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by Jonah Holland , PR and Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

This beauty  – Thalia dealbata — likes to get its feet wet! You’ll find this hardy water canna in the creek off of Lake Sydnor near the West Island Garden, you can also view it from the Lotus Bridge.

Thalia dealbata

Thalia dealbata

by Jonah Holland , PR and Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

baby katydid

Look closely and see if you can find the baby katydid on the daylily!

Daylilies blooming pretty much everywhere  is a sure sign that summer is in full swing at the Garden. Thousands of cultivars of day lilies exist, and here at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden we are lucky to have quite an extensive collection.

Day lily across from Bloemendaal House.

Day lily with an oak leaf hydrangea on the background.

Many of our daylilies or Hemerocallis  are located in Flagler Garden, which was was built back in 1993 with a focus on perennials, but we have them elsewhere in the Garden too. And the daylilies here have an interesting provenance.   Some came from Andre’ Viette and Viette’s Nurseries, known for their extensive daylily offerings and even a Daylily Food & Wine Festival in July (next held in 2015). Viette is a former board member at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and was friends with the Garden’s first director, Bob Hebb.

An unidentified daylily in Flagler Garden.

Hemerocallis

Others plants came from Richmond Area Daylily Society, and some were gifts from amateur hybridizers.  In fact, the Richmond Area Daylily Society continues to have an annual Daylily Show and Sale here at the Garden and continue to hybridize daylilies.  Because some of the Garden’s daylilies were gifts from amateur hybridizers we may not know exactly what cultivar they are. They may not actually be a named cultivar at all, but a sort of “love child”  created by a passionate daylily fan who wanted to create something new, mixing traits of two beloved blooms.  Personally, I think there’s an additional beauty and mystery to these very special unlabeled plants that were created with love and given in love.  While I’ve identified some of our daylily photos here, but you can be sure if a photo isn’t labeled or if there is not a tag by one of our daylilies in the Garden, now you know the reason.

dalylily spider

Look closely for the spider!

You may know, most daylily blooms last only one day, but each plant has lots of blooms, so come see ‘em while you can! I can’t think of a better reason to seize the day, and take time to stop and truly enjoy the beauty of the Garden.  Scroll down to see more daylily photos!

lavendar frolic

Hemerocallis ‘Lavender Frolic’

Hemerocallis 'Carolina Cranberry'

Hemerocallis ‘Carolina Cranberry’

day lily explosion

An entire bed of sunshiny Hemerocallis.

day lily

Hemerocallis

dl green flutter

Hemerocallis ‘Green Flutter’

dl pink and blue

Pink day lily contrasting nicely with the blue sky.

day lily pink

Another shot of the pink day lily.

martagon lily

Martagon lily

Dl little carnation

Hemerocallis ‘Little Carnation’

Day lily 'plate of sunshine'

Hemerocallis ‘Plate of Sunshine’

 Hemerocallis 'Bela Lugosi'


Hemerocallis ‘Bela Lugosi’

Hemerocallis 'Ancient Trail'

Hemerocallis ‘Ancient Trail’

On another note a little bird told me that we’ll also be featuring daylily splits at our Fall Plant Sale this year. These will be the bare roots of daylilies, dug up just before the sale, so you can take a piece of the Garden home with you and enjoy daylilies in your own yard! This helps the Garden too, because it gives our daylilies more room to grow when they are thinned out. Want to learn more about day lilies? The American Hemerocallis Society has a great FAQ page that can answer many of your questions.

DIY Pallet Garden

Photos & text by Jay Austin, Horticulturist, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Editor’s Note: Jay Austin is Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Rose Garden Horticulturist. He also moonlights as the owner of RVAScapes LLC a Richmond-based landscaping business. This blog post first appeared on his RVAScapes blog. Jay is also a Virginia Certified Horticulturist  and ISA Certified Arborist.

Pallet Garden step by step

As you can see, the top and bottom boards are doubled up.  We removed those boards, and also removed every other board after that, making larger spaces for the plants and making the stapling easier.

The other day, a client of mine called me up and asked if I could make her a pallet garden.  I was hesitant at first, as I had never made one before.  I decided we should form a partnership instead of hiring me to make it for her, so in case the project was not successful, there would be no foul. I did some internet research, and spoke to a few friends who had attempted this type of project before.

Close up of Pallet

As you can see, rather than simply packing the entire pallet with soil, we made individual pockets at each level.  This way, the soil is contained nicely.  I think if you had one unit, the water and soil would be apt to migrate down to the bottom, possibly collapsing the whole thing.

I figured it would be a fun project to try, so we went for it. The first step is acquiring a pallet.  This should not be too hard to accomplish.  I happened to have a few lying around from various stone and sod jobs that I have done.  You can probably find one at any big box store or nursery.  I am not sure exactly what they do with them when they are unloaded and stacked up, but I would be certain that they just dispose of them in some way.  They may even have to pay for the disposal, so they may be happy for you to take a few.  The better condition the pallet is in, the better of you will be.

Another progress shot.  As we packed the plants in, we also packed potting soil all around.  I think this is the critical step.  If there are gaps and voids all around the plant’s root balls, then they will not be able to put roots out, and more importantly will dry out very quick.  So make sure the pockets are pretty stuffed with soil.

The second step would be to buy some plants.  I was advised that the bigger the plant is, the better off the garden will be.  So I had 4″ pots in mind.  I used primarily annual plants for this one, but next one I may use more perennials.  Succulents would probably work quite well.  In fact, that is the next project in the works.  So I went to the nursery, and picked out a bunch of plants that looked good together.  I ended up with a selection of coleus, begonias, a few hostas, and other annuals that would do well in the shade that this pallet would be in. Now it is time for the hardware of the project.  First you will need a roll of landscape fabric to hold the soil in place.  Also known as weed barrier, this fabric will hold the soil, while allowing water to drain through.  You will also need a staple gun and many, many staples.  I used 3/8″ staples that seemed to work.  The bigger the better in my opinion. Just do not go shorter than 3/8″, or you risk them pulling out. We then began assembly.

We used many staples to hold the fabric to the wood.  It was a little tricky, but my wonderful client did a tremendous job of getting the pockets sealed so no soil leaked out.  We actually got it right (I think, long term results will be the subject of a later post) the first time.

 final product.  

Here is the final product.

The Garden setting

This pallet and another one to be made will be the final touch to this yard project.  This yard was in fairly rough shape when I first saw it (sorry LK!).  Nothing but weeds throughout.  I added a gravel patio, raised vegetable beds, and pollinator friendly perennials throughout.  The pallets will hang on either side of the window on the blank white walls.  This will be the final touch to a wonderful transformation!

I was pretty surprised with how easy this actually was to make.  In the future, the plants should all fill in and really look like a garden.  Depending on the plants you select, the cost will come in anywhere from $100-$150 or so.  A few notes:  we wrapped the back of the pallet in a double layer of fabric to keep it neat and tidy.  This step should also help slow down evaporation.  If the pallet will be on a wall, I recommend a layer of heavy plastic also, to keep the wall from getting funky.  Water will make or break the success of this project.  I would be sure that the soil will want to dry out about every day.  I would plan on watering this once a day at least, more so if yours will be in direct sun.  Use a very light spray.  The mist setting on a selectable hose end sprayer is the best, as it will not wash out the soil.

by Lynn Kirk, Public Relations Writer,  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, reprinted with permission from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

 

Hybrid technology has led to new varieties of a favorite garden classic, including this Coconut Ice sunflower, which shows off a creamy white flowerhead.

Hybrid technology has led to new varieties of a favorite garden classic, including this Coconut Ice sunflower, which shows off a creamy white flowerhead. Credit: Seed Sense

Mention “smiley-face flower” and what comes to mind? Probably the sunflower, a towering native plant of the Americas. The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is more than a single-stem beauty with a golden flower head. Its history spans thousands of years, and in recent decades, hybridization has altered the world of sunflowers in countless ways. Today, the species has new kin, as well as new looks.
Recent varieties vary dramatically in height, from traditional garden giants that sometimes reach 12 feet tall to dwarf varieties that are suitable for container plantings. The well-known sunflower has a single hairy stem, while modified varieties boast seven to 10 stems per plant. The mature flower head, which is a crowded composite of multiple smaller flowers or florets, ranges from dinner-plate size to a mere inch in diameter.
Though most flower heads boldly face the sun, some hybridized varieties droop downward, making it easier for birds and wildlife to snatch the seeds. The native plant is an annual, but some of today’s domesticated plants are perennials that self seed and return year after year.
Perhaps one of the most notable changes is the sunflower’s new range of colors. While sunflower fans are used to golden-yellow hues, hybridizers also have introduced ornamental varieties with ruby-red, bronze and white flower heads.
Along with its appearance, the sunflower’s uses have expanded. Native Americans harvested the plant for practical purposes, such as food, dyes and medicinal ointments. In more recent times, the sunflower has become a fashionable icon for home décor and jewelry.
The sunflower also has commercial uses. Its leaves can be used for cattle feed, its fibrous stems for paper production and its oil for livestock feed. Because sunflower oil is often cheaper than olive oil, it also is used in the production of cooking oil, margarine and some alternate fuels.

