I don't endorse any products, and I'm not endorsing Solus Firepits, but the company had a very interesting blog post recently on the legality of firepits around the country.
The message is: if you or your client are thinking about putting one in the yard, make sure you check out your local ordinances first. In some communities, wood-burning firepits or outdoor fireplaces are simply illegal.
The blog post is very interesting. You may read it here.
Mesa Glow® Maple (Acer grandidentatum 'JFS-NuMex 3')
A new maple that's drought-tolerant and cold hardy is expected to be on the retail market next year. And besides those attributes, it has deep orange-red fall color, an upright form, and great disease resistance.
Developed at New Mexico State University by Professor Rolston St. Hilaire, the university recently received a patent on the tree. In the Southwest, St. Hilaire noticed that the Bigtooth maple rivals East Coast sugar maples for brilliant color, and he was determined to develop one that could withstand a dry climate, salty soil, cold temperatures and lots of light.
It's taken more than 15 years, but in partnership with the J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. in Boring, Oregon, the tree became a reality after much time-consuming research.
St. Hilaire says the tree will be a benefit to homeowners. "...it's a smaller maple, it only grows to about 30 feet," he says, "So if a homeowner wants to have a tree that will have brilliant fall color, he or she can have that plant in his or her backyard."
According to J. Frank Schmidt, the tree is hardy to Zone 4, with a height of about 28 feet and a spread of 18 feet. It has an upright oval shape, with glossy dark green foliage that changes to deep red in autumn. Schmidt says the tree is a top choice for homeowners in the intermountain West. I wonder how it would do in the midwest, mid-Atlantic, or a little farther north.
For more on the tree with Prof. St. Hilaire, check out this You-tube video here.
Orchids .. there's always something more to explore. This is the 15th year of the New York Botanical Garden's orchid show, and the focus is Thailand, home to more than 1200 native orchid species and the largest exporter of orchids in the world.
The star of the show, is a Thai sala, a traditional pavilion used for shade and relaxation, and this one has a huge gabled roof that is adorned with scores of orchids.
The exhibition also features the Thai garden practice known as mai dat, in which trees and shrubs are pruned and trained into extraordinary fanciful forms.
Visitors will also encounter flowers floating in glazed water jars; an amazing variety of Dendrobium, and Paphiopedilum orchids from Thailand's highest mountain forests.
The show was designed by Christian Primeau, who oversees the tropical collections in the Haupt Conservatory. The NYBG since 1990 has been a designated Plant Rescue Center, where orchids that have been collected illegally and seized at international borders are nurtured and brought back to health. The program is known as the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES.
Check out the NYBG website for special orchid programs, evenings, classes, and much more.
The association cited the plant for its "ability to support insects and birds and serve as the primary caterpillar food for a beloved North American native butterfly."
A member of the milkweed family, this perennial is native to the continental United States (except in the Northweast), and to Quebec and Ontario in Canada.
The striking orange flowers are long-lasting as cut flowers, and in masses, make a great statement in the garden. Butterfly weed is hardy in Zones 4-9, does best in full sun, and reaches a height of two to three feet with a spread of about two feet.
The plant attracts many bees, wasps, and butterflies, and it serves as larval food for the Monarch butterfly, the Queen Butterfly, and the Milkweed Tussock Moth.
These tall, stately trees are one of my favorites, found in many urban locations in the eastern part of the United States. I first encountered one right across the street from my old DC residence -- in the front yard of a neighbor. I'd never seen one before, and I had to turn to my tree ID books to find out that it was, indeed an oak.
Photo: Ethan Dropkin
As the SMA notes, the leaves are similar to those of an American chestnut, and both trees indeed are members of the beech family, Fagaceae.
Chestnut oaks, sometimes called roack oaks or mountain oaks, are pH adaptable, drought-tolerant, and free of major pests and diseases.
photo: Stevan J. Baskauf
The tree was nominated by Forestry Assistant Jocelyn Knerr of Dublin, Ohio. "We've planted it to replace some of our ash trees," she says, "as well as using it in greenspaces throughout the city." Lorri Grueber, an Urban Forester in Frankfort, Kentucky, is also a fan of chestnut oaks. "Its habit provides an inviting canopy, it has glossy leaves, in the summer, and it affords fabulous winter interest with the rugged bark," she says.
Chestnut oak is hardy in zones 4 to 8, prefers full sun, and reaches a height of 50 to 70 feet with a similar spread. So make sure you plant it in a place where it'll have plenty of room!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Garden Design Online
The Peace Rose was bred in France by Meilland International in 1942, and it has long been associated with the end of World War II.
It was named the day that Berlin fell to the Allies, and won honors from All-America Rose Selections on the day that a peace agreement was signed with Japan. That same day, members of the United Nations were presented with its blooms.
'Peace' is a hybrid tea about four to six feet high, three feet wide; pale golden blooms with pink edges, and a strong fragrance. Zone 6 and higher. Requires winter protection if the wind chill factor drops below 20 degrees F. A wonderful rose, well worth growing. Available from Jackson & Perkins.
Garden Design Online will return in late December with January Happenings.
Just when you thought there would never be anything new in plant pots, along come bioplastic pots. According to horticulturists at Iowa State University, not only are these pots bio-degradable, they can also release nutrients as they naturally break down.
Bioplastics are made from renewable biological sources, such as plants, and researchers believe they could replace plastics currently made from fossil fuels. The researchers did some market research as well and found that consumers do not necessarily prefer plant pots that resemble pots made from petroleum plastics. According to James Graves, a professor of horticulture, "A lot of people want a biocontainer to look earthy and not artificial."
The study also noted that although bioplastic pots cost more than the plastic pots currently on the market, gardeners may be willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly item. Scientist James Schrader noted that the market share for bioplastic pots will start small, eventually prices for bioplastics and petroleum-based plastics should be about equal.
The research study was funded by the US Dept of Agriculture's National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Let's hope these pots hit the market soon.
LA Mia Lehrer has been involved in the Los Angeles River project for many years. Read the fascinating interview with here in Metropolis Magazine here re the decision to bring in architect Frank Gehry & Partners for the revitalization project.