Fab Foliage Friday

Shades of Audrey II! Not since "Little Shop of Horrors" has there been a plant so hungrily carnivorous as the rat-eating pitcher plant recently discovered in the Phillipines. You may recall reading about the real mutant monster in the newspaper. As it turns out, the plant, named Nepenthes attenboroughii (after the intrepid BBC naturalist), may not actually eat rodents. At least not on purpose. What does all that have to do with Fab Foliage Friday? Well as it turns out, those amazing pitchers, of the aforenamed Nepenthes and its many relations, are actually leaves. Who knew? It's fascinating...but why not let Richard Attenborough himself explain. Enjoy the hypnotic imagery.

Hat tip: Boingboing


Some Way Cool Containers

I'm always on the lookout for hot new plants and stuff I haven't seen before, so I recently took a swing by Loomis Creek Nursery in Hudson, NY. It's full of good stuff, not least of which are the many pots displayed, singly and in clusters, designed by owners Bob Hyland and Andrew Beckman. So, I thought it worth posting a gallery of pix from their place (with a few more over at Gardening Gone Wild). Here goes:

Bob also collaborated with Margaret Roach to design a series of contianers plantings at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge MA.


Make Your Own Monster Plant

I've heard of using the plant hormone Gibberellic acid to coax reluctant seeds to germinate, but according to Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, it can also be used to induce gigantism in plants. In other words, it can make big plants. Really big plants. Amazing. Now, if only I can use it to create a sequoia-sized Brugmansia...
Hat Tip: Boingboing


Fab Foliage Friday

Ahhhh! Now I'm feeling cooler. Nothing like the sight of an umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) no matter what the time of year, to remind me of the beauty and value of dark green backgrounds, against which are highlighted colorful blooms and the shapes of other foliar delights. Umbrella pines are easily among the very finest of needled evergreens, Their needles-which look like two side-by-side needles fused together--also have a specatacular dark green sheen that looks stellar from January to December, (hough the straight species often gets a bit bronzey in the depths of winter). And finally, those fat, fleshy needles are arranged in cool-looking whorls along the branches, crowning the tip of every branch with regal splendor. Though they are reputed to be very slow growing, mine are chugging right along and often put on aabout a foot a year.


Fab Foliage Friday

It was a case of love at first sight soon as I laid eyes hardy tapioca (Manihot grahamii). Those wavy-edged leaves, sinuous as an Indonesian kris, or ceremonial dagger, cut me to the quick. I just had to have one. Now I do. (They aren't all that easy to find.) I'm growing it in apot this year so I can move it around as it gets ever-larger, and compare its foliar effects with those of a variety of neighbors, for cannas and elephant ears to irises and slender grasses. And you know what? It looks good with everything! But hardy? Not here. Reputedly hardy to Zone 7b. I will nonetheless try to winter this over, probably in a cool bright spot. I'm already looking forward to its presence next year.


The Whatchamacallit Science

OK all you taxonomy geeks--this one's for you. As a gardener one who is forever fascinated by the sometimes changing nature of scientific names-Latin binomials--I've always been interested in the process of assigning stuff--plants, animals, insects--not only a name but the science behind it: family, genus, species, and all the rest. Kings Play Chess On Friday, Generally Speaking--if you know what I mean. Anyway, interesting story in the New York Times this morning, here.


Fab Foliage Friday

Golden hinoke cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Crippsii') pays the rent all year. Bedecked in glorious gold needles, it creates a beacon that shines in the garden all season long, no matter what the season. Its color is best in full sun, so this small tree is not one for brightening the shade but it does catch the eye even in the brightest of light. I especially like this scene in Raymond Hagel's Westport, Ct garden, designed by Mike Donnelly. Colorful foliage can add so much more when it plays a role in a larger, more complex color-based vignette like this one.


Meanwhile, Over At Chrissie's...

Stopped by the other day at gardening juggernaut Chrissie D'Esopo's for a look at what she's been up to this season, and...wow! This hillside, top, is her latest evolving project and it's going great guns. It's been a good year for establishing new areas--with all the rain there's no need to water, and boy has this area ever been catching on as a sizzling example of her typical no-holds-barred approach to color. Of course, all the rain has meant lots of slugs, fungal diseases, and other fun stuff, but Chrissie hasn't broken stride. She's an inspiration to us mere mortal gardeners! Unlike lots of her other areas, this spot is heavier on trees and shrubs than it is on annuals and tender perennials; but it's no slacker in the happy color department either. She just keeps rolling out big bold blocks of color--it looks almost as if a box of gigantic crayons overturned in her back yard.

She's got a pair of fine-looking ponds at the bottom of the hill.

Also fairly new is this cactus and succulent garden, which is really shaping up nicely. It provides a real contrast and has a totally different character from her other gardens.

Containers are everywhere. She's up to almost 750--SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY!!!--pots this season. The whole area in front and to the side of her house, as well as the island bed in the foreground (near the top of the post) is all, or at least mostly, contained in a mass of pots. I am sometimes wearied by watering my paltry 150 or so pots, so I can only imagine the patience required to slake the thirst of this pot monster garden.

This bed along her driveway offers plenty of non-stop color punch.

Lastly for a bit of relief from all that eye-popping color extravagance (but just a little bit) take a gander at the is sweep of color leading to an island of tall swaying grasses. Their forms dance in the wind, offering a measure of soft green tranquility. For more on Chrissie's exuberant use of color, go here; for a look at one of her way-cool garden projects, go here.