Friday, October 23, 2015

Smilax pumila

Smilax pumila
This low growing species is not reliably garden hardy here and is grown in a cold frame. It's in bloom today, and with luck there will eventually be red fruits. It reminds me a bit of some of the Asarum or even of trailing arbutus, Epigaea repens. This species was first tried here in 2006; those plants went on to bloom and set seed, but the seed did not survive the winter, and the plants themselves eventually perished. That's why the current acquisition is being grown in a cold frame. It's the sort of plant about which most people will say "more curious than beautiful", "collector's plant" or "botanical interest only" - in other words, just my kind of plant. I've never met a Smilax I didn't like. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium aka Aster oblongifolius

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 

Years ago a friend called my attention to a long narrow planting of this aster around the corner from her home. Her neighbor had it planted all along the sidewalk, and it had formed a low mass which, when in bloom, was very handsome. At that time, I had plants of two of the best-known cultivars of this species, 'October Skies' and 'Raydon's Favorite', growing in my garden. But both of those were relatively taller than the plants along that sidewalk.
Eventually, self-sown seedlings began to appear in the garden. These were not so tall as the named cultivars. I like the one in the image above: a month ago you would not have expected it to have formed such a broad mass of bloom. I'll be spreading this one around the garden soon. And it makes a great companion for the Sternbergia lutea, doesn't it? (Look carefully, there is one peeking out in the upper left hand corner of the image).