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By ILPARW on Dec 18, 2018 4:14 PM, concerning plant: Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

The mother species of the Japanese Maple is always green in foliage, except for a bright red autumn color. In the 1980's & 1990's I had seen fewer than ten specimens in the Chicago, Illinois area, as the green mother species and the regular red-leaved variety were border-line hardy there in Zone 5a. I had one neighbour in the 1970's who had a regular red-leaved small specimen sheltered as much as possible in his backyard, but a really cold night of about 25 below zero killed it. I think more maples are being planted now in Chicagoland because the winters don't get the minimum cold they used to get of around 20 below zero. However, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area is loaded with many Japanese Maples in Zone 6b. It seems like one in ten homeowners has one of the regular red-leaved variety of Acer palmatum atropurpureum right in front of the house. Any green-foliaged straight species is much less common. Some of my neighbours have found the seedlings of the red-leaved variety growing in borders in their yards and they have transplanted them and waited about 20 years for the saplings to become an official mature tree of about 15 feet high. Several larger trees died in the neighbourhood from drought in the mid-2000's, but there are still lots of them. I'd like to see more variety of ornamental trees in the Philly area besides just Japanese Maple, Flowering Dogwood, and Japanese Flowering Cherries.

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By ILPARW on Dec 18, 2018 3:57 PM, concerning plant: Rough Barked Maple (Acer triflorum)

I have occasionally seen this small maple tree species from Manchuria and Japan in parks and public landscapes in southeast Pennsylvania. It is a pretty woody plant with interesting bark. It is new on the market.

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By ILPARW on Dec 18, 2018 3:42 PM, concerning plant: Amur Maple (Acer tataricum subsp. ginnala)

This species from central & northern China and Japan usually is a small tree with a few trunks growing about 15 to 20 feet high, but it can be larger with one trunk and getting about 25 to 30 feet high. The easiest way to ID this maple is that the 1.5 to 3 inch long leaves are three-lobed, with the middle lobe being much longer than the two lateral ones. The straight species usually gets yellow fall color but it can be bright red. A number of cultivars are produced for the red fall color. It is a pretty, smaller maple that I occasionally see planted in parks and public landscapes and in a few yards in the Upper Midwest. Less so in the Mid-Atlantic as the Japanese Maple reigns as the favoured small maple and is actually over-planted in the milder region. Amur Maple is offered by some larger, diverse nurseries in the US. Unfortunately, it is escaping cultivation in some areas and is becoming invasive.

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By ILPARW on Dec 18, 2018 2:50 PM, concerning plant: Maple (Acer)

Acer is the Latin name for this genus. Eastern Asia is rich with about 100 species of this genus. There are 11 species in North America and several in Europe, western Asia, and far northern Africa. Most are trees but some are shrubs. The leaves are opposite and deciduous, though there is one evergreen species in Asia Minor. They bear winged seeds normally in pairs called samaras.

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By ILPARW on Dec 18, 2018 2:36 PM, concerning plant: Hedge Maple (Acer campestre)

This is called Hedge Maple because it has been used a lot in England to be sheared into hedges that divide fields. It is easy to shear and is used also in yards in the UK. It is native to Europe, western Asia, and the mountains in far northern Africa. It is sort of like a smaller version of the so very common Norway Maple with a slightly different leaf shape. Its leaves are likewise, thick and dark and I think if the leaf is pulled off the twig, there is a slight flow of a white milky sap like the closely related Norway Maple. I have seen a few trees planted in the Midwestern and Eastern USA, not just in arboretums but at estates and parks. A few larger, diverse conventional nurseries sell some. I don't see this as ever being a hot item in the US.

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By Baja_Costero on Dec 18, 2018 1:34 AM, concerning plant: Echeveria (Echeveria gibbiflora 'Carunculata')

Tall-stemmed selection of E. gibbiflora with striking warty (carunculated) leaves, used in breeding to create a great number of carunculated hybrids including the popular "Mauna Loa". The carunculated form of this plant was documented decades before a clone selected by Dick Wright was distributed by the ISI in 1966.

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By ILPARW on Dec 17, 2018 5:49 PM, concerning plant: Knowlton's Hophornbeam (Ostrya knowltonii)

This species is smaller than the Eastern Hophornbeam with smaller leaves and fruit clusters. It is found wild in shady, wet canyon bottoms of southeast Utah, northern Arizona, and scattered spots in southern New Mexico and southern Texas. It grows about 10 to 30 feet high. It often has two or several trunks with slightly shaggy, grey bark with some brown areas. The leaves get about 2.5 by 1.25 inches and have 5 to 8 paired veins. The species name comes from a certain botanist of Frank Knowlton discovering it for western science in 1889 below the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Overall, it is uncommon or rare, but there are some locations were it is locally abundant.

