Sunday
Sep142014

Edgeworthia, a Delightful, Easy-Care Shrub 

Just three years ago I purchased an Edgeworthia chrysantha, also called Chinese Paperbush. This deciduous shrub was a small thing at the time, about a foot tall, but I was captivated by its sphere of tubular flowers, reminding me of a little girl's white tutu with frilly yellow petticoats.So far I have nothing but good things to say about this plant, which provides multi-seasonal interest with little work from me. My Edgeworthia, though not yet a mature specimen, has already grown into a delightful shrub whose architectural form, cinnamon-colored stems and soft fuzzy leaves, six inches or more in length, are already making a statement in the garden.The shrub is often advertised as growing to 5 feet, but it can grow in an umbrella shape up to 8 feet tall by 10 feet wide, so I have left plenty of room for it. My three year old Edgeworthia has already grown to about four feet tall and wide.

This public domain photo shows a mature Edgeworthia laden with silver buds.As beautiful as Edgeworthia is during the growing season, the most outstanding feature has to be its fragrant flowers. Tight silver buds begin to swell with the approach of winter, and the flowers bloom on the tips of naked branches in late winter through early spring. They appear at the same time as those of its cousin, Daphne odora. Both shrubs are members of the Thymelaecea family. Sometimes Edgeworthia is call Yellow Daphne. The silver outer surface of its long-lasting blooms are furry in appearance, while the insides of the tubules are waxy. The wonderful spicy fragrance will have you sniffing, but you have to get down and look upward to appreciate the full beauty of the nodding blooms.

This has been a trouble-free shrub for me. I have not done anything to it since I planted it, except to apply a fish emulsion solution to it in early spring. I planted it in in partial shade under the high branches of an oak tree. Edgeworthia prefers well-drained soil, but for best flower production it needs plenty of moisture during the growing season. If established in soil high in organic matter, it is fairly drought tolerant. It also is deer resistant. It grows well in hardiness zones 7-9, and it may survive in protected areas of zone 6. 

There are several cultivars of this shrub, some having orange or red blooms. Edgeworthia papyrifera is very similar, though smaller and generally not as fragrant nor as hardy as E. chrysantha.

 

Sunday
Sep072014

A Quick Walk-through the Garden and an Act of Insanity

It is still too hot and muggy to do anything in the garden other than a quick walk-through. Lou keeps a sharp eye on the weather service, and he tells me the weather will turn cooler next weekend. Meanwhile, here is what my last quick walk-through turned up.

The crepe myrtle trees are past their peak but are still adding color to the garden. These wonderful trees love our heat and humidity and bloom through most of the summer:

That’s a good thing, because there is not a lot of color out there, except for various shades of green. I love foliage, but it is nice to have something bright.

I also like the crepe myrtles this time of year because they are shedding their bark. There are some newer cultivars that have outstanding patches of cinnamon colored bark, but the bark of even the old species is interesting.

The Japanese maple outside our dining room window has assumed its golden September hues:In spring this tree is fire engine red. Later this fall it will become a kaleidoscope of gold, orange, burgundy, and purple. This unnamed seedling, which I once had to rescue from beneath the boot of a contactor who did not recognize the twig as a tree, has grown into a fabulous specimen.

Here are some close-ups of leaf patterns, always among my favorite photo subjects:Clockwise from top left: Tropicana Canna Lily; Francis Williams Hosta; Blue Hawaii Colocasia; Unnamed Japanese Maple; Variegated Fig; Coleus.

A couple of bugs paused long enough for me to capture their images. First, a bee on the Tutti-Frutti Butterfly Bush:

And then a skipper on a Lantana blossom:

I have been keeping a small Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ specimen in a pot until it could grow a bit more. I will transplant it into the garden soon. It has grown several new stems over the summer, and now it is blooming.  The blooms are tiny but deserve a closer look:

Here are some more blooms around the garden. Most are common annuals, but I like them because they revel in the heat and humidity.Clockwise from top left: Marigold; Gomphera; Zinnia; Portulaca with Powis Castle Artemesia; Impatiens; Caryopteris (Blue Mist shrub).Finally, I recently moved the Variegated Winter Daphne into a larger pot. It had outgrown its old one, but what was I thinking? I was lulled into insanity by a day of rain. Somehow I thought it would be OK to transplant this finicky plant with a reputation of sudden death, especially after root disturbance, during the hottest month of the year. I whispered sweet things to the daphne and promised it will be much happier in a new home. I am giving it encouraging words daily. It has been a week and it still lives.Variegated Winter Daphne in its new pot

I am holding my breath.