Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Winter Day in the Garden

I had a fun weekend in Robinson, Illinois at the Zwermann Arts Theater, Lincoln Trails College. I was one of several speakers at the University of Illinois Extension program, "A Winter Day in the Garden," sponsored by Crawford County Master Gardeners and Lincoln Trails College (which now offers horticulture classes).

The keynote speaker was Erica Glasener, a horticulturist, author and host of HGTV's "A Gardener's Diary." Erica's presentation was "On the Road with a Gardener's Diary: People, Places and Plants." She had some amazing slides of gardeners and the people who created them from one end of the country to the other. Erica lives in Atlanta with her husband and young daughter -- she has a rich and varied background in the gardening world.

The brother and sister team of Judy Burris and Wayne Richards did a fascinating and hilarious presentation called "Butterflies: Gardening with a Purpose" that covered their first baby steps in gardening, leading up to their obsession with butterflies. From there, they discussed the life cycles and feeding habits of butterflies, based on their book "The Life Cycles of Butterflies." I picked up a copy of their book -- I recommend it to young and old!

I finally got to meet Dave Wanninger of Beaver Creek Nursery, part of Roy Klehm's commercial dynasty. I had interviewed Dave for articles in The Landscape Contractor -- telephone interviews. Dave did a presentation on "Low Maintenance Perennials" and his great slides and enthusiastic delivery have forced me to order some of the plants he discussed. My husband Marty, who came along as my "technical advisor/roadie" to help with any PowerPoint complications, just shook his head after watching Dave's presentation. "Too bad Dave doesn't have any enthusiasm for his subject," he said, after Dave had the audience in hysterics with his plant stories.

I kicked off the session with an early-bird talk on "Garden Writing: Getting Published." I was amazed that about 150 people showed up! There were about 300 people there for the main event, really a nice group. I believe most were in the U of I Master Gardener program and/or the Crawford County Garden Club but I'm not really sure. The other sessions I led were "Dark and Purple Plants" and "Creating Garden Rooms."

Marty and I both had a great time, both at the Friday night reception and the events on Saturday. Luckily, the snow and extreme cold held off until today so we had nice weather for the interstate trek. I would like to thank Gloria MacDonald, Hope Dennis, Dorothy Smith, Dale Tye, Colleen, and all the people whose names I am sure to garble -- our wonderful hosts at this event. I was sorry that Gloria was unable to attend after all the work she put into this, but I enjoyed meeting everyone else!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Plants for Containers -- Anything Goes!

“Plants for Containers - Anything Goes!”

By Becke Davis

Containers are one of the hottest trends in gardening, a trend that continues to heat up as the marketplace tries to keep pace with consumer demands. It’s been a long time since containers were simple plastic or terra cotta pots filled with petunias, spikes and vines. As customers started experimenting with containers, the selling season began to inch back from frost-free dates to early spring, with pansies, violas and potted bulbs filling the cold season pots. The season stretched out at the autumn end, too, with ornamental grasses, topiaries of boxwood, ivy and conifers, asters, mums, cabbages and kales, with berry-covered twigs and evergreen boughs filling in after the hard frosts hit.

The availability of unusual annuals has changed dramatically since containers hit the big time. Annuals are no longer just bedding plants -- they are equally container plants, if not moreso. New cultivars of old favorites abound, as well as previously unheard of exotics, all kinds of herbs and ornamental edibles, and plants that were once housebound -- all can be found in pre-planted containers, or sold for container planting. Perennials, grasses, ground covers, cacti, succulents, rock garden plants, conifers, roses, vines, fruit trees and dwarf ornamental shrubs and trees are all possibilities for the container garden today.

As home gardeners mastered the art of container gardening, their demands grew. Anything and everything can be found for container use today - urns from England, antique garden art, lightweight faux-terra cotta containers, hypertufa troughs, hollow stones, pots decorated in mosaics and beautifully colored glazes, even old wheelbarrows and wagons, lunch boxes, Wellington boots and old shoes can be used as containers. With a price range from pennies to thousands of dollars, there are containers for every style and every budget. Pre-mixed potting soils, slow-release fertilizers and polymer pellets to reduce watering needs all add to the ease and immediacy of container gardening.

New gardeners -- and even long-time gardeners -- are often drawn to containers if they are unsure about the needs and behavior of certain plants. It is easy to get to know a plant and then transplant it into the garden later -- containers can be moved if it appears the plant needs more sun or shade. Moving a plant around in a planting bed can leave unsightly gaps in the design, and if the plant turns out to be aggressive, it might be difficult to move it or remove it at all. Containers also provide the opportunity to experiment with colors and plant combinations, since most containers need to be replanted at least once a year.

Containers are popular for many reasons, not the least of which is their portability and their “containability.” People who work 60 hour weeks may not have time for a traditional garden, but they may be willing to try a few containers, a window box or some hanging plants. As baby boomers reach the age of stiff backs and knees, working with containers that can be planted and displayed at various heights may seem much more inviting than crawling around on hands and knees in a garden bed. Containers are so versatile that they can be as effective on a rooftop, an apartment balcony, in a small city garden or on a huge suburban deck.

Containers also tie in with the move toward “garden rooms” - bringing the landscape and garden closer to the house on decks, patios and other outdoor living areas. Selecting containers that blend in or accent the architectural features of the house or that repeat colors or materials displayed on the exterior of the house can help connect the indoors to the outdoors almost seamlessly.

Whether the reason for container popularity is time constraints, fear of messing up, or the comfortable affluence of some consumers, more and more specialty nurseries, garden centers and even grocery stores are featuring pre-planted containers ranging from basic to garden couture, with a range of flowers that increases year to year. Landscape contractors who used to concentrate on planting beds with bulbs and annuals and changing them from season to season are being called on more and more to provide seasonal containers with sophisticated plant combinations.

While virtually any plants can be used in containers now, some annuals are especially popular. Begonias, once considered old fashioned bedding plants, are getting new fans, particularly of the Rex and DragonWing begonias. Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) never really lost popularity, but the ivy geraniums and the Martha Washington geraniums are especially popular in containers.

These plants have received recent media coverage recommending them for use as container plants: Carex albula, Carex testacea, Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, Colocasia esculenta ‘Illustris’, Heuchera spp, miniature Hosta, Isolepsis cernua, Acalypha wilkesiana, Iresine variagata, Hibiscus spp., Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’, Abutilon spp., Nassella tenuissima, Cuphea spp., Crocosomia spp., Oplismenus hirtellus ‘Variegatus’, Oxalis spp., Calocephalus brownii, Cordyline australis ‘Red Sensation’, Ipomea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’, Alternanthera ‘Joseph’s Coat’, Mandevilla spp., Helichrysum petiolare ‘Lemon Licorice’, Torenia spp., Thymus spp., Ajuga spp., Ageratum spp., Gomphrena spp., Perilla spp., Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’, Phormium tenax (‘Dazzler’, ‘Maori Queen’ and ‘Pink Stripe’), Lamiastrum galeobdolon ‘Hermann’s Pride’, Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’, Tradescantia pallida, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, Nierembergia caerulea ‘Purple Robe’, ‘Purple Barron’ ornamental millet, ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental pepper (a 2006 AAS Selections Winner), lobelia, coleus, lavender, red crane kale and white crane kale, pentas, the rex Begonia cultivar ‘Fireworks’, all kinds of gerbera daisies, passion flower, black-eyed Susan vine, calla lilies, cannas, caladium hybrids and cultivars, Swan River daisy, Persian shield, tricolor sage and ‘Rachel’s Gold’ salvia and New Guinea impatiens -- and these are only the tip of the iceberg.

The following list includes some of the annuals getting the most favorable press. Many of the hybrids and cultivars listed are marketed as Proven Winners and have won numerous awards.


*Angelonia, Summer Snapdragon (Genus: Angelonia) - Not only are these great plants for containers and hanging baskets, angelonia is also an excellent, long-lasting cut flower. A South American sub-shrub, angelonia performs best in full sun -- it is tolerant of both heat and drought. Colors range from white to pink, purple, pale blue, deep blue and bicolor. Hybrids and cultivars include ‘Angelface Blue’, ‘Angelface Blue Bicolor’, ‘Alba’, ‘Carita Purple’, ‘AngelMist Plum’ and ‘AngelMist Purple Stripe’.

*Bacopa (Genus: Sutera) - This plant has received a lot of media coverage recently, even though it is more of a filler than the star of the show. It is a vigorous grower, suitable for sun or shade, with a trailing habit that makes it suitable for hanging baskets as well as containers. Covered with masses of tiny flowers that bloom all season, bacopa is usually mixed with other plants but is also attractive on its own. White is the most common flower color but there are also cultivars in pale pink and very pale blue. Cultivars include ‘Giant Snowflake’, ‘Snowstorm Giant Snowflake’, ‘Glacier Blue’ and ‘Ice Blue’.

