A New Plant


     Ever since we moved into this rental house in mid-May, I have been watching a plant, unknown to me, go through its bloom cycle.  I have been photographing since May.  It seems like it is finally done now.  I researched it on the internet.  It is Arum italicum, or commonly known as Italian arum, Lords-and-Ladies, or orange candleflower.

     It is a woodland species native to western and southern Europe.  Its leaves are similar to a caladium, and resembles our native Jack-in-the-Pulpit.  All are in the same family Araceae, but each is a different genus.  Arum italicum grows in zones 5 to 9.

Arum italicum flower

     According to sites on the internet, it flowers April to May.  Each flower consists of a spadix (a fleshy spike) with minute, creamy flowers enclosed within a light green bract or spathe.

After blooming, the spadix develops green berries.

the leaves die off

The berries start turning orange

The orange berries last for weeks
The stalks have dried up and fallen over now

     The plant grows in part shade to shade and is deer resistant.  All parts of the plant are considered poisonous and skin irritations will develop from root juices.  In warm climates new leaves emerge in autumn and are evergreen.  The plant has three-season botanical interest in that it has leaves in winter (in warm climates), flowers in spring, and berries in summer.  The inflorescense of this plant, like many plants in this family, is thermogenic or heat producing.  This heat helps to convey the scent to attract insects to pollinate the plant and rewards them with heat energy.

Green Spring Gardens



     I made a recent visit to Green Spring gardens which is a park in the Fairfax County park system.  All of the photos in this post are from this park.  I live in Fairfax County, and this park is a gold mine of information not only for residents of Fairfax County but also the surrounding Washington, DC area.

     The gardens and educational programs focus on landscaping techniques for the Washington metro area.

patio garden

     There are over 20 thematic demonstration gardens.

children's garden
     The gardens feature a wide variety of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, annuals, bulbs, vegetables and fruits that provide ideas and inspiration for the home gardener.

apple orchard

grape vines

vegetable garden

     Gardening classes are held year round here on topics such as basic gardening, garden design, invasive plant ID and native alternatives, and include educational programs for schools.

     A valuable resource at the park is the horticultural reference library with over 3,000 volumes, 30 magazines, nursery catalogs, and newsletters from national plant societies.

tropical greenhouse

     There is also a greenhouse with tropical plants, and a gift shop with not only books, but gardening tools, wind chimes, and packets of seed gathered from the gardens.  The park website (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring) has numerous plant information pages, under the gardening heading, for recommended annuals, perennials, bulbs, deciduous trees and shrubs, evergreen trees and shrubs, vines, grasses, plants that attract birds and butterflies, etc.

historic house

     The park was originally cultivated farmland (oats, wheat, corn, rye) on which a brick house was built in 1784.  You can take a tour of the house or enjoy one of the programs presented there on daily life, social customs, food, and fashions followed by tea.  The last owners deeded the house and 16 acres to the Fairfax County Park Authority in 1970.

Seasonal Changes


flood plain stream
          As fall inches nearer, I have noticed changes in the wooded flood plain areas around our neighborhood.

     I walk there daily with the dog, and I took the following photos.

wild grape flowers

     The numerous wild grape shrubs have been flowering over the past several weeks with their insignificant white flower clusters.

ripening wild grapes

     Some of the wild grapes are just starting to turn from hard green berries to soft purple grapes.  Most will be done ripening by October.

grape vine tendrils

     One distinguishing characteristic that helps in identifying wild grape vines from other vines with similar leaves is their forked tendrils.

deer damage

     The bottom of these bushes have been eaten away by the deer.  All the wild raspberries that were pictured in a previous post have been eaten also.


     All the pokeweed bushes in the woods have berries that are ripening and turning purple.  When this happens, the stems and branches of the plants turn red to attract birds to the berries.

unknown flower
     I came upon this flower in the woods.  At first when I researched this, I thought it was horse nettle.  But horse nettle has spines which I don't see.  Can anyone identify this for me?  What's happening in your neck of the woods now?

The Town Green

fountain at entrance to town green

     Our town, although not lacking in parks and huge, old trees and wooded areas, also has a central town green.

     It has an entrance fountain, landscaping with trees, bushes and flowers, walkways, benches,  a performance area, and free Wi-Fi.

     Walk with me through the town green via the following photos I took there one recent morning.

alyssum and celosia


     The entrance plaza to the green has many pots of flowers that are grown in the town greenhouse.

plaza entrance to the green

the main path along the side of the green

performance area
     The performance area has free concerts of a range of music including jazz, blues, folk, rock, bluegrass, as well as dance, readings, and town events like Oktoberfest.

      The original town library built in 1897 sits on the edge of the green.

herb garden
     The herb garden surrounded by marigolds at the back of the library.

flower garden
     One of the many flower gardens on the green.

green from back
     A look down the green from the back edge.

Freeman House

     At the back end of the green sits the Freeman House Store and Museum, built in 1859.  It was built as a dwelling and general store.

perimeter garden

     One of the many perimeter gardens at the boundary of the green with rudbeckia, echinacea and hosta.  I hope you enjoyed this walk around our town green.