April 16, 2007


This Yew hedge is 100 feet long, 9 feet high and 12 feet wide. A freight train and taxus, and with two driveways passing through it, it was becoming a risky venture. So after nearly a hundred years of growth, this weekend, my brother Bruce, his son Taylor and Joe and I, removed it, in prep for a new fence which will hopefully go in this summer.

But if you think this hedge is big, you should see the hedge as it rund in the other direction.

Look far beyond the yew, and you can see the 16 foot tall hemlock hedge, which runs along the funn 218 feet of the property.

Since this hedge is suffering from the dreaded wooly algied, we are having a fence installed along it in four weeks. and then even this hedge will have to be removed Likely a task fro the tree folks, but I am dreading the cost!.

In Dan Hinkley's book entitled The Explorers Garden. he mentions that Cardamine heptaphylla can only be dug a divided via root scales during the month of March or in late winter. Yesterday, I remembered this task, and ran out back to dig up where the label was. Not sure if this was it, especially since these root sections really don;t look like 'scales on a rhyzome' but whatever it was, I separated it. There we;re two questionable plants, which I divided, so clearly, April is the month to divide what ever needs dividing! Stay tuned to see what this was, if in fact it wasn;t Cardamine heptaphylla. ID not, I will have to wait another year to divide it!

Am I finally succeeding with Plieone orchids? These terrestrial orchids grow from bulbs that are traditionally planted in shallow bulb pans, in a fast draining bark type mix. After six years of killing many species, I think I have the trick. I pat the bulbs in a mixture of snipped tree fern bark, along with hornbeam leaves that have been composted, some gravel, and a little pro mix.l Then I fertilize with half strength 10 10 10 all summer long, where the plants are placed ont he shady side of the greenhouse, and kept moist. These four bulbs went dormant right on schedule in the autumn, and we're then kept cold, near freezing, on the foundation wall in the greenhouse near the glass. Not only is this the first time that I have been able to rebloom these tiny bulbs, they divided and where last year I had three blossoms, this year I have 11. Wow.
Now, I wish I could find more to try, but they are so hard to find in the USA. A Canadian firm sells them, Frasiers Thimble Farms, and they have a wide selection, but even though I never had any problems ordering from them, they are just too difficult to get alhold of since they only check thier email once or twice a week, and don;t take orders or anser quesions through email or on line. IT is too late I think to bother writing them, and they won't accept phone calls. Too bad, since thier selection is so nice.

April 3, 2007

late season Lachenalia

Lachenalia aloides var. anzyliae

If you grow Lachenalia, most likely you grow one of the new Lacehalia aloides clan. This species is by far the most common of Lachenalia, oftne being the only species sold through mail order catalogs, which either feature the hybrid crosses known as teh African beauty series, or one of the subspecies of L. aloides such as L. aloides quadricolor,. Howeverm this subspecies is quite rare, and choice and is rarely, if ever available even in the underground, plant-geek trade, L. aloides var. vanzyliae. It greenish teal flowers are similar to the other green flowered Lachenalia, L. viridiflora, but this species closes out the season, by blooming not in the early winter as L. viridiflora does, but in April, just as many of the other Lachenalia species are going dormant for the summer. THe blossoms are beautiful, and become darker green as they age, or if they recieve enough sunlight, but the real beauty comes fromt he folliage, which can be so heavily freckled that they appear almost black. this is by far my favorite Lachenalia, and I msut try to propagate some.

An even rarer Lachenalia, L. latimerae

Started from seed two years ago, this rare species of Lachenalia is already blooming, still in it's seed flat with 24 other Lachenalia species. These were all started from seed collected in South African, and are representative of species not available in the trade. According to Duncans, THE LACHENALIA HANDBOOK, Lachenalia latimerae "...is still unknown in culivation, but will have potential as a pot plant subject when material becomes available.". I must admit that it is cute, and even though not as showy as the L/ aloides clan, it holds it own, and has a sturdy short species look, which appeals to me. Next yer, will be the real test. As I continue to fertilize this tray of seedlings this year with a half strength solution of 0-10-10,. more may bloom as the bulbs become larger, At this time I can evaluate these lesser-known species, as to thier pot-worthyness.

Lachenalia palida

This pot is another example of a speices form of Lachenalia, but one which is quite uninteresting as a pot subject, since like many lach's it';s foliage starts to fade, just as it begins to bloom. Perhaps one of the most common species in South African in the wild, I think that it may not earn it's keep in my greenhouse.

Lachenalia aloides ssp. aurea from leaf cuttings last year.

Lachenalia leaf cuttings are the best way to clone a favorite species, especially aloides forms. I have yet to cut a leaf off on my L. aloides vanzylia, since each bulb only produces two leaves, to a sacrafice of a leaf affects the aestheic of the pot, and may affect a bulb from blooming. But then, a single leaf, cut into thirds, may produce a dozen small bulbils, so perhaps I will take a cutting this late from one and see what I get. These L. aloides aurea cuttings are two years old, and look at the show. Look at my past blog from last year, on taking cuttings from lachenalia.

Many Lachenalia, I keep in pans like this, full of water throughout the winter. I know many books advise fast draining soil, no fertilization. I have found that if I use a very loose gravely soil, with sand and pumice, and yet keep thier 'feet-wet', I get larger bulbs and better bloom. Many of these species grow in seeps, and my water treatment seems to work for me. The same goes for my Nerine sarniensis (wet sand plunge, not water at thier feet, but constant moisture), rolulea, tritonia, rhodohypoxis, oxalis, all get this treatment. I rotate they in the water-filled pans all winter long, with no sign of rot. Understand though, that my greenhouse does get full bright winter sun, through single pane glass, and I rarely keep them in cold water during dreary, grey, weeks. Only during sunny periods.

Crocus reticulatus 'Janus Ruksan's is a favorite crocus, and I could only afford one to be mailed to me from Latvia. It was open in the warm sun on Saturday, so I rushed in to get my camera so that I could capture it's trademark brown petals, but look what happened....Joe was dragging the shade cloth up over the greenhouse so that the Clivia would not burn in the increasingly hot sun, and he dragged it over the crocus, shredding it. Maybe another bud will come out this season!