*Calibrachoa, Million Bells (Genus: Calibrachoa) - One of the hottest of the hot annuals this year, calibrachoa got its common name because of the extremely abundant flowers that resemble bells or tiny petunia blossoms. Calibrachoa is a South American native that has been known in Europe for more than 200 years. It wasn’t until a Japanese company began marketing calibrachoa hybrids in 1988 that it gained recognition, coming to the U.S. in the early 1990s. The habit of calibrachoa is mounding and trailing or weeping. The flowers spill over the sides of containers or hanging baskets, giving them a lush, colorful look. Plant in full sun and add a slow-release fertilizer to ensure blooms from May until frost - this plant is a heavy feeder. Soil should be well-drained but moist, and the soil pH should be near or below 5.8 to avoid incidence of root rot. Hybrids and cultivars include ‘Superbells Pink Kiss’ (trials of over 200 hybrids and cultivars at Pennsylvania State University resulted in this ‘Superbells Pink Kiss’ earning the top score, and the designation “Best of Species 2003”), ‘Million Bells Terra Cotta’, ‘Million Bells Trailing Magenta’, ‘Mini Famous Sweetheart White’, ‘Mini Famous Cherry Pink’, ‘Spring Fling Lemon’, ‘Starlette Trailing Rose’, ‘Starlette Sunset’ and ‘Colorburst Carmine’.

*Diascia, Twinspur (Genus: Diascia) - A few years ago few people had heard of this South African native, but it’s hard to find an upscale, preplanted container or hanging basket without Diascia in it this year. The flowers are tiny but abundant, and they bloom from early spring to late summer, performing well in sun to part shade. The hybrid ‘Diamonte Coral Rose’ was an All-America Selections Winner this year in the cool season bedding plant category. It was selected for its long bloom time, vigor, and profuse flowering. In southern testing over the winter, it performed well under cool growing conditions and it also performed well in hot summer conditions. Other hybrids and cultivars include ‘Rose Queen’, ‘Appleblossom’, ‘Trailing Antique Rose’, ‘Ice Pole’, ‘Apricot Queen’, ‘Pink Adobe’, Coral Canyon’, ‘Wink Pink Improved’, and ‘Flying Colors Red’.

*Lantana (Genus: Lantana) - Lantanas have long been a standard of southern gardens, where they are very heat tolerant and can grow into small shrubs. In the midwest they have gained popularity as a plant for containers and hanging baskets as new and improved hybrids and cultivars have expanded their range of colors. From pale pastels to hot reds, oranges and vivid yellows, lantanas usually feature blossoms with a combination of colors. Cultivars include ‘Patriot Classic Parasol’, ‘Classic Desert Sunset’, ‘Classic Hot Country’, ‘Weeper Dove Wings’, ‘Popcorn’, ‘Pillar Deen Day Smith’, ‘Petite Rainbow’, ‘Confetti’, ‘Tropical Temptation Mimosa’, ‘Goldsonne’ and ‘Athens Rose’.

*Nemesia, Cape Jewels (Genus: Nemesia) - The small but abundant flowers of Nemesia resemble snapdragon flowers, and, like Diascia, it is in the same plant family. Nemesia blooms for a long time starting in early spring, but it does not like extreme heat or drought. Keep the soil evenly moist and in areas where summers are very hot, site it in cool, somewhat shady spots. Hybrids and cultivars include the ‘Sunsatia’ series (Banana, Cranberry, Raspberry, Mango, Coconut, Lemon, Peach, Pear and Pineapple), ‘Blue Lagoon’, ‘Compact Pink Innocence’, ‘Candy Girl’, ‘Blue Bird’, ‘Carnival’, ‘Tapestry’, ‘Retired Innocence’ and ‘Safari Violet Rose’.

*Osteospermum, Cape Daisy, African Daisy (Genus: Osteospermum) - As the common name indicates, this genus is an African native that looks like a daisy. The flowers come in a wide range of colors and often feature a center ring of a darker or contrasting color. Plant in full sun to part shade in moist but well-drained soil. Deadhead to prolong the bloom period. Hybrids and cultivars include ‘Soprano Lilac Spoon’, ‘Orange Symphony’, ‘Cream Symphony’, ‘Sunscape Daisy’, ‘Stardust’, ‘Silver Sparkler’ and ‘Salmon Queen’. (Note: Osteospermum is sometimes confused with another daisy-like plant called African Daisy, the South African Dimorphotheca pluvialis, also known as Cape Marigold or Star-of-the-Veldt.)

*Petunia, Calituna, Supertunia, Wave Petunias (Genus: Petunia) - These hybrid petunias are just a few of the new, improved varieties that perform well in containers and hanging baskets. The Calitunas are the result of a cross between traditional petunias and million bells (Calibrachoa spp.), providing long bloom time, profuse flowering, vivid colors plus heat and cold tolerance. Supertunias were bred for long bloom time, a self-cleaning habit plus fragrant flowers. Among the many excellent petunia cultivars are ‘Mini Blue Veined’, ‘Mini Purple’, ‘Lemon Plume’, ‘Purple Calituna’, ‘Mini Appleblossom’, ‘Bordeaux’, ‘Double Peppermint’, ‘Wave Purple, Tidal Wave Silver’, ‘Easy Wave Salmon’, ‘Double Wave Blue Vein’, ‘Vista Bubblegum’, ‘Raspberry Blast’, ‘Priscilla’, ‘Royal Velvet’ and ‘Double Dark Blue’.

*Schizanthus, Poor Man’s Orchid, Butterfly Flower (Genus: Schizanthus) - This plant performs in sun to part shade but is best grown from early spring or in late summer since it doesn’t hold up in the heat of mid-summer. The plants are compact but covered in small, exotic-looking blossoms. Cultivars include ‘Angel Wings’, ‘Pure White’, ‘Pure Scarlet Shades’, ‘Royal Pierrot’, and ‘Treasure Trove Lilac Bicolor’.

*Verbena (Genus: Verbena) - Although verbena has been around a long time, the range and clarity of colors and exciting new cultivars and its cascading habit has made this plant a favorite for hanging baskets and containers in full sun. Colors range from bright white to pink, rose, salmon, coral, violet, scarlet, burgundy, lilac, hot pink, bright red, red with a white eye, purple and white, and more. Cultivars include ‘Patio Hot Pink’, ‘Patio Blue’, ‘Cherry Blossom’, ‘Tapien Salmon’, ‘Tapien Blue Violet’, ‘Tamari Sakura Pink’, ‘Superbena Burgundy’, ‘Superbena Blue’, ‘Babylon Neon Rose’, ‘Tukana White’ and ‘Homestead Purple’.


Originally published in The Landscape Contractor magazine

File Name: NewPlantsContainers.doc
Word Count: 2,085


“The latest craze in container gardens -- perennials!,” by Stephanie Polsey Bruner, Garden Gate magazine, Issue No. 69, 2006

“Great Plants” and “Classic Groupings,” Fine Gardening magazine/Container Gardening special issue, Summer 2006

“Foliage Fever,” by Bobbie Schwartz, The Buckeye, ONLA magazine, April 2006

”Containing the Landscape,” by Rita Randolph. American Nurseryman magazine, July 15, 2005

“Calibrachoa Culture and Varieties,” by Alan H. Michael, Rob Berghage and Dave Johnson, Pennsylvania State University

All-America Selections website

Proven Winners Website

Succulents, by Yvonne Cave, 2003, Timber Press, Portland, OR

Rare and Unusual Plants, by William C. Mulligan, 1992, Simon & Schuster, NY

P. Allen Smith’s Container Gardens, by P. Allen Smith, 2005, Hortus, Ltd./Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York, NY

Media references: Country Almanac Container Gardens magazine issue #86, Garden Gate magazine issue #69, Country Living Gardener magazine Spring 2006, Fine Garden magazine’s Container Gardening special issue, Sunset Container Gardening magazine, better Homes & Gardens Garden Ideas & Outdoor Living magazine

Old Plants Find New Popularity

“Old Plants Find New Popularity”

By Becke Davis

Not so long ago, you couldn’t give away goldenrod. It was considered weedy and sneeze-causing. The color was beautiful, adding warmth to the late summer landscape, but goldenrod was looked on with as much relish as poison ivy.

Things have changed. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) has been upgraded from a weed to a native wildflower by current attitudes, while new and improved cultivars have recently elevated this plant even higher to the status of a valuable ornamental perennial. Exonerated from its reputation as an allergy source (ragweed, which often grows nearby, was found to be the cause), with its weedlike tendencies tamed by science, hybrids and cultivars of goldenrod are now touted in prestigious gardening catalogues and publications.

With more than 100 species of goldenrod -- many native to the U.S. -- availability is not a problem. Neither is hardiness, since goldenrod can survive in both extreme cold and nearly tropical heat. It is important to remember that the recent popularity of Solidago is not due to the rediscovery of these natives but to breeders who have tamed and improved on the best features of this common genus.

Goldenrod is a sun-loving plant that is drought-resistant, adaptable as to soil but performs best if the soil is well drained. Do not crowd the plants, since they need good air circulation to help avoid fungal diseases. While the hybrids and cultivars are less aggressive than the native species, applying excessive fertilizer can reawaken the latent aggression of even the improved forms of goldenrod.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden recommends the heavy-flowering, compact species Solidago roanensis (Roan Mountain goldenrod), S. sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’ (heart-leaf goldenrod) and the 3-foot tall S. rugosa ‘Fireworks’ (rough-stemmed goldenrod). The Chicago Botanic Garden evaluated the genus, and gave the following goldenrods their top rating: the compact Solidago ‘Baby Sun’ and ‘Goldkind’ (Golden Baby), S. flexicaulis ‘Variegata’ (a form of zig-zag goldenrod), the towering S. rigida, S. rugosa ‘Fireworks’ and the very low-growing S. sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’.
‘Crown of Rays’ is another popular cultivar, although some say it is less hardy and more prone to powdery mildew. Other goldenrods being touted in the media include S. ohioensis, S. ‘Cloth of Gold’, ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Laurin’, ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Wichita Mountains’ and ‘Lemore’. The latter is a cultivar of a cross between the genus Solidago and the genus Aster (X Solidaster luteus).

