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Got Milkweed?

If you are reading this, doubtless you know the Golden Rule of Biodiversity: plant milkweed. Please. No, I take back the “please”. Just do it. Even if you garden on only a balcony, grow some milkweed in a clay pot. However you manage it (ie “float” its diaphanous seed in the parkway or the alley), be a guerrilla biodiversifier and…plant milkweed.

You know why I am pushy about this plant: because its leaves are the only thing that Monarch butterflies can eat. As noted entomologist Doug Tallamy says, “To have butterflies, we need to make butterflies. To make butterflies, you must use a native species that serve as a host for butterfly larvae [Ed: that’s a caterpillar] as well as a supply of nectar for adult butterflies. Butterflies do not lay their eggs on any old plant. They lay their eggs only on the plant species to which their larvae are adapted”. And that means…Milkweed.

You even have choices when it comes to which milkweed, but three species are commonly available in garden centers or via seed packets:

The Common milkweed [Asclepias syriaca], which has husky leaves, roots that grow to China, and a handsome dusty rose globe of a flower. [If you are worried about this being too aggressive, look for its cousin, Sullivant’s milkweed, which grows slowly, albeit by rhizomes, which means its good in tough-to-grow-anything-else spots. Nonetheless, I like the Common milkweed in gardens–it provides a tall, solid, almost tropical contrast although you might have to tie it up with a strong shoelace.]

 

Common Milkweed flowering pattern

Common Milkweed flowering pattern

The Butterfly weed [Asclepias tuberosa], which has flowers the extravagant color of a Navel orange, does well in dry, “crappy” soils, and makes a great bouquet;

1-P1060073 butterfly weed

 

 

The Red or Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata] has a two-toned pink flower, narrow leaves, and a pleasing way of gracing a moist spot–especially nice en masse if you have a lake edge to landscape.

Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata]

Swamp milkweed [Asclepias incarnata]

And if Monarch’s weren’t good enough for you, at least 11 other species of butterflies and moths reproduce on milkweed as well. Goldfinches eat the insects that get trapped in the flowers and also use milkweed seed “down” for nesting material, and you may see (good) beetles on the plants as well. Biodiversity can be easy if you try!

Milkweed pods and the seeds that float on the air...

Milkweed pods and the seeds that float on the air…

Okay, I’ll be nice again. PLEASE plant milkweed someplace on your property. Or your balcony. And now I won’t be nice: if you work for a municipality, we gardeners expect to see milkweed growing everywhere around town. It’s the law.#

A WEDDING GARDEN

It’s June! Time for graduations (congratulations to our Leah for graduating from UCLA!) and especially for WEDDINGS (congratulations to my husband, John Drummond, for marrying me 25 years ago. Smart move.).

In honor of June weddings, I thought it would be fun to design a garden that celebrates weddings. A “Wedding Garden” would be so exciting to design and install at the Chicago Botanic Garden or other venues so that brides could be surrounded by plants that add to the joy by virtue of their names. (I’ve designed but never installed a Dentists Garden and a Candyland Garden full of “sweet sugary” or “toothed” plants).

By the way, having reviewed long lists of plant names, my research reveals that plant hybridizers have their preferences (who knew?) in names. “Wedding names” mostly come from people who hybridize daylilies [Hemerocallis]. But other types of growers make some interesting choices. For example, Hosta hybridizers like…FOOD. There’s Hosta ‘Guacamole’, Hosta ‘High Fat Cream’, Hosta ‘Golden Waffles’, Hosta ‘Candy Hearts’, Hosta ‘Cherry Berry’, Hosta ‘Donahue Piecrust’, Hosta ‘Spilt Milk’, Hosta ‘Vanilla Cream’, and Hosta ‘Regal Rhubarb’.

On the other hand, rose hybridizers prefer proper names, especially if you are a Duke, Duchess, Queen, Dr., Frau, General, Kaiser, Lady, President, Princess Prince, Sir, or Saint. Check out this amazing list of Rose names: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rose_cultivars_named_after_people

Nonetheless, here’s my list of perennials, shrubs and trees that are good candidates for a WEDDING GARDEN: (If you have photos or more plant “wedding names”, please send them to me.)

