Blue False Indigo

18 05 2014

Although it wasn’t identified with a plant marker at Green Spring Gardens, I’m pretty sure this is a Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis). This herbaceous perennial in the pea family grows 3-4 feet tall and features purple, lupine-like flowers blooming in spring. Its common name refers to the use of this plant by early Americans as a (lesser) substitute for true Indigo in making blue dyes.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Baptisia 1

 





Japanese Lantern

6 08 2013

Japanese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi), also called Chinese Lantern, Bladder cherry and Winter cherry; an herbaceous perennial

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Japanese Lantern 2Japanese Latern 1





After the rain…

24 06 2013

Raindrops on Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) leaves, Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Raindrops on Ladys Mantle





Foxglove

20 05 2013

Foxglove (Digitalis), photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Foxglove

I was aware that Foxglove is highly poisonous, but wanted to do some further research. I found a fascinating reference to Van Gogh’s paintings and his possible use of digitalis therapy during his “yellow period.” Here’s what I found on wikipedia on the subject:

The entire plant is toxic (including the roots and seeds). Mortality is rare, but case reports do exist. Most plant exposures occur in children younger than six years and are usually unintentional and without associated significant toxicity. More serious toxicity occurs with intentional ingestions by adolescents and adults. Early symptoms of ingestion include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, wild hallucinations, delirium, and severe headache. Depending on the severity of the toxicosis, the victim may later suffer irregular and slow pulse, tremors, various cerebral disturbances, especially of a visual nature (unusual colour visions (see xanthopsia) with objects appearing yellowish to green, and blue halos around lights), convulsions, and deadly disturbances of the heart. Vincent van Gogh‘s “Yellow Period” may have been influenced by digitalis therapy which, at the time, was thought to control seizures. As noted above, other oculotoxic effects of digitalis include generalized blurry vision, as well as seeing a “halo” around each point of light. The latter effect can be seen in van Gogh’s Starry Night. Van Gogh’s digitalis use is strongly suggested by multiple self portraits that include the foxglove plant.

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SIDEBAR: I initially majored in fine art (painting) in college before switching to graphic design. I don’t regret that decision as my education and experience has afforded me a fulfilling career in design. Through the years, when I have attempted to return to painting, I have found it difficult to get traction and to find my “style.” I prefer painting loose and sketchy, using lots of paint. I also don’t want to copy work as I did when I was learning to paint all those years ago. As a photographer who continually strives for sharp focus in my images, it can be hard to loosen up when I return to the canvas. Despite this struggle, I don’t think I’ll be partaking of foxglove as Van Gogh did!

Earlier this year, I wrote about what I call “the painting years.” You can read those postings below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/the-painting-years-first-florals/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/the-painting-years-texas-bluebonnets/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/the-painting-years-apple-harvest/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/the-painting-years-landscape-with-deer/

 

 





Monarch Butterfly on Egyptian Star Flowers

17 10 2011

Egyptian Star Flower (Pentas lanceolata) is a fall-blooming herbaceous perennial that is treated as an annual in my Zone 7 area. The cluster of buds open into small (1/2 inch at most) star-shaped flowers that are irresistible to butterflies and bees. Photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blooming in my garden: Italian Bugloss

24 05 2011

Herbaceous perennial Anchusa azurea ‘Loddon Royalist’, from the Boraginaceae family; common names: Italian bugloss and Italian Alkanet. It is called “agoglossos” in Crete, where the locals eat the tender stems boiled, steamed or fried. Blue flowers resembling forget-me-nots bloom from May through June on three foot stalks in zones 3-8. This plant prefers full sun, although it’s in partial shade in my front yard garden and is still blooming profusely!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Foxglove (Digitalis)

19 05 2011

As a biennial, Foxglove plants will only flower every other year. Biennials need more than one season to complete their growing and seed-producing cycle.

This plant is as poisonous as it is beautiful. The entire plant is toxic (roots, sap, flowers, seeds and leaves). The leaves of the upper stem are particularly potent—just a nibble is enough to cause death. I read that some people have been poisoned simply from inhaling the spores exuded by the seed pods that form in the fall. As much as I love the stately blooms, I wouldn’t plant it in my garden. It’s highly toxic to people and pets—and just brushing up against it can cause hives. Yes, many plants have some level of toxicity—but this is one that you really need to learn more about. I’m happy to just photograph it in public gardens (and keep my distance)!

Learn more about this plant, including details on its toxicity, here. Photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Pink Columbine

15 05 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Columbine

15 05 2011

The Columbine gets its common name from the Latin columba or dove. The genus name for the plant is Aquilegia (derived from the Latin word for eagle—aquila—named this because the shape of flower petals resemble an eagle’s claw).  This herbaceous perennial is rated hardy to zone 3 and prefers partial shade and well-drained soil. It is very easy to propagate from seed and will self-sow. The seeds and roots are highly poisonous.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Woodland Phlox

11 05 2011

Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata), also known as Wild Blue Phlox and Wild Sweet William, photographed at Green Spring Gardens. This herbaceous perennial wildflower blooms April-May in part sun to full shade, in zones 3 to 8.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved





Ten for 10

21 05 2009

About a half hour before the Green Spring Gardens plant sale was to close this past Saturday, the Virginia Master Gardeners booth started hawking all of their plants as “ten for $10.” Yep…some of the same plants I had purchased about two hours earlier for $5+, much to my chagrin. Reasonable prices before, yes, but at $1 each—what gardener in their right mind would possibly pass on that offer? Never mind if we’ve run out of space in our gardens—they’re a dollar! Just a dollar! We’ve discovered that some of the vendors do that each year so they don’t have to drag all the unsold items back to wherever they originated…and I am only too happy to help them lighten their load.