Phlox, particularly summer or garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is another plant that many people used to avoid because it was plagued with mildew problems. There are many new, supposedly mildew-resistant cultivars, although not all of these cultivars are as mildew-resistant as initially thought. Still, phlox, in its many forms, is being used more and more, and some of the older cultivars have been resurrected -- the fantastic flowers seem to outweigh the drawbacks of powdery mildew.

Nearly all of the sixty or so species of phlox are native to North America, ranging from low-growing mats of flowers, to tall sun-loving forms, to woodland phlox for shady sites. With prolific, colorful flowers - many of them fragrant -- garden phlox is a staple of “grandma’s garden” plantings as well as gardens designed to attract butterflies and moths.

Phlox is being touted in the media and in elite mail order catalogues, in species, hybrid and cultivar forms including the hybrid phlox ‘Chattahoochee’, Phlox arendsii ‘Baby Face’, Phlox carolina ‘Magnificence’ and ‘Reine du Jour’, Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’, ‘Dirigo Ice’, ‘Fuller’s White’, ‘London Grove’ and ‘Louisiana Blue’, Phlox maculata ‘Alpha’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Miss Lingard’ ‘Natascha’, ‘Omega’ and ‘Rosalinde’ (‘Miss Lingard’ and ‘Rosalinde’ are sometimes listed as P. carolina), Phlox paniculata ‘Becky Towe’ (PP#12908), ‘Blue Boy’, ‘Blue Paradise’, ‘Bright Eyes’, ‘David’ (Perennial Plant Association’s 2002 Perennial Plant of the Year), ‘David’s Lavender’, ‘Delta Snow’, ‘Dodo Hanbury Forbes’, ‘Eva Cullem’, ‘Fairest One’, ‘Fancy Feelings’, ‘Fliedertraum’, ‘Franz Schubert’, ‘Fujiyama’, ‘Juliet’, ‘Katherine’, ‘Laura’, ‘Mardi Gras’, ‘Miss Jill’, ‘Miss Karen’, ‘Natural Feelings’, ‘Nicky’, ‘Nora Leigh’, ‘Pinafore Pink’, ‘Prime Minister’, ‘Prospero’, ‘Red Eyes’, ‘Red Indian’, ‘Red Riding Hood’, ‘Robert Poore’, ‘Rose Goliath’, ‘Shorty White’, ‘Starfire’, ‘Tracy’s Treasure’ (PPAF) and ‘World Peace’, Phlox pilosa, Phlox pulchra ‘Morris Berd’, Phlox stolonifera ‘Blue Ridge’, ‘Bruce’s White’, ‘Homefires’, ‘Pink Ridge’, ‘Sherwood Purple’ and ‘Variegata’, Phlox subulata ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Apple Blossom’, ‘Arctic Deep Pink’, ‘Candy Stripe’, ‘Coral Eye’, ‘Fort Hill’, ‘Keryl’, ‘Maiden’s Blush’, ‘Nettleton’s Variation’, ‘Oakington Blue’, ‘Pink Ridge’, ‘Scarlet Flame’, ‘Schneewittchen’ and ‘Snowflake’.

In trials at the Chicago Botanic Garden, phlox ‘Chattahoochee’ and ‘Spring Delight’ were among the top rated, while ‘Katherine’ outperformed the better-known ‘David’ in mildew resistance.

Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) are old-fashioned biennials that lost favor for a time, but are now popular choices for cottage gardens and “grandma’s gardens.” Since the plants are not long-lived, adding new plants or seeds each summer until the young plants are established will ensure constant color. Full sun is a requirement for healthy plants, and they will perform best in soil that is rich in organic matter. New, improved cultivars have not eliminated rust and other disease problems but the classic single flowers and double flowers that look as delicate as tissue paper keep them on the “must have” list for many gardeners. Hollyhocks are tall plants that are well suited for the back of the border.

‘Appleblossom’, ‘Chater’s Double’, ‘Peaches and Dreams’, ‘Powderpuffs Mixed’ and ‘Summer Carnival’ are popular double-flowering forms, ‘Majorette Mixed’ and ‘Parkrondell’ feature semi-double flowers while ‘Queenie Purple’ is a dense, compact form. The nearly black ‘Nigra’ is one of the most talked about single-flowering forms; others include ‘Happy Lights’, ‘Indian Spring’, ‘Country Garden Mix’, ‘Old Barnyard Mix’, ‘Summer Memories Mix’ and ‘Watchman Strain’.

These are just a few examples of plants that were once written off for one reason or another, and that are now attracting a lot of attention. Coleus has benefited from the introduction of new cultivars that hold up to sun exposure better than older cultivars, new cultivars of sage and artemisia are better suited for modern gardens than older forms, even roses are rating a new look as tough re-blooming shrub roses become easier to find. Even if some plants have been less than desirable in the past, it is worth keeping an open mind when new, improved varieties come on the market -- in some cases the hype is well-deserved.


Originally published in the Landscape Contractor magazine

File Name: OldplantsNewpopularity.doc
Word Count: 1,054


Herbaceous Perennial Plants by Allan M. Armitage, 1989, Varsity Press, Inc., Athens, GA

Armitage’s Garden Perennials by Allan M. Armitage, 2000, Timber Press, Portland, OR

“Solidago,” Michigan State University Extension Service publication, 11/12/99,

“Goldenrod for the Garden,” All the Dirt, University of Illinois Extension Macoupin County,

“Goldenrod sparkles in the landscape,” by Lee Randhava, Chicago Botanic Garden Plant Information,

“Goldenrods - Three Cultivars to Set Your Autumn Garden Ablaze,” by Stephanie Cohen, Brooklyn Botanic Garden,

“Phlox: A Butterfly and Moth Magnet,” by Claire Hagen Dole, Summer 2000,

“Alcea rosea - Hollyhock,” Michigan State University publication, 11/12/99,

“Hollyhock Guide,” by Justin Hancock, Country Living Gardener

“Top Rates Plants - Artemisia” and “Top Rated Plants - Solidago,” Chicago Botanic Garden,

“Garden-Worthy Artemisias,” by Richard G. Hawke, Plant Evaluation Notes, Chicago Botanic Garden, Issue 19, 2003

“Artemisia,” by Sherry Rindels, Horticulture Home Pest News, Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University, August 1994

Plant catalogues: White Flower Farm, Park Seed, Wayside Gardens, Song Sparrow Flower Farm, Bluestone Perennials, etc.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In Praise of Peonies

By Becke Davis

Peonies have been around for years, but for a time they suffered from the stigma of being “old fashioned.” Today peonies are hot sellers for a number of reasons -- the “old fashioned” varieties are popular with those looking to recreate their “grandma’s gardens,” new, shorter peonies are filling a need for those with smaller landscapes, a wide variety of beautiful single-flowered peonies and those on strong stems have removed the problem of floppiness after a storm, and exciting new coral cultivars are drawing in both new gardeners and collectors. Peonies are also exceptionally popular as cut flowers, and as the model for designer textiles and home decorating items.


*Ants are necessary for peony flowers to bloom

False. Ants are attracted to the sugar sap produced by peonies when they are in bud. Some believe that there is a more symbiotic relationship between ants and peonies, but this has not been proven. Although some say that ants are necessary for peony blooms to open, it has been shown that peonies will bloom without the presence of ants.

*Peonies are exceptionally long-lived.

True. Peonies can live 50 years or more, some have lived as long as 100 years. Flowering may diminish with age, a sign that the plant needs to be divided.

*Peonies can only be planted and divided in the fall.

True, the optimal time to plant peonies, which bloom in late spring and early summer, is in September and October - particularly for bare root peonies. Some professionals say planting, transplanting and dividing can also be done successfully in very early spring but this may delay blooming until the following spring. Another possibility is to plant young peonies in containers, and then when the roots are fully developed, transplant them into the garden in spring or summer.

*Peonies can only bloom in cold climates.

True, to a point. Peonies need a period of winter dormancy, about 100 “chilling hours,” to ensure flowering. Some peonies need more exposure to cold, others less. Klehm’s Song Sparrow Perennial Farm stresses that “adequate moisture is imperative” for peonies in warmer climates. Early blooming peonies are the best choices for warmer climates, such as ‘Coral Charm’, ‘Miss America’ and ‘Do Tell’. Also, the eyes should be planted at a more shallow depth than further north, only one inch below the surface.

*The darker red the peony flower, the worse it will smell.

False. Peony fragrance is not linked to color characteristics. Some claim that double flowered peonies are more fragrant than singles, but no authoritative source confirms this. Peonies known for their fragrance include ‘A La Mode’, ‘Angel Cheeks’, ‘Vivid Rose’, ‘Raspberry Sundae’, ‘Festiva Maxima’, ‘Edulis Superba’, ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ and ‘Philippe Rivoire’.

*Peonies can’t be moved, once planted.

Established peony plants may need to move if the roots of nearby trees are affecting their growth, if the growth of nearby plants has created excessive shade, if the plants need to be divided, and so on. Dig deeply and remove as much of the roots as possible when digging up the plant. Transplant into a site with full sun with well-drained soil. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate all the roots, cultivating the soil to a depth of at least a foot. Set the peony so that the eyes are about two inches below the surface of the soil, with the eyes facing upwards. Water in well, making sure the eyes do not settle in deeper after watering.

