A Gardening Journal


Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Wingnut Cascade

Wingnut puts on a show year-round: stripe-barked stems in winter, spikes of white flowers in summer and, summer into winter, these clusters of papery-winged seeds—the "nuts," if you will.  

Trypterigium regelii 111417 best overall 320

One quirk among many with this plant is that, while the spikes of white flowers are upright, even vertical, by the time the winged seeds that follow have matured, the spikes will have plunged downward. Ah, for a stop-action camera to capture this arc of fruitfulness.

 

These clusters cry out to be harvested for cold-weather bouquets and wreaths, but they are also showy in the garden. Can their "on the hoof" display be enhanced?   

Read more: Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Wingnut Cascade


Box-leaf Privet

Over weeks each fall, truckloads of container specimens decamp from the garden to the greenhouse. Add the gradual die-off of the warm-weather annuals, plus the digging up of the tropical tubers, and you have a massive seasonal exodus. 

 

The hardy plants are left in high relief. This, then, is the season to rediscover them. What have they been doing, and how well are they doing it?

 

Take box-leaf privet. 

Ligustrum sinense Wimbei fingers 110717 320

I have two, and they've been enjoying their second full growing season. Recent deep frosts haven't yet damaged their foliage, so it's a great time for a closer look.

Read more: Box-leaf Privet


Red Oak Topiary-to-Be

Topiary is the training of any plant into a shape it couldn't achieve on its own. "Training" mostly means pruning, so topiary also makes plants compact, not just shapely. Topiary from shade trees, then, is an ultimate victory, maintaining a creature that might otherwise become eighty feet high and wide at a fraction of that. 

 

Beech trees are the usual choice for shade-tree topiary. (I'm on it!) But what about oaks? Here's a very young red oak, at the fall peak of its namesake coloring. 

Quercus rubra mis en scene cropped 110717 320 

Right now, it's dwarfed by a nearby perennial, but if full size, it would be larger than my house. As topiary, it will never become larger than me. Here's the prelude to that excitement.

Read more: Red Oak Topiary-to-Be


Swamp Mallow Summer to Fall

Cherry-red flowers of swamp mallow begin in August, and the last blooms might not appear until November. Mallow stems are colorful, too. Burgundy in summer, they turn salmon as frost nears, and keep up the show even into winter.

 Hibiscus coccineus Broussonetia 090717 320

Burgundy and salmon play well with many other colors, but cherry red is tricky: It's too pink for a red garden, too red for a pink. This perennial performs best when it has the stage to itself. No problem!

Read more: Swamp Mallow Summer to Fall


The Best Season Ever: Bat-Wing Passion Vine

Passion vines are rightly renowned for their flowers, which are typically as large & colorful as they are complex and numerous. It's a sophisticated thrill in reverse, then, to grow bat-wing passion vine, because its little green flowers can be difficult to locate even when full-on. But, oh, the foliage!

Passiflora coriacea leaf fingers 082917 320

A bat-wing leaf reminds me of a boomerang Odd Job would have thrown if he'd had a change of heart an become a green assassin. Up to a foot wide but only inches long, each seems too willfully strange to function merely as a photosynthesizer. Surely depraved cognoscenti know a dangerous and possibly erotic use for them. I plan to grow the vine annually. Here's this season's report. 

Read more: The Best Season Ever: Bat-Wing Passion Vine

 
 
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