Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wild Poinsettia

 Two or three years ago I found a wild poinsettia growing beside the road. I pulled it up, took it home, and planted it in my flower bed. Maybe I should not have done that. In the beginning the poor plant seemed to struggle and I tried to help it along by giving it extra water when it was dry. The next year there was one more measly tiny plant a few inches from the original. I wished the 8 inch tall plants would grow a little better.
 This year, after a rainy spring these flowers are popping up all over my flower bed. The tallest is about 2 feet tall. They are very pretty, providing dots of color and clear green foliage, but their numbers have started to worry me.
 I found out that my lovely little wild poinsettia's name is Euphorbia cyathophora, a member of the spurge family, a family well known for at least one invasive member (leafy spurge). Spurges have milky sap that irritates some people, but overall, we know there is little to fear from poinsettia. There are several other species that are used and enjoyed for their exotic looks by the horticultural trade.
 I guess I will let these grow and try to dispose of some of them before they go to seed and take over the whole bed. They are pretty.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Another Dish Garden

This dish garden has grown out beautifully. The Streptocarpus with purple blooms takes the show but the strawberry begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) adds variety with it's variegated foliage . In the right back the red undersides of a Rex begonia leaf stand out.
Ever since I started thinking about dish gardens, everything I see seems like a good container to make one in! At a local nursery I saw a gorgeous one in a square box made from 2x4's. I have a colorful enamel pot that I can hardly wait to plant. I think I'll leave the color to the pot in this case and use shades of green leaves or different leaf shapes to provide interest.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Two Evening Beauties

 The evening primroses I have shown before, but their sudden unfolding is a marvel that I don't tire of.  About 8 PM, they stick a little tongue of  a petal out and soon thereafter swiftly  unfold. At the last the sepals snap back and downward to fully release the blossom.
Last night I had 8 night cereus blooms. Tonight I have 15. They are another night blooming marvel worth celebrating. Their heady fragrance and feathered stigma give them an exotic air that is always worth a second look.

Now if the humidity was not so awful....

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dish Gardens With Succulents

I made several dish garden back in the early spring. Succulents do not need much care and so are excellent candidates for dish gardens. The difference in terrariums and dish gardens is terrariums are enclosed, or mostly so Both require careful watering . Too much water will be the death of almost any plant, especially in a container that doesn't drain.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


 I had lots of beautiful Iris during April. Here is one whose color combination is uniquely beautiful with bright yellow standards and lavender falls.. I have no idea what the cultivar is. Can you guess and let me know?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Two Species of Oenothera (Evening Primrose)

Oenothera speciosa has taken over my gerbera daisy bed. A few years ago I threw some evening primrose seed  in  a bed which up till then had been occupied largely by gerbera daisies and roses. It took about 2 years for them to take hold, and now I have just left the battlefield, They are such simple beautiful flowers that I let them bloom and enjoy them. After most of the blooms are gone I hoe them out, but they continue to re-sprout, so it's a task I do several times a season
My mother used to refer to these as cornbread flowers, I assume it was because they are so plain, yet beautiful, These pink wildflowers are virtually indestructible and you can often see them blooming along the roadside.They bloom most of the month of May

The month of June brings in another evening primrose. It is Oenothera biennis. Their bright yellow flowers open around 8 PM and are worth the a nightly celebration. I like to sit outside close to the bed and watch them open. The sudden unfolding is worth seeing, and more than once. They are pollinated by sphinx moths. Japanese beetles consider them delicious.
Sundrops and several other evening primroses can often be seen along roadsides, but this one  is a biennial, only making a foliage rosette the first year, and dying after it makes seed. It's flowers are large (3/4 inches across). It opens in the evening and closes as the sun begins to warm the next day. the sad drooped blossoms are not likely to attract any attention during the day. But just wait til evening!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Seedling Clematis

                                                            Above is Clematis 'Ramona'

Below is what I believe are 2 seedlings of 'Ramona'. I found them nearby in an area overgrown with day lilies and spirea. I dug them out and replanted one in a pot and one in the ground.  The next year they bloomed. Of course Sweet Autumn Clematis reseeds like crazy, which is why you see it growing wildly along roadsides, but I have never had a hybrid Clematis reseed as far as I know. They are not that easy to get to germinate, as I have found by planting seed in a pot. They require freezing, maybe several cool/warm periods and  some voodoo. But apparently Mother Nature knows how to say the right words.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

