• Field Notes Blog from Garden Director Dan Hinkley,
    Assistant Director Nathan Lamb
    & Taxonomist Ross Bayton.

Geum Mango Lassi

Geum: Tales from the Old Country

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The Gorgeous Genus of Geum

Geums – I love them! And if you’re uncertain how to pronounce this little Latin name, then split it in two: Gee-Umm.

The genus Geum is a member of the massive rose family (Rosaceae), which …

Illcium anisatum; Beyond the Stars

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Good Foliage Amongst a Richness of Flower

Foliage First.

Far more people are familiar with the genus Ilicium than the nerdy gardener. Authentic cuisine in SE Asia has long relied on sweet, spicy aroma of star anise, the star-shaped seed …

Dactylorhiza with Rhododendron macrosepalum

The Spotted Orchids of Heronswood

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A taste of the tropics

Orchid flowers evoke exotic locations – tropical trees bedecked with these glamorous blooms, standing above palm-lined beaches, a waiter brings a cocktail… While most orchids are indeed native to the tropics, a small number make …


Tales of Geum

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Tales from the Old Country

Geums – I love them! And if you’re uncertain how to pronounce this little Latin name, then split it in two: Gee-Umm. The genus Geum is a member of the massive rose family (Rosaceae), which …

A Dule of Doves

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The Dove Tree; Davidia involucrata

The near mythical Davidia is in full splendor this weekend at Heronswood. Its unique and fanciful floral display always draws commentary by those who see it for the first time. Hailing from the mountains of …

The Primitive Charms of Saruma henryi

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Primitive, yet pretty

Amongst the mass of spring flowers, some less showy perennials are easily overlooked. This is often the case with Asarum, or wild ginger, a genus of evergreen ground cover. Indeed, by calling it ground cover, I’ve …

Rues Rock

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The Rue Anemone; Anemonella thalictroides, or Whatever

First, always first, lets start with the name, shall we? A charming woodlander from much of eastern North America, its true place in the botanical kingdom continues to be in flux. First described …

Magnolia Season Begins

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Flowers before foliage

With Spring’s arrival, the beds and borders at Heronswood are awash with flowers. Carpets of corydalis, stately tufts of trilliums and hordes of hepaticas are an assault on the senses. But take a moment to glance upwards …

Hepatica transsilvanica "Elison Spence"

Hepaticas and More

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The Genus Hepatica

I have certainly said the same before as I am sure I will say the same again. Each year, in mid-March to early April, I note that the Hepaticas have never looked better. As they have now …

Abraham-Isaac and-Jacob

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Trachystemon orientalis

Found naturally occurring in southern Europe and western Eurasia where it has long been eaten as a spring vegetable, this member of the Borage Family (Boraginaceae) is known colloquially as Abraham-Isaac-Jacob. Over the centuries, the same name has …

Symphonic Symphyotrichum

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If I checked my archives, which I seldom do, I would probably see that I gush about Asters every year at about this time. And I have probably used the same adjectives and turns of phrase each time I have. …

The Under-Appreciated Charms of Roscoea

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The beguiling genus of Roscoea is mostly misunderstood, taxonomically misrepresented and entirely too under appreciated in gardens of the Pacific Northwest. Its physiology itself is chocked with anomalies with a floral format appearing to be a dead ringer for that …

Fuchsia magellanica

Fewsha, Fooksia or Fuchsia?

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Despite having his name forever melded to a diverse and horticulturally significant genus of plants as well as an eponymous color that many might equate with cloying, as well as a perpetual tiff over proper pronunciation, Dr. Leonhart Fuchs, a …

Eucryphia glutinosa

August Moments

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The heat is expected to be brutal by this Friday but we are fully on the task of watering; please note that our woodland is generally a full 20 degrees cooler than the ambient air temperatures. Come and bathe in …

Phlox paniculata 'Iris', Monday, July 18th, 8:00AM

Phlox by Night

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Like so many plants native to North America, Phlox paniculata was sent across the Atlantic to finishing schools and ultimately sent back refined and sophisticated. This simple and charming wildflower is now barely recognizable as the parent of so many …

Sxusem, Fires and One Man’s Weeds…

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During the bombing of London during WWII, the first plant to germinate and blossom in the sites of destruction was Epilobium angustifolium, a circumboreal species known colloquially as the Rosebay Willowherb, bringing a dash of beauty to an otherwise grisly …

Apioid Addiction

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Even if you never gardened, which we know you do, and even if you hated plants, which we know you don’t, you would be on friendly terms with countless members of the Apiaceae. With 434 genera and an estimated 3700 …

Calycanthus x raulstonii

East Meets West

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Until 1963, the genus Calycanthus was known by only two species. Calycanthus floridus, the Carolina Allspice, was exported to gardens in Europe in 1756 while Calycanthus occidentalis, the California Allspice, was not introduced into cultivation until the mid 19th century. …

On Loving Paris

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I can’t exactly say when my infatuation with Paris began, or even precisely when I initially became aware of the genus. It has been one of those slow boils in life, when you are not even aware of budding love …