In This Issue
Plant Spotlight: xGordlinia grandiflora
Alpines in August? Succulents, the "Silvers," and some Strays
Agastache or "Aghast at Me"
Let Us Conserve
Late Season Planting
Upcoming Events
Plant Spotlight: xGordlinia grandiflora

By Jed Duguid

xGordlinia grandiflora 

The Tea Family, or Theaceae, is an important and popular plant family for many good reasons.
Camellia sinensis makes tea, one of the most popular drinks on the planet. Multiple species of Stewartia provide a perfect four season tree for gardeners to lust for. Camellias, probably the most common landscape plant in the family, are grown through-out a huge portion of the country and seedlings are constantly being tested to withstand more cold. The mere story of Franklinia alatamaha, is the stuff of lore and is oft' written about in many great tomes regarding plants and plant exploration. Gordonia species grace many gardens throughout the southeast U.S., particularly in wet and boggy places. Areas where finding a flowering tree with attractive foliage and showy white flowers, tolerant of such conditions, can become problematic. For the last few years we have been excited about an intergeneric hybrid (a cross between two species of different genera within the same family). We think this hybrid will likely, in the not-too- distant future, be as commonly known as any of the aforementioned plants.

In 1974 Dr. Elwin Orton or North Carolina State University (NCSU) successfully bred Franklinia

alatamaha and Gordonia lasianthus. Dr. Orton wanted to combine the cold hardiness of Franklinia with the more showy and glossy foliage of Gordonia. His first attempts resulted in many dead seedlings but he desperately wanted to increase the genetic base for future breeding. In August of 2002, Dr. Thomas Ranney, of NCSU, took pollen from Gordonia lasianthus 'Variegata' and hand pollinated flowers of Franklinia alatamaha resulting in seed being collected and planted in September of 2003. In January of 2004, nine of the resulting hybrid seedlings from these grew well and flowered by September of the same year. Of those seedlings, which continued to be grown, propagated and bred our current version as well as 'Sweet Tea' has sprung.

xGordlinia grandiflora, or Mountain Gordlinia as the hybrid is called, shows great promise as a

valuable landscape plant for gardens in the Northeast. It will likely grow to the 20 or 25 foot range in our northern gardens with a spread of about half that. Furthermore, xGordlinia seems to have very good phytopthera resistance-one of the main plagues of Franklinia. Showy white flowers, typical in the Theaceae family, start in August and usually continue through September. I even remember quite a few days last October remarking on the white flowers juxtaposed to the coming crimson winter foliage color. xGordlinia remains semi-evergreen, holding on to some of the crimson leaves through the winter. It prefers sun, but a little shot of afternoon shade wouldn't it bother it in the least. I think if you're in the warm side of zone 6 as most of us are (USDA even calls many of us 7 now) you shouldn't have too difficult a time finding a space for this in your garden. Definitely exciting stuff! Unusual bloom time, great fall color, and a reasonably sized tree make this looking out for! Time will tell how this hybrid performs over the long-term, but all early signs point towards definitely try it! I know I would put my money on Gordlinia over half of the new hydrangeas being introduced, but that's just me and an article for another day...

Alpines in August?

Succulents, the "Silvers," and some Strays

By Lori Chips

One of the major joys in alpine gardening is admiring your adorable plants even before & after bloom. If you look around in August at your troughs and/or rock garden & feel that there is something missing, perhaps it is time to boost your population of buns and cushions. They always offer a profound profile with often intricate and intriguing texture. Several plants that consistently get tons of attention in the wall garden are the cushion plants, simply for their
foliage, forming domes of dense evergreen leaves. Even in May when the garden is a riot of
flower color these plants catch your eye.

This is the time of year to rely on succulents as they are pros at handling the heat of summer.

We have a good selection on the bench, from sedums to sempervivums to orostachys. Pay
special attention to the plants known affectionately as the "Huffies," or Jovibarba heuffelii
varieties. These, more than any other "Hen & Chick" actually increase in color intensity as the summer steams on. Look for J. h. 'Sunny Side Up' with a gold/green base and vermillion tips.
We also have some 6" pots of mixed "Huffies" that we grew from seed that are displaying a
variety of colors and forms. Who knows? As they mature you may discover the next "it" plant
nestled in your purchase.