SHRUBS and TREES

Abelia grandiflora ‘Silver Anniversary’: (Zone 6): a 3’x3′ shrublet with white-margined foliage with white flowers

Halesia tetraptera ‘Wedding Bells’: (Zone 6): 20′ tall rounded tree with white bells

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’: (Zone 4): 10-12″ flower clusters open cream and age to pink, rose and red

Hydrangea ‘Wedding Ring’: (Zone 5): 3-4′ shrub with reblooming bi-color lacecap flowers

Spirea thunbergii ‘Mt. Fuji’: (Zone 4): This is “Bridal Veil” Spirea, blooming white in spring

Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’: (Zone 5): ivory-white flowers in summer

Syringa vulgaris ‘Bridal Memories’: (Zone 4): Fragrant, creamy-white single flowers

 

PERENNIALS

Agastache foeniculum ‘Golden Jubilee’: 2o” lavender – blue spikes, July-Sept

Aster nova-angliae ‘Wedding Lace’: 36″-48″ white daisies in Sept-Oct

Astilbe arendsii ‘To Have and To Hold’: 28″ purple-pink plumes in June-July

Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamonds and Pearls’: 28″ silver white plumes in July-Aug

Astilbe arendsii ‘Vision in White’: 18″ conical white spires in June-July

Astrantia major ‘Ruby Wedding’: 28″ dark red frilled flowers from May-Sept

Buddleia davidii ‘Attraction’: 36″ magenta-red flowers from July-Sept

Chrysanthemum ‘Bridal Bouquet’: 6-10″ double ruffled white shasta daisy from June-Sept

Cimicifuga simplex ‘Black Negligee’: 60″ lacy black/purple leaves with white flower spikes in October

Delphinium ‘Sweethearts’: 36-60″ with pink/white flowers in June and Sept

Dianthus hybridus ‘First Love’: 15-18″ white aging to rose from April-Sept

Dicentra eximia ‘Burning Hearts’: 10″ dark red hearts from May-Sept

Dicentra spectabilis ‘Valentine’: 24-30″ red hearts in May-June’

Echinacea h ‘Fatal Attraction’: 26″ rich pink with dark stems in July-August

Echinacea h ‘Secret Desire’: 36″ multi-color pink and orange from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Joy’: 24-28″ double pale yellow poms from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Lust’: 25-31″ fiery-orange double poms from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Passion’: 18-27″ coral cone with pink rays from July-Sept

Echinacea h ‘Secret Romance’: 28″ salmon-pink double flowers from July-Sept

Athyrium ‘Lady in Lace’: a 12″ frilly fern

Gaura lindherii ‘The Bride’: 36″ white flower aging to pink from June-Aug

Helleborus h ‘Sparklyn Diamond’: 12-14″ double white from March-June

Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’: 24″ heuchera with fuzzy lime-green leaves and white sprays from Sept-Oct

Hibiscus h ‘Heart Throb’: 48″ plant with 10″ wide burgundy-red flowers from July-Sept

Hibiscus h ‘My Valentine’: 48″ plant with 9″ wide deep red flowers from July-Sept

Hosta ‘Bridegroom’: 18″ green pointy leaves with purple spikes in July-Aug

Hosta ‘Everlasting Love’: 14″ blue-green leaves with wide cream edges, lavender spikes in July

Linum perenne ‘White Diamond’: 12″ dwarf white flax from May-August

Lychnis chalcedonica ‘Burning Love’: 16″ dwarf red clusters of flowers from June-Aug

Papaver ‘Royal Wedding’: 30″ poppy with white flowers in May-June

Peony ‘Bridal Gown’: 32″ double creamy white flowers. Midseason

Peony ‘Bridal Grace’: double bomb with a deep creamy infusion inside and some red flecking outside; 32″

