Browsing Tag

fall gardens

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Buttercup Winterhazel – An Early Spring Fragrant tree

February 17, 2017

Winterhazel from American NurserymanMagazine


What blooms earlier than forsythia, has a delicate fragrance and is an easy-to-care for compact delight ? It is also hardy to USDA Zones 6-9 and native to Japan and Taiwan.

Buttercup winterhazel (Corylopsis pauciflora)
Toward mid April (depending where you live), the bare branches of buttercup winterhazel hang with inch-long clusters of soft yellow flowers that appear as little lanterns.

The fragrance is noticeable, making it perfect near a sitting spot. It was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1993.

This is a different species of winterhazel – Corylopsis glabrescens ‘Longwood Chimes’ has exceptional fragrance.

Winterhazel (pauciflora)is good in a small city garden or as a woodland underplanting in open shade.
It glows in front of evergreens and is a perfect pairing with purple Rhododendron mucronulatum since they flower at the exact same time.

And winterhazels look wonderful with snowdrops and hellebores!

Portland Nursery photo

As the flowers fade, the leaves unfurl to 3 inches long, bright green with red edges before darkening to rich green. In fall they turn a gold-bronze.

This species is compact and is the ideal choice for a small garden. Plant in spring, in well-drained, acid soil, in a spot with light or dappled shade. It will tolerate full sun with regular watering in the summer. It needs little pruning.

Branches of Corylopsis pauciflora are best collected in February for flowers in early March, up to two weeks before their normal bloom season.

C. pauciflora can be hard to find, but well stocked nurseries will carry it. Look for it in Spring!

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Hip Hip Hooray for Rose Hips

November 20, 2016

rose hips photo by Jan Johnsen

Allow your roses to form hips. Did you know that, like many plants that produce fruit, the formation of rose hips is a signal to the rose to go dormant for the season?

from Monrovia – Japanese rose

Rose hips provide wonderful color in the garden and are a good source of vitamin C for birds in the fall and winter. They are one of the highest plant sources of Vitamin C. ‘Cherry Pie’ Rose makes great rose hips:

Oso Easy Cherry Pie Rose -from May Dreams Garden Blog

You can eat them too. Rose hips are used for jam, jelly, syrup, soup, beverages, pies, bread, and wine. They can also be eaten raw if care is used to avoid the hairs inside the fruit. The redder they are, the softer and sweeter.

source: live by the sun blog

for more info on roses go to Chris Van Cleave – click here.

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Speaking with Earth Spirits

November 18, 2016

Amsonia foliage sparkles in fall

Speaking with Earth Spirits

Deep down, in the warmth of the fecund earth,
the spirits sing songs of life.
Hoping we hear, they inhale and exhale along with the seasons.

Beautyberry in November

Now, in the cool days of November,
they sing to us of rest and replenishment
and ask us to be calm.

Molinia stands tall in late fall

The time has come to listen
and of course, to rake the leaves…the leaves…

– Jan Johnsen

the deep reds of November

the deep reds of November

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October Glory in the Garden

October 5, 2016

In my part of the world – New York State – October is when Mother Nature shines. The days are shorter, the sun is low in the sky, but the weather stays warm enough for the flowering plants to hang on.

I design and install gardens with October in mind because it is now when people have time to appreciate their grounds – it is too cold for the beach and graduations and summer parties are a memory. This is when people can stop and savor a garden.

The design of Fall gardens is something I urge my students to master because these gardens prolong our enjoyment of Nature’s gracious gifts.

And, more importantly, they quietly trumpet the siren call of the garden muse who is about to take her leave…but not just yet…..she sticks around to give it one last show….

So in that vein, I am describing a little of what goes into making a autumn flower border… I know most readers simply enjoy the photos but maybe a few are interested in the ‘gory details’.

the holly backdrop here hides a deer fence

the holly backdrop here hides a deer fence

The flower border shown above is at the bottom of a long, gradual hill – thus, water collected here in great pools after a rain. It was wet and soggy a good deal of the time. Many plants would not have lived in this wetness so I had large amounts of soil brought in to create a high mounded bed to lift them above the damp conditions.

Additionally, we had a ‘field’ of subsurface pipes (set in gravel) installed in front of the border to catch and carry away the runoff. We then graded and laid sod to create a lawn atop the pipes.

Please know it is always about the grading and the drainage..the plants come later….

Farther uphill I planted shrub roses – ‘Sunny’ Knock Out Roses and beyond is another flower border featuring Nepeta, Japanese wind anemones, garden phlox, goldenrod..

'Sunny' Knock Out Roses are three shades of light yellow / white...luscious.

‘Sunny’ Knock Out Roses are three shades of light yellow / white…luscious.

One of my ‘fave rave’ perennial flowers for October (in my part of the world) is Japanese Wind Anemone…gently waving in the cool breeze. Its dainty flowers are the jewels of the flower world.

anemone-honorine-jobert-by-jan-johnsen

And of course some flowers of summer persist into fall and are actually more glorious now than ever…Lantana is a strong October performer.

White Lantana in October next to Blue Spruce globosum

White Lantana in October next to Blue Spruce globosum

also don’t forget the berries! Winterberry likes it moist.. feeds the birds and is a native.

Love that winterberry...

Love that winterberry…

and now that October is coming to a close…on to November!

 Steinhardt garden bridge in NY in October -   photo by Jan Johnsen


Steinhardt garden bridge in NY in October – photo by Jan Johnsen

I am speaking with Kerry Ann Mendez and Karen Bussolini at the Fall Garden Symposium in Stockbridge, Mass on Oct 20, 2016..
Go here for more info.

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Verbena Bonariensis – Verbena on a Stick

September 4, 2016

Verbena Bonariensis is tall and airy and one of my fave flowers.

It blooms like crazy all summer into fall. I plant it next to walls and fences for a stunning effect. Here I mixed it with white cosmos – purple and white is such a great garden combination.

The lavender clusters are held high on wiry stems that wave in the breeze from mid summer to frost.

Called “verbena on a stick”, it is a hummingbird magnet and is an easy flower to grow.

It prefers full sun in well-drained soil. Remove top 1/4 of plant periodically to force new buds.

verbena-jan-johnsen-web