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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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By sallyg on Dec 13, 2018 10:07 PM, concerning plant: Cilantros (Coriandrum sativum)

I've tried several times to grow cilantro from seed, different sources, and have mostly failed. They germinate and get a couple leaves, then struggle and turn yellow. It may be easy to overwater the tiny seedlings. I've also read it prefers cool weather. It has not been easy to grow for me.

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By ILPARW on Dec 13, 2018 5:43 PM, concerning plant: Border Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Lynwood Variety')

This 'Lynwood' or 'Lynwood Gold' is the most commonly sold cultivar of Forsythia in the Midwestern and Eastern USA. It was discovered as a branch sport of the "Spectabilis' cultivar in the garden of Miss Adair in Lynwood, Northern Ireland. Its slightly lighter yellow, more open flowers were better distributed on the twigs. Otherwise, being a Border Forsythia it is a hybrid of the Greenstem Forsythia (F. viridissima') x the Weeping Forsythia (F. suspensa). It is fast and rankly growing, developing upright and arching stems and needs heavy pruning each year right after flowering to keep it neat. The arching stems hit the ground and root just like the mother Weeping Forsythia and forms a colony. The flower buds are less cold hardy than the vegetative buds so that at 15 to 20 below zero, the flower buds die while the leaf buds do not. In the 1950's into the 1990's in the Chicago, IL area, about one third of the springs would see a good bloom. There has been more good blooms in the early 21st century from winters not getting to the maximum cold. Some hybrids between the European x the Early Forsythia as 'Meadowlark' have replaced this 'Lynwood' some in northern Illinois and farther north because of greater flower bud hardiness.

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By ILPARW on Dec 13, 2018 5:14 PM, concerning plant: Forsythia

Depending on the botanist, there are about 7 to 13 species, with one native to southeast Europe and the rest to northeastern Asia. This genus in the Olive Family (Oleaceae) was named after William Forsyth, who was a Scottish gardener who became superintendent at the royal gardens of Kensington Palace. They are deciduous shrubs that bear the famous yellow 4-petal flowers in early spring, usually about 10 to 14 days, before the leaves emerge. The inconspicuous fruit is a two-celled, dehiscent capsule housing winged seeds. The leaves and buds are opposite on the squarish, greenish or yellowish-brown twigs, though the European species has more rounded, tan twigs. The soft-wooded stems start to branch close to the ground, making a dense bush. Professional horticulturists are not as passionate about Forsythia shrubs as is the general public because it is more of a "one season" plant noted for its yellow flowers. Otherwise, they don't have good fall colour, handsome bark, handsome buds, or a neat and clean habit. In order to look good, they need heavy pruning, not shearing, not long after they bloom to remove the dead and crossing stems, so much twigginess, and removal of ground suckers. Some species will slowly form a colony.

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By ILPARW on Dec 12, 2018 4:16 PM, concerning plant: Salix

Salix is the Latin name for this genus of woody plants. There are about 300 species of deciduous trees and shrubs being Willows, native across the Northern Hemisphere. They are usually fast growing with soft wood. Their alternate leaves are lance-shaped and longer than wide. Their tiny flowers are borne in dense, fuzzy catkins that appear before the leaves or with young leaves and are pollinated by bees and some other insects. Separate male and female catkins are borne on separate plants so that they are dioecious. The fruit is a small , 2-valved capsule that contains many minute hairy seeds that float in the wind a good distance in late spring or early summer. The relatively large buds are covered by one scale. The smooth, flexible twigs are used for basket weaving. Aspirin was originally derived from the brown bark. Willows grow wild in moist to wet soils in full sunshine, as many other woody plants out-compete them anywhere else, and they stabilize the banks of watercourses. Some species are very common and easily recognized in bottomlands, swamps, and floodplains; but, there are quite a number of less common species that are difficult to tell apart. Willows are hosts to hundreds of beneficial insect species that feed some on the foliage, bark, or flower nectar. Some are grown as ornamental trees and shrubs. Willows are easy to propagate from stem cuttings that root in water.

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By sallyg on Dec 12, 2018 6:25 AM, concerning plant: Forsythia

Certainly one of the most well known and widely planted shrubs in the US Mid Atlantic suburbs, Forsythia is a welcome sight for a week in spring. For the rest of the year, I find it not especially attractive, more so because it is often used along property lines or in foundation beds, where it outgrows its space and is subject to acts of pruning desperation. It is a rangy sprawling thing that could possibly stand to be cut down to a foot every spring after bloom and let regrow, as you would a butterfly bush (but that is cut late winter). If you must have a forsythia, give it about 12 feet of clear width all around. I'll admit I am basing all this on decades of experience with decades old cultivars planted in the 1960s and 1970s. Maybe some new ones are better behaved, but I doubt it.

