August 23, 2006

A walk in the garden - August

The intensely fragrant Cestrum nocturnum shares it's scent only at night
Since I am so busy working on my book on design trends, which is due to the publisher this week, and with my job, I will just briefly walk through the garden and report some noteworthy events of the week since it is now 1:00 AM and I just got back from work. I will be lucky to get time to even water the greenhouse tomorrow morning before my hour commute back in to work, ugh.

It's nearing the end of August, and even though the nights are cooler, we are still getting warm sunny days with temps in the 80's. This Cestrum nocturnum is a new plant for me, and one which I will always grow,since I am a nut for fragrance. This plant really delilvers is punch only at night. Last week, I had fogotten that it was in a pot and plunged into the ground in front of the greenhouse. In the dark, we could smell it and couldn't figure out where the sent as coming from. Now on the deck, on this glorious morning, it had scented the warm, humid evening air after last night thundershowers all night. The entire house smelled of Jasmine, (It's common name is night Jessamine).

Rebutia 'Red Riding Hood'
The cactus collection is still sending out an occaisional bloom. Most of the Rebutias bloom for us in June, this August beauty is brilliant fuscia, althought its cultivar name is Red Riding Hood.

Scabiosa for cut flowers
This spring I was inspired by Wayne Winterrowds excellent book, Annuals and Tender Plants for North American Gardens (Random House),a must have. So I attempted to grow many of the more unusal or lesser grown annuals, the type that wither need to be sown in situ or are not carried by retailers at all. One of the 'lost' old world annuals is Scabiosa, a great cut flower which has had stems last over a week in my office. It's wiry stems twist and turn gracefully and are attractive, this, a selection of a color mix which I lost the name of is attractive with its blend of burgundy, mauve and white.

Boöphane disticha
One of the rarer plants in the collection, this Boöphane disticha, (pronounced Boo-off-ah-knee),a challenging to grow bulb from South Africa which is highly posionous, even it's dried leaves on the dormant bulb when touched cause numbness in my fingers so I must work with rubber gloves even to repot it when dormant. I have it positioned up high outside,, so that the dogs can't get it. Tribesmen in Africa make poison for darts from this bulb. I was advised after 'investing' in it, that I would be lucky to get it to grow. So far, so good. I was able to awaken it out of dormancy, a task in itself. No, if only I can coax it to bloom. It is planted in an extremely fast draining mix of sharp sand, perlite and rock, and in a large container of about 10 gallons. The plant is notorious for not liking to be repoted, and it is long lived.

A view of some of the caudiciform plants in the collection

Summer is the active tiem for these caudiciform plants. Here is an early morning view of some of the best. Kept bone dry in the winter, these plants all have water-storage parts above the soil. During the summer, they can take a surprising amount of water.

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