Showing posts with label Daily Awesomes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daily Awesomes. Show all posts

April 16, 2012

Last (and Rarest) of the Winter Greenhouse Bulbs

A BROWN HYACINTH? NOT QUITE, BUT ABOUT AS CLOSE  A PAN IN THE ALPINE HOUSE DISPLAYS A SINGLE BULB OF THE RARITY FROM THE HYACINTH FAMILY KNOWN AS   Dipacdi serotinus,  


Dipcadi Serotinus
 In the bulb plunge bed, a sand bed at the front of my greenhouse, a never ending display of tiny pots ( and some not so tiny pots) gets set weekly, it's where I like to show whatever is in bloom, and it functions as sort of a display bed, if only for me, and the occasional visitor. By spring, the bed gets less and less interesting, as does the entire greenhouse for that manner, as more interesting events are happening outside. The final reset of the display bed happens around May, just after our Primrose party, when the last of the tiny collector bulbs that require protection, bloom marking the final transitional period for southern hemispheric bulbs before the begin the dormancy as the temperatures rise, and the soil in their pots dries out.

A closeup of Dipcadi serotinus shows a little slug slime, but they are not eating the tissues on this plant, which leads me to believe that either it is slightly toxic, or just doesn't appeal to them.


The last of the Lachenalia are starting to bloom. This time of year always surprises me when it comes to Lachenalia, for these seed-raised pots from wild collected sources in South Africa often provide some surprised such as this pot of very beautiful Lachenalia unicolor forma. alba, a species rarely seen in an already obscure genus found in few gardens outside of the serious collectors.

Lachenalia latimerae


Lachenalia latimerae is quite rare, or at least, rarely grown as I have never found bulbs available anywhere, and when one Google's this species, only this blog appears besides the Pacific Bulb Society site. Easy from seed, the only challenge here is finding the seed, and as there generally is only one or two sources in South Africa, this plant shall remain one only found in private collections, and perhaps, a large botanic garden such as Kew. I think it is lovely, a late bloomer in more ways than one, this pot is almost ten years old, and needs a refresh. I've been lazy in fertilizing and in winter care, literally not watering this plant as it sat on a shelf in the greenhouse hidden behind some Nerine sarniensis, until I found it last week, when I watered it for the first time. It is still blooming, though weakly.

Lachenalia 'lost label' It said ' L. uniflora' which it is not. Another reason why I need to start placing vinyl labels inside the pot, too. A new practice I have started this year.

July 31, 2011

How to Tease Hummingbirds

Semi hardy Sinningia tubiflora in the garden. This still relatively difficult to find, yet easy to master perennial will still need winter protection in Zone 5, but when grown in a container, it makes a fragrant, long-lived plant with delightfully fragrant, long-tubed flowers. When dormant, the potato-like tubers can be divided and shared with friends, for it produces many.
 The hardy Sinningia ( think - Gloxinia, yes, as in Florist Gloxinia and African Violets) are making a big impact with plant collectors. Hardy outdoors in zones up to USDA Zone 7, these tuberous-rooted perennials which also make great container plants, are really well performing plants worth seeking out. There are a few species being crossed together, to create these forms and new colors, mainly Sinningia tubiflora, which appeared on the scene about ten years ago with little fanfare, Sinningia curtiflora ( Corytholoma curtifolorum), Sinningia warmingii and Sinningia aggregata. Now, gardeners can have not only white forms, but pinks and even pale yellow forms. If you are not growing this plant yet, you should. Just be patient, and don't fuss too much with them. I never had luck until I abused them, tossed a bag of tubers into a large pot and just let them do their thing outdoors. Now? The entire garden smells just like sun tan lotion ( yeah, suntan lotion - the coconut kind). Perfect.
This container of S. tubiflora is three years old, I started with one tuber, and now the container is so full of compressed tubers, that I will need a sledge hammer to unpot it later in the winter. The foliage dislikes getting wet in the evening, it will discolor quickly. When watered in the morning, it will evaporate, especially when grown on a gravel walk, such as here. The extra heat helps keep the foliage dryer. Rain does not bother it.

