts’, Hosta ‘Cherry Berry’, Hosta ‘Donahue Piecrust’, Hosta ‘Spilt Milk’, Hosta ‘Vanilla Cream’, and Hosta ‘Regal Rhubarb’.

On the other hand, rose hybridizers prefer proper names, especially if you are a Duke, Duchess, Queen, Dr., Frau, General, Kaiser, Lady, President, Princess Prince, Sir, or Saint. Check out this amazing list of Rose names: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rose_cultivars_named_after_people

 
Nonetheless, here’s my list of perennials, shrubs and trees that are good candidates for a WEDDING GARDEN: (If you have photos or more plant “wedding names”, please send them to me.)

SHRUBS and TREES

Abelia grandiflora ‘Silver Anniversary’: (Zone 6): a 3’x3′ shrublet with white-margined foliage with white flowers

Halesia tetraptera ‘Wedding Bells’: (Zone 6): 20′ tall rounded tree with white bells

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’: (Zone 4): 10-12″ flower clusters open cream and age to pink, rose and red

Hydrangea ‘Wedding Ring’: (Zone 5): 3-4′ shrub with reblooming bi-color lacecap flowers

Spirea thunbergii ‘Mt. Fuji’: (Zone 4): This is “Bridal Veil” Spirea, blooming white in spring

Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’: (Zone 5): ivory-white flowers in summer

Syringa vulgaris ‘Bridal Memories’: (Zone 4): Fragrant, creamy-white single flowers

 

 PERENNIALS

Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’: 2o” lavender – blue spikes, July-Sept

Aster nova-angliae ‘Wedding Lace’: 36″-48″ white daisies in Sept-Oct

Astilbe arendsii ‘To Have and To Hold’: 28″ purple-pink plumes in June-July

Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamonds and Pearls’: 28″ silver white plumes in July-Aug

Astilbe arendsii ‘Vision in White’: 18″ conical white spires in June-July

Astrantia major ‘Ruby Wedding’: 28″ dark red frilled flowers from May-Sept

Buddleia davidii ‘Attraction’: 36″ magenta-red flowers from July-Sept

Chrysanthemum ‘Bridal Bouquet’: 6-10″ double ruffled white shasta daisy from June-Sept

Cimicifuga simplex ‘Black Negligee’: 60″ lacy black/purple leaves with white flower spikes in October

Delphinium ‘Sweethearts’: 36-60″ with pink/white flowers in June and Sept

Dianthus hybridus ‘First Love’: 15-18″ white aging to rose from April-Sept

Dicentra eximia ‘Burning Hearts’: 10″ dark red hearts from May-Sept

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Valentine’: 24-30″ red hearts in May-June’

Echinacea h ‘Fatal Attraction’: 26″ rich pink with dark stems in July-August

Echinacea h ‘Secret Desire’: 36″ multi-color pink and orange from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Joy’: 24-28″ double pale yellow poms from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Lust’: 25-31″ fiery-orange double poms from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Passion’: 18-27″ coral cone with pink rays from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Romance’: 28″ salmon-pink double flowers from July-Sept

Athyrium ‘Lady in Lace’: a 12″ frilly fern

Gaura lindherii ‘The Bride’: 36″ white flower aging to pink from June-Aug

Helleborus h ‘Sparklyn Diamond’: 12-14″ double white from March-June

Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’: 24″ heuchera with fuzzy lime-green leaves and white sprays from Sept-Oct

Hibiscus h ‘Heart Throb’: 48″ plant with 10″ wide burgundy-red flowers from July-Sept

Hibiscus h ‘My Valentine’: 48″ plant with 9″ wide deep red flowers from July-Sept

Hosta ‘Bridegroom’: 18″ green pointy leaves with purple spikes in July-Aug

Hosta ‘Everlasting Love’: 14″ blue-green leaves with wide cream edges, lavender spikes in July

