Plant Preview

Welcome to Plant Preview, a blog dedicated to helping gardeners learn about gardening techniques and preview new plant cultivars. Read about new plants here first and hear how your "comrades in compost" are making use of new plant introductions in their gardens and landscapes. Blog author Geri Laufer is a life-long dirt gardener, degreed horticulturist, author and former County Extension Agent. Plant Preview is copyrighted by Geri Laufer.

Showing posts with label Garden Debut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Garden Debut. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whadda’ ja say? Some Botanical Names are Wily to Pronounce

Northern Borders™ Variegated Cotoneaster
A non-gardening friend of mine was amused to note that one of the accomplishments I list on my LinkedIn page is Botanical Latin. My fluency with Latin binomials is useful when talking with others in this great business and helps me to be more precise.

Over the years I have come across three bug-a-boo plant names that give students pause, and must be heard to be believed. These are Cotoneaster, Leucothoe and Weigela.

Centuries ago, before I enrolled in grad school for Horticulture and was systematically reading every single gardening book in the Carnegie Public Library*, I stumbled across Cotoneaster which I first saw written and not pronounced. Like anyone else, I supposed it might be called “cotton Easter” but this is not the case. It’s actually more like “Co-TONY-aster”. A lovely example of this plant is the Northern Borders™ VariegatedCotoneaster by Garden Debut®.

Whitewater(R) Leucothoe PP18396
The next bug-a-boo that people often come across is Leucothoe. This is actually pronounced more like “Lou-KO-tho-wee”. A variegated favorite of mine is Whitewater® Leucothoe PP18396 that does so well in moist shade..

Third, students in my Woody I.D. class at Gwinnett Tech were calling a plant “Wiggly-Ah” which I found most endearing. Actually it is called “Why-GEE-La”. A nice small dwarf form good for most gardens is Minuet Weigela

Minuet Weigela
Luckily, Fine Gardening Magazine has come to the rescue of all concerned gardeners with their online Pronunciation Guide to Botanical Latin. After clicking on a plant name, the audio will pronounce it clearly and distinctly, and is a great help   .

What plant names are your personal bug-a-boos?

*That’s another story.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sterile Barberry is Non-Invasive

Orange Rocket Barberry PP18411:  Beautiful, Sterile, Non-Invasive Award-Winner -- by Geri Laufer

In terms of invasive exotics, the Hawaiian Islands are a good case study.
DYK? Of plants growing in Hawaii, 75% are introduced plant species, while only 25% are native plants that grew there before the entrance of man on the scene. Many of these introductions seem beneficial, like pineapple or oleander. Others like Chinese banyan, climbing fern or privet are bad actors that crowd out the natural flora.  

Exotic plants, also called non-native or alien species, are those transported outside their range by human activity, whether intentional or not. According to Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, humans are “homogenizing” the world’s diverse flora at an unprecedented rate. To paraphrase their report, ‘prior to human arrival the rate of establishment of new species was one every 35,000 years or so, while now it is 20-30 new species per year or approximately a million-fold increase. ‘ Plants that significantly disrupt the ecosystem are designated ‘invasive’.

Orange Rocket Barberry
Back on the mainland, the Plant ConservationAlliance’s Invasive Plant Working Group notes that twenty states, mainly in the northeast and the District of Columbia, have indicated that Japanese Barberry, Berberis japonica, is an ecological threat that spreads by seed with 90% germination rates, and forms dense stands in the wild, displacing native plants and reducing wildlife forage and habitat.

Best Shrub Far West Show
CAUTION: Don’t confuse sterile Orange Rocket Barberry PP18411 with its renegade cousins! 

Orange Rocket Barberry PP18411 lacks flowers and has never been observed to set seed. It is not invasive. This well-behaved new hybrid plant introduction, a Berberis thunbergeri selection, originated in the Czech Republic and earned the Award of Best Shrub in the 2010 New Varieties Showcase at the Oregon Association of Nurserymen’s Far West Show. So it is the perfect barberry for garden situations, along with its yellow twin: Golden Rocket Barberry PP18626.

Garden Debut® is extremely careful in the plants included in the lineup of new introductions. You can count on their Great New Plants with confidence.

top photo courtesy National Park Service Vital Sign Monitoring Established
Invasive Plant Species.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Extraordinary History Behind Twist of Lime™ Abelia

 Twist of Lime™ Abelia’s backstory is an enthralling one of arrogance and disappointment.

The genus contains about 30 species. It was named for noted British physician and naturalist-author on China, Dr. Clarke Abel, 1780 – 1826, who served as Chief Medical Officer and Naturalist to the Embassy of Lord Amherst at the Court of Peking and in Canton in 1816-17.  During this time there was resentment on the part of the Chinese due to perceived British arrogance and because of British involvement in the opium trade. The British were technically limited in plant collection to the Portuguese-controlled island of Macao.

In his role as naturalist, Dr. Abel had collected many unfamiliar plants and seeds, all new to Western science at the time. He also wrote a book of his observations and corresponded with renowned English botanist Sir Joseph Banks.

Lord Amherst’s objective in China was to improve British-Sino relations. To this end, the Embassy staff traveled to the capital, and Abel made detailed observations and collected wild and cultivated plants along the way. However, the mission backfired when Amherst refused to kowtow to the Chinese Emperor and the entire party was banished from China. Before departing on the hazardous journey back to England, Abel entrusted a small portion of his extensive botanical collection to a colleague, Sir George Staunton.

The ship ran aground on uncharted reefs and was badly damaged, causing some of the cargo to be jettisoned, including Abel’s botanical collection. Returning to the site the next day to try and rescue some of the botanical chests, they were attacked and captured by Malay pirates. Eventually, Abel did make it back to England and Staunton returned the remaining small portion of Abel’s collection. One of the specimens was named Abelia chinensis in Abel’s honor posthumously in 1844, and is an ancestor of Twist of Lime™ Abelia. .

Meanwhile, Robert Fortune, another famous plant collector, was also sending back live specimens from China, including one that later would be named Abelia uniflora. The first Abelia chinensis x A. uniflora crosses were made at the Rovelli Nursery in Italy producing a hybrid named Abelia x grandiflora in 1886 and was the best Abelia of its time.

This is the fascinating history behind my favorite Abelia, Abelia x grandiflora, Twist of Lime™ by Garden Debut®. I’ve planted my Twist of Lime™ Abelia an area of the garden I call the “golden triangle” planted with specimens having gold or yellow variegation or yellow flowers. In the photo, Twist of Lime™ Abelia is in the foreground, flanked by Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow’  and Forsythia koreana ‘Ilgwang’.  The brilliant leaves of Twist of Lime™ is perfect for lighting up the partial shade. Other landscape uses for Twist of Lime™ Abelia include specimen plantings in gardens and/or in a mixed border with other shrubs, as a low, informal hedge plant, or as a cascade.

The honey-scented, tubular blossoms of Twist of Lime™ Abelia are one of my greatest butterfly and hummingbird attractors, and are actually edible in salads or candied. In Astrological reports, the shrub Abelia is placed under the dominion of the planet Moon, if you go for that sort of thing. Folklore tells that many baby girls were named after the plant Abelia because of its continually fresh, evergreen nature. Post a photo if you’re growing Twist of Lime™ Abelia too.