Arisarum proboscideum

Arisarum proboscideum            Family: Araceae
(ay-ri-SAR-um  pro-bos-SID-ee-um)

Common name: mouse plant; mouse tail plant
Zone: USDA 7 – 9
Height: 4 – 6 in (10-15 cm)   Spread: 18 in (45 cm)
Aspect: part to full shade
Soil: humus-rich; moist; well-drained
Water: moderate; drought tolerant   

Description: An herbaceous, tuberous-rooted, ground-hugging woodland perennial with glossy green, arrowhead-shaped leaves. Flowers are maroon and white with a unique tail-like tip which can stretch to 6 inches (15 cm). The whole floral effect is of a the back end of a mouse diving underground with its tail waving in the air.


Special Notes: Native to Spain and Italy, this plant is related to Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit) which is native to eastern North America. It is winter hardy to USDA Zone 7…Zone 6 if given some protection. This is a spring ephemeral, appearing in early spring and disappearing below ground in the heat of summer.

Flowers are complete… having both male and female sexual organs. Fertilization is accomplished when the flowers attract small fungus gnats which subsequently become trapped within the flower and, in their struggle to escape, they inadvertently spread pollen from the male organs to the female.

Relatively drought tolerant once established. Pest and disease resistant.


In our Zone 7a garden: First signs of emergence start in the first two weeks of spring with tiny green spires of furled leaves appearing. Flower stems and buds show up shortly after. Bloom time begins about the second week of April and lasts remarkably well through to about the end of June. As soon as the heat really begins to ramp up, the whole clump disappears until the following spring.

I should mention…my one clump of mouse plant is situated in almost complete shade. Sun only reaches it in late winter and early spring and number of duration days only extends until the surrounding herbaceous perennials appear and leaf out and the chestnut tree leaves reach out to full canopy limit.


Great Plant Pick (GPP) 2008


Posted on April 2, 2020


Cylcamen coum

Cyclamen coum flowers Cyclamen coum           Family: Primulaceae
(SIK-la-men  KO-um)

Common name: Persian violet, eastern sowbread
Zone: 5 – 9
Height: 3 – 6 in (7.5-15 cm)   Spread: 6 in (15 cm)
Aspect: sun; partial sun; shade
Soil: fertile; humus-rich; well-draining
Water: drought tolerant once established

Description: Tuberous perennial with round or heart-shaped dark green leaves which may have some silver or grey markings. Flower colour ranges from white through shades of pink with darker staining at the base of the petals. This is a spring ephermeral…flowering from December through March, depending on region, and going dormant through the summer.


Special Notes: Native to the Mediterranean, this delightful winter-blooming perennial does well as an understory specimen in rhododendron, maple, birch, Douglas fir and western red cedar plantings.

Self-seeding, this plant naturalizes nicely with the help of ants who are attracted to the sugary coating on the seeds. Tiny seedlings start to appear in late fall. Once the plants are established, they are drought tolerant.

Generally, disease- and pest-resistant; deer resistant.


In our Zone 7a garden: I have a slowly increasing patch of Cyclamen coum flowers underneath the Acer campestre, (European hedge maple), which are purely delightful when they come into flower in the middle of winter for us.

This bed in the garden landscape is a difficult one due to the maple roots sucking up all of the nutrients…leaving little for the other plants residing there. Because of this, I am always impressed by the plants who manage to survive such harsh treatment.


Awards: Named by the Royal Horticultural Society as one of the top 200 plants of the last 200 years.


Caution: Toxic to dogs and cats if ingested.


Posted on February 19, 2020



Malus domestica ‘Akane’

'Akane' apple

Malus domestica ‘Akane’         Family: Rosaceae
Common name: ‘Akane’ apple; ‘Tokyo Rose’; ‘Prime Red’
Zone: 4
Origin: Japan, 1937
Parents: ‘Jonathan’ x ‘Worcester Pearmain’
Introduced: 1970
Harvest: late August – September

cluster of 'Akane' applesDescription: Fruit is on the small to medium size with a slight flattening to its conical shape. Colour is a greenish-yellow with wonderful red blushing spreading over top. Flesh is white; taste is a mix of tart with an overture of sweet. It is self-sterile; needs another apple species for pollination. Decent resistance to scab, mildew, fireblight, and cedar apple rust. Codling moth and aphids can be problematic.


Special Notes: Developed at the Morika Experimental Station in Japan in 1937 but was not introduced globally until 1970. This apple typically ripens early in the mid-season range of the harvest period…usually in September. Good eating and cooking apple with a firm texture, keeping its shape throughout cooking. Good keeper if kept in cold storage at 4 °C (39 °F). Outside of cold storage, ‘Akane’ will only keep for 2-3 weeks.


branch of 'Akane' applesIn our Zone 7a garden: ‘Akane’ is just one of six branches on our three-tiered espalier apple tree. The tree was planted in spring of 2013 and this year’s harvest was the best one yet at 41 apples weighing 4 kg (8 lb 13 oz). Not bad for just an 8 ft (2.4 m) long branch and definitely enough for just the two of us.


'Akane' apple harvest 2018








Posted on October 3, 2018

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