Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Firecracker, firecracker

boom boom boom.

Ipomea lobata, also known as the Spanish Flag Vine or Firecracker Vine is bursting with color out of the rose garden annual border. This garden is chock full of beautiful vines. From the edible Mexican Sour Cucumber Vine (tastes like it's pickled already) to the Moon Flower, which I haven't seen blooming yet because its flowers open in the evening, to the Cup and Saucer vine (Cobaea scandens), pictured below. Makes me wish I had a trellis to grow something up.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I love checking out the plants in the rose arc. Today I saw the loveliest orange flower, a type of Abutilon, in the Malva family. I was cutting down some amaranth that had toppled over and crowded it and there it was. Hopefully now this lovely plant will get a chance to shine. If not, there's always next year. It isn't hardy here in New York but Sarah plans on bringing it inside to overwinter. You can tell it's related to the hibiscus but the flower hangs down like a bell. I wish I remembered the species name and variety, but I don't. I think this one would commonly be called a flowering maple. I imagine there are some stunning ones in the tropics and one or two in Hawai'i that might be endangered there.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rocco's garlic chives

It's a testament to Rocco's skills as a gardener and his joy in the craft that his garden is so lush even though he has been absent here for much of the season. He would be so happy to see his fig trees growing so beautifully and it doesn't seem fair that he's missed seeing the asparagus that he raised from seed standing so tall. I'm still hoping to come to the garden someday and see him at the end of the aisle, recovered from his injuries and tending to a tomato plant.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jewelweed, Alley Pond Park

Impatiens capensis growing in Alley Pond Park near what remains of the Old Vanderbilt Motor Parkway or Long Island Motor Parkway. It made me feel like I was biking through the Native Flora Garden. It's kind of funny that the remaining stretch of this parkway, built by Vanderbilt for cars exclusively in the early 1900's, is now a pretty sweet bike/pedestrian path.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dainty Bess

Even before my rotation in the rose garden, Dainty Bess caught my eye and now I think this little gal is my favorite. She's a Hybrid Tea from 1925 and aptly named. If I could plant only one rose this would probably be it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

After the rain

A mushroom uprising...and a beautiful sun-filled morning in the rose garden. We needed the rain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's all about Alliums

On the way out of the garden today, Susan and I thought we spotted some alliums about to bloom. A chive perhaps? I don't know. I'll have to find out. I do know that Susan and I have both said we'd be happy with a garden filled with alliums alone. If wikipedia is right, we could fill a large garden with some 500 species of allium. From the edibles to the decorative, it seems like there's always one blooming somewhere (at least in spring) or one making your tomato sauce delicious (in summer). True, the ones I know bloom mostly in the spring, but there are some late bloomers and I even planted one in my children's box that is supposed to bloom in the fall. Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'. I hope it blooms before we rip the plants out to plant spring bulbs because I'm looking forward to seeing its pink flowers. Right now it kind of resembles a dying grass though. Next year, I will remember to leave at least one garlic bulb in the ground just to see it flower.

A flashback at some alliums in bloom from this year:

Monocot & Perennial borders, May 7

Walking Egyptian Onion donated by Margaret for my box at BBG's children's garden, June 6

Sylvia's majestic elephant garlic flowers about to open at Floyd Bennett, June 10

Rose arc, June 23.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Plant of the day

On a gray day, the Cleome (Spider flower) really shines and today I was asked a few times about this plant while working in the rose garden's annual border. You get a big bang for your buck with this plant. It's an annual with a long bloom time and just one of the fantastic flowers planted by Sarah in the rose garden's annual border.

It's been a constant bloomer while this border has grown and changed. (Pictured below as it was blooming on June 16 and July 14.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Form & Function

For good or bad, who knows, I have a sweet spot for some of the plants growing in the Herb Garden and the Native Flora Garden, and the Horsemint plant above happens to be in both. I also love when plants at Brooklyn Botanic are in Peterson's Medicinal Plants of Eastern/Central North America, not necessarily because I'm about to make a tincture from them, but because I can read a little more about them and learn to ID them at home. According to Peterson's, Horsemint's (Monarda punctata) oil is high in thymol, an antiseptic. If you've ever read a medicinal book, you know that expelling worms is high on the list of positive qualities for a plant and since thymol is listed as good at expelling worms, you know Horsemint was a pretty cool plant to know back in the day.