The genus name Paeonia is said to come from Paeon, a physician in Greek mythology. In China, where they were dubbed the “king of flowers,” peonies have been cultivated for over 1,500 years. They were not only grown for the ornamental value of their flowers, but for medicinal purposes, and even for teas and gruels, made from their seeds and roots. Peonies are only native to the Northern Hemisphere, from northwest Africa to the Arctic Circle. There are from 30 to 60 or more species of peony -- depending on the source.
Peonies originate from China, Tibet, Europe, Turkey, Asia Minor and northwestern America. Herbaceous peonies (Paeonia officinalis, P. lactiflora, P. veitchii, P. anomla, and the fernleaf peony, P. tenuifolia) are the most common form, but the woody tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa, P. X lemoinei, P. delavayi) are gaining in popularity. A relatively recent addition to the mix is the group of rare hybrids called “intersectionals,” named after hybridizer Toichi Itoh. In the 1960s Itoh successfully crossed a yellow-flowering tree peony with a double-white flowering herbaceous peony, resulting in a group of herbaceous peonies with the bright yellow flowers more commonly found on tree peonies. There are now additional colors and cultivars in the intersectionals. As for the flower most people think of when they hear the word “peony,” there are literally thousands of hybrids and cultivars of herbaceous peonies, which are the focus of this article.
Herbaceous peonies perform best in zones 2-8, in full sun and moist, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. Cut back peony foliage in the fall to help avoid fungal infections, but never compost peony foliage. Leaf blotch, botrytis blight. scale, Verticillium wilt, Phytophthora blight and powdery mildew are among the pests and problems that occasionally effect peonies. Peonies may not bloom if the buds are exposed to a late freeze, if the plants are immature or planted too deeply, if they are overcrowded, have insufficient sunlight, if the ground is either too wet or too dry, if the plant is getting too much nitrogen or too little phosphorus or potassium. Peony blooms may also be reduced by excessively hot weather. Young peonies may take a year or more to bloom -- this is normal. Some experts recommend pinching any buds that form the first year so the plant will concentrate on root growth.
Once established, peonies require little maintenance and have the benefit of being resistant to wildlife such as deer and rabbits. Be careful not to overfertilize peonies -- too much nitrogen may reduce the number of blooms and an excess of fertilizer can burn the plant. Peonies are generally long-lived plants but continued over-fertilizing can reduce their life span. Plant peonies where they will have little root competition and where there is plenty of room for air to circulate between the plants. While peonies benefit from moist soil, it must be well-drained -- they will not tolerate wet feet. It is preferable to water peonies from a soaker hose, since wet leaves can lead to fungal diseases.
Peonies range in height from rock garden peonies as small as 14 inches to over four feet tall. They come in colors ranging from all shades of white, cream, opalescent, soft yellow, shell pink, rose, rose carmine, pink, blush pink, cerise, fuchsia, scarlet, ruby, fire-engine red, maroon, plum, dark crimson, watermelon, cranberry, magenta and burgundy to coral, yellow, salmon, raspberry, peach, chocolate, chartreuse. green-cream, lime green, orange-red and black-red as well as bicolor flowers or those blotched, streaked, flared or tipped with color and those with unusual or colored centers and stigmas.
Peonies are classified as early, midseason or late bloomers. The basic flower forms of herbaceous peonies include single, Japanese, semi-double, double or full double, bomb, with some adding crown, anemone and novelty. Anemone-flowered peonies are sometimes listed as single or Japanese, while novelty peonies may be listed within another group, such as ‘Double Decker’, called a “bomb on bomb”. Unusual looking peonies include ‘Spider Green’, ‘Summer Carnival’, ‘Quilt Show’, ‘Green Halo’, ‘Paree Fru Fru’, ‘Bric A Brac’, ‘Huang Jin Lung’ and ‘Daisy Coronet’.
Examples of each form include:

*’Pink Dogwood Whisper’
*’Green Lotus’
*’Prairie Moon’
*’Silver Dawn F3 Mix’

*’Bowl of Beauty’
*’Ursa Major’
*’Do Tell’
*’Cora Stubbs’
*’White Cap’

*’Coral Magic’
*’Illini Belle’
*’Abalone Pearl’
*’Raspberry Charm’

*’Vivid Rose’
*‘Etched Salmon’
*‘Mother’s Choice’
*’Philippe Rivoire’

*’Raspberry Sundae’
*’Angel Cheeks’
*’Salmon Beauty’
*’Pink Lemonade’
*’Chocolate Chip’

*‘Gay Paree’
*’Many Happy Returns’

*’Monsieur Jules Elie’ (sometimes listed as a Double)


Talk to anyone in the trade about peonies, and the name Roy G. Klehm is sure to come up. For four generations, the Klehm family has been one of the top breeders of herbaceous peonies. Peonies bred by Roy Klehm and his family are sold worldwide. Roy Klehm’s grandfather, Charles Klehm, was one of the founders of the American Peony Society in 1903. The American Peony Society has awarded its top prize, the Gold Medal, to several Klehm introductions over the years, including Carl Klehm’s ‘Pillow Talk’ in 1994, Roy G. Klehm’s ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’ in 2000 and ‘Angel Cheeks’ in 2005, as well as ‘Etched Salmon’ (Cousins-R. Klehm) in 2002 and ‘Coral Sunset’ (Wissing-Klehm) in 2003. Roy G. Klehm was awarded the American Peony Society’s Saunders Memorial Medal in 1989. (
Roy Klehm recommends planting herbaceous peonies with the “eyes” two inches below the surface in the midwest, one in or less in warmer climates. Klehm recommends cutting off spent flower heads for neatness, then cutting the foliage down to the ground in October.
Klehm is excited about his new “Dance” series of herbaceous peonies, including ‘Waltz’, ‘Rumba’ and ‘Foxtrot’. “These are low and short, 22 to 24 inches, with single flowers that the rain doesn’t effect,” says Klehm. Among his favorites are the red-flowering, upright ‘Burma Ruby’, ‘Rubyette’ and the fire engine red ‘America’, the opalescent ‘Moonstone’, and Gold Medal winners ‘Bowl of Cream’, ‘Pillow Talk’ and ‘Angel Cheeks’. He also the likes the coral-flowered peonies, noting, “In 1960 Samuel Wissing, a chemist from Lombard, broke the coral barrier and we bought the original plant from him.” ‘Coral Charm’ was the first coral and for many years it has been one of the most popular peony for cut flowers in the world. In addition to ‘Coral Charm’, Klehm recommends ‘Coral Sunset’ and ‘Pink Hawaiian Coral’. He observes, “If peonies are sited right, they can live a long time - some more than 100 years. They last a long time, so plant the good ones.”
Klehm sells peonies to the retail market through Klehm’s Song Sparrow Perennial Farm in Avalon, WI and online at Klehm’s sells peonies to the wholesale market through its Beaver Creek Nursery, Inc. in Poplar Grove, IL. Dian Cenar, sales manager at Beaver Creek, observes, “On a wholesale (contractor) level, where they would use them more for massing, the best peonies are the more single ones. They hold their heads up best and lose their petals more cleanly. The best sellers in the last couple of years have been ‘Kansas’, ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ and ‘Krinkled White’, with the new coral colors catching on quickly. Landscape contractors tend to stay with the more tried and true. The retail market is where the trendy plants are.”
Renee Jaeger, farm manager at Klehm’s Song Sparrow Perennial Farm, says that their best sellers are the coral peonies, both the new varieties and the classics (‘Coral Charm’, ‘Coral Magic’, ‘Coral Supreme’), as well as new peony cultivars such as ‘Raspberry Clown’, ‘Double Decker’, ‘Ursa Major’ and ‘Puffed Cotton’ and classic peonies such as ‘Vivid Rose’ and ‘Red Charm’. “The hottest coral we offer is ‘Coral Charm’, followed by ‘Coral Magic’,” Jaeger observes. “The fragrance of our staff are ‘Zuzu’, ‘Bessie’, ‘Diana Parks’, ‘Pink Dogwood Whisper’ and the slightly fragrant ‘Martha’. Fragrance may be fleeting, a subjective trait that some people notice and others don’t. It may vary based on cultural conditions, and it may be dependent upon the age of the peonies. Fragrance is a great selling point but it is not always a constant.
“Fragrance is always a plus,” she adds, “but it is usually color and form that determine a personal favorite. I would love to tell you that we sell one style of peony more than others, but we don’t -- ‘Green Halo’ can be as popular as ‘Red Charm’ and ‘Eskimo Pie’. Our customers equally like the range of colors and styles we offer, and they have definite opinions as well. All the peonies we offer have strong stems, which translates into staying power after a storm.”