Peony ‘Bridal Shower’: Ivory white double bomb framed by white guard petals; 34″

Phlox subulata ‘Maiden’s Blush’: 4″ pale pink flower with a lilac eye in May and Sept

Rose ‘Burning Love’: I couldn’t find a description: coral red, I think, but…

Saruma henryi: 12-16″ heart-shaped downy leaves topped by soft yellow flowers from May-Sept

Scabiosa japonica ‘Blue Diamonds’: 6″ lilac-blue flowers from June-Aug

Veronica ‘First Love’: 12″ bright pink spikes from June-August

DAYLILIES

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’: 40″, early-mid season, fragrant, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Bride Elect’: 36″, mid-season, fragrant, coral pink

Hemerocallis ‘Bride to Be’: 28″, late, cream melon pink with gold edge and yellow pink throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Bouquet’: 30″, mid-season, very pale yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Dream’: 21″, early, lavender wine spider with wide green and yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Garter’: 26″, mid-season, fragrant, cream with purple eye and purple gold edge, green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Halo’: 30″, mid-late, fragrant, orange pink blend with orange halo and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Bride’s Kiss’: 36″, early-mid, rosy red

Hemerocallis ‘Bridesmaid’: 42″, mid-season, red

Hemerocallis ‘Bridesmaid’s Gown’: 28″, early, fragrant, light pink with gold edge and very green throat (Author: Bridesmaid’s Gown: this plant must be really ugly!)

Hemerocallis ‘Dayton’s Last War Bride’: 32″, mid-season, very fragrant, yellow with rose halo and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Diva Bride’: 30″, mid-season, fragrant, ruffled cream with pink blush and butter yellow edge and throat

Hemerocallis ‘Fairy Bride’: 30″, mid-season, fragrant, orchid pink with yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Filipina Bride’: 30″, mid-season, blue pink with a slightly darker eye and yellow throat

Hemerocallis ‘Gypsy Bridesmaid’: 20″, early-mid season, rose edged white with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Hopi Bride’: 28″, early, fragrant, cream with burgundy eye and yellow green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Journey’s Bride’: 32″, mid-season, fragrant, pink bi-tone with gold edge

Hemerocallis ‘June Bride’: 34″, mid-season, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘June Bridesmaid’: 25″, early-mid season, fragrant, light pink bi-tone with darker pink edge

Hemerocallis ‘Princess Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, very fragrant, white with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Quaker Bride’: 44″, mid-late season, fragrant, yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Radiant Bride’: 29″, mid-late season, fragrant, red wine with chartreuse green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Sabbath Bride’: 14″, mid-season, white to cream with yellow to green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Seminole Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, fragrant, strawberry pink with darker pink eye and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘September Bride’: 36″, early-mid season, fragrant, light lemon yellow

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Blushing Bride’: 23″, mid-season, light pink with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Bridesmaid’: 20″, mid-season, pale pink with rose eye and green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam June Bride’: 20″, mid-season, pale pink with green throat

Hemerocallis ‘Snow Bride’: 20″, early, fragrant, diamond dusted near white with green throat

Open Days this Sunday for Gardens in Lake Forest, Highland Park, and Winnetka

The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program – June 23:

On Sunday, June 23rd, make plans to become inspired by five private gardens in Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Winnetka, opening to the public to benefit the Garden Conservancy, a national non-profit whose mission is to preserve exceptional American gardens across the country. Admission is $5 per garden and children 12 & under are free. No reservations needed, tours are self-guided, and are rain or shine. Visit www.opendaysprogram.org or call toll-free weekdays, 888-842-2442.

The two Lake Forest gardens are NOT TO BE MISSED. Incredible: one of them has a grape arbor said to date back to Frederick Law Olmsted. Visitors will see modern and classical sculpture within the landscapes, classical garden arches creating a passage through a parterre, enclosed garden rooms, a topiary garden, views of Lake Michigan, a garden designed by Rosemary Verey, colored waves of native plants, and the ancient precision of labyrinth geometry.

