Horticulture News and Tips
The Horticulture Committee of Dolley Madison will share news and tips with you. DeLane Porter the Commitee Chair is keen for gardeners to gain as much knowledge as possible about the plants they nurture. If you have any questions please send them to : email@example.com and she will respond to your enquires,
Garden Club of America
Honorable Mention: Trillium grandiflorum
Nominated by Carla Passarello & DeLane Porter of Dolley Madison Garden Club, Zone VII
Trillium grandiflorum, (Common names: white trillium, great white trillium or white wake-robin) is an herbaceous perennial native to eastern North America ranging from Nova Scotia south to northern Georgia and west to Minnesota. The life cycle of the Trillium grandiflorum harmonizes with the woodlands, especially maple and beech forests. It favors well-drained neutral to slightly acid soils.
Common in rich, mixed upland forests, T. grandiflorum is a spring ephemeral recognized by a whorl of three, leaf-like bracts with six stamens. The single unbranched stem originating from a stocky rhizome stands about 20 inches. A single root can often produce a colony of plants. With an overlapping base and curves, the funnel shaped flower centers on the axil. Opening from late spring to early summer, this odorless two inch, three-petaled white flower turns pink prior to wilting. Leaves continue until summer when foliage dies back. Released during summer, each white berry contains approximately 16 seeds along with oleic oil, which attracts ants to carry trillium seeds to their nests. At times yellow jackets and harvestmen (daddy longlegs) will broadcast. White-tailed deer have been known to distribute by ingestion and defecation. As this plant is particularly attractive to deer, trillium foraging is often used as a gauge of the size of the deer population. T. grandiflorum is a slow growing plant whose seeds require double dormancy, two years to fully germinate. Flowering is usually determined by the surface volume of the leaf and the size of the rhizome which can take up to seven to ten years to reach optimal size for flowering.
Due to the popularity of T. grandiflorum conservation concerns have been raised, as a vast majority of the plants sold in nurseries are believed to be wild collected. When buying T. grandiflorum one must ensure that the plants are grown from seed. The beauty of the bloom is so dramatic that they have been chosen as the state flower of Ohio and the official flower of Ontario, Canada. It was chosen as the Virginia Native Plant Society “Plant of the Year” in 1996.
Each spring only miles from our homes in the Shenandoah National Park, nature provides us with a breathtaking site. Under the canopies of this massive forest blooms a small, fragile plant the Trillium grandiflorum. Not only is Camp Hoover noted for its history but also for the colonies of great white trillium found nearby. Perhaps one year in late April, we may all journey to Doubletop Mountain on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here we can tour the presidential “Brown House,” in Rapidan Camp (aka Camp Hoover) and view the incredible site of our honorable mention 2016 Freeman Medal plant.
DMGC, Horticulture Chairman
What do these two trees have in common? If you identified them as the same species, Cedrus libani, more commonly known as cedar of Lebanon, you are correct. The tree in the first picture is one of Virginia’s most famous conifers. Located at the entrance to the Annie du Pont Formal Garden at Montpelier, this C. libani was planted during the tenure of President James Madison in the 1820’s. According to oral history, this nearly 200-year-old evergreen along with several other cedars of Lebanon (now fallen) were gifts from Marquis de Lafayette during his visit to the estate. The second picture is a thirty-year-old cedar of Lebanon belonging to DMGC member, Vibeke Ober. Sandy Mudrinich, principal horticulturist for Montpelier, propagated this tree from seeds taken from the famous ‘Madison’ tree.
You may ask, “How could they look so different and still be the same species of cedar?” Taking numerous decades for a C. libani seedling to develop into a stately tree, Vibeke’s juvenile cedar will transform into the more recognizable tabular tree with fairly level branches in approximately twenty years. A mature cedar of Lebanon can reach over 100 feet with a diameter of 6 feet. Often surviving for a thousand years in the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey, C. libani are noted for longevity. The life span diminishes to approximately 200 to 250 years in Britain and the U.S.; consequently, the Montpelier cedar of Lebanon is in its waning years. Their leaves vary from green to blue-green and are needle-like, ¼”-1¾” in length, with long and short shoots. The purple seed cones are produced every second year and mature in 12 months after pollination. However, with cones located exclusively on the highest branches and seed cones developing only after the age of 40, this species is extremely difficult to propagate. Growing in zones 5 to 7 and in altitudes up to 6500 feet, these conifers are found mostly in Lebanon, south-central Turkey and Cyprus. Many cedars of Lebanon have been destroyed in their native lands and are now categorized as an endangered species.
