Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Funny looking seeds of Anemone tomentosa 'Rosbustissima'?

After blooming profusely in early autumn the Anemones have produced an unusual looking seed head. The seeds are tiny and dark about the size of poppy seeds on top of a cottony wool. It would seem that the seeds should be closer to the stem as in other plants but somehow the seeds are coating the top of the cotton balls. I had never seen this before so when the first ones started to form I thought some cotton got caught on a branch.

The other Anemone planted nearby 'Honorine Jobert' is also producing a seedhead but so far just a tightly formed nub and nothing like the tomentosa. Perhaps this is because Honorine Jobert is a hybrid and infertile.

I'll collect the seeds and plant them to see if they are viable.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A blossom of substance

Our camellia is blooming once again. This is a true Camellia (at least the Japanese consider this to be the true camellia), C. japonica and different from the previously posted, lighter pink, C. sasanqua. This is the third year in ground and the plant has thrived. At first I thought the flowers were too gaudy for my taste. But I've come around. Very few flowers -perhaps a rose, peony or poppy- have the substance of it. Hard to explain but maybe it's the sculptural thickness of the flower - the dense color and bundled stamen and pistils. Wonderful that it blooms this time of year too when almost nothing else brightens our garden.

In spite of the dirt, slight frost damage to the petals and my inept photography, the camellia still looks gorgeous.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I didn't know Salvias were so tough or long flowering

Despite temperatures dipping below the freezing mark this Salvia keeps flowering - at least those in slightly protected areas. I bought a packet of seeds two years ago and broadcast it in the open space between shrubs. It dies back in winter but self seeds and we've had as many plants this year as last. I'm guessing but it's probably a variety of S. officinalis or pratensis. It grows quite tall and will fall over in a wind but a stand of it holds up quite well. We love the look of it so put up with the few that fall.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A weed by name only

Yesterday morning on the dog walk I chanced upon this funny looking flower brightening the dreary and raw morning. It looks to be a weed but a bold one to bloom this late in the season. What could it hope would pollenate it now? It has a rather comical look, like it is wearing puffy pantaloons with a white collar sprouting where the waist should be. A gift.

Thanks to Annie in Austin the flower has been identified as probably: Silene latifolia and kindly supplied the following website.

From wikipedia: "Silene latifolia, or White Campion, is a flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to most of Europe, western Asia and north Africa. It is a herbaceous annual, occasionally biennial or a short-lived perennial plant, growing to between 40-80 cm tall."

"It is naturalised in North America, being found in most of the United States, the greatest concentrations of the plant can be found in the north-central and northeastern sections of the country."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why the difference. Beats me?

Our Japanese bloodgrass Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra' was planted about 3 years ago and has never done well. The colors were anemic and the leaves thin. This year it did amazing well with good color and fairly vigorous growth. Why the difference? Same location, same food and water, I don't get it. Maybe it takes a long time to establish? A very nice looking plant now though.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bees in November!

Yesterday morning, before the rainstorm, I happened to look at the Sasanqua Camellia 'Marti' in full bloom. It's about the only thing left that's in flower right now. The amazing thing is that there were about a dozen bees flying and landing on the flowers. Not any old bee but honeybees. I don't see many honeybees anymore and only the occasional one or two but not a dozen at one time and this late in the year. It was 72 degrees so I guess the bees still weren't in hibernation. Probably gathering a late season snack before sacking in.

I gave the flower a sniff to see what the bees were attracted to. Well...I got a snoot full of almost nothing. Sort of a musty smell. Not what I had expected. Bees must have a different kind of smeller.

Note the pollen packet on the bee's leg in the first picture. And an interloping yellowjacket coming for the feast in the last pic.

It was quite a windy day so it was a good test for my new camera with image stabilizer which worked amazingly well. I could never have taken the shots with my old camera, everything would have been a blur. I can highly recommend the Panasonic DMC LZ2 and above digicams for this reason alone. It also has nice saturated colors. As usual click on the photos to enlarge.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Indomitable spirit

When we moved to our present home 5 years ago, I was cleaning out the basement and setting up shelving when I noticed that the previous owner had installed a shelf right under the casement window. I thought this rather odd but I noticed a scattering of potting soil and two pitifully shriveled jade plant leaves (Crassula ovata). Now why would anyone grow plants in a basement window especially when the window is almost at ground level and not very much light enters?

Amazingly, I noticed that one of the leaves actually had a tiny wilted but still alive two leafed plant growing from the leaf base. I placed this in some potting soil, gave it water and left it in a bright window in the breakfast area where I could keep an eye on it. Well...I didn't have to worry because it thrived on just regular watering when the soil got dry and very little else. It grew to be an enormous plant about 2 1/2 feet high and at least 20 pounds including the clay pot. As it shed leaves more plantlets would form and I diligently planted these too. We gave a whole bunch of them away as Christmas presents one year and more keep coming.

The one pictured is actually a three year plant and not the original which was given away to a special friend which must be a monster now but it gives you an idea of how vigorous the plant is. The other plants are off casts from the bigger plant. We had a plant when we lived in Hawaii that was about 3 1/2 feet tall by 3 feet wide so they do get to be a good sized plant. I heard that in S. Africa - where the plant originates from - they use it as a hedge! I know they flower but have yet to see one of the ones I've grown in bloom.

All this abundance from a plant leaf that hung on for months without water or soil - such a tenacious spirit!

The pot looks too small for the larger plant and it is only because it's top heavy and tends to fall over. Crassulas like to be in small cramped pots.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I wish they would quit having plant sales

A big box store is having a 75% off sale on shrubs and trees. Oh no! I had my eyes on two hornbeam trees, Carpinus betulus 'Columnaris' because of it's unusual skinny, tall growth and interesting small but deeply veined leaves. The 15 feet tall trees were previously on sale for 50% off of the $99 price but no takers. As soon as I saw it would be less than $25 each I jumped at the deal. So now two grace our yard.

Unfortunately there were many sizeable beautiful japanese maples which I have a fondness for too so at most less than $25 we bought 6 different varieties. In a marathon planting session I managed to dig and plant 7 trees yesterday and today I reap the rewards? of abuse to my body. Beautiful trees though. And more to plant as soon as the rain stops.

The photos are of the Enkianthus I bought at the plant auction. I didn't realize they had beautiful leaves in Fall. I bought them because I liked the beautiful bell shaped flowers which look somