Lovely through the seasons, Deep Cut Gardens is ever changing. Its acres of gardens and greenhouses are a living catalog of cultivated and native plant materials. From the first buds of spring to the unexpected bursts of color in winter, Deep Cut Gardens never fails to delight visitors. Here's a look at what's happening in the garden:
Native region: Western Himalayas and China
This is the time of year when visitors come into the Horticultural Center inquiring about the source of the delightful fragrance along one of our paths. It isn’t the drifts of snowdrops, nor the nodding hellebore blossoms nor witch hazel flowers above. It is the tiny flowers of Sweet Box growing in the woodland garden below. Though the flowers may be concealed by the lustrous, evergreen foliage, the scent can travel for several feet.
This member of the boxwood family is best grown in woodland conditions: organically rich, acidic, moist, well-drained soil in part to full shade. Winter hardy in zones 6-8, it reaches only 1-2’ in height, spreads very slowly by stolons to 2-4”, and has no serious pest or disease problems.
Less commonly seen in garden centers, but worth looking for, its handsome foliage and low-growing habit makes for an excellent evergreen ground cover, low hedge or border, and is especially welcome near walkways and home entrances. (posted 3/7/2016)
Orchid Season in the Greenhouse
Mid-February to mid-March is peak bloom season for the tropical orchids in our Display Greenhouse, which is open to the public whenever the park is open. Did you know that the orchid family is one of the largest, oldest and most diverse, with species adapted to almost every habitat on all but one continent?
In addition to the orchids, you will find both common and unusual tropicals, bromeliads, cacti and succulents, and the portion of our bonsai collection that is not winter hardy. Don’t overlook the large staghorn ferns hanging overhead!
Native region: Southern & Central Europe and Southwestern Asia
The so-called “Christmas Rose” began blooming early this year, normally coming into bloom February into March. Now covered by a blanket of snow, the nodding flowers held just slightly above the basal growth of glossy evergreen leaves were a welcome sight, and will be again when the snow melts. H. niger is a little more difficult to grow than its cousin, H. orientalis, or Lenten rose, which is native to parts of Greece, Turkey and Russia. Blooming just a little later, the deep rose colored flower buds of the latter are just beginning to appear in our garden.
Both grow well in organically rich, well-drained soils in part to full shade, with some protection from cold winter winds. Flowers range from creamy white through pink to deep mauve, some with interior spots. When winter’s ravages render the leaves tattered and brown, they can be removed to the ground to show the flowers to their best advantage.
Best in naturalized areas or situated where they can be enjoyed even on winter’s coldest days, Deep Cut’s planting of hellebores is in the Winter Garden, along the path on the south side of the Horticultural Center.
Hellebores are deer resistant and very tolerant of dry shade, lean soil and air pollution, and have no serious insect or disease problems, but one word of caution: The leaves, roots and stems are poisonous to humans.
Native region: Tropical & Subtropical Regions
Just one of many colorful and interesting flowering and foliage plants to be enjoyed in the display greenhouse through the winter months, amaryllis have become very popular around the holiday season due to their ease of care and the wide selection of colors and forms now available.
With a little care, you can replenish the bulb to bloom again next year. After the blooms have faded, trim the flower stalk to 1-2" above the bulb, leaving the strappy foliage intact. Maintain as a houseplant in a sunny window, watering sparingly and fertilizing about once a month. It can be placed outdoors in summer in partial to full sun. For flowers next winter, induce dormancy in September by withholding water and placing in a cool location (50-55°F). Remove dead leaves. After 8-10 weeks, "wake up" your plant by moving it to a well-lit location about 70°F and keep the soil moist, but not wet. In a few years you may find your bulb has multiplied, producing "baby" bulbs you can pot separately or give away.
Native region: Mediterranean
When other plants are going to sleep for the winter, our fall-blooming hardy cyclamen are just waking up. The small but elegant – and sometimes fragrant – flowers are a delight in the fall garden, with their recurved, twisting petals rising above intricately-patterned foliage that will last through winter until spring. This specimen is in the Japanese-inspired garden.
These plants flower during the cool, wet seasons, with the corms lying dormant during the hot, dry summers of their native range. There are over 20 species of cyclamen, the most familiar of which, c. persicum, or “florist’s cyclamen”, is not winter hardy in our region. Many of the rest, blooming either in spring or fall depending on species, are winter hardy in our region. They cross readily, resulting in an amazing variety of rounded to heart-shaped leaves, often with a patterned silver overlay on top and purple on the underside.
Perfect for shady areas of a rockery, border or woodland, they combine well with other shade plants and thrive in dry shade. Place them where you will observe and enjoy their diminutive beauty up close – near walkways, entry, or outdoor seating area. (posted 11/20/2015)
The Monarchs Have Arrived!
Goodness knows where they’ve been hiding, but we’ve just found six caterpillars in Deep Cut’s Waystation and Rockery. All are now being raised in the protected environment of the vivarium inside the Horticultural Center. One has attached to the top screen, preparing to form its chrysalis, where it will spend the next 10-14 days before finally emerging as a butterfly. Several others look close to the same stage.
