04.23.18 | SPRING

Bronzed from below

This is Rodgersia—doesn’t roll off the tongue, but it’s worth the effort. These bronzy, new leafs are really interesting from above, but look how they catch the morning light from below. This is planted up the hill in the backyard, so I was able to spot this color from inside in the house. I grabbed my camera, of course.

I bought this perennial at the Rhododendron Botanical Garden two years ago but planted it only this winter. The leaves will get much larger, reach up to 3′ or higher, and turn bright green in the summer. And now that it has room to stretch out, it’ll spread (rhizomes) to 3-4′ feet as well.

The ID tag it came with calls it mohogany rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia ‘Rubrifolia’). Mohogany sounds nice but this is not aesculifolia, which has more ovate leaflets and resembles a horsechestnut tree (Aesculus)—hence the name. This plant is Rodgersia podophylla. I’d say I’m surprised by how misidentification seems pretty common, but I’m sure that would just make an old gardener laugh.

For more info on Rodgersia, Great Plant Picks has three.

04.20.18 | PULLQUOTE

from Silent Spring

“Have we fallen into a mesmerized state that makes us accept as inevitable that which is inferior or detrimental, as though having lost the will or the vision to demand that which is good? … Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons … with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”

Rachel Carson, 1962

04.19.18 | LEAVES

The slow fade

I was checking on plants last night, to see what’s popping up, and while clearing compost that had gathered around the base of a fern, I noticed this delicate dead leaf. Soft to the touch, but the tulle-like fibers didn’t crumble when I handled it. Clearly strong enough to trap that needle I wish I’d removed before I took the picture. I don’t think it’s from last fall, I’d say it’s a couple years old. I’ll put it back.

04.18.18 | LIGHTING

Monstrous shadows

With more light hitting the house these days, I’m following the previous shadow post with another indoor plant display. This is our delicious monster (Monstera deliciosa), a common houseplant that is easy to grow if you give it a big pot and plenty of space. A quick look on Instagram or Dribbble would probably reveal that every wannabe interior designer and young illustrator has one against a white wall—and the appeal is undeniable. We’ve had ours for about a year and the largest leaves are still only about as half as their full potential. It would benefit from staking, as they climb in their native habitat, but the sprawl works against the large living room window. A minor complaint is that because it reaches for the morning light, it tends to ignore the room. You can rotate it but then they twist their necks back around, sometimes in a matter of hours. I amped up the contrast on these pictures, but the leaves’ multiplying effect, and bright colors are just as striking in person.

Buyer beware: The ID tag on this plant (from Swanson’s Nursery) said it was a Philodendron. It’s not—Monstera is a separate genus, though the two share a family, Araceae. That said, it’s commonly called a “split-leaf philodendron,” so I suspect this misidentification is irrevocable. Considering its other common names are things silly things like “swiss cheese plant,” this is a good example of why using the Latin is neither fancy nor difficult, it’s just right.

04.13.18 | LIGHTING

Dragon shadows

The sun gets the glory, the shadows get to work. Evening light poured in the other day, as dinner was hitting the table. Our dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) is a slow-grower, but quick to put on a show.