Linum perenne ‘White Diamond’: 12″ dwarf white flax from May-August

Lychnis chalcedonica ‘Burning Love’: 16″ dwarf red clusters of flowers from June-Aug

Papaver ‘Royal Wedding’: 30″ poppy with white flowers in May-June

Peony ‘Bridal Gown’: 32″ double creamy white flowers. Midseason

Peony ‘Bridal Grace’: double bomb with a deep creamy infusion inside and some red flecking outside; 32″

Peony ‘Bridal Shower’: Ivory white double bomb framed by white guard petals; 34″

Phlox subulata ‘Maiden’s Blush’: 4″ pale pink flower with a lilac eye in May and Sept

Rose ‘Burning Love’: I couldn’t find a description: coral red, I think, but…

Saruma henryi: 12-16″ heart-shaped downy leaves topped by soft yellow flowers from May-Sept

Scabiosa japonica ‘Blue Diamonds’: 6″ lilac-blue flowers from June-Aug

Veronica ‘First Love’: 12″ bright pink spikes from June-August

DAYLILIES

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’: 40″, early-mid season, fragrant, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Bride Elect’: 36″, mid-season, fragrant, coral pink

Hemerocallis ‘Bride to Be’: 28″, late, cream melon pink with gold edge and yellow pink throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Bouquet’: 30″, mid-season, very pale yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Dream’: 21″, early, lavender wine spider with wide green and yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Garter’: 26″, mid-season, fragrant, cream with purple eye and purple gold edge, green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Halo’: 30″, mid-late, fragrant, orange pink blend with orange halo and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Kiss’: 36″, early-mid, rosy red

Hemerocallis ‘Bridesmaid’: 42″, mid-season, red

Hemerocallis ‘Bridesmaid’s Gown’: 28″, early, fragrant, light pink with gold edge and very green throat (Author: Bridesmaid’s Gown: this plant must be really ugly!)

Hemerocallis ‘Dayton’s Last War Bride’: 32″, mid-season, very fragrant, yellow with rose halo and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Diva Bride’: 30″, mid-season, fragrant, ruffled cream with pink blush and butter yellow edge and throat

Hemerocallis ‘Fairy Bride’: 30″, mid-season, fragrant, orchid pink with yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Filipina Bride’: 30″, mid-season, blue pink with a slightly darker eye and yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Gypsy Bridesmaid’: 20″, early-mid season, rose edged white with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Hopi Bride’: 28″, early, fragrant, cream with burgundy eye and yellow green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Journey’s Bride’: 32″, mid-season, fragrant, pink bi-tone with gold edge

Hemerocallis ‘June Bride’: 34″, mid-season, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘June Bridesmaid’: 25″, early-mid season, fragrant, light pink bi-tone with darker pink edge

Hemerocallis ‘Princess Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, very fragrant, white with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Quaker Bride’: 44″, mid-late season, fragrant, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Radiant Bride’: 29″, mid-late season, fragrant, red wine with chartreuse green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Sabbath Bride’: 14″, mid-season, white to cream with yellow to green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Seminole Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, fragrant, strawberry pink with darker pink eye and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘September Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, fragrant, light lemon yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Blushing Bride’: 23″, mid-season, light pink with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Bridesmaid’: 20″, mid-season, pale pink with rose eye and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam June Bride’: 20″, mid-season, pale pink with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Snow Bride’: 20″, early, fragrant, diamond dusted near white with green throat

A Potpourri of News…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Landscape Architecture, Plants, Uncategorized, Weather | Leave a comment

Can you believe it’s June 1st already?! Sorry to have been out of touch…planting season…our farmhouse gardens to be photographed for Country Gardens Magazine

Country Gardens magazine's photographer shooting June garden

Country Gardens magazine’s photographer shooting June garden

…family…volunteerism…Leah’s college graduation…technical issues with this website…such a busy time of the year. Even the local wildlife is busy. When I drove into our driveway today, there were six (!) chipmunks running around like nut cases on the asphalt. They were glutinous, eating the seeds of maples, a phenom I had never seen before.  BTW, we are assured that those little seed nuggets are entirely edible, tasting like peas. You first.

