Sunday, April 19, 2015

Daylilies - The Summer Treat

Daylilies were one of those plants that were generally found on the side of the road in the ditch, but hybridizers over the years have tweaked them into a plethora of colors!  Everyone seems to have a 'Stella de Oro' in their landscape, but most people don't realize that there are literally thousands of hybrids out there in every shape, size, color, and form.  My love of daylilies started when I was introduced to them by my high school biology teacher who sold them at the flea markets on the weekends.  Since then I have been hooked into collecting and even hybridizing these amazing, versatile, perennial plants.  

There are currently around 60,000 registered hybrids of daylilies that haven been introduced in the last 100 years, with many more improvements to come!  Daylilies come in every color possible except a true blue and a white.  Even though these shades can be found in some patterns, some hybridizers have set the goal in working for these two traits.  

This first picture is of one hybrid that I hybridized when I worked in Cookeville, TN at Burgess Falls Nursery with Phil Steidl.  This is one that I'm currently watching to see how it performs.

This is one HOT daylily called 'Rosy Spiketail' hybridized by James Gossard of Ohio.  It has one of those traits that drive some people wild - TEETH!  Teeth on a daylily is basically an area of the petal that comes out to a point, thus the name - TEETH.  

I love the small flowered daylilies.  This one is called 'Broadway Last Mohican' and it has one intense dark eye.  This was hybridized by Grace Stamile out of Florida and it continues to perform well in my garden and will always be one of my favorites!

This last picture is one of my daylily mentors hybrids that he created called 'Fangtastic'.  I absolutely love this flower because it is loaded with TEETH.  The color also held well in the summer time and I'm excited to see some seedlings bloom out of this, this coming year.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Everyone loves gold...

It seems that over that past few years, golden plants have come into a category of their own.  I feel like all the most popular genus of plants have golden foliaged plants in their category.  Golden foliaged plants are golden on purpose.  I had a customer come into the greenhouse one day and spotted a golden Boston Fern.  They explained to me that it needed some fertilizer.  After I told them it was supposed to be that way, they didn't seem to agree that it was beautiful.  Not every gardener will love golden plants, but I do!  So I wanted to mention a few of those golden plants that have really became a standout and deserve a place in your home garden.

The first one is 'The Rising Sun' Cercis canadensis.  This is one of many golden foliaged redbuds.  A few years ago a nurserman spotted a golden redbud in some seedstock and named it 'Hearts of Gold'.  Since that time a few others have been introduced.  'The Rising Sun' is noteworthy because it is golden, but the leaves on the upper stems have an orange ting which adds to its flare.  This plant still blooms like the normal redbud blooms, with purple small blooms in early Spring.  

The next plant is a fantastic golden vine called 'Fiona Sunrise' Jasmine.  It still blooms in the Spring like a normal jasmine would, but its foliage is a beautiful golden color.  This plant needs a little help in training it to grow up something, but when it gets started, just stand back!  I have seen this plant grown in full sun without any burn, which is not that common with golden foliaged plants.  I love this plant every season of the year.  When the plant is growing the golden foliage jumps out and screams 'Look at me!"  In the wintertime, the bare yellow stems still draw your eyes to them.  Everything is yellow about this plant, except for the flowers!

The last golden plant that deserves a place in your garden is 'Florida Sunshine' Illicium.  The common name of this plant is Anise Tree and there are older cultivars that have been around for years!  This golden form was found by Tony Avent over 10 years ago.  The grew and trialed the plant and found it noteworthy of introduction.  This golden plant needs to be grown in a little shade due to its foliaged being burned.  I have never seen any foliage problems or other disorders on this tough shrub.  The leaves usually look perfect without any spots.  The tallest I have seen this shrub is around 6' tall, but I think it will grow larger when it gets older.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tiger in the garden!

I have never been a huge fan of cannas.  They just seem to be an old fashioned plant that were too tender for our zone in Tennessee.  My mother-in-law purchased this one last year and I have fallen in love with this particular Canna.  This is Canna 'Bengal Tiger'.  The one thing that I truly love is the variegation on the leaves, they are crisp and almost perfect.  When the plant flowers the orange flowers just add to the facts of why this plant is great.  The color of the flowers against the foliage is fantastic combination.  If you're looking for a backdrop in some of those beds, try this 6'-8' Canna 'Bengal Tiger'.

