Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Pelargoniums and Portulacas
This pic shows a small scene in my school garden in Chappaqua, rather the new "slope" garden that I created with the help of my AP bio classes last year. They broke ground and planted the first plants, then I continued to plant, dig, and weed all summer, and the result is very gratifying indeed. Here are two of my favorite flowers, one is a giant form of portulaca which is twice as big as the common sort, seen behind it. This is the magenta one, but there is also a white form. It produces little seed, compared to the regular variety, but is easily propped (and overwintered indoors) by cuttings. Truth is I haven't yet planted the little seed I harvested from it last year, it might be interesting to see if any crosses occured with the normal sort of portulaca. The pink pelargonium is one of my creations from my grad student days at Cornell. I call it Nuwe Pad, Afrikaans for "New Direction" (any spelling corrections are welcome). It is most odd, being a tetraploid with a zonal pelargonium called Rio as one parent, and a tetraploid hybrid I made at Cornell via tissue culture from a white zonal pelargonium and P. aridum as the other parent. P. aridum looks quite unrelated to the zonals, but crosses I did proved otherwise. It is a small plant with deeply divided leaves, small yellow flowers, and red tuberous roots. So somewhere in Nuwe Pad lurk genes for yellow color and finely divided foliage. NP is almost impossible to self, but just this year I was able to cross it with a red tetraploid pelargonium I grew from stored seed, which I evidently created but apparently lost the information on its origin. I will grow some of them out later this year. NP is a nice plant itself, growing rather compactly with single pink flowers and rich green foliage that is quite distinct.