Bluespiral's blog

Fairy Rings & Woodchucks
Posted on Aug 2, 2019 5:45 AM

In some Maryland Augusts, color is never more brilliant than among mushrooms spangling forest floors shadowed by old hemlocks or oaks (See Cunningham Falls ). Occasionally in bygone years here in Oella, a ring of toadstools would appear in our erstwhile glade higher out back on our slope. Some call those fairy rings, as portrayed by the British artist Edward Robert Hughes (1851 - 1914) - . This watercolor is called Midsummer Eve, done in 1908.

Too bad we can't commission local fairies into lassoing woodchucks with their fairy rings and banishing them from our gardens. So alternatively, I hope the following list from Penn State Cooperative Extension, of woodchuck resistant plants, might help us to better coexist with our fellow bucktoothed epicureans:

Woodchuck Resistant Plants
(from Penn State Cooperative Extension)

source doc (below), alphabetized:

Achillea sp. (Yarrow)
Aconitum sp. (Monkshood)
Ageratum houstonianum
Allium schoenoprasum (Chives)
Allium tuberosum (Garlic Chives)
Amsonia tabernaemontana
Anemone blanda (Windflower)
Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)
Artemisia sp. (Wormwood)
Asarum candense (Wild Ginger)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
Astilbe sp.
Calluna sp. (Heather)
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Plumbago)
Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley)
Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Coreopsis)
Delphinium sp.
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Hay-scented Fern)
Dianthus sp. (includes Carnation, Pinks, Sweet William)
Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding-heart)
Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart)
Digitalis sp. (Foxglove)
Festuca ovina var. glauca (Blue Fescue)
Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel)
Gaillardia pulchella
Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff)
Gypsophila paniculata (Baby's Breath)
Helleborus sp.
Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro' (Daylily cv.)
Heuchera americana)
Iris sp.
Lavandula sp. (Lavender)
Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum)
Melissa officinalis Lemon Balm
Narcissus sp. (Daffodil)
Nepeta catarina (Catmint)
Nicotiana alata (Flowering Tobacco)
Oenothera tetragona (Sundrops)
Paeonia sp. (Peony)
Pelargonium citrosum (Geranium, Citronella)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern)
Rudbeckia sp.
Saponaria officinalis (Soapwort)
Sedum sp.
Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ears)
Tanacetum parthenium (Feverfew) (syn. Chrysanthemum parthenium)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Thymus sp.

original source doc:

BUTTERFLY AND HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Coneflower (Rudbeckia sp.) Delphinium (Delphinium sp.) Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) Lavender (Lavandula sp.) Ornamental Onion (Allium schoenoprasum) Sedum (Sedum sp.) Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) Yarrow (Achillea sp.)

CUT FLOWER GARDEN Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata) Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Daffodil (Narcissus sp.) Delphinium (Delphinium sp.) Dianthus (Dianthus sp.) Foxglove (Digitalis sp.) Heather (Calluna sp.) Iris (Iris sp.) Lavender (Lavandula sp.) Peony (Paeonia sp.) Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) Windflower (Anemone blanda) Yarrow (Achillea sp.)

DRY BORDERS Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata)
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Daylily cv.(Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro') Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina) Lavender (Lavandula sp.) Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) Sedum (Sedum sp.) Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) Wormwood (Artemisia sp.)

Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Hay-scented Fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern)

Festuca ovina var. glauca (Blue Fescue)
Pennisetum alopecuroides (Fountain Grass)

HERB GARDEN Catmint (Nepeta catarina) Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) Geranium, Citronella (Pelargonium citrosum) Lavender (Lavandula sp.) Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) Thyme (Thymus sp.) Wormwood (Artemisia sp.)