sunflower popping open

A sunflower just starting to bloom along the Main Garden Path

What hasn’t changed? The sunflower’s love for the sun and our love for its summer beauty.
Tips for growing sunflowers
• Seed one crop, then two weeks later seed another close by. Plants will mature at different times, extending your garden’s overall bloom period.
• Plant sunflowers to attract pollinators to your garden.
• Watch out for imposters, unless you like them as well. The false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) and the Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) are from different plant species.
• Daisies and asters are excellent complements to the sunflower garden.
• Sunflower varieties with small, multi-blooms can be deadheaded (spent blooms removed) to encourage more blooms. Conversely, tall varieties are typically single bloomers, so either harvest their seeds or leave the flower heads in the garden for wildlife.
• In some areas of the U.S., commercial farmers equate perennial sunflowers with weeds since they can negatively impact edible crop yields.
• Sunflower seeds, leaves and stems emit substances that inhibit the growth of certain other plants, so separate them from crops such as pole beans and potatoes.
• When positioning bird feeders, keep in mind that the hulls of the sunflower seeds emit toxins that might build up and kill underlying grass over time.
Editor’s Note: This article first published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in June 2014.

waiting station

Old Waiting Station

By Hannah Lindquist, PR & Marketing Intern, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Starting my journey here at the Garden, I was open to learning anything.  I grew up in Richmond  and knew of its rich history and stories, the Garden being one of those stories.  On my first day as PR & Marketing Intern I got my first assignment the Lakeside Trolley that used to stop, literally in the Garden’s backyard.  I began my research, starting with a previous blog post on the Garden’s history that mentioned the trolley station.

Tom Riddle Jr., a train enthusiast and volunteer here at the Garden met me and told me about this trolley that many Richmond natives may not know about.  Riddle explained that the first successful electric streetcar line in America was started right here in Richmond.  Now I’ll be honest, I am no history fanatic, but that is pretty darn cool!  While the actual waiting station no longer stands, you can see the original concrete steps that passengers walked up to get to Lakeside Park (currently the Jefferson Lakeside Country Club) just across Lakeside Lake. If you take the path just past Bloomendaal House and look across Lakeside Lake, there they are.  What a convenient location, right? This stop allowed Richmonders access to the Lakeside Wheel Club, established in 1884, as well as the newly developed Lakeside Terrace suburbs.

Lakeside Park

Lakeside Park, notice the concrete steps?

This station itself wasn’t a turnaround though.  It was actually a dead end causing the streetcar operator to simply lower one of the trolley poles and raise another for the return trip.  With horse and carriage as the only means of major transportation, the 5 cent trolley made more of Richmond accessible.  It’s hard to remember a time when things were so simple, now that we have highways and interstates. How incredible that while visiting the Garden, a place so rich in history and education, you can take a glimpse into the past at another piece of the history that makes Richmond so momentous.

Lettuce Celebrate

Text & photos by Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

 

We grew three cultivars: Green Forest, Coastal Star and Red Cash. All three were Romaine-style heads and the organic seed was sourced from Johnny's Seeds. The Red Cash was the most attractive, but the Coastal Star produced the densest, heaviest heads.

We grew three cultivars: Green Forest, Coastal Star and Red Cash. All three were Romaine-style heads and the organic seed was sourced from Johnny’s Seeds. The Red Cash was the most attractive, but the Coastal Star produced the densest, heaviest heads.

Earlier this week we harvested the last of the spring lettuce cropo in the Lewis Ginter Community Kitchen Garden. We have cause to celebrate on several fronts:

a) Our lettuce was beautiful, and tasted great.

b) Even with so many days with temps exceeding 90 degrees, the lettuce only started showing signs of bolting (going to seed) recently, prompting our final harvest. A taste test on June 10 indicated the taste was a little strong, but not bitter.

c) The Spring lettuce crop yielded 133 lbs., more than twice our yield in 2013 (62 lbs.).

We starting sowing lettuce seed in the greenhouse on February 24. These seedlings are shown from March 25, with Blue Flame agave standing guard.

We starting sowing lettuce seed in the greenhouse on February 24. These seedlings are shown from March 25, with Blue Flame agave standing guard.

