Archive for March 2013

Plants of the Week: March 18

March winds blow a fetid smell through the Crum Woods and surrounding watershed. Such an odor is found throughout the southern and northeastern United States as Symplocarpus foetidus comes into bloom. The arum, commonly known as skunk cabbage, is one of the first marshy woodland bloomers. Plants release heat through a unique cellular process, allowing it to emerge through and melt snow immediately surrounding it. A greenish-yellow spadix, surrounded by a reddish-brown spathe with an opening to the side, emits a skunk-like odor attracting early pollinators. Large leaves emerge after flowering. Photo credit: J. Coceano

Location: wet, marshy areas in …

Continue reading »

Vitex agnus-castus ‘Shoal Creek’

By Josh Coceano and Becky Robert

At the Arboretum, we are already in the flurry of spring and spring activities including the celebration of the Spring Festival. At this annual membership event, we will distribute the spring plant dividend including Vitex agnus-castus ‘Shoal Creek’.

Ranked second best blue Vitex by Longwood Garden trials, Vitex agnus-castus 'Mississippi Blues'. photo credit: J. Coceano

Vitex, commonly known as chaste tree, is a large shrub in the greater Philadelphia gardening area. Over the past several years, Longwood Gardens has been trialing approximately 250 species of this genus in search of plants that are …

Continue reading »

A Round Robin Sings the Virtues of Aucuba japonica

I love talking plants. Many a conversation has started with “I have this site, and I’m looking for…” A round robin ensues with participants chiming in and suggesting possible plant selections. Often, other stipulations are given which limit possibilities.

Recently a Wister Greenhouse volunteer initiated such a conversation. She was looking for a plant to create an informal screen between her property and her neighbor. She didn’t want something that needed shearing nor something that would grow so tall as to block the view and morning sunlight. It needed to take shade and thrive in marginal soil. Also, the plantings …

Continue reading »