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What’s in Bloom – June 20, 2018

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Entrance Walk:
Aesculus x carnea ‘Ft. McNair’ – red horse chestnut
Benthamidia japonica var. chinensis ‘Samzam’ – Japanese dogwood
Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ – sweetshrub
Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ – sweetshrub
Chionanthus virginicus – fringetree
Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris – climbing hydrangea
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ – ninebark

Founders’ Grove:
Heuchera ‘Fandango’ – coralbells
Iris ‘Spartan’ – iris

Lerner garden of the Five Senses:
Achillea ‘Moonshine’ – yarrow
Allium ‘Globemaster’ – ornamental onion
Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ – blue star
Calycanthus floridus ‘Michael Lindsey’ – sweetshrub
Clematis addisonii – Addison’s leather flower
Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Feuerhexe’ – cheddar pinks
Iris laevigata ‘Variegata’ – variegated iris
Nymphaea ‘Fire Crest’ – pink waterlily
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Do Tell’ – peony
Paeonia ‘Bartzella’ – Itoh peony
Paeonia ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ – Itoh peony
Paeonia ‘Sanoma Amethyst’ – peony
Primula japonica – primrose
Rosa ‘Nearly Wild’ – rose
Salvia argentea ‘Hobbit’s Foot’ – sage
Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ – meadow sage
Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ – sage
Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Axminster Gold’ – comfrey
Syringa komarowii – lilac
Syringa pubescens ssp. patula ‘Miss Kim’ – lilac
Weigela ‘Alexandra’ – weigela
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What’s in Bloom – June 7, 2018

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Entrance Walk:
Aesculus x carnea ‘Ft. McNair’ – red horse chestnut
Amsonia ciliata ‘Spring Sky’ – blue star
Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ – sweetshrub
Syringa x prestoniae ‘Donald Wyman’ – lilac
Viburnum plicatum forma tomentosum ‘Shasta’ – doublefile viburnum

Founders’ Grove:
Enkianthus campanulatus ‘Albiflorus’ – white redvein enkianthus
Iris ‘Spartan’ – iris

‘Fernwood’s Golden Slipper’ and ‘Cream da Mint’ lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) outside of the Lerner Garden.

Lerner garden of the Five Senses:
Allium ‘Globemaster’ – ornamental onion
Calycanthus floridus ‘Michael Lindsey’ – sweetshrub
Clematis addisonii – Addison’s leather flower
Convallaria majalis ‘Fernwood’s Golden Slipper’ and ‘Cream da Mint’ – lily of the valley
Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’ – daphne
Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Feuerhexe’ – cheddar pinks
Diphylleia cymosa – umbrella leaf
Dodocatheon clevelandii ssp. insulare – Padre’s shooting star
Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’, ‘Lemon Zest’, ‘Yokihi’ – barrenwort
Iris laevigata ‘Variegata’ – variegated iris
Lamprocapnos spectabile ‘Valentine’ – bleeding heart
Paeonia rockii – peony
Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’ – creeping phlox
Primula japonica – primrose
Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ – meadow sage
Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ – sage
Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chuntz’ – thyme
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What’s in Bloom – August 24, 2017

Friday, August 25th, 2017

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ is spectacular! These are at the Norweb Entrance Garden. – Sharmon, director of horticulture

Pennisteum ‘Fireworks’ certainly is putting on a show this time of year! This annual grass makes a great foliage contrast all season. Come see it at the entrance to the Arbor Garden. – Amy, writer/editor

I look forward to this gorgeous Rose of Sharon blooming every summer. Lavender, shades of blue, and dusky red make this an eye catching shrub that pollinators and humans alike simply cannot resist. Three cheers for the Hibiscus ‘Notwood Three.’ – Jen, horticulturist

I’m excited about the new addition of Monarda punctata (Spotted beebalm) around the Cleaver Event Lawn- it took me a few days to realize there were spotted golden flowers hiding beneath the pinkish bracts. I love this plant and so do the pollinators! – Anna, horticulturist

This sunflower! I just want to cut one down and hug it whenever I have a bad day. Seriously—it’s the cutest bloom I’ve ever had the luck to stumble upon. The bees think so, too! Helianthus annuus ‘Teddy Bear’ is in the Learning Garden in the Children’s Garden. – Amy, writer/editor

