Reiman's Picks - Reiman Gardens
Posted on Jul 31, 2012
at 8:59 AM
Coming into the horticulture industry years ago, I was a little wary of ornamental grasses. Just the thought of them confused me immensely “Why would I need more grass in my landscape when I have all this turf already?” It seems as though many people have this same thought process when they don’t know much about ornamental grasses, but I’ll be the first to tell you that I take it all back. I have been converted and am now a lover of ornamental grasses! One of my absolute favorites has to be a feather reed grass called Karl Foerster and even though it was introduced to the United States from Denmark 1964, it’s still a huge seller to gardeners today!
Being one of the first grasses to start growing in the spring, Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ is an early bloomer and considered a cool season grass. Cool season grasses tend to grow most vigorously at lower temperatures, between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It will grow to be between 36-48” tall with green foliage. The flowers will grow to about six feet and are light green in spring and turn to a beautiful tan that will keep through winter. The seeds produced on this flower are sterile, which keeps the plant from reseeding and becoming invasive. The ideal conditions that Karl Foerster prefers is a full sunny spot with a moist to wet soil type. This grass tolerates a wide range of soil types, but thrives in clay soil. The USDA hardiness zone classifies this grass as a Zone 5-9. Even better news than all of this? There are no known serious disease or insect problems with this grass. (Hallelujah!)
When used in the landscape, there really is no limit to this ornamental grass. A benefit to using this grass is that it isn’t going to flop over, even from a heavy snowfall; it provides a wonderful vertical element to the garden! Some may use it as a border because of its moderate height but others may use it as a specimen plant. Being the wonderful vertical plant that it is, it provides beautiful movement to any garden, even with just the slightest breeze.
We often joke that here at Reiman Gardens, we may have the largest collection of Karl Foerster grass. We have it planted everywhere! Some notable spots to check out are in the South Field by the hummingbird LEGO® sculpture and the surrounding areas of the Campanile Garden. As employees of the Gardens, we have come to realize the power and practicality of this simple grass and have put it to work. I’ll never underestimate the versatility of an ornamental grass again; I’m a believer now!
By Carrington Flatness - Outdoor Horticulture Intern
Posted on Jun 27, 2012
at 9:33 AM
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to fly down South every single winter and enjoy the beautiful warm weather of Mexico and California, all expenses paid? Well, I would definitely think so, and the Monarch butterfly is lucky enough to be able to do this exact thing every year. This simple orange and black butterfly you’ve seen in your garden from time to time and have maybe kept as a pet in a classroom or home makes an extraordinary journey south every year to be able to thrive and survive in the warmer southern climate during our dreary Iowa winters.
This voyage can last up to 3,000 miles for the Monarch butterflies to reach their Southern destination, and no, they don’t get the privilege of using cars, trucks, or planes that we would have. The changes in weather such as cooler temperatures and shorter day length trigger the migration for the butterflies. Astonishingly enough, the butterflies that actually participate in migrating southward have never even made the trip before! They are about two or three generations apart from the last Monarch to make the voyage. Researchers suggest that this trip is made possible every year with the use of a circadian clock located in the antennae of the Monarchs. Another surprising little tidbit of information is that the Monarch butterflies are known to travel to the exact same trees as their ancestors did in previous flights.
The average life span of a Monarch or any adult butterfly typically is not very long, usually about two or three weeks. Now I know that leaves a lot of questioning about how these butterflies can make this extreme trip every year without casualties. The butterflies that make the migration South each year are actually of a later generation as I mentioned above, so they are the exact same as the butterflies that would emerge from their chrysalis in the summertime, except they emerge during the late summer and early fall and reproduce much later during their life. This later generation butterflies gets the “cue” from the changes in weather and scarce food left in their habitat and embark on their trip, but they do not reproduce before this journey. The butterflies that make the Southern expedition can live around 6 to 8 months! After their trip is complete and the winter months are over, the butterflies then reproduce and start their flight north again. While the butterflies that originally made the trip South dies off, they lay their eggs on host plants before they die and later generations finish the trip back up North.
