}

October 11, 2014

THE BLUES, AND THE BEES, (OH, AND THE BULBS)

FALL BLOOMING GENTIANS TAKE OVER THE ALPINE GARDEN AND TROUGHS WITH A 'LAST HURRAH' BEFORE OUR FIRST FROST.


Some of the gardening year's most striking plants bloom just before frost, and so it is with many of the plants within the genus Gentianacea - the gentian family. Gentians a generally high elevation mountain plants - alpines, which are familiar to hikers in the Alps and in the Rockies, but there are some very choice species from China just coming to a few specialist nurseries. Gentians are not something that most gardeners turn to, as they are rarely in bloom at garden centers, and they have a reputation for being fussy, requiring very specific soil nutrients, temperatures and aspect - but you might be surprised at just how easy some species and new selections can be - I mean, check out these beauties that I found at all places, my local Lowes hardware store.
Click below for more:



GENTIAN'S CAN BE CHALLENGING TO GROW, BUT I CHEATED HERE. THIS WAS A $4.00 PURCHASE AT OUR LOCAL LOWES, HARDWARE STORE.
 These Lowes Gentians are beautiful, but I am not confident that they will make it through the winter. Gentians are very cold hardy, but they need to establish themselves, with deep roots, so I treat these more as temporary annuals, and if some survive, I will be surprised and pleased.  I am not sure about this commercial variety, but I do know that a few species and selections have recently been introduced into the trade. If anyone knows more about this, please share, but my best guess is that this might be Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana 'select', but I also have to admit that it doesn't look as loose as my G. septemfida var. lagodeciana which I have raised from seed. Unless it was treated with growth regulators to make it more dense.


ONCE PLANTED IN ONE OF OUR ALPINE TROUGHS, NO ONE WOULD KNOW THAT I BOUGHT THIS PLANT AT A BIG BOX STORE. I NEVER THOUGHT THAT I WOULD SEE THE DAY WHEN GENTIANS WOULD SHOW UP ASIDE THE AUTUMN MUMS, PUMPKINS AND GOURDS.



BLUE FLOWERS RULE - ONE THE LEFT, A VIOLET COLORED CUT AND SAUCER VINE, AND ON THE RIGHT, A FUNNY EXPERIMENT OF MINE - SOME SEEDLING EUSTOMA (A GENTIAN RELATIVE) THAT WAS PLANTED IN A TROUGH SIMPLY BECAUSE I HAD NO PLACE TO PLANT THEM.
 My Eustoma project was essentially a failure ( as many of my summer projects were, more on that in another update) but I did plant some of these painfully slow growing annuals, which are in the gentian family, into some of my alpine troughs. Typically, their habit is rather large, but my seedlings were so small, that it seemed like a good idea. They are now blooming, and are surprisingly dwarf, maybe because they have received little nutrition, and are growing in a very lean soil mix, along with tufa rock.


CUP AND SAUCER VINES ALSO BLOOM NEAR FROST, BUT IT FROST THREATENS, THEY MAKE GREAT CUT FLOWERS, AS THE FORM LONG, FIRM STEMS.
 Cobaea scandens, or Cup and Saucer vine, always blooms just before frost, in late September and October, if we are lucky. This year, the vines are long, and tall, reaching the eaves of the house, with hundreds of flowers. I read recently in a very old gardening book that the vines can be cut back, dug up and moved to a greenhouse where they will make nice winter blooming plants, so that is something that I might try, but my autumnal chores list is long, and with only a couple of free days this month in which to attempt any of them, some of these ideas may need to wait until next year.


IT'S HONEY SEASON, BUT ALSO DOG SHOW SEASON, SO EVEN THOUGH JOE HAS REMOVED THE SUPERS FROM THE HIVES, THEY SIT IN THE STUDIO AWAITING EXTRACTION.


MY BULB ORDERS HAVE ARRIVED, AND I AM ORGANIZING THEM FOR PLANTING ON THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND. SOME, FOR FORCING, OTHERS, OUTDOORS.

Most of my fall bulbs have arrived, and I hope to plant most of them this weekend. Last week I planted the most sensitive to being out of the ground, mainly the snowdrops and the frittilaria, but everything else has to wait until the soil temperature reaches below 55º F, especially the tulips. Bulbs can be very sensitive to temperatures, especially where they are stored until they are planted. The bulbs will be fine at most any temperature, but tulips in particular can damage their internal flower buds if the bulbs are stored in hot, dry temperature while not in the soil, or if they are planted too early and are stimulated into premature growth. Once in the ground, each year they will adapt and be fine, but with Dutch grown bulbs, waiting until the soil is cool is the safest move. Also, be wary of bulbs that come from retail stores where they are kept indoors too long. I keep my bulbs on the cool porch, in the dark until ready to plant. The greenhouse still gets too warm and damp, and in the house is too warm and dry.

TWO MILLION PAGE HITS

Lastly, it looks like I am about to hit 2 million hits on this blog. Not that I am one of those number Nazi's, which it seems many bloggers are, but it's kind-of nice to know that all of you still visit and read whatever I post. I appreciate it, and send best wishes to each of you for your support. Thanks!

1 comment :

  1. Your Gentian is a GENTIANA SCABRA BUERGERI. Also known as. Japanese Gentian.
    I also bought this at Lowes about 2 years ago in early Fall. It was a short compact plant and the color was a beautiful deep blue It was lin a 4" pot labeled as an alpine. Our winter in Louisville, Ky got as low as 10 below zero! Many plants did not make it and others suffered as you canThis lovely late-flowering gentian, one of the most famous of the hybrids, opens abundant blossoms from August up to the beginning of November, its dazzling-blue, bell-shaped flowers covering the leaves. Darker than the normal pale blue form, this is one of the very few gentians to possess any perfume or fragrance, and it has been used to create special cosmetics in China and Japan. Traditionally, this plant is used in Chinese medicine as a cure for liver diseases and intestinal troubles, whilst its roots provide an extremely bitter substance to stimulate the appetite, and in olden times the plant was used as a famine food, none of which uses we recommend! imagine. By the Sping I had forgotten about it and when it came up I wasn't sure if it was a weed. Thankfully I didn't !! By early August it had tripled in size with tight little buds. However, after a month and a half they still had not opened I began to think it was a dud. It took two months to start blooming and by the end of October it was stunning!! Stunning!! Dozens and dozens of gorgeous blue flowers that lasted at least a month.
    Once again this past winter it got 10 below zero a couple of times. Really rough on garden 2 yrs in a row.
    It came back again with babies. Unfortunately this summer I've been distracted and they've gotten too leggy and the stems have fallen away from the center. I can't think of how to describe it now other than it has a bowl shape.
    Can anyone give me advice on whether to prune it now or not? It's August 6 and I don't see any buds. I think I can answer my own question but I'd love to know if it's possible to do it now and still get the blooms?
    If not, I guess the right thing to do is wait to prune back as it emerges in the Spring if I want to bring the shape back to a tighter bushier plant. ?
    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I would value your knowledgable suggestions. :-)

    ReplyDelete

Oh yes, do leave me a comment!