Gardening world good news: tulips, redbuds, and big lilacs are done, but smaller (Syringa meyeri Palibin, Miss Kim, and ‘Boomerang’) lilacs are blooming with the azaleas. Huge amounts of foliage clothe all the shrubs and trees this year–even a lot of the ash trees aren’t as dead as I expected them to be. Wild geraniums, iris, wild phlox, hawthorns, variegated Solomon’s Seal, shooting stars, tree peonies, primroses and dogwoods are glorious. Fringe tree [Chionanthus virginicus] is about to “feather”. Did I mention the foliage and growth of the Beech trees–amazing! The bad news is that my (formerly) incredibly shaped Seven Sons Flower tree (Heptacodium miconoides–I love saying the name of this amazing tree which you must put in your garden) took a big hit from the winter wind (I think) and I had to chop it all to hell. Also, a big Redbud, a fragrant Viburnum carlesii, and a Juniper s. ‘Skyrocket’ died from drowning.

Did I mention the elegance of my all-time favorite shrub: Viburnum plicatum? Read more

Planting Irish (?!) Seed Potatoes

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Three weekends ago I planted 15 potatoes in our vegetable garden. I bought the seed potatoes at Paquesi’s Garden Center, and was drawn to these packages because they carried the “certified organic” label of the USDA. Never one to trust, I discovered that they are packed by Irish Eyes Garden Seeds. Here’s how I think: Irish? Potatoes? Starvation?

If you are strapped for space, experiment with growing potatoes in a container: http://info.irisheyesgardenseeds.com/index.php/grow-100-lb-of-potatoes-4sqft. This looks like a lot of work to me, but hey, it also promises to yield a bumper crop of spuds. And you could use the extra cash, right?

By the way, the varieties I planted are: Purple Majesty (purple fingerlings for soups and salads); Sangre Red (round, hot pink, good for roasting); and Yellow Finn (sweet buttery taste). Some “new potatoes” (yum!) should be ready in our garden by August, but by letting the vines die and not watering much, I read that harvests are more plentiful, later. I must also remember to hill them up every two weeks (OMG: I have to do this immediately–the plants are already “plants”!) and water the foliage with seawood fertilizer (I added cottonseed meal to the soil when planting). Go organic! Go Irish! Don’t starve! ##  Read more

Too Much Water and a Cold Snap

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Plants, Uncategorized, Weather | Leave a comment

This morning’s simpering heat, combined with a brief uptick in the wind and quickly clouding dark skies, made it easy to think about the tornadoes that ripped across Oklahoma and Kansas yesterday. Sadly, more tornadoes, hail storms, and slow-moving thunderstorms (ie a lot of rain in one place), including some aimed near Joplin, Missouri and north to Minnesota, may occur today (Monday). Remember that the Chicago region [link to map] is already in a Federal Disaster Zone because of the devastating rain storms of April 18th, just a month ago. Lots of Chicagoans are still mopping up and cleaning out, unfortunately. [Here’s a link about how you can help and/or donate to Chicago flood clean-up efforts by the American Red Cross.]

Profuse blossoms on 2013 fruit trees

Profuse blossoms on 2013 fruit trees

There’s good news and bad news about the amazingly full blossoms you are noticing this year on crabapple trees and other fruit trees. Read more

Hmmm, yes, but what should we do to help?