Some, even I, have been known to underestimate the true potential and toughness of the Monarch butterfly. But, the journey they embark on each year is absolutely astounding. They dodge natural predators such as birds, diminishing host plants, and potentially dangerous weather. Next time you see one of these black and orange creatures flying around your garden or even here at Reiman Gardens, think about the true potential of this tiny creature.
By Kelsey Carlson - Entomology Intern
Sources & For More Information:
Posted on Jun 26, 2012
at 4:43 PM
In the UK the Julia Child rose is known as the Absolutely Fabulous Rose because it is named after Julia Child the chef. This specific breed of rose is not that old, and was bred in 2004 by Tom Carruth. In 2006 this rose was introduced in the United States and also was the 2006 All American Rose Selections winner.
The defining characteristic of the Julia Child rose is the golden butter and gold color of the petals along with the bright green foliage. This particular type of rose is usually a medium size, has a round appearance, and an open petal formation. Warmer climates let the rose last larger and grow to its potential. The height of this bush is on average 25” to 30” with a spread on average 20” to 25”.
Growing the Julia Child rose in central Iowa is a bit different from the rest of the United States and even other parts of Iowa. Roses should be planted at the end of March or beginning of April. Water regularly to get plants established. Fertilize the plant three times a year during early spring, during the first bloom, and late July using a general all-purpose fertilizer. Deadheading, weed, and pest control must be looked at on a weekly basis to maintain an optimal looking plant. In USDA hardiness zone 5 this rose is hardy. Plants become dormant in mid-November. To prevent strong winds from damaging the canes you should tie twine around the plant. After the winter in early April prune them by removing the twine and cut one inch below the dead areas. In colder areas you will need to provide winter protection for the rose by adding an extra foot of soil and 3 feet of straw or loosely packed leaves after you tie the canes up in November. Remove this winter protection in late March.
Garden beds and borders are great ways to display this plant in a landscape setting. Another excellent aspect of this rose is to use it as a cut flower and in floral arrangements. Among various rose plants this plant is great for landscaping because of its resistance to mildew, disease, and its bright color.
The Julia Child rose can be found in the AARS Trial & Display Garden, which is just south of the Campanile Garden. This is always a great place to look at a variety of different roses to find the one that fits your personality, gardening needs, and preference. Be sure to stop by Reiman Gardens to check out this breed of rose and see why Julia Child herself fell in love with this rose!
By Carleigh Rose - Retail Management Intern
Posted on Jun 13, 2012
at 4:45 PM
Throughout high school and my three years at Iowa State University, learning Spanish has always been a passion of mine. Now, you might be asking, “What does Spanish have to do with Reiman Gardens?”, and I’ll give you two words: Buck Roses. Roses have always been a favorite of mine since I was young due to my mom’s love for the yellow and orange roses that filled our garden, and I recently found myself tapping my second-language skills in the Reiman Gardens Rose Garden collections as I browsed the 75 Buck Rose varieties and noticed some Spanish-named cultivars; ‘Amiga Mia’ and ‘El Catala‘ are thrown into the mix of some of my favorites such as, ‘Honeysweet’, ‘Wild Ginger’, and ‘Prairie Sunset’. After this discovery, I decided to do a little research about Buck Roses and found the connection to Spain.
Buck roses stem from the work of an Iowa State rose-breeder and Professor of Horticulture, Dr. Griffith Buck. As a teenager, Buck found a pen pal for a school assignment who changed the course of his life: Pedro Dot, from Spain, who bred roses. In response to Buck’s letter, Dot’s niece wrote back and included breeding tips from Dot, along with his own notes, and encouraged Buck to give rose-breeding a try.
Fast-forwarding through several decades, a World War, contacts with other rose-breeders, and numerous field tests and experiments, a friendship between Buck and the Spanish rose-breeder was formed, and we can see today that Buck created over 80 rose cultivars that are disease resistant and winter hardy in Iowa. During his processes, Buck shipped many of his varieties to friends and family in other areas of the United States and his roses can be seen all over the country.
