Saturday, May 31, 2008

How to Use Botanical Latin

You can’t get very far as a gardener without using Botanical Latin. Even names you take for granted (Gladiolus, Nasturtium, Rhododendron) are Latin. It is fun & useful to know the common names of plants. Latin names are essential.

Every plant has at least 2 names; the genus & the species. Sometimes there are additional names for subspecies, varieties & cultivars.

The plural of genus is genera. The plural of species is species. These are abbreviated as sp. for species singular & spp. as species plural. Subspecies is abbreviated as ssp., variety as var.

When writing Botanical Latin, capitalize the genus but not the species, subspecies or variety.

Do not worry about mispronouncing Latin names. Each name is pronounced many ways. Listen to people say a name. Pronounce it the way most do, or the way that sounds most pleasing to you.

It is proper to pronounce latinized surnames (Franklinia, Lobelia, Weigela) as they are in the original language. This is seldom done, for obvious reasons.  How many foreign languages can you correctly pronounce?

Cultivar names are almost always not Latin. This is now a rule for naming cultivars. Some Latin cultivar names (‘Alba’, ‘Nana’, ‘Variegata’) were retained from the past. Cultivar names are capitalized & enclosed in single quotation marks.

Buy a dictionary of Botanical Latin to learn the meaning of plant names & for whom plants were named. You may be surprised to read that many Botanical Latin names are Greek (Iris, Hydrangea, Narcissus).

Recommended Reference Book:

Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners
William T Stearn
Cassell Publishers

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Red Garden

Lobelia tupa June 2009



Red is vivid, warm, hot. Here are some plants to redden to your garden with foliage, flowers & fruit. Not many plants have red foliage, even fewer purple. Both are included below.  Red flowers range from tomato to wine. Combine them to create striking effects. Wine-red flowers blend with blue & purple, tomato-red with orange & yellowPink flowers look very nice against red or purple foliage.  Lilium pardalinum (Leopard Lily) is a California native that frows well in the Pacific NorthwestLobelia tupa is a xeric Chilean native, probably the biggest Lobelia you have ever seen!  Sinocalycalycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine' was named for Richard Hartlage, a director of the Center for Urban Horticulture. See it at the Miller Garden.

Plant List
Small Trees
Acer circinatum (Vine Maple): red fall color
Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ or ‘Garnet’ (Japanese Maple): red foliage
Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree): red fruit
Catalpa x erubescens 'Purpurea': purple foliage
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (Eastern Redbud): purple foliage

Callistemon rigidus or subulatus (Bottlebrush): red flowers
Hydrangea ‘Lady in Red’: red flowers & purple foliage
Nandina domestica ‘Plum Passion’ (Heavenly Bamboo): purple foliage
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ (Ninebark): dark reddish foliage
Pieris ‘Forest Flame’: red new foliage
Viburnum sargentii ‘Onondaga’: red new growth & fall color
Weigela florida ‘Java Red’: red foliage & flowers

Perennials: most with red flowers
Astilbe ‘Fanal’ (Ostrich Plume)
Centranthus ruber (Valerian)
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ (Flaming Iris)
Eucomis ‘Oakhurst’ (Pineapple Lily): purple foliage
Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ (Purple Wood Spurge): red roliage
Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ (Japanese Blood Grass): red foliage
Lilium pardalinum (Leopard Lily)
Schizostylis coccinea (Crimson Flag)
Sedum ‘Matrona’: purple foliage

Groundcovers & Trailers
Ajuga reptans ‘Bronze Carpet’ (Carpet Bugle): red foliage
Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen): red berries
Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’: purple foliage
Thymus serpyllum ‘Coccineum’ (Red Thyme): red flowers

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dry Shade

 Ribes sanguineum March 2010

Gaultheria shallon August 2008

Heuchera americana 'Dale's Strain' May 2009

It can be difficult to find plants for Seattle gardens that will grow well in dry shade. Most shade plants prefer moisture. Plants that tolerate dry shade often grow better in part sun. Most of the plants listed below do better in light or partial shade than in deep shade.  Shade can be lightened by pruning the lower branches off overhanging trees.  It is always wise to plan for dry shade to limit supplemental water use. But it is more realistic to water sparingly during summer, than to expect shade plants to do entirely without water. Many of the plants listed below are Washington native plants.  Gaultheria shallon, Mahonia repens & Vaccinium ovatum are Washington native shrubs that do well in dry shade with no supplemental water. Helleborus x hybridus, Maianthemum dilatatum & Polystichum munitum are plants that grow well in shade with little supplemental water.

Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’ (Strawberry Tree)
Berberis darwinii (Barberry)
Buxus (Boxwood)
Corylus (Hazel)
Elaeagnus pungens (Silverberry)
Garrya issaquahensis (Silk Tassel)
Ilex cornuta (Chinese Holly)
Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape)
Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo)
Paeonia delavayi (Tree Peony)
Paeonia lutea (Tree Peony)
Philadelphus lewisii (Mock Orange)
Prunus ilicifolia (Hollyleaf Cherry)
Rhamnus californica (Coffeeberry)
Rhaphiolepis umbellata (Yeddo Hawthorne)
Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant)
Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry)

Achlys triphylla (Vanilla Leaf)
Anemone x hybrida (Japanese Anemone)
Campanula latifolia (Bellflower)
Dicentra formosa (Bleeding Heart)
Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)
Francoa ramosa (Maiden’s Wreath)
Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican Hellebore)
Liriope muscari (Lily Turf)
Luzula sylvatica (Woodrush)
Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)
Polygonatum commutatum (Solomon’s Seal)
Polystichum munitum (Sword Fern)
Smilacina racemosa (False Solomon’s Seal)
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears)
Tellima grandiflora (Fringe Cup)
Tolmiea menziesii (Piggyback Plant)
Trillium ovatum (Wakerobin)

Groundcovers & Trailers
Aegopodium podagraria (Bishop’s Weed)
Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle)
Campanula poscharskyana (Serbian Bellflower)
Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry)
Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff)
Maianthemum dilatatum (False Lily of the Valley)
Microbiota decussata (Carpet Cypress)
Vinca minor (Dwarf Periwinkle)

Friday, May 2, 2008

How to Make a Garden

1 Choose the site. Define the space. Contain the size. Don’t overwhelm yourself with work. Start on a small scale.

2 Choose the plants: Is the site mostly shady or sunny? Find plant lists appropriate to the site. Choose trees 1st. The globe is warming: plant trees. Anticipate that these trees will cast shade. Choose plants for shade to plant under & north of your trees. Choose lots of shrubs, maybe 10 different kinds. Shrubs are low maintenance. It is okay to plant 1 of a few of them. Balance those with 2 & 3 of other kinds of shrubs. Choose groundcovers. These are essential to control weeds. Choose many different groundcovers. Plant 2 or 3 plants of the same groundcover together. Plant different groundcovers in different parts of the garden. Plant shady groundcovers under shrubs.

3 Buy lots of compost. You can order it by the truckload from Cedar Grove or buy it in bags. Cover the garden site 2 feet deep. Plant in the compost.

4 Buy the plants. No single nursery will have all of the plants you want & need. Call around. Look in the phone book under Nurseries. Google: Seattle Nurseries. Visit ALL of the nurseries near you. Order plants by mail, if they are unavailable locally.

5 Space the plants at appropriate distances. Find out how big these plants will get. Give them enough room. If you don’t, you will have to move (or remove) them later. Plant shady groundcovers under shrubs. Fill spaces between shrubs with groundcovers. Leave some room for perennials.

6 Add a few perennials. You will want the color & excitement of perennial flowers. But don’t use too many. Perennials require much more work than other plants.

7 Cover open ground with mulch. Buy shredded bark. Let fallen leaves be mulch. Put mulch from your compost pile or worm bin over open spaces in the garden. Always mulch around new plantings. Do not put mulch more than 2 inches deep.

8 Patrol your garden regularly: become territorial. Pull up weeds. See that plants don’t shrivel or turn brown from lack of water. Water regularly during summer. Replace dead plants. Make peace with insects & encourage spiders. Speak firmly to destructive animals. Put snails in paper bags & throw them in the yard waste bin.

9 Buy pruning tools. You need pruners, loppers & a folding pruning saw. Go to a big hardware store. Cut off dead & broken branches. Learn about pruning. Buy a book which illustrates pruning & other gardening techniques. The Sunset Western Garden Book is good to start.

10 Invite people to visit your garden. They will give you useful advice. You will be motivated to improve your garden. Their comments will make you proud. Join the Northwest Perennial Alliance & become 1 of the Open Gardens.