LIGHT SHADE GARDEN Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana) Daffodil (Narcissus sp.) Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) Foxglove (Digitalis sp.) Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) Geranium, Citronella (Pelargonium citrosum) Heuchera (Heuchera americana)
Iris (Iris sp.) Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) Windflower (Anemone blanda)

ROCKY AREA GARDEN Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) Heuchera (Heuchera americana) Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) Sundrops (Oenothera tetragona) Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata)

SHADY ENTRY GARDEN Astilbe (Astilbe sp.) Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) Foxglove (Digitalis sp.) Fringed Bleeding-heart (Dicentra eximia) Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)** Hellebore (Helleborus sp.) Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis) Monkshood (Aconitum sp.) Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) Turtlehead (Chelone sp.) Wild Ginger (Asarum candense)

SUNNY ENTRY GARDEN Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum) Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana) Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata) Blue Fescue (Festuca ovina var. glauca) Delphinium (Delphinium sp.) Dianthus (Dianthus sp.) Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata)

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Penn State is an excellent reference for many aspects of gardening and horticulture. We have them to thank for Norman C. Deno's Seed Germination Theory and Germination.

One last word here on woodchucks - they'll eat just about any vegie or flower, but the above might be last on their menu.

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New Addition to my Flowers in Art and Literature blog
Posted on Oct 14, 2018 9:11 AM

The new entry is the genus, Silene, where I hope you will find a link to Jean Cotelle's (1646 - 1708) Gardens and Gods, among other aspects of Versailles and gardens of that period, from the perspective of the painter. I found it while searching for Silene coeli-rosa 'Blue Angel' - hope you enjoy traveling along with me looking for Blue Angel in 17th century Versailles.

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Music in the Garden
Posted on Jun 21, 2018 6:46 AM

In this murder mystery/love story, is a haven of peace, solace and joy: a grape arbor within an old-fashioned Turkish garden, under which a family gathers to share their lives as time moves along. This scene will come to a song, "Don't stir my heart with sorrow and tears", sung by brothers and accompanied by the oud.

Possibly the oud originated 3500 years ago in Persia and is the predecessor of modern stringed instruments as we now know them. Modern Turkey is geographically located within the same place occupied by Persia so long ago. So, to me, when I listen to this music, I'm listening to 3500 years of history - maybe the same music heard by ancestors of these characters in the same place?

And how old might the concept of the garden as haven be? Perhaps the garden of Eden in the bible? 'Garden as Haven' is another theme going back into forgotten time and still very much alive in the hearts of gardeners everywhere. I just think this garden, with its grape arbor over the brothers and their music, is too beautiful not to share. Hope y'all enjoy it. - Scroll to 1:06:28

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Flowers in Art & Literature
Posted on Jan 14, 2015 7:41 PM

I've often thought it would be fun if a Plant Files could have a category for paintings, poetry, etc. where a given flower has been celebrated. So, hopefully as days pass ahead, I'll be adding to this. Hopefully this will be self-explanatory, but let me know if not. Any corrections or thoughts or comments would be most welcome. Am starting with begonia today -



Bourgeois Begonia**, By Audrey Stallsmith contained this quote:

"And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;"
from "The Glory of the Garden"*** by Rudyard Kipling



Arthur Chaplin (French, 1869-1935) - Flower still life, oil on panel, 29,8 x 34,9 cm. 1906

In this painting, the reflection of moonlight on the roses seems to resemble the albedo effect of moon and sun light on planets. Doesn't the way the tiny forget-me-not flower arcs into the night sky suggest a meteor?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

signed M Rittershoffer 1888
(but could be Rittershofler; or first name could be Medard; originally I found this as painted by Alexandre Debrus)

This is a still life of pink roses on a hill overlooking a river in the moonlight, with pollen from the top rose's anthers wafting throughout the painting like gold fairy dust. In the aftermath of the vandalism upon our roses this year, this is a painting to soothe the loss.


- - - - - - - - - - -

Henri le Sidaner

-- A Pavilion in the Rose Garden, Geberoy 1931

-- The White Garden in the Moonlight, Gerberoy circa 1925 - 1930
----- Well, who knows if there are any white roses in this one? If I recall correctly, Sidaner evolved through styles of impressionism to symbolism, among others, so maybe he was more after the effect of a white rose in the moonlight than a recognizable rose. In many cases, white alba roses can fill their vertical space, very much as in this painting.

