May 28, 2012

Rare, Just Yummy or Plain Unusual Garden Flowers for May

PAPAVER SOMNIFERUM 'DRAMA QUEEN' LUSCIOUS PLUM AND VIOLET STREAKED BLOOMS FROM THIS TENDER POPPY THAT MUST BE SEEDED WHERE IT WILL DECIDE FORYOU WHERE IT WILL GROW. THEY ONLY LAST A DAY, BUT OH, WHAT A DAY.


Really, 2012 is all about poppies. But there are poppies that we still rarely see grown well, for as many of us know, poppies are not easy, unless you want to settle for the ordinary orange Oriental Poppies. A quick update on my great 2012 Poppy experiment, they are all doing well, and I hope that in a few weeks, I will be able to show you images of the Papaver rhoeas, P. commutatum and the P. somniferum as they come into bloom. Never easy, never pretty when not in bloom, poppies generally look best in photos and not in the garden, but when siting in the right location, and when viewed on just the right day, poppies can be quite stunning. Stay tuned you poppy freaks!



SARUMA HENRYI, THE UPRIGHT FLOWERING GINGER
Saruma is rarely found in gardens yet it is starting to appear in collector gardens as a few American nurseries are starting to carry seed-grown plants of this red-list endangered plant from China. Originally discovered in the early 1900's in China, taxonomists, or those who name plants, have been having some fun with this species. The heart-shaped leaves look a bit like Asarum, or Wild Ginger ( which is where the Upright Flowering Ginger name came from - this of course, is not culinary ginger, and neither is Asarum). Saruma is simply Asarum, twisted around using the same letters. Silly taxonomists. No one seems to know why it has taken so long for this plant to be shared and brought into cultivation, but it should have a brighter future - it is a flowering shade plant that is completely deer proof. Related to Dutchmans Pipe ( Aristolochia), this member of the family looks nothing like any Dutchman's Pipe you may have smoked. You can find Saruma henryi available at Plant Delights Nursery.






MODERN VARIETIES OF SIBERIAN IRIS CAN BE VERY IMPRESSIVE, WITH STRONG STEMS TOWERING UP TO 40 INCHES, AND A BROADER RANGE OF COLORS.
Not unusual or rare, except that most American gardens have boring varieties of Siberian Iris, an old fashioned type of Iris that spreads like grass, and that was all the rage in the 1920's. just try finding one at a local nursery. Often, all we see is the pass along plants which are often poor, older varieties, that are just "yawn" ok. I encourage you to try adding some of the newer varieties from one of the few breeders who are still working with this easy to grow iris varieties. Check out Joe Pye Weed gardens for some of the best, and OMG amazing Siberian Iris, some in colors that you never could imagine. JAN AND MARTY  are friends, and I highly recommend them as a source for these plants. These are iris that wont die, but will instead spread into large, tall clumps with hundreds of flowers, and lots of plants to share or to spread around the garden. Leave those old under performing varieties to your neighbors who don't know any better. Guaranteed that they will be asking you where you got your plants from.

DAPHNE CALCICOLA, A RARE CHINESE DAPHNE BLOOMS IN A POT.
Daphne calcicola, a rare treasure of a shrub from Yunnan is not new, but simply a shrub which is rarely seen in collections. First introduced by the famous plant explorer George Forrest in 1906, who described it as "the most beautiful flowering shrub", today is may only be found in a few private collections. I grow this shrub in a large Chinese stoneware container  filled with limestone rock, similar to the lean conditions where it grows in the wild. This is a daphne that it not fragrant, but it is worth growing for its floral display alone. A bit tender, I keep my shrub in the cold greenhouse for the winter. Not sure where you can find one, my original plant came from Harvey Wrightman from Wrightman Alpines.

MIMULUS AURANTIACUS, A CONSERVATORY PLANT THAT WAS OFTEN GROWN IN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY GREENHOUSES HERE IN NEW ENGLAND, IS ACTUALLY A NATIVE CALIFORNIAN. IT CAN MAKE A FINE GARDEN SPECIMEN, EVEN HERE, IF GROWN AS A TENDER ANNUAL.

