Monday, March 29, 2010

Loropetalum, or Laura Pedlum?

A frequent search term on my blog turns up as 'Laura Pedlum' which I believe to be gardeners looking for the fuchsia-fringed Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum. They will find the rosy ones here as well as Loropetalum chinense var. chinense, the white cultivar.

Both these are species plants from seedlings.

  Close-up pics of the white fringes of white Loropetalum.

Mature Loropetalums can be limbed up as trees, or allowed
to grow as hedges for privacy.

Loropetalums have been blooming here since back in February,
with scattered blossoms throughout the winter.
They will remain in bloom through the azalea/dogwood season
and bloom sprodically through the summer with a flush of
bloom in late August when many roses rebloom.

They remain evergreen through the winter, with varying foliage colors according to cultivar.
Many of them have red leaves in fall. Young plants will sometimes shed their leaves. 
There is a dwarf form. They're rated for zones 7-10, and prefer acidic soil.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where Did All these Plants Come From?

Did you winter sow too many? Did you start more seedlings indoors than you can accomodate? Have your native shrubs thrown suckers all around the original plant?  Have the plants you put out two years ago tripled in size and are now crowded? Did all your cuttings take? Oh, look, here's a plant that you thought was desirable that doesn't coordinate well with others in your bed! What to do?

When you have excess plants for whatever reasons, what do you do with them?
  • Dig them and distribute to friends for their gardens? Lantana montevidensis crawled down the hill and out between Salmon Sheen daylilies. The rooted pieces have new growth are ready to dig and give to friends.
  • Sell them. Some gardeners find an outlet at private nurseries to grow plants for the owners. Others put them out by the street with a little sign and money jar for the honor system.
  • Compost them. Members on daylily forums scandalize new daylily enthusiasts when they talk about composting seedlings that do not measure up to standards.  It's hard to thin baby plants when they come up 'thick as the hair on the dog's back' but it is for the best to give sturdy plants growing room.
  • Place at the curb with a sign that says 'Free Plants' -- what a bargain for new gardeners. Maybe not such a bargain if they are thugs?
  • Box up and mail for trade. It is a thrill to get a box in the mail with plants you've never grown, or an envelope of seeds. Mailing isn't cheap. The same money could go for plants locally but there are things that you may not find, like a fan of someone's seedling daylily never before seen or a tropical plant to try in a slightly cooler climate.
Soon the garden will be full of plants. Where are your extras going?

I put another Poll on my sidebar, please look and participate if you will.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Violas, of Course!

Carol of May Dreams Gardens asked which we preferred, Violas or Pansies? Those big Pansy faces are so beautiful. For non-stop bloom in all but the hardest freezes in my garden, I choose Violas. They will continue until the sun gets really hot in May. My love affair with pansies goes back more than half a century, when Miss Ann and Miss Susan let me pick the colorful pansy faces in their garden. I didn't know then that deadheading kept them going.

My garden Guru, Miss Billie, taught me that violas endure more cold and more heat than pansies and make a better show in the winter garden by the sheer number of little blossoms, making up for their small size. Miss Billie always ordered 3 flats of yellow because they show up well. I want them all.

Blue Violas make a good backdrop for daffodils, here Tahiti.

Yellow and purple violas with emerging Purple Heart.

Orange violas will blend well with California poppies in the beds.

First California poppy blossom in my garden.

Do you plant Violas or Pansies?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Daffodil Season Lasts More than a Month

I haven't shown you all my Daffodils. Daffodil season lasts roughly a month, extended by planting early bulbs like old fashioned trumpets and late bulbs like Jack Snipe and Salome, yet to bloom here. Little Minnow has put up a tentative blossom, usually reluctant to bloom at all. Maybe he's planted too deep. Rip Van Winkle, which came in a comination of miniatures, has never bloomed. I dug him up and replanted, thinking he might wake from that long nap. Every year I get marvelous uniquely glaucous foliage but no blossoms.