A new cross, Sinningia warmingii x Sinningia tubiflora  came from a seedling raised from a Gesneriad Society seed exchange. It was names Sinningia 'Carolyn', and it is proving to be a real winner in many test plantings with stems as tall as 36 inches. I a. growing this one in a large, 12 inch clay pot . Introduced in 2011, it was trialed since 2007 with many rave reviews. You can order it from Plant Delight Nurseries.

Who would ever had imagined that an African Violet relative might ever make a super garden plant~
So why are my hummingbirds pissed? This morning I watched them trying to get nectar out of these floral tubes, but alas, the tubes are too long ( or the beaks too short). Damn Darwin! He never planned on Plant Delights or the Internet.

July 25, 2011

Peruvian Daffodils

A HYBRID HYMENOCALLIS, OR ISMENE 'SULFER QUEEN' OPENS IT'S HIGHLY FRAGRANT FLOWERS GROWING IN A CONTAINER ON THE WALK TO THE GREENHOUSE.
Ismene 'Sulfer Queen', and named hybrid of the more specific genus now called Hymenocallis, a collectible genus for those who like to collected things that are similar, but still organized withing a genus - see here at the Pacific Bulb Society Web Wiki. Looking for something different to collect? Try growing some of the more unusual species, for the rest of us? Try the easy-to-grow and bloom hybrids that one can find at any garden center in the spring. 

Ismene get better each and every year, so save your bulbs, and since they are in the family Amarylidaceae ( the Amaryllis family) allow the bulbs to go dormant, but the roots will prefer to remain fleshy and thick, deep in the soil. Every year, upgrade the pot size significantly while dormant, without disturbing the roots, and in a couple of years, you will have a tub full of these Peruvian Daffodils.

I upgraded the pot size on this Ismene in February, when I noticed that the pot was full of roots. Now, I can see that I needed to upgrade to a much larger container, which I will do next week, carefully. These are tender sub-tropical bulbs, and they cannot handle freezing, so containers must be brought in after a light frost and allowed to dry out.

July 21, 2011

Gardenias!

Our giant ( and I mean G I A N T) gardenia bush is starting to bloom. It's so large, that we keep it in a 40 inch tub and it is nearly 6 feet tall with a trunk that is about 8 inches in diameter, even after being cut back hard last year. It is 40 years old, and inherited from a friend, who got it from a friend, etc. Nothing compares to the rich scent of gardenia on a hot evening, like heavy cream and jasmine.

July 6, 2011

A Chinese Lantern Lily? More like, neither.

A SUMMER BLOOMING SOUTH AFRICAN BULB RARELY SEEN IN GARDENS, SANDERSONIA AURANTIACA BLOOMS IN A POT WHERE IT'S GOLDEN LANTERNS SEEM TO LIGHT UP THESE WARM AND HUMID JULY EVENINGS LIKE JAPANESE LANTERNS.
 Even we gardeners fall into ruts. Ordering the same plants and bulbs each and every year. But why not change it up? Have you ever wondered who grows all of those odd little bulbs that you see in the spring and summer catalogs? You know, Gloriosa Lilies, Tigridia, Tritonia? Well, this year I am trying new things that I have never grown before, many are those lesser bulbs that we all seem to overlook.

This week, a slightly unusual South African bulb plant is blooming in a container, Sandersonia aurantiaca. More common as a specialty cut flower,I am finding that a container with 8 roots ( which look like bulbs, but are actually thick, brittle roots) make a less than exciting in a container. I think even if you planted u a dozen, the display might still be not worth the investment.  Commonly known as the Chinese Lantern Lily or Christmas Bells, most catalogs sell the plant by its Latin name, more likely because it is a single genus, with one species. In South Africa, this plant blooms in the winter ( which is summer there), near or around Christmas time in December. In our July garden, it illuminates a mixed container nicely, but in the garden, I think it can get lost, so I am not sure that I will grow this again.

Sandersonia is related to the Gloriosa lily which naturally is not a true lily, and neither is the Sandersonia  for that matter, both are members of the Colchicaceae family, ( You know - autumn flowering Colchicum - go figure).

