Saturday, July 22, 2023

A Few Interesting Plants in the Gardens Yesterday

I have been growing an innteresting solidago species that I got years ago from a garden in Denver, Colorado. It is much less vigorous here so its spreading tendencies are not a problem, perhaps because it also in near a short Monarda species that also spreads from thin underground rhizomes. Its grey green leaves indicate it is a plant from a semi-arid sunny habitat and we certainly dont have that kind of climate here in New York (well at least not most of the time). It is short and has attractive yellow flowers and I havent ever seen a seedling appear. I like it, its less aggressive than most other solidago species I have tried in the gardens and it blooms earlier than most. Behind it some Gladiolus "Carolina Primrose" can be seen, this is a hardy form of the very variable G dalenii (or perhaps a primary hybrid of it, though it comes true from seed), actually G dalenii in just about every form I have grown is hardy here.
This next plant isnt gonna win any prizes for stunning beauty, but its is not often seen and is an indigenous US plant. Napaea dioca is in the Malvaceae, a family with often very big showy flowers. Still it has a certain gracefulness about it, even if it is a plant that grows taller than I am. Its small white flowers give away its family identity, and I think they are supposed to be dioeceous (separate male and female plants) but I think my plant has both male and female flowers on the same plant as it does make seed I think. I'll pay closer attention this year to see if I am correct about that. Its leaves are fairly attractive and it doesnt ask for much, growing in a spot under high shade from hemlocks but where it does get good sun much of the day. That area got really dry last summer, this summer the rains seem to never cease and it is doing fine regardless.
Another Malvaceae member is this hybrid of the common Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, with Hibiscus paramutabilis. I brought a white with red eye H. paramutabilis (Shanghai Red Eye, they also had a pure pink I didnt get) from Plant Delights nursery many years ago and it survived without any winter issues against the house for almost a decade. Then it died this year, evidentally from voles which dug into the ground and ate the roots. It dropped lots of seeds from its very unfriendly pods (they contain irritating hairs inside making seed harvest difficult) but it also has crossed with a stand of H. syriacus in the neighbors to the north side of the border. The hybrid offspring are obvious since their leaves are much bigger than H syriacus and they also appear to be fertile. A seed made its way onto my side between two Tibetan peach trees (Prunus mira) that I grew from seed from their homeland gifted to me by a friend. I was going to get rid of it but it grows fast when cut back and I decided to let it stay as it is pretty attractive. The flowers and leaves are both bigger than H syriacus and it flowers for a long time. Meanwhile I have allowed some seedlings to grow near where the original H paramutabilis was and am hoping they are selfs rather than hybrids but I won't know for sure until they flower. That may be later this summer or certainly by next summer. It seems that one cannot find H paramutablilis for sale any more, Plant Delights hasnt offered it again in many years and no one else seems to grow it. Pity because it is a nice plant that is hardier than I thought it would be (it never suffered even twig dieback in 9 winters here) and it has large flowers in good numbers.
In a planter a silver leaved beauty I grew from seed gathered in the highveld of South Africa is blooming for the first time. Its a species of what used to be called Vernonia, but in South Africa I think all species in that genus are reassigned to new genera. In SA the plant grows more upright. I did plant one out last winter but it didnt survive, or at least the roots did but it never resprouted. Perhaps with a good wood chip mulch it might make it in the garden as gerberas do. First I will propagate more then try them out with wood chip winter protection but will also try to get seed if the others flower as a backup as it is probably self incompatible (most, but not all, Asteraceae tend to be self incompatible so more than one clone is needed for viable seed set).
In a large pot I have Matalea reticulata in bloom. This genus of vining milkweeds often has interesting flowers, these green flat flowers are no exception. They arent very large but are attractive and odd. I got the seed off of ebay from someone in Texas, where it grows naturally. I see a plant or two that I set in the gardens last fall that also appear to have survived the winter but they arent big and more data is needed to determine if it is really winter hardy here.
