Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another gardening year gone, a new one to come

I think facebook and all of its plant interest groups has taken my attention away from my blog, so its about time I write something.  Its been a good gardening year after the most horrendously cold winter in decades.  We did get the at least one hot humid wet spell during early summer that spelled doom for some of my ice plants, notably Delosperma "congestum", which I fortunately have several more of, and which is the toughest of the lot when it comes to dealing with winter cold.  Its probably not even a delosperma, just an undescribed species that is now common in the horticultural trade, along with its white form "White Nugget".  The same spell was also hard on the "Jewels of the Desert" delosperma series, I think only "Garnet" made it.  I do have to note that the affected plants were all in the same area and it was flat, many other delospermas did fine.  And they all liked the dry end of summer and fall, it was ideal for flowering and seed set.  Another delosperma series, the "Wheels of Wonder" group, set copious seed that I am curious to grow out, and did well even though they were in an area that gets a little less sun than the others.  I suspect they have D. floribundum in their bloodlines since they bloom constantly as does the species, and have a growth habit not all that different.  D. floribundum did so well it actually self sowed into nearby areas.  The late summer drought was not so good for woodland type plants, nor the impatiens species I grow, eg I bicolor, glandulifera, balfourii and namchabarwensis, all of which did fine till rather late, although namchabarwensis did well pretty much until frost, by which time the rains had returned.  All of these species are vigorous reseeders in my gardens and I keep them mostly in their own areas otherwise I think it would be a battle between glandulifera "Red Wine" and bicolor.  Another form of glandulifera I grew from seed exchange seeds as a sp from a Chadwell collection is taller than Red Wine but not as resilient to heat and humidity, but it persists though not in large numbers.  Helichrysum splendidum came back strongly from winter dieback, it even flowered a bit, but not as much as in years where it isn't killed back to the base.  Two seedling dieramas bloomed, a white and a purple one, and the latter set seeds.  Many more grew stronger this year and from the mélange of species and hybrids I've grown I expect to see some nice ones next year.  Berkheyas did well also, namely radula and purpurea in my home gardens, and speciosa flowered in its first year from seed.   Other spp have been planted and I hope they will all make it to next year.  Kniphofias also did very well, particularly one I think is caulescens or a form of it I grew from seed from one of the German botanic gardens years ago at NYBG, it has followed me since and is bone hardy.  K. triangularis also put on quite a show in midsummer, it looked lovely in front of "Little Joe" Joe Pye Weed.  Some really nice gladioli hybrids bloomed for the first time, and their were plenty of survivors in the glad patch in the former vegetable garden, including "Ruby Papilio" and my dalenii and Atom hybrids.  A surprise was the survival without dieback of Hibiscus paramutabilis "Shanghai White", it doesn't bloom a lot but it is not in the sunniest of positions being near the northwestern facing house wall.   A tragic loss was finding Clematis morsefeldii eaten at the base of the stems by some rodent just as it was setting lots of seeds, then the plant died after making one feeble sprout.  I am trying to germinate some of those seeds now and am hopeful that some of them got mature enough to sprout.  The new vegetable garden took over another patch of lawn and we were overrun with tomatoes, beans, and Asian cucumbers.  I am sure the compost we brought and I dug into the ground helped immensely.  In the front of the house dog fennel grew lush and tall, as did Arundo donax "Peppermint Stick" which surprisingly did die in the school garden.  I suspect winter salting may have done it in, I am glad I propagated it before it expired, it is a stunning plant and I don't say that lightly for a variegated plant, as they are usually not my thing.  I set up a new garden in the front lawn and planted crinums, snapdragon species, agastache hybrids, and loads of other stuff that seem to be quite happy there.  One particularly successful plant was a species of Gomphrocarpus that I collected in the south Cape, probably from near Luipaardsekop as I saw a picture of it as I was scanning slides recently.  Unlike the typical "hairy balls" plant as the genus is known for its interesting seed pods, this one is not  a lanky plant, it branches well and covers itself with lots of white milkweed flowers.  It set relatively few pods so I cut the branches with the pods before frost and let them dry in the cool garage--it worked, after a few weeks the pod began to split and reveal good seeds inside.  I think they just took the remaining nutrients and water from the stems and used it to mature the seed as a survival strategy; where they come from unexpected droughts are a way of life.  There is so much more to say about this year, but I think I'll end it here and just put up some photos from this past season.  Perhaps I will expound in more detail about some of them, or other plants, later on this winter.
A special glad hybrid of mine with delicate picotee spotting

Tigridia pavonia seedling

Tigridia vanhouteii pollinated by wasp

Lapeirousia schimperi, a tall summer grower unlike most in its genus

Arctotis venusta

Microseris ringens

Ursinia from an old seed mix from Kirstenbosch, alas it did not set seeds

Impatiens bicolor, its indestructible around here

Crepis rubra, a nice but short lived annual

White form of this thistle from Spain whose latin name always escapes me.  I'll come back and edit it when I remember.

Rudbeckia subtomentosa, a long and spectacular bloomer

Giant swallowtail on lantanas in the front

Costus spectabilis, a truly magnificent plant even out of flower

Dianthus species descended from seeds I collected in the Cape.  Has pale yellow flowers, might be D. caespitosus.

Gladiolus "Ruby Papilio" a large hybrid that tends to come true from seed

Niermbergia repens, likes being divided and spread around, blooms forever, why don't more people grow it?

The nicest African crotalaria I have ever grown, but of course it is self sterile unlike most of them.  Have to figure out which one it is and get more seeds from Silverhill.

A pink form of Helichrysum cooperi, which is supposed to be yellow.  Both colors bloomed and set seeds.

Impatiens glandulifera,

Eucomis vandermerwei,  a fine dwarf potplant

Eucomis montana

Lantana "Radiation Biohazard" a good grower and bloomer.

Zantedeschia jucunda

Talinum calycinum

Delosperma sp,

Albuca shawii

Beerkheya purpurea

Helichrysum splendidum

Delosperma "congestum"

First seedling diorama to bloom

Leonotis leonurus

Crocosmia aurea

Felicia mossambadensis, one of my own African introductions

Liatris ghoulsonii, a rare species

Hedychium cv, that survived the winter and bloomed well this summer

Musa basjoo, another winter survivor that came back and more than tripled in size