Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time to Plan for Spring Bulbs if You Haven't Already

Think Spring; hard to do when you've had to wonder if a tropical storm would suddenly turn your way or you're pondering things political. Fall planning is necessary for a big show in Spring.

Juanita, I think. Spring, 2012.
2012 Hyacinths, forced
I made a tentative list. I'm forcing bulbs that will all be planted outside after they bloom. I know the experts say forced bulbs are spent and to toss them. They can be reclaimed with care to let the foliage mature. I'll be planting all bulbs in potting soil rather than forcing in water.
Violas and white Muscari, February 2012
What really prompted this post was a post on Dirt du Jour She shared there's to be a wedding in her backyard in late January and what will be blooming? It prompted me to think of what a glorious show forced Hyacinths and potted Violas would make under an early blooming deciduous Magnolia.
One hyacinth makes a statement; 7 bulbs make a big show.
These were chilled in a dedicated refrigerator before potting.
Read on to the bottom of the page to see them in bloom.
This was my favorite Amaryllis last year.
I read someone's blog who said she bought one Amaryllis every year before Christmas. I usually buy three. They make super gifts. If the bloom hasn't opened the recipient gets to watch it unfurl, which is the best part.
It's hard to choose a cultivar: Appleblossom has a fragrance; red is so stunning. One year I had some Amaryllis that were a deep apricot, you'd swoon at their beauty.  They need to be planted in good soil. Forcing in water one year was a bust.
Some of my paperwhites last year were 3 feet tall. I placed some in tall glass cylinders to help hold them upright, but they just bent over the sides. The ones above stayed upright with the help of some raffia. This year I'm going to try forcing some minature tazettas that I've heard will force easily.
Blue Jacket, 2012.
Bulbs will start shoing up in garden centers in about month. A little budget, a little list and I'm ready to go ahead and order off so I won't be tempted to buy on impulse instead of a plan.
If you live in a section of the country where voles are not a problem and winters get truly cold, by all means include tulips in your bulb plans. My forced tulips last Spring were mostly a bust.
Tulip 2012


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tropical Storms Bring Hurricane Flowers

More agapanthus are blooming, I noticed buds of red spider lilies Lycoris radiata are showing up. I could hardly wait to show the second blooms of Sternbergia and Rhodophiala.

Sternbergia lutea or Fall Crocus, sent me from Texas by Barbara Nason.
They were overtaken by yellow Lantana and moved two years ago.
They are now beside the walk to the mailbox so I can see them better. 

Fall can bring as many pretty blossoms from bulbs as Spring, but they're not as popular for some reason. Maybe because bulbs in spring follow a rather bleak winter. Summer flowers are still in bloom when the fall bulbs suddenly appear.

Rhodophiala bifida, Schoolhouse lily, also a Texas bulb, sent by Janie Varley.
These multiplied and I divided them two years ago an spread them around.
These are only the second bloom of each of these to emerge this year.
I'm waiting for Lycoris squamigera and Lycoris radiata to bloom. They may be waiting for the hurricane to bring lots more water -- they had 0.8 inch of rain yesterday. The Lycorises are sometimes called 'Hurricane Lilies' because they bloom in late August and early September, usually just after remnants of a tropical storm drops drenching rain on us. 
If the hurricane stays on track, winds and rain of Isaac may reach us by Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blooms in the NIght

Epiphyllum oxypetalum

Two of six blooms that opened tonight. I gave one to Debra T. with a piece
of stem and leaves that will be rootable.
I cut 4 when fully opened and put them in the extra refrigerator
for friends to see tomorrow. They'll stay open in the dark and cool. 
I brought one inside the house. The perfume is so sweet and spicy.

Brugs open wider at night and the perfume is delicious.

Brugmansia blooms waiting for pollinators in the night.

This is a real event. I never tire of seeing and smelling them.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Solanaceae: Plants of the Sun that Bloom in the Night

  Datura metel, 2009
The nightshades include vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. Petunias and nicotiana are among the hardy annuals in the Solanaceae family.

Vespertine flowers in family Solanaceae that I grow include Brugmansia suaveolens, Datura inoxia and Datura metel.

Brugmansia trumpets hang over the upward facing Datura metel.
Other pics of Purple Datura are here:

where I wrote about the purple Daturas in July.

I forget what notion caused me to plant Brugs and Daturas
in beds together, maybe to keep the noxious plants together.
Nearer the ground are the white Datura inoxias.

Blooming at night to attract moths that pollinate, the fragrance
is sweetly noticed on the breeze, almost intoxicating.
Daytimes, the foliage is acrid and unpleasant if bruised.

Every article on these plants emphasize that they are poisonous.

I did learn in my reading that the amount of alkloids varies, being more concentrated in poor soils. Some might be merely hallucinogenic; other plants might be deadly according to where they grow.

Datura inoxia.

These are hardy in zones 9-11. Here in zone 8b they die back
to the roots at frost. This one died back. The ones in the top pics
 I kept inside where tall plants lost all their leaves; new cuttings
fared a little better but are slower to bloom.

According to Iversen's book on Tropicals, Victorian gardeners planted
annuals in circles around the 'ankles' of specimen Brugmansias.
I am waiting for alternanthera under this one to fill in and turn red as
the weather gets cooler.

Previous years, there were also yellow double Datura metel in the garden.
I started seeds of the purple this spring, but never got around to yellow.

   Maybe next year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Butterfly Effect: Chaos Theory

Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas? was the title of a paper by Ed Lorenz who fifty years ago discovered the variability caused by something as slight as the movement of a butterfly's wings halfway around the world. I don't pretend to comprehend it, I just enjoy the butterflies who visit my garden and concern myself with planting flowers that they like.

A Spicebush Swallowtail  butterfly nectars on Pentas.

I read a number of science project papers by students who studied various aspects of butterfly life as affected by heat. They don't seem to mind the heat here at all, but I did find a Cabbage Looper (white with black spots) and a Dogface Sulphur (dark yellow with black edges) puddling on the cool damp floor of the greenhouse today.

Tiger Swallowtail nectaring on Duranta.

When I stepped back to get a broader view of Duranta, the Tiger
took off upwards. The pink is Crape Myrtle behind. Crape Myrtle is not
used as a nectar plant, but having more color in the garden seems to
attract more butterflies to the nectar plants.

Pipevine Swallowtail on Duranta.

 I'm hopeful that utterflies' flapping wings somewhere will bring us more rain. We had a couple days of cloudy weather and a few rain showers for which we are grateful. We could use a lot more rain and cooler days.

Gulf Frits are now evenly distributed between Duranta and
another favorite, Tithonia. As Tithonia gets rattier looking and
Duranta comes into more blooms, they seek the better nectar.

Every year I add more pics of the same kinds of butterflies and flowers and vow to stop doing so. When I go out to do garden chores, it's just so easy to slip a small camera in my pocket just in case. They never fail to show up and look pretty.