I went on a bit of an Ecuagenera orchid binge last year and also got a few interesting bromeliads. Pitcairnea alata arrived as a plant with multiple offsets on long runners, and it flowered this year. The photo below is a second flowering. This genus is usually terrestrial, but this one I think is an epiphyte. Most have really showy flowers but are unaccountably scarce in cultivation. I also grow P aff ringens which I grew from seed given to me some years ago, its also easy and red flowered. As for the orchids I got from Ecuagenera, many like cooler conditions and are fussy about water quality, or at least the ones I tend to like so I have lost a fair number, but also some have thrived better than expected. Their plants are usually of good quality and size but will need time to readjust after the long trip from Ecuador to here, via their place in Apopka, Florida. Their prices are good, although orchids are very expensive compared to most other plants, at least these species sorts are and their prices are going up like everything else these days. They will be cheaper than any US supplier and the plant will be larger at least half of the time if not more. The caveat is that not all will survive unless you live in an area with a perfect climate for them. They do have warmth tolerant species and hybrids too and they also run several sales a year. Online ordering from them is very easy and their shipping is good and quick once the plants are ready for shipment (that will take a bit of time for preparation and getting the paperwork done which they take care of, no worries at your end about import permits, CITES documents, they take care of all of that which is great).
Meanwhile several different crocosmia are in bloom now, most unnamed hybrids. This one is one of a mix I got from The Lily Garden in Maine. Its quite showy in its second or third year as are all the others.
Of course the rains dont bother the daylilies and they are growing with renewed vigor after the June drought ended. Other plants dont like such heavy and frequent rains, for example I found some rot in a couple of kniphofias. In that case I clean out the rotted crowns to allow more air to reach the living crowns and allow what is left to dry faster to slow down or stop the rot. I don't think In I have ever seen a daylily rot from too much rain though. Some were stunted by the earlier drought but others within easy reach of the hose did fine this year. The large orange flowered one in the first photo is an unnamed seedling from Manatawny Creek Daylilies which reminds me a lot of Tuscawilla Tigress in flower. I also grow TT, and although it is an old one it is very showy and vigorous. By now I have at least three clumps of it and its vivid orange flowers never disappoint. The unnamed seedling may have no relation to TT but it reminds me of it. The last photo is of a group of daylilies from Grace Gardens, the taller one is August Sentinel which I like a lot for both the flower form and tall stems. The bright orange one is Seneca Brave and the purplish pink one is Seneca Drums. All were bred by the owners Tom and Kathy Rood. Tom still runs the nursery after Kathy sadly passed away a couple of years ago. We didnt get a chance to visit this year but did go last year, he had some Mennonite folks helping him with digging the daylilies for customers. Its a lovely place to visit, right next to Fox Run winery which has a cafe for lunch as well when doing a winery run up the west side of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York. On our last visit I made sure to pick up several of their introductions as one never knows how long they might be available as nurseries come and go. Hopefully Tom will one day have family or a buyer continue the nursery when that becomes necessary. But the truth is that most nurseries only last about 15 years on average and its not often that a new owner continues running it successfully unless its younger family that has also been working there. There are a few exceptions I can think of where the nursery changed hands and continued on but even then it wont be exactly the same. So I am glad that Grace and I have been to their place several times over the years and we now have quite a few of their New York bred or tested daylilies in our gardens too.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

A Rainy July Day in the Gardens

This has been a strange year weatherwise but that can be said about many places in the world these days. An El Nino is forming and we started with a nice cool and sunny but dry spring into late June when the heat and humidity and rain came back in droves. The heat hasnt been as bad as some other places, mostly still in the 80s but we have hit the low 90s and the humidity amplies the discomfort. Nonetheless there is much color in the garden now, just as there was earlier in the season, only the cast of plants has changed.