The Bush Monkey Flower, or Mimulus aurantiacus 'Pt. Molate' may be common enough in California, but here in New England, it makes a terrific pot plant for the cold greenhouse. In the summer, cutting can be placed in the garden, which is where ours takes his summer holidays- in the raised, rock wall garden where alpine grow, along the foundation of the greenhouse. Its unusual color is reminiscent of orange sherbet, but it mixes well with other pastel tints, for there are few colors in the garden similar. Available from where else by Annies Annuals.

Anchusa capensis 'Blue Angel', on of the bluest of the Forget Me Nots, but this is a native of South Africa. It smothers itself with the deepest blue flowers ( which look purple here, but believe me these are cold water cobalt blue - it was evening). Next year I will plant more, as many of these plants were a test for me this year. I can only images what a dozen or two would look like int he garden. These Anchusa make our weedy Forget me nots rather , um.... forgetable.

In the stone troughs, which house many alpine plants, some of the later blooming Saxifrages are beginning to bloom, which is reminding me of Switzerland, were we find these plants on the highest peaks of the Alps in June. Each trough contains plants from different climates, so as you can easily imaging the this tall one has plants from the Swiss and French Alps, the one behind it looks a bit more like North Africa or Turkey, with the Horned Poppy blooming ( Glaucium flavum). I think troughs are best when organized by mountain ranges, don't you?



Joe consoles Yang, one of our Chinese White Geese, after Kojo was discovered missing.

Our African Grey parrot, Kojo escaped this weekend. We've had him for 15 years, raised from a chick, and we miss him. Today, we heard him performing his high-pitched squeek, which he makes when we drove into the driveway. We thought that we were hearing things, but then, we heard the phone ring high up in a distant tree, and two streets over, and found him high in a tall oak tree. The old Polish woman in whose yard we found him in, was sitting outside wearing her bra, old-school style, and she smacked her husband and said" See..... I told you I heard a car alarm in dee tree dis morning!". We have yet to catch him, and he may never return, but at least for now, we know that he is OK. He kept calling to us all day.

Our good friends Glen ( above) and Ken visited for Memorial Day, and Glen was showing Ken how to properly hold a goose...

...of course, earings proove to be tempting to  mating goose.

May 26, 2012

Backyard Poultry, Iris and Harvesting Spinach


THE GARDEN IS ABUNDANT AROUND MEMORIAL DAY - SIBERIAN IRIS' STRUT THEIR STUFF IN THE PERENNIAL BORDER BUT CHORES START EARLY IN THE MORNING AND END LATE IN THE EVENING.

Why does it all have to happen at once!  Last week, the weather was cool and damp, this weekend, hot, humid and suddenly, everything in the garden takes off.  We all know that in America, Memorial Day marks the time when anything can be planted in the garden - tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers and most every summer vegetable as now the night time temperatures shift from cool to warm. But is always surprises me how in just a few days, everything can grow. The cut flower sweet peas are growing about 4 inches a day, in the garden, turnips, radishes and spinach are being harvests, and this week will bring the first of the spring green onions. The solstice may be three weeks away, but suddenly, it is summer.

May 23, 2012

7 Things to Avoid when Preparing a Vegetable Garden

THESE SNAP PEAS MIGHT BE ABLE TO SURVIVE WITH SIX TO EIGHT HOURS OF SUNLIGHT IS FINE, BUT TEN TO TWELVE HOURS CAN ADD TO YOUR HARVEST SUBSTANTIALLY.

1. Avoid Shade - Duh - But Count Your Hours of Sunlight


There are many factors to consider when selecting the perfect site for your vegetable garden. most can be fixed or altered after you have constructed it, so focus on what you can't change - the weather. Not all plants need sunlight in order to grow, but generally speaking, vegetables are the exception to the rule. But shade can be a sneaky thing - shade can be cast long distances in the morning and in the evening, and a tall tree in a neighbors yard, or a garage may block the sun at sunrise or near sunset, which may seem minor, but ever hour of extra sun may mean the difference between early tomatoes, or late ones.