Order Sandersonia in the late winter or early spring, I purchased mine from Brent and Becky's Bulbs.  I would suggest buying a few, since I bought 12, only 3 grew, so I am guessing that the roots are rather fussy and may not sprout uniformly. The root stalks that you will receive in the mail are very tender, and for success, they much be planted in pure coarse sand so that they can have perfect drainage. Potting soil can then be added to the surface, which I then mulch over with gravel.
SANDERSONIA AURANTIACA SEEMS TO BE THE VICTIM OF SOME LEAF HOPPERS THAT ARE FINDING THE LANTERN FLOWERS TASTY.  THEY ARE CHEWING THE BLOSSOMS INTO TINY SHREDS.

June 2, 2011

Unusual Pelargoniums

A HYBRID THAT LOOKS LIKE A SPECIES, PELARGONIUM 'SPLENDIDE'. IT'S FUZZY PADDLE SHAPED LEAVES ONLY EMERGE IN THE SUMMER, THIS ONE IS DORMANT ALL WINTER.
A fun fact for new gardeners, is that the "common" geranium, the red ones we see planted at Memorial Day are actually not true Geraniums at all ( you pro's know that, but newbies will find this an interesting fact). Red Geraniums are botanically organized by taxonomists within the genus Pelargonium, and to make matters more confusing, the genus Geranium, is a completely different genus.


 Today's daily awesome includes both, some true Geraniums and true Pelargonium species, and see just how different ( or similar) they can be. Confused yet? Don't worry, they are all wonderful plants.


YOUV'E SEEN THIS ONE BEFORE AS I'VE BEEN POSTING THE PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THIS GIANT TRUE GERANIUM, G. MADERENSE ALBA. IT'S HAIRY STEMS CAPTURE THE SUNLIGHT IN THE EVENING, AS SEEDPODS FORM, ON THIS IMPRESSIVE PLANT WHICH IS TALLER THAN I AM.

THESE  LST TWO ARE BOTH MYSTERY PELARGONIUMS (LOST LABELS!) , ONE HAS CARMINE FLOWERS, AND IT'S ANOTHER SPECIES THAT GOES DORMANT IN THE WINTER. THE SECOND ONE BELOW IS JUST COMING INTO GROWTH, STARTING WITH A BUD.

May 31, 2011

A Colorado Blue Spruce with Lime Needles? You Betcha.

PICEA PUNGENS GEBELLE'S GOLDEN SPRING, A YELLOW NEEDLED BLUE SPRUCE.


Last year I ordered this rare clone of the Colorado Blue named Gebelle's Golden Spring® PP 10,643 Spruce from Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery and I must admit, it's delightful. It may look ordinary for most of the year, but in spring, its breathtaking young foliage is a stunning, vivid, bright yellow, which fades to green during the summer. My plant is still young, and barely two feet tall, but imagine which this tree will look like in ten years when it is 8 feet tall! I can barely wait.

May 22, 2011

The Romance of Wisteria

A VASE OF WISTERIA SCENTS AN ENTIRE ROOM AT THE HOUSE - WISTERIA MAKES A TERRIFIC CUT FLOWER, AND THEY LOOK PERFECT IN THIS VINTAGE ROSEVILLE SPANISH MOSS PATTERN, VASE.
Mastering Wisteria is easy for some, impossible for others. Many find the Wisteria cultivars and species available today to be difficult to flower, while others fear their invasiveness and aggressive behavior, but when kept in check with careful pruning, and removal of seedpods and runners, Wisteria vines offer an elegance unmatched by any other vine.

A CLOSE-UP LOOK AT THE FLOWERS, REVEALS WHY THE WISTERIA IS IN THE PEA FAMILY.
Wisteria is a relatively small genus, with ten species and many selected cultivars. Two species are native to the Unitied States, while the rest are native to China, Korea and Eastern China. Some choice Asian species bloom before their leaves emerge, while most others bloom just after the foliage arrives. Some selections have tremendously long flower stems, making the entire vine, when grown on the side of a house on a trellis, or in an old tree, look like tumbling waterfall when in bloom. I prefer vines that  are trained to a single leader while young, staked, and pruned tightly which produces an elegant" tree-like form". Often sold as 'tree Wisteria', these are actually trained vines, and although they will form a strong, muscular trunk, they remain vines, and will require frequent pruning to maintain their shape, which is easy.
A 'TREE WISTERIA', TWO YEARS OLD, BLOOMING IN THE BACK GARDEN. THIS PLANT WILL REQUIRE A FEW MORE YEARS OF GROWTH BEFORE IT DEVELOPS IT'S TRUE STATURE.
Wisteria species come in white forms, blue, purple and pink. Chinese species are less hardy than American species, but they are more fragrant. I adore the orange-blossom scent of Wisteria, and some species even have attractive seed pods. Look for plants that are dormant via mail-order, or find a reliable source for choice strains if you want dependable bloom. Plant with care, for once established, a wisteria vine is difficult to remove from the landscape. If perfectly sited, they add visual appeal and value to most any garden.