This simple daylily is a form of H. fulva grown from seeds that were harvested by Bjornar Olsen in Anhui Province, China. I grew a handful of plants and this is the first to flower. I figure that it is a diploid form of this usually (in cultivation) triploid species. Hopefully it doesnt run like the triploid version but it will need more time in the ground for me to assess that.
Never did figure out for sure what this awesome black flowered daylily is. I got it from Bridget W who probably got it from Manatawny Creek Daylilies. In some years the flowers are mared with yellow streaks from thrips but this year it has done really well. I sometimes spray the emerging scapes of daylilies to reduce aphid and thrip issues which can be a problem when you have a lot of daylilies. I didnt get around to all of them and the drought was hard on the bed of daylilies in one corner of the property where I need to hook up two hoses to reach so not all of them have done well this year. But this tall beauty is within easy reach of the hose and really is looking good this year.
One of my more interesting seedlings, this one has both stipples and stripes. This is its second flower which also shows stripes as did the first so it may be stable in this one. I will keep it, I actually dont have any striped daylilies in my collection though I do have some with stipples.
The waterlilies are looking great and the rainstorms are washing the annoying aphids off their leaves. However I notice some of them have rhizomes which float to the top of the water in summer. I guess the pots I put them in were too small but I did not expect them to rise up like that. I first saw this last year and if I recall correctly, they sink back down come fall. If not I will tie rocks to them and sink them anyway. We now have a sprinker and camera system which has thwarted the raccoons from eating the flowers and herons from eating the fish, thanks to our son in law who is good with such things.
The absolutely breath taking Gladiolus decorus is blooming now. Its a shy bloomer in my experience but a good grower. I got seeds thanks to a kind lady in Malawi some years ago and when I took apart my pot of corms this spring I had so many I was able to make five large pots of them with numerous corms in each. Its a shame the tropical African gladioli are not better represented in cultivation, some such as this species are really quite exquisite and not hard to grow.
Galtonia (or Ornithogalum or whatever genus they assign it to these days) candicans is in full bloom now. Quite hardy and this particular one is really good at making a nice clump, as they dont always do that in my past experience. They make easy to grow black seeds, especially if hand pollinated, and they are easily sprouted and the first year bulbs kept dry in their pot inside for winter in a cool location. They can be grown in pots for another year to get larger or put in the ground that spring. I have never seen it self sow unlike many other hardy South African plants that I grow.
Its the season of lilies, and this is one of the orientpet sorts. It is quite fragrant and an easy grower as orientpets tend to be.
The agapanthus, gladioli, and crocosmia are lighting up the South African garden with color. Offspring of Gladiolus Ruby Papilio often are much like the parent, and there are other hybrids of mine in all sorts of colors as well as some I got from the usual bulb sources. These agapanthus were grown from seed and get some wood chip mulch for winter but dont need a very deep covering such as gerberas prefer here in New York (USDA z7/6 border). Crocosmia Pauls Best Yellow is a nice one and I have unnamed red ones as well in various spots.
My wife really liked this daylily, Laughing Giraffe, when we went to a daylily nursery (I think it was Grace Gardens in Penn Yann, NY) and it has proven to be a good doer.
Zantedeschia albomaculata is the hardiest of the genus and even resows here. I have it in both spotted and unspotted leaf forms. They are pretty much indestructible other than the flowers sometimes being attacked by Japanese beeetles. This year they started opening before the beetles appeared so the beetles are a bit late to the party.
Agapanthus Ever Twilight was a gift from the breeder who arranged to have two each of five varieties shipped to me. Quinton does his breeding in South Africa but these are available in Europe and the USA. It is one of a series that were bred to rebloom, something I have never seen an agapanthus do before. This one has attractive bicolored flowers, here even the buds look good. I gave them winter mulch as they were not bred for hardiness and it worked for most of them. This is their first blooming the year after I got them and I will be able to assess how well they rebloom here in New York, and report my findings to Quinton. Last year was not the best of summers to establish them as it was exceptionally dry but now that they are settled in they are growing well and most are coming into bloom now or will be.