Lobelia syphilatica (Great Blue Lobelia) is blooming in the Lerner Garden and Slater Forest Pond. – Will, horticulturist

This Calibrechoa ‘Chameleon Sunshine Berry’ is pretty radiant at the moment! You can find it at the front of the Arbor Garden. – Syretha, horticulturist

This variegated leaf Abutilon is in containers at the Norweb Entrance Garden. Beautiful! – Sharmon, director of horticulture

In the wild and wooded spaces along the Maine Woods Trails, you might be able to find the rattlesnake plantain, Goodyera pubescens. A native orchid with magnificent foliage, this plant slowly creeps across the ground forming a green and silver mat. – Dan, grower & horticulturist

Check out this hot little combo! Dahlia ‘Fire Pot’ commingling with Ageratum ‘Tall Blue Planet’ in the Children’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist

This Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bokrathirteen’ near the bench on the Cleaver Event Lawn is just beginning to bloom. Watch it over the next few weeks to see it subtly change from this creamy white color to a light pink. – Anna, horticulturist

There are so few true, blue flowers. And though blue is my favorite color, I think I’d love these sweet Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ flowers no matter what their hue—there’s something about that happy lollipop burst of flowers atop the severely straight stem that hints at a really stellar sense of humor… These are in the Arbor Garden. – Amy, writer/editor

Talinum ‘Limon’ is another annual used throughout the Arbor Garden that I get constant questions about. This lime-green beauty is drought-tolerant and sun-loving. – Syretha, horticulturist

Beesia calthifolia is a lovely woodland plant hailing from Asia. Hardy to zone six or so, this plant sports beautiful, glossy, evergreen foliage in a high, airy rosette. Rebloomimg now in the Giles Rhododendron and Perennial Garden, it’s a rarely seen, but highly worthy garden plant. – Dan, grower & horticulturist

I let this Cleome (Spider Flower) seed in around the Cleaver Event Lawn from last year’s annual planting and am happy that I did! – Anna, horticulturist

What’s in Bloom – August 14, 2017

Monday, August 14th, 2017

I love this ‘American Dawn’ Dahlia! Find it on the steps leading up to and scattered around the Cleaver Event Lawn. – Anna, horticulturist

Sagittarius latifolia (Common Arrowhead) is beautiful in the Slater Forest Pond. – Will, horticulturist

Rudbeckia fulgida, ‘Goldsturm’ Black-eyed Susan. This cheerful native perennial is actually an herb—Native Americans valued this plant for its variety of uses for centuries. Recent studies indicate it may even have a more stimulating effect on the immune system than Echinacea! Just don’t eat the seeds—they’re poisonous. – Amy, writer/editor

This Eucomis, the pineapple lily, is a stunner in the Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist

It’s daylily time of year! One of my favorites here at CMBG was actually bred by our very own plant propagator, Dan Robarts. He named this variety ‘Unexpected Extra’, to reflect a strange double flower in a breeding program that didn’t involve double flowers, and also the unexpected incidence of his twins! Great story and fabulous flower! – Syretha, horticulturist

Clematis ochroleuca has cute bell-shaped flowers in the spring, but the real attraction is these funky seedheads! The common name “Curlyheads” is fitting. Find them around the bench area on the Cleaver Event Lawn. – Anna, horticulturist

Asclepias incarnata ‘Cinderella’ shows its garden value by calling to a plethora of pollinators, including our beloved monarch butterflies. A long-blooming and adaptable perennial, this variety of milkweed can be found all over in our gardens and on our grounds but is in flower now and will do so for more than a month in the Bosarge Family Education Center. – Dan, plant propagator

Dahlia ‘Thomas Edison’ is spectacular on the Rainbow Terrace. – Jen, horticulturist

Solidago ‘Sweety’ Goldenrod. So, you probably don’t have to visit a botanical garden to see Goldenrod, but while you’re here, you should give this hardy, golden perennial a few moments of your time. Its flowers, harvested and used either fresh or dried as tea are wonderful for the common cold, allergies (contrary to popular belief, since Goldenrod is insect-pollinated, not wind-pollinated, it doesn’t cause allergies), and sore throats. Fun fact: the colonists called Goldenrod flower tea “Liberty Tea” and drank it instead of the traditional black tea after the Boston Tea Party. – Amy, writer/editor

