JACK FROST BRUNNERA (Brunneria macrophyla) is a low beauty for shade.  The blooms are okay-small blue flowers in early spring but the leaves “bloom” all summer.  It is a hybrid so the seeds you might save won’t look like Jack Frost.  It is hardy to zone 3 and was up and doing well when this April “freeze week” happened.  As I am writing this in late April, it is brown but I hope it has enough energy to try again.  It likes moist soil and a mulch to keep the soil cool.  The leaves are heart shaped, mostly white with brilliant green veins.



Lotus is a water plant you can grow in a half whiskey barrel or a large tub as it needs only 2 to 4 inches of water over its rootstock. They should not freeze in winter so I drop mine, pot and all, to the bottom of my lily pond (24 inches deep). The blooms of white, pink, lavender, and red edged, may rise as high as 6 feet out of the water.  In still water, and full sun, the tubers start small floating leaves first and then as things warm up the new leaves are 10 to 12 inches across and lift out of the water by several feet. They seem to be waxy so drops of water form making the leaves even more spectacular.  The blossoms are huge, waxy, and bloom for 3 days then the petals fall off to reveal a lotus pod that arrangers love to have in their winter bouquets. Do not remove the pod until it gets large and turns brown as it starts small and grows quite large with seeds that can be used to propagate new plants.

          Lotus are fertilized with hard pellets that are pushed into the mud about once a month.  Those huge leaves and flowers are hungry!!! Instead of mud, the last 2 years I have planted them in a ceramic material called Structure that is baked clay and is not as heavy or slimy as mud. It does not float so does not need stones on top. It is also easier to push the fertilizer tablets close to the roots.  Lotus tubers are long and skinny, usually needing a brick or rock on top to keep them from floating until the roots are established.  Care must be taken not to damage the growing tip or the plant dies.



ANGEL TRUMPETS (Brugmansia species) are huge plants, not hardy in Nebraska whose blooms may be 8 inches wide and 15 inches long and they do look like trumpets. They are usually white, pink, or yellow with 10 to 20 opening at once.  I grow mine in large pots so they can be out back in the fall and then dragged into the garage for the winter.  This year I did not cut one back and it bloomed lightly all winter so it will go out again into full sun with a layer of compost and fertilizer.  Wind tears those big blossoms so if you have a protected place they will do better. Since the plants are so big, I take cuttings of the other colors and they root quite easily and by May are about 2 feet tall.  They like water to support those leaves, and regular fertilizing.  I use the long lasting pellets (Osmocote). One needs to watch for spider mites on the under side of the leaves.  DATURA and BRUGSMANSIA were classified together in the same genus for many years but lately have been separated. There is a double purple and white DATURA I have had get 10 feet tall.  Both species are poisonous if eaten. The blooms open at night and the bees are inside within minutes.  One white DATURA is hated by farmers because it is so aggressive in their fields. It is usually called a “MOONFLOWER”.


A TIGER EYE??? (Rhus typhina)

          Looking for a bright yellow, scarlet, and orange shrub in the fall? The SUMACTIGER EYE” (Rhus typhina) will fill the bill. Many people do not like SUMACS because they send out root runners to take over the garden.  TIGER EYE” is advertised to not do that, or not as vigorously. It is also advertised to grow eventually to be 6 feet high and 8 feet wide. Even the stems are fun in pink and fuzzy. After getting started they will grow in very poor soil and are drouth resistant. They often drop their leaves with the first frost. Since the leaves are compound and rather long, after they drop the plant, when it is young, looks naked in the snow. This plant is classified for hardiness zones 4-8.



          PINEAPPLY LILIES (Eucomis species) are a fun, tender plant. You can take them inside during winter as a house plant or cut them off after the first frost and take them inside for storage. About mid-summer they will send up the “pineapple” in the center of the long, narrow leaves with pointy edges. Depending on the age and size of the plant, the stems will vary in size. But the very top is a tuft of leaves like on a pineapple, and is just below the blooms. When I first got mine there were only plants with white stalks available, but now one can get wine red or pink blooms. The leaves may be plain green or spotted with purple.  Mine sleep in a barrel of vermiculite during the winter.  They do well in sun or high shade in container gardens or flower beds.

Copyright 2007



          I have a new neighbor!!! He is at least 5 pounds of black fuzz with big eyes.  When this Shih Tzu takes his tall owner for a walk, he is ahead at the far end of the leash, trying to rush him along until they come to a pole, a tree, or most anything interesting. Then a sudden stop! “Whoops-I gotta check this out”. Most of the time when he takes his lady owner out he looks like a soft ball of fur about 12 inches long bouncing as he goes exploring the world.  He is having his first haircut this week and I wonder what the dog part looks like under all that fur.  If you haven’t had a puppy-you haven’t lived!!!

Copyright 2007