Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's a Twofer - Happy Arbor Day and Earth Day!

This Arbor Day please give a thought to all the wonderful things that trees do for us everyday of the year. They cool the air in summer and block cold winds in winter. They remove carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen. They attract, feed and shelter wildlife. They prevent erosion and clean our water. They make our world, our neighborhoods and our homes more beautiful in countless ways. Here are a few of my favorites.

American Fringe Tree
Chionanthus virginicus
Berries are attractive to wildlife, especially birds
Prized for it’s delicate, creamy white, fragrant flowers in May and June
Female flowers produce, olive-like, bluish black fruit in late summer
Naturally strong branch structure, fringetrees rarely need pruning
12’-20’ H x 12’-20’ W, sun to part shade, moist, fertile soil
Companion Plants: Indian pink, Allegheny spurge, rhododendron, phlox, sweet woodruff

Wildfire’ Black Tupelo
Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’
Flowers and fruit make this an amazing native selection for wildlife
Bright red foliage in spring, flowers are heavy nectar producers
Draws all kinds of pollinators, who in turn attract birds
Blue-black fruits relished by birds, fall foliage is scarlet, yellow and orange
40’-50’ H x 30’-40’ W, sun to light shade, prefers moist, acidic soils
C: viburnum, purple smokebush, rhododendron, ferns, blueberries, chokeberry

'Rising Sun' Redbud
Cercis canadensis 'Rising Sun'
Attracts birds and native bees
‘Rising Sun’ is a colorful addition to native eastern redbud offerings
Showy, rose colored flowers attract bees and early butterflies
Heat tolerant, drought resistant, and cold hardy
H 10’ x 12’, W10’ x 15’, full sun, dry to moist well-drained soil
C: rhododendron, Virginia bluebells, evergreens, red foliage plants

‘Slender Silhouette’ American Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’
Attracts birds, also provides nesting and cover
This is a very narrow low-maintenance cultivar
Its dark green, glossy leaves turn yellow with a tinge of red in the fall
Perfect for tight spaces and small gardens
Grows 50’H x 4’W, in full sun to part shade, moist but well-drained soil
C: Chokeberry, dwarf fothergilla, ferns, ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea, fragrant sumac

‘Green Pillar’ Pin Oak
Quercus palustris 'Pringreen' Green Pillar®
Attracts songbirds, water birds, game birds and mammals
Popular choice for areas requiring a narrow shade tree
Glossy green foliage gives way to a nice maroon and red fall color
Pin oaks tolerate a wide range of difficult growing conditions
Grows 50’ H x 15’ W, full sun, drought tolerant once established
C: low-growing shrubs, fragrant sumac, smooth hydrangea, inkberry

‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ Southern Magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’
Attracts birds and small mammals for food and shelter
Significant because it is reliably winter hardy to Zones 5b and 6a
Creamy white flowers bloom in late spring, occasionally in summer
Compact cultivar with a dense, narrow, pyramidal-oval habit
Grows 20’-30‘ H x 15’- 25’ W, part shade, moist, well-drained soil
C: Virginia sweetspire, ‘Tiger Eye’ sumac, ‘Cool Splash’ bush honeysuckle

Upright Eastern White Pine
Pinus strobus ‘Fastigiata’ Branch angle, more resistant to snow and ice loads
Attracts birds and mammals for food and shelter
Upright form that lacks the rigid appearance of most columnar plants
Soft evergreen needles adorn the ascending branches
Fast growing, ideal for screening, lower branches persist into maturity
30’-40’ H x 10’-15’ W, full sun, average, medium, well-drained soil
C: American beech, maple, hemlock, birch

White Oak
Quercus alba
Supports over 500 species of butterflies and moths!
White Oak is a tree to plant for your grandchildren
Acorns provide food for game- and songbirds, small mammals
A majestic sight in winter, the ultimate shade tree in summer
Grows 50’-80’ H x 50’-80’ W, full sun, moist, well-drained, acidic soil
C: Flowering dogwoods, oakleaf hydrangea, viburnum, rhododendrons
 Bottlebrush Buckeye
Aesculus parviflora
Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies
One of the best midsummer flowering shrubs for shady areas
A low-maintenance, deer and rabbit resistant, hardy shrub
Wonderful for woodland gardens and for massing
Grows 8’-12’ H x 8’-15’ W, part to full shade, in rich, moist soil
C: Florida anise, leucothoe, native azaleas and rhododendrons
‘Heritage’ River Birch
Betula nigra ‘Cully’ Heritage®
The seeds attract birds and small mammals
Fast-growing, glossy foliage, heat tolerant, multi-stemmed tree
Beautiful bark for all season interest, prune after longest day
Prefers moist, acidic soil, will tolerate clay soils and poor drainage
Grows 60’ H x 40’ W, sun to part shade, deer resistant
C: Lenten rose, bleeding heart, woodland phlox, asters

Bringing Life to Your Garden!
Have fun out there!