Sempervivum mixed 'Huffies', Sempervivum J.h. 'Sunny Side Up', Sedum nevii

Don't miss out on Sedum nevii. This is a native with rich apple green rosettes that will actually

accept moderate shade. When grown in sun the leaf tips turn rosy as well as the stems.
Chiastophyllum oppositifolium is another native succulent for shade. Too big for all but the
largest trough (or monoculture) it will form clumps of thick scalloped leaves & produce
cascading chains of lemon yellow bells in late spring. While we are considering shade, include a
diminutive Hosta venusta in your planting, bearing lavender flowers in the middle of summer. 
An interesting choice for shade or sun is Euonymous fortunei 'Kewensis.' It will behave as a groundcover for a while, even a trailer, but best of all it has a charming proclivity to climb,
densely, like a vertical mat - up stones and tree trunks. Its tiny leaves are in perfect scale with
small plants.

As the sun beats mercilessly down on the garden and on us, turn to the silver plants for help.

These natives of arid places like Turkey, Utah and the Grand Tetons have evolved to reflect back
the punishing sun and to thrive in xeric environments. Artemisias and Antennarias are choice
for this. The silver feathers of Tanacetum densum v. amanum love the light. The intricacy of
these leaves begs for close inspection. (Do not over-pet this plant. It tends to resent it over time.) Two silver potentillas fit this silver profile: P. hyparctica 'Nana' with golden flowers & P. porphyrantha, a growable cinquefoil in pink.

Tanacetum densum v. amanum

A workhorse silver groundcover for brilliant sun is Achillea tomentosa. Many of you have noticed its bright yellow corymbs blooming for an extended period in spring in the crevice garden at the end of the wall garden. Personally, my favorite time for this plant is after it finishes blooming. Once deadheaded the silver foliage tightens up & seems to get brighter, making an enchanting silver mat.

Now for some strays that fit nicely in the summer slot. Hypericum olympicum 'Citrinun' is

budding up for a second (or is it a third?) time. Large pale yellow whirligigs with extended
anthers cover this slightly shrubby alpine. If deadheaded now & then it will bloom on & off for a chunk of the summer.

Salix arctica 'Petraea', Gentiana septemfida v. lagodechiana

I must note (in a whisper) to those of you who have been yearning for it - a limited number of

Salix arctica 'Petraea' are now ready for sale. You know who you are....Finally I could not end an article about summer alpines without mentioning Gentiana septemfida v. lagodechiana, in heavy bud right now with blossoms popping open all the time. What could be better on a hot summer day than blue in the garden? It's (almost) as good as a cool swim on an August afternoon.

Agastache or "Aghast at Me"

By Melanie Fox 

"Alright, I confess I was a bit peeved with this plant after finding out that I had been mispronouncing it's name for years...Ag-a- stash instead of...U-gast-a-kee. Who knew? Apparently not me ! " Putting my pride aside, I have to admit that Agastaches are a stellar group of plants. Stellar attributes include long summer flowering, deer resistance, and being extremely attractive to an array of pollinators including hummingbirds!

One species of Agastache is native to Korea (Agastache rugosa) while the other twenty- one are native to North America, a large number from the southwest t. U.S. and parts of Mexico. Most commercially available cultivars come from crosses or selections of four species; Agastache foeniculum or Anise Hyssop(Canada south to Georgia), Agastache rugosa (Korea), Agastache cana ( Texas), and Agastache auriantica ( New Mexico, Chihuaha Mexico). This genus can range in hardiness from zone 3-9, so some of it's members are essentially annuals in northern New England. That does not diminish their usefulness in the sunny summer border. Anise hyssop (A. foeniculum) has mildly licorice flavored foliage which can be harvested to sprinkle over salads or brewed into an herbal tea. Early Native Americans considered Agastache foeniculum an important herbal remedy to treat coughs, stomach upset, and diarrhea.

