Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Summer Growing Moraea

This little floriferous gem turns out to be M. elliottii, at least according to the label I found in the pot the other day (I thought it was M. thompsonii, another summer growing purple species).  Whatever it is, it is easy to grow from seed, and simple to deal with in winter, just store the whole pot with corms dry and cool.  The flowers are little works of art, and although each lasts about a day or so, more come over a period of several weeks.  I have not tested it for winter hardiness, though it has set ample seed so I have some incentive to try it in the garden in the future.  Most Moraeas come from the winter rainfall areas of the old Cape Province of South Africa.  There the genus is at its most diverse and one can only wish the stunning "peacock" moreas like M. aristata would be summer growers and thus more amenable to cultivation in areas other than winter rainfall mild climate ones.  If I were younger, I might dream of bioengineering some of the wonderful Cape bulbs to grow on a summer active winter dormant schedule, it probably is just a matter of finding the gene(s) responsible and swapping them out with genes from summer growing equivalents.  Or just add in some genes for cold hardiness and a delayed growth response (as in most crocuses and daffodils) and you would have a plethora of new "spring" bulbs for the garden.  In the meantime (aka back on planet Earth), there are several summer growers in this genus worth trying, and some are hardy in places like the UK, especially some of the yellow flowered larger ones like huttonii and its kin.   More experimentation is needed in the USA to determine which ones are reliably cold hardy and what other factors can lead to winter loss (for one I tried in my school garden, I suspect voles may have done it in more than winter cold). 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rosa xanthina

What a pretty thing this is when its in full bloom.  I grew them from seed, and they have become attractive small shrubs with an open habit in my school garden.  The yellow flowers are quite showy in midspring, and numerous hips are forming as I write this.  Sadly it only blooms once a year, but it also doesn't take over the garden later on like R. multiflora would if it could, as it is a major pest along our roadsides.  It does have lots of small thorns on the stems, which probably help deter deer from bothering it, at least in my experience so far they do ignore it.  It also blooms well before blackspot and other rose diseases get going in our humid weather, and I haven't even noticed if gets blackspot to be truthful.  In any case, it is a reliable early bloomer which does well without the fussing modern roses often seem to need in our climate.  Sometimes simpler is better.

Amsonia "Georgia Pancake"

This year it made a seedpod that is in the top center of the pic, could be a selfing or a cross with one of two other species in the garden.  Cant wait to grow the seeds out either way.

This is one really cool plant, I got it from Plant Delights by specifically asking for it when I didn't see it for sale during one of their open houses.  It is the only prostrate growing Amsonia, and it can make quite a large carpet of fine foliage as I saw in the nursery display gardens.  Its one of those plants a plant geek has to have, and I'm pleased that it has been hardy for about three winters up here in NY.  Critters ignore it, and it does have modest but attractive flowers in spring, not quite as showy as some of its upright cousins, but pretty enough.  It can be rooted from cuttings, and is a slow grower so its not one of those plants you will ever see in the big box stores (horrors!).  But after a couple of years it becomes a lovely soft carpet of foliage.  I planted it in a special raised bed in the school garden where it gets good drainage and good sunshine. 
It is probably a new species, and is found as far as I know in one place in Georgia, so it won't be long before it ends up on the Endangered Species list, which makes shipping it across state lines problematic.  Some folks say it is just a prostrate form of A. ciliata, in which case it won't end up on the "List" but either way the cat is out of the bag and I think it will be well established in several gardens before it even gets an official scientific name, so its future is safe in horticulture at least.

Albuca shawii, the hardy Albuca

foliage intermingled with Helichrysum splendidum

Albuca is a pretty large genus in South Africa, and it extends up into the Arabian peninsula.  Some modern classifications merge it into Ornithogalum, an even more widespread genus, and they also include Galtonia as well.  Nonetheless Albuca is fairly distinct in its flower morphology, though perhaps DNA will be the final arbitrator of what genus or genera these plants belong to.  Some grow in summer rainfall regions, and Albuca shawii is one of these.  I have had it for many years in my garden, it needs a spot with minimal competition.  The yellow green flowers are  attractive and distinct from anything that grows in the northern hemisphere, so here is another Gondwanan touch for your garden.  The bulbs are flattened and surprisingly not deep in the ground, so they certainly must be exposed to freezing temperatures in our New York winters.  I've not seen it self sow, but it does produce seeds, even more so if helped by hand pollination.  Seeds are readily started in pots in spring or late winter, then I plant them out the second year, when they may bloom or they will wait another year before flowering.  I've moved plants from the old house to the new after they leafed out and they still bloomed anyway, the ones that are pictured are growing in the school garden near the garden edge. 
There are other hardy albucas, A. humilis  is one that I need to get growing in the garden, and Galtonia candicans is also a very hardy bulb, sort of like  a giant summer snowdrop on a spike.  Propagation is the same as for Albuca shawii.

Daylily Seedlings

This one is my favorite, from purchased seed

Probably one of my own with No Where to Hide in its ancestry

I really like the bicolor effect, though this particular flower didn't open well

Almost pure white

A spider type

In the heat sometimes the flowers get damaged, or maybe its thrips, which is unfortunate b/c this one has a nice frilled edge and good color

I think this is the kind they call a bagel type flower, it is really pretty

Another favorite, nice deep color
This one has warm colors with a nice pattern

Daylilies are easy to grow, especially in the North where so far we need not contend with that plague called rust that can crop up down south.  I made some crosses among my daylilies at the old house, and got some seeds from a couple of folks selling seeds, and grew them out and planted them in the school garden.  There is the danger of deer, and sometimes they get nipped, but it seems all the lavender, buddleia and other things that deer hate that surround or are among the daylilies do offer a degree of protection (though if I remember I will spray them with repellent soon, just in case).  There are many, too many, actually, cultivars of daylilies, some of which are really nice plants, others just have a name for no particular reason.  But nice plants can be grown from seed, and even the dogs are not what I would call hideous.  Dull is about the worst you can get.  And who doesn't like a mystery, the growing of a seed, waiting about three years for flowers, and then finding you might have a winner like the first one pictured. 
In my new house there are wild daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) that the previous owners planted, and I really don't need them as they are aggressive spreaders and the garden space could accommodate choicer plants that are deer resistant.  However I am transferring some of the daylilies from the old house to this one, but they are going into protected (fenced) locations to keep deer away.  I already moved Fooled Me and Lullaby Baby, two great old daylilies, and the special tiny one called Pennysworth, and they are blooming in the flower/vegetable garden.  The rest I will move after bloom in most cases, probably to a new bed that will open up when some bushes are and a large (and dangerous) spruce are removed from that area later this month.  
Daylily seeds are easy to harvest, and can be purchased online as well.  For more hardcore folks than myself, there is also the "Lily Auction" for both plants and seed.  They should be refrigerated until planting, as they lose viability if stored dry and warm for very long.  They germinate readily, sometimes coolness helps, so I have started them in ziplocks with moist paper towels that are refrigerated for a few weeks till I see some sign of germination or I pull them out after a time and they germinate.  Growing on is simplicity itself, and it is quite easy to run out of room, hence all the seedlings went to the school garden, not my old home garden that was already crowded.