Cajun Hibiscus at Dupont Nursery

Near the beautiful banks of Bayou Plaquemine, in Ibberville parish, nestled are 10 acres of land that harbors a jewel in the Green Industry of Louisiana. In the small bayou town of Plaquemine, where the majestic cypress trees rise out of the coal black waters and Spanish Moss sways lazily in the warm subtropical breezes, sits the well-known Dupont Nursery. The Dupont’s are mostly known for their hybrid Cajun Hibiscus, which owner and founder, Mr. Robert Dupont, Sr. has been hybridizing since 1997, has captivated hibiscus lovers across the globe. With names like Ohh-La-La, Magnifique and C’est Bon, it isn’t hard to see why hibiscus lovers anxiously await new cultivars from Mr. Dupont
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When Mr. Dupont Sr. retired from the florist industry in 1995 and began hybridizing hibiscus in 1997, he never imagined he would capture the title of Hibiscus of the Year. But that is just what he did. In 2005, one of his outstanding cultivated beauties called Black Dragon won him that honor from the American Hibiscus Society. Since then he has managed to

Foreign Visitors Without Visas Bugs, Borers, and Beetles

Sunday, May 18 begins Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week to educate the public about the insect that has killed 25 million ash trees and threatens billions more across America. To learn more about this devastating species, read Paul Rodman’s excellent article “Devil in a Green Dress,” and visit the official website, http://www.emeraldashborer.info

The original focus of this article was to be an overview of imported pests that have become a serious threat in the United States. However, as with all interesting research, one thing led to another and the article expanded to gargantuan proportions–too much to absorb in one reading, so I will divide the subject into separate articles: The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and the Japanese Beetle (which will be in late June before these insects show up).
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Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halyomorpha halys)

Most of us are familiar with the Green Stink Bug (Acrosternum hilare). Its East Asian cousin, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1998 and quickly spread to

African Violets – You Can Grow Them

The first thing you need to know is that African Violets are just like us. They like for their homes to be about the same temperature that we do. Life in the 70s is perfect for these houseplants. So, if you are comfortable, not too hot or cold, they will be too. Plants that get too little light will have deep green, thin leaves. They will also be reaching for light. Plants that get too much light will have yellow or light colored leaves, lacking the color the plants are known for.

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Water Spots –

A big fear in raising African Violets is those dreaded water spots. However, there is a simple and stress free way to avoid them. If, when you water, you get a little water on the leaves just wipe it off right then and there. The plant will stay fresh and the leaves will stay green. They don’t like their water to be too warm or too cold. Lukewarm water is the only way to go. Give them a feeding of half the regular amount of any basic 20-20-20 fertilizer each time

How to Plan a Garden

Look at what you have.

Every garden has features that are there already. The newest home on the newest street already has sod, sun, shade, and water. Most homes will also already have trees, shrubs, bulbs, and maybe a flower here or there. Your job, first and foremost, is to get out there and find out what you have, why it is there, and what good it is. It is never the best idea to tear everything out and start totally new. Mature plants, if they are the right plants in the right place, add depth and beauty to the garden.

Set Goals

What do you use the yard for? Do you have kids? Do you want vegetables, or flowers, or both? What about propagation and a greenhouse? What do you like to do outside? If your son loves soccer you want to have a good expanse of green grass for him to practice on. If you are empty nesters and ready to grow your own food you may want to go grass free. You need to think about what you use the yard for. What you don’t want to have happen is the beds looking stunning until you have a soccer

Building A Formal Rose Garden Part 2

Some of you know me, many do not. Back on September 11, 2001 I was working for a large bank in NY. 20% of our entire staff lost a family member.

After racing home and unable to watch any more news, I went to the only place there was for solace – our garden. Most of the plants got watered that day and the next with an overabundance of salt….I cried buckets as I tended the gardens, not knowing what else to do.

But that’s it, eh? Our gardens contain HOPE!

It would be a year before I found Dave’s Garden via a Google search. During that year our gardens became the place that continually gave us joy as we watched new plantings – some failed and died, others thrived. That spring our entire family room was filled with racks of seedlings – vegetables, flowers – it didn’t matter. Just seeing new growth was a thrill.

Then came DG….I truly was not much of an internet person using my computer mainly for business and plant and cooking research.

Slowly I learned. Here was a group of gardeners who felt their gardens were also an oasis of hope. Some actually made their livings from gardening

The Story of Iris Part 4- What is in a name

The newbie trying to trade any plant soon learns the importance of knowing the name of the flower they are trying to trade. But in the world of iris with so many places having their iris misnamed, or passed along from friend and family, or gathered from out of the way places – what is an iris name really worth?

