Category: Summer Horticulture Highlight

Horticulture Highlight: Bugbane, Black Cohosh

July 13, 2022

Horticulture Highlight: Actaea racemosa, Bugbane, Black Cohosh 

twisted like a mobius  

belt, before insinuating your noxious 

nectar – omnivorous, odoriferous, officious 

orifice-filler, you… 

-Mark Levine 

While in bloom, Actaea racemosa, Bugbane, Black Cohosh, with tall stems and long fleecy flowers is truly eye-catching. These same blossoms emit an unpleasant odor. Centuries ago, some thought this smell could repel insects, hence one common name bugbane. The non-entomological etymology has a basis from Algonquin Native Americans. Cohosh is derived from co-os, meaning pine tree, alluding to the pointed spikes. 

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Silk Tree

August 3, 2021

as though you expected to find some strange presence behind you

coming through the diamond-paneled bay window of your sanctum

a crimson-flowered silk dressing gown

            -Keith Waldrop

Silk Tree in Garden with fountain

Silk Tree, Albizia julibrissin in flower presents a curious, powder-puff-like flower, comprised not of petals but rather numerous showy thread-like stamens. Each stamen at one-inch or longer is deep-pink/reddish in their upper third and white at the bottom. The month of August, into late September and sometimes even earlier in late July is their long season of bloom.

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Ural falsespirea

July 6, 2021

…I studied bees, who were able

to convey messages through dancing

and could find their ways

home to their hives

even if someone put up a blockade of sheets

and boards and wire…

            Naomi Shihab Nye

Landscape design considerations for attracting pollinators might more recently have been increasingly focused on floriferous herbaceous perennials. At Mount Auburn we include many of those but also know that trees and shrubs are an essential part of our pollinator support. Honeybees, bumblebees, sweat bees, mason bees, mining bees among numerous other types of bees, as well as other kinds of pollinators, are attracted to the expansive cornucopia of blossoms throughout the total growing season within our landscape.

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Panicle Hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata

August 28, 2020

It was late in September when you took me

To that amazing garden, hidden in the city,

Tranquil and complicated as an open hand, …

                                                – May Sarton

For many of us, September, with its return of school-days, has become a de facto end of summer.  One late-blooming plant, that always extends the lushness of summer flowers, well past Labor Day, is the Panicle Hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata.

The genus Hydrangea, within the family HYDRANGEACEAE, includes over 70 species of flowering plants, native to south, and eastern Asia, and North, and South America. Hydrangeas are divided into three major groups of plants: vines; shrubs with the flower inflorescences as round, or conical clusters; and shrubs with flat-topped inflorescences. Hydrangea paniculata, with flowers in elongated, conical, terminal clusters, is native to China and Japan, and was introduced into western cultivation in 1861, by Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866), German physician, and notable plant collector.

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