A new perennial I’m trying out this year is Crocosmia, which is a corm in the iris family. I grew them very successfully when I worked in New York City, but while they are hardy to zone 6a (which is what we are here at CMBG), our wet winters will sometimes rot the corms. Here’s hoping they make it! This variety is Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ – Syretha, horticulturist

The deep purple of this Platycodon grandifloras ‘Sentimental Blue’ Balloon-flower really pops from the chartreuse carpet of sedum surrounding it in the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses. I love how this is planted on one of the elevated beds so that you can really get a good look! – Anna, horticulturist

Verbena bonariensis, (Purple-top Vervain) is a gorgeous member of the Vervain family. Although its cousin, common vervain (Verbena officinalis), is plant rich in herbal attributes—it’s been used to treat everything from snakebites to headaches to restless sleep. But no matter which Vervain you meet, they’re all steeped in lore. Its sacred plant status dates back to Egyptian times, where it was thought to have first sprung from the tears of Isis. The Greeks called it ‘holy plant,’ and in Medieval times it was both used as protection and (rumor has it) was a common ingredient in witches’ brews… – Amy, writer/editor

What’s in Bloom – July 31, 2017

Monday, July 31st, 2017

A reliable perennial I would recommend to any gardener with sun and space is Thalictrum rochebruneanum, also called Meadow Rue. This statuesque plant gets to be over 7 feet tall and it topped with a plethora of purple flowers that the bees love! It is a bit of a self-seeder, but so worth it for its beauty! These plants can be found in the Great Lawn North Bed (across from the Burpee Kitchen Garden) and the Cleaver Event Lawn. – Syretha, horticulturist

Rosa ‘Yellow Submarine’ looking great in the Lerner Garden this week. – Will, horticulturist

Thought of as a weed in some parts of the world and food in others, these two varieties of Amaranthus caudatus (‘Coral Fountain’ and ‘Green Tails’) near the Cleaver Event Lawn are already over 4 feet high! The word Amaranth comes from the Greek ‘amaranton,’ or “unwilting,” because the flowers last so long and were a symbol of immortality. – Anna, horticulturist

Allium sphaerocephalon (drumstick allium) is a pollinator favorite in the Burpee Kitchen Garden. – Diane, horticulturist

A real show-stopper right now are the hydrangeas. As I worked in one section of the gardens yesterday I heard visitor after visitor remark in amazement over the size of the Hydrangea arborescens ‘A. G. Annabelle.’ This truly huge variety is quite reliable here in Maine, and dies back to the ground completely every year. It will have more blooms in full sun but also tolerates partial shade. These can be found in front of the cafe windows, along the terrace loop, and in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. – Syretha, horticulturist

Nothing specific in bloom right here, but if you want a cool, quiet spot, search out Maggie’s Bench in the Vayo Meditation Garden. – Patty, horticulturist

‘Becky’ daisies look lovely right now in the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses. – Will, horticulturist

One new perennial I’m particularly excited about at the moment is a new pot lily I planted this spring. This diminutive variety only grows to about a foot, so is better planted at the front of a bed. Lilium ‘Tango Passion Ladylike’ is an impossibly beautiful combination of orange and pink, my photo doesn’t do the color justice. Come see it for yourself on the inside of the Great Lawn North Bed. – Syretha, horticulturist

Very juicy Cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberry’ in the Burpee Kitchen Garden. – Diane, horticulturist

It’s Echinacea time! Always a crowd favorite this time of year, come by to check these beauties out! We have many varieties all through the gardens, below are just three you can find in the Great Lawn Ledge Bed. – Syretha, horticulturist

What’s in Bloom – July 21, 2017

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ ornamental oregano…the sweetly nodding pink bracts look great in the container leading up the steps to the Cleaver Event Lawn. – Anna, Horticulturist

Shout Out! To this perfect perennial! Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ named after the late British scientist and professor who thankfully bred this stunning Montebretia. It pairs beautifully with blue fescue and magenta Nemesia at the entrance of the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen, Horticulturist