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By sallyg on Dec 12, 2018 12:45 AM, concerning plant: Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica)

I've had my single-flowered Kerria for about ten years. I admired a mature one, and was gifted a yanked-up clump to take home. Branches are thin, green and smooth, mostly in an upright spray, a lot of stems from the ground rather than having a lot of side branching. Mine does put out suckers. It is growing nicely in shade under trees, guessing it might sucker more aggressively with no root competition. It is 4-5 feet tall and wide, blooms dependably.

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By sallyg on Dec 12, 2018 12:36 AM, concerning plant: Leatherleaf Mahonia (Berberis bealei)

Grows very well in my zone 7 Maryland garden as an annual, may self sow a bit ( I have found maybe 3 seedlings in 10-12 years that is has been loaded with berries.) Blooms in February and honeybees will visit during a winter warm spell. The sweet lemony fragrance is delightful. Slow growing for me, with a nice structure that can be managed by pruning a few longer branches now and then to encourage new denser growth. Very prickly leaves, not one to have where people will walk in bare feet.

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By sallyg on Dec 12, 2018 12:21 AM, concerning plant: Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)

Bottlebrush buckeye grows well in my zone 7 garden in sandy loam soil. It is a large-scale specimen, needing to spread its branches to show off the big compound leaves and long bloom spikes. It has made several low branches that can be rooted by weighting with a brick. As for the 'showy' fruit, the developing nuts are novel, rather than 'pretty,' the ripe nuts, while not edible for humans, are pretty.

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By sallyg on Dec 12, 2018 12:11 AM, concerning plant: Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)

Tropical milkweed grows very well in my zone 7 Maryland garden as an annual, may self sow a bit. Easy to root from fall cuttings and can be kept inside over winter that way, and will grow quickly once planted back out. Monarch caterpillars do love it. Can get aphids some years, watch for aphids if you bring in seedlings or cuttings over winter..

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By ILPARW on Dec 11, 2018 12:57 PM, concerning plant: Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa 'Pink Panda')

Way back in the spring of 2003 I bought a few pots of this 'Pink Panda' Strawberry from a K-Mart. I planted them into my front yard peninsula bed that was full sun in its beginning. They did well and made a nice delicate groundcover. However, as the trees grew large and have shaded that bed, they have declined. Some are still there, but not nearly as much with too much shade and competition from other perennials. It blooms well in May and then some sporatic flowering until fall. I have never seen much fruit from this cultivar. This cultivar was developed in England to be an ornamental groundcover from a perennial that was a cross between the Marsh Cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris) x the Beach Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) and then back-crossed again with the strawberry.

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By Marilyn on Dec 10, 2018 8:35 PM, concerning plant: Salvia (Salvia sonomensis 'Pine Canyon')

A Suncrest Nurseries introduction.

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By Marilyn on Dec 10, 2018 8:18 PM, concerning plant: Salvia 'Valentina'

Salvia 'Valentina', a S. darcyi x S. microphylla hybrid, was introduced by Suncrest Nurseries in CA.

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By ILPARW on Dec 9, 2018 8:31 PM, concerning plant: Purple Wintercreeper Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei var. radicans 'Coloratus')

This Purple Wintercreeper is normally planted to be a groundcover, but it can become as a vine and climb up trees, shrubs, walls, fences, and other structures. I remember it as both a groundcover and a vine on the walls of the library at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL in the 1970's and 1980's, but it became infested with the white hard-shelled Euonymus Scale insect and the arboretum at least took away the huge amount of climbing vine on the building; they may have gotten rid of the whole plant mass. When I worked around a hospital in the 1990's, there was a large patch at the east entrance with some trees and shrubs in the planting area. I would prune away some vine from the woody plants every so often and on the brick building walls and along the cement curb in front of the area. I also would run an elevated lawnmower over the groundcover to keep it from getting too high and keep it neater. The lawnmower cutting helped the bacterial Crown Gall disease increase so that there were lots of brown, woody galls on many stems. The mass of the plant "felt" dirty to me. This cultivar of several clones, that were introduced from Japan in 1914 to the US, usually gets a red-purple fall and winter colour on both sides of the leaves and usually does not fruit. This groundcover is work to keep it from growing out of bounds. It has been commonly planted in the Chicago, IL area and other areas of the upper Midwest. I have seen it only a little in the Mid-Atlantic.

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