Most Agastaches prefer sunny , well drained soil that isn't overly high in organic content. They are drought tolerant once established and should be allowed to dry out to the point of wilting between watering. The two species Agastache rugosa and Agastache foeniculum are more tolerant of soil moisture and winter wet. They have been using the two species in breeding to try introduce these traits to western Agastaches which have many desirable flower colors and larger blooms. Flower colors now come in a delicious array of soft tones from blues to lavenders to yellow-golds, oranges to pink and soft red. The foliage can be a clear green or seem almost silver on the Agastaches that show more traits of their western parents. Agastaches shoot copious spires of flowers in July, August, and into September (with proper deadheading) making them an important food source for honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Deadheading the spent flower spikes encourages healthy re-bloom and keeps the border looking fresh.

Here are a few of my favorite selections of hardy (z 5-9) Agastache foeniculum crosses : A. "Blue

Fortune, A. 'Black Adder', and A. 'Golden Jubilee'. I can't really pick a favorite as 'Blue Fortune' has strong stems and sturdy light blue violet flowers and can reach the majestic height of four feet at maturity - 'Black Adder' has similar attributes with a wonderful almost bi-color blue dark blue bloom - 'Golden Jubilee' has brilliant chartreuse foliage which lights up the border well before it even starts to bloom.

My picks from western or more complicated crosses are as follows:

Agastache 'Bolero' smoky foliage with stunning deep lavender pink flowers 2' x 2' z 5-9

Agastache 'Rosie Posie"-Bright purple -pink flowers with silver -green foliage, compact habit

Agastache 'Kudos Mandarin'- Wonderful rich orange flowers with soft apricot tones and silvery green foliage z 5-9

Agastache 'Blue Boa'-Much larger fluffy blue flower spikes than its parents with rich green foliage. 3' x 2' z 5-9

Agastache 'Mango Tango'-Rosy pink calyxes and soft apricot flowers with silver green foliage and

improved tolerance for humidity and winter wet. 12-15" x 15" Z 5-9

Agastache 'Blue Boa' and 'Mango Tango'

Now that I've recovered from my Latin name shame, I appreciate the lesson as it has made me focus more closely on this terrific and varied group of plants who have more than earned a place in the sunny summer border. I have come to believe that adding Agastaches to your summer border is a win, win - Long blooming, deer resistant, and great for our pollinator environment. Personally I'm fond of flowers , pollinators, and winning , so I have more than a few in my border, care to join me ?

P.S. Here is a recipe I ran across in my Agastache research

Radish and Herb Salad with Sungold Tomatoes and Strawberries

This salad combines spicy radishes with sweet sungold tomatoes and strawberries and treats the herbs like salad greens. You can feel free to use actual greens (like baby arugula or spinach) for all or part of the herbs, but if you go that route, I would still garnish the salad with some minced dill.

Serves 2
  • cups sliced radishes (I used organic "common" red radishes) 
  • 2 cups loosely packed herb leaves (I used equal parts of basil, mint, lemon balm, and dill, plus a handful of anise hyssop flowers from my garden)
  • cup sungold (or other small "cherry" tomatoes)
  • cup very ripe quartered strawberries
  • tablespoons organic plain yogurt
  • tablespoons pure maple syrup
  1. Mix all of the salad ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. In a smaller bowl, stir together the yogurt and the maple syrup, and pour over the salad. Mix well and serve immediately.


Let Us Conserve

By Christopher Ashcroft

Summertime and the livin' is easy...or so we think. Fireworks, the beach and barbecues are just a few activities that come to mind for many when summer rolls around. The temperature heats up and your plants are going to need that helping hand with water. This process is not as simple as it sounds. There is much more to satisfying your plant's water needs than simply turning on the sprinkler or spraying them with the hose. Efficient watering techniques can save you time and money. Shall we see how?

Before anything, it's best to know your gardening zone. According to the most current version of the Plant Hardiness Map, we're in Zone 7 here at the nursery, while most of Connecticut is Zone 6. Every garden differs in sun, shade, dampness and dryness. Get to know your grounds. Grouping plants by water needs can be a considerable step for conservation when planting so try to keep that in mind.

