09 March 2014
Here's how they roll. About three Pretoria canna tubers are planted in the garden in the spring. They easily grow and multiply during the summer, (not large enough to bloom until July) loving the hot humid weather we are noted for. The three turn into about a dozen. They are lifted after the first frost and those tubers large enough to save are stored until the spring. I end up losing all but two or three over the winter to rot or desiccation. The remaining are planted in the ground again after the soil warms, about two weeks after the last front date.
I began dusting the tubers with copper dust before storing them, maybe preventing the rot. This past fall, I bagged them in peat moss, hoping for a better save success rate. They all dried out except for about five. I'll take that as an improvement.
Canna Experiment #2 - try to get them growing before putting them in the ground. They are now in moist peat/soil, barely below the surface. And, they have begun to swell with some pink coloration on the tubers, a clear sign that they are beginning to wake up and maybe have a head start this year (although there are no roots.)
I read about doing this to the Persian Shield. In the fall, I take cuttings of the freshest stem tips. After about a month in water, they root. These are planted in yogurt cups and placed on an eastern facing window sill in a cool unused bedroom for the winter. They are watered, and (at this time) start to produce flowers.
This has worked well for the past four years, and all plants make it through to be planted in the spring. Although not growing much in the winter, they stay green (they are purple in the hot summer) until ready to resume their lives out in the wild. This year, as with the cannas, I am giving some a head start by transplanting to larger pots before going outdoors, in hopes they will be large.
I first saw these plants at the Atlanta Botanical Garden at a whopping 5-6 feet (1.5 m) tall. There was probably a greenhouse involved in this somewhere.
This is my first experience with these beauties. A friend asked me how to overwinter them, because after digging them up, his all rot in winter. I explained my procedure with the cannas and suggested peat moss storage. He was overjoyed that about all of his Colocasia came through the winter, and thanked me with five plants, and some bulbs I will write about in the coming months.
The Red Cordyline is the center of a pot on the deck, and has been brought indoors, pot and all, for three winters. It is placed at an east-facing french door, and watered less frequently through winter. It looks great now, and is beginning to develop a stem/trunk as the lower leaves are shed through the years.
Let's hear what you keep over the winter, and the methods you use.
08 February 2014
|Surprise the customers. I bought paperwhite narcissus at a local nursery last year after searching throughout town for the least expensive. I was buying for the master gardeners. I am VP of Training, and it was graduation time, when the rookie newbies were graduating from the training program to CERTIFIED master gardener status.|
It was a custom to hand out a small goodie bag to the graduates as they walked across the stage (front of the room) to receive their diplomas (certificates) and shake hands. I put together the best goodie bag ever with the extremely limited funds available. Included among some symbolic and useless items was one paperwhite bulb. My best price was $0.99 each.
And, then yellow. The late bloomers were yellow (obviously a different variety with different bloom characteristics). I wonder if any master gardeners got yellow, after their training coordinator labeled them as paperWHITES.
Red sky at morning,
sailors take warning.
Red sky at night,
We got another snowfall after this morning sky.
08 January 2014
- Post thoughts and gardening results on the blog more than once a month, even if no one reads them.
- Start working on getting the poinsettia to bloom earlier in the fall, to be sure it blooms in time for Christmas, instead of later at New Year's.
- Same goes for the amaryllis.
- Keep working in the garden into August, instead of losing ambition, telling myself I need to sit back and enjoy it, while slowly watching it wane.
- Create a map of where things are planted instead of planting items on top of others that have not come up yet, or slicing into dormant bulbs with planting trowels when planting annuals.
- Clean my garden tools after using them instead of thinking they will be used again soon, or thinking cleanliness doesn't matter, or thinking they will clean themselves.
- Keep trying to grow those uncooperative and challenging flora that have never succeeded in my garden but do in others, instead of giving up and moving on to something new.
- Finish development of the Garden Inventory page of my blog.
- Develop New Year's resolutions at New Year's Day, instead of a week later.
- Don't develop ten resolutions if ten resolutions are not needed or can't be kept.
07 December 2013
With 20 (32 km) miles long by 8 miles wide (13 km) at the maximums, the island is 90% owned and managed by the Catalina Island Conservancy. This nonprofit was set up by the Wrigley family heirs to conserve and preserve the island. Most all is in a natural state, and access outside the town of Avalon is restricted -- like a futuristic scenario, you need a pass to get beyond the fence at the city limits.
Avalon is pedestrian friendly and very walkable (except when a cruise ship dumped its crowd of passengers one day), with the number of cars limited on the island. Most vehicles are golf carts and bicycles.
The garden was started by Ada Wrigley in 1935 as a personal garden containing exotic cactus. It was transformed into a botanical garden by a foundation in 1970 with an emphasis on succulents and cactus, and on the rare endangered plants endemic to Catalina and the other Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.
Landscaping bedding plants in town done with succulents, agave, and a date palm or two
Dessert Spoon Dasylirion wheeleri
The Wrigley Memorial served as Mr. Wrigley's tomb until he was moved to Forest Lawn Cemetery
Catalina Island Ironwood tree endemic to the island
Closeup of the bark on the Catalina Island Ironwood
The 'Casino' theater, art deco interior with scenes of plants, animals, and activities of the island
Four keyboards on its great theater organ
An excursion trip to the island's interior brought this view looking toward the mainland
23 November 2013
Opuntia streptacantha. I think I had one of these growing on my window sill in college, but not as a tree.
Aeonium arboreum. This could be the star of the latest Alien movie. Is this a plant?
Could this be a sunburned aloe?
Furcraea macdougalii. These poor souls from the agave family looked scared.
Dracaena draco. This is a dragon tree - no one can figure out why it's called that. :-)
Crassula falcata. One of the only flowering specimens in the garden.
Sunburn anyone? A 5-foot tall (1.5 m) aloe can help.
And one last cactus, only 6-feet tall (1.8 m) because I believe it fell over.
10 November 2013
This was one of those outdoor scenic places you live near but have never visited. With too many trails to manage in one day, the beaver dams and the waterfalls were decided as the goals. We drove to a parking area and set out, armed with directions from the ranger in the visitor center. Let us share observations.
Fallen leaves are great at hiding the trails. We missed trail turn-offs three times. This caused a backtrack once, and hiking another mile or so more than we planned after missing two more.
When it looks like someone littered the trail with a tissue, assume the best in humanity -- that you are actually looking at a fungus.
Behind the dam was a small wetland. Note the evergreen hollies around the perimeter of the water while deciduous trees grow further up the slope.
It took a good eye to find eyeballs growing on the forest floor. Ever seen this type of fungus staring back at you?
There were no waterfalls, but a few babbling brooks. Maybe 'city dwellers' consider waterfalls as any stream that makes noise.
28 October 2013
Containers of strawberries were being scarfed up at incredibly high prices. And the containers were labeled Driscoll's just like those in the local supermarkets. I asked if Driscoll's supplied the containers for free. "No, Driscoll's grew the strawberries in California." Strawberry harvest time in Virginia can vary widely, so to be sure there are strawberries available for the festival, they are flown in from California. We stopped at a farm on the way home to field pick our own from local growers.
Back at the plant vendor and looking for something cheap, I ended up at the small-potted herbs and succulents table. I picked up a pineapple sage (Salvia elegans), and was informed about its care and planting instructions. Only a few dollars buys chartreuse leaves with a pineapple fragrance. "Be sure to take cuttings in the fall, or repot it and bring it indoors to keep it going."
It went into the side yard garden where it comfortably grew during the summer. Then in the late fall, these incredible 12-inch (30 cm) red spires appeared above the leaves, just as the world turns mums and orange. Is it the contrast against the lime green leaves that cause the red to jump out?
Repot in the fall? Sure, right. All the dead things are being ripped out of the garden and football calls on the weekend. Spring bulbs are lucky to get planted the week before Christmas. Still, leaves were raked, chopped, and spread around the beds for the winter.
It grows up to 3-feet in height (1 m) as a bush in its native Mexico highlands where hummingbirds love it. In the salvia genus, it is used in traditional Mexican medicine, for anxiety and high blood pressure treatment. A preliminary study shows antidepressant and antianxiety properties in mice. The internet presents concoctions for teas made from the leaves, and P. Allen Smith has a recipe for Pineapple Sage Pound Cake.
This spring, the little cheap pineapple sage came back. And, it had two babies from seeds or rooted from fallen stems. Does it like me or what?
For The Record:
Clay soil with gypsum & organic amendments
Full sun on a sloping site
Small amount of fertilizer
No serious pests/disease
Overwintered with small amount of protection
21 October 2013
I tried growing them again this spring after laying off for a number of years. Year after year of growing stunted balls of carrots was demoralizing. I took to preparing the soil over the years and determined to succeed, I tried again. Looks like the effort paid off as the carrots were long and the soil was soft enough to pull them up. Some remain in the garden, and of course some were proudly offered to the neighbors.
The autumn vase is for the kitchen countertop while chopping the soup's vegetables. This is aroma therapy. The chartreuse leaves of red fall-blooming pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) spices up the kitchen, along with a few sprigs of lavender. The yellow Canary zinnias add autumn to the kitchen. A few of the tricolor ornamental peppers add some bite, and of course, some fern-like carrot tops. Visit more Flowers In The House at Jane's blog Small But Charming.
Blooming: mexican zinnia, zinnia, marigolds, pineapple sage, rain lilies
Harvested: 2 peppers, 2 tomato, 10 carrots