Friday, 24 June 2011

Royal Fern and Golden Sedge

Carex elata 'Aurea' at the shore in Wisley Gardens, England

In May I went with the students from the design course at the University in Alnarp on a trip to England. Shorts resumes from this expedition are given on my Swedish blog, utan stängsel, and some few further reports will be published there later on.

Here I instead center on some certain details from the journey, as the Royal Fern and the Golden Sedge today. This Tufted Sedge, Carex elata, grows naturally in marshes, nutrient rich swamps and along rivers and brooks. It is densely tufted and can during the years create huge tussocks. In gardens we seldom find the true species, instead the golden form, Carex elata 'Aurea' is more commonly cultivated and often named Bowle's Golden Sedge.

The Golden Sedge thrives in any fertile, not too dry, garden soil, but develops best under moister conditions. At Wisley it grows on the edge of the ponds with its roots constantly under the water surface. Rather surprisingly we did find the same sedge at Sissinghurst in a dry and sunny position in the Cottage Garden, clearly showing its broad adaption to different conditions. In dry gravel and sand it will not survive for long however.

The Golden Sedge at Wisley

Carex elata 'Aurea' in the Yellow Garden or Cottage Garden at Sissinghurst

In the woodland at Beth Chatto's garden the Golden Segde developes well

Inger Strömberg and the Royal Ferns at Wisley 

The Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis, is native in many parts of the world. It is found in Western and Central Europe, Eastern North America and in Japan. In Sweden it only grows in the south and is always bound to wet habitats. The Royal Fern is primarily found along shady rapids and brooks with flowing water and often it grows so the roots are hold constantly wet.  

Osmunda regalis is one of the tallest ferns we can grow in our gardens and it can reach nearly 2 meters if grown in nutrient and moist soils in at least partial shade. Old specimen can even form short trunks as shown in the picture from Sissinghurst below.

The Royal Fern can create low trunks by time, here at Sissinghurst  

Osmunda regalis at Vargaslätten in Southern Sweden

Thursday, 16 June 2011

A week later

The Carthusian Pink, Dianthus carthusianorum is now flowering freely

It has gone a week since last shots were discharged. The steppe roundabout is now flowering rather well to been just newly planted, although it of course still has a very thin and sparse appearance. But if you look close into the pictures you'll see that some tiny seedlings already are emerging between the lime stone gravels.   

Today flowering plants include Veronica spicata, Prunella grandiflora, Geranium sanguineum, Geranium 'Tiny Monster', Dianthus carthusianorum, Sedum acre and Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midjet'. The first Achillea filipendulina has also begun to show color and that is much earlier then I expected.

When I am writing this humble lines I can hear the rain drops playing at the window-ledge. Excellent, the small and insignificant, tremolous little seedlings need some water support at the dry steppe. 

Prunella and Veronica side by side by the side of the street

A lot of seedlings are already growing in the gravels

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Golden Age

In early June the prairie in Alnarp is predominated by the bright yellow Common Blanketflower, Gaillardia aristata. There are many colorful cultivars on the market, some with semi double flower heads, but here we have used the wild form with brownish red purple disc florets and more or less pure yellow ray florets.

The genus Gaillardia contains about dozen species in North America and they are all suitable for dry and severe conditions. Most of the species are either annuals or short lived perennials and the Common Blanketflower is rated in the latter group so the plants will not survive for decades, although it often self seed abundant.

The golden Common Blanketflowers thrives at dry prairies and meadows

Common Blanketflowers at the prairie in Alnarp, June 11th 2011 

The Blanketflower at the prairie last year in June 24th 2010.

Many moderns cultivars have large red banded flower heads 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

At least some isolated flowers

Slowly, slowly the plants at the Steppe Roundabout in Lund begin to establish in the harsh and inhospitable environment. Yet the planting is irrigated regularly however and that will continue through the summer, but from now decreased to once a week.

Of course the planting still looks very sparse and scanty and it might be difficult for the viewers to cotton on the design idea and appreciate the display. Unfortunately it will take two or three years before the roundabout will show its real character.

Some few plants have at least started to expose their flowers. In order of appearance this is what has happened. Already when planted in April the Aubrieta 'Blaumeise' was set with flowers, followed by Geranium sanguineum 'Max Frei' and the sanguineum-hybrid Geranium 'Tiny Monster'. Then Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midjet' opened its dark red flowers, next Veronica spicata and Prunella grandiflora. This week Dianthus carthusianorum began to bloom.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Clouds of Perfume

The Shooting Star, Dodecatheon meadia,  grows among the Phlox

While the Prairie Smoke makes the savanna, the Phlox rules in the Woodland in Laholm and turn it into a spectacular color satisfied place. There are two different species of Phlox in the woodland, Phlox divaricata, the Blue Woodland Phlox, also known as Wild Sweet William and Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox, both native to rich woodlands in the Appalachian Mountains in Eastern USA.

Phlox divaricata grows with upright stems crowned by scented flowers in pale blue or white. Phlox stolonifera does not smell much, but it covers the ground well with creeping sterile shots. There are many named cultivars with different shades from bright pink, soft lilac, deep violet to pure white.

Shooting Star, Phlox stolonifera and Phlox divaricata in harmony

Planted in masses the scent from the blue Phlox divaricata is overwhelming

Fothergilla major flowers with its cute whitish wads

Osmunda cinnamomea is in my opinion maybe the most beautiful of all hardy ferns you can grow in your garden. It prefers a moist site in shade or dappled sunlight. Slightly acid to acid conditions and a soil with some organic matter is best.

If you can also find a sheltered place in the woodland with high humidity you have made the best situation for this green fellow. The sterile foliage makes a nice, open wreath and in the middle of it the erect fertile leaves emerges. In the autumn this fertile leaves turn into a striking cinnamon brown shade. Also the sterile leaves have reddish brown fall colors.

Osmunda cinnamomea is shoting in late spring and early summer

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Smoke on the Savanna

Geum triflorum in the beginning of the smoke stage

In the end of May the students at the course in garden design at the University in Alnarp visited the new plantings in the city park of Laholm. The savanna has its best development during summer and early autumn with a beautiful display of Coneflowers, Echinacea and Ratibida, and of course all colorful grasses.

At this time of the year some parts of the savanna are dominated by the Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum. It is a delicious little plant with deep brownish red flowers followed by mauve seed heads resembling soft, smoky feathers. The plant is creeping slowly by runners and will build up small colonies after some few years. Hopefully they will also be able to spread by seeds.

There are some other plants at the savanna in bloom during late May and early June and the brightest among them is the Golden Alexanders, Zizia aurea. The Canadian Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis is already coloring the savanna red, soon also the flax open its pale blue flowers and then the early summer blooming has started.

Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum

Zizia aurea is flowering in May at the savanna in Laholm

The Canadian Columbine has hanging flowers in red and yellow