When planning you raised bed, look for the sunniest place in your yard. Consider cast shadows from neighboring trees, especially in the morning and in the evening, and notice if the canopy of  a tree extends over your garden.  I have a high fence along the southern end of my property which casts a long shadow across several raised beds for most of the year, but between late May and late August, these beds receive nearly 16 hours of sunlight.

May 19, 2012

My Experiment -Pacific Coastal Annuals in New England

NEMOPHILA MENZIESII 'BABY BLUE EYES" IS A FAVORITE CALIFORNIA WILDFLOWER, SOMTIMES GROWN IN COOLER GARDENS IN THE HIGH ATLANTIC COASTAL  GARDENS OF NOVA SCOTIA AND NEWFOUNDLAND, BUT IN CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS? I ONLY EXPECT IT TO BE WITH US FOR A FEW WEEKS. NOTHING COMPARES WITH THIS COLOR, AND DISPLAY.

It was one of my many experiments this year - attempting to to grow annuals rarely seen in New England, or in many American gardens for that matter, since the cool nights and breezy cool days that they require are rarely found anywhere except in coastal California, Oregon and Washington, and in British Columbia. Add in the fact that these are annuals that one will never find in garden centers as they prefer to be be sown in situ, disliking any root disturbance. A few good garden centers may carry young seedlings, and one should seek them out, but don't expect them to be in bloom while in their containers, for plants must be purchased young, and slipped carefully into prepared holes with no root disturbance. My Annuals from Annies Annuals have been such a success, that next year I will be ordering many more, it's worth the little protection that I need to provide them with cloches in mid March, for a month or two of incredible color.

May 18, 2012

The Home Organic Vegetable Garden - Make It Personal

CRISPY FRENCH RADISHES FOR BREAKFAST WITH SWEET, CREAM BUTTER.  THE DELIGHTS OF THE HOME VEGETABLE GARDEN BECOME REDEFINED THROUGH THE GENERATIONS, BUT THE FUNDAMENTAL REASONS FOR GROWING HOME VEGGIES REMAIN THE SAME - CHOICE, TASTE AND FRESHNESS.



I thought that I learned my lesson a long time ago, but I have to be honest and tell you that it has only been a recent realization - that given my lack of free time, and maybe, dare I say, age, I really don't need to grow every vegetable at home in my vegetable garden. A few years ago, I made the decision to only grow what I felt like growing, varying my little crops each year to either augment what I could buy at the market or farmstand, and to keep things interesting, to try something new every year.

There have been some very active posts on other gardening sites about why young people don't garden anymore, or, about how nurseries or large garden centers can attract young people to purchase gardening supplies. Many of the responses seemed to come from those 'young people' themselves, be they Gen X, Gen Y or Millennials, which tells me that the problem may not exactly be that young people don't want to garden, but that for many reasons, the issue isn't that they don't want to have a home garden, the reasons are often more about their opportunity to garden rather then their desires to garden.

May 17, 2012

Tree Peonies and New Itoh Hybrids



The magnificence of the noble true tree peony - the aristocratic and woodier cousin of the herbaceous peony, is not a tree at all, but is more of  a bush, at least they can be bush-like if you are lucky. Not the easiest to grow well in New England, tree peonies are becoming more popular with gardeners who are in-the-know, those who find that perfect little nook or protected area in Zone 5 or 6 where the winter snows are deep and protective, or where the cold winds of late winter and early spring spare these hardy, yet fussy jewels of the garden. Rarely does one see Tree Peonies grown to perfection unless you live in the Pacific North West or in zone 7 or higher, where winters are mild. Tree peonies are best grown seriously - and with effort, often in a garden dedicated solely to this plant, well mulched, weeded and especially, well protected in the winter. With some varieties dating back to the 12th Century, it is one of the oldest cultivated plants on our planet.


