Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Botanical Garden Isole di Brissago Switzerland

I know, Switzerland is far away. but if you are lucky enought to visit the Lake Maggiore, please do not miss the Brissago Isles on the swiss Border not to far from the Borromeo Isles. Please enjoy this brand new video: https://vimeo.com/144095858 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Some Flowers from my garden

Telopea speciosissima: due to the mild winter, the flower buds developed faster this year.  

Poncirus trifoliata: simple and hardy, but every Spring still an eyecatcher
Rhododendron sinogrande:  in the next posts I'll show the development of the flower buds.


This result deserves all the work done.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Iris lazica

Trillium sessile var. californicum
Trillium recurvatum

Some species deserve special protection. 
Muscari macrocarpum
Erythronium umbilicatum
Dramatic difference of colors in Paeonia cambessedesii. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bulb plants

To be honest it's long time ago that I decided to transform an ugly small garden corner squashed between an enclosure for my pond turtles and a garden path. The problem was that this corner was the home of two tree peonies. Year after year I noted in my agenda that I should transplant both peonies between end of August and September to allow a quickly establishment in the new location. But, year after year, I systematically forgot to transplant them........
This time, even if it was far too late (end of November) I transplanted the two plants. So this spring, trying to find a couple of hours, I planned the new structure. Since years I need a sheltered location for my tulip collection. My major problem is the abundant humidity in Summer- Fall- and Wintertime. Even using extreme well drained soil, I had to fight again Botrytis and other fungal diseases. In the last two years I potted each species in deep containers, using well drained soil with enough sand, I mixed some Trichoderma atroviride (mycorrhiza fungi) to antagonize soil born fungal diseases. The containers remain outdoor during the Winter, but protected from too much rain and snow. In late Spring, as the leaves get yellow (it's important not to wait until the leaves are dried), the containers are kept dry until end of October.  

This is the structure that I planned. I like light structures, so I decided to use granite slabs (thickness 3 cm). A simple scaffolding is enough to take the slabs in place until the concrete dries off. Just not be too impatient.

One week later, the bottom is covered with a deep layer of gravel and a fabric layer. Well now is time to move the containers. Some species are ready to flower like Tulipa praecox or Tulipa cretica

Tulipa cretica

Tulipa praecox

If you are looking for an excellent book about bulb plants, take a look in Buried Treasures from Janis Ruksans (Timber Press)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Spring is just around the corner?

Well, even if RHS starts with "Spring is just around the corner" in my garden Winter is not willing to "pass away".  We experienced in the last 10 day two heavy (for us) snowfalls (15 resp. 20 cm). So, even if the temperatures didn't drop to much unter the zero, I'm happy that the new Australian corner is well coated.
The single Grevilleas are protected with a double layer of non woven fabric. At night, with just little lighting from the streetlights, they resemble small ghosts visiting my garden.

Usually I protect just few corners. Xerophytes, South African and few Australian plants. Even several species that in the books are quoted not to survive minus (celsius) temperature, have no troubles during normal winters in my garden. Moreover, I tried some subtropical like Hedychium coronarius. With some care, 10 cm of mulch and some branches to fix the mulch material, it survived -10°C two years ago!
Yes, it's still Winter, but some species like this Hakea, are just willing to flower, no matter the outdoor temperatures and the snowfalls. In the last few years I protected this species with non woven fabric, but than I realized that I had every Winter misst the flowering time. So now I have a small specimen as back security copy in a container in a cold frame, and I enjoy the lilliput small but scented flowers. 
Grevillea lanigera is also a Winter flowering species. I wait a couples of weeks, than I'll disclose this 1.5 x1.m meter large flower falls. 
Well, this green non woven fabric is not very elegant. Some other materials used to protect the plants have more fashionable results, sometimes with the help of the snow.

I have several species of domestic and feral animals that visit my garden. From the harmless hedgehogs, to martens, foxes, badgers, deers and cats. So I need to protect some plants taking care that the result should also bee acceptable from an aesthetic point of view. This is a Drymis lanceolata Mt. Wellington. Sometimes I reuse old birdcages like this one (from an animal welfare point of view these cages were and are a nonsense!). 

One of the South african borders is well protected from the snow. Few centimeters of snow are not dangerous, but the constant high humidity for weeks would kill the plants.  On the left a Protea subvestita, one of the more cold and humidity resistant Protea species. In Fall 2014 I had to reduce dramatically the size, because it began to cause troubles to the traffic ....

In most regions with mediterranean climate, snowfalls are rare. This is the reason why several species are not structurally build to compensate the weight of the snow. In some cases like Dendromecon rigida or even with Quercus suber, just few centimeters  are enough to break down branches.

Dendromecon rigida. Rigida from Latin "rigid" means rigid or stiff. Well to be "rigid" in regions with heavy snowfalls is not a positive adaptive mechanism.
This is even more harmful. This happened in the night despite my preventive job to reduce the volume of the branches and to fix the main branches.  
Well, as said, even Spring is around the corner, I still have some weeks to prepare myself and my garden tools for the action!

I will have to wait a little bit before I can prepare my miniature parterre to accomodate the citrus trees. Last year my box hedges experienced heavy attack from Cylindrocladium buxicola and Diaphania perspectalis turning myself from happy plantsman into a desperate plantsman.