I showed you the early bloomers: Trumpets and Large Cups including Ice Follies, Fortune, Juanita and Carlton around Bloom Day. The Thirteenth, the Fifteenth and the Sixteenth you saw those and The Doubles, Erhlicheer and Ice King. Minis Little Gem, Tete a Tete, Jet Fire, February Gold and Topolino, Jonquila Sweetness and some ancient Tazettas that we call Narcissus -- they are all Narcissus, botanically.


Now blooming are Triandrus: Thalia, Ice Wings and Hawera; Jonquilla Sailboat, Doubles Tahiti and Van Sion, and the lovely Large Cup, Pink Charm.

If I had to choose a favorite it would probably be Ice Follies. A Large Cup that does well in the south, Ice Follies was one of the first I planted here. Its season here was extended because I planted new bulbs last fall. Many of them bloomed a little late.

Ice Follies fades to white as it matures.

My favorite of the new bulbs might be Tahiti.

I can hardly wait to see Salome. Who's waiting to bloom at your place?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Left from the Time of Dinosaurs: Sago Palm

Cycas revoluta, the Sago Palm. I aspired to one when first I saw them in Florida. Nurse Gwen dug one from around her MIL's cycad, potted it and gave to me. After its first winter in the garden, all the fronds were brown and dry and I was sure it was dead. It put out four new fronds. I cut off the old ones. Every year afterward, it multiplied fronds in multiples of 4: first 8, then 12, then 16, then 24. If old fronds died, I cut them off. When it got a leggy stem, I heaped compost around it.

Last spring, the usual whorl of emerging fronds looked odd. It was rounder. It got bigger but the fronds didn't emerge and were overlapped and tan.

It took a while for me to decide there was something amiss. I searched and learned that my cycad was a female, in what most be the nesting mode for a Cycad. The bad part was, by the time I figured it all out, it was too late to have searched for a male cone and pollinated. If there was pollination, it would have to come on the wind from far away. I couldn't remember seeing another cycad in the community. In the fall, I looked and there were little orange seeds there.

Today, I decided to see if there might be any viable seed. I raked out pieces of the 'nest' and found many tiny undeveloped seedpods and about 4 that were bigger than the first joint of my thumb. I took a handful of seeds, floated them in rainwater. All floated except for 2 of the largest. I planted those two and some of the others. I noticed that one rattled when I shook it. I cut it open and there was a seed kernel inside the size of a marble; it had separated from the hard coat. I've since learned that this means that the seed dried out.

Winter was not kind to cycads in this part of the country. Mine has damage and I've cut off some dead fronds. I saw some in Tallahassee in February that were totally brown and looked dead. I hope they'll come back.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It Isn't Easy, Staying Green

I overseeded our winter-dormant centipede lawn last fall with annual ryegrass. It made a beautiful green lawn in the front yard and a small oval in the Upper Garden. No watering, no fertilizer. Today He-who-mows, who had not been enthusiastic about the overseeding when I did it, said he thought we should have planted a broader area, taking in the backyard and the pecan patch.

You can read about the benefits of planting a cover crop here. University Agriculture sites such as Purdue and Cornell Universities have similar documentation.

The Pecan Patch in the background could have been green now, too.

The Oval Lawn in the Upper Garden

Loropetalum trees on the north side of the Oval Lawn

Annual rye will die when the weather gets hot and regular perennial grasses overtake it. Nitrogen fixing and extraction of potassium and phosphorus from the subsoil will benefit the lawn. Any stray grass clumps in flower beds are easily pulled.

Maybe next year, all will be green. A 50 pound bag of annual ryegrass seed costs less than $15.00. The return is priceless.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wild Geraniums, Porch Geraniums and Pelargoniums

It isn't enough that common names and botanical names are sometimes interchanged. We're never sure whether a gardener is referring to Geraniums commonly called Cranesbill -- the REAL geraniums botanically -- or Pelargoniums which was the only Geranium I ever knew until I was grown. Mama's Geraniums had big red balls of summer bloom, in a flower pot. We didn't know the Cranesbill kind in the Sultry South.

When I moved to South Georgia, I learned about Wild Geranium, which is a real geranium species, but treated as a weed here. It has the little cranesbill seed pods and comes up everywhere in spring. If it is in a rich flower bed, it makes big leaves and little pink blossoms that look somewhat like the pictures of desirable geraniums that I've only seen in photos because they don't thrive here. Wild geranium dies when the sun gets hot and the weather sultry. Cranesbills will suffer the same fate here.