Now that you're familiar with your garden and are aware of your garden zone you'll need the right tools. The standard garden hose and nozzle can be one of the least effective methods with a substantial amount of water being wasted in mist, evaporation and runoff. My suggestion for the hose is a wand attachment that soaks the root system. Sprinkler heads work well for turf, but when it comes to larger scale plantings (trees, shrubs, perennials) they may not do the trick. For this scenario a soaker hose or drip line is your best option saturating the area directly around the root system and preventing water from being wasted on foliage and areas with no plantings. Beyond hoses and sprinklers there is new smart technology on the rise. Companies like GreenIQ, PlantLink, Rachio and Raindrop are just a few paving the way with smart sprinkler systems and sensors. This new tech is certainly worth exploring, but the old fashioned methods still do the trick.

When it comes to storage make sure your hose and watering tools are kept in a shady spot. If a hose has been sitting in the sun all day that hot water can stress out sensitive plants. Should you have no option for a shady spot you'll want to run that hot water out of the hose before watering any plants.

Many gardeners have their opinion on when the best time to water is. Early morning is the ideal time to soak your plants. Watering while it's cool outside allows for it to soak in before it evaporates on the surface. When watering at dusk or in the early evening you run the risk of fungus as they thrive in dark, damp areas. Do your best to get things soaked in the morning.

An important matter concerning garden beds is mulch crusting over. It's imperative to make sure mulch has been raked or loosened so water may soak through to the plant's root system and not bead off. Mulch facilitates water retention and keeps the base of the plant cool. It also helps with preventing weeds from developing, which can suck up water for primary plants. Make sure your mulch is around 2 inches thick for the best results.

It appears that we have covered the basics on how to efficient irrigate your plants. That being said we should go over Xeriscaping which can be defined as quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment. Seven principles comprise Xeriscaping.
  1. Planning and Design
  2. Soil Improvement
  3. Appropriate Plant Selection
  4. Practical Turf areas
  5. Efficient Irrigation
  6. Mulch
  7. Appropriate Maintenance
This considerate form of landscaping is quickly becoming popular in regions all over the world and for a good reason. For a more in depth look at Xeriscaping I suggest clicking here.

So many ways to conserve water! A little bit of research, the proper tools and techniques and you're on your way to saving time, money and lending a helping hand to mother earth. All the while your plants are efficiently irrigated.

Late Season Planting

By Anne & Will Rowlands, Publishers, Connecticut Gardener Magazine

Gardening -- as a hobby, pastime, passion or career path - connects us to our surroundings like
little else. From season to season and year to year, gardeners are constantly learning, and we're
eager to share our growing experience with others. It's a really friendly community.

Newbies will start out slowly, tentatively -- visiting a nursery or garden center in spring and

deciding as best they can on which plants to bring home from the abundant, exuberant display
of form, foliage and flower. It's kind of scary, this overwhelming selection process - what if my
plant doesn't thrive? Thankfully, early choices and experiments often work out and, as
experience broadens, the landscape of the newly-more- confident gardener begins to fill with an
increasing variety of annuals, perennials, and woodies.

The more experienced novices seek information on garden design, bloom succession, seasonal

interest, soil health, pest management, and the larger ecological connections between the
garden and the world. Many can't get enough of their new passion and enroll in courses, go to
lectures, visit gardens and botanical gardens for inspiration; while others are content to keep it
simple and prefer a "manageable" number of plantings and lots of open space.

For the die-hard gardener, there's barely time to take a breath between putting the garden to

bed and "spring," which begins right after the winter solstice when the days start getting longer
and the seed catalogs arrive. They ask for garden tools from Santa. They gaze out over the stark
winter landscape and ponder the coming growing season: Hmmm, wouldn't that open spot in
front of the fence look better planted with a red-twig dogwood? Surely the lavender berries of a
Callicarpa would stand out just perfectly against the big boulder out back.