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By ILPARW on Dec 17, 2018 5:10 PM, concerning plant: Japanese Hornbeam (Carpinus japonica)

I've only seen this species one time and that was by surprise at Morris Arboretum in northwest Philadelphia, PA, as it was tagged there. The leaves are sharp pointed, dark green, and 2 to 4.5 inches long by 3/4 to 1.75 inches wide, doubly toothed on the margins, with 20 to 24 pairs of veins deeply impressed. This species is noted as usually not having good fall colour. The bark begins as smooth and then matures to become shallowly furrowed and scaly.

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By Baja_Costero on Dec 16, 2018 6:40 PM, concerning plant: Hendrix’s Liveforever (Dudleya hendrixii)

Low-growing Dudleya with whitish flowers. Recently (2016) described member of the Hasseanthus group from Colonet Mesa, Baja California. No above ground stem. Summer deciduous. With a cormlike caudex. Flowers in May-June (June-August in cultivation). Much shorter inflorescences than the locally growing D. attenuata.

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By DaylilySLP on Dec 16, 2018 5:45 PM, concerning plant: Hendrix’s Liveforever (Dudleya hendrixii)

The plant's name translates directly to "Hendrix's liveforever," as Mark Dodero, the former graduate student from SDSU who is credited with discovering the plant, was listening to Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" at the moment he found the plant.
--Wikipedia

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By ILPARW on Dec 15, 2018 12:48 PM, concerning plant: Spiraea (Spiraea decumbens)

I have not yet seen this groundcover species that is native to the Alps of central Europe. My old woody plant teacher, Dr. Michael Dirr, wrote a paragraph about it on page 965 of his huge Manual of Woody Landscape Plants after he saw some planted in Germany. He tried to grow some in northern Georgia, but they did not take. From photos online, it looks good and seems to have thick, shiny leaves.

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By ILPARW on Dec 15, 2018 12:38 PM, concerning plant: Spiraea media

This spirea species is native from eastern Europe through Siberia and in northeast Asia. The leaves are about 1 to 2 inches long. It gets about 3 to 5 feet high and wide. It looks similar to the White Woodland Japanese Spirea of S. japonica albiflora, except with slightly rounder leaves. A few cultivars of this species are used in landscaping in the USA.

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By ILPARW on Dec 15, 2018 11:50 AM, concerning plant: Spiraeas (Spiraea)

There are about 80 species of this genus noted across the Northern Hemisphere, with the great majority of species in East Asia. The word "spirea" is derived from the Greek word of "speira" that means "twisting or coiling," or "wreath". The first two words refer to the dry brown fruits being twisted or coiled in appearance, while the third word refers to how the slender, soft twigs can easily be twisted into a wreath, that looks best when in bloom. The common names of Bridalwreath, Meadowsweet, and Hardhack are applied to this genus. These plants are deciduous, (a few are semi-evergreen) shrubs that range from 6 inches high to about 10 feet high that are densely twiggy with many soft, slender twigs with alternate buds and leaves. The leaves are ovate to lanceolate, usually about 1 to 3 inches long, and are usually entirely toothed on the margins, though some only have some teeth on the leaf tips on some leaves. The tiny white to pink to rose flowers are in sort of flat to rounded to spike-like clusters and resemble tiny roses, as this genus is in the huge, diverse Rose Family (Rosaceae). The fruit is a dry brown follicle. They are easy to propagate. Softwood cuttings can be taken in May into August to root easily, often without hormone powder, though its use if good. The seeds can be sown without any treatment.

I know some about two species native to Europe: the Trailing Spirea (S. decumbens) that grows only about 6 to 9 inches high with white flowers in the Alps and the Intermediate Spirea (S. media) that has white flowers and grows from eastern Europe through northeast Asia. North America has 4 to 7 species depending on the botanist. There is the Narrow-leaved Meadowsweet (S. alba alba), the Broad-leaved Meadowsweet (S. alba latifolia), the Western Steeplebush (S. douglasii), the Eastern Steeplebush (S. tomentosa), two varieties of the Birch-leaved Spirea, and the Virginia Spirea in spots in the Appalachian Mountains. Otherwise, the great majority of the species are in north, central, and east Asia. There are about 10 species and species hybrids from East Asia with numerous cultivars that are used in landscaping and gardening in the USA. The non-Asian species of spireas actually make good landscape plants also in the right situation. I'm glad that some native plant nurseries are offering American species. It is interesting and sad that the Japanese Spirea (S. japonica) is becoming invasive in the eastern US, and that the Eastern Steeplebush (S. tomentosa) has become invasive in northern and central Europe.