Nothing

There is nothing about not knowing the name of a plant that will make you love it less or more. It will not smell better, it will not stand out better in the garden, and it will not change into anything less than the plant it was born to be. Most gardens have one or two plants without their names and, while some people fight to figure out the names of their little flowers, the question is why? There is a simple pleasure to be had with just enjoying a flower for the flower’s sake and not for the name, breeder, or pedigree of the plant.

Everything

Without knowing the name of a plant, it is next to impossible to get many people to trade with you. It is hard to list, and, no matter how many names you know in the

Plants of Many Colors – When Green is Just Not Enough

Color is the spice of green

We expect green from plants, so it is no surprise that when bold colors make their appearance on a plant, the spectacle grabs our attention. For example, look at the thumbnail picture to the right, showing Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Lutea’. If this plant were all green, would it attract your eye as much as this one does? Chances are, it wouldn’t, unless you are partial to large leaved aroids (as I am!). What I wish to share here, though, is the why of leaf colors, or what is most accurately called variegation

In my view, variegation consists of four main types, chimeric, structural. or anatomical, genetic, and viral. Here I’ll focus on chimeric variegation, which includes whites, yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, and purples in splotchy or random patterns on the leaves.
Two in One

The word “chimera” (from which the word “chimeric” is derived) refers to a mythological beast that consisted of multiple animals combined into one monstrous creature. Chimeric variegation refers to a plant consisting of two genetically distinct types of cells, yielding random areas of coloration on an otherwise green plant. By contrast, non-chimeric plants have cells of identical genetic constitution. What is relevant here

Anemone, the Windflower Part 2 – the Fibrous-rooted Species

In part 2 of this 3 part series I will discuss the attributes of a few of the fibrous-rooted anemone species. As mentioned earlier, there are about 120 species of Anemone which fall into three groups; the tuberous-rooted, fibrous-rooted and tall, fall-flowering. By far the largest group are those with fibrous roots or at most, thin rhizomes. These grow in a wide range of habitats from semi-deserts, grasslands, woodland, subalpine, high alpine and even the high Arctic, throughout the world. The tuberous-rooted, on the other hand, are mostly European (refer to part 1 http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1021/ ) while the fall-flowering hail from China and Japan.

Let’s start close to home with some American species. One of the most widespread is A. canadensis (zone 3), a widespread woodlander to grassland species which can reach 30-60 cm. This species has loose clusters of 3-5 cm white flowers in early summer. Plants spread rapidly so may be a bit of a bully in a perennial border. Probably better to grow this one in the wildflower garden. Confined to the east-central is the foliar look-alike species A. virginiana (zone 4), however, its flowers are not nearly as attractive, being rather small and dirty-white.

Make a Dooryard Garden

The entryway garden is typically the most visible of a homeowner’s gardens. This garden should capture the attention of the visitor, and passerby alike, as it draws one’s attention to the main entrance of the home. The front door is the focal point of the entryway garden hence the name dooryard garden. The goal of a dooryard garden is, not only to add curb appeal, but also to guide the steps of the visitor to the front door. Keep this in mind as you plan the dooryard garden and frame it so it will conduct the visitor along a direct, but enjoyable path, toward the door rather than sending them along a meandering tour of the front yard. Notice the photos below. This is a perfect example of a dooryard garden which frames the pathway to the front door of the home. This garden is obviously planned as a multiple season garden. The Autumn garden is truly colorful and draws the eye up and along the path in an enjoyable walk to the front door. The warm season garden is more muted, but still adequately frames the path to the front door. Also note that the design of

The Solanaceae, what a family

This prolific family is the Solanaceae one that numbers more than 2500 species from warm and temperate areas, America being the richest place. The family is spliced into 147 genera, the Solanum genera itself having no less than 1000 species. It is mostly annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees or even vines. Leaves are usually alternate, flowers vary in size from 5mm to more than 20cm and offer all the possible colours.Image

Since we are at Dave’s Garden let’s start with the ornamental species, those lovingly nurtured by many a gardener for the delight of our eyes and often noses as many are perfumed like the night jasmine which produces a very strong and sweet perfume when night falls, and dot let you fooled by the common name, this Cestrum nocturnum is not a jasmine which belongs to the Oleaceae family. If we stay in the perfume realm but adding a colourful effect, Brunfelsia uniflora is a must and is actually planted in the front garden of many a Creole house on Reunion. Not only does it fill the air with a subtle though persistent odour but also the flowers first blow a deep purple

Your room with a view – in your back yard

A very chic concept these days is the idea of having different garden rooms.These are different areas within your yard, maybe devoted to eating, swimming and napping, or to a butterfly garden, a zen garden and a rose garden. This idea is not NEW. My grandmother had an herb garden in one area, a rock garden (by which I mean a giant rock with little plants growing out of it) in another, formal perennial borders and areas

designated for napping or having drinks. She never heard the concept of garden rooms; in fact, I never talked about gardening with her at all except once or twice, when I was very little, and she told me which flowers I was and wasn’t allowed to pick. But I digress.