Wild Geranium on a compost heap, not yet in bloom here.

It isn't enough that we have common names and latin names for plants; sometimes you have to sort through some local names, too.

The other geranium that I learned about is the Porch Geranium, which some people plant around their porch for summer bloom. They have lovely blue, sometimes pink blooms composed of multiple small florets in a huge ball. By now you may have guessed that Porch Geranium is a folk name for Hydrangea macrophylla.

Hydrangea serrata 'Woodlanders' and Hydrange macrophylla in bloom
with a pot of pink hydrangea -- the same blue, rooted in potting soil.
Hydrangeas are putting on new growth here.
Show is New growth on H. macrophylla
'Mariesii Variegata' lacecap.

Hydrangeas will follow the big show of azaleas, starting in May.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ice Cream Colors In the Garden

When I sorted my latest Hyacinth pics, I thought they looked like the colors of icy desserts. When I looked at the names of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream online, I was amused to find many names that are puns: Jamaica Me Crazy, Cherry Garcia, Imagine Whirled Peace, Berried Treasure; Berry, Berry Extraordinary. None of my Hyacinths have such delightful names, but they still remind me of tasty treats.

One year I bought mixed hyacinths and sorted the bulbs by color. You can't really tell the true color, but the reddish bulbs will be pink or lavender or magenta. Bulbs with a darker cast will be purple or blue and the palest tan bulbs will be yellow or white.  That year I ended up with pink, lavender and the lovely apricot Gypsy Queen planted together and they were fortunately all later blooming.

Gypsy Queen, Pink Pearl and Top Hit
Also later blooming hyacinths are pale yellow City of Haarlem and Blue Jacket. China Pink have remained in bloom for a long time.

The extended cold we complained of in February had a positive effect on hyacinths. Stems are longer and florets bigger. The fragrance is as delightful as ever. I'm glad I gave up tulips for hyacinths and kept daffodils. As hyacinths wane, late daffodils take up the show, followed by azaleas and dogwood. The very first white azalea blossoms are open in a sheltered area.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rhododendron alabamense, and other Native Azaleas part III

R. alabamense. Notice the yellow blotch which distinguishes this azalea.

Alabamense at Ichauway Plantation, 2006

Yellow hybrid from the Varnadoe collection

Native azaleas April, 2009 at Ichauway Plantation

If you missed the first two posts on Native Azaleas, they can be found here:

There are 26 species of rhododendrons and azaleas native to north America.

American native azaleas were being exported to England in 1736.
Chinese azaleas were brought to America in 1855 to develop cold hard varieties.

The azaleas in my garden are all hybrids developed from the Asian cultivars, except for one Alabamense not photogenic at all right now with tight, tight buds and a yellow native.
We expect azalea blooms late this month and into April. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Foliage Followup: Hide Bulb Foliage As It Ripens?

Foliage following Bloom Day this month are examples of plants planned to hide maturing bulb foliage. Just as bulbs must be planned in a previous season, seeds must be scattered or perennials planted in a timely manner to grow on in time to mask the foliage of daffodils and other bulbs. The longest lasting green with which I work is Hyacinth foliage. I read to remove the dead florets leaving the green stalk as it helps with photosynthesis as the leave do. Just in case, I leave that thick healthy stem.

In this bed, there are hyacinths and Ice Follies blooming. Coming on for later are plants of  'Little Business' daylily.

In front of and around Ice Follies are seedlings of Black Eyed Susans, Poppies and Larkspur. Poppies and Larkspur were seeded in November, as were California poppies, not shown here. Rudbeckia reseeds freely. Gardeners in colder zones might adjust planting times to fit.

Lily foliage is emerging from the soil.
Tall and slender, lilies hide little, but blooms draw attention
away from ripening foliage of earlier plants.

Many annuals and perennials will hide bulb foliage. My mother always planted Shirley Poppies which  I call corn poppies. Sweet William dianthus as well as cottage pinks will be blooming soon. Silene, or Catchfly has a nice bluish foliage, blooming just after poppies here. Cornflowers, Nigella, Rose Campion and other early annuals and biennials are recommended. 

