Monday, November 3, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
An African Bouquet
Here two African flowers share the spotlight in the "slope" garden, the newest addition to my school garden in Chappaqua. The blue forget me not, Anchusa capensis, is a short lived perennial from South Africa, but they usually flower the first year, as this one is doing. A few smaller plants did not flower this year, they may make it through the winter to flower next year. Next to the Anchusa is the magenta form of Crassocephalum rubens, a species I introduced from collections I made in 1991 in a visit to Malawi. Actually I brought back two forms, the magenta one from the Likabula area of Mulanje Mountain, and a bright blue one that was not uncommon on the Zomba plateau. Although it lacks ray flowers, it is colorful and cute, not in the gaudy way of more showy members of its family like marigolds and zinnias, but in a more subtle manner. I gave some plants I started of the magenta form to Wave Hill, and have heard that they looked good and grew well. It is tropical, and probably an annual even in habitat, and certainly best grown that way. Plants can grow up to three feet high, branch profusely, and make many flowers all summer until frost, and interesting seed heads that resemble dandelion seed heads. I do not know if it will self sow in our climate (it does if grown indoors) but next year I will find out if its seeds can survive our winters and regrow, as both the magenta and blue forms are in the slope garden (and seeding quite abudantly). I find it appreciates lots of sun for best results, like many other annuals.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Daylilies might seem too common for serious plant nerd to consider, but as with most plants, there is much more to them than what most gardeners typically see, such as the ubiquitous Stella d'Oro yellow daylily planted everywhere. Not that Stella d'Oro is a bad plant, on the contrary its performance from late spring till frost is legendary, and its easy reblooming habit is something daylily breeders would love to make more commonplance in their creations. The triploid form of Hemerocallis flava, the common orange "ditch lily" is also everywhere, amazing for a plant that doesn't make seeds. Its secret is to grow from tiny bits of its spreading rhizomes, and its tough constitution, as it tolerates more shade than more refined daylilies, and it is widely grown for its reliable blooms and lack of pests (except in the South, where the fairly new disease daylily rust has made daylily growing more akin to rose growing with the need for frequent sprayings--fortunately the rust thus far has not been able to survive cold winters, effectively sparing much of the US from its ravages).
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
I must take a moment from discussing plants to take notice of the uprising of the long suffering Tibetan people in Lhasa and elsewhere in Tibet. I am heartbroken knowing the torture and deaths that will follow as the Chinese regime's security forces once again shed Tibetan blood on Tibetan soil. For 2000 years Tibetans have been the masters of their own land, but the last 66 years as a colony under China's boot have been the most horrific in Tibetan history. The world watches as another genocidal action unfolds, as people who have been so brutalized rise up against their plantation masters, knowing the might of their oppressors is vastly greater, but they fight on anyway with sticks and stones against tanks and machine guns. Shame on India,the worlds largest democracy and mother of Tibetan writing and religion, for blocking the exiled Tibetan's march to their homeland, and for kowtowing to the Chinese regime,as if they somehow really believe they are a second rate power to China. Shame on Nepal for beating Tibetans rallying on behalf of their countrymen and for closing Mt Everest at the behest of China so no protest can happen when they bring their Olympic torch to the (Tibetan) mountain. Shame on Greece for stopping Tibetans from lighting an alternative Olympic torch in Athens. Shame on the UN and the nations of the world for not having the balls to demand freedom for Tibet's long suffering people. Most of all, shame on the Olympics Committee for not pushing harder for greater freedoms in China and Tibet. How can the Olympics be held in a nation that uses secret police, state condoned terror, torture, and murder to control Tibet, and which has done so for over half a century? Reminds me of holding the Olympic games in Nazi Germany, after all, its not supposed to be about politics--or is it! Its amazing to me that after all these years of abuse and propaganda Tibetans still are unbroken in their quest for freedom. Such brave people!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
These pics of Jasminum nudiflorum and Rosmarinus " Lockwood de Forest" were taken outside on January 12 at Wave Hill in the Bronx. Flowers are hard to come by at this time of year, and I was especially suprised to see the flower on the rosemary. Even more odd was to see that this trailing form of rosemary was doing well outdoors, so far. Rosemary cultivars vary in their cold tolerance, and even the toughest are marginal in our area. Generally the trailing varieties are considered less hardy than some of the upright growing varieties, but "Lockwood de Forest" seemed to be fine, despite some drops into the teens in late December. Perhaps more experimentation in Zone 6/upper 7 is warranted with the trailing rosemary varieties.
This is one of those plants that is coveted by many, but rarely found outside of specialist collections, and even more rarely in areas without a climate suitable for its growth outdoors. It is the national flower of Chile, and is adapted for growing in cool, moist areas with shade--that would be coastal California and Oregon in the USA (with extra water as needed in summer). I was happy to get a well grown small plant from a mailorder nursery for about 12 dollars, but when I went to CA last August, I found some well developed, flowering sized, similarly priced plants at a nursery that specializes in rhododendrons. They had some slug damage, but hey, at twelve dollars for a mature plant, who is going to complain about a few dings! I immediately snapped up two plants, and brought them back to NY. I barerooted them the day of departure with a hose, and packed the roots into plastic bags with wet paper towels so they could stay moist. This seems to have suited the plants well, as they both sent up new growth (and flowers on one of them) since they were repotted in NY. I have read info on the web that says never to bareroot them or they will be severely checked for a year or so, but maybe they are referring to a situation where the roots also dry out for some time.