 Rudbeckia or cone flowers come in all variations of, as well as annuals, biennials, and perennials. They are a joy to grow and easy as pie. They look best in a mass planting, but I have a few spread hither and yon about my entire yard and flower beds. I even scattered some seed along the roadside and they bloomed this year also.
 The larger yellow flower near the top is an evening primrose.
I had a glorious crop of these around this stump last year and they reseeded and are back this year.
Rudbeckia are commonly called cone flowers or black-eyed-susans.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Gloriosa Lily

 This is Gloriosa Lily, a beautiful colorful flower That has climbing tendrils at the end of the leaves. It can grow to 9/10 feet tall, although mine usually top out at about 5/6 feet. They can stand alone at first, but as they get taller and the buds begin to develop, they lean or flop and without support will scramble along the ground. They willingly reach out and take hold of any available support, plant or trellis.
 Gloriosa is a member of the Cholchicaceae, and as you might guess is poisonous, so don't eat any.
I have been growing mine for many years and originally purchased one from a home gardener in south Alabama. Through the years it has spread to the point that I have quite a nice group now.
 The bulbs are flat and do not clump as most lilies. They form new plants at a distance of a couple of feet from the last plant. I have successfully moved one to another bed, but always feel anxious about how to do it. I think the best way is to wait til they begin to die back and then move them. Once they have died back, they are hard to find underground and you run the risk of damaging the bulbs.
The sources say they are only hardy in zones 10 and 11 and zone 9 with mulch. I did not know that and mine have always thrived in my zone 8 garden. Full sun is best, but they can be perfectly beautiful in some shade.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chirita longgangensis, An African Violet Relative

This Chirita(C. longgangensis), an African Violet relative native to the Far East, has been blooming for me for several months. They can thrive with less care (cooler temps, less light) than AV. They bloom best when the roots are crowded and  should be grown on the dry side, letting them get dry before watering.  Leaves are woolly like AV. I have never seen these for sale in stores, but they are readily available online. I got mine through trades.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ramona Clematis

The above picture is a bit washed but it shows how prolific the blooms are. It blooms on both old and new wood, so pruning to keep in shape or size is not a problem as it will continue to bloom. And it does bloom off and on throughout the summer. I cut off the seed heads when the bloom has finished to help it along toward more blooms. I have been growing this Clematis for 30 years. It was originally ordered from Park's Seed.

This is a closer look at Ramona and shows better color, which is a bluish purple, a deep vibrant color.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Beautiful, but...

 While resting in the hammock and thinking how fortunate I am , every once in a while I would catch a whiff of something that was not altogether pleasant. In fact, it smelled pretty much like urine. Turned out it was this orchid. A pretty thing, but don't get too close!!!

The name tag on this one says Epicattleya El Hatillo 'Pinta, and the name indicates an intergeneric cross between a Cattelya (corsage type orchid) and an Epidendrum, and the description described it's fragrance as pleasant and sweet. NOT! I bought it for $5 from the clearance table at Lowe's.

See some examples of  Epidendrum here.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Terrariums Made From Coffee Pots

These terrariums have been growing about 2 months. It can be difficult to find the right size plants that will grow slowly enough to stay a nice size in their container for a period of a few months. I never fertilize dish gardens or terrariums as I want them to stay small, so as to not outgrow their container. I water in very small amounts about once a week in hot weather,but always keep an eye on them to make sure they collect only a minimum of water on the sides of the glass. Since these are succulents, less water is definitely better than more. When watering put only a few drops in at once to avoid splashing and keep to a minimum the water I add. I covered the soil in the top two containers with sand to make a neater appearance. The bottom two I covered with aquarium gravel.

The tall prickly looking plant in the above terrarium has grown an inch or more in the 2 months since I made this. It may soon have to be removed as it is almost touching the top of the container now. The jade plant is also likely to get too big fairly quickly.
The tiny plant in this one is a stone crop. It is also growing too long. I can cut it back to size using scissors.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Japanese Beetles Arrived

A few days ago the Japanese beetles started arriving, or perhaps I should say hatching, as they were already here,  just not in a form that wanted to eat my evening primroses (Oenothera). You can see on this early picture how they have already gnawed away at the leaves. Not to be deterred though, the evening primroses are still putting on a show, even if their leaves are ragged. When I saw the first one, I got my little pail, put about an inch of water and a squirt of dish liquid in it, and started knocking them in for a bath. They are unable to escape once they hit the water, and I get a great deal of pleasure out of this method of extermination. I do the bath technique several times/day. as time permits.I use the same water 2 or 3 days til it starts to smell, and just keep the bucket ready as I have time to kill a few. No poison is involved, and I honestly think it works as well as poison, maybe better. There is no hope of getting rid of them all anyway.
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