The relatively new, chic garden room has all the attributes of a traditional, indoor, room: walls, carpeting, windows and doors, hard furniture and soft furnishings.
feature insideoutside
floorrug, tile, hardwood,
lawn, gravel, ground-cover, mulch, sand, tile, flagstone, other stone wall wallpaper, paint
trees’ trunks, screens, vines, lattice, hedges, woven bamboo, bushes, fence
ceiling crown molding, pressed tin
a canopy of tree branches, vine-covered pergola
window curtains, valance, shutter, drapes,

The Big Ears – Spotlight on Alocasia odora

Green on the face of it

Of all the Big Ears in cultivation, this one is the Ear to choose if you are concerned about whether the plant can grow well in your garden. A. odora is so durable, at least in my experience, that I chose it as the foundation of my Alocasia breeding work. Years after I began hybridizing, though, I discovered that more than one type of A. odora can be found. The thumbnail picture at right is an example of what I call the “Indian Odora”, a plant that looks like a larger and more robust version of A. cucullata. In fact, a well-grown young A. cucullata is nearly indistinguishable from a young plant of the Indian Odora. The difference becomes evident, however, when you see that the Indian Odora just keeps on growing larger while A. cucullata matures at a much smaller size.

Soon I found another variety of A. odora, the one I refer to as the Blue Odora, or A. odora ‘Azurea’. Alocasia odora AzureaThis plant is so named because of the bluish or purplish coloration on the petioles and peduncles (see picture, below left). This coloration is more

Beauty in the Air Hanging Basket Gardens

Porch BasketsSuspended pots not only free up valuable ground or floor space, they can soften harsh angles of buildings, delineate paths, sidewalks, and driveways or living areas. Outside a window, hanging plants frame structural elements, provide a natural privacy screen, and are attractive viewed from inside the house. Displays hanging on the porch greet your guests, frame the entry, or counterbalance shrubs and foundation plantings.

Obvious choices always include Boston Ferns, begonias, ivies, fuchsias, and petunias but consider also perennials, succulents, tropicals and fruiting plants, as well as readily available annuals. In fact, you can suspend almost any plant that isn’t too large or very upright. Bedding plants can be packed into the sides of a wire basket to produce a cascade of color all summer. Try combining house plants with like-minded outdoor varieties for a stunning conversation piece. Swedish Ivy likes low light, so could be paired up with the neon hues of orange or dark pink Impatiens for that shady corner of the porch or deck, or even under a large shade tree.
Plant Choices
One of my favorite combinations is a small specimen of Purple Fountain Grass combined with chartreuse Creeping Jennie. The grass

Oxalis- the most evil weed of succulent and cactus cultivation

Oxalis stricta is one of dozens of species of Oxalis in the family Oxalidaceae. Many of these Oxalis are indeed attractive and useful landscape and potted plants, and I myself have even purposely acquired a few of these. Of course, they are all harder to keep happy and alive than Oxalis stricta is, but that is why they are not all considered weeds. Oxalis stricta also has some real uses of its own both ornamentally (though I personally find it so repugnant I have a hard time believing it) and medicinally. It supposedly does not have a bad flavor and is loaded with vitamin C. The medicinal properties are discussed in plenty of detail elsewhere, but all it has ever done for me is give me headaches and high blood pressure.

Oxalis triangularis ‘Atropurpurea’ is a favorite of mine for obvious reasons

Oxalis gigantea, a succulent species, in my garden- definitely not a weed (to me) and not all that easy to grow all the time

This Oxalis ‘Sunshine Velvet’ is another one I have purposely added to the garden, though unless in full sun turns a disappointing green (last photo)… and starts to look

I’m a Garden Design Thief – And Proud of It

When it comes to garden design, I’m not too proud to admit that I don’t have too many original ideas. I like to steal. Yup, I steal ideas and make them a reality in my garden. Sometimes I steal a whole idea, sometimes just a piece of an idea. When summer rolls around, I’m in thievery delight as I pick up ideas from neighborhood walks or visits to design centers and public gardens. This method of inspiration is augmented by design books and Internet pictures, but there is really nothing like heading out to a local garden to see the beauty for yourself.

Last year I took a trip to Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois. Cantigny is a really unique park nestled in the western suburbs of Chicago. Within the park are many sights: the historic Robert R. McCormick Museum, the First Division Museum, Idea and Formal Gardens, including a rose garden, a golf course and more. I particularly enjoyed the Idea garden, but stole ideas from all locations.