Rich and Carol Massat are the owners of the Growing Place Nursery and Flower Farm in Naperville and Aurora. Both sites have a retail operation and display gardens, with all plant production and greenhouses at the 17-acre Fox Valley site, on Montgomery Road in Aurora. Because a lot of their customers are new homeowners, the Growing Place has developed a very successful “Do-it-Yourself” series aimed at beginning gardeners. On August 12 they will feature “Top 10 Do-it-Yourself Questions and Answers” at the Aurora location, followed by “Do-it-Yourself Design in the Landscape” on August 26.
This year the Growing Place is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its Naperville site. Rich Massat’s aunt, Emma Glatzhofer, founded the nursery in 1936 under the name “Emma’s Perennials.” Glatzhofer had beds lined out on seven acres, and as the story goes, customer would pick their plants and she would dig them on the spot, wrap them in newspaper and sell them for seventy-five cents each.
In 1973, Rich Massat took over the company. In the early days, 80 - 100 percent of the business was perennials. Today, perennial sales make up about 60 percent, with over 1,000 varieties. Perennial sales manager Jeanette Goodlow says, “We now sell whatever is new and unusual -- unusual annuals as well as petunias, native trees and shrubs as well as the more popular ones.”
With the anniversary celebrations at the Naperville location this year, the Growing Place has tied-in a “Grandma’s Garden” theme, Goodlow notes. “This has been a fabulous year for peonies, because they want the plants like grandma grew. We sell the best peonies, including the fragrant peonies and the classics. They are not an impulse buy -- people usually ask for them specifically. Trends change, but ‘Festiva Maxima’ and ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ have always sold well. They are fairly common but you can’t beat the fragrance -- it does take you back to grandma’s garden. The prices are low on these because even though they are beautiful, classic and fragrant, they are common.
“ ‘Laddie’ is a very popular peony because it’s small, only 18 inches tall. It is a fernleaf peony with semi-double, magenta pink flowers. It is filled with flowers early, around Memorial Day -- it’s perfect for a small garden or for the front of a garden. We usually have a waiting list for it. Other good short peonies are ‘Rosalie’ and “Lancaster Imp’, which are similar to ‘Laddie’, and are great for people with limited space. I also like the single-flowered ‘Seashell’, a soft pink peony that looks like an anemone -- the single-flowered peonies don’t flop as much as the heavier doubles. ‘Coral Charm’ is an unusual color, and it has been very popular the past few years.”
The Growing Place also features tree peonies, notes Goodlow, which are shipped directly from a source in China. “They are fabulous!,” she says. “We can’t keep them on the shelves -- they come in lavenders, whites and pinks, and some are one-of-a-kind. They are very hardy -- you can see a lot of tree peonies in the walled garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. They are beautiful, and they get to be four to five feet tall and wide, but they do tend to be expensive.”
With herbaceous peonies, customers look first for fragrance, then color, then form, says Goodlow. Strong stems are also a consideration. There are also collectors who come in looking for a specific peony, or peonies with specific characteristics such as early bloom time. The Growing Place grows some of their best selling peonies at the Aurora site, including ‘Laddie’, ‘Red Charm’, ‘Coral Charm’ and ‘Seashell’. Others are brought in and sold in containers.
Last year was the first time the Growing Place offered the peony ‘Mother’s Choice’. “It is a fabulous peony with nice, stiff stems and white double flowers. It is slightly fragrant and blooms late in the season. It’s in the 32 inch height range. Even with rain it wouldn’t flop over,” says Goodlow. “ ‘Dinner Plate’ is one for the collector -- it has huge double flowers. We got a few in years ago then couldn’t get it again. One of our favorite bomb type peonies is the early blooming ‘Red Charm’, which has fully double, rich dark red flowers.”
Goodlow selects the following peonies as some that are perennially popular:
“ ‘Kansas’ is a classic with watermelon red flowers, it is large and well-formed with strong stems. ‘Krinkled White’ is 24-36 inches tall, with single flowers that have a frilly look. ‘Highlight’ is another favorite, with real dark red, almost burgundy flowers and strong stems. I once made the mistake of planting it by orange flowers, though - not a good color combination! ‘Do Tell’ is another short peony, with real soft rosy pink flowers, almost a blush pink, that fade to white. ‘Raspberry Charm’ has semi-double, raspberry red flowers. It is new to us this year and I think it’s going to be a new favorite.”


Originally published in The Landscape Contractor magazine

With many thanks to Roy Klehm, with happy memories of the big pink and green barn
and to Renee Jaeger of Song Sparrow Perennial Farm

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American Peony Society,

Klehm’s Song Sparrow website and catalogues,

“Growing Peonies,” by Hope Weber, Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet HYG-1241-94

“Popular Peonies,” by Ronald C. Smith and Robert G. Askew, North Dakota State University Extension Service, March 1995,

“Peonies for the Home Landscape,” by Erv Evans, North Carolina State University, Extension Service, 2/99 HIL-8501

“Pretty Peonies,” by Mary Hirschfeld, 6/17/2003, Cornell Plantations, Cornell University Publications, Ithaca, NY

“What’s so great about peonies?,” by Ted Sobkowich, Prairie Garden magazine, January 1, 2006

“A Passion for Peonies,” by Marie Proeller Hueston, Country Living Gardener magazine, Spring 2006

“Peonies - Fit for a Queen,” by Rebecca Sawyer-Fay, Country Living Gardener magazine, Spring 2004

“The enduring peony - Spring symbol of remembrance,” by Valerie Sudol, Home & Garden section, Star-Ledger, 9/20/2001, Newark, NJ

The Gardener’s Peony: Herbaceous and Tree Peonies, by Martin Page, 2005, Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR

The Peony, by Alice Harding, Introduced and updated by Roy G. Klehm, 1993, Sagapress, Inc./Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR

The Genus Paeonia, by Josef J. Halda with James W. Waddick, The Heartland Peony Society, 2004, Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR

Bark with Bite

“Winter Interest in the Garden: Bark with Bite”

By Becke Davis

Seasons and that plants that are associated with them seem to have personalities much as people do. The plants and bulbs of spring seem warm and welcoming after the long winter, all yellows and pastels accented by the occasional spark of bright red tulips. Summer is all flash and show, with a rakish smile and boldly colored flowers from top to toe. Autumn is an old friend warming creaky bones by the fire, summer’s gaudy flowers replaced by a final curtain of foliage recalling all the colors on an artist’s palette.

Winter might be all silvery-gray elegance iced with frost, but there is still color in aspects of the landscape that catch the eye of discerning observers. The red of winter berries, yellow catkins, wheat-colored grasses, conifer needles of green, blue, gold and bronze, and newly visible bark and branches in shades of mahogany, nearly black and earthier browns, all foreshadowing the start of another cycle of the seasons in the landscape.

To those who look at nature and only see one shade of green, bark might appear somewhat boring and bland. On closer examination, though, bark is as distinctive as foliage and flowers and on some trees and shrubs, just as eye-catching. The paperbark maple (Acer griseum) is a case in point. While some large maples may be somewhat commonplace or even problematic, this distinguished tree has peeling, papery bark in colors ranging from orangey-brown to bronze to red or red-gold. Growing to 30 feet tall and a similar spread, the paperbark maple is an aristocratic specimen tree. It is hardy to zone 5 and performs well in full sun to part shade.

There are several maples with ornamental bark including the snakebark maple (Acer capillipes), trident maple (A. buergerianum), the David maple (A. davidii), Japanese maple cultivars including A. palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’, the striped maple (A. pensylvanicum ‘Erythrocladum’ and ‘White Tigress’) and the three-flower maple (A. triflorum). Other maples with interesting bark include A. mandschuricum, A. maximowiczianum, A. foresti ‘Alice’ and A. pseudoplatanus.

Many birches have ornamental bark, and the ‘Heritage’ river birch (Betula nigra ‘Heritage’) is one of the best. As the story goes, Earl Cully grew this tree from a cutting he requested from a tree he saw growing in someone’s yard. It is now a patented selection propagated by tissue-culture and rooted cuttings. Hardy in cold as well as hot climates, with variable fall color that can be an attractive yellow, this birch has much to recommend it but the peeling bark is what makes it a household name. The exfoliating bark is white and light tan to salmon-pink color on younger trees, changing to a tan to pinkish-brown as the tree matures.

The bark of white birch displayed against a backdrop of winter snow may seem one-dimensional, but snow cover is not consistent, and white birches are striking no matter what the backdrop. The bark of white birches has long been popular, but in recent years these trees have been viewed with caution because of significant problems including the bronze birch borer. Since white birches have long been beloved and valuable in the landscape, the result has been extensive research to develop or identify hardy and disease-resistant species and varieties.

A long term study comparing white birch species and varieties at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia identified accessions of the Monarch birch (Betula maximowicziana) as the most promising. Native to Japan, this species features variable bark color ranging from white to creamy white or gray with black marks. Initially this species was thought to be borer resistant, although subsequent research leaves this conclusion in some doubt. A hybrid of Betula maximowicziana X B. papyrifera has displayed the most promising results. Another birch in this study that had a high survival rate was Betula populifolia ‘Whitespire Jr.’, grown from seed of a parent plant at Longenecker Gardens in Madison, WI. ‘Whitespire Sr.’ has also displayed resistance to borer infestation in this study. Other birches with ornamental bark include B. alleghaniensis, B. jaquemontii, B. lenta, B. pendula, B. platyphylla var. japonica and B. populifolia.

Other trees and shrubs with exfoliating bark or bark with a distinctive texture include cinnamon clethra (Clethra acuminata), yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra), California incensecedar (Calocedrus decurrens, syn. Libocedrus decurrens), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), ‘Winter King’ hawthorn (Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’), Japanese cryptomeria (Crytopmeria japonica), dove tree (Davidia involucrata, hardy to zone 6), the corky-like burning bush (Euonymus alatus), seven-son flower (Heptacodium miconioides), oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), amur maackia (Maackia amurensis), dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), Persian parrotia (Parrotia persica), lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana), Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora), London planetree (Platanus Xacerifolia), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), amur chokecherry (Amur maackii), Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata), Sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii), Japanese pussy willow (Salix chaenomeloides), black pussy willow (Salix gracilistyla ‘Melanostachys’), Japanese fantail willow (Salix sachalinensis ‘Sekka’), Stewartia spp. and Japanese tree maple (Syringa reticulata), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides),

While some bark is attractive because of its texture, other bark stands out in winter because of its color. The redtwig dogwoods are extremely popular for landscape use, particularly those that have bright winter color. Examples include cultivars of the bloodtwig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) ‘Viridissima’ and ‘Winter Flame’, the redosier dogwood (C. sericea) ‘Flaviramea’ (sometimes listed as ‘Lutea’), ‘Kelseyi’, ‘Silver and Gold’, ‘Cardinal’ and ‘Isanti’, Tatarian dogwood (C. alba) ‘Westonbirt’, ‘Sibirica’, ‘Spaethii’ and ‘Aurea’. The stems of Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica) are an attractive green while Rubus cockburnianus, R. phoenicolasius and R. thibetanus all have distinctly different colorful stems. The stems of Salix alba var. vitellina get progressively more colorful as the seasons change from fall to winter. Other willows with colorful stems include S. alba ‘Chermesina’ and S. alba ‘Britzensis’.

