Six on Saturday #43 (April 27, 2019

This week, Six on Saturday is a doubleheader.  In addition to this miscellaneous S.O.S., I also have a post describing six woodland orchids.

The storms last Friday evening (April 19) were a reminder of how local–and how unfair–our weather can be, particularly during the warmer months.  A strong band of storms moved through in the late afternoon, and I was anxious about the possibility of hail and tree-destroying wind.  In the end, we had about half an inch of rain, no hail, and no wind damage. It was a different story just five miles away, where an EF2 tornado touched down.  A member of the local orchid society lives in its path.  He lost many mature hardwood trees, including  a massive hickory that came down on his orchid greenhouse and another that punched a hole in a 1000-gallon propane tank.  With so many old trees down, his woods won’t fully recover in our lifetimes.

I am grateful that I still have a garden to photograph:

1. Rhododendron species

These flowers aren’t looking their best after heavy rain

I have lost the tag for this plant and can’t remember if it is R. canescens (piedmont azalea) or R. periclymenoides (pinxter flower).  Both are native to North Carolina, but R. periclymenoides is widespread in the piedmont forest, while R. canescens is found only in a few coastal plain counties (despite its common name).

Does anyone know how to tell the two species apart?

2. Rhododendron flammeum ‘Red Inferno’ (Oconee azalea)


The common name for this species should be flame azalea, but that name gets applied to Rhodonendron calendulaceum instead .  The cultivar name doesn’t lie, though.  R. flammeum is one of those species that nurseries sell as “native,” even though its actual native range consists of a few counties in Georgia and South Carolina, hundreds of miles from North Carolina.

3. Emerging leaf of Ligularia japonica ‘Chinese Dragon’


I did a double-take when I saw this bizarre structure.  Somehow, I have never before noticed how odd the leaves of ‘Chinese Dragon’ look before they spread open.


I love everything about this plant and have previously featured it in Six on Saturday #2 and #21.  I am pleased that it has produced a few volunteer seedlings which have inherited the deeply cut foliage.

4. Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon’s seal)


Our little native Solomon’s seal grows wild in scattered locations around our property, usually in dry soil under deciduous trees. The best colonies seem to be under hickory trees. Hickories produce toxic juglone, albeit in smaller quantities than the infamous black walnut, so perhaps the Solomon’s seal have less competition from other plants in those locations. If you are trying to find juglone-resistant plants to grow under a black walnut, Polygonatum species might be worth trying.

5. Polygonatum humile (dwarf Solomon’s seal)


Polygonatum humile, a species from east Asia (China, Korea, Japan) grows well in our climate. These are under a dogwood tree. They stand only 5 inches (13 cm) tall and have none of the arching grace of the larger species. They’re cute, though.

6. Fritillaria imperialis (crown imperial)


This plant, framed by a huge old patch of Lycoris squamigera, was blooming in my mother-in-law’s garden in Pennsylvania on Easter Sunday.  I have tried growing F. imperialis several times without success.  Occasionally, the bulbs produce some sickly, stunted foliage for a year or two, but they never flower.  Perhaps we have the wrong soil or climate.

The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six and find links to the blogs of other participants.

10 thoughts on “Six on Saturday #43 (April 27, 2019

  1. In my Rhododendron book, the entry in the key that separates periclymenoides and canescens says: flower bud scales hairless; leaves hairless or sparsely hairy beneath = periclymenoides. Flower bud scales densely hairy; leaves hairy beneath, usually densely so = canescens. I put a seedling plant in my six the parent of which is in the same section as these two and doesn’t key out exactly to any of them, so is probably a hybrid.

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    1. Thanks. It’s too late to look at bud scales this year, but I looked at the leaves. They appear hairless at first glance, but under a 60x pocket microscope are sparsely hairy (densely hairy along the mid-rib).

      So maybe R. periclymenoides? Could easily be a garden hybrid, I suppose.

      The nursery where I obtained it sells both species, so that’s no help.


  2. Past years I also tried and failed F imperialis because of the clay soil, I guess. This year, I changed by adding sand and potting soil. This is the first year that it blooms, but remains curved at about 30 cm(??). It’s weird … It’s already better …
    Otherwise very beautiful strange photo of Ligularia ! I love it !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, they were fine, thankfully. Thanks for asking. No injuries associated with this tornado. Their house also came through mostly ok—some damaged siding and smashed solar panels—so it could have been much worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My F imperialis failed to flower again despite looking hopeful as five shoots emerged from the pot they are in, just foliage and then some tiny caterpillar ate all that! No flowers 😦
    I shall try planting them back in the ground.

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  4. How embarrassing. I do not know how to distinguish those two species of rhododendron. I grew hundreds of cultivars, but almost all were all garden variety rhododendrons, and most were hybrids of various species. It should not be difficult to key it out, especially while it is in bloom. This link explains that they can be distinguished by the fuzziness of the floral tube, but even that is vague. (It says that, “R. periclymenoides can be distinguised by its flower tubes which are typically fuzzy or pubescent but do not have sticky glandular hairs on the back.” Does that mean that Rhododendron canescens is not fuzzy, or that it is fuzzy, but with glandular hairs on the back?) Since you are there with the flowers, perhaps you can see what you have to work with –


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