Fairlawn-Arbor

2-CIMG6899-1 fairlawn arbor

 

Additional area Open Days will take place on July 21 in Elburn and West Chicago; and July 28th in Lake Forest and Mettawa – mark your calendars!

Darrel Morrison and the “Native Flora Garden” in Brooklyn

Congratulations to landscape architect Darrel Morrison, a friend to many designers here in Chicago who have known him since he taught at the University of WI Madison, for a wonderful article about his new native-to-NY-area garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [BBG]. Read the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/13/garden/native-flora-garden-opens-at-brooklyn-botanic-garden.html?pagewanted=all

Darrel was starting this garden when I had the opportunity to visit our daughter, Danielle, in Manhattan in 2011. Darrel and I went to dinner and he told me about the fun of going with BBG Curator Uli Lorimer to discover rare plants at the pine barrens in New Jersey, for example. Taking seed from these plants and then assuring their success in Brooklyn meant engineering duplicate soils [isn’t that amazing?], a story broadly told in the article.

Darrel-Morrison-hand-drawingDarrel Morrison has had a celebrated career, specializing in native plants. He is a classic landscape architect–on his kitchen table, I saw hand-colored drawings he was preparing for a fabulous Montana ranch. Computer drawings are just not the same as hand drawn, n’est-ce pas?

 

 

darrel_morrisonMorrison’s re-design and expansion of the Native Flora Garden builds on a 100 year old habitat. When it was first opened in 1911, “groves of trees and shrubs were planted to create genuine woodland conditions through the gradual maturation of the woody plants; at the south end, wildflower beds were laid out in systematic fashion—that is, arranged according to plant family and evolutionary relationships.” By the 1920’s, the garden was re-designed to become one of the first ecologically themed native plant gardens of its kind in the U.S. It highlighted nine plant communities found in the Northeast: serpentine rock, dry meadow, kettle pond, bog, pine barrens, wet meadow and stream, deciduous woodland, limestone ledge, and coniferous forest. Read more about it: http://www.bbg.org/discover/native_flora_garden_expansion

View the photos below that I took in Fall, 2011 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. What I like about it is the feeling of “age” in all the hard-scape and in the mature trees.

I am not sure what public garden in Chicago is comparable to the Native Flora Garden in Brooklyn. Please let me know if you know the answer.##

A Potpourri of News…

Can you believe it’s June 1st already?! Sorry to have been out of touch…planting season…our farmhouse gardens to be photographed for Country Gardens Magazine

Country-Gardens-cover

…family…volunteerism…Leah’s college graduation…technical issues with this website…such a busy time of the year. Even the local wildlife is busy. When I drove into our driveway today, there were six (!) chipmunks running around like nut cases on the asphalt. They were glutinous, eating the seeds of maples, a phenom I had never seen before.  BTW, we are assured that those little seed nuggets are entirely edible, tasting like peas. You first.

Gardening world good news: tulips, redbuds, and big lilacs are done, but smaller (Syringa meyeri Palibin, Miss Kim, and ‘Boomerang’) lilacs are blooming with the azaleas. Huge amounts of foliage clothe all the shrubs and trees this year–even a lot of the ash trees aren’t as dead as I expected them to be. Wild geraniums, iris, wild phlox, hawthorns, variegated Solomon’s Seal, shooting stars, tree peonies, primroses and dogwoods are glorious. Fringe tree [Chionanthus virginicus] is about to “feather”. Did I mention the foliage and growth of the Beech trees–amazing! The bad news is that my (formerly) incredibly shaped Seven Sons Flower tree (Heptacodium miconoides–I love saying the name of this amazing tree which you must put in your garden) took a big hit from the winter wind (I think) and I had to chop it all to hell. Also, a big Redbud, a fragrant Viburnum carlesii, and a Juniper s. ‘Skyrocket’ died from drowning.

