Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Do you still think that coleus must be grown in the shade? The Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ, offers proof that coleus thrive in plenty in sun. Several weeks ago, two Arboretum employees and I planted 15 different selections in a sunny raised bed, and all but two of the selections are growing splendidly. More on them later.

Not only can you see these sun-loving coleus in the flesh (so to speak), but, as of today (August 5), you can also listen to me giving brief insights into them. All you need is a cell phone. Here's the information, directly from the folks at the Arboretum:

Coleus Cultivars on Your Cell Phone at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum

What: Cell Phone Tour on the Coleus Exhibit at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum
When: Daily through September 12
Where: 53 East Hanover Avenue, Morris Township NJ
Cost: FREE

The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, a facility of The Morris County Park Commission, teams up technology with a stunning exhibit of coleus to create a self-guided tour for visitors. Patrons can dial a local number to hear author Ray Rogers talk about 15 coleus cultivars growing in the Scherer Garden. Coleus are an easy-to-grow, many-hued annual plant that is increasingly popular among today’s gardeners. Rogers is the author of Coleus: Rainbow Foliage for Containers and Gardens, recently published by Timber Press. Rogers's extensive knowledge of the genus, combined with his pithy comments and suggestions, create an educational and entertaining tour for arboretum guests.

The exhibit and cell phone tour end on September 13, when the collection will be divided in a class on coleus propagation to be held at The Frelinghuysen that day. (Readers please note: this is the same day as Coleus Day at Atlock Farm, announced in the previous blog post. Attend the class and then go to Coleus Day for a great big dose of coleus!)

Cell phone tours are the latest tool for interpretation at museums and botanic gardens. A greater degree of detail can be communicated without additional signage. Guests tour the garden, following prompts from pre-recorded messages heard on their cell phones. Support for this tour is provided by The Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum (www.arboretumfriends.org) and the Provident Bank Foundation.

Cell phone tour information is available from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm daily at The Haggerty Education Center, located on the grounds of the arboretum. At all times, visitors may dial 973- 975-0973 and follow the given directions to hear the tour.


This picture shows a bit more than the opening picture. From the right, the selections are:

'Black Trailer' hangs over the corner. Blue flowers will add a nice touch later in the season.
'Velvet Mocha' (aka 'Lancelot Velvet Mocha') offers unusual but attractive brown-purple-red shades. Love it or loathe it!
'Odalisque', a multicolored trailer, is not happy here - probably too much sun.
'Definitely Different' produces fingered green leaves with dark purple undersides. Well named.
'Pineapple Queen', a Victorian favorite, makes dense mounds of yellow and dark purple. Excellent for topiary.
'Bronze Pagoda' gets big! Shades of red and yellow change over time.
'Religious Radish' combines near-black and rich pink. It has given rise to the solidly near-black 'Black Radish'.
'Felix' (barely visible against the green hedge) makes near-black leaves jaggedly edged in green. Another big one.
'Alabama Sunset' belongs in every coleus collection. Red, yellow, pink, chartreuse, depending on the light.
'Copacetic Yellow' (not visible in the picture) resembles 'Pineapple Queen' but has longer, slightly twisted foliage.
'Kiwi Herman' looks like a dark fern and indeed arose from 'Kiwi Fern'. Fertilize for large plants.
'Atlock's Red Ruffles' is solid, rich red and lacks the green of 'Red Ruffles', a very different selection.
'Butter Kutter' (not visible) makes a low mound of chartreuse-colored cole slaw. Excellent for small containers.
'Meteor' (not visible') starts out almost all yellow with a bit of red and progresses to red with a thin yellow edge.
'Tigerlily' (not visible) is nothing less than gaudy: cut- and ruffle-edge leaves in bright orange-red and yellow. It's the other unhappy selection in this planting; give it morning sun and afternoon shade for best coloration.

I'll try to take and post pictures of the obscured ones later.

When you're in the Morristown area, pay The Frelinghuysen Arboretum a visit - it's a beauty! The parking lot is a big, boisterous garden, and the adjacent Haggerty Education Center is surrounded by lush plantings. There's plenty more to see all year 'round.

My thanks to Dr. Lesley Parness, Superintendent of Horticultural Education at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, for her enthusiastic support of the coleus planting and the cell phone tour, and to Ken Selody, owner of Atlock Farm www.atlockfarm.com , for supplying the plants.