My 10-for-10 purchases included:

PrimroseOenothera Lemon Drop, common name ‘Evening Primrose’—a low-maintenance, herbaceous perennial that blooms in full sun from June-September. This perennial is tough, tolerates poor soil, and loves the sun. Bright yellow blooms all summer. Deadheading is not necessary, it’s drought and heat tolerant and grows 8-12″ tall. It can also be grown in containers, where it will trail over the sides. And of course I already have some of these in my front yard garden, courtesy of our friend Micheline, who shared them with us when she downsized houses a few years ago. There was a large bank of these cheery flower blooming profusely in her backyard garden. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

AnemoneOne sorta sad-looking (had to rescue it, though) Japanese Aneomone or Windflower (Anemone hupehensis)–-the tag indicates the flowers will be pinkish/mauve, so this might be the variety ‘September Charm.’ This perennial plant bears poppy-like flowers in September and October. The plants reach a height of four to five feet with each flower having five or more petal-like sepals that enclose the golden stamens. The leaves turn wine-red in autumn. Wish this plant luck—it will need it! Photo © Cindy Dyer.


WhiteWoodAsterTwo White Wood Asters (Aster divaricatus)—also known as ‘Eastern Star’—perennial herbaceous native to the eastern U.S. Grows 1-3 feet high with 3/4 to 1-inch white ray flowers that bloom profusely from August to September. The center of each flat-top flower starts yellow then ages to a reddish purple hue. The leaves are heart-shaped, stalked and sharply-toothed. White Wood Asters grow in part shade to full shade, are low-growing and low maintenance, and attract butterflies. They thrive in dry shade but become lush in moist soil. Cut hard at least once in spring to set the foliage back. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Viola striata (other common names: Striped cream violet, Common white violet, Pale violet, Striped violet)—native perennial herb blooms white and purple flowers April through June. Requires part shade and moist, loamy soil. This plant spreads through its rhizomes. Flowers attract bee flies, butterflies (particularly caterpillars of Fritillary butterflies and several species of moths) and skippers. Seeds are eaten by mourning doves, wild turkeys, mice, and rabbits.

MaxSunflowerI should be punished for purchasing another Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). I bought the same plant four years ago because I thought it would be perfect at the bottom of the steps of our front porch. The plant label purported, “cheery little yellow flowers on 4 ft. stems.” Four feet tall—nice size for the front entrance, right? By the end of the summer, visitors were asking us if we were growing corn in the front yard. We measured it and the tallest stalk was about 12 feet high! I just did some research and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site claims they grow 3-10 ft. high. What kind of wild range is that? (Imagine this scenario: Officer: Ma’am, how tall was the man who stole your wheelbarrow? Me: Ummm…he was three feet tall….then again, he might have been ten feet tall. I can’t be certain!) The plant grows Jack-in-the-Beanstalk high and then very late in the summer it sprays forth masses of miniature (2-3 inches across) yellow sunflowers that are at their most beautiful when they sway against a cornflower blue sky. And if I really want to get some good closeup shots of the blooms, I have to drag out the tall ladder to do so! Did I need another of these plants? No. But it was only a buck! Anyone have room in their garden for it? Photo © Cindy Dyer.

EchinopsRitroGlobe Thistle (Echinops ritro)—Clump-forming herbaceous perennial with coarse, prickly leaves (and how!) with 1-2 ball-shaped silvery-lavender-blue or dark blue flowerheads blooming in early to late summer on rigid branching stems 24-48 inches tall. These beautiful ornamentals grow best in full sun to mostly sunny areas, attract bees and butterflies, are good for cut flowers (and dried bouquets as well), will tolerate the heat and are deer resistant. And yes, I already have one—it’s about three years old and is the size of a small shrub already. I expect a plethora of blooms this season. Photo © Cindy Dyer.

SnowonthemountainSnow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)—I photographed this beautiful annual plant at Green Spring Gardens last year and posted the images on my blog here. A member of the spurge family, it flowers in the summer. Reaching 18-24 inches high, it requires sun to partial shade, and will attracts a plethora of butterflies, moths, bees, wasps and other insects—a veritable photographic smorgasbord! Now I’ll have one of my very own…once I find a place to plant it, that is. Folks, it was just a dollar, remember? Photo © Cindy Dyer.


Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)—This tough native is deer-resistant and provides food for larval butterflies. Clusters of sweet-scented white flowers appear on 1-2 foot stalks in June and July. Whorled milkweed can be found in prairies, pastures, open woods and by the roadside. Learn more about attracting Monarch butterflies to your garden (and purchase milkweed seeds, too) at www.happytonics.org.

Salvia

‘Ostfriesland’ Salvia (Salvia nemorosa)—also known as Violet Sage, Ornamental Meadow Sage, Perennial Woodland Sage—this sun-loving herbaceous perennial grows 12-18 inches high with fragrant violet-blue flowers blooming from summer to autumn. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, and deer resistant. I couldn’t find this version in my files or a suitable one to reprint, so I’m showing a similar salvia I photographed at Butchart Gardens. Photo © Cindy Dyer