May 4, 2011

A brown Hyacinth? Meet Dipcadi serotinum

DIPCADI SEROTINUM
I love plants that I have never seen before, and I assume that this might be a new genus for many of you, too. Dipcadi is a tiny genus within the family Hyacinthaceae, the Hyacinth family, and rarely seen bulb in most collections. It grows in southwestern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa into India, and to those of us familiar with bulbs like Albuca and Dipcadi, you may see the similarity. Botanists, or to be more correct, taxonomists are still evaluating whether this is a genus which needs to be re-classified but for now, it sits within Hyacinthaceae. For the rest of us, it makes a charming bulb plant for greenhouse culture, or if you live in warmer, Mediterranean climates, a special bulb plant for outdoors. It's color is unique, a blend of tan and olive, and it appears to have no fragrance.

You can try one by ordering a bulb or two from Paul Christian in the UK when they offer it ( they currently do not have it listed). It reportedly sets copious amounts of seed, but with a single plant, I am not certain that I will have viable seed set. Regardless, I shall bring out the paintbrush and plant bumble bee ( or beetle? Hummingbird?) and get going.

April 25, 2011

Spring Hellebores

I DECIDED TO PICK A SELECTION OF HELLEBORE FLOWERS, SO THAT I COULD APPRECIATE THEIR INDIVIDUALITY. IN THE GARDEN, THEY SOMETIMES LOOK SIMILAR, OR ONE ONLY SEE's THIER BACK. HERE, A BEE'S EYE VIEW.

TODAY, HELLEBORES COME IN MANY COLORS, FROM SLATE GREY TO BRIGHT GREEN AND ALMOST YELLOW.

I've only been growing Helleborus  for about 15 years, and if there is one thing that I have learned, it's that Hellebores take time to get established. Those first plants that I planted in my ephemeral border, because it is a border shaded under a canopy of deciduous trees, and one that I do not mulch with wood bark. This is also a border comprised mostly of herbaceous wild flowers and bulbs like Anemone neomarica, Corydalis, native wild flowers and a bed that remains undisturbed for must of the year, aside from a fresh mulch of shredded native leaves).
Helleborus species are long lived, but it does that some skill in carefully siting them, and in caring for them until they become 'established'. You may be tempted to buy a 5 gallon container at a nursery thinking that you are getting a jump ahead of your neighbors, but you will find that no matter how carefully try not to disturb the roots, that you will still get a plant less vigorous the following year, until roots become established. Hellebores are very long lived plants in the garden, and they are worth the investment, for most are 'an investment', but I advise that you follow a few rules if you want to have more than the average success.

1. Prepare the site to their liking. Hellebores are not acid lovers, so use plenty of limestone both in the hole, and in a 2 foot perimeter. Site the plants in a place where they can thrive under a tall canopy of deciduous trees, so that they leaves can fall and remain in the ground. The site should be a place where you rarely dig or fuss in, for Hellebores dislike any root disturbance.

2. Buy young plants. Sure, you will have to wait longer for your first blooms, but the long-lived roots need time to extend, and once they begin wrapping and winding around inside a nursery pot, then you've lost an opportunity for them to venture out on their own.


3.Dont' mulch with wood bark. The best and favored much is a natural one, preferably one made from composted leaves, or leaves from your garden put through a shredder, and gently spread around the plants ( just as in nature). If you use a leaf much, you will begin to see seedlings, and self-sown Hellebores are a sign that you've mastered the art of Hellebore culture!