Trees and shrubs with colorful or exfoliating bark or bark with an interesting texture can keep a landscape from looking ghostly and stagnant in the long winter months. Careful pruning can enhance the effect of ornamental bark by opening up branching to make the bark more visible. Landscape lighting can also draw attention to attractive bark patterns. Next month’s feature will continue to address winter interest in the garden, with a focus on eye-catching or architectural plant forms.


Originally published in The Landscape Contractor magazine
(With thanks to Rick Reuland for the great, and non-alliterative, title!)

File Name: Barkwithbite.doc
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“Marvelous Midlevel Maples,” by Ed Lyon, American Nurseryman, March 1, 2005

“Twenty Years of Birch Evaluation at the Morris Arboretum,” by Anthony Aiello and Elinor I. Goff, Morris Arboretum, reprinted in Landscape Plant News, Volume 13, No. 4, 2002

“Betula Nigra Heritage,” by Rommy Lopat, The Weedpatch Gazette,

“A Perfect Fit,” by Reeser C. Manley, American Nurseryman, March 15, 1999

“Barking Up the Right Tree,” by Becke Davis, The Landscape Contractor, February 2001

Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, by Michael A. Dirr, 1997, Timber Press, Portland, OR

Gardening with Foliage Plants: Leaf, Bark and Berry, by Ethne Clarke, 1997, Abbeville Press, New York, NY

The Year in Trees, by Kim E. Tripp and J.C. Raulston, 1995, Timber Press, Portland, OR

Landscaping with Native Trees, by Guy Sternberg and Jim Wilson, 1995, Chapters Publishing, Ltd., Shelburne, VT

The Name Game

“The Name Game”

By Becke Davis

Walter Jablonski of Merrillville, IN, a retired turkey farmer, needed a name for a daylily he was ready to introduce. Roy Klehm relates the story: “Walter had been working in his garden, which was about 50 yards below his house. He was hot and went to the house to get a drink. He was sitting at the table, looking out the window at his new daylilies, when he absent-mindedly picked up a cookie from a box that was on the table. The name of the cookies suddenly caught his eye – Stella D’Oro. Walter quickly verified that the name had not been previously registered.” Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’, which translates to “Star of Gold,” won the Stout award in 1975 -- the rest is history.
Naming a plant is not always a simple proposition, however. People who are new to the world of plants often find plant nomenclature a confusing and complex subject, requiring knowledge of botanical latin and other mysterious terms. The term “botanical latin” is not capitalized because it does not refer to classical Latin but to botanical terms that have been given a latin treatment.
The system is fairly straightforward -- in theory, at least. Take, for instance, an old favorite shrub -- Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, also known as the Annabelle smooth hydrangea. This plant is distinguished by huge creamy white blossoms up to a foot across, blossoms which can literally cover the shrub. Because of the distinctive blossoms, this shrub is sometimes called “snowball bush”. Request a “snowball bush” from a nursery, or try to order one online, and confusion will probably be result.
Search the internet for “snowball bush” and ‘Annabelle’ will turn up -- so will Viburnum opulus cultivars ‘Roseum’ (also known by the common name guelder rose) and ‘Sterile’, as well as V. plicatum and others. An online garden forum attempting to identify a snowball bush in someone’s garden ran into heated discussion as participants argued between Hydrangea and Viburnum possibilities. There is also a snowball tree (Viburnum macrocephalum) and a snowbell tree (Styrax japonica). Confusion over common names is one reason the latin binomial system comes in handy. It is also useful when people from different countries, speaking in different languages, are trying to discuss the same plant.
Hydrangea and Viburnum identify the genus of a plant, the first part of a plant’s botanical name. The second part of a plant’s botanical name is the specific epithet, which often describes certain features of the plant. Hydrangea arborescens means a “tree-like” hydrangea, and the combination of the two words forms the complete binomial species name of the plant. ‘Annabelle’(see photo above) is the cultivar name -- a cultivar is defined as “a taxon that has been selected for a particular attribute or combination of attributes, and that is clearly distinct uniform and stable in its characteristics and that, when propagated by appropriate means, retains those characteristics.” Genus and species are italicized, while cultivar names are placed in single quotations and not italicized.
Sometimes a single letter initial will follow a botanical name, which indicates the person who first named the plant, as R. for Alfred Rehder, B. for W.J. Bean, or L. for Carolus Linnaeus. While this designation is common in scientific works and reference materials, it is not commonly used, for example, in plant catalogues or in the media.
Hybrid plants, crosses of different species within the same genus, occur in nature and by the hand of man. These crosses are called interspecific hybrids (sometimes called intrageneric) and are indicated by a cross sign or X between the genus and the species epithet. When the X symbol appears before the genus name, it indicates a cross between plants of two different genera, known as an intergeneric cross. While intergeneric crosses are not common among landscape plants, they are frequently found among specialty plants such as orchids.
In addition to the latin binomial, plant names may include a variety (plants of the same species that display clear differences) or forma (plants of the same species that display occasional differences). An example of this is the thornless honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos var. (for variety) inermis (meaning literally “unarmed”, i.e. thornless). If a plant has been patented, it will usually end with a “PP#” indicating the patent number, while trademark names are followed by the symbol TM and registered trademark names are followed by the ® symbol.
Even as system as complex as the current method of naming plants is not foolproof. A professional gardener describes a simple mistake she made: “When I first came across the name for a particular sunflower -- Helianthus grossesserratus -- I read that as ‘Big Mistake Sunflower’, H. grosses-erratus. In the botanical world this is not so silly as it might sound. There are numerous plants whose common names are ‘false’ this or that -- false spirea, false astilbe, false aralia. . .I was sure there was some dramatic plant story behind that name -- perhaps a plant explorer mistaking it for some other plant and dying an agonizing death as a result. But sunflowers are not poisonous and in fact, the correct reading of that sunflower’s name is H. grosses-serratus, the Big Tooth Sunflower (syn. Sawtooth Sunflower). In my mind now, the Big Tooth has become my big mistake.” 1
The nomenclature of plants has been argued for centuries. The basis for today’s rules of nomenclature are published in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, last revised in 2004. This is not a secret book, like The DaVinci Code, but a variation on a Code of Conduct, in relation to plant nomenclature. The present code was based on the Lois de la Nomenclature botanique devised by Swiss botanist Alphonse de la Candolle and accepted by the International Botanical Congress of Paris in 1867. 2 This became known as the “Paris code”.
In the United States, the push for a uniform system of botanical nomenclature was led by the American Pomological Society, who published a code as early as 1847. Although subsequent codes developed in France, Belgium, England, Germany and other countries in the twentieth century superceded these early nomenclature codes, the early codes were the starting point for later works.
The International Code of Nomenclature for Botanical Plants was developed by groups of horticulturists from around the world, and was presented at the 13th International Horticultural Congress of London in September 1952. One of the authors of the code noted that it represented “the collective wisdom of persons having a first-hand practical acquaintance with the nomenclatural needs of amateur gardeners, plant breeders, nurserymen dealing in alpines, bulbous plants, herbaceous perennials, trees and shrubs, seedsmen dealing in vegetables and ornamental annuals, agriculturists, foresters, systematic botanists and award-giving and name-registering societies.” 3
The international code is not law, but the rules presented in the code are often used when plant nomenclature and registration issues are taken to court.
Working within the limitations of the code, where do the actual plant names come from? A genus name can be based on an ancient name that has survived over the centuries, it may be a descriptive name, or it might commemorate a particular botanist, a plant explorer, or even a member of the family. Specific epithets tend to describe the habit or distinctive features of the plant, but they can also refer to a person the plant introducer wants to recognize or to the place the plant was discovered.
For instance, the species name wilsonii refers to plant explorer Ernest Wilson, sargentii to Charles S. Sargent of the Arnold Arboretum, while the genus Dahlia is named after botanist Andreas Dahl and Fuchsia is named after herbalist Leonhart Fuchs. The species name sinense indicates that the plant originated in China, nipponicum indicates Japanese origin, while tartarica refers to a part of Central Asia formerly known as Tartary. In a more general sense, pratensis means “of the meadows” while alpinus means “from high mountains growing above the timber line” and aquaticus means “growing in or near the water.”
Examples of descriptive species names include flore-pleno, meaning double-flowered, floribunda meaning abundant flowers, lutescens meaning yellowish, nitidus meaning shining, pedatus meaning shaped like a bird’s foot, and repens or reptans mean creeping.
When it comes to registering hybrids and cultivars, certain genera have a lot more activity than others. Orchids, daylilies, roses, crabapples, peonies, hostas -- the registered names go up into the hundreds and thousands. The American Hosta Society notes: “Registration is the process of submitting a cultivar name, description and other pertinent information for consideration to the registrar. . .The primary purpose of registration is to limit confusion among hosta cultivars and cultivar names. . .It is not the responsibility of the registrar to judge the merit or uniqueness of a cultivar.”
The International Society for Horticultural Science advises, “There are different sorts of cultivar ranging from clones, which should be genetically identical, to tightly controlled seed-raised cultivars such as F1 hybrids. Article 2 of the Code describes some of the different kinds of cultivar. The only way you can check if your cultivar is new and distinct is by comparing it with existing cultivars. Your new cultivar must be distinguishable from others that exist or have existed.” 4
While there are always disputes about plant classifications, in modern times the most hotly argued challenge to the Code is related to plant patenting and the marketing of trademarked plants. One expert describes part of the problem: “Plant patents provide the patent holder the legal authority to license growers to propagate and sell their protected varieties. The protection lasts for 20 years and is nonrenewable. It is therefore in the best interest of the patent holder to provide for a heavy-duty marketing and promotion campaign concurrent with the plant’s release. Once the 20-year limit is reached, there is no more potential for collection of plant royalties.
“One major stumbling block with plant patents is restriction of the material prior to patent application and award. Once a plant has been distributed, either intentionally or unintentionally, there is typically little, if any, chance to successfully patent protect that plant variety. The exception to this rule is if propagules are distributed under a specific evaluation agreement. . .At the present time, the majority interpretation of patent laws is that a typical plant patent does not protect seedlings or mutations (sports) of a patent protected variety.” 5
According to the U.S. Patent Office, “The law also provides for the granting of a patent to anyone who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber-propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.
“Asexually propagated plants are those that are reproduced by means other than from seeds, such as by the rooting of cuttings, by layering, budding, grafting, inarching, etc. With reference to tuber-propagated plants, for which a plant patent cannot be obtained, the term "tuber" is used in its narrow horticultural sense as meaning a short, thickened portion of an underground branch. Such plants covered by the term "tuber-propagated" are the Irish potato and the Jerusalem artichoke.
“An application for a plant patent consists of the same parts as other applications with the addition of a plant color coding sheet. The term of a plant patent shall be 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, if the application contains a specific reference to an earlier filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c), from the date of the earliest such application was filed.” 6
Protecting and marketing trademarked plants is even more hotly debated, as companies find ways to circumvent the provisions of the Code. “Confusion arises when a company uses a trademark name as a cultivar name. For example, a particular holly is often designated in the trade as Ilex X ‘China Girl’. Many of you will recognize the name. If, however, you were to come upon Ilex X ‘Mesog’, would you expect to know this holly? Probably not. In fact, the cultivar name for this holly is ‘Mesog’ and the trademark is China Girl ®. This naming practice violates both trademark specifications and nomenclatural rules, but it is becoming increasingly common. The reason is profit. If a breeder patents a new plant, he restricts others from propagating it without paying any royalties. . .When a patent expires, anyone may propagate the plant, but they must call it ‘Mesog’, which does not have any commercial recognition factor. the name China Girl ® is still the property of the original producer.” 7
Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery ( addressed this issue: “The current trend toward the improper and confusing use of trademarks, both by growers and marketers of such plants, has done irreparable long term disservice to the industry by hopelessly confusing the naming of plants and the communication about these plants. . .No one is quite sure why trademarks entered the horticulture arena, but a consensus of nurserymen agree that it was first devised as a marketing tool to sell good plants that had bad cultivar names.
“Some of the larger nurseries soon realized that they were rather adept at coming up with good plant names, but they unfortunately then wanted to keep these names to themselves, so that no other nursery could use them. According to the Code, cultivar names must remain free for everyone to use, which is not what the nurseries desired. Tragically, nurserymen then began intentionally giving their new plants stupid names. . .marketing the plants under their good trademarked name, while everyone else would be left using the stupid nonsensical cultivar name. . .
“Some nurserymen discovered that they could walk a tightrope around the spirit of the law and get the 20 year protection that the plant patent provides, plus a further measure of protection by trademarking a second name for each plant, which they would use to market to the public. Once the patent expired, others could propagate the plant, but could not sell it under the trademark name. A classic example is Monrovia’s Limemound TM spirea. At the end of the patent period, everyone could propagate Spirea ‘Monhub’ PP5834, but they could not legally sell the plant as Limemound TM spirea.” 8
Even though the current system of plant nomenclature is the result of hundreds of years of development, changes in the marketplace have identified gaps such as those described above where regulations must be clarified or expanded. Sometimes, naming a plant can be a simple as eating a Stella D’Oro cookie. The rest of the time, plant propagators put their trust in the Code.