The Levant Cotton pictured below isn't native. African, I think. But it's certainly pretty and functional. The malva family is very pretty in flower, whether its a vegetable (Okra) or decorative plant, (Hibiscus) or important agricultural fiber like cotton (Gossypium). A lot of this country's history is tied up in the fiber of a malva family plant, but not the pretty purple one below.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tempted by the fruit of another

Marilyn's tomatoes look pretty tempting. This was just one bucket harvested last weekend and much of her produce never made its way into her car. By the time she left, her buckets were lighter from giving so much away. Part of the pleasure in community gardening is learning from your neighbors and admiring their skills.

This year Joe's garden gives me real envy too. He's having such a good year. I love these hyacinth beans he's growing. He got the seeds from Epi,a neighbor. This is a beautiful vine and I get to admire it growing in Amanda's box at BBG's children's garden too and in the rose garden where Sarah is growing it for its beautiful flowers. It's almost as fun to watch someone else's garden grow as your own.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Showstoppers & Delicate Beauties

Caleb couldn't have been more dead on than when he referred to the Hibiscus coccineus as a showstopper in his Herbaceous ID class. What a fantastic flower. It will always remind me of evening classes at BBG. The airy beauty of the Lavender Mist Meadow Rue will do the same. Two lovely plants with completely different charms. It's easy now to see why Caleb chose them for the class.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oyama Magnolia

Walking the grounds of Brooklyn Botanic studying for ID tests has its perks. Susan and I may not have seen these beautiful Oyama Magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii) flowers otherwise. Depending on your rotation, you might not make it to any one area of the garden for a while. This shrub is blooming now in the Osbourne garden, to the west near the Eastern Parkway Entrance. Such a beautiful white flower. The bees must think so too.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Last minute study walk for Woody ID

Caryopteris x clandonensis just beginning to bloom.

Sparce needles of Pinus bungeana. This tree is all about the beautiful and functional camouflage bark.

Glossy leaves and terminal flower buds of the winter-blooming Camellia japonica.

Cryptomeria japonica, which despite its common name is not really a cedar.

Parrotia persica in the Hamamelis family.

Pieris japonica, with next years flowers already budding. Pretty.

Distinguishing fishbone pattern of Cotoneaster horizontalis branching.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Woody ID Study Post

Cladrastis kentukea clipping, P.Park 5/17. Now there are dangling pea pods.

Vibernum plicatum 'tomentosum' in bloom by the rock garden (April 30th).

Our native Magnolia virginia, about to bust out some seeds.

and with berry-like seeds by Rose garden shed.

Is there any need to study this one at all? It's unforgettable, Lagerstroemia indica.

Zigzag branching and heart-shaped leaves of Cercis canadensis.

Acer griseum telltale bark.

Davidia involucrata's long petioles.

Stewartia psuedocamellia, minus the pretty bark.

Oxydenrum arboreum, dangling dead man's fingers and all, a reminder of the recently blooming urn-shaped flowers.

Last lily

The last of my lilies started blooming last Friday, the 13th. Black Beauty, an Oriental hybrid. The Regale trumpet never bloomed, which was a disappointment, but they did go in rather late. It grew but never produced a flower. If I had the chance, I would design my box in the children's garden differently next time. The leeks were planted too close together and didn't fan out in a line the way I wanted them to. I would probably mass them together next time for a better effect. It was a good lesson though. Sometimes you learn the most from your mistakes and not your successes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

All banged up

Day One of my three week rotation in the rose garden and I'm already all banged up. I took a beating training the climber today, but this was a very satisfying task when completed. I remember admiring the roses along this fence when they were just starting to bloom in mid-May. I would look up at them over the fence against the sky. Next year someone else will do the same and I will have played the tiniest part in making that vision happen.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hummingbird moths take two

It's a wonder that anything grows in my garden at all when I spend my time trying to capture impossible moths on camera instead of planting seeds. But these moths sure are cool. Joe managed to capture the one below, which looks like a giant bumblebee when you see it flying by. It doesn't have the reddish markings of the one above. If not for the hovering, you'd think it's a bee. These are two different species of Hemaris as far as I can tell.