I have yet to find the perfect place for my tree peonies, but I keep trying. these plants were relocated last year to the open garden, since the location where they were originally ( near the foundation of the greenhouse) proved to be too shady in the summer, since I planted faster growing tropicals in front of them, like canna's, brugmansia and calocasia. Now planted in the open garden, the plants receive more sunlight and more open space, and finally they have bloomed.

In Japan we saw incredible collections of tree peonies in Tokyo, where entire gardens are dedicated to these plants, gardens that are hundreds of years old, for peonies are one of the oldest cultivated plants grown for their blossoms on earth, and after nearly 600 years of culture, the tree peony may have one of the most impressive family trees of all plants.



Setting tree peonies aside for the moment, the new Itoh Hybrids, a cross between the tree peony and the common herbaceous peony that we all know and love ( the sort that goes dormant with top growth the dies back to the ground every year - are the must-have plants of out century. Like all peonies, the Itohs still have large, flouncy flowers that come in many shades of buff and yellow, but their real magic comes with their performance. A tree peony may only have a few flowers unless they are well branched ( a rare site), but the Itoh's can have 20 or 30 flowers per plant, and their foliage may be their greatest asset of all - nicely dense and sometimes with a bluish tint, it always looks neat and tidy, so much so that I am seriously thinking about turning my gold and blue garden completely over to a fully dedicated Itoh Hybrid garden.

ITOH HYBRID PEONY, A CROSS BETWEEN A TREE PEONY AND AN HERBACEOUS PEONY, PRICEY BUT OH, SO NICE.

Itoh Hybrids are not for the slim-of-wallet, though, with most cultivars selling  between $80 to $300 per plant, remember that you do get what you pay for with these plants. These are impressive shrub-like specimens that are long lived, and get larger with every year in the garden. I've had people stop in their tracks in August, just by noticing their amazing foliage displays, and that's saying nothing about their blossoms - which as you can see in the images here, are pretty nice - like large, tissue paper flowers.
I can only afford one plant a year, but if you can find them ( they are starting to show up this year at better garden centers), they are worth their sticker price. Just be sure to plant them once - where they are going to live, and then enjoy for the rest of your life, as the plants grow larger, with increasingly more impressive displays, with each year of their lives. I have one plant from ten years ago that may have 50 flowers on it this year. And for a peony, that's pretty sweet ---- but did I mention that they are bright yellow? Oh yeah, baby.


May 14, 2012

Pride of Madiera, or at the least, the Pride of Worcester?

THE FUZZY HAIRS WHICH COVER ECHIUM FASTUOSUM, CAPTURES THE SETTING SUNLIGHT ON A COOL, SPRING NIGHT. THIS COMMON CALIFORNIAN ROADSIDE PLANT, IS RARELY SEEN IN NEW ENGLAND, BUT IT MAKES AN UNUSUAL AND SHOWY POTTED PLANT.

Don't laugh, you Californians! -  Look....having a Pride of Madeira, or Echium fastuosum in bloom.....in May...in New England, is kind of a big deal. 

Yes, it's a road side weed in Northern California, our little tower (or not so little, really at  5.5 feet) is still pretty exciting. At least it's exciting for the bees, wasps, butterflies and hummingbirds who swarm around it. It's pretty pathetic, all thin and stretched out, but no one here really notices that ( all due to its emergence in late February when light levels were still low), all I can say is that it is in full, glorious bloom, and  I'll take it for that. It's taken me many years to get this plant to successfully bloom after many failures from seed. I cheated, buying a mail order plant last spring, and potting it up in a giant pot for the summer. It takes two or three years for this biennial to bloom.  Here in New England, we can't expect much - nothing personal, it's just a climate thing - these large, showy Echium species are designed to thrive in cool. coastal areas like the Canary Islands, Portugal and of course,  Northern California. Bastards.


