Previous month:
August 2007
Next month:
October 2007

September 2007

Witch hazel – flowers and foliage

Hamamelisvirginiana It’s that time of year when the scent of the witch hazel begins to waft through the woods. True, the fragrance of the American native witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, doesn’t have the penetration of the spring flowering Asian species but it’s a treat to catch its sharp sweetness on the way to mailbox in the morning.

This year it seems especially prolific – and it’s also opening while the foliage is still green and still on the plants. So unless you knew, you’d be wondering where the scent was coming from as the flowers are almost completely hidden. The flowers usually appear on bare branches, and the presence of the leaves disguises the fact that when you see a whole group of plants… well, it’s the usual thing with so many natives in the wild: the plants vary, in this case in the flowers vary in color, in length of petals and in exactly when they open (some are earlier than others).

At the same time, the foliage of the familiar hybrid of two Asian species, H. x intermedia ‘Mollis’, is justHamamelispallidafoliage500_2 starting to color up in the garden. No flowers till spring, and a much more pervasive scent, but soon it will be covered in beautiful buttery and gold leaves.

Native helenium - or not-so-sneezeweed

Heleniumautumnale500 We went to walk a section of the Appalachian Trail the other day. We opted for a section of boardwalk across a swamp in northern New Jersey – a lovely stroll, with sections through the shade of trees for a little respite from the heat and probably the easiest walk on the whole trail!

There were some interesting plants to be seen, but none stood out like Common Sneezeweed, Helenium autumnale. In brilliant butter yellow it proved how colourful natural, un-“improved” native plants can be.

And let’s be clear, it doesn’t make people sneeze – the pollen is too heavy to be blown on the wind anyway. But native Americans used to use the dried flowers and leaves to make a kind of snuff – and that would certainly make you sneeze.

Today's visitor

Bearporchdoor400 I was just walking through the living room, looked out on the porch and there was this bear – looking in. He/she seemed rather drowsy… sat down for a while… wandered round… pulled a few blueberries off a bush…  and lay down in the shade… But judging by the cobwebs on his/her head he/she’d been rooting round under the deck.

Great to see such a lovely creature up close… But such unconcern for people indicates a short life, I’m afraid.

Hosting a Garden School for the AHS

Yewdellcastle Next month the American Horticultural Society is running a Garden School – The Amazing World of Plants - at Yew Dell Gardens, near Louisville KY. I’ll be hosting the two day event, on October 4 and 5, and speaking on perennials and on vines and there’s a very impressive line-up of other speakers: Natalia Hammill on native plants, Roy Klehm on trees and shrubs, Sue Amatangelo on annuals and Elin Haaga on finding your own garden style. Everything’s covered! And all in the wonderful setting of Yew Dell Gardens with its superb plant collection - there will, of course, be a special tour to ensure you don't miss any of the garden's treasures.

For more information, click here. It would be good to see you there.