The wood of this species is indestructible: never decaying or rotting, thus making the C. libani a symbol of eternity and immortality. These conifers are highly praised in scripture with no less than 71 Biblical references. According to legend, this cedar was used exclusively in the construction of Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple built by King Solomon. This aromatic durable wood was highly desirable for buildings, ships and fuel during the Iron Age. During antiquity an antiseptic for medicines was distilled from the cedar wood. Egyptians used cedar oil as an embalming implement.
Introduced from Lebanon to Britain in 1638, this species of cedar became one of the most majestic parkland trees. Because of the difficulty in propagating, the cedar of Lebanon was not successfully grown in Britain until the mid 1700’s and much later in America, the late 18th and early 19th century. These graceful trees became the landscaping trend throughout the horticulture world. Perhaps because of this immense popularity, Lafayette gifted the C. libani to his American host in 1824.
A certain bond transcends the ages between Vibeke’s 30-year-old cedar of Lebanon and the matriarch C. libani ‘Madison’ tree; an interconnection must also exist between the growers. Through successful propagation and stewardship, perhaps these famous heirloom trees will thrive for future generations to enjoy.
Past Meets Present
By DeLane Porter
Tradescantia virginiana, Our Native Plant
Tradescantia virginiana, spiderwort, is one of Virginia’s most renowned native herbaceous plant. If we had a state plant, as 35 other states do, T. virginiana should be our chosen symbol. It is only fitting this plant was selected to enhance the posters for the DMGC 2016 Conservation Forum. After all, what other native Virginia plant has as much history and is recognized in so many gardens around the world?
The American Indians used T. virginiana to treat a number of conditions, including stomachaches, kidney ailments, female problems and cancer. The plant’s leaf was smashed and applied to insect bites and stings. (Spiderwort was once believed to be a cure for a poisonous spider that later proved to be harmless; therefore, the common name- spiderwort.) The seeds were crushed into a powder and used as a snuff for nosebleeds. Additionally, leaves were tossed for salads and seeds roasted for soups and breads. The Jamestown settlers learned of the significance of this plant and soon cultivated spiderwort in their gardens. By 1629 this plant flourished in John Tradescant’s famous garden, the “Ark,” located on the south side of the Thames. Tradescant the Elder, “official” gardener to King Charles I, was a subscriber to the Virginia Company and a friend of Captain John Smith. It is believed T. virginiana was shipped from Virginia to England in Captain John Smith’s sea chest. This plant quickly became an ornamental favorite in the seventeenth century and is now propagated in many parts of the world.
John Tradescant the Elder and his son, John the Younger, were both famous gardeners and plant collectors. In 1648 Carl Linnaeus, the father of binomial nomenclature, renamed this genus to honor these English naturalists and explorers.
This hardy plant shares many characteristics with the daylily. The one-inch
three-petaled flower, bright bluish/purple, can be found in wooded areas, beside streams and in fields from southern Canada to northern Argentina. This perennial plant flowers from May to October with seeds ripening between August and October. The blossoms are short-lived but new flowers develop daily during the blooming period. The plant grows to approximately 1 to 1.5 feet with unique leaves that wrap around the stem. The plant prefers moist, alkaline soils with shady conditions. The flowers attract butterflies and bumble bees. Even though T. virginiana is a common wild plant, it is cultivated for borders and container gardening.
Photograph by DeLane Porter
The spiderwort is a great pollinator plant, bumble bees, butterflies and even cicadas love spiderwort.
Members of Dolley Madison Garden Club, please look on the member pages for a list of the Horticultural Meetings that will take place during the coming year. If you do not remember your password please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be emailed to you.
Notes about Winter Gardening
TIPS FOR THE WINTER GARDEN
•Look at your winter landscape. Jot down notes about what you find interesting. Review your garden journal and pictures of last year’s garden to plan necessary additions and wish list additions. If you don’t have a journal, start one. •Order trees and shrubs for February/March planting. •Order seeds for annuals and vegetables. •Check catalogues and web sites for perennials.