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By ILPARW on Dec 14, 2018 3:14 PM, concerning plant: Hydrangeas (Hydrangea)

According to a few different botanical sources, there are about 23 to 70 to 100 species of Hydrangeas native to the Americas, only a few, and most native to southern & eastern Asia. Some botanists used to consider them as part of the Saxifrage Family that includes Alumroot & Coralbells as members, but seems to not be best. There is a Hydrangea Family in the Dogwood Order that contains about 17 genera with about 190 species that includes Deutzia, Philadelphus (Mockoranges), Decumaria (Climbing-Hydrangea), Schizophragma (Hydrangea-vines), and others. Hydrangeas usually are soft-wooded shrubs, but a few are small trees or lianas (woody vines), and most are deciduous, but some are evergreen in tropical sites. The word "hydrangea" was made up by botanists from two Greek words meaning "water vessel" that refers to the shape of the cup-shaped seed capsules. The flower clusters are panicles or corymbs composed of tiny fertile flowers that bear the brown, dry fruit and the sterile flowers with 4 petal-like sepals that are conspicuous. Some of the several species that are used in gardening-landscaping have mutated cultivars where there are only sterile flowers in the clusters that make up a showier display. Such all-sterile flower heads do not benefit pollinating insects. Most species bear only white flowers, but a few bear flowers that colour as blue to purple to pink to rose. The most well-known species is the Bigleaf Hydrangea (H. macrophylla) from Japan that has had so many hundreds of different cultivars developed with all colours available and is used a lot as a florist flower in a pot grown in greenhouses, besides gardens. (The Mountain Hydrangea of Japan & Korea (H. serrata) seems to be a subspecies of this that has smaller leaves.) Many people call this Japanese species as "the Hydrangea" in the South and Mid-Atlantic Regions of the USA, but farther north where it is not cold hardy, "the Hydrangea" is a cultivar of the white-blooming Wild Smooth Hydrangea of eastern North America (H. arborescens). There are three other species of hydrangeas sold by nurseries as the Oakleaf Hydrangea, and the Panicled Hydrangea (H. paniculata) and the Climbing Hydrangea (H. petiolaris) from east Asia. The buds and leaves of Hydrangeas are opposite. There is a Peruvian Hydrangea native from Costa Rica into the Andes that can be a shrub or a vine.

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By sallyg on Dec 14, 2018 6:24 AM, concerning plant: Clivias (Clivia)

Slow growing, bug free, the dark green leaves always look healthy. I have blooms every year following the rest period.

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By sallyg on Dec 14, 2018 6:21 AM, concerning plant: American Holly (Ilex opaca)

Very common in the woods around me, which may be why I regularly find seedlings under my trees in natural, leaf litter areas. Some I have transplanted are now about four feet tall and I hope to see flowers soon to know if they are male or female.

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By sallyg on Dec 14, 2018 4:06 AM, concerning plant: Salvia (Salvia coerulea 'Black and Blue')

I've grown this Salvia for about five years now. It is very happy in my warmest garden which may be zone 8 due to southern exposure and the house wall behind. There it blooms well in full sun and spreads every year. It grows roots along just below the surface and odd, woody tubers. It also lived in average sites here which should be about zone 7, and in some shade, but may not spread or persist long term. I tried storing some tubers dry in the basement but they did not regrow come spring. Tubers do no look like they can be cut apart like potatoes to grow, but rather seem to need to keep the stem they have. Watch bumblebees visit and bite the base of the flower to steal nectar.

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By sallyg on Dec 14, 2018 3:57 AM, concerning plant: Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

Comfrey grows quite well in my zone 7 average garden soil and full sun; it can take some shade. Leaves are large, oval and fuzzy, growing in a mound. Flower stalks grow up but then may lay over, it isn't a stiff plant. The roots are black.

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By sallyg on Dec 13, 2018 10:23 PM, concerning plant: Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Large Barred Boar')

I grew five plants from seed and kept two for my own garden in 2018. The plants were strong growers and yielded fruit with good 'Cherokee Purple like' taste, very tasty.

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By sallyg on Dec 13, 2018 10:13 PM, concerning plant: Balsam (Impatiens balsamina)

This is an easy flowering annual with unusual pods. The ripened seed pods turn yellowish and then pop open at a gentle squeeze and fling their seeds. Great fun for kids.

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