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Hats off to this butterfly plant

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Here's a winter bloomer that should be added to your list of bird and butterfly attracting plants. Holmskioldia sanguinea's intriguingflowers provide color in winter. The round and fused calyx encircles the tubular corolla of the unusual flowers on Holmskioldia sanguinea, creating a shape that gives the plant its common name, Chinese hat plant. The calyx of a flower ordinarily is green and often leaf-like, consisting of the sepals that surround the developing bud. This calyx adds to the...

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A croton by another name

Monday, November 8, 2010

Red undersides of the leaves of thisChinese croton are quite beautiful, once you see them. If it had not been a windy day, I wouldn't have stopped abruptly at the sight of the shrub, Excoecaria cochinchinensis, or Chinese croton. I've walked past it all the time and never noticed it. But the wind picked up some branches and revealed the beautiful red underside of the leaves. From Southeast Asia and China, this lovely plant has inconspicuous flowers in the axils of its elliptical...

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Col. Montgomery's conifers

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Col. Robert Montgomery, who founded Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and named it for his friend David Fairchild, collected palms for his South Florida estate, but he also collected conifers at his home in Cos Cob, CT. He donated 200 conifers from his collection to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and recently I visited that garden and the Colonel's trees, including spruce, hemlock, cedar and yew. This sign identifies the sprucename for Col. Robert Montgomery. The conifer...

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Peppers for pizza: just use soap

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

At the Edible Garden Festival, I demonstrated how to create a pizza garden with tomato, pepper, oregano, basil and parsley plants. I put 1 of each in a terra cotta bowl containing a 50-50 mix of potting soil and aged horse manure. I helped some pint-sized gardeners learn to work with transplants and carefully pat down the root balls, adding more potting mix as we needed it. Banana peppers. The little gardens were meant only as inspiration for larger versions, but just for the fun of it, I ...

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Every year it astounds

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tacca integrifolia, the white bat flower, is so amazing that I find myself photographing it annually. Its whiskers are bracts, its bracts are elegant, and its flowers are other-worldly. Come by the Conservatory and see for yourself. Tacca integrifolia, showing largeand narrow bracts around thedark purple flowers. The stigma is surrounded by six anthers, which concealthe pollen....

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Shifting into high season

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The place is more interesting these days. As the summer residents dwindle - goodbye to a badly battered Red A juvenile red-masked parakeet. Admiral butterfly and a dragonfly in woeful shape - new ones are appearing. The juvenile Red-Masked Parakeets are getting their red markings and the Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers are making zpee sounds all around the garden. A Black and White Warbler was in an oak tree in the butterfly garden last week, as was a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. The Zebra...

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A bittersweet little garden story

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Last week, a beautiful male monarch emerged from his chyrsalis in my butterfly garden, and so I was watching two additional chrysalises in anticipation of seeing the event occur. The jade green cases were smaller than normal, but on Thanksgiving, one chrysalis began its gradual change to transparency, a sign that a butterfly soon might hatch. There's a small slit in the chrysalis,on the right side, but the butterfly did not emerge. So at 6:30 Friday morning, I set up my camera on a ...

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November 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Between November 24 and November 26 Dr. Javier Francisco Ortega traveled to the Dominican Republic to enhance our current research and educational ties with the National Botanic Garden Dr. Rafael M. Moscoso (NBG-DR). During this visit we worked on a schedule for joint projects for 2011. They include research on conservation biology of endemic species of Pseudophoenix (Arecaceae) and the critically endangered endemic genus Salcedoa (Asteraceae). We also discussed collaborations through ...

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