Every year I also delight in new display beds at a local garden center (Hornbaker Gardens in Illinois). In display gardens like these, I discover how plants

The Easy Way to Grow in Heavy Clay Soils

I couldn’t afford to have the stumps dug up and surely couldn’t do it myself. My only choice seemed to be to hide them in a raised bed. The only technique I knew was to dig out all the “green stuff” and grass, edge the area with bricks or stones, and fill it in with topsoil. It took 2 full summers’ of weekends to build 2 beds of less than 100 square feet each, and I was about ready to give up gardening forever!

Then someone on DG mentioned lasagna beds and I stored away the sketchy details somewhere in the recesses of my mind. The next fall I had a bounty of leaves and I remembered something about laying down newspaper covered with leaves (which was partially correct). Just one afternoon spent putting down newspapers and hauling bags of leaves to cover them, and I was finished.

Well, it isn’t really that simple, although close. However, the following spring I actually had an area that resembled dirt and I could plant in it! So I decided to look up the suggested way(s) to build lasagna beds, which is just a raised bed built in layers

CityGreen Broken Arrow Beauty Makeover

“Free daffodils”? A medium size City in Oklahoma woke up this Spring to hundreds of Yellow Blossoms blooming in the City right-of-ways. Our landscape was changed by Citizens cooperating together the previous fall and planting donated Daffodil bulbs. You can do the same in your City.

“April, they are giving away free daffodils!”, my mother said excitedly over the phone. I quickly arrived at the designated pick-up location but the bulbs were all given away. However, some of them were placed on reserve so my name was placed on a waiting list. A few days later, we received the call; 50 Daffodil bulbs were waiting for me. The rules were simple:

Laughing Tell the City the approximate location of your planting

Innocent The planting must be on City right-of-way

Growing Daylilies from Seed Beautiful Blooms on a Budget

Several years ago, I started adding daylilies to my new garden beds. I fell in love with some of the named cultivars, but I soon realized that my budget wasn’t going to allow me to fill my garden as fast as I’d like. I saw people offering their extra daylily seeds on the Seed Trading Forum, and I thought that was the perfect solution! I put my named daylilies along the front of my daylily bed, and I grew out my seedlings along the back. It worked out so well that I’m doing it again. I’m planting out my second round of seedlings this year.

shows several 4 week old daylily seedlings in cell packs under a fluorescent light tubeThe first thing to know is that growing daylilies from seed is easy. They’re tough plants, and they’re not fussy about germination or culture requirements. The second thing to know is that you’ll have to be patient. It will take at least until the following year, sometimes longer, before you will see a bloom and know just what it is that you’ve grown out. Several more years may be needed to really evaluate a new seedling’s potential.

Introduction to the Araucaceae- wonderful conifers from down under

Where I live in Southern California we are somewhat limited as to the number and variety of conifers that grow well here. There are still dozens, if not hundreds that one can grow, but many of the most ornamental species do much better in colder climates. Some of the species I grew up with in the Rocky Mountains just cannot survive our overly hot, dry summers and decline rapidly. Not being a conifer enthusiast anyway, I have not been overly concerned by this fact. But when I discovered the existence of many odd and highly ornamental pine-like trees at the local arboretums I decided to find out more about these trees and add them to my already cramped collection of plant material. I learned that nearly all the trees I was interested in growing belonged to the same primarily Australian family of trees- the Ararucariaceae.

Ponderosa pines have great looking trunks, but I can’t grow them here

Pinus canariensis are the typical pines grown around Los Angeles; Araucaria bidwilliis in southern California- note the incredible difference in terms of symmetry with this family of ‘pine’ tree

The Araucarias and related species in this family are

The basic NPK of Organic Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers are basically fertilizers made out of something that was once alive. They are decomposed living matter and will decompose more and release their nutrients in the soil. Non-organic fertilizers, those that are man made are chemical compounds are carried into the soil by salt. When the salt dissolves in water, the nutrients are made available to the plant. Chemical fertilizers, as well as most organic fertilizers are rated by their N-P-K rates. That is how much N=Nitrogen, P=Phosphorus and K=Potassium is contained in the bag. Home compost from vegetative matter usually has fairly low rates of all of these elements, which is why you can add a lot more of it to your soil than you do any other fertilizer. In general, home compost is usually considered more of a “soil amendment” than a fertilizer when applied in a small amount. Remember, any bag of fertilizer you buy will tell you how much you need to spread over a specific area to get the proper NPK value listed on the label. Nitrogen helps plant growth – plants and soil need just enough and not too much. Phosphorus provides the means for growth and flower bloom and