Lovely Summer Bloomer: Agapanthus, the African Lily

Agapanthus flowers

Image by Samantha Schipani

If you are looking for something new to try for your summer garden, consider Agapanthus. Weather grown as a pot plant or grouped in a garden border, it looks striking with its ultra bright flowers that outshine most of the common bloomers.

Many varieties and cultivars of Agapanthus that are commercially available can be divided in two grouped: evergreen species that originate from milder climates of South Africa and deciduous Agapanthus that comes from colder regions. Growing condition of all varieties are generally similar – sunny exposure, well-drained soil, moderate watering, and protection from extreme cold.

Agapanthus can be propagate easily by division in spring and early summer, or after plants have finished flowering in early autumn. Mature plants tends to divide their bulbous roots; these should be split every three to four years. Agapanthus can also be propagated from seeds however young plant grown from seeds require frequent watering and protection from winter in their first year. Once established, they should be watered only when the soil in dry. Plants grown from seeds take two to three years to flower. Flowers of violet, white, or pink hues appear in summer.

If you growing Agapanthus in the garden, they can be combined easily with other plants in flowering beds. Agapanthus also make nice plants for garden borders. In winter, protect them by mulching with straw and sand. If your soil is water-logged, grow your Agapanthus in large pots and place them in brightly-lit spot where they are protected from frost. Plants grown in pots can be fertilized with a regular fertilizer in spring to encourage flowering. Because the roots system is vigorous, plants grown in pots should be divided every two years. If your plants are reluctant to bloom, move them to a sunnier spot.

African lily

Image by Michael Coghlan

Among many varieties and cultivars of Agapanthus, some outstanding varieties include: Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Tinkerbell’, ‘Northern Star’, Agapanthus inapertus ‘Midnight Cascade’, and Agapanthus ‘Snowstorm’.

Though it is not related to the Lily family, commercially Agapanthus is also known as Africa Lily or Lily of the Nile.

Lovely Accent Tree for Cold Climates: Larix decidua ‘Pendula’

Larix decidua 'Pendula'

Larix decidua ‘Pendula’/ Image by Kurt Andreas

The tree featured today is Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ – an excellent accent tree to grow in for year round interest. Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ or Weeping European larch, as is known commonly, offers many interesting features: soft, fresh green, needle like foliage that turns into golden yellow in autumn, interesting sculptural branch structure in winter when it sheds its foliage, and attractive, exfoliating, and nicely textured bark on the trunk.

Spring is the best time of the year to appreciate the beauty of this lovely tree. It is the time when nice green foliage covers pendulous branches of the tree. The pendulous branches of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ form a nice mound of foliage in cascading fashion. Autumn changes the color of delicate foliage from green to golden yellow making the tree stand out from its neighbors.

Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ grows slowly but eventually makes a nice accent tree. The best time to plant it is spring or fall. Young plants can be started in containers but they would eventually need to be transferred into the ground. The best place to plant Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ in a garden is a sunny spot in a well-drained soil. The tree does not require frequent watering and should be irrigated only when the soil has dried completely. A mature tree of Larix decidua ‘Pendula’ can grow up to 12 feet in height.

If you like Larix decidua ‘Pendula’, you should also consider Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’.

Beautiful Winter Flowering Shrub: Hamamelis, the Witch Hazel

The name of the lovely plant in pictures is Hamamelis. It is commonly known as Witch Hazel.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel / Image by Steven Severinghaus

Hamamelis

Hamamelis / Image by Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen

Hamamelis or Witch Hazel is a deciduous shrub that sometimes grows into a small tree. The plant is characterized by twiggy branches, fall colors, and unusual flowers.

Hamamelis produces alternatively arranged leaves that change their colors from green to yellow, orange and red through spring, summer and winter. After the plant has shed all its leaves, flowers of spicy fragrance and multiple shades adorn its branches – a perfect shrub for winter gardens. The flowers are unique in their shape as they produce long crumpled and ribbon like petals along brown sepals. They are usually yellow, pink, scarlet or orange.

How to Grow Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel can be grown from cuttings however it is a bit difficult to root cuttings. Commercially it is propagated by grafting on Hamamelis virginiana. An established plant required slightly moist but well-drained soil in a partially shaded spot.

Popular cultivars include:

H. × intermedia ‘Diane’, H. × intermedia ‘Jelena’ and H. × intermedia ‘Pallida’.

Lovely Flowering Shrub for Garden Borders: Spiraea thunbergii

The plant featured today is Spiraea thunbergii. It is one of my favourite flowering shrubs because of its delicate spring flowers and interesting foliage. Spiraea thunbergii grows up to 5 feet as a dense, twiggy shrub and produces attractive narrow leaves. The beautiful foliage grows on wiry stems that densely branch out from the main stem of the plant. The interesting formation of leaves gets more beautiful in fall when the green color of leaves turns to golden-yellow to orange and bronze. The leaves fall of in winter and start sprouting again in early spring.

Spiraea thunbergii

Spiraea thunbergii / Image by Wikimedia Commons

Flowering starts in spring and last for many weeks. The white delicate flowers of Spiraea thunbergii form small clusters that cover the entire plant. Exposure to full sun encourages growth of flowers. Because of its interesting foliage, beautiful flowers and growing habits, Spiraea thunbergii makes an excellent border plant for gardens and landscapes.

Spiraea thunbergii can be easily grown in a slightly moist but well-drained soil. This lovely shrub loves sun but tolerates light shade. As with most plants in the Rose family, propagation of Spiraea thunbergii is done from layering or cuttings.

Lovely Flowring tree Liriodendron tulipifera, the Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as Tulip Tree or sometimes as Yellow Poplar, is a tall and deciduous flowering tree from North America. Characterized by its height and beautiful flowers, Liriodendron tulipifera makes an excellent flowering tree for gardens and landscapes. With a rapid growth rate, the tree can gain the height of up to 150 feet or more in wild. However, it takes much time to reach that height (An old Tulip Tree in Queens area in New York measures 134 feet; it is said to be 400-450 years old and often described the oldest living thing in New York. The tree is named Queens Giant). In cultivation, it can grow as tall as 70 to 100 feet.

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)

Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)/ Image by Tim Waters

Like most plants in the Magnolia family, Liriodendron tulipifera is a valuable plant in horticulture. It has broad, glossy green leaves that turn to golden in autumn. Large tulip-like, cup-shaped flowers appear in spring to add to the grandeur of the tree. Flowers are predominantly greenish-yellow with dashes of red and orange. It does not branch much and tends to form columnar growth which makes it a good source of fine-grained timber.

How to Grow Liriodendron tulipifera

Liriodendron tulipifera prefers bright sunlight, and a rich and moist soil. The tree can be propagated from seeds. Young plants should be grown under partial sun and later moved to direct sunlight. Young plants have deep and fleshy roots that are easily broken if handled roughly.