22 September 2016

Have you ever seen wild Peonies?

This spring and summer I was obsessed with peonies, we have a large collection of species peonies in the garden that provide an incredible show every year. I started this season being obsessed with my trilliums but a humongous silver maple came crashing down in a freak 5 minute storm covering a large part of my trillium collection so that put a stop to that.

 I will not be able to get that maple out of there till the ground is frozen; it would do too much damage to the plants, so in order to preserve my sanity (I needed a new obsession) the peonies got the attention that they deserve. 

Paeonia suffruticosa ssp rockii 

Paeonia suffruticosa ssp rockii

Paeonia suffruticosa ssp rockii 

Paeonia lactiflora
Here at Arrowhead we had always had an obsession with propagating plants by any means possible, that is actually how we became a nursery, we simply had too many plants and needed to sell some to make room for more and we needed money to buy more seed to make more plants. Growing from seed was the first obsession and like so many other gardeners we became seedaholics. We were so lucky that back 15-20 years ago there was so many people collecting seed in the wild and sending out seedlists every year, giving us the opportunity to grow plants from all over the world that would otherwise not be possible.

One such seed collector was Joseph Halda from Czechoslovakia, he traveled all over Europe and Asia collecting alpines and many genera that had not been available for many, many years as wild species. One such was the genus Paeonia. 

Paeonia aff caucasica

Paeonia aff caucasica

Paeonia caucasica
Paeonia lactiflora 
Paeonia lactiflora

Paeonia lactiflora
In cultivation and hybridized for hundreds of years and growing in every garden around the world. But have you ever seen wild Peonies?
Paeonia veitchii 
Paeonia suffruticosa ssp rockii 
Paeonia lactiflora
Paeonia veitchii
Paeonia lactiflora
We purchased every collection of wild Peony seed that Halda and others ever offered and being hoarders we hung on to all of them, not wanting to part with any of them.

Paeonia caucasica
Paeonia peregrina
Paeonia caucasica
Paeonia caucasica
But about 6 or 7 years ago I had enough of caring for all those pots year after year and I made Bob put them in the ground or sell them, he had a choice and he decided to have them planted on two of our conifer berms that were planted only a few years ago so the trees were still quite small and needed something to cheer them up. 

So about 200 Peonies were planted and I quickly forgot about them for most of the year but every May and June I go back there and take some pictures. The first few years were not so impressive, the conifers were small and the peonies were small but they did produce some flowers every year and they were a good opportunity for a photo shoot.  

Then one year, I think it was 2012 I go back there in May and the Peonies had outgrown the conifers and stole the show, it was now a Peony berm and no longer a conifer berm.

Over the following years it just got better and better and by spring of 2016 the conifers had finally caught up with the Peonies. What a spectacular display!

This year I collected seed of some of the nicest plants, best colors, and rarest species, and I would like to offer them for sale. 

At this point they are not pure wild type but first generations in cultivation but since most species have their own bloom time they will be true to type with a few surprises.

I also dug and divided several plants and will offer divisions for sale this fall but there is of course limited numbers and you should act quickly if there is a particular one you really want.

Check out all the above and more, on our website!

10 August 2016

Asclepias tuberosa -- Perennial Plant of 2017 -- and much more!

Asclepias tuberosa -- Perennial Plant of 2017
And many other new picks at Arrowhead!

We've just added a bunch of new plants to the online catalog, including Asclepias tuberosa, voted 'perennial plant of 2017' by the Perennial Plant Association.

You can check out our complete listing over on our shopping cart. There's guaranteed to be something new and interesting you don't have yet! Here's a little picture-tour of some of what's new for this fall:

Asclepias tuberosa will get quite large in the garden

Asclepias Tuberosa (click to view on our store)
Voted perennial plant of 2017 by the PPA

I expect a flood of new coverage on this perennial in gardening and horticulture magazines this year. Place an order soon if you want to ensure you can get one!

A. tuberosa closeup

A. tuberosa is a must have if your tastes run to the bright colors. Tops out at about 18 inches, with masses of warm-colored flowers in late Summer from orange, orange-red to buttery yellow. As we said, one of the favorite food plants of the Monarch butterfly -- if you grow it, the butterflies will come. Like any milkweed, A. tuberosa is not particularly hard to grow. We recommend good drainage and full sun, but a little bit of shade won't kill it either.

A. tuberosa's range of colouring

Asperula sintensii (click to view on our store)

Asperula sintensii

Wonderfully compact rock-garden plant with soft pink flowers. Don't think you can go wrong with this one.

Asperula sintensii closeup

Dracocephalum austriacum: (click to view on our store)

Dracocephalum austriacum in our trial beds

Dracocephalum austriacum is a very rare species growing in rocky habitats. Foot high with scapes whorled in blue violet dragonheads. The general area of distribution includes alpine ranges from central to south-eastern Europe, down to Turkey and Greece where it is considered an endangered species.

Dracocephalum austriacum

Dracocephalum austriacum

Dracocephalum ruyschianum: (click to view on our store)

Also known as Nordic Dragonhead, grows between 16" to 24" tall, and forms neat bushlets of attractive foliage. Strikingly blue flowers and very tidy, easy to take care of. Hardy up to zone 5. Can't go wrong with this one.

closeup of Dracocephalum ruyschianum

Lindera benzoin: (click to view on our store)

Lindera benzoin

Just like the Asclepias, we have another wonderful butterfly plant here in L. benzoin. Commonly called Spicebush, this is the main food plant of the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly (some pictures are here on the blog). The promethea silkmoth will also flock (literally) to L. benzoin. Wonderfully fragrant yellow flowers that open early in spring to welcome the butterflies, before even having fully leafed out, and in autumn the Spicebush produces eye catching scarlet berries. Easily growable across zones 4 to 9.

Lindera benzoin, autumn

Lindera benzoin closeup

Swallowtail larva, easily attracted by growing Lindera benzoin

More Spicebush Swallowtail larva

The above caterpillars are those of the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly. These caterpillars absolutely love to eat Lindera benzoin, as if it wasn't a cool enough shrub already!

Origanum sipyleum: (click to view on our store)

Origanum sipyleum
Collected in the Sultan Dagh mountains (Turkey) at 2000m, with cushions of bluish aromatic leaves and sprays of semi-pendant greenish bracts that encase the pale, long-tubed flowers.

Origanum sipyleum

Scutellaria alpina: (click to view on our store)

Scutellaria alpina closeup

Scutellaria altisima: (click to view on our store)

Scutellaria altisima

Scutellaria alpina 'Arco-Baleno': (click to view on our store)

Scutellaria alpina 'Arco-Baleno'

Scutellaria alpina 'Arco-Baleno' closeup

That's just the tip of the iceberg, more new additions this year include:

Click to visit the Arrowhead Alpines online store for all these listings and many more. The weather is beginning to cool and the fall nursery season will be upon us shortly!

Speaking of which, don't forget to check out our BULK woodland wildflowers this upcoming fall. We always have a huge selection of rare trilliums, and many other native wildflowers that are usually hard to buy in large quantities. If you need to cover a wide area with hundreds of wildflowers, we've got you covered. Click the link above for more!.