Callicarpa dichtoma 'Early Amethyst'

And just when gardeners of all stages can't stand to wait another moment, April arrives ...
garden centers and nurseries open up, garden club and conservation district plant sales
abound, and it's finally time to head out and pick this perennial, that annual, and - oh my gosh
- how could I pass up that gorgeous flowering crabapple over there in full bloom?

Malus 'Donald Wyman'

For the next few months there's a frantic period of adopting plants and trying to get them in

the ground in a timely manner. Die-hards are continually revisiting favorite plant purveyors to
make sure they haven't missed anything (they surely have!). But for many of us, by July it's
pretty much over. The dog days arrive, the cicadas buzz, and after sweating through early
morning weeding, watering, and tending, we retreat to our air-conditioning, pools or the beach.
Admiring our gardens from shady porches and patios, we may notice a more subdued display.
Plants and gardeners alike are starting to head into dormancy and it often happens that, in our
frenzy to buy things that look great at the nursery in spring and summer, our gardens fall short
on late-season interest in the fruit, foliage or flower department.

Many smaller nurseries and garden centers are also going dormant, although their seasonal

offerings of brilliant chrysanthemums, ornamental cabbages and kales (and don't forget
pumpkins!) add that pop of color and form to any garden. Luckily for the gardener looking to
find some hardy plants that stand out in the late season, this is the time to see what's out
there. Knowledgeable and passionate staff at good nurseries and garden centers will happily
provide guidance. Remember, they like to reduce their inventory before winter, so there are
often bargains to be had.

Late-season planting has tremendous advantages. From mid-August through mid-October, leaf

transpiration is low and root generation potential is high. The moderate to cool temperatures
are less likely to cause heat stress, and seasonal rains help plants establish their root systems.
When the air temperature is cooler than the soil, new root growth is encouraged without new
top growth, making for a stronger, better developed root system for next spring when the plant
breaks dormancy. To bolster that all-important root growth, mulching your new plantings helps
retain the required moisture (never "volcano mulch," though!).

This is also the time to pick up bulbs for next spring. The magical first crocus, snowdrop, or giant

allium are the happy result of a little shopping around in the fall. Play with blooms in one color
or pull out your color wheel. Plant drifts of color, or throw a bucketful of bulbs and drop them
in holes where they land. Note bloom time to create a succession of color, and don't forget to
plan for different bloom heights.

So go forth and plant, but please heed this advice: avoid allowing the very beautiful, but

extremely invasive burning bush (Euonoymus alatus), porcelain berry, oriental bittersweet (or
any other invasive plant) to remain as guests on your property. They're the guests from hell
that can, and will, overcome any landscape, so don't make them welcome no matter how
pretty their fruit, foliage or flowers look. Responsible garden centers and nurseries would never
let you walk out with these plants, but that won't stop these thugs from finding their way into
your gardens. If you MUST buy Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), make sure you're not
buying one of the aggressive varieties. Barberry-infested forests are tick nurseries, providing a
prickly safe harbor for the little hosts of Lyme-disease carrying ticks.

With cooler days and less garden pressures, there's a great opportunity to learn more about

invasive plants in Connecticut at the 8th biennial Invasive Plant Symposium at UConn Storrs on
Tuesday, October 11. Titled "Invasive Plants in Our Changing World: Learn from the Past,
Prepare for the Future," the conference features national, regional, and local experts as well as
citizen volunteers sharing practical solutions for invasive plant management and actions
needed to promote native species and improve wildlife habitat. It normally sells out, so register
early at

  1. Clematis 'Ramona' - This climber has splendid blue-purple flowers that bloom on old and new wood.
  2. Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky' - A wonderful two-toned effect with the blooms opening white and turning to pink as the season progresses.
  3. Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers' - A unique sweet coneflower cultivar with rolled rays and foliage that possesses a subtle vanilla scent.
  4. Papaver atlanticum - Delicate creamsicle colored blooms that soften any garden.

8/27: Annual Show of the CT Dahlia Society, West Hartford, CT -  Click for more info

9/10: Garden Study Weekend Symposium, Southbury, CT - Click for more info

10/11: Biennial Invasive Plant Symposium, Storrs, CT - Click for more info

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