Plants of the Week: November 10

Hamamelis ‘Fire Blaze’, thought to be a cross between Hamamelis x intermedia and H. virginiana, features warm orange flowers with a red center. The deciduous shrub pulls double duty in the garden: scented flowers in late winter and bright fall color. When choosing from the multitude of witch hazel cultivars, consider flower scent and leaf retention, a trait certain varieties possess whereby the shrub holds onto desiccated leaves during the winter months, along with obvious considerations like blossom color and mature size. Photo credit: J. Coceano

Garden location: Across from the front entrance to Martin Biology.

The perfectly vertical …

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November Heat Wave

This past week we have been experiencing a November heat wave! With temperatures reaching 70 degrees (our average high is 56 degrees in November), we are experiencing the amazing combination of peak fall color and stunning fall blooms. The lack of frost has allowed us to enjoy some extended time with our favorite fall-blooming flowers.

Unlike spring anemone, Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ blooms in the fall on long graceful upright stems. The multitude of pure white flowers is dramatic against the fall color on the Magill Walk. During the growing season, the solid clumps of dark green leaves look …

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The Bird Poop Caterpillar

This cleverly disguised caterpillar was found munching in our gardens this fall. Papilo cresphontes, common name bird poop caterpillar, uses camouflage to resemble bird droppings. Younger instars often rest in plain view on the upper surfaces of leaves where you would expect to find bird droppings.

If the “poop” disguise doesn’t work , it can extend bright red osmeterium or hornlike appendages, to frighten away predators.

This unusual caterpillar is actually the larva of one of our largest butterflies, the Giant Swallowtail (Papilo cresphontes).  It can have a wingspan of 4 to 6 inches, and is mostly …

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