Clematis ‘Rouge Cardinal’

When we moved into our current home 12 years ago, a large ‘Jackmanii’ Clematis grew up the light pole in the front yard. ‘Jackmanii’ vies with ‘Nelly Moser’ for the title of most common Clematis in American gardens, and for good reason. It is an amazing performer that continues to get better with age. It is not uncommon for our ‘Jackmanii’ to morph into a giant mass of purple flowers in late May and early June. In fact, this spring it grew so vigorously, it completely destroyed the glass housing at the top of the light pole.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

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Narcissus ‘Barrett Browning’

It has been a crazy spring here in Central Illinois, with a continuous string of record-breaking temperature. The plants are in absolute fast-forward. Spring ephemerals, trees, shrubs and perennials alike are budding out and bursting forth all at once. I wouldn’t be surprised if I look outside this morning to see my garden in its full summer glory.

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Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’

When my wife and I first bought our home in 2000, the central focus of the front yard was a Littleleaf Linden (Tilia americana) that would get decimated by Japanese beetles each summer, becoming completely defoliated by the end of July. When our son was born in 2002, we decided we would remove the Linden and replace it with an evergreen so he could have a Christmas tree outside his window each holiday season.

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Viburnum lantana ‘Mohican’

Years ago, my good friend Laura Hayden (who blogs over at Durable Gardening) let me in on a little horticultural secret. When you come upon a woody shrub that you can’t identify, it behooves you to guess Viburnum. Despite the apparent breadth of this genus implied by Laura’s advice, until recently I knew very little about Viburnum and grew none in my own garden. I cannot think of a better genus for my inaugural Linnaeus Day post. As Michael Dirr shares in his work on the genus[10], Linnaeus himself classified Viburnum in Species Plantarum (1753).

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‘Cinderella’s Coach’ — An aptly named Iris

While out photographing my garden yesterday, I had a short chat with Joe and Sandy, our new neighbors. After exchanging conversation about the unusual weather we’e been having, Joe asked me about one of my iris that is blooming along the property line near their backyard gate.

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An Iris with history

When my in-laws moved to Illinois from Michigan, they dug up some of the plants from their landscape to bring some of their garden with them. When my mother-in-law asked me if I wanted a division of an iris that had been in their family for nearly 60 years, I jumped at the opportunity. She told me that this iris had been growing on the farmstead her family purchased in the late 1940s, and had been transplanted to different family homes over the years.

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