August 4, 2006

Staying Cool with Stylish White

Gardenia blossoms smell better in the moist summer air

If gardenias were wine, connoisseurs would advise that to appreciate the deep, rich, complexity of the scent, one must enhale the blosson in a moist bouyant atmosphere to atruly appreciate it's balance. So, with near 100% humidity here in the New England area of the States, I'd say we are ready for GArdenia tasting. It is this very moist air which not only triggers the potted Gardenia plants to bloom, which have been relovated outside for the summer, but it also brings a certain quality to the rich scent, a quality that somehow makes it more acceptable to those who find it cloying, and a quality which enhances the scent for those of us who love it, like I do.
I think that we may have the largest Gardenia tree in the world. Well, we know it is not, but for a plant that is regarded as fussy to grow in a container, our plant is six feet tall and wide (see inset with Fergus). Each summer is gifts us with hundreds of blossoms, one time over a hundred at one time in bloom. No special treatment fo this old plant,it just gets shoved out in the summer, and pulled back into the Greenhosue for the winter. Sure, the greenhouse helps, but it barely makes it though the winter since it is a trap for scale, aphids and mealy bug. It is the first plant to get any of these. The plant was gifted to us (rescued?) from friends who had kept the plant in thier home during the winters near Boston, so ir's not as it one needs greenhouse conditions. Basically, it doesn't go dry, it rarely has wilted, and occaisional root pruning and repotting has kept the beast healthy.

A pure white Agapanthus stands out in the mid-summer heat

Commonly seen in blue, hence,it's common name, the Blue Lily of the Nile, (although Violet Lily of the Nile might be more accurate to a colorist),I think that this striking white form of Agapanthus is just as quite impressive. This unknown cultivar of ours, was bought (on sale in the winter) at a lage Boston gardencenter without a tag, just because it had beautiful wide foliage. It surprised us to be an excellent form of a "alba' selection, most likely a cultivar from one of the larger plant breeding wholesalers in California like Monrovia or something. Who care what name it has, it still has gigantic flower heads, the size of basketballs and larger even then the purple cultivar called Thunderhead.

I can't say that I have mastered growing agapanthus yet. They dop well enough now that we have the greenhouse, but with nearly ten cultivars in the collection, and a few species like A. inapertus, only two have decided to bloom this year, and last year, the others all bloomed. They all are growing profusely, it just seems that the rest tok the year off. As South African bulb-like plants, although they do not go dormant, they do still get a dry half of the year and a wet, growth time of year. It may be a simple adjustment as dryer and cooler in the winter and perhaps more frequent repotting since they are all quite root bound now.

Although it has been easier with the addition of the greenhouse. I know that many garden writers advise to simply pot them up in tubs or large pots, and after thier summer bloom, drag them to a cool garage or cellar, and let them go semi dormant, at least in the colder parts of the world, like Zone 5 and lower. What's up with this advice? I wonder if they ever have really grown any of the plants that they write about? OR do they just research on-line and repeat poor advice? When I become a garden writer, ( someday) I will promise to write only about those plants which I have mastered or failed with, reporting my successes and advice with authentic accuracy, not acquired information which is second hand, at best.

Fresh Green Papyrus adds balance to white flowers in arrangements and in the garden
I love Papyrus, and the I keep a few species that also go out in the summer, into tubs of water. The cut stems are stylish, in arrangements, and long lasting.

1 comment :

  1. I loved the picture of your giant gardenia! I hope I can grow mine as large. I overwinter it in an unheated sunroom. I do try to keep the room above freezing, with a heater.

    I admire your promise to only write about plants you have actual experience with! We gardeners need that.


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