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Welcome To My Jungle - March 2017

Dwarfing rootstocks have always fascinated me, and the sweet cherry trees in my jungle really demonstrate their useful versatility. I have three sweet cherry trees and they are all similar in age, but they are all on different rootstocks, making them extremely different in size. My largest sweet cherry tree grew from a cherry pit a friend of mine had chucked into his garden, resulting in a standard seeding tree with no dwarfing. He helped me dig it up as a seedling and I planted it in my jungle. It still makes me laugh when I remember he wanted it back when I told him it produced blushed yellow fruit! The next sweet cherry tree I planted was a self-fruitful 'Stella' sweet cherry on 'Mahalab' rootstock. Mahalab tends to be slightly dwarfing with sweet cherry and little to no dwarfing with tart cherry. Therefore, my 'Stella' sweet cherry is still a relatively large fruit tree, but not near as big as my seedling yellow-fruited sweet cherry. The third sweet cherry tree I planted was Attika® (Kordia®) sweet cherry on 'Gisela 5' rootstock. "Gisela 5' is the most dwarfing rootstock currently available and is known to reduce vigor by up to 50 percent or more. Like most dwarfing rootstocks, trees on 'Gisela 5' rootstocks require support in the form of a post or trellis to prevent leaning or lodging of the tree.

The fruit trees are not in bloom yet but other plants are lending a spring touch to the Jungle. Every year I add a few additional hellebores (Helleborus) and one of the newer cultivars really caught my eye recently. I remember thinking the blooms looked just like little pink parachutes the first time I saw them. I guess the breeder did as well, because it was named 'Pink Parachutes' as part of the Winter Thrillers™ series.

I mentioned in the April 2016 Welcome to My Jungle that I was trialing Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Snow Cream'- Oriental Paperbush. My husband can attest that I did a little garden jig just recently when I realized my zone 7b plant had survived the winter and was sporting two paper wasp nest-shaped blooms. Not everything was a success though and I suspect I have cute furry rodents to blame. Where winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) tubers should have already sprouted into late winter golden blooms was obvious signs of rodent thievery. I covered a number of plantings with wire cloches, but obviously more is needed.

Do not miss the Missouri Botanical Garden Orchid Show, available until March 26th.

"The annual Orchid Show offers visitors a once-a-year opportunity to see a rotating display of hundreds of orchids from the Garden's expansive permanent living collection amid a tropical oasis inside the Orthwein Floral Display Hall. This year's show celebrates vanilla!" ~Missouri Botanical Garden