Monday, November 4, 2013


'Angelina' Sedum is one of those fantastic plants that will be known for many years.  It will be known due to it's fact to grow so successfully without any care whatsoever.  'Angelina' is a Sedum rupestre, making it one of the groundcover sedums.  The plant is one that is exciting during each season.  In the spring and summer, the plant is a bright yellow, making it a standout in the garden.  During the cooler months of fall and winter, the plant turns a beautiful bronze.  I have discovered that this plant is excellent as a weed barrier.  In the picture, the plant is around some irises, and it doing a fantastic job of keeping the weeds down around the iris!  If you're looking for something that will be a great groundcover that can spill over the bed, 'Angelina' Sedum is for you!  If you need some, feel free to contact me, because I have plenty!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Slender Silhouette

I love unique plants that could play a part in just about any landscape.  This plant is called 'Slender Silhouette' sweet gum - Liquidamber styraciflua.  Resembling a telephone pole, this plant grows straight up into a great focal point in the garden.  It is easily adaptable into many smaller gardens because of its lack of width, growing around 5 feet wide.  The original plant was found by Don Shadow of Shadow Nursery in Winchester, TN.  As the story goes, Don found the plant and was able to take a few cuttings of the plant back to his nursery to start grafting.  After a short time, Don returned to the original site of the tree and found that someone had cut the tree down to put in the lake for a fish habitat.  Luckily by this time, he had already started a few at his nursery to grow on and evaluate.

This picture was taken at Shadow Nursery and is one of the first trees Don grafted of this wonderful variety.  This variety has been around for quite a few years, but it is slowly making its way into the public eye.  If you're looking for something that doesn't require a lot of room in the garden, 'Slender Silhouette' may be the right pick.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Peppers in the landscape!

Who would have thought that vegetables would be making their way into the landscape?  In the past few years, breeders are working on vegetables that also appeal in the landscape.  One of my absolute favorite ornamental peppers is 'Black Pearl'.  This pepper makes a bold dark statement in the landscape with its dark shiny foliage.  When the peppers mature on the plant they turn a bright red, adding to the landscape appeal of this plant.  Growing around 2-3' tall, this plant holds its on in the landscape.   

I have been asked many times, "Is this ornamental pepper edible?"  The answer is yes, but the fruit is extremely hot.  We have grown this every year in our school plant sale.  Each year we always plant a few in the landscape, because they are so tolerant of heat and neglect in the summertime.  By the fall, when the students return to school, the plants will be strutting their stuff!  As we pass the plants, students always ask about it.  When I tell them it's a hot pepper, most students get very excited and want to try it.  Most students are always eager to show off their masculinity to their friends by eating this pepper.  It's always a fun day when we have students try this HOT ornamental pepper!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tried and true native!

Everyone knows hydrangeas, but do you grow oakleaf hydrangeas?  These plants are native to the southeast and grow fantastic throughout Tennessee.  Typically growing anywhere from 6-8 feet tall, there are dwarf varieties.  Oakleaf hydrangeas are a plant that has a different interest each season!  In the summer, they have beautiful clusters of white flowers.  Fall time brings about the bright red foliage that the leaves will turn.  Cinnamon colored bark will be shown throughout the wintertime, after the leaves drop.  Springtime is when the entire cycle starts again!  

This variety is called 'Snowflake'.  It was one of the first hose in hose double blooms on an oakleaf hydrangea.  A hose in hose double means the petals are layered upon each other.  This bloom is also extremely long, as noted in the picture!

Here's a variety called 'Vaughn's Lillie', and it is a very full cluster of blooms.  This variety will stay shorter only staying around 5' tall.  When this plant is younger, the blooms have a tendency to weigh the plants branches down.  I would suggest cutting off the first year or two of blooms to help the plant grow stronger!

Last, but not least, is 'Little Honey'.  This oakleaf hydrangea is the only form with golden foliage!  Some people absolutely love golden foliaged plants, and this nerd is one of them!  It still blooms white, but who cares, because the foliage is fantastic.  Requirements for sun/shade seem to be a little different for this variety.  If this plant receives too much sun it may burn a little, if it receives too much shade the foliage to turn a lime green.  

There are some fantastic oakleaf hydrangeas coming out each year!  Two that are gaining in popularity are 'Munchkin' and 'Ruby Slippers'.  'Munchkin' is said to remain around 2-3' tall, and 'Ruby Slippers' have a bloom that turns a bright pink after opening originally white.  These two varieties were bred at the Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, TN, and will be the ones to watch in the future!