• Field Notes Blog from Garden Director Dan Hinkley

  • Field Notes Blog from Garden Director Dan Hinkley

Posts from Dan
  • Phlox by Night

    Like so many plants native to North America, Phlox paniculata was sent across the Atlantic to finishing schools and ultimately sent back refined and sophisticated. This simple and charming wildflower is now barely recognizable as the parent of so many of the blousy Phlox selections that have made their way into our collective gardening consciousness. [...]

  • Sxusem, Fires and One Man’s Weeds…

    During the bombing of London during WWII, the first plant to germinate and blossom in the sites of destruction was Epilobium angustifolium, a circumboreal species known colloquially as the Rosebay Willowherb, bringing a dash of beauty to an otherwise grisly scene. Another common name, that of Fireweed, hints at its abilities to be the first [...]

  • Apioid Addiction

    Even if you never gardened, which we know you do, and even if you hated plants, which we know you don’t, you would be on friendly terms with countless members of the Apiaceae. With 434 genera and an estimated 3700 species, its inventory boasts a staggering number of culinary mainstays, including anise, carrots, celery, parsnips, [...]

  • East Meets West

    Until 1963, the genus Calycanthus was known by only two species. Calycanthus floridus, the Carolina Allspice, was exported to gardens in Europe in 1756 while Calycanthus occidentalis, the California Allspice, was not introduced into cultivation until the mid 19th century. Both species, however, were known by Native American cultures who used them for medicine, weaving [...]

  • On Loving Paris

    I can’t exactly say when my infatuation with Paris began, or even precisely when I initially became aware of the genus. It has been one of those slow boils in life, when you are not even aware of budding love until you are fully consumed by it. First a bit about the genus. Entirely Old [...]

  • Paths to Linnaea

    In June of 1987, our realtor brought us back to the property at 7530 288th St NE for a second look. We had been uninspired by our first viewing on a cold, dreary January day earlier that same year. And besides, the asking prices of $89,000 was appreciably beyond our budget. On that early summer’s [...]

  • Five Yards of Fragrance

    Though Cardiocrinum giganteum, aka Lilium giganteum, was certainly known to the cultures of its native haunts throughout the Himalayas, Western China, Myanmar and Vietnam – like, how exactly do you not notice a flowering bulb of these proportions – it was not formally described until 1846 by Nathaniel Wallich, a Danish botanist stationed in Calcutta. [...]

  • A Gross Happiness of Blue

    The genus Meconopsis, that of the mythical Himalayan Blue Poppies, is much less straightforward than formerly believed. Many of us have grown (and fought…) the Welsh Poppy, Meconopsis cambrica, in our gardens. Its cheery yellow and sometimes orange ‘poppies’ are hard to fuss about when in flower though it reseeds rampantly and is extremely difficult [...]

  • Smelling a Skunk

    Lysichiton, the genus of the so-called Skunk Cabbages or Swamp Lanterns, is a rather neat and tidy consignment of plants with only two known species. Throughout the Pacific Northwest, in perpetually moist areas of the western slope, one will readily spot the large, bright yellow hoods of Lysichiton americanum in early to mid-February. Under similar [...]

  • Through the Lens of Lynne Harrison

    If the light is right, I can always count on one certainty. Lynne Harrison will be found somewhere in our garden spinning her photochromic magic. You have probably seen her, the pleasant, smiling tripod-toting woman along our paths during virtually every day we are open- and sometimes when we are not! Lynne has been photographing [...]

  • Great Plants, Good Friday, Gratifying Trip

    This Friday, as many of you prepare to observe the religious holiday with your families, or are simply eager for the three day weekend in your garden, I will be on board my jetliner for a long and gruesome ANA flight from Hanoi to Seattle, with a 18 hour layover in Tokyo! Though I obviously [...]

  • Mélange

    A mixture, a medley. It is odd how much effort we, as gardeners, put in to disallowing this sensation in our gardens. Generally speaking, horticulturists don’t like their plants touching. It is good to remember this odd need to control as we put the gardens back together again at Heronswood. Every species of plant we [...]

  • The Big Shortia

    In almost every aspect, the genus Shortia is small. It is held within a diminutive plant family, the Diaspensiaceae, representing only 12 species in 5 genera (note that Galax urceolata is one of those genera held within its ranks and can be observed less than 6′ from our woodland specimens of Shortia). It is a [...]

  • The Aristocratic Harbingers of Spring

    Throughout our woodland garden in March, a confection of blue, white and pink flowers are scattered amongst an awakening forest floor like sugared violets. These are the blossoms of Hepaticas, the aristocratic harbingers of spring. Held within the ranks of the Ranunculus Family, Ranunculaceae, and related to such stalwarts as hellebores, Clematis and Anemone, Hepaticas [...]

  • Fridays at Heronswood

    If you are seeking an original ‘descriptor’ of someone you find objectionable, look no further than the common names for Scoliopus bigelovii as inspiration. Try these on for size. “Hey, Slinkpod”! Or how about “I’ve had enough nonsense from that fetid adder’s tongue to last me a lifetime”… If, however, you are simply looking for [...]

  • Beyond Foliage; Hosta plantaginea

    Ok, so you will not see a tremendous number of Hostas at Heronswood. Though I admire their strength of foliage in terms of color and texture from the hundreds of cultivars now available, it is primarily the species within this genus we have collected over the years, from Korea, Japan and China, that have found [...]

  • The Autumn Composites

    There are numerous plants that wait until autumn to present their flowers.  Numerous species of Crocus, Colchicums, Nerines, Osmanthus and Elaeagnus just to name a few. Yet one would be hard pressed to suggest any other Plant Family other than the Composites that predominantly utilize the waning days of summer for their time to procreate. [...]

  • Hardy Bromeliads at Heronswood

    Bromeliads are generally considered denizens of the tree tops in the tropics. Many of us have seen these ‘air plants’ attached in luxurious quantities where heat and humidity predominates the climate.   Even Spanish Moss, associated with the Live Oaks of the Deep South, is not a moss at all but, in actuality, a bromeliad. [...]

  • Eucryphias

    After two mild winters, the Eucryphias have never been so stunning at Heronswood. Representatives of this genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs in the Cunoniaceae,hailing from S. America and Australia, are too infreqently seen in the Pacific Northwest, despite the fact that we can grow them so exceptionally well. There are currently three species/hybrids at peak [...]

  • A Plethora of Clethras

    The Sumptuous Summersweets The genus Clethra, known commonly as the Summersweets, is in full swing at Heronswood. This genus of shrubs or small trees is well represented by both evergreen and deciduous species in North America, Asia as well as Central and South America. It is the deciduous species that perform for us in the [...]