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:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Some June randomness: tree lilac, bristly locust, and how I would like to buy my jeans from Sam's Store

Here's an example of why we love the Japanese tree-lilac: big bushy clumps of white flowers in late spring. This large specimen grows nears an old farmhouse in Chelsea (the trunk is hidden by construction materials).

There is at least one reason why we don't love the Japanese tree lilac. The whiteness of the flowers is short-lived, after which they turn a sickly brown and persist way past the time when the party should be over.  Not sure of this second reason: there seem to be many more specimens in Nichols Arboretum than a sane person would have deliberately planted. Syringa reticulata isn't something I would like to see spread into native plant communities.

I don't recall ever seeing shrubby locusts on sale at the nurseries but occasionally you'll run across them. I first saw the bristly locust (Robinia hispida) growing along a roadside in the pine barrens area of southern New Jersey. Not sure if it is considered a native there, but it's certainly pretty close.

The one in the photo was growing along a side street off Jackson Avenue west of Wagner. Note the bristles on the stem. Note the overall habit: it's a mess of a plant. This species along with the similar clammy locust (Robinia viscosa) are both listed in Michigan Flora as they are very persistent once introduced into cultivation.

No good reason that I know of not to plant the Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna). There is a fabulous old specimen growing in Nichols Arboretum, and I've never seen one yet in cultivation that I didn't like. This young specimen is in someone's yard on Copley Street off Brockman. Beautiful foliage and form.

Daphne mezereum produces very attractive fruit. Quite poisonous, the books tell me. I yank out seedlings by the bushel, but never far from the parent plant. Daphnes do not produce fibrous roots, and they do not transplant readily. Probably easier to just toss the fruit around.

I need new jeans. I would like to buy them from Sam's Store which has been in business on State Street as long as I've lived in the area (at least 40 years). But they never have my size on the shelf, and then the salesman always goes into the basement to check the stock down there, but they always come up short. It's an incentive to order on-line, but I'd rather help maintain a vibrant downtown. July update: I can't find my size on-line either, the reason being that my preferred style has been withdrawn from production.

I'm always thrilled to see the late-arriving Arisaema candidissimum. Usually the flowers face the wrong direction -- I can't figure out how they do this -- but this year I had good luck.


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