Peggy Anne

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's All About The Garden Party!

Rare Plants for a Common Ground
Have Fun and Help Support DCH's Award Winning Work in Our Community!

It’s All About Giving Back
The Delaware Center for Horticulture will be celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Rare Plant Auction® this year. The party will be held at Longwood Gardens in the East Conservatory, on April 25th. Have a wonderful evening and feel great knowing that your donation will make a substantial difference in our community.

Tovah Martin
 It’s All About The People
This year’s garden party is going to be amazing. Come and meet our Celebrated Plant Expert, Tovah Martin. She’s written a dozen gardening books, writes for all of the popular gardening magazines and has appeared on Martha Stewart’s television show. Your ticket also includes delicious food and drinks, valet parking, music, day-of-event tickets to Longwood Gardens and an Abutilon ‘Fairy Coral Queen’ to take home, compliments of Peace Tree Farm. 

First Load Headed For Longwood
 It’s All About The Plants
I serve on the plant selection committee and we’ve been busy since last October soliciting rare and new and unusual plants from all over the country. You don’t need to a high roller to play. I took some treasures home last year for $10. There will be “Plant Experts” roaming around with bright orange flowers on to help answer any questions you may have. Really, please put us to work so we can earn our keep!
Plant Selection Committee Celebrating Another Great Auction!

It’s All About The Party!
There is something magical about sipping a cocktail at Longwood in the evening, catching up with fiends and finding a little gem to take home. Everyones spirits are high and it feels so luxurious. When you are ready to leave, you simply drive up like it's McDonalds and they bring you your plants. How do they do it so fast? You would never know there was any army of volunteers working behind the scenes to make it look so effortless. It’s an extraordinary feat of organization, absolutely extraordinary! Hat’s off to all the staff at DCH and all of their volunteers!

There May Be Silly Hats!

Bringing Life to Your Garden!
Have fun out there!
Peggy Anne

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pictures of the Kids!

If you love butterflies, you have to love caterpillars too! While most people recognize an adult butterfly, it’s important to be able to identify their offspring as well. Most butterfly larva are specialists. That means that they will only eat one plant, or plants from just one family. For instance, Monarch larva can only eat plants in the Asclepias family, commonly called Butterfly Weed. Female butterflies will search for these ‘host plants’ to lay their eggs. Adding host plants to your garden will surely help you attract more butterflies. 

Adult Morning Cloak

We don’t always think of large trees as being valuable butterfly habitat but indeed they are. The Morning Cloak overwinters as an adult in tree crevices and feeds on tree sap. They especially like feeding on oaks but will also feed on sap from elms, hackberry and aspen.

Morning Cloak Caterpillar

Spring Azure Adult
My favorite sign of spring is the tiny Spring Azure. The adults enjoy the nectar from a wide variety of plants. The females lay their eggs on several shrubs including; New Jersey tea, dogwood and meadowsweet.

Spring Azure Caterpillar

Adult Spicebush Swallowtail

The showy Spicebush Swallowtail spends the day hiding from predators and comes out to feed at night. After mating the female will go in search of Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), to lay her eggs. That is the host plant or primary food source of the caterpillars.

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
Pipevine Swallowtail Adult

The beautiful Pipevine Swallowtail will only lay her eggs on Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia). Put that on your shopping list today! It’s a wonderful climbing vine with large, heart-shaped leaves and unusual flowers.

Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar

Black Swallowtail Adult

Black Swallowtail lay their eggs on Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea). And, if you have a vegetable garden they will frequent parsley, dill and fennel.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
 Adult Fritillary

Some people consider violas (Viola ssp.) as a weed but I certainly don’t and neither do fritillary that will lay their eggs on this host plant.

Fritillaria Caterpillar
Baltimore Checkerspot

Plant Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) to attract female Baltimore Checkerspot to lay their eggs.

Baltimore Checkerspot

Spending time outdoors by yourself or with your kids is a wonderful way to get in touch with nature. Being able to identify some of these amazing creatures will help you to appreciate nature in all of its beautiful forms!

Bringing Life to Your Garden!

Have fun out there, Peggy Anne