15 June 2015

June 2015 Bloom Day

Lots of things are popping out of the gardens - 'Never Looked So Good' should be the theme applied to many garden inhabitants this month. Onion and green beans comprise the bounty to date, and go well together in a three bean salad. Fresh basil and oregano work wonders on a grilled pizza. More hot weather is on the way, though.

The datura is off to a great start and has never looked so large this early. This is the second time I have grown this moonflower, and hope it does better than the first which was in a more shady spot.

'Night of Passion' is what I think this daylily is called, after viewing 100,000 photos online.

The hydrangea has never looked so good. Although I wrote about my Annabelle hydreangea, a fellow master gardener believes this one is not Annabelle because the blooms are too enormous and perfect. 'Incrediball' is probably the correct name. Ignore my sorry attempt at staking.

Even the hostas are getting in on the bloom fun.

Another bloomer that has never looked so good this year. After years of care, 'Miss Lingard' phlox is now an established perennial that needs no attention. How did I end up with so many whites? They do look cool in this hot summer weather.

Lychnis coronaria has so many names I am reluctant to call it anything but its formal name. When they are planted together, they look like a fun bunch. But pulling out their thousands of seedlings (as bad as cleome) is not fun.

Tradescantia was moved last fall to a shadier location, and it loves its new digs. Never blooming into the hot weather except for this year, it is yet another one that has never looked so good.

Finally, the first photo of phase 1 of my hell strip beautification attempt. It is surprising how many neighbors see this, but don't notice the larger cottage garden in the front yard. Thanks to Scott at Rhone Street Gardens blog for the inspiration to do this.

For other garden bloggers' bloom day photos, spring over to the blog May Dreams Gardens.

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: rudbeckia, phlox, poppy, geranium, datura, tradescantia, echinacea, phlox, lychnis, hydrangea, hosta,
  • Harvested: green beans (bush) 1 onion

07 June 2015

Skyscrapers of Poppies

The purple poppy towers are blooming. Papaver somniferum have transformed the front garden, with pop-up poppy skyscrapers sprouting randomly: tall, slender, and crowded together.

These are opium poppies, single flowering in a strong magenta. They are not really tall, but their habit of springing up all over and their slender appearance remind me of a skyscraper skyline. They are also not really good for making opium or heroin, since these do not produce the large seed pods that are needed. There are cultivars bred for that purpose.

Some internet sources identified something like these as "Hungarian Blue," but my skyscrapers are not as big, not as tall, and the poppy seeds are not blue (like the edible type found in the supermarket spice aisle.) I do not know their name, but they were yet another seed exchange acquisition three years ago. I am very happy with this pickup.

My skyscrapers were first planted in the 'mountainside' garden (the side yard slope) in autumn. They appeared in spring but were unimpressive, probably because the mountainside was still undergoing "soil improvement." Saving the seeds, they were sown in the front garden with more sun, great soil, and where other somniferum, pink bombast poppies [posted 2013.06.02] could chat with them.

poppies, dill, onions, beans all living together
As chaperone, I of course kept them separated out of caution to prevent any after-hours dalliance. I just did not know if double pink and single purple would produce some one-and-a-half breed. The purples bloomed better in the front yard, although were not as large as the bombasts. Seeds were again scattered last fall. As with all good gardeners, I forgot where things were planted, marker labels washed off, and frost/snow disrupted them.

The pink bombasts have managed to seed themselves into the sidewalk cracks, across the sidewalk, and over the asters and physostegia to the other side of the bed. They really got around (damn I thought I picked off all those seed pods last year.) After all this carousing by the pinks, the purples and pinks are blooming together nicely, and there has been no sign of illegitimates.

Some pink bombast poppies have hybridized with the other purple ones. A few purplish-pink single flower poppies have bloomed in the batch of pink ones, planted from seed taken from the pink ones. This is leading me to believe that the single flower trait is dominant, and that some of the purple fertilized the pinks last year to produce this new color.

The purples on the other hand, got spread around after tulips and dill were planted in the same spot - along with spring onions. So instead of a simple cluster, they have this haphazard appearance, like individual narrow skyscrapers, which is alright by me.

For The Record:
  • Good soil with organic amendments
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No disease or pests

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: rudbeckia, phlox, poppy, geranium, datura,
    tradescantia, echinacea, eschscholzia
  • Harvested: lettuce, snow peas, green beans

01 June 2015

Green-Eyed Monsters

Their eyes do not stay green. After a few weeks, they begin turning brown and go completely black - just like vampires in horror films. They do not, however, glow red, at least not yet.

Green-eyed susans are what I call them in the presence of my neighbors, allowing them to understand this plant as a form of black-eyes susans. Rudbeckia Hirti - Irish Eyes concluded my second attempt at growing from seed, and a successful lesson in persistence. In the first attempt, all seeds were sown directly in the ground, some germinated, and all passed on for no apparent reason. (Apparent to me.)

I thought to add them to my bucket list of plants (that kicked the bucket) and move on, but I spotted a pack of seeds at the annual seed exchange. I decided to take a chance on the expired seed pack. A few eyes were started indoors and three germinated. They were transplanted last spring, blooming a little last year -- their first year.

This year, the three returned from the hard winter, but one was hurting. Two were merrily growing tall, so I quickly quarantined (pulled out) the sick one, hoping that whatever winter flu it caught was not contagious.

Irish Eyes flowers display narrower petals than my other rudbeckia. Height is about the same at 3-feet (1 meter), which surprised me. I expected shorter. These are robust plants producing loads of flowers. Great posture too; every flower is horizontally flat. They grow fast, and are blooming already before the other rudbeckia.

Like the Rudbeckia hirti, they have come back strong in their second year. I will expect that they too will probably fizzle out next year while their seedlings taking over. My rudbeckia are known as half-hardy perennials. Eyes have last year's offspring growing around in the bed, so I will let them grow to learn if they come back as Irish, (or if their parents have been fooling around with the Mexican zinnias).

I looked for a story behind Irish Eyes and could only find that they are a cultivar (human bred) and not a variety (natural variation). I did find interesting tidbits about rudbeckia.

They are native to the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and were found in the New World in the 1600s by John Tradescant through French settlers. The originals, like many North American natives, found their way into European gardens, and were rediscovered and planted in American gardens in the mid 1800s. Rudbeckia were named after a Swedish professor of botany, Olaf Rudbeck.

"Rudbeckia are pollinated by insects and, in at least three species, the ultraviolet (UV) reflection patterns are different enough to allow for pollinator discrimination." This is one way pollinators can distinguish between cultivars and species of natives, even though everything else looks the same to us.

There are two dozen species of rudbeckia in North America. Some of the more popular ones are Rudbeckia amplexicalis (aka clasping coneflower or Mexican hat), Rudbeckia occidentalis (aka green wizard), and Rudbeckia fulgida (aka Goldstrum).
(Cultivar photos are not from my garden.)

For The Record:
  • Rich soil with organic amendments
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No disease although attracts black aphids

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: rudbeckia, phlox, poppy, geranium, tradescantia