September 26, 2006

More Fall Bloom

Clerodendron speciosissimum

This striking red flowered member of the clerodendron clan also blooms in the autumn, just before frost. Started from cuttings in april, these are planted out in tubs in the greenhouse, and then moved out doors after the threat of frost has past. These south east Asian native bearts brilliant red blossoms, and resides on the deck until frost kills it. For me, it is easier to keep a plant or two struggling through the winter in the greenhouse, where it is cold, and then take cuttings in the early spring for next summers bloom.

Tricyrtus hirta
These toad lillies are from seed that I brought back from Japan in 2002, and now live in a nice colony near a large yellow magnolia, along the walk to the greenhouse.

Second generation Tricyrtus seedlings
Last year, they set seed so we saved them and started a second planting in a flat. the seed was planted last fall, and kept in the cold greenhouse. To my surprise, the seedlings, although small, all are blooming with a single blossom, surprising me with a few spotless white forms, as well as some variations of violet - sweet.

The first buds emerge from Nerine sarniensis

In my fifth year of growing Nerine sarniensis, I think I am starting to master thier culture. So much about what one reads about cultural requirements with growing these jewels of the Nerine world contradicts itself, that I decided to just learn for myself. And, of course, what works for me, doesn't neccessarilly work for others. All I can say is that although Sir Peter Smithers had tremendous success in growing these Exbury hybrids in tiny three inch clay pots, and fast draining sand and pumice with no peat or fertilizer, I use Promix and perlite, plastic pots, sand bed which is kept wet, and never drying out while they are growing, and weekly fertilizer which is low in nitrogen - I now have clumbs of the largest bulbs, I have ever seen, the size of apples. I also have now divided many since they have divided into two to four bulbs, some pots have two buds each emerging this year.
Of course, my luck can change in a flash, but so far so good. More on Nerine's later, when they bloom.

September 19, 2006


The first day of autumn is officially Thursday, but why has it felt like fall since the first week of August? Yeah, it has been the warmest weather on record this summer, according to the National Weather Service, the warmest since record keeping begain but we aren't experiencing global warming now, are we?
Oh yeah, it's voting day.....that reminds me.....gotta go :)

Ok, ok, the kids wanted to say 'hi' again. Margaret and Fergus mug for the camera, before Ferg goes off to the spa to "kool his jet" and Mugrat goes into heat for a couple weeks. Why doesn't anyone design tasteful panties for dogs? Crazy people design and buy fancy dog clothes at Target and Barney's, but sometimes the little girls need soem protections, and they only come in Denim and, one company, on-line, has them in denim but with a touch or red bandana material around the tail hole?! ! Ugh.
Makes her look like she's wearing daisy dukes ...then she looks more like a trailer-park dog named Crystal, and not a national show winner, Hmph..... I hate the whole Dog show thing, but I inherited it with these guys, and had to follow it through....but at least she ranked high, and after her next litter...she can retire and finally be a dog again and enjoy life. I think they should outlaw dogshows, and beauty pagents. Oooh. this is getting bloggy.

Fall = Orchids not Mums

You all know how I feel about bushel basket mums the size of dairy cows, all hormoned-up and perfectly perfect in every way. These Mary Poppin's of the Chrysanthemum world are unfortunately ubiquituos at farm stands and North American nurseries this time of year. But what did gardeners do before these beasts come along?

Well, first, we did grow Crysanthemums, of course, but not these mounds we know now as "garden mums'. I will write this weekend and show the mums that I am growing, but that are now sadly not only difficult to find, but are only carried by a few, if not two, plant suppliers. My trips to Japan have converted me to many Japanese techniques that have never been completely understood in the West, and the art of Chrysanthemum culture has been another passion that I have bee trying to perfect here in the states. The are still budding up, so I will show my Asian mum collection, later. Besides, they don't really bloom until late October, and have just had thier last pinching. These include cascading mums, tall standard spiders and many fancy anemone types. But more later....because this is also the season for many orchids, especially these rare Pahiopedilus species from Borneo like P. rothchildianum, P. sanderianum and other Paph species (not the plastic hybrids that one sees more commonly) but these, some of the rarest and most sought-after orchids in the world.

Most Paphs with these long tepals grow only on the Island of Borneo, on Mount Kinabalu. Of course, Pahhs grow all over South East Asia, but I am only showing the Paphs from this particualr cloud forest since they have a type of blossom and character that I, as a designer and botanist, find most appealing and fascinating. Here, I jsut combined them with some unusual species begonia plants, as well as a tropical shrub with equally similar blossoms, for a cover photo-comp for a book idea that I have of rare plants.

In the greenhosue, a laeliacatleya explodes into bloom with 23 blossoms. Not fragrant, but certainly delightful, this plant actually surprised me, and I suppose, if I was an 'orchid freak", which I am not, I would bother to take it to a local orchid show to get points awarded to it (something that the American ORchid Society does, in order to rank species and crosses - those are the letters one sees after an orchid name in some catalogs, like AAS, or Catleys Blah blah blah CCP, Certificate of Cultural Perfection, or whatever -sorry orchid fans.... whatever).

Chores pervail. Washing pots is something that I HATE!. Especially with my busy work schedule. SInce I am not a gardener by trade, but a creative director for a corporation, I really only get about a few hours a week to garden.....so washing pots is not something that I look froward to. Making pots? yeah, I look forward to anytime I can get a the wheel in my pottery studio, which too, is rare, but washing them, no. But it needs to be done, and the warm weather this week allows me to take many of the pots not being used and scrub them in a 10% bleach solution and air-dry them in the sun. Now they are ready to be used in the greenhouse with the upcoming rush of relocating the collections in for the winter.