A crowd favorite, Allium sphaerocephalon, or Drumstick Allium, is blooming in the Arbor Garden! Here it’s been wonderfully paired with Eryngium planum ‘Blue Glitter.’ An extra plus is honey bees love it as well! – Syretha, Horticulturist

This dahlia ‘Appleblossom’ surrounding the Cleaver Event Lawn has lovely yellow and peach shades. – Anna, Horticulturist

This Campanula takesimana (Korean Bellfower) is located to the right of the stone steps in the Woodland Garden, and is a beautiful perennial with very long, tubular, bell-shaped flowers that are pale lilac to pink. Pay attention, though, the plant wants to spread. – Sharmon, Director of Horticulture

I like Azaleas and consider their season to be long over but am always surprised by this late variety, Rhododendron ‘Weston’s Sparkler’. Not only does it light up the edges of Blueberry Pond, it’s scent is truly divine. Take a stroll by Sal’s Bear and stop for a moment to appreciate this late bloomer. – Jen, Horticulturist

In the Great Lawn Ledge Bed Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’ is in its full, fluffy glory! This drought resistant perennial is great for mid to late summer interest – even after the flowers finish blooming the seed head is still visually compelling. – Syretha, Horticulturist

It’s Dahlia time! And I can’t stop staring at Creme de Cassis in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. Our Dahlias are just beginning their show so be sure to get your eyes filled with some of the many Dahlia cultivars we have planted around the gardens this year. – Jen, Horticulturist

The vibrant colors and the stiff papery texture make the ‘Tom Thumb’ Strawflower mix a fun addition to the annuals planted around the Cleaver Event Lawn. – Anna, Horticulturist

This time of year one of the plants I get asked about the most are our Rodgersias. These tough perennials have leathery leaves and an interesting flower structure with bracts that hold color long past the flowers actually blooming. Here, Rodgersia sambucifolia shows off its color and red-tipped leaves in the Arbor Garden. – Syretha, Horticulturist

These Agapanthus ‘Twister’ are truly something special. Found among five different Agapanthus cultivars growing on the Rainbow Terrace in the Alfond Children’s Garden, these graceful plants are also known as Lily of the Nile. A member of the onion family, Twister boasts strapped foliage and a firecracker of a flower with white blooms with purple at the base. Blooming from July-September, come and enjoy them before they’re gone. – Jen, Horticulturist

Saving the Swarm

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

The Gardens has a lot of volunteers, and an important group among them are our volunteer pollinators. Honey bees are a key pollinator that we depend on. We maintain a small apiary – a fancy name for the location where beehives are kept – of about 400,000 honey bees by our horticultural building, and it is maintained by Master Beekeeper (and Gardens CFO) Erin MacGregor Forbes.

Recently, Erin received an alert from the Maine State Beekeepers Association (MSBA) about a swarm of honey bees that had been reported by an alarmed East Boothbay resident. The swarm had landed on a tree in her front yard, and she used the form on the MSBA website to alert the nearest team member to come remove it. (You can report your own swarm here. Please note that they only remove honey bee swarms – they do not handle wasps, hornets, bumble bees or other stinging insects. If possible, try to ID the insects before reporting.)

“Swarming,” as Erin says, “is the colony level reproductive behavior of honey bees. The colony intentionally raises more individual bees than the current space can accommodate, and also raises a new queen.” Just before the new queen hatches, she makes a specific sound to let the old queen know it is time to depart. The old queen and a portion of the adult bee population in the hive – typically 20-30% of the total colony – fly out of the colony together and form a swarm cluster somewhere usually not too far from the old hive.

This swarm cluster, while sometimes loud and a little intimidating, is busy and distracted looking for a new cavity to inhabit and create a new hive in. They send out scouts to find locations, while the rest remain with the queen.

Erin, prepared with an empty hive ready to go, facilitated the relocation of this particular swarm into an ideal and safe new nest. She was even able to locate the queen in the swarm, and place her directly in the hive to help ensure the swarm moves in. “As far as these bees are concerned,” she said, “finding this hive directly below them is a miracle.”

After giving the scouts some time to return and locate the colony’s new home, Erin then came back to collect the hive and add them to our team of volunteer pollinators here at the Gardens. They make hive #9 in our apiary – to the far left in the image below. This year we anticipate harvesting several hundred pounds of honey flavored by the floral diversity that is unique to the Gardens. This honey will be shared with volunteers and members.

