View for the Night

The transition in my garden after the peonies have gone is gradual, with some roses still in green bud stage while foxtail lily heightens anticipation by playing its colors very close to the vest. They are a golden yellow color and occupy the last spot I see each night before dark. Even better, the sun sets behind them, lending the flowers an ethereal glow.

Eremurus or foxtail lilies
Even closer to the window through which I view my garden before dark is a small patch bordered on the south by a short boxwood hedge and to the north and west by a fence. I'm seriously unsure of what's happening in that little corner. There is a rose I'd forgotten about because it's hidden between the fence and a tall trellis. And the Clematis 'Rooguchi' for which I'd placed the trellis, and a mixture of lilies, the names of which I can't recall. There's a Phlox  'David's Lavender', which I cut back so it blooms late, and Kalimeris yomena 'Shogun', which I rationalize growing for its variegated foliage.

A Clematis 'Rooguchi' bud seems to tower above a variegated Japanese Aster.
I planted two tree peonies in this spot also, for its great location, sheltered as it is from the wind on three sides. You kind of get the drift; I'm treating it like all the rest of my garden, But I need to exhibit a little more restraint in this corner. When the tree peonies bloom, they light up the location, but for the rest of the season, I really need some light-hued plants.
Our Franklinia lost its main stem three years ago but seems
to be branching out and bouncing back.

Did I mention this area is also host to the best-looking Franklinia altamaha tree in the area? The story behind this tree (according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia) is that John and William Bartram found a little patch of this really cool-looking tree in 1765 while exploring the forests of Georgia right along the Altamaha River. They took plants and seeds back home to Philadelphia for propagation, which is a good thing, because the tree has proved elusive in nature since the early 1800s.

Some say it was a tree destined for extinction, found by a fluke and too finicky to bother with. It is said to have fragrant, camellia-like blooms in summer, but if that doesn't happen soon, I can't see devoting space to the tree in an already crowded garden. Our Franklinia has healthy-looking but reddish leaves and lots of new growth.
Franklinia leaves up close
If, after residing in this spot for the past five seasons, our Franklinia gets going on flower production, it will be a cause for jollification throughout the land, or at least at my house. I won't be viewing it from indoors, though. I'll be out there as the sun sets, soaked down with mosquito repellent, lamps and my tripod and camera hoping to capture a shot of the reason this plant has caused so much hoopla in the horticulture world.


  1. Hi,
    I'm posting this here since it's one of the few places I've found someone with personal experience growing a franklinia. I moved into this new house (in West Michigan) a year or so ago in early spring, and one of my garden surprises was a shrub that seemed to have been cut down to the ground probably the previous winter, coming up from the roots. I have been trying without much luck to figure out what it is, it's not thrifty enough yet to try to bloom, but it looks closer to franklinia than anything else I can find. Here is a picture of it this past week,
    It stays somewhat red all season. I was just wondering if you could shed any light on the possible identity of my mystery shrub.
    Thanks! :)

  2. Hello Anna,
    Although it's hard to tell from the photo, It could be Hypericum, commonly known as St. John's Wort. Here is a link to some photos: Hypericum looks its best if it's cut back severely and grows new wood. Let me know what you think.

  3. Not quite, the leaves on mine come out almost more in whorls than in opposite pairs. Guess I will keep coaxing it to get bigger and see if I can get some flowers to tell me what it is ;)