•Prune only for a good reason: to remove elongated shoots that detract from the appearance of your plant, to remove dead and diseased wood, to encourage fullness on a leggy plant, and to encourage flowering. •These evergreens should be pruned in January or February: arborvitae, juniper, yews, cedar, false cedar (chamaecyparis), holly, leyland cypress, magnolia, and live oak. •Between January and March prune Beautyberry, Bayberry, Camelia susanqua, clethra, crape myrtles, rose of sharon, St. Johnswort, nandina, potentilla, and sumac. •Most deciduous trees can be pruned in January but not spring flowering trees. Spring flowering trees should be pruned after they finish blooming and maples and birches should be pruned in August. •Prune crape myrtles for bigger blooms. •Prune wisteria by pruning new growth shoots on main horizontal branches back to 5-6 buds.
•To raise pH use wood ashes. Put them on roses, peonies, clematis and daffodils. Apply the ashes at a rate of one 5 gallon pail of ashes for every 1000 square feet. •Feed daylilies a mix of 5-10-10 fertilizer. •Feed daffodils with epsom salts for brighter colors. •Feed houseplants once a month with a liquid fertilizer. But note that gardenias, which need constant moisture in soil and air and a monthly feeding with an acidic fertilizer, benefit from watering with tepid water.
•Sharpen and clean tools and conduct a tool inventory. Check tool handles and plan to replace broken tools. •Do a soil test every 3 years. Acid loving plants (for example, azalea, holly, juniper, pieris, pine, rhododendron, spruce, viburnum) need a soil pH of 4.5-5.5 to extract food from soil. Alkaline loving plants (for example, boxwood, forsythia, lilac, rose, spirea, daphne, hawthorn) need a pH of 6-7. Adjust pH by adding iron sulfate to make soil more acidic, or add pulverized limestone to make soil more alkaline. (It takes about 6 months for the limestone to work.) •Look at borders, beds, and fencing and repair or make changes that are needed or wanted. •If it snows, remove snow from evergreens by tapping upward with a broom.
5. TIPS FOR KEEPING UP WITH YOUR GARDENING
•Start the year off right by keeping a garden journal and record what you did in the garden each day, what was blooming, the amount of rain or snow, the high and low temperatures of the day, and other personal notes. •We all get calendars in the mail. Use one just for recording when things bloom. Also make a note of how long they stay blooming. •Try keeping a photo album of your garden throughout the year. Pictures help to remind you what your garden looks like at specific times of the year. When it comes time to order bulbs or find a spot for a new perennial, you can “see” where to put them.
Information about Suzanne Aiello
Suzanne Aiello became a Club member 15 years ago. She served as the Chairman of the Horticultural Committee for eight years and wrote a garden column each month for the Club newsletter. She served as Club President from 2009 to 2011. She received horticulture awards from both the GCA and GCV. She received the Zone VII Communications Award from the GCA and the GCA Club Medal of Merit from the DMGC. She is a Master Gardener.
As printed in the Orange County Review January 2017 written by Suzanne Aiello
Horticulture and the NAL
During the 2017 GCA NAL Conference we were introduced to numerous outstanding conservation speakers from coast to coast. It is difficult to single out one speaker, but I would like to acquaint you with Louie Schwartzberg, whose life work encapsulates horticulture and photography along with the essence of conservation.
Schwartzberg is a cinematographer, director, and producer of time-lapse, high-speed and macro cinematography. Beginning his career in the 1960’s while filming campus protests, he went on to become a visual artist who tells stories that celebrate life and the wisdom of nature, people, and places.
His theatrical releases include the 3D IMAX film, Mysteries of the Unseen World with National Geographic, narrated by Forest Whitaker, and the documentary Wings of Life for Disneynature, narrated by Meryl Streep. Mysteries of the Unseen World is a journey into invisible worlds that are too slow, too fast, too small and too vast for the human eye to see, while Wings of Life focuses on pollination and the web of life. Three of Schwartzberg’s TED Talks can be viewed online: The Hidden Beauty of Pollination, Hidden Miracles of the Natural World, and Nature, Beauty, Gratitude. (Please go to the link below to view.)
He is currently in production on the Fantastic Fungi that shows how this organism can provide sustainable solutions to some of the world’s greatest problems, from curing diseases to saving bees and cleaning the atmosphere. His Netflix series, Moving Art, will premier later in 2017.
Those attending were most fortunate to meet Louie Schwartzberg, a genius with a talent to share to the entire world. According to Schwartzberg, “Beauty is nature’s tool for survival-we protect what we love.”
Enjoy viewing these documentaries on TED Talks, and I hope you will share his knowledge and talents with your family and friends.
Grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy, DMGC Horticulture Chairman