Saturday, July 14, 2012
There are named cultivars of this that are propagated from cutting, I did get a couple of these from Forest Farm and am curious to see how they compare to the seed grown plants. Right now neither of the two plants from FF is in bloom, but I anticipate they will do so in about a month or so.
|Bicolored with picotee|
|Semidouble dianthus x allwoodii|
|Fringed pure white|
|Simple pink bicolor|
|Another cool patterned flower|
|Simple pink bicolor closeup|
|Variety of x allwoodii seedlings|
|Fringes and rings|
The first two photos are cultivars of Dianthus deltoides, these form low mats of deep green minute foliage and can spread slowly. Apparently they have naturalized in some places in the US, but this is not a scary invasive species at all. The seeds are smaller than the hybrid dianthus and they flower mostly in spring but will make more flowers later on, especially if deadheaded. The remaining photos are of Dianthus hybrids, probably/mainly of the x allwoodii type. They have several species in this bloodline and this complex gene makeup results in a very varied group of plants. Leaves can be varying degrees of blue green to grey green to simply green and the flowers range from white to red, singles to doubles, and come in all kinds of shapes and color patterns.
Seed is both easy to collect and easy to start. Germination is straightforward, no cold period needed, and some plants may produce a few flowers their first year if started early. Once you have a colony of them going, its easy to collect seed and even broadcast it to get more plants.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
|Taraxacum faeroense (T. rubrifolium)|
|T. faeroense group|
|Taraxacum sp. grey leaf|
|Cicerbita (Lactuca) plumieri|
Cicerbita plumieri also came from Plant World Seeds as Lactuca plumieri. It is native to Europe and is basically a blue flowering tall perennial lettuce. One plant has bloomed so far, and it is self fertile, already yielding many more seeds than what I received in the original packet. It looks like it will bloom for several more weeks as new buds mature. I rather like it, and I understand that it can get taller still than my three to four foot plants in the slope garden at school in unamended rocky soil.
|Diascia fetcaniensis "African Queen"|
|Berkheya macrocephala amid the poppies|
This has also been a stellar year for diascias, D. rigescens is absolutely spectacular right now. Even though it makes a perfectly good annual from seeds started early indoors, it is even better after it survives a winter. The plants are so laden with flowers that they have bent down from the weight, but the flower spikes continue to grow upwards anyway. D. fetacaniensis "African Queen" is a more subtle plant, the plants grown last year from seed from Chilterns have formed nice mats of tiny leaves with loads of delicate flowers hovering just above the foliage. D. anastrepta from Silverhill is similar, but with glossier leaves and a distinctive yellow spot in the flower. I do hope they offer seed of it again sometime, as I have only one plant and it will not set seed on its own (though perhaps it might hybridize with the others, the results could be quite interesting).
Senecios are wonderful daisies, and South Africa has several nice purple flowered ones in addition to the expected yellow sorts. S. polyodon is reliable even in harsh winter years, and produces myriads of small purple flowers well above the rosettes of foliage. Individual plants live a few years, but it is always good to have some coming along from seed (they will self sow in favorable conditions) because they don't last forever. Senecio macrocephalus is a shorter plant with much broader leaves in tight rosettes. The individual flowers are much larger than S. polyodon and it starts blooming earlier. Many seeds are produced by this plant and it will self sow and germinate the same season if rainfall is sufficient.
Helichrysum splendidum has nice linear grey foliage, and is a vigorous plant. It sprawls so it needs to occupy some space, and in good years where winter dieback is not severe it produces many clusters of small yellow strawflowers. I am expecting good seed set this year as several different clones of it are blooming right now.
Berkheya is a cool genus utterly unlike anything in the northern hemisphere that I am aware of, I call them thistle daisies. An apt description as they are often prickly but bear large daisy type flowers. Most are yellow, but B. purpurea is an unusual shade of blue purple. It is recently becoming established in cultivation in the US (and in the UK) and is proving winter hardy. My small colony of them is increasing from self sown seeds that came up this spring from what seeds I missed harvesting last year. It will bloom the first year if started early, but will do so much earlier in the season once it has gone through a winter. B. macrocephala is a more typical yellow flowered sort, but is not as prickly as its breathern. One of about 4 plants is blooming for the first time this June, it is hard to see the white felted leaf bottoms of the plant as its flowers rise up to mingle with the numerous corn poppies in bloom at the same time.