My favorite cultivar of the Buck Roses is called ‘Prairie Sunset’ which has characteristics that remind me of my mom’s favorite roses when I was growing up. The combination of yellow and dark orange petals emulate colors of a vibrant sunset as they open and stand out in any garden. ‘Prairie Sunset’ roses bloom from June until the first frost of the year, and have a very sweet, summery fragrance. The abundant, dark green foliage that accompanies the colorful blossoms appears leathery and is resistant to foliar disease such as black spot and along with the other Buck Rose cultivars, ‘Prairie Sunset’ is winter hardy in Iowa without additional protection and survives temperatures of -20 to -30˚. The ‘Prairie Sunset’ rose looks best when combined with other colorful plants and roses, working together to create variation and contrast among a landscape.
Take a look through the 75 Buck Rose cultivars that are here at Reiman Gardens in the Griffith Buck Rose Collection Garden to find the ‘Prairie Sunset’ rose; and while you’re there, try to spot the Spanish names that connect these roses to a long line of Iowa State history with a very important Spanish influence.
By Carly Lepic - Education Intern
For more information about Buck Roses and varieties, please visit http://www.ag.iastate.edu/centers/cad/rose1.html
Posted on Jun 13, 2012
at 4:41 PM
When I was little, we had mounds of green, extra-terrestrial looking plants growing along the side of our house. I recall my mom referring to them as hens and chicks, but chose to always steer clear of their spiky edges. I recently noticed that some have been popping up around Reiman Gardens and decided to do a little investigating.
The title “hens and chicks” more specifically refers to about 40 species of succulent plants in the genus Sempervivum. The name Sempervivum comes from the Latin word Semper, meaning “always” and vivus, meaning “living”. The plant may have derived its name from two different ideas: the plant’s ability to propagate very quickly and its ability to survive in tough climates.
Originating in the mountainous regions of Central Europe, these perennials thrive in cool climates with rocky soil. Sempervivum grow best in USDA hardiness zones 4-8. As a member of the succulent family, these plants store water in their leaves and can most easily be identified by their flat green rosettes with sharp tips.
It is important to remember that these plants need full sunlight. Here, the color of these plants will be best, as shade can wash them out to a pale green. Additionally, Sempervivum need to have proper drainage as plants will not tolerate soggy conditions. Hens and chicks make great additions to a container garden because they provide color and variety while being easy to maintain.
A single “hen” plant can last up to three years and begins reproducing usually after one growing season. The smaller branches are the “chicks,” and can be transplanted easily. After approximately three years, the Sempervivum will produce a tall flowery stalk before it dies and can be removed.
At Reiman Gardens, you can see a variety of succulent plants in the Children’s Garden. Be sure to look for the Sempervivum’s unique rosette shape and see how well this hardy plant combines with other succulents to add a lot of variety and unique color to a small space.
By Lauren Ehlers - Communications Intern
For more information on growing Sempervivum:
For a gallery of unique ways to grow Sermpervivum:
Posted on Aug 22, 2011
at 11:46 AM
An Ocean of Yellow
Coreopsis palmata is a prairie flower that is native to Iowa as well as at least thirteen other nearby states, including the majority of the Midwest and several southern states.
Coreopsis has an interesting meaning: bug-like; referring to the dried fruit which looks like a tick. This is derived from the Greek words koris, meaning “bug”and –opsis, denoting a resemblance. The species name, palmata, describes the leaf shape as a hand with fingers. All together, meaning a fruit resembling a bug with leaves like fingers. Knowing this tells us where Coreopsis palmata gets a few of its many common names, including: tickseed, stiff tickseed, finger coreopsis, prairie coreopsis, stiff coreopsis and just plain coreopsis.
Early European settlers travelling through the tall grass prairie are said to have encountered larges patches of Coreopsis flowers and coined it the Ocean of Yellow. With bright yellow flowers and the ability to spread quickly throughout an area, this is was probably a spot-on description.
Prairie coreopsis is an erect perennial with deep green foliage and brilliant yellow inflorescence. This plant can grow to be two or three feet tall with flower heads measuring two to three inches across. Each flower head is made up of a countless number of disk florets in the center, surrounded by about eight ray florets. Even though tickseed has no floral scent, it still manages to put on quite a show with its radiant color and long bloom time in early summer. Typically, Coreopsis blooms for about 3 weeks during June and July, but deadheading will extend this period. The flowers are not the only interesting feature on this plant: the three long, narrow lobes of the leaves add texture and appeal. Reddish tints often appear on foliage during fall months, giving this plant year-round interest.