It is a perilous life. From egg to adulthood, monarch caterpillars face a number of natural enemies. Hornets, wasps, spiders, ants, and mites may eat the eggs and caterpillars, while tiny tachinid flies and braconid wasps parasitize the caterpillars by laying their eggs on them. A few species of birds, not affected by the glycoside toxins the monarch caterpillars ingest from the milkweed, feed on caterpillars and adults. (posted 8/12/2015)
Deep Cut Gardens has received a generous donation of 40 bonsai plants, doubling the collection and adding some very fine examples of the art. Stop by to see the winter hardy specimens on their display/cold-frame and the tropical specimens inside the Display Greenhouse. Mark your calendars for Bonsai Day on Sunday, September 13, 2016, 12 noon until 4:00 p.m., when the Deep Cut Bonsai Club will present demonstrations and displays, sharing their expertise and answering your questions. (posted 7/20/2015)
The buffet is open! Deep Cut’s Monarch Waystation and the surrounding gardens provide milkweeds, nectar sources and shelter throughout the season to sustain the monarch butterflies in their breeding and migration. Many other insects are enjoying the spread, but no monarchs, monarch eggs, or monarch caterpillars have been seen yet. This spring, as suggested by professor of entomology Doug Tallamy, we cut back the stems of about half the milkweed plants to approximately 12” to ensure a crop of tender young leaves for the caterpillars. (Posted 6/29/2015)
Eastern Redbud ‘Ruby Falls’
Cercis Canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’
Native region: Eastern United States
Planted just last autumn at Deep Cut Gardens, this is just one of many outstanding cultivars of our native redbud tree. With its weeping habit, early spring flowers, and velvety red-purple leaves, it makes an excellent specimen plant for the home landscape. This highly adaptable small tree will tolerate heat and cold, a range of soil acidity, black walnut, clay soil, and full sun to light shade. About the only condition it cannot abide is a consistently wet soil. Although deer resistant, it provides food for other wildlife. All things considered, an excellent alternative to exotic species. (Posted 6/29/2015)
Native region: Dry, mountainous areas of northern hemisphere
Allium is a genus of about 700 species, which includes chives, garlic, onion and shallots. Many of the ornamental varieties originated in Central Asia and have been cultivated for their ornamental, rather than culinary, qualities. Depending on variety, they range in height from 8 inches to 4 feet, and are available in a wide range of colors. Cold-hardy to USDA Zone 4, these undemanding plants will thrive in any well-drained soil in full sun and are relatively resistant to deer, voles, chipmunks and rabbits. Some have flower heads that dry well for crafts and arrangements.
Plant bulbs in the fall for blooms the following season, and many years thereafter. Plant in groups in groups in a bed or border for best display. (Posted 5/18/2015)
This fairy ring, planted in October 2013, is beginning to bloom in the field by the picnic benches behind the production greenhouse.
Hamamelis x intermdeia ‘Arnold Promise’
Native region: Central & Eastern U.S., Mexico, Asia
The witch hazels at Deep Cut are finally in bloom! Depending on species and cultivar, these are among the first and last to lend color to our landscape with their crinkly, strap-like petals in shades from pale to golden yellow, orange, russet and red. The flowers, often fragrant, can last up to a month, even through temperatures in the low 20s. ‘Arnold Promise’ is beside the Horticultural Center, and there are several varieties blooming in the “cut” or ravine south of the display greenhouse. Melting snow has revealed snowdrops and heath already in bloom, as well as flower buds of hellebore (Lenten rose) and daffodils, promising more spring color soon.
Ranging from shrubs to small multi-stemmed trees up to 30’ in height, hamamelis is adaptable to many uses in the home landscape. The Asian varieties bloom January-March, while our native Hamamelis virginiana blooms October-December. All provide nice fall foliage color.
Coral Bark Maple
Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’
Native region: Japan
Winter reveals elements overlooked or absent in warmer months. The scarlet limbs of a coral bark maple, the convoluted bole of the dawn redwoods, and the exfoliating bark of the river birches. With deciduous trees bare, the forms, textures and hues of evergreens take on new significance…until spring foliage and flowers return and they once again play a supporting role in the gardens.
Koi in Winter
As the gardens’ plants go into dormancy for the winter, so, too, do the beautiful koi in the lily pond. Being cold-blooded, they cannot produce their own heat and their body functions slow drastically, so they are not fed during this time. Except for mild spells during the winter, they will remain at the bottom of the pond where the water temperature is warmest. As spring returns and the water temperature rises to about 50 degrees, they will once again become active near the surface. In the meantime, to ensure that fresh oxygen can enter the water and carbon dioxide can exit, we will be sure that ice does not completely cover the surface. With good living conditions, these hardy and adaptable members of carp family may live 50-70 years.
Camellia ‘Winter’s Star’
Camellia Oleifera ‘Winter’s Star’
Native region: China
Our camellia is blooming exceptionally early this year. Usually blooming late November into December, this large shrub delights visitors on the front walk with fragrant lavender-pink blossoms for up to six weeks. The glossy dark evergreen foliage is handsome year round.
There are over 200 species in the genus camellia, which is native to eastern and southeastern Asia. All are evergreen, and, being somewhat tender, they are generally winter hardy in USDA Zones 6b-10. Depending on species, bloom time ranges from late summer to spring.
A related plant, C. sinensis is the source of tea leaves. The seeds of C. oliefera and C. sinensis are pressed to produce tea oil, a sweet oil used for cooking and seasoning. This must not be confused with tea tree oil, a camphoraceous oil with antiseptic and antifungal properties, which is taken from melaleuca alternifolia, native to eastern Australia.
Camellias prefer a moist but well-drained, slightly acidic soil (pH of 5.5-6.5) rich in organic matter. They tolerate sun, but will do best situated in dappled shade, sheltered from winds, and given a mulch of 2-3” of leaf mould. As long as their cultural needs are met, they are fairly trouble-free and equally well-suited for the mixed shrub border, woodland garden or as a specimen.