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Monday, June 12, 2017

Unkept Corner of the Yard

Japanese umbrella pines are pretty formal plants, but I have it growing as the focal point of a wild part of my backyard and I think it works pretty well (Maybe I'm just saying that because I'm living a 1000 miles away now and can't go out to weed every day!). The violas took the spot over, but at least it's blocking other taller weeds that would pop up in its place.


Friday, June 9, 2017

New York Loquat (from late May)

Loquats are surprisingly hardy. Mine was really put to the test and saw temperatures in the mid teens. There was some leaf drop, but no die back.
Here's a lackluster photo of the backyard. Things are slow to come back this year with all the rain and cool weather in the Northeast, but hopefully I can come home to visit in a few weeks and clean things up for the summer. The roses are loving this weather and the spanish moss survived the winter on my Crape Myrtle which is exciting!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hardy Ground Orchids Bring More than Just a Tropical Touch

Hardy Ground Orchids need to be more popular. Their bloom time is short, but their flowers are unbelievable. I don't know how they aren't more popular in both formal and informal gardens. They fit so well into both and are another lower option for shade gardeners. Does it get any better!

This is the second year I've had my ground orchids (Bletilla striata). They require really no care or looking after at all. I bought it with about 4 bloom spikes. This year it looks like it's tripled that number. Next year I think it'll be a very noticeable clump.

They come up at a time where the hostas are not at their tallest so they mesh together really well and make great companion plants.

Bletilla striata is not evergreen, but it still deserves a spot in your yard!


Monday, June 5, 2017

Azalea "Garden Rainbow": An Incredible Deciduous Azalea!

Garden Rainbow is a great variety of Azalea that I bought last year from Rare Find Nursery in NJ. It's the first Azalea I've grown and probably will not be the last. It loses it's leaves during the winter, but puts on an amazing show in late spring.

The blooms start off yellow and as they age they turn a pinkish orange and eventually red. The effect is a multitude of warm colors on the plant all at once. It's kind of the same idea as a "yesterday, today & tomorrow" plant which is a popular one in the south.

If you look at the previous post you'll see the entire plant underneath my Ashei Magnolia.

The variegated plant underneath the azalea is a Vinca. I don't recommend you buy those. Very invasive!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

My Unprotected Fatsia Japconia

I bought my Fatsia in September 2015 while on a trip in Newport Beach, CA. Usually when you're growing marginally hardy plants it's better to find a cold growing that has a history of acclimating their plants to cold. But although Fatsias are common plants in the US, I've never seen one for sale in my area.

So I took a risk buying it and I am glad I did! I planted it very late in the year (another thing not to do when you're trying to grow a borderline hardy plant, you want to plant it early in the season) so I gave it protection it's first year. But this winter it got absolutely nothing at all. And it did great! It was a mild winter (even my Soft Caress Mahonia's survived without protection and they are a zone 8 plant), but I still think its survival is impressive.

It's already grown a lot of fresh leaves. That's the nice thing about Fatsias, although they are evergreen and shade tolerant, they are not slow growing and will outgrow winter damage quickly.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Magnolia Ashei - Amazing Foliage, Even Better Blooms!

 Magnolia Ashei is a subspecies of M. macrophylla. M. Macrophylla grow to be huge trees with large, beautiful leaves that definitely give a tropical feel even though they are native to the Northeastern US. 

Ashei is a shorter growing version making it a better option for a NY backyard. I have mine in full sun and it tolerates it pretty well, but it loves shade so this would be a great option for a magnolia in shade. This is it's second year and the second time it's bloomed. It hasn't branched out yet. We'll see if that starts to happen this summer.

The fragrance is incredible. It smells identical to a Southern Magnolia bloom, but the bloom itself is shorter lived and not as strong as southern magnolia blooms.




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tassle Fern (Polystichum polyblepharum)

Is this gorgeous fern really evergreen, or is it too good to be true? It looks like a tropical tree fern so even if it was dedicous, its an amazing addition to a tropical yard in a temperate climate. BUT the good news is that it is actually evergreen... at least a little.

This photo is from April...

(Show photo from earlier in the season)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Friday, May 5, 2017

The tropicals are out for the season!

Last weekend when I came home from Florida for my NY visit I took out all the tropical potted plants. I have over 100 of them, but I was only home for 36 hours so I managed to do the whole job in an afternoon! It was a challenge but you got to do what you got to do! 

Here are some pics. 
I got this coconut palm as just a sprout in June 2009. That was one of the coldest Junes on record in NY, only 3 or 4 days were in the 80s for the whole month and most days brought a cold rain. But it didn't flinch through that and 8 years later it's STILL IN THE SAME POT! It has never given me trouble and it's probably the longest I've ever kept a potted palm. 


Last spring my bottle palm got a really bad case of sun bleaching on the fronds. So this year I have the whole canopy underneath my table umbrella. When I come back home in late June or July I'll bring it back into the sun. I don't think it can handle another year with dying fronds so I am being very careful.


The spear on my queen palm is collapsing. I never have much luck with those palms indoors, but we'll see if it can overcome its issues this summer. It's in plenty of shade for now. Ideally I would have taken it out in March had I been around at the time. They can handle cool weather better than indoor climates.


My young adondila looking good after its first winter indoors. 


My big adondila palm has overwintered indoors for 5 years now. It's pretty care free. I keep it by the kitchen skylight and give it water every week or so until spring. Surprisingly spider mites have not been an issue for my large palm. You can see it in the corner of this group shot...




The croton and hibiscus are in this shot. They look ready for summer. 


The plumerias never have any problems overwintering. They are truly just the best tropicals you can grow in NY, it's a shame they aren't locally available. In my new home in North Florida nurseries do carry plumerias from time to time which is nice to see. They are fantastic plants! 




My large one still has christmas lights on it from the holidays. It's 15 feet tall. Don't ask me how I get it outside every year. It's all a blur! (but I have lots of scratches as proof that it happened)


Unlike my plumerias in Florida, my NY plumerias have  TON of inflorescences ready to flower. I am excited to see these in a few weeks.




Here's a fun plant to grow as cuttings - Monsteras. Some people call them swiss cheese plants because of the holes in their leaves. The mother plant was getting too big so I cut it back hard and put the cuttings into buckets filled with water. No issues at all over the winter and tons of healthy roots. 




The year I abandon my Ensete was the best year it had being overwintered! This is the second winter it has spent in my garage and it's off to a great start. This is another one I'm looking forward to seeing in a few months!


Another "garage survivor", my cordyline australis. Ever grow those little "spike plants" in your flower containers? This is what happens if you let it grow. Mine was just a little "spike" 4 years ago but it has grown so so vigorously. I truly am amazed at it's growth rate. It's long, needle leaves definitely make it a focal point anywhere where there is bold, broad foliage involved.


I planted some cannas here. Stay tuned!


My spotted farfugium is looking good after a winter in the garage. It's a little messy after its blooming but when I have more time during a future visit, I'll clean it up!


This shot will be covered by bananas if all goes well! 


But in the meantime the cherry tree is nice. More importantly, it looks like the spanish moss survived the winter. Hopefully it can survive the nesting season with the birds!


Thanks for looking!