March 19, 2011

Gladiolus watsonius, I presume?

Gladiolus watsonius

We rarely get to see wild Gladiolus here in North America, but the species forms from South Africa which must be grown in a cold greenhouse here in New England, are beginning to bloom ( after all, it is nearly autumn in South Africa). So I share Gladiolus watsonius, a new plant for me, which is blooming this week in March, lovely in the late, winter sunshine. Spring is shifting in quickly here, with snow melting and crocus blooming, suddenly, it's time to rake, plant seeds and sweep the walks which we have not seen since December. We are all anticipating spring, and all I can say is that I wish we had spring peepers here in Worcester, for I would love to hear them while laying in bed with the windows open in the spring, but at least, we can open the windows for the first time this year, if only to air the house out!

March 14, 2011

For all of my friends in Japan

Thoughts on Japan.

With the recent horrible events in northern Japan, and the Miyagi Prefecture where I have spent so many days over my four trips there, my thoughts and love are with you as you move forward through this disaster. Be strong, be grateful, be peaceful. You are all in our thoughts most every moment of the day. Those rows and rows of greenhouses that I remember spending time in now destroyed in a moment to the forces of nature herself, I can only pray that my friends are somehow OK. Thier parents, friends and neighbors, I have no idea how anyone could have escaped the Tsunami so quickly at thier age.
Shige, Masashi, if you can read this, please contact me via email if you are safe, as Dr Nakamura, I am concerned after seeing the fires in Chiba prefecture, and although your Clivia nursery is high on a knoll, you are only a mile from the sea. We pray that you are all safe from here, on the other side of our planet.

March 13, 2011

In the greenhouse...late winter rarities bloom

Giessorhiza corrugata, a seedling of the wild bulb flower that grows on the shale slopes in Calvinia, South Africa. Planted as seed in 2008, this is the first flower to emerge from the pot, and the leaves, which are typically twisted into springs, is still rather lax. I expect that next year this pot will be more characteristic of the species. Still, it was a nice surprise to see a flower of a species that I had never seen before open in the greenhouse this weekend.

Corydalis macrocentra, another species which is new to me, and this is the first time I am seeing these flowers too. They open golden yellow, and then age to this rusty tint, very lovely, this Corydalis grows from a tuber and is somewhat hard to find. It will become better with age, but this one needs a hot, dry summer rest in the greenhouse. It hails from Tadjikistan ( where all lovely bulbs come from, right?). I am hoping that more flowers will come before this beauty goes dormant for the summer.

Romulea minutiflora

OK, I guess I can assume that this tiniest of Romulea is rare in cultivation because whenever I Google it in Google Images, only my photos come up. I don't know why I like this plant, since the flower are almost so tiny that I can't even see them. It's just interesting to include it in a collection of Romulea that I keep, even though I am a resistant Romulea collector.

Pink rosemary doesn't really look pink, until you place it next to a violet form, then I 'get it'. It still looks purple to me when I see it all alone ( for some reason, it does look pinkier here in this image).
Mammillaria laui v. dasyacantha
The cacti are just starting to react to the longer day length, and if you look closely at this Mammillaria laui v. dasyacantha, you will see many tiny pink buds beginning to form under the fuzzy, white spines that make this Cacti species so collectable. If Barbie has a cactus, it would be this one, because the flowers  are so tiny, at about a half an inch in diameter. This will be a mound of pink in a couple of weeks.

Lachenalia aloides 'Pearsonii', a Cape Hyacinth with golden flowers and burgundy colored highlights.

And lastly, two seed raised rarer Lachenalia species from South Africa, above, L. angelica ( I think, but this is seed grown from wild seed so let's wait until it blooms before I identify it correctly, since already, the leave is not quite matching with the key description for this species). This is clearly a single leaf species ( lachenalia generally have one or two leaves).  The floral spike is beginning to elongate, so that will help with keying it out. 

Below, another seed raised Lachenalia, but now another mystery, since I cannot find this species listed anywhere. The label identifies it as  L. komburgensis  ( which I believe is incorrect for various reasons) this name is either a pseudonym, or it is miss-labeled which is common with these rarer species. Most likely, it was collected under this name, but is now listed as another species. More updates on these later as they open. Thank you Silverhill seeds!
Lachenalia komburgensis (?) Maybe it is supposed to be kamiesbergensis? (which would make more sense since there are many genus from South Africa listed as kamiesbergensis).

Melaspharulea ramosa

A sneak peak of another South African bulb which I have never seen before, and one which will be in bloom in a few weeks, a Melaspaerulea ramosa. This Iris relative is reported to make a fine alpine house specimen forming large colonies in pots, complete with clouds of of tiny flowers on wiry stems. I can't wait! It is said to be weedy in some warmer areas like Southern California, but for many collectors, it is a very choice alpine house plant. It is native to Namibia.