Friday, December 28, 2007
Last spring I had two nice species of sinnigia in bloom in my classroom. The most stunning of the two is S. sp "Ibitioca", an unpublished species from Brazil, which I grew from seed. With its graceful, rich purple hanging flowers and plush neat foliage it is a real winner of a houseplant, far nicer in my opinion than the large commercial "gloxinia" hybrids. Although it grows in very sunny locations in the wild, it does not seem to demand unusual amounts of light to flower indoors, just bright light as for any of the other larger sinningia species. It does go dormant, and right now new shoots are emerging so it will be time to water it again and wait in anticipation of another spectacular display.
While on vacation during early July in the land of my birth and early childhood, the lovely mountains of southern West Virgina, my wife and I chanced upon this amazing rose display just outside of Bramwell, WV. The plant had evidently spread, rooting wherever it touched the ground, making a large patch full of flowers spilling over the rocks near the road's edge. I dug up a small sucker and successfully reestablished it in a pot back home in NY. It survived last winter outside in my backyard, and has grown larger but not flowered yet. I need to find a place in the ground for it, but can't think of a location large enough to comfortably accomodate its potential spread.
I do not have any idea what cultivar this is, but it might be a cross with a wild species of rose. The single flowers appear to be too large for any of the local native species of Rosa, but it is not a common hybrid either. Any help with ID from rose experts would be greatly appreciated!
Last January (Jan 7, to be specific) I took these pics in Eastchester, NY. It was a first in my life of observing plants--seeing calendula in full bloom in early January in southern NY! While we had reasonably hard frost in December of 2006, the latter part of the month and early to mid January were exceptionally warm, allowing the calendulas to bloom in this favored location among south facing rocks. Dandelions and candytuft nearby also were blooming as well. While this winter doesn't seem to be as mild, there does seem to be a trend towards less severe cold and greater survival of plants considered to be not hardy in our zone. Good news for zone pushing gardeners like myself, but bad news for the native flora and fauna, as they need more time to adapt to climate change than will likely be the case.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Saturday, September 1, 2007
On the first day of our California trip, my wife and I went to Annie's Annuals, in Richmond. Richmond is one of the few places left in the East Bay area that has land cheap enough for production nurseries to survive near San Francisco, probably because it has some parts that are rather rough neighborhoods. Once inside the fence surrounding Annie's, which blocks off views of the surrounding 'hood, you see a spaceous nursery full of interesting plants in 4 inch containers and wonderful container plantings featuring much of what they carry. There is also a small garden in one corner of the nursery, and other planted areas near the fence.
One of the many lovely planted containers is shown above, with production benches behind. A large clump of Agrostemma githago is the most prominant feature. The next pic shows Xeranthemum texanum, which was splendid with its brillant yellow flowers which seemed to glow in the California sunshine. I did not see plants of it for sale, but it would likely be easy to grow from seed.
Some of the plants at Annie's are in fact better grown from seed for most serious gardeners, among them would be California poppies, various other poppies, the Agrostemma, etc. These plants resent moving (although to be fair I am sure that four inch pots of them carefully planted would be okay) and are quick to flower and die (except california poppies which may persist), so better to grow from seed.
Most of the other plants were quite choice, I especially liked the following: a wide selection of native Californian plants, several new impatiens species unavailable elsewhere to my knowledge, a good and apparently growing selection of South African natives, including herbaceous, shrub, succulent, and bulbous species, and some pretty salvia species. I brought quite a few plants, and even more on my return visit during the last day of my vacation. Among the many treasures I got were Brugmansia sanguinea (both red and yellow forms), four impatiens species that I did not have, a double flowered nasturtium, Saliva corrugata (brilliant blue flower), Balbisia (a rare yellow flowered bushy plant from Chile), Melianthus villosus and M.comosus, Moraea huttonii (they do need to give it more water in summer, I suspect they think it is winter growing--it is not, and it grows in wet areas in nature), a couple of delosperma species, etc.
To prepare all of my finds for transport back home on the airplane, they were all barerooted with a hose, roots put in baggies and sealed with rubber bands. No doubt they don't like such rough treatment, but now all are replanted, with a fungicide treatment for traumatized roots, and I suspect most will survive. For any that might stuggle, propagation via cuttings may be another option to prevent loss.
One thing I have mixed feelings about is that Annie's is very expensive to order from via mailorder, at least from the East. Packing and shipping are extraordinarily high, but I could deal with this if the plants were priced the same way they are for locals--but that is not the case. With very few exceptions, all plants at the nursery are $3.25, 4.25, or 5.25. A quick check of their website will reveal much higher costs for the plants. So in essence they are double dipping with regard to mailorder customers.
Nonetheless, I did enjoy my visits, and would highly recommend that you go to Annie's if you are in the area. If you can get there in person, the plant selection and prices are both excellent, and the plantings are very colorful, interesting, and inspiring.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Gorteria diffusa is a most interesting annual from the winter rainfall region of South Africa. I got my seeds from Silverhill Seeds, the premier source for South African native plant seeds. I've been to South Africa three times, and basically one could describe the whole country as a natural garden. The number of ornamental species is incredible, particularly in the areas near Cape Town.
The seeds of Gorteria are fused into the dried flower base, so one plants the entire structure. This is unusual for members of the Aster family, most of which shed seeds individually once they are ripe. Even more peculiar is the flower, a bright orange daisy, about an inch or inch and a half across, with one to three green "beetle" marks. The markings probably facilitate pollination by attracting monkey beetles to the flowers (perhaps they are thinking they found a mate) which then pollinate the flower. Like many South African daisies, the flowers open in sunshine and close in darkness.
I planted the seedlings I started indoors into sandy soil in a spot that gets several hours of sun, and they grew and flowered for longer than I thought they would (many of these desert type annuals have very short lifespans), from early June through July. The plants spread out to form a branching mat across the soil. The plants expired in early August, but not before yielding numerous seed heads. The one problem I noted was that the plants are susceptible to powdery mildew during rainy weather, but an application of fungicide quickly cured it.