Originally published in The Landscape Contractor magazine

File Name: Namegame.doc
Word Count: 2,450


Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners, William T. Stearn, 1972/1996, Timber Press, Portland, OR

International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, C. D. Brickell and B. R. Baum, editors, 7th Reprint, 2004, Lubrecht and Kramer, Ltd.

1 “A Word A Day,” February 6, 2005,
2, 3 “ICNCP - It all started in 1952 -- or did it?,” W. T. Stearn, September 7, 1952,

4 “How to Name a New Cultivar,”

5 “Tips: When a rose is a Rose (TM) - Naming and Protection of New Plant Varieties,” by Dr. Paul Cappiello, University of Kentucky CA Adjunct Professor of Horticulture, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Landscape Plant News, Volume 10, No. 3, 1999, Chanhassen, MN

6 “Plant Patents,” U. S. Patent and Trademark Office,

7 “The Language of Horticulture,” by Denise Adams, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University,

8 “The Trademark Myth - When a Name is Not a Name,” by Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery,

“A Study of Plant Names,” by Ellen Mathys, The Backyard Gardener,

“Cultivar - definition and description,” Database of Botanical Taxonomic Categories,

“Plant Nomenclature,” by Matt Jenks, Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture,

“Registering Hosta,” and “Hosta Naming Conventions,” American Hosta Society,

“Plant Names,”

Creating a Butterfly Garden

“Creating a Butterfly Garden,”

By Becke Davis

Butterfly gardens are different from many other “theme” gardens -- to be successful, the garden not only needs to have a pleasing design that works with the surrounding home and landscape but it needs to perform a very specific task. Attracting butterflies may seem like a fairly straightforward task if you assume that all butterflies are attracted to all flowers.
In reality, there are literally thousands of species of butterflies and each species tends to have a distinct group of plants as preferred food source. When selecting plants for a butterfly garden, it is also important to remember that a butterfly goes through four life cycles, with one set of food requirements for the larval stage and another type of food once the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis.
Some theme gardens need meticulous care and a neat, sometimes formal appearance to create the intended ambience. Butterflies like their surroundings to be a little messy, on the other hand. Rocky paths muddied by a sprinkler or parts of the garden where water pools on flat rocks will attract many species of butterfly like a luxury spa attracts movie stars. Research indicates that minerals released through the water’s evaporation process, primarily sodium, may play a vital part in the mating habits of butterflies. For this reason some experts recommend putting small salt licks in a butterfly garden.
Butterflies also have a powerful sense of smell and, much like dogs, the scents that they find attractive aren’t always scents the human population likes to encourage. Rotting fruits and vegetables are gourmet treats for some butterflies, while others are drawn to the more pleasant aromas of clover or wild violets.
Areas in or around the garden where grass is allowed to grow long can act as a shelter and, for some species, a place to lay their eggs. Pesticides and herbicides should be avoided, whenever possible, because in almost every stage of life butterflies are extremely vulnerable to such toxins. If you can live with a section of your garden that is somewhat overgrown with grass, wildflowers, trees and shrubs, you will probably find more butterflies in this little wilderness than among carefully tended flower beds.
Like plants, there are woodland species and those that prefer a sunny spot, but even sun-loving butterflies will appreciate the presence of a shaded shelter. Not many butterflies overwinter in the extreme climates of the Midwest, but those that do (sometimes called “hibernators”) will also benefit from winter shelter – mounds of ivy growing over old tree stumps, piles of logs or large, dead tree branches, a stack of old bricks or chunks of concrete. Some butterflies will hibernate in old trees, while others will welcome the presence of specially designed “butterfly houses” as winter shelter. Winter or summer, butterflies need protection from the wind and a place where the sun will be reflected, somewhere safe from predators – including the trampling feet of children.
If a butterfly garden is to be created as part of an older, established landscape, look for a site that offers shelter – an overgrown fence, a clump of trees, the base of a sloping lot, or a rocky outcropping with a flat, grassy spot nearby would all be likely candidates. Water features and several hours of sun would complete the picture – minus only the butterfly-attracting plants.
Call it serendipity, but the preferred style of planting for design purposes – starting with low edging plants and gradually working up, level by level, to the tallest plants – is also one of the best arrangements for a butterfly garden. This is not only because it makes it easier for the butterflies to identify their favorite nectar-producing plants when they are clearly visible, but the taller plants offer shelter from both wind and predators.
The popular concept of a mixed border, combining annuals, perennials, herbs, roses, shrubs, vines and ornamental trees, all underplanted with bulbs, will provide a long bloom season as well as a variety of food sources and forms of shelter that will attract a large assortment of butterflies over a long period.
A companion article at the back of this issue (see page XXX) lists information about butterfly monitoring, an activity celebrating its 30th year in this country. The Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network (w) is a good source of information about which butterflies are most likely to visit this area. If the goal is to attract specific, less common butterfly visitors, it will be necessary to find out what nectar and larval food sources will be necessary to attract that particular species.
Monarch butterflies are usually a common sight in Illinois, other likely candidates include Cabbage White butterflies, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Eastern-Tailed Blue, Meadow Fritillary, Pearl Crescent, Viceroy, Great Spangled Fritillary, Summer Azure, Question Mark, Least Skipper, European Skipper, and the Dion Skipper. The University of Illinois Extension Service publishes a list of some common butterflies in this area (1), and the larval foods that will attract those species. The list includes the following, generally large, butterflies:

• Black Swallowtail feeds on carrots, parsley and dill in the larval stage
• Giant Swallowtails prefer prickly ash or citrus trees
• Spicebush Swallowtail is attracted to spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and sassafrass
• Tiger Swallowtail likes wild cherry, birch, apple and tulip tree, among others
• Zebra Swallowtail prefers the pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba)
• Monarch Butterflies like milkweeds (Asclepias)
• Great Spangled Fritillary feeds on violets
• Painted Lady butterflies like thistles and bachelor’s buttons
• Viceroys prefer pussy willows, plums and cherries

The nectar sources for butterflies include annuals, perennials, wildflowers, herbs, shrubs and trees. Annuals and tender perennials known to attract many species of butterfly include zinnias, white alyssum, marigolds, lantana, cosmos, nicotiana, petunias, ageratum, fuchsia, snapdragons and sunflowers. Herbs and wildflowers that attract butterflies include chives and other alliums, bee balm, spearmint, Anaphalis, Lunaria, Verbena, dandelions, clover, Queen Anne’s Lace, butterfly weed, goldenrod and thistle. Perennials for butterfly gardens include daisies, Phlox, Aster, Liatris, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Eupatorium, Achillea, Aubretia, Helenium, Echinops, Limonium, Sedum, Phystostegia, Scabiosa, Coreopsis, Hemerocallis, Heuchera, Lilium, Lythrum, Lavandula, Myosotis and Penstemon. Shrubs, vines and trees for butterfly gardens include Abelia, Aesculus, Aruncus, Buddleia, Clethra, Crataegus, Lindera, Lonicera, Malus, Prunus, Ribes, Salix, Spirea, Syringa, Vaccinium and Wisteria.
Most everyone will agree that butterflies are beautiful, somewhat ethereal creatures whose colorful wings and graceful flight patterns add a sense of wonder to any garden planting. Is it worth all the time and trouble to research and monitor butterflies, designing gardens that cater to their slightest whim in the hopes of attracting a rarity?
Creating butterfly habitats is not just a passing fad, it is an ecological necessity. In the 30 years since the national butterfly monitoring network was first established, the counts of many once thriving butterfly species are dropping year by year. Woodlands and prairies that once fed and sheltered these species are part of a vanishing ecosystem. Creating butterfly gardens is a small step towards balancing the ecological scales.


Steve Banovetz is senior ecologist for Agrecol Corp., a wholesale grower with about 1,000 acres in Madison, WI. Agrecol grows native plants -- and sells both seeds and plants -- all of which are southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois genotypes suitable for wetlands, woodlands, savannas and prairies. Agrecol also specializes in rainwater gardens, lakeshore gardens, and gardens designed to attract birds and butterflies.
One of the first things to consider when designing a butterfly garden, Banovetz stresses, is that there is a difference between a small, specimen-type butterfly garden and a true butterfly habitat. “A specimen garden might be used by butterflies a few hours a day, but to sustain butterflies in your area you need the shelter of a field or prairie nearby,” he says. “It would be nice to have a source of water, a sunny location and a field-like setting -- a prairie is ideal. Butterflies also enjoy perching on branches of trees like crabapples or shade trees. Not so much dense evergreens -- deciduous trees are better.”
When it comes to making plant selections, Banovetz recommends any heavy nectar-producting plants, particularly plants in the mint and milkweed family. “Goldenrod and asters are good -- you often find butterflies massed on those. Select plants that will bloom from beginning to late season to keep the butterflies in your garden.Color may be a visual way to draw butterflies in, he adds. “Showy flowers are usually, but not always, good nectar producers.”
New, improved varieties of plants may not always be the best choices for butterfly gardens, Banovetz notes. “There have been reports in recent years that when you select plants to improve them or make a flower different, the improvements often break down the reproductive system so features like nectar and scent are lost.”
One mistake landscaper contractors sometimes make when installing butterfly gardens is not preparing the soil, says Banovetz. “If the soil is incorrectly prepared, you will get lots of weeds. You also need to use plants that clump, like native grasses, not grasses that will fill in like sod. If you just let the weeds naturalize, you will end up with cool season Eurasian grasses like quackgrass. Native clump forming grasses work as companion plants, where quackgrass would dominate. Native wildflowers and clump grasses will help make a plant community. I recommend using natives whenever possible -- they also provide scent and nectar.”
Typically, when planting a native habitat garden, Banovetz would use an equal mix of grasses and wildflowers. In a butterfly garden, he recommends a mix of 75 percent wildflowers and 25 percent native grasses. There are countless plant sources to choose from, Banovetz says. “Herbs are good because they tend to be heavy nectar producers,” he says. “I also like sky blue asters, stiff goldenrod, milkweed, butterfly weed, hyssop and mountain mint.”


This article and the following sidebar were originally published in the February 2005 issue of The Landscape Contractor magazine.

File Name: Butterflygardens.doc
Word Count: 2,335


“Butterfly Q & A: Trivia from the Lepidopterist’s Society” (2)

Most people are content to admire butterflies, but there are a growing number of people who not only monitor and design gardens for butterflies, they make a career out of studying the habits and habitats of these ethereal winged insects. The Lepidopterist’s Society has compiled an extensive list of commonly asked questions and misconceptions about butterflies. The following is a sampling derived from their fact sheets.

Q. Sometimes when I touch a butterfly, a powdery dust comes off their wings. Can this hurt them or keep them from flying?

A. The colorful designs on a butterfly’s wings are created by scales. Some of these scales are shed whenever a butterfly flies, so touching a butterfly is not likely to cause damage. Butterflies can survive and fly even after a dramatic loss of scales, damage to wings, sometimes even after the loss of a wing.

Q. What are the biggest butterflies?

A. The biggest butterflies are New Guinea’s Queen Alexandra Birdwing with a wingspan up to 11 inches (280 mm), and the African Giant Swallowtail, which has extremely long wings. The largest North American butterflies, with wingspans up to 6 inches (150 mm) or so, are the Giant Swallowtail, the Tiger Swallowtail and the Two-Tailed Tiger Swallowtail. There are some moth species that exceed these wingspans.

Q. What are the smallest butterflies?

A. The smallest butterflies, with wingspans of about one half inch (12 mm), belong to the Lycaenidae family, and are among the Blue and Hairstreak types. The smallest North American butterflies are the Pygmy Blues with a wingspan of about 0.5 inch (13 mm). The smallest moths, in comparison, have a wingspan of only 2.5 mm.

Q. How many species of butterflies and moths are there?

A. The Lepidoptera are second only to beetles in the numbers of species. There are roughly 130,000 species of moths and 20,000 species of butterflies. The greatest numbers of these are found in the neo-tropical region (Mexico, Central and South America), followed by the temperate and tropical regions of Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and Indonesia. There are only about one-tenth the number of butterfly species found in the U.S., Canada and northern Mexico than those found in the neo-tropics.

Q. Which butterflies are the most common or widespread?

A. The Painted Lady or Thistle butterfly is considered the most widespread. Others include the Cabbage or Small White, the Long-Tailed Pea Blue and the Mourning Cloak.


Word Count (Sidebar Only): 367


Interviews with:

“Bright Wings of Summer,” by David G. Measures, 1976, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ

“Creating a Butterfly Garden,” by Marcus Schneck, 1993, A Fireside Book, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY

“Butterflies, Moths and Other Insects,” by S.A. Manning, F.L.S., Wills & Hepworth, Ltd., Loughborough, England

“Butterflies Through Binoculars – The East,” by Jeffrey Glassberg, 1999, Oxford University Press, London and New York

“Butterfly Gardening – Nectar Sources,” Yard & Garden Solutions – Around the House, University of Illinois Extension Service

(1) “Butterfly Gardening – Larval Food,” Yard & Garden Solutions – Around the House, University of Illinois Extension Service

Butterfly Seminar Registration Information, w

“Field Guide to McHenry County Butterflies,” McHenry County College publication

“Into the Wild – Bluff Spring Fen Nature Preserve, Cook County, IL,” by Chris Larson, Spring 1998, Chicago Wilderness magazine

“Restoring the Butterfly Tapestry,” by Doug Taron, Summer 2004, Chicago Wilderness magazine

“The Butterflies of Illinois” seminar information, Illinois Natural History Survey and University of Illinois Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences

Volunteer Registration, Chicago Park District Butterfly Monitoring Program, 2005

“Butterfly Monitoring Guidelines Summary,” Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network, Mel Manner, w

“The Butterflies of Fermilab,” compiled by Tom Peterson of Fermilab, June 2003

“Butterflies of Illinois,” from “Butterflies of North America,” USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Publication

“Counting: Flying Jewels,” by William McClain, June 2002, Illinois Publications Online, Illinois Division of Natural Heritage and Northern Illinois University

“Joint Research Project to Improve Butterfly Identification System,” June 2001, Science Blog, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Superfamily Paplilionoidea,” Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, h

(2) “The Butterfly and Moth FAQ Page,” by Ernest Williams, James Adams and John Snyder, Lepidopterist’s Society, Furman University,