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Plants, Social Impact of Horticulture | 1 Comment

Here’s a link http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=221570 to an article in the Medill Journalism School website. I’m not sure we needed a gigantic study to know that black populations live where there are few trees. The article quotes a representative from Chicago’s Friends of the Parks and I have NO IDEA what that representative meant (if you figure it out, please comment). Anyway, this article makes me think that when nurseries donate trees to communities at the end of the summer season, perhaps instead of donating them to wealthier communities like the one I live in, they should donate them to tree-less communities. This makes me wonder how many nurseries donate trees at all, and where they are going. Does the IL Nurserymen’s Association know? If not, who does? If you are a nursery, do you donate? Do you have a nice story to tell us or a story about why you do not donate trees?## Read more

The Garden Snoop’s Calendar: one more thing…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Events, Plants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oh, here’s another great event for you to attend. This is WONDERFUL because of the sponsors, Rich & Susan Eyre, who have a personal goal (already partially realized because of YOU gardeners!) of building 100 new hospitals in Bolivia. Buy hosta, build hospitals. Can’t improve on that idea! [BTW, if you have a personal charity that is in any way related to gardening or conservation, please tell me so all our readers can learn about it and help you achieve your dream! This website is about gardening and conservation, true, but it’s really about supporting each other’s passions.).

Hosta Sale and Fundraiser
Saturday June 8, 2013  9am-4pm
Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery, Inc
11618 McConnell Road   Woodstock IL 60098
815-338-7442  
coniflora@richsfoxwillowpines.com
All proceeds benefit Heifer International and Mano a Mano International Partners. Cash or check only! Read more

A Few News Briefs…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Historic Places, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Having grown up in Weston, Connecticut, there are a few East Coast preferences that I will never shake. One is the New York Times. I read it assiduously. So from time to time I’ll post some news and/or links that gardeners, conservationists, environmentalists (yes there is a diff between conservationists and environmentalists), land use planners, and whoever else is reading this blog might be interested in. And please, comment or write a follow up article…this blog is not supposed to be just the Queen Bee sounding off. It is here to exchange information, questions, and great commentary (emphasis on “great”).

Here are some snippets:

  • Sally Jewell is the new 51st Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Who, you ask? Sally Jewell, 57 (young!) former CEO of REI, an outfitting store that is hard not to like. Jewell has no political experience, but she is a mountain climber so that bodes well for running an agency in Washington DC with 70,000 (!) employees, an $11B budget, and stewardship of 20% of the land in the U.S.. Why are you, a mere backyard gardener or landscape professional, interested in Interior? Because the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 designated the country’s newest National Wildlife Refuge, called “Hackmatack”, in McHenry County and overlapping towards Lake Geneva, WI.. You are also interested because Interior administers the Endangered Species Act (thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon, 1973). Also, Interior regulates the private leasing of our national lands for oil wells and the like (pipelines). And it sells Duck Stamps (thanks to Herbert Hoover, 1929) to duck hunters, which raised $700 million for wetland conservation in 2013. Interior makes a difference in each of our lives.
  • Columbus, Indiana, is an “unlikely trove of midcentury modernism”. Oh, how I want to make a road trip here and see not only 70 examples of great architecture, but great landscape architecture. For example, you can tour the 1957 house designed by Eero Saarinaan and Kevin Roche [oooh, a fuchsia conversation pit!] but the gardens designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley. Alas, the Monet water lilies that was in this house was sold in 2008 for $40 million. Did any of you happen to purchase it?
  • A future post will cover the gardening impact of 400 ppm CO2 levels. We know we must plant trees and more trees, but should we be burying the dead ones instead of chipping, burning, or letting them lie on the ground to disintegrate? The latter options are ways to accelerate the release of more carbon. What do you think?

Anywho, this NYTimes article explains that average worldwide warming has now been proved to be 5 degrees, warmer over land (such as Chicago) and even higher at the Poles (15 degrees). Actually, a 2008 article about weeds loving CO2 (REQUIRED READING!) says that the average city condition NOW compared to the suburban temperature is exactly what is predicted worldwide…. This is what I know. There is no question that Santa is shaving his beard cause he’s too hot: the NYTimes reports that in 2010, only four ships carrying 110,000 tons of cargo made the northern passage between Asia and Europe. In 2012, 46 did, carrying 1.3 million tons. Less ice? Scary.##