Not every bulb bed will have to be disguised. Areas where daffodils are in large beds of nothing but bulbs are just left bare until the foliage dies back here. Those areas are not prominently viewed from the roadway. He-who-mows knows not to mow there, aided by a bit of green surveyor's tape surrounding the bed. Once the foliage matures, the whole area reverts to rough lawn.

Many bulbs are just coming up here while others are almost done blooming. It's a long show and very satisfying. Adding more bulbs every fall makes it more exciting. It isn't too early to plan for next fall's plantings for spring excitement in 2011.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bloom Day Ides of March

Caesar: The ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Aye, Caesar, but not gone.
—Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1

The Ides of March brought an abundance of blooms following recent rains and a few days of temperatures in the sixties. I've shown many of the different daffodils blooming here in recent posts. For those of you who like to see the whole and not just the blossom, I made distance pics with a very few close up so you can enjoy certain blooms.

Blue Delft Hyacinths and a Camellia. The grey haze at upper right is Dogwood in bud

White Camellia

Daffodils looking south

Daffodils looking north
At upper left is 'Leonard Messel' magnolia

'Ice Follies' daffodils with seedling poppies and larkspur

Magnolia stellata 'Leonard Messel'

Beyond the magnolia, you can see green haze of spring.

Sailboat jonquillas in the near view.
Loropetalum in the distance.

This is what I see from my kitchen window.

A closer look at 'China Pink' hyacinths

We studied 'Julius Caesar' by Shakespeare in Sophomore English class.

There's a poll on my sidebar that incorporates a popular poem about what causes plants to die. Be sure to check off any excuses there for a lack of blooms today.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daffodil Friends and a Trickle of Muscari

Come, let me introduce you to my Daffodils. Juanita, Carlton, Ice King and the others would like to meet you and be your friends too. Some await warmer weather before coming out to visit, but many of them are happily blooming since March came in like a lamb.

Trumpets are the daffodils that most of us know, the big yellow blossoms that herald spring. Some have both perianth and trumpet in brightest yellow; some have white petals and a yellow cup, some have an orange cup. All are beautiful. I stopped worrying about the names of the big daffodils and just plant bags of mixed daffodils intended for southern gardens without worry. 

Mixes usually have both Trumpets and Large Cups. The difference is in the length of the cup. Among my favorite Large Cupped daffodils are Juanita and Ice Follies. Carlton is one that is most often sold among the large Cups and recommended for the south.

Large Cups yet to bloom in my garden include Pink Charm and Salome.

Double Daffodils in bloom now include Ice King, a sport of Ice Follies, and Erlicheer. If the weather is too warm, Ice King may sometimes revert to the single Ice Follies. After the extended cold in February, Ice King is beautifully doubled.

 Erlicheer blasted in 2009 when February was unusually warm as the buds formed. They dried up and died in the perianth. This year they're making a great show, if a bit late. Double Tahiti is formng buds.

I'm showing the littles together that are blooming now. The Cyclamineus Jetfire, well named because of the orange cup and very reflexed petals is one of my faves. It first blooms yellow and I have it planted with some little Tete a Tetes so I can tell which is which. Tete a Tete has no classification. It is a prolific grower here.

Little Gem and Topolina are miniature Trumpets, both early bloomers; Sweetness is a Jonquilla.

Yet to bloom are Jonquillas: Hillstar, Sailboat and tiny Baby Moon.

None of the triandrus here are blooming yet: Thalia, Ice Wings and Hawera.

The heirloom Tazetta that we call Narcissus is blooming, as are rescued forced paperwhites.
The double heirloom that may be Van Sion has buds.
Both were here before I was.

Planting both early and late cultivars extends the daffodil season.

I've always aspired to a River of Muscari just like the photos at Keukenhof. I finally settled for a Trickle, which has dwindled to a few drops. I've tried different cultivars, including starch hyacinths. It just isn't going to happen, my River, not even a tiny Stream.

But Look! Those are seedlings of Larkspur behind the Muscari!