• Field Notes Blog from Garden Director Dan Hinkley

Illcium anisatum; Beyond the Stars

Posted · Add Comment

Good Foliage Amongst a Richness of Flower Foliage First. Far more people are familiar with the genus Ilicium than the nerdy gardener. Authentic cuisine in SE Asia has long relied on sweet, spicy aroma of star anise, the star-shaped seed capsules of Illicium verum, which also supplies approximately 90% of the world’s supply of shikimic […]

Our inaugural flowering of Philesia maglellanica

Posted · Add Comment

Philesia Navidad! During my first tour of S. Chile in 1998, there was a single shrub I wished to see more than any other. Related to the national flower of Chile, Lapageria rosea, Philesia magellanica is less a climber and more an advantageous scrambler. All in all, it has equally splendid pendulous bells ranging from […]

Dactylorhiza with Rhododendron macrosepalum

The Spotted Orchids of Heronswood

Posted · Add Comment

A taste of the tropics Orchid flowers evoke exotic locations – tropical trees bedecked with these glamorous blooms, standing above palm-lined beaches, a waiter brings a cocktail… While most orchids are indeed native to the tropics, a small number make their homes in cooler climes. Spotted orchids, in the genus Dactylorhiza, are extremely hardy and […]


Tales of Geum

Posted · Add Comment

Tales from the Old Country Geums – I love them! And if you’re uncertain how to pronounce this little Latin name, then split it in two: Gee-Umm. The genus Geum is a member of the massive rose family (Rosaceae), which provides many useful plants, including important crops (apples, pears, cherries, peaches, strawberries) and ornamentals (roses, […]

A Dule of Doves

Posted · Add Comment

The Dove Tree; Davidia involucrata The near mythical Davidia is in full splendor this weekend at Heronswood. Its unique and fanciful floral display always draws commentary by those who see it for the first time. Hailing from the mountains of Western China, where it is considered rare in its natural haunts. It was first noted […]

The Primitive Charms of Saruma henryi

Posted · Add Comment

Primitive, yet pretty Amongst the mass of spring flowers, some less showy perennials are easily overlooked. This is often the case with Asarum, or wild ginger, a genus of evergreen ground cover. Indeed, by calling it ground cover, I’ve already diminished its status to something that’s useful, functional, but scarcely worth getting excited about. Wild […]

Rues Rock

Posted · Add Comment

The Rue Anemone; Anemonella thalictroides, or Whatever First, always first, lets start with the name, shall we? A charming woodlander from much of eastern North America, its true place in the botanical kingdom continues to be in flux. First described by Linnaeus in 1753 as Anemone thalictroides, the specific epithet referred to the similarity of […]

Magnolia Season Begins

Posted · Add Comment

Flowers before foliage With Spring’s arrival, the beds and borders at Heronswood are awash with flowers. Carpets of corydalis, stately tufts of trilliums and hordes of hepaticas are an assault on the senses. But take a moment to glance upwards and you’ll see there are trees that more than match the flamboyant display below. A […]

Hepatica transsilvanica "Elison Spence"

Hepaticas and More

Posted · Add Comment

The Genus Hepatica I have certainly said the same before as I am sure I will say the same again. Each year, in mid-March to early April, I note that the Hepaticas have never looked better. As they have now become happily established in our woodland at Heronswood, they have become to recombine and self […]

Abraham-Isaac and-Jacob

Posted · Add Comment

Trachystemon orientalis Found naturally occurring in southern Europe and western Eurasia where it has long been eaten as a spring vegetable, this member of the Borage Family (Boraginaceae) is known colloquially as Abraham-Isaac-Jacob. Over the centuries, the same name has been applied to both Pulmonaria as well as Symphytum (both relatives of Trachystemon), probably due […]