SILENE (syn Agrostemma, Lychnis, Viscaria etc.)

cross-posted from Ask a Question forum ( The thread "Silene coeli-rosa 'Blue Angel'" in Ask a Question forum :

I have had difficulty finding seeds for this plant under the above name, and to see a cascade of blue down our slope from Blue Angel is a major garden wish of mine.

Evidently, this plant might be currently sold under different names. Is it possible that Silene coeli-rosa is the same as the following possible synonyms? -
-- Agrostemma githago
-- Lychnis githago
-- Silene githago
-- Viscaria oculata


There also seem to be quite a few other names that also may be this same plant. See

and See

Have all these names applied to Silene coeli-rosa at one time or another? Which one is currently accepted?

- - - - - - - - -
It has also been known as Corn Cockle - possibly a wildflower found in European fields of grain and much loved especially in childrens' gardens

ps - in my search for Agrostemma githago, rendered in a painting, I found a publication (exhibition catalog?) entitled Gardens of the Gods, by Jean Cotelle 1646 - 1708 - [url=file:///home/chronos/u-aadcbdbf212cd7d77806f72d05cc503ff806d20e/Downloads/press_kit.pdf]file:///home/chronos/u-aadcbdb...[/url]

Now, who would have thought to find Agrostemma githago in those fancy, humongous gardens at Versailles in the 17th century? The website shows this corncockle in a diagram (said to be a summary for upper parteres) for a blue garden, growing among:

Delphinium pacific 'Giant Black Knight'
Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Bloom'
Limonium sinuatum 'Royal Dark Blue'
Salvia farinacea 'Victoria'
Salvia uliginosa
Salvia patens 'Blue Angel'
Alstroemeria alba
Antirrhinum 'Rocket' ff Blanc
Cosmos blanc*
Agrostemma githago *Ocean Pearl* (Silene coeli-rosa currently accepted)
Ageratum Mexico blanc
Cosmos rose**
Lobelia x speciosa *Starship Deep Rose*
Ageratum Mexico rose
Astrantia major *Rosea*

Have fun.

pps - An inexpensive source of bulk seeds for this plant under the name of Viscaria oculata 'Blue Angel' is at -



Jean-Leon Gerome (French 1824 - 1904), The Tulip Folly

-- In the 1600s, tulipomania hit the Netherlands, and it's been said that a tulip could buy 12 acres of land and livestock and whatever remained in the kitchen sink. When the tulip market crashed, economic reversals were devastating - see Imho, tulip prices have been getting too pricey again, so it's worth noting that a frugal alternative for tulip lovers these days could be to sow seed of species tulips. Seed exchanges, like , are great sources of bulb seed and might be worth a try this fall.


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Requiem for a Venerable Old Foster Holly and Contractors
Posted on Aug 15, 2014 9:47 AM

Her branches lie butchered on the ground beneath a ragged skeleton of trunk and a few mangy twigs on top. Ilex 'Nellie R. Stevens' grew improbably to a gorgeous, thick stature, under white pines, besieged by deer, critters and vandals and dumping, with never any watering besides Mother Nature's rain. I realize the contractor currently in the process of tearing down a collapsing ruin and rebuilding a new sturdy structure in its place had no choice, as the accessway it now straggles upon is only 15-16' wide on a steep slope, with nowhere else to work.

So much beauty, gone after surviving such impossible conditions for 20 years - the loppers must only have taken a few minutes.

If you get a chance to plant a holly, I can't recommend this one enough. It's flowers are self-pollinating, in contrast to most other hollies, among which a plant is either female or male, but not both.

October 26, 2017

My garden, as well as anything else we own outdoors, is now going into its 4th year of vandalism. All my garden dreams are now trashed, with no hope of whoever is doing this stopping. So, I would like to thank Frenchy21, for making me laugh and for staying hopeful, for her wonderful avatar of a helmeted mouse, contemplating its next charge upon a piece of cheese in a mousetrap:

Frenchy21, thank you - may those of us who love gardening never give up our dreams, even if we can't be allowed to garden on our own plot of dirt. Keeping up with this vandal is not gardening - it's maintenance a la Sisyphus and Torquemada.

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