Most Echium have blossoms that are nectar rich, and tipping the color scale close to true blue, but, it's one of those odd plants with a color that is difficult to capture even with a digital camera. Most images of the blossoms look mauve, when they are purple and blue.


At last weeks' garden tour, this was one of the most popular plant, mostly because people didn't know what it was, or, they remember seeing them on holidays to coastal California.

ECHIUM FASTUOSUM - THE PRIDE OF MADEIRA


May 13, 2012

May Flowers, May Apples and May Treasures

CYPRIPEDIUM 'GESELA', STILL YOUNG AND PALE, THIS NEW PLANT STILL PRODUCED A SINGLE BLOSSOM. IN A FEW YEARS, IF ALL GO'S WELL, THIS PLANT MAY HAVE AS MANY AS 30 FLOWERS.

For a very short period in May, deciduous woodlands around the world burst into bud and bloom. In Japan, China, Korea, Russia, Scandinavia and North America - May marks the peak season much of Mother Nature - for migratory song birds eager to breed, taking advantage of these longest days of the year,  insects rush to pupate, mate and to lay eggs (in our woodland, these are the only three weeks one can find the Luna moth), and woodland plants seem to complete an entire years growth in just three short weeks. These are the weeks of fragrant wild azalea, lady slipper orchids, Mayapples and countless other woodland treasures.

PODOPHYLLUM PELTATUM, THE COMMON MAYAPPLE

In the garden, imports of similar species from other continents  such as Asia, adds to the show.  Take Mayapples for example - our native Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, also known as American Mandrake, grows in an ever growing colony near the edges of our garden. A spreader, it never really becomes invasive, but it does move about quickly. We love it, because with 2.5 acres, much of the yard is...well, weedy. Like I've said before, you would be shocked if you ever visited. Much of our yard is too messy to show on this blog, and I have little time at all to even cut grass or to power up a weed wacker. Plants that form a carpet, such as the Mayapple then becomes even more valuable, for it grows so thickly, it chokes out even the most aggressive weed.


Podophyllum peltatum, our native Mayapple, grows near the boundary of our garden and the woods. Protected from the hottest summer sun by tall trees, it forms a carpet of green, mingling with other spreading shade woodland plants, such as Petasites japonicus variegated form, and some hosta. Yes, I grow hosta, and I'm OK with it!

Podophyllum pleianthum


A rarer Mayapple, meet it's Asian relative - Podophyllum pleianthum. Eventually this will become a giant specimen plant with 40" tall stalks - to-die-for. This Asian Mayapple will take some time to settle in, so patience is required. This plant is two years old, another in another part of the garden is only one year old. 

Syneilesis aconitifolia

Another plant that takes some time settling in, but it worth seeking out is this woodland beauty from Korea is Syneilesis aconitifolia. Thanks to the great plant explorers from the late 20th Century like Daniel Hinkley, who introduced many of these Asian woodland plants into cultivation through the then incredible  Heronswood Nursery, trying to find these plants is still challenging ( try Plant Delights Nursery). Syneilesis is one of those plants that once you see it in its full magnificence, you must add it to your own garden. Images in books and my pathetic little two year old plant above, will not convince you, at least not yet. In three years, when I show a photo, you will want it.


A closer look at one of the umbrella-like leaves on Petasites japonicus var variegata.

SINOCALYCANTHUS x RAULSTONII 'HARTLAGE WINE'


This plant always impresses me, which is tough to do during the burst of growth that happens in May. Sinocalycanthus ( now just Calycanthus again) x raulstonii 'Harlage Wine' is one of those amazing plants with an amazing story. It arose from a cross between a Chinese species and and American species of Calycanthus. Now, every collector has one in their garden, and I can see why. First bred in 1990, it has not taken long for this shrub to be shared among the people who know. It is vigorous and unusual, with merlot colored magnolia-like blossoms. I've planted this specimen near the woodland edge of our garden, where tall trees tower overhead, providing dappled shade, perfect conditions for this rarely seen shrub. Look for the white form called 'Venus'.