Kniphofia northiae is worth growing for it foliage alone, but this year three plants have flowered, all at different times with no overlap. The first one that flowered was one of the ones by the wall, I am now harvesting the numerous seeds it produced. The second one flowered when we were having the rainy spell, it did not set seed. This third plant, which like the second is in the unprotected slope garden, is about to bloom so it should go into July. This species is easy from seed and I have enjoyed watching the enormous starfish like rosettes get bigger and bolder each year, and now am finally enjoying their flowers as well.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Just some of the South African taxa I grow that have or are blooming are shown above, there are many other South African species in various stages of development in the garden. Kniphofia caulescens is one of two kniphofia species to bloom thus far. It makes an impressive clump, with multiple shoots and spikes. Two plants bloomed from seed I got from Silverhill, and though one is smaller, I am hoping that they are cross pollinating so I can get more seed. Earlier I had K. northiae, a wider leaved species, in bloom, and one of them seems to have self pollinated since I see seed pods forming.
Three plants of Senecio macrospermus are in the garden, but only one is blooming thus far. The grey foliage is interesting all by itself, and this species can get quite tall. I know that Ellen Hornig grew superb specimens of this in her former Oswego NY garden. I imagine one plant will be unlikely to set fertile seed, as self incompatibility is common in the Asteraceae, but if this is the case I will probably have better luck next year when the other two plants are likely to be large enough to bloom. This yellow senecio reminds me of the ones I saw last summer in the mountains around Denver, but no Rocky Mountain species grows as tall as S. macrospermus does.
Pelargonium luridum continues to return yearly in its sheltered spot at the base of the wall, and this spring it is joined by several other pelargonium species. These other species (and one hybrid) survived unprotected in the slope garden. They include P. sidoides, pulverentulum, leucophyllum, and a hybrid I made between ionidiflorum and odoratissimum. P. leucophyllum was given to me on my last visit to South Africa by the late Charles Craib. He collected it on the Adriesberg in the Eastern Cape at high altitude, and was not sure of its identity. I have identified it from descriptions in the Pelargoniums of Southern Africa series by JJA Van der Walt and P. Vorster. They illustrate and describe P. hypoleucum, a species with a more western Cape distribution, and in their discussion write about a plant of similar appearance that it found on the highest peaks in the Eastern Cape near the Lesotho border, and refer to it as P. leucophyllum. Whatever my plant is, it is hardy so long as at least some foliage makes it through the winter, even if it is tattered come spring. The foliage is richly scented, and the small lavender and white flowers appear on a spreading plant during spring and early summer. This species should be protected during bad winters, but this year no such protection was needed.
Berkheya radula is not one of the really high altitude berkheyas, from what I can find out, thus I dug the plants in past years and overwintered them in my classroom. This winter I left most of them outside, where they have done so much better and are now coming into full bloom. It is self incompatible so to get good seed I need to have both of my 2 older plants blooming at the same time. They are doing so now, and some of their offspring from preceding seasons will soon join them. Should Silverhill offer more seed of it in the future I will order some more so as to widen the genetic pool so seed can be set more easily. I like the soft yellow flowers intermingled with the bright red Shirley poppies, which themselves are doing splendidly this year from self sown seeds.
Hebenstretia species is a cool little plant I grew from seeds sent to me by Panayoti from his first South African collecting expedition. Some day I will find the data on this plant, but it grows easily from seed as an annual, but in years with mild winters it makes an even better perennial. It looks like nothing one would find in the northern hemisphere floras, it has that Gondwanan look for sure. The delicate foliage reminds me of some kind of conifer, but it is too soft in appearance and texture to be a actually be taken for a conifer, and the crowded spikes of tiny white flowers with their bold bright orange markings do catch one's notice. It will flower off and on throughout the growing season.
Freesia (formerly Anamotheca) laxa comes in three basic colors; red, white, or blue. The blue form is an obligate winter grower from the Cape, but the red and white forms are found in summer rainfall regions in South Africa, and are reputed to grow well in our southern states. Against the wall they do well, perhaps when I get more I will try them in less protected locations to see just how much cold they can take. They will sometimes die back in summer and try to grow again in fall, only to get cut down, but they reappear as soon as the weather gets warm again.
The last plant pictured, Geranium schlecteri, also came to me from Charles Craib years ago, this time as seed labelled as G.wakkerstroomianum. The latter species has more deeply notched petals than what I am growing, so I suspect it really is G. schlecteri. After all plants in nature don't come with labels, and natural variation within a species is often more than one might imagine if one only sees the same plant as it is represented in gardens. Actually this geranium is quite rare in cultivation anyway. It is a gently sprawling plant with single or paired flowers of a soft lavender. The flowers appear through early summer and it will set copious seed, though it is a modest self sower thus far.