}

November 27, 2011

My 'Earlier than Normal', Camellia Season

THE EARLIEST CAMELLIAS TO BLOOM IN THE AUTUMN ARE THE SASANQUA TYPE, THE GROUP WHICH INCLUDES GREEN TEA. THIS PINK SINGLE SASANQUA IS A JAPANESE CULTIVAR CALLED 'OMIGOROMO'

Camellias in New England? The Camellia has a long history as a container plant in New England glasshouses, they were some of the first plants ever grown in greenhouses in the 17th and 18 Century in and around the Boston area. Estates often kept large tubs of Camellias which arrived on ships from China, Japan and Europe where it was a popular cut flower. A Camellia blossom often was one of the few flowers available during the cold winter months, where short day length plants that could withstand cold temperatures included scented violets, forced bulbs and citrus. 

'CAMELLIA SASANQUA 'OMIGOROMO'
Many think of camellia's as out-dated corsage plants best saved for old ladies and some foundation plantings in southern California or the south, sadly, the generation who did remember the Camellia as a corsage flower is gone, leaving this fine cold weather bloomer prime for re-discovery by a new generation who will need to learn how to grow it. If you live in New England as I do, camellias do best in cold greenhouses, or perhaps an unheated room, if you live in an old house. There was a time when a every Victorian mansion had a chilly, unheated room, or even a conservatory where camellia trees thrived in large terra cotta pots. 

CAMELLIA SASANQUA 'MINE NO YUKU', OR SNOW ON THE MOUNTAIN, HAS NOW BEEN RENAMED BY  MONROVIA NURSERIES, AND MARKETED UNDER THE REGISTERED NAME OF 'WHITE DOVES'. 
 Today, the camellia suffers from modern heating systems and dry air - two things which they hate. Outdoor culture in the northeast has not yet been perfected. There is much excitement about new, hardier species coming into the market from northern Korea and from high elevation sites in China and Japan, but most seem to be reliable hardy to Pennsylvania and zone 7. A few are surviving in Zones 5 and 6, but only in special sites.

This autumn, my camellias are blooming very early, most of my tubs were in bloom in February as I posted earlier this year in a camellia round-up, but even some later types are starting to bloom. Camellias are grouped into specific groups, representing either their flower shape, they heritage or their type. There are sasanqua's, which mostly bloom in the autumn, and then there are camellia japonica's, species, and many more. My sasanqua types always bloom in November, but this season even has some japonica's blooming. In January, many of these same plants were in bloom.
'MINE-NO-YUKI' MAKES AN IMPRESSIVE TUBBED SPECIMEN FOR FALL GARDENS, WHERE IT CAN REMAIN OUTDOORS UNTIL TEMPERATURES FALL BELOW 26 DEGREES F. I MOVE MINE IN AND OUT OF THE GREENHOUSE, AS THE WEATHER SHIFTS. THIS AUTUMN HAS BEEN REMARKABLY MILD, SO THE SASANQUA'S ARE OUTSIDE AGAIN.

November 26, 2011

Family Ties - A Hyacinth Family Reunion

RESNOVA MEGAPHYLLA, NOW ALMOST FULLY EMERGED, DISPLAYS TWO LEAVES, NOT UNLIKE OTHER RELATIVES LIKE THE MASSONIA BELOW, BOTH SHARE PHYSIOLOGICAL FEATURES LIKE DUAL APPRESSED LEAVES AND BLOSSOMS THAT LOOK LIKE SHAVING BRUSHES AT GROUND LEVEL.
 Like any family, whether we like it or not, there are similarities amongst relatives. While I may share my physiology with my brothers, sister and my dad, the goes for plants. As I walked through the greenhouse this morning, I noticed how many of the rarer relatives of the Hyacinth family all share similar traits with the common Dutch hyacinth which we are so familiar with. Here are a few shots which demonstrate the botanical connection between some South African bulbs species all related to hyacinths. I could have included the Daubenya from the previous post, as well as some spring blooming specimens in my collection like Velthiemia, Dipcadi and other Lachenalia, but I wanted to show what is growing right now, near each other.
MASSONIA JASMINIFLORA, ALMOST READY TO BLOOM

IN THE SAND PLUNGE, YOU CAN SEE THE SIMILARITIES

LACHENALIA  PURPUREO -CAERULEA  HAS CURIOUS PUSTULATED FOLIAGE -LITTLE BLISTERS WHICH CAN BE ORNAMENTAL.

November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Walk About the Garden


OUR WHITE CHINESE GEESE ARE GETTING MORE NOSEY ( BEAKEY?). WANTING TO ATTACK THE CAMERA THIS MORNING. I TOLD THEM THEY ARE LUCKY THAT THEY ARE NOT TURKEYS.

 On this very mild Thanksgiving day, where the temperatures rose into the 50's, I took a walk early in the morning around the garden, so see what was happening. Even though we had a foot of snow two weeks ago, the garden is still in the conversion state, between autumn and winter. Many of the trees that had leaves when the snow cam, still are holding their leaves, since they froze on the trees while they were still green, and never properly disengaged.
 Frost occurs during this damp, cold days of autumn, never as nice as it look in the British gardening magazines, since we rarely get the proper marine air combined with freezing temperatures, but on some mornings, when the humidity and dew points are just right, we get some hoar frost forming on the edges on leaves.
 Once the sun came  up, the air warmed up quickly. I worked a little on the boxwood hedges, giving them their final trim for the year ( best time to trim boxwood is June and September), but a late November trim doesn't hurt them, and it keeps the garden looking tidy for the winter. At least the nicer part of my garden, near the greenhouse. You just don't want to see the rest of the garden!

 In the greenhouse, much is happening, especially with the South African bulbs plants. Above, the species or wild form of clivia caulescens, blooms under a bench. This relative of the more fanciful Clivia miniata, is a fall-blooming species, with green-tipped blossoms that dangle.
 A large specimen plant of Haemanthus albiflos, another South African bulb plant, blooms in the corner of the greenhouse, with its white and yellow shaving-brush blossoms. This pot is getting too large, and I am thinking about dividing it later this winter, but since one rarely seen a pot this large with this species, I've been holding off on dividing it.
SEEDLING DAUBENYA CAPENSIS NOT YET SHOWING THEIR CHARACTERISTIC FOLIAGE, BUT STARTING TO FLOWER.
Since 2008, when I first sowed the seed of this Daubenya , I felt that I may have received the wrong seed, since this genus typically has leaves that are held much lower to the ground, almost like a Massonia, but also like some of my other Massonia seedlings, these Daubenya won't form the tight, dense foliage until the bulb matures. Now that I can see a tiny hint of the flower, I know that these are in fact, correctly labeled as Daubenya capensis. Hopefully, with careful fertilization and division this winter,  these bulbs will look like this (scroll down on this Pacific Bulb Society page to see what the foliage should look like) by next November.