Tickseed prefers to grow in the full sun with dry conditions. Natural habitats include meadows, sand prairies, mesic prairies, gravelly hill prairies, thickets, limestone glades and abandoned fields. Accordingly, Coreopsis is easy to grow and incredibly drought tolerant.
In the home landscape tickseed is best used as a mass planting where it is allowed to spread, such as in a border, native garden, naturalized area, prairie or wildflower meadow. It is important that Coreopsis gets enough sun and not too much water; otherwise it tends to sprawl and become unsightly.
At the Reiman Gardens Coreopsis palmata is featured in the Jones Rose Garden, where it displays its stunning color along with dozens of other summer-blooming perennials. A fun way to preserve the natural history and culture of the land is to include native plants and flowers in your landscape.
Posted on Aug 22, 2011
at 11:40 AM
Bergenia cordifolia, or Pig Squeak as it is commonly called, has traditionally been used for medicinal purposes. This plant can be found in the Himalayan Mountains and was often used by the Nepalese for its antibacterial properties to treat earaches and urinary problems, as well as curing kidney stones. Modern research has also supported the idea of it being antibacterial, though at Reiman Gardens we are by no means guaranteeing any of these results.
This plant isn't called Pig Squeak for nothing. Along with its medicinal side, there is also a whimsical side to this plant. By pulling a thumb and forefinger along a leaf, kids and adults alike enjoy the "squeal" the plant makes. This noisy plant is comprised of thick, glossy leaves and is a perennial that grows to be about 12-15 inches tall and approximately a foot across. It can be divided in the spring or fall.
Pig Squeak is considered an evergreen with green foliage in the summer and red or bronze foliage in winter. In early spring, it produces pink flowers that tower above the rest of the plant on thick stalks. It should be planted in moderately moist soil and does well in full sun, partial sun, and full shade. According to USDA hardiness zones, it can be grown in zones 3 through 8.
Pig Squeak has a variety of uses in the landscape. Whether it's on a deck or in the garden, there's a place for it. It can be planted in a container for people with no room for a garden or for those with more space, it does very well as groundcover or edging.
At Reiman Gardens, this plant can be found growing on the north and south side of the Mahlstede building. At first glance, this plant is a nice addition to the Gardens, but with a little more digging, gardeners will find that Pig Squeak is well-worth the garden space. After all, who doesn't enjoy a squeaking plant? The antibacterial properties don't hurt either.
Posted on Aug 22, 2011
at 11:35 AM
Rattlesnake Master or Eryingium yuccifolium looks like something taken out of the southwestern United States. The name is derived from an old belief that its roots have the ability to heal snake bites. Although there is currently no scientific evidence to support older claims of medicinal properties by Native Americans, Rattlesnake Master was a popular herb used in the 18th and 19th centuries. The first person to document its medicinal uses was an 18th century Indian trader by the name of James Adair. James Adair recounted tales that the Indians would chew on the root, blow it in their hands, and then handle rattlesnakes without any damage. Despite many of these stories, the use was not wide spread, but rather used in bitter teas as an antidote for various maladies. These included venereal disease, snakebites, impotence, expelling worms, and to induce vomiting.
This is quite a striking plant growing anywhere from 2 to 5 feet in height. The foliage of the plant is stiff with small prickles running along the up to 3 foot long leaves edge. The leaves of the Rattlesnake Master are most similar to that of a Yucca plant. The flowers are born in spherical, thistle-like heads that are around 1 inch diameter, and the individual flowers are a greenish white and are surrounded by larger pointed bracts. The fruit essentially looks the same as the flowers, the only difference is it is a darker dull brown and it remains on the stalks for the remainder of the season. The fruits are sometimes gathered and used in dried flower arrangements, but they provide equal interest in the winter landscape.
This particular plant is more of an accent plant, and a grouping of 3 are quite sufficient. This plant should also be used in the rear of the bed because the flower stalks can and most likely will reach up to 5 feet in height. This is a great plant to use in roadside plantings, prairie restoration, prairie landscaping, wildlife cover, and also in wildflower gardens because of its attractive appearance.