If you want to learn more about our bees, check out our upcoming ‘Secret Lives of Beekeepers’ class this fall on October 18 – more details to come soon!

What’s in Bloom – July 7, 2017

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Staff Picks

These lovely water lilies (Nymphea hardy water lily) in the children’s garden remind me of being young and catching frogs in the pond. – Tina, IT Coordinator

Now that we’re open until 6pm it’s fun to see how the vibrant colors look against the early evening sky. The deep purple of this larkspur (Delphinium ‘Pagan Purples’) in the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses is so dramatic! – Kris, Director of Marketing

How lovely is the name, Tutti Frutti Series Yarrow? Or, wearing its fancy pants, Achillea millefolium Tutti Frutti Series ‘Apricot Delight.’ This feathery, festive flower calls to pollinators and people alike in the pollinator garden outside of the Children’s Garden. Don’t let its delicacy fool you—this is one hardy bloom — perfect for a Maine coast summer! – Amy, Writer/Editor

The primroses (Primula japonica and Primula X bullesiana) around the Slater Forest Pond are delicious, sherbet colors, and are whimsical additions for those damp, shady places! – Tory, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Due to staff planting the number of trees and shrubs, our full list of blooming and peaking plants is on a temporary hiatus, and will return soon!

What’s in Bloom – June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Staff Picks

This week, be sure to make your way up under the Rose Arbor in the Arbor Garden. There you’ll find Clematis ‘Multi Blue’ blooming it’s little head off! The color is simply out of this world! – Syretha, horticulturist

Phyteuma scheuzeri, the horned rampion. You just have to see this awesome little perennial in the Children’s Garden. – Jen D., horticulturist

This lovely lilac is blooming in the front of the Lerner Garden. Syringa komarowii hails from southwest China, and is very rare in this area. The seed for this plant was collected by Dan Hinckly on one of his plant expeditions several years ago. – Will, horticulturist

Be sure to stop and smell the roses… the ‘Alexandra’ Wine and Roses Weigela, that is! This low maintenance deciduous shrub looks beautiful overlooking the pond in the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses. – Sarah M., marketing and events intern

The mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) on the Haney Hillside is blooming now! – Patty, horticulturist

Finally, this beautiful biennial, Dianthus barbarous ‘Sooty’ is so worth the wait. There is so much to love about this plant from foliage to bloom. See it flowering in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen D., horticulturist
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Use for Ajuga reptans

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

If you’ve been dropping by our blog regularly, you’ll know that Syretha, one of our horticulturists, recently posted about her fondness for Ajuga varieties (currently in bloom here at the Gardens), and I have to second that fondness.
Though I have to say, as an herbalist, I’m definitely biased; any plant regularly dismissed as an invader or a common weed, well, I’m bound and determined to discover a use for, herbal or otherwise.

It just so happens that Ajuga (Ajuga reptans) has long secured a place in the herbal tradition. Among the common names for Ajuga, “Bugle” might be the most well-known, though perhaps “Carpenter’s Herb” gives you the best idea as to its traditional use. Although rarely used these days, Ajuga was a common choice, externally applied, to stop bleeding (what we herbalists call an astringent, styptic herb).
In my practice, I have used it this way with quite a bit of success. Usually, I harvest the entire plant as it comes into flower (though I’m always careful to leave plenty for the pollinators), then dry it, and include it in wound-relieving salves and oils.

While Ajuga has historically been used both to arrest internal bleeding and as a heart tonic, it’s too dangerous an herb to experiment with internally. Externally, though, it’s quite safe. In fact, Nicholas Culpeper, a 17th-Century English botanist, herbalist, and physician, had this to say about our common Ajuga: “…if the leaves, bruised and applied, or their juice be used to wash and bathe [the skin], [Ajuga can] cureth the worse sores. [O]utwardly applied, it helpeth those that have broken any bone or have any…out of joint. [A salve made with Ajuga as an ingredient] is so efficacious for all sorts of hurts in the body that none should be without it.”
Intrigued? Stop by the Gardens to identify (though not to harvest…) Ajuga reptans.
– Amy Jirsa, writer/editor