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Garden Columnist Anne Raver speaks up on Impatiens “Blight”

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Landscape Architecture, Plants, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Impatiens-walleranaDo you read the New York Times? If you do, you have likely read the excellent writing of Anne Raver. Anne’s most recent column, “In the Garden”, describes at length the downy mildew that has killed Impatiens and which means you probably will not see it in garden centers this year. (Remember last year (?) when tomatoes were full of greenhouse disease?). Anyway, Anne’s opinion about Impatiens (“Impatiens is an overused plant I love to hate, so I am shedding crocodile tears…Maybe nature is doing us a favor by forcing those addicted to the plant to find an alternative.”) reminded me of the famous Chicago “Prairie School” landscape architect Alfred Caldwell. He was in his last years when he gave a keynote speech at the annual luncheon of Friends of the Parks. He showed some slides of his work, including one of a park he designed in Detroit. It was a recent slide, with red Impatiens figuring prominently in the shrub border. Mr. Caldwell looked hard at the slide, raised his cane and shook it angrily in the air, and cried, “Impatiens? RUBBISH!”. ##

That Little Blue Flower From Siberia. Or Not.

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Scilla sibericaIsn’t this a lovely spring scene? And in looking at it, the “Queen of the Arcane” (as my friend Patti calls me) thought, “Ah, Scilla siberica”. Great name—fun to say—but I wonder. Did  it really originate in Siberia as its name implies?

This ridiculous question led me straight to Wikipedia, which let me know that I was barking up the wrong tree, so to speak, by thinking “Siberia”. Not even close. This little blue beauty is Persian, wouldn’t you know, with forays north into Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Which means it comes from a slice of the world north and south along the Volga River. Check it out—nothing to do with Siberia whatsoever.

Map of Siberia

But wait, there’s more! The Queen of the Arcane has an additional geography lesson based on that cute blue flower.  According to Wikipedia, there are 80 different species of Scilla. In addition to our little Siberian impersonator, several others have confusing geographies. For example, there’s Scilla mesopotamica, which seems geographically this.close to Siberica. This.close means they’re probably the same damn plant. And even more confusing? Scilla peruviana.  From Peru, right? Except that it’s called the Portugese squill by some and the Cuban Lily by others. Peru? Portugal? Cuba? Which is it? Maybe these Scilla botanists are simply as geographically challenged as most Americans.

But then there are my personal favorite species: the Scilla flaccidula and even better, Scilla haemorrhoidalis. So what countries do they come from? Or, put another way, what countries actually want to claim those two as natives?

SEND ME GREAT PHOTOS OF LARGE CARPETS OF SCILLA and don’t forget to say WHERE you took the photo… presumably not in Siberia!

Ice in March

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Ice in March

“Every winter the liquid and trembling surface of the pond, which was so sensitive to every breath, and reflected every light and shadow…closes its eyes and becomes dormant for three months or more. Standing on the snow-covered plain, as if in a pasture among the hills, I cut my way through the snow and then a foot of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink, I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes, pervaded by the softened light as through a window of ground glass… there a perennial waveless serenity reigns as in the amber twilight sky, corresponding to the cool and even temperament of the inhabitants. Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

–Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Walden, written 1854.

  Icy Patch

Meet Jelena!

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Plants, Public Gardens and Parks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Witch Hazel, Jalena

It’s March 10 and a very gray day (did you turn your clocks ahead?), but I want you to meet ‘Jelena’. She’s a fiery orange flower blooming right now, unaware that there’s still a lot of snow on the ground and more planned to come.

Jelena blooms on what is arguably my favorite shrub, the Witchhazel. Some call this bush, the Snapping Hazel, a name I prefer not only because it captures the look of this exploding, “bad hair day” flower but also because “Snapping Hazel” sounds like a dame I’d like to share a martini and a political argument with. But never mind, the name, Witchhazel, has its own charms.

Witch Hazel, Jalena

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