Rattlesnake Master can be seen throughout Reiman Gardens, but a great place to visit it is in the South Mixed Border right by the Dancing Chimes. It is a great example of what this plant looks like in the landscape and a nice example of how to use it in your own garden. Who knows when you might need the Rattlesnake Master’s healing powers.
Posted on Aug 22, 2011
at 11:25 AM
Crazy about Caladiums
Bored of the same old-same old? Are you ready to let a little wildness escape from your typical green foliage? One of the first caladium growers, Theodore Webb, has something to offer you. They have traveled from the dense shaded areas of the Amazon in Brazil, to the coasts of the United States, and finally to the last stop being our personal gardens. Which we all know has been in need of color. Caladiums offer a little contrast amongst flower beds and home décor alike. Tom Webb’s horticulture love began when he was hired by a town near West Palm Beach for renovating a local golf course. After discovering for himself the infamous caladium bulb in Tampa, Florida he quickly rose to the challenge of propagating the plant and selling it in the 1930’s. Today there are over fifteen different variations providing any gardener with great selection.
Now as for living in Iowa and growing caladiums, readers are in for a treat. Caladiums love the humidity that Iowan summers can offer. They also enjoy those particularly shady spots that may pose as struggles for other vegetation. The downfall about the USDA hardiness zone we reside in is the unpredictable rain. Caladiums will not do well in areas that do not drain effectively. Have pudde issues? I would suggest either a new location or a new plant. Do you have limited ground space? Not a problem! Caladiums enjoy container-growth almost as much as ground-growth! They are roughly 12-30 inches in height and their dazzling leaves vary in width. Leaf appearance varies on the variety that a gardener chooses. Caladiums are to be treated as an annual and removed (it’s possible to replant the next season) before Iowa’s winters.
Location Location Location! The tricky part is deciding where to put your Florida Moonlight, Rainbow Mix, or White Queen in the garden! Caladiums tend to flourish in well shaded, humid, and wind shielded areas. They’re slightly picky and don’t enjoy being too wet. Their large leaves may compete with each other if planted too close together. So what are you to do with such a spoiled plant? Add its colorful foliage to border a garden or next to your home. Feel free to pot the bulbs in baskets, hangers, and planters. It’s okay to showcase their heart shaped leaf, because those who pass by will enjoy. It’s been said they look great in the foreground, but their tropical summer feel is perfect for anywhere you are looking to add a small amount of color.
Caladiums can be found at Reiman Gardens in the conservatory. They surround the metal flora in the inner conservatory, adding a delightful spectacle for visitors. Now whether you’re looking at adding a little Amazon flare to your garden or simply a little love with the Caladiums’ heart shaped leaf. Caladiums offer fabulous colored foliage to any home planter or bed border.
Posted on Jun 30, 2011
at 3:31 PM
Many plants gain popularity because of their brightly colored flowers. This week’s plant, Justicia brandegeana, is well liked because of its vibrantly colored bracts. Justicia brandegeana originates from Mexico. The genus which has over 400 different species is named after James Justice, a Scots gardener and also the author of a 1754 book, British Gardener's Directory. The species is named for a famous American botanical explorer, Townsend S. Brandegee. He introduced many plants from Mexico to California which were known for being drought tolerant.
is commonly called shrimp plant because each spike somewhat resembles a large shrimp.
The spike is made up of red to yellow bracts. The plant is covered with this feature for most of the year. The flowers are white and very thin. They can be seen sticking out from between the bracts and usually have a short life span. The leaves are light green and slightly pubescent. Most range from about 2-3 inches in length.
In the south, it is known as a broad-leaf evergreen and is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11. It may die back in a hard frost, but usually grows back in the spring. In Iowa, it is used primarily as a house plant. As the plant ages, it tends to get leggy and in some cases needs to be staked. It is important to prune it back to keep it from starting such habits. It produces its brightly colored bracts best when it receives plenty of light. The shrimp plant prefers to be watered when the top three inches of soil are dry. Leaves tend to drop off if the plant is too wet or dry.
The shrimp plant can be seen at Reiman Gardens as part of our Lady Bug Breakfast display in the Conservatory Complex which can be seen through November 2011. It can also be seen the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing throughout the year.