4.In the spring, don't remove the old foliage from last year ( which is often pressed down by snow onto the grown and starting to brown) until the flowers emerge and bloom. This is key, and being patient is difficult when the old foliage looks so ugly, but these old leaves are still working, and even though they may look ugly and un-tidy, be patient in cutting them off until mid May, even though the new foliage is beginning to rise. I wait until the stamens fall off of the flowers, and when the seedpods are forming.


BLACK OR GREY HELLEBORES ARE VERY COLLECTABLE. TOP RIGHT, 'STARLING', BOTTOM LEFT, 'SLATE'.

A FIVE YEAR OLD PLANT IS STILL ADJUSTING, BUT THIS YEAR, 3 STEMS WITH FLOWERS HAVE ARRIVED..

A PLANT WHICH IS ABOUT TEN YEARS OLD, AND NOT A FANCY ONE. THIS CAME FROM A HOME DEPOT.

EVERY YEAR, THERE ARE MORE AND MORE VARIETIES AVAILABLE. I TRY TO ADD AT LEAST ONE EVERY YEAR TO MY COLLECTION BECAUSE THEY ARE EXPENSIVE. LITTLE-BY-LITTLE, THE COLLECTION GROWS.

April 23, 2011

It came from Mars ( or Tibet )


The Tibetan Rhubarb, ( Rheum palmatum) has a most amazing emergence in the spring garden. Sure, it's palmate leaves are impressive enough, once they unfold, but just as the Bloodroot is blooming ( to stay on theme, here) this inedible Rhubarb begins its season with a gigantic unfolding leaf, and a cracking form, unlike an easter egg, or, um....well, a "Thing" from the horror movie, 'Them'. Whatever, this blood red, brainy, shiny red sack is a little startling, when viewed amongst the wood anemones and Corydalis, where it shares a bed. Easy from seed, folks, so if you want one, this is about the only place to find this Rhubarb which is best grown for its tropical foliage. Try Jelitto, in Germany for seed, it's where I bought mine. Long lived in the garden, these Rhubarbs are strictly ornamental in the garden ( although, it does have a long ethno-botanical history in China).

April 17, 2011

Two rarities currently in bloom


Here is a Daphne most people rarely see, even in collections. Rarely seen in gardens except in those of collectors, is Daphne calcicola, a rarer Daphne which was introduced by the famous early Twentieth Century plant explorer, George Forrest in 1906, from the north western part of Yunnan. He describes it as "one of the most beautiful plants in western Yunnan, China, where it frequently smothers the ledges and faces of limestone cliffs and outcropping rocks with golden yellow flowers" My plant came from a collector, and is a clone of D. calcicola 'Gang Ho Ba', a true alpine in its original form, but one which needs protection since we believe that it is a true Zone 7 plant. Young plants grow less dense, but I still cherish it because few people have this clone, let alone this species. I keep it growing in a tufa rock filled stoneware container which spends the winter in the greenhouse.
DAPHNE CALCICOLA

TROPAEOLUM X TENUIROSTRE
What was obtained as a pure species form of Tropaeolum brachyceras, another of the Chilean tuberous Tropaeolums ( Nasturtium species) that I have bee collection, has bloomed as surprisingly, it is a rarer form - Tropaeolum x tenuirostre, a hybrid between T. brachyceras and T. tricolor ( which you may remember is also in bloom right now, in an earlier post). In its wild habitat, this cross happens also, and is now considered by many botanists as a new species, called a nothosoecies currently in 'active evolution', or a naturally occurring cross between two distinct species.


April 16, 2011

In the greenhouse - the last species Gladiolus

GLADIOLUS ALATUS
 The last of my winter-rainfall ( i.e. winter greenhouse growing) Gladiolus species are blooming now, and it seems as if the best wait until the last moment. I knew that Gladiolus tristis ( far below) would bloom near the end of the season, since I've grown the species for a few years, but with the dozen or so new species I tried this year, I never really knew what would bloom next. If you remember, I decided to try something new in the greenhouse raised beds this winter, because I was just becoming a little bored with my Oxalis species and other South African bulbs. So in October, I planted a collection of rare South African winter growing Gladiolus that I obtained from Telos Rare Bulbs. They continue to live in my collection, but I needed something new to explore and discover, and the species gladiolus seemed to make the best sense.
Gladiolus alatus has remarkably colorful flowers, much smaller than I imagined them to be. The overall plant, as with many South African bulbs, is rarely shown in photos, since the habit is often lazy and lax because most of these bulbs growin deep, dense grass or Fynbos in the wild. There is nothing wrong with the floppy leaves and stems which one should stake, for nature evolved these species to lean on their neighbors.