We use coolers with a little ice in the bottom to refrigerate the lettuce during the delivery process to FeedMore's Community Kitchen.

We use coolers with a little ice in the bottom to refrigerate the lettuce during the delivery process to FeedMore’s Community Kitchen.

Two heads of the Coastal Star romaine.

Two heads of the Coastal Star romaine.

Lewis Ginter Horticulture interns Shawntae Fletcher (left) and Holly Hooper deliver the last of the Spring lettuce to FeedMore's Community Kitchen.

Lewis Ginter Horticulture interns Shawntae Fletcher (left) and Holly Hooper deliver the last of the Spring lettuce to FeedMore’s Community Kitchen.

by Jonah Holland , PR and Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden 

We’re joining The Pollinator Partnership to celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 16–23, 2014. Did you know that one of every three bites of food we eat is the direct result of pollination? This week in the Children’s Garden do the bee dance or enjoy a ‘Who’s Pollinating the Garden?’ activity to learn about pollinators, how to protect and sustain them, and why they’re important. Plus join us daily from 2-4 p.m. Watch busy worker bees in an observation hive and taste honey from the comb (age 1 and older only). Honey from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is available for purchase in Garden Shop (limited supply).

Pictured: White peacock butterfly (Anartia jatrophae) with Jatropha integerima 'Pink Princess' photo by Don Williamson Photography

Pictured: White peacock butterfly (Anartia jatrophae) with Jatropha integerima ‘Pink Princess’. Photo by Don Williamson Photography

Text & photos by Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

The Capital One team plants peppers.

The Capital One team plants peppers.

In May the Lewis Ginter Community Kitchen Garden (CKG) received a significant investment of sweat equity from two separate teams of Capital One associates. On their first trip Capital One associates mulched pathways, prepped beds and planted peppers. Quite a few of these volunteers also contributed sweat equity to the CKG in 2013.

a rest brak in the Community Kitchen Garden.

We’re not “all work and no play” in the Community Kitchen Garden.

Part of the Capital One team

Part of the Capital One team (Quite a few members had already left to return to their work at Capital One.)

Then a second team of  Capital One volunteers helped with our first harvesting for 2014: 100 percent organic strawberries and lettuce.

We very much appreciate the efforts of these early spring groups of volunteers. The work accomplished at this time of the year builds the foundation for the produce yields during the summer. These two teams from Capital One provided a significant contribution to help meet the 2014 needs of FeedMore, the Community Kitchen and the Central Virginia Food Bank.

Capital One associates harvesting

Capital One associates harvesting organic lettuce.

The lettuce - three types; organic romaine-style - is packed carefully into coolers to remain chilled during transport to the Community Kitchen.

The lettuce — three types; organic romaine-style – is packed carefully into coolers to remain chilled during transport to the Community Kitchen.

The Capital One volunteers. This is what the phrase "seeing the fruits of your labor" means.

The Capital One volunteers. This is what the phrase “seeing the fruits of your labor” means.

Photos and text by Jonah Holland , PR and Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

bee and hydrangea

This hydrangea is providing lots of pollen for the bee – notice his full pollen pockets!

Have we got a treat for you! One of our longtime volunteers, Rich Waiton, is leading a series of  walks and talks on hydrangeas, our favorite summer shrub. The first Walk & Talk is tomorrow, Saturday, June 14, with additional dates on Saturday, June 21 and Thursday, June 26.   Tours are timed throughout peak successive bloom time, so take more than one if you can.  Registration is required, but free for Garden Members.

On this tour, not only will you get an up-close look at the Garden’s best hydrangea blooms, but you’ll also learn how to understand the major differences between the several distinctly different species of hydrangeas which are adapted to Virginia, learn how to choose hydrangeas suited to your garden, and compare examples of each type and review their differences in bloom, growth habit, soil type, sun exposure, pruning, and other cultural requirements.

I know what you are saying. You don’t wan’t to forget any of this great info, but you also don’t want to have to bring your notebook and take notes on this awesome tour. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.  Rich Waiton provided us with a  “cheat sheet” of the major hydrangea types that you can take with you to help you remember what you learn, and keep it all straight. He’ll give out a copy of this info to folks who sign up for the tour too.

