Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Yellow peony

OK TPP has done several posts about peonies, especially tree peonies.  But maybe you can stand just one more.  This yellow peony has been declared as TPP's favorite flower, and clearly it is in the top 10.  Actual yellow peonies only occur in tree peonies, and hybrids made with tree peonies like the Itoh peonies.  And one of these plants in full flower are pretty attractive. Isn't this grand?  These do flower just slightly later than all of the pink to red to white flowered plants.  

Friday Fabulous Flowers - Tree Peonies

TPP is known for his love of tree peonies.  None of them actually become trees in our climate, just sort of coarse bushes.  They are rather slow growing and a bit picky about where they grow, but they have just huge beautiful flowers in some shocking pinks.  Here's three flowers in three shades of pink (TPP has several more colors including yellow, which flower a bit later in the season).  And the flowers are handspan across, about 8".  

Gardening in a time of plague, Chapt. 2

Basically the Phactors are keeping a low profile and limiting our out of the garden excursions to the necessities.  It has been a very cool spring following a mild winter.  But we have had two frosts and some plants have been frosted twice like our poor Magnolia seiboldii. Lots of trees and shrubs had expanding leaves that were easily frozen.  TPP thinks most will recover unless they were in poor shape anyways, like our dwarf Metasequoia. Tough stuff like lettuce and broccoli are doing well enough.  But people who planted the tropical garden plants: tomato, pepper, eggplant may now be regretting being anxious.  Such plants will not grow with nighttime temps below 50 F.  The coolish spring has the happy result of keeping flowering shrubs in handsome shape for a considerable period of time. Our gardens do look good especially the redbuds and dogwoods.  Had to make a trip to the local garden shoppe to buy plants for later planting, and for some reason their supply is low, and it isn't from additional sales.  In times of plague and home confinement you would expect more interest in gardening wouldn't you?  We have been participating in some zoom TGIF sessions just to enjoy seeing our friends and chatting.  A few brave souls have brought drinks and had a garden walk around at decent social distances. With neither a vaccine nor an effective means of treatment, emerging seems like a choice between evils. And a President even more desperate to get the economy going, and yet showing no interest in our increaed risk of death does not promote any confidence.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - yellow flowered ginger

TPP first saw this plant in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.  It was immediately clear that it was a member of Aristolochiaceae, but the bed lacked a tag so it took a couple of weeks of poking around to find the name Saruma henryi. Clearly it is a close Chinese cousin to Asarum, and if you move the first letter to the end you have the new genus name.  Cute.  The plant will grow in most woodland gardens quite well and is hardy well up into zone 4, but mulch it.  The aerial stems grow about 12" tall and they stand upright.  The charming yellow flowers are a real standout, and it will set seed.  The leaves are broadly heart-shaped resembling Asarum, but they are fuzzy.  This is not a common plant although a number of online nurseries have it for sale.  

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo just after star wars day, TPP can only stand so much excitement.  Nothing much to do with plants for either day, but lots of things to choose from.  A relatively new addition to our gardens will have to do.  Firstly, know that Mrs. Phactor loves Iris of all sorts.  A native iris is now available in our garden shops even though it just barely makes it into the southern most tip of Lincolnland.  TPP first saw this species, Iris cristata on a field trip to eastern Kentucky.  This particular clone seems fairly robust and has flowered in its first season, a good sign.  It has been a bit tricky to grow in that it's hard to find a place this little woodland iris likes where it isn't too exposed but doesn't get over grown with more aggressive plants.  In this case it seems to like a corner of a low garden wall next to a sidewalk.  The whole plant only stands about 6 inches tall, with flowers just barely over an inch in diameter.  It's distinctive feature is that the "falls", sepals, have a raised crest sporting some contrasting white and yellow pigmentation with a darker purple margin rather than having a beard of filaments. The iris flower functions rather like 3 bilaterally symmetrical flowers, so presumably the crest is a nectar guide. The sepals are partly covered by a 3-parted petaloid stigma that hides the 3 stamens.  Don't let Mrs. Phactor catch you  pulling apart one of her Iris flowers.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - woodland peony

TPP is not a native plant purist, but a plant collector.  So when plants of Peonia japonica were found for sale, and it was touted as a woodland plant, TPP had to have one.  Analysis this species of peony grows like a Trillium, and is equally as slow.  It has a simple elegance about it and TPP now has several seedlings, but they take 2 years to germinate and maybe 5 years to flower.  No wonder they were a bit pricey. This plant is about 1 foot tall and will have 4 
or 5 flowers.