GLADIOLUS TRISTIS
 It may be safe to say the G. tristis is my new favorite plant. Not only does it make a nice show as a pot ( or garden plant), with lots of flowers and stronger stems, it is intensely fragrant in a way that makes one close their eyes and swoon. I ADORE G.TRISTIS! It is scented during the day, but in the evening, the show really begins. There are times when I forget that it is in bloom, and  I walk into the greenhouse and I am hit by the scent which is far for being too sweet or intense, rather is is deeply rich  and more like rich, sweet cream and jasmine, combined with gardenia and lily of the valley, with a hint of cinnamon and clove. Add in vanilla and this plant smells like a cinnabon crossed with a gardenia. Yummy. I have three pots now packed with bulbs, and I purchased 100 bulbs for growing in the summer garden from McClure & Zimmerman who is offering it as a late summer bloomer. It's not hardy in Zone 5, so pot them up incase an early frost arrives.


April 14, 2011

Wild Narcissus triandrus or Angel's Tears


Narcissus triandrus ssp. triandrus 'alba' , a challenging wild form of Narcissus, as shown in a book by Alex Gray, MINIATURE DAFFODILS. I've tried, and had some success with this beautiful species. It's worth seeking out.



 I went through a miniature narcissus phase a few years back, after reading the book MINIATURE DAFFODILS (1955) by Alec Grey and the book THE NARCISSUS by E.A. Bowles ( 1934). There are many species and named forms of miniature narcissus, but like many plant, or specifically bulb enthusiasts, or, even to be more precise- many narcissus collectors- the most coveted bulbs are those which are most difficult to grow. A challenge, always amps up the desire. And so it is with the true species form of a daffodil we rarely see in northern gardens, Narcissus triandrus ssp. triandrus.

As a recap, daffodils are organized into 13 groups that are called divisions. When you buy daffodils or narcissus ( the same thing) from catalogs that follow such rules, you will see them organised as such, which is the proper thing to do. A daffodil society show, will also show their flowers separated into these Divisions. They are frequently listed, as  DIV. I, DIV.III, etc. Narcissus triandrus are DIV. V, TRIANDRUS, and these include some common named hybrids like "Thalia".  a large, orchid shaped white daffodil. But, this pot below, would be most properly placed in DIV 10 SPECIES and their varients, which simply ( or not so simply!) means that this is one of the wild forms of the genus Narcissus, and in this case, Narcissus triandrus, the pure species.

Best of all, which is difficult for me to remain humble about, is that for whatever reason, I've had luck growing this species, and these seed raised forms below are proof that success can be had, even with little care. Most of these collector books list this pure species as "difficult", and "growable- for a few years, then it will decline". Thankfully, mine have set seed, which I have sown back into the same pot. Now these are blooming, and I am quite pleased.


Narcissus triandrus blooming in a small pot, wintered over in a cold glass house.


Much smaller than the hybrid 'triandrus' types sold in Dutch catalogs, these small species are not only difficult to grow, they are hard to find in any catalog. I get mine from NARGS seed exchange lists, or from a handful of on-line sources such as Nancy Wilson's site for miniature narcissus, or from Paul Christian's site. Why the double pot? Not necessary, but it keeps the bulbs more protected from frost, since I keep this pot near the icy glass in the winter, and since this insists of fast drainage, the outer ring is gravel, and the inner pot a fast-draining mix. Any more soil, and it will hold more water, which raises the risk of bulb rot. Native to the high mountains of Spain, Portugal and south western France, this species is still worth growing if you can provide perfect drainage and a hot, dry summer.

Other miniature narcissus are slightly less fussy, and can be grown outdoors, as seen here in my raised alpine bed. "Wee Be" on the left, looks like a large narcissus, but this plant is only 4 inches tall, and the flowers are the same size as a nickle. N. cyclamineus in the back.

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