Japanese Shrub Type: Macrophylla (“large leaf”) and Serrata (“toothed leaf”)

- Familiar “mophead” (Hortensia) varieties, e.g. ‘Nikko Blue’
- Variation: “Lacecap” forms, e.g. ‘Blue Wave’
- Sterile vs. fertile flowers
- Bloom color sensitive to soil pH; blue range generally requires pH of 5.5 or lower
- With few exceptions, blooms on old wood
- “Remontant” types include ‘All Summer Beauty’, ‘Endless Summer’, ‘Blushing Bride’
- Rule of thumb: Treat them like azaleas

North American Type: Quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea)
- Native to Alabama and southeastern United States
- Relatively tolerant of drought and shade combination
- ‘Snow Queen’ and ‘Snowflake’ are standout varieties. Maroon fall foliage is added bonus.
- Blooms on old wood. Give adequate space and basically ignore them.

A pink cultivar “Invincibelle Spirit”

A pink cultivar of hydrangea “Invincibelle Spirit”.

North American Type:  Arborescens (smooth hydrangea)

- Native to southeast and parts of Midwestern United States
- ‘Annabelle’ variety best known; others are ‘Incrediball’ and ‘Invincibelle Spirit’
- Blooms on new wood; treat them like Butterfly Bushes or chrysanthemums

“Invincibelle Spirit”.

Hydrangea ‘Invincibell Spirit’

Upright Shrub Type: Paniculata (panicle or PeeGee hydrangea)

- Native to China
- Typically large, loose trusses of white or cream-colored blooms
- Combine sterile and fertile florets in varying ratios depending on cultivar
- Examples: ‘Grandiflora’, ‘Limelight’, ‘White Lace’, ‘Pink Diamond’
- Most tolerant of hot sunny exposures and hardy to Zone 3!
- Blooms on new wood

Deciduous Vine: Petiolaris
- Native to Japan
- Climbs walls and trees using aerial rootlets similar to English Ivy and difficult to distinguish from it when it is in leaf
- There is an attractive imposter, False Hydrangea Vine, Schizophragma hydrangeoides

Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'

Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’ — this relatively new type of hydrangea blooms on both new and old wood, so you don’t have to be as careful when pruning.

How to keep them all straight?
- Blooms on new or old wood
- Sensitivity to soil pH
- American native or Asian
- Tolerance for sun and heat

“Interesting back story on ‘Annabelle‘; it is native to U.S. south central states, including southern Appalachians and into southern Illinois,” says Rich Waiton. “Years ago, an astute observer noticed a specimen in the wild that was much more showy than the average for the species growing near the town of Anna, Illinois. He named it “Annabelle” and the rest as they say… is history.”  In fact, the second Saturday each June is called “Annabelle Day” – that’s tomorrow!  In Anna, Ill. on Annabelle Day citizens celebrate the Hydrangea arborescens “Annabelle”, where over 200 specimens have been planted by the local garden club.

 

damselfly on white

Oak leaf hydrangea with a damselfly. Oak leaf hydrangeas are the North American type: Quercifolia — native to this area.

Master Gardener Rich Waiton has served as a  Garden Guide and volunteer  for more than 10 years. 

Photos and text by Jonah Holland , PR and Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

iris opening

Iris detail.

One question we get asked a lot here at the Garden is, “What’s in bloom?”  We don’t want you to miss any of your favorite blooms, so we are constantly updating our Twitter feed, Instagram, Facebook page and of course our blog.

But did you know that we also have a slideshow of highlights of blooms by month? This is a great resource if you are planning an event or a wedding at the Garden and wonder what might be in bloom at a particular time. The truth is, it can change from year to year.  For example, this year, the Iris ensata have been later than typical due to a cooler spring. The daylilies, on the other hand, are running a bit behind.  In fact, this weekend is the Richmond Area Daylily Society Show and Sale hosted here at the Garden, even though daylilies are just starting to bloom.

Mother Nature can be fickle.

Circling back around…..This week the Iris ensata are at their peak. We’ve got so many different cultivars, I couldn’t capture them all, but here’s a sampling. You’ll want to see these beauties in person though, the photography just can’t do them justice.

iris gold bound

Iris ensata ‘Gold Bound’

iris ise

Iris ensata ‘Ise’

iris pin stripe

Iris ensata “Pin Stripe’

iris reign of glory

Iris ensata ‘Reign of Glory’

iris sibirica super ego

Iris sibirica ‘Super Ego’

iris ensata lady in waiting

Iris ensata ‘Lady in Waiting’

iris glowing

Glowing iris in the Flagler Garden.

iris water

Iris sibirica ‘Super Ego’ the waterfall just adds to the experience.

iris detail

Iris sibirica ‘Super Ego’ detail.

iris ensata lady in waiting

Iris ensata ‘Lady in Waiting’

 

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