Did I mention the elegance of my all-time favorite shrub: Viburnum plicatum?Look at how beautiful this shrub is:Viburnum plicatum Mariesii-001:Viburnum plicatum Mariesii close up

Sometimes (well, ok, so often that I’m shocked not to have caused an accident) I’m driving around and see a sight that I am compelled to photograph. For example, this small conifer garden outside the investment house of VennWell in Lake Forest is fantastic. Small, deceptively simple, and a great contrast in textures. Voila! This is really all one needs to enjoy a garden. Kudos to its designer, Brent Markus, who specializes in four-season landscapes featuring Japanese maples and dwarf conifers. Brent mostly specializes in finding the most unique trees. I nearly drove off the road when I saw Acer palmatum ‘Lions Head’–a fantastic mop of leaves with red seeds that Dr. Seuss would love. Look at this crazy wonderful tree:

Acer palmatum Lions Head

Acer palmatum Lions Head

P1040845

P1040854 P1040855 P1040860

ALERT! PERENNIALS ON SALE: Didier Farms in Lincolnshire has a wonderful selection of perennials–not limited to the “usual suspects”. Those very same perennials are on sale for $6.99 through July 12. Which makes me a little crazee because I just paid retail for some plants at Didier for one of my design customers. (Well, I couldn’t find the plants anywhere else at wholesalers.) But I’m definitely making another run to Didier’s soon…cool stuff.

Now I have to go outside to wrap our pear tree in nets so maybe the squirrels will be deterred. Last year, they managed to get in and eat all the pears despite the nets. Maybe this year will be different?##

A Few News Briefs…

Having grown up in Weston, Connecticut, there are a few East Coast preferences that I will never shake. One is the New York Times. I read it assiduously. So from time to time I’ll post some news and/or links that gardeners, conservationists, environmentalists (yes there is a diff between conservationists and environmentalists), land use planners, and whoever else is reading this blog might be interested in. And please, comment or write a follow up article…this blog is not supposed to be just the Queen Bee sounding off. It is here to exchange information, questions, and great commentary (emphasis on “great”).

Here are some snippets:

  • Sally Jewell is the new 51st Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Who, you ask? Sally Jewell, 57 (young!) former CEO of REI, an outfitting store that is hard not to like. Jewell has no political experience, but she is a mountain climber so that bodes well for running an agency in Washington DC with 70,000 (!) employees, an $11B budget, and stewardship of 20% of the land in the U.S.. Why are you, a mere backyard gardener or landscape professional, interested in Interior? Because the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 designated the country’s newest National Wildlife Refuge, called “Hackmatack”, in McHenry County and overlapping towards Lake Geneva, WI.. You are also interested because Interior administers the Endangered Species Act (thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon, 1973). Also, Interior regulates the private leasing of our national lands for oil wells and the like (pipelines). And it sells Duck Stamps (thanks to Herbert Hoover, 1929) to duck hunters, which raised $700 million for wetland conservation in 2013. Interior makes a difference in each of our lives.
  • Columbus, Indiana, is an “unlikely trove of midcentury modernism”. Oh, how I want to make a road trip here and see not only 70 examples of great architecture, but great landscape architecture. For example, you can tour the 1957 house designed by Eero Saarinaan and Kevin Roche [oooh, a fuchsia conversation pit!] but the gardens designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley. Alas, the Monet water lilies that was in this house was sold in 2008 for $40 million. Did any of you happen to purchase it?
  • A future post will cover the gardening impact of 400 ppm CO2 levels. We know we must plant trees and more trees, but should we be burying the dead ones instead of chipping, burning, or letting them lie on the ground to disintegrate? The latter options are ways to accelerate the release of more carbon. What do you think?

Anywho, this NYTimes article explains that average worldwide warming has now been proved to be 5 degrees, warmer over land (such as Chicago) and even higher at the Poles (15 degrees). Actually, a 2008 article about weeds loving CO2 (REQUIRED READING!) says that the average city condition NOW compared to the suburban temperature is exactly what is predicted worldwide…. This is what I know. There is no question that Santa is shaving his beard cause he’s too hot: the NYTimes reports that in 2010, only four ships carrying 110,000 tons of cargo made the northern passage between Asia and Europe. In 2012, 46 did, carrying 1.3 million tons. Less ice? Scary.##