This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A couple odd-ball plants and some good birdwatching

A very strange and uncommon plant from Asia: Chloranthus japonica. It seeds around prolifically enough so that I was able to dig up a few specimens and donate them to a plant auction. I was shocked by the high amount they sold for. That was a decade ago -- no doubt their dollar value has tanked since then. Yet another opportunity for fame and riches squandered!

Of the dozen or so species in the Chloranthus genus, most hail from China, and two are in cultivation in Ann Arbor. Close inspection of their anatomy reveals flower parts in threes (not fours, and not fives). Ditto with the wild ginger (Asarum). Big deal, so what? They are now recognized as 'paleoherbs,' having branched off from their ancestors prior to the big split into monocots and dicots. Ah, the stuff you can read on the internet now, like: "Chloranthus-like plants were well established in Europe and North America during the Late Cretaceous and probably disappeared from these areas during the Tertiary or Quaternary as a result of changed climate conditions." Such a statement I could never have found in a library!

To your immediate left is another species of Corydalis from my garden. I think I have a book somewhere on my shelf that will help me recall its identity. But if you can name it, you can have it. Pick it up in Chelsea or Ann Arbor. I'll even throw in a Chloranthus.

(Times up. It's C. x allenii, a garden hybrid between C. solida and C. bracteata from Russia. My reference says "the creamy pink-veined flowers (are) in a shade that appeals to some but repels others." But you can still have some if you want.)

And the birdwatching: The trails of Dolph Park are crawling with birdwatchers. And birds, too! Now's the time to get to know your migrating songbirds. At lunch today I could have reached out and grabbed a black-and-white warbler, a palm warbler, a black-throated blue warbler, a northern parula, a Nashville warbler and more. As it was explained to me, the temperature is so cool that insects are scarce and these birds are hungry, too starved to be skittish.  Sounded like a reasonable explanation to me. Many more birds to come. This is prime-time.


  1. I would love these plants on my backyard. I want to maintain a mature landscapes that's why I'm hiring long island tree care for all my tree care needs.

  2. I would love to have these plants in my front yard as well. These plants will surely give a lively look to the house. I would love to plant these along with other shrubs.

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