PICEA PUNGENS 'GEBELLE'S GOLDEN SPRING'

Even evergreens can be showy in May - many spruce (Picea)  selections have been introduced that have this curious color-change effect early in the year. New grow emerges almost white, literally glowing in the garden, a lovely effect, and one that I can't wait to see on a mature specimen.  My Gebelle's Golden Spring is still quite small, and struggling to form a leader. The spectacular coloring on the young shoots gradually fades to a more typical green by the end of June.


HALESIA TETRAPTERA - THE NATIVE AMERICAN SILVERBELL TREE

Behold, the Silverbell tree. A rarely seen native American tree from Virginia, and the Carolinas, Halesia tetraptera makes a large, tree that blooms with a display that makes one wonder why this tree isn't planted in every park and street in America. My tree is still small, more of a shrub right now, as it had a tough childhood ( too many encounters with a lawn mower). It is still young, and 10 feet tall, and covered in 1 gagillion silverbells.  In my home town of Worcester, MA, a large Halesia grows in Elm Park, designed by Olmsted, the noted landscape architect, the tree is a large as an oak tree, and when in bloom, it's almost a bizarre site, since how often does one see an oak tree in bloom with white tiny bells. I have always wanted one,  as i reminds me of my first job where one grew on the estate where I gardened. It is still rarely seen in many American gardens. 

May 12, 2012

New Bee Hives, and the Nicest Day of the Year

JOE WORKS ON SOME OF THE NEW HIVES THAT ARRIVED TODAY

It usually starts like this: The phone rings at 6:00 am, and it's the government. (Actually, more like the U.S. Post office).  A nervous voice says something like "um...you've got some live bees here - maybe you come pick em up, please?". 

Our postmaster knows us well. We're those two crazy guys who get the boxes of baby ducks, or the bags of live fish ( koi), and yeah, sometimes even boxes of live bees. This time, Joe went to pick them up locally. Much easier, and surely less stressful for the bees. 

In March, during a gale, we lost a large spruce tree, a very tall specimen that my father had planted 70 years ago. The tree, with a massive trunk nearly two feet in diameter, fell between the row of bee hives that we keep way in the back of our garden. It didn't crush them, but it did disturb the inhabitants enough so that the hives stopped functioning. New bees with new queens had to be ordered.


The weather man on the news last night said something that caught my attention " Tomorrow, will be a 10 out of 10. Bright blue skies, 75 degrees and little wind. It very well may be one of the top 5 days of the entire year". It was. After a busy week at work, late nights at the computer designing app elements and what not, I was looking forward to a day of gardening, but this is May - the busiest garden chore month of the year, and much needed to be done. I decided to be a little selfish ( which is easy for me, I fear). A little sun, a little planting ( the white garden - it's staring to look like something), and a little greenhouse time ( watering), and that was about it. 

The long list of to-do's will have to wait until tomorrow, ( it never ends, right?), when it might be cloudy, and perhaps rainy - I might even use the excuse that they weather is better for the plants. Transplanting tomatoes, coleus seedlings, some sowing of arugula, almost countless chores - oh yes, digging up 220 feet of the front yard to plant grass seed - this strip in front of our house is the worst garden on the entire street!


Besides, someone HAD to take pictures of Joe working on the hive! I mean, I had to lay in the sunny grass in the buttercups, it was just awful, but someone had to do it.


May 10, 2012

Iris henryi and Iris cristata

IRIS HENRYI, A CHINESE WOODLAND IRIS THAT IS SMALL, AND FLORIFEROUS

This past weekend, a pot of Iris henryi, a rare woodland iris from China attracted a lot of attention at our garden party for the New England Primrose Society. Jim Almond, the guest speaker, particularly pointed it out. Darell Probst shared it with us  a while back, and the pot was a division that we had not planted yet. Look for this gem on-line from the few retailers who carry it. It is still hard to find, but Darell's selection is starting to show up at a few nurseries who specialize in rare and interesting plants.

IRIS CRISTATA

Not up for a rarity? Then try this miniature woodland iris that is much more common, but still only found in the gardens of those who are a little more serious about gardening - Iris cristata. Often found in the wild flower section of your nursery, this creeping tiny iris will create a carpet of flowers (albeit for a few days!) every spring. The color is luscious, and it always surprises me when I see it in bloom. Everyone who sees this in bloom in our garden, wants a piece of it. It spread fast, but never should you consider this as a 'ground cover', for it will cover the ground, but one must weed around it regularly.

May 8, 2012

My Desert, Under Glass

I keep adding to my collection of blossoming cacti species, even when not it bloom, the thorns can be very decorative.
Cacti and desert plants can be pretty as thorny potted plants, but getting them to bloom can sometimes be challenging for people. Contrary to popular belief, cacti are very cold tolerant, and many will not form flower buds unless they freeze a little bit. The desert environment can be very cold in the winter where the finest blooming cacti come from - not Arizona or New Mexico, but in South America, in the high alpine deserts of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. The Rebutia and Lovibia cacti from the high Andes offer some of the finest flowers in the cacti world, and I try to keep a collection growing on my high, dry shelves in the greenhouse, where the plants can spend the winter getting full sun through the single pane glass, and sometimes a light frost as the night time temperatures drop to near 32 degrees.



 Not always the easiest to get to bloom, cacti require a cold, dry winter, and then as spring grows near, a shift between day temperatures and night temperatures. In April, I move my collection to a sand bed in the greenhouse, where Cyclamen are kept until they start to enter their dormancy. Switching these collections allows me to have more than one display, on a bed that would normally just remain empty for half of the year. 

Alyogyne huegelii var. alba, a drought tolerant sunloving native hibiscus ( Malvaceae) realative from the deserts of South and Western Australia. It grows well in a sand-filled container, in the desert collection. It seems to never stop blooming, having flowers in during the short days of January. It will spend the summer outdoors, once any threat of frost is over.


After a flood of water, the cacti begin to break their dormancy, quickly forming flower buds, although many will bloom in late May and June.




Other desert plants are included in my collection, This thorny tomato relative is Solanum pyracanthum.

Rebutia growing in a bonsai pot. It will soon be time for the dreaded repotting.

Even though I have only a weak interest in cacti and desert plants, I think I am starting to get more and more additions to the collection.  Here you can see some Euphorbia, Adenium and small desert shrubs.



May 7, 2012

Training a Tree Wisteria


A tree wisteria is simply a wisteria vine, trained to grow as a tree - essentially, it is simply a wisteria standard or a wisteria topiary, if you will. It takes many years, and careful and dedicated attention with hand pruners to achieve a mature specimen, but with grafted stock becoming more available ( to endure that flowering material is used rather then seedlings) a beautiful wisteria can be trained to grow into a small, weeping tree form in about ten years. I have seen some very impressive specimens in large, terra rosa pots, but these must be stored in frost-free conditions.


Wisteria can easily become a rampant weed, with runners creeping lightning fast across or just under the soil surface, or running up a tree quickly engulfing it, but there is no other plant quite like it, and a tree-form wisteria may be the best way to control a plant such as this vine. I suggest investing in a pre-trained graft, which can be costly ( $100 - $200) but it will guarantee both a selection that has the highest quality blooming stock, and a root stock that is less aggressive.

Wisteria can be very fragrant, the scent reminds me of orange blossoms. It can drift across the garden on warm, spring days.

Pruning aggressively is key, but always with a thoughtful eye. eventually, these tiny branches on this three year old specimen will mature into thick, trunk-like branches, making what was once a lowly vine, a stunning tree-like specimen. Pruning can occur throughout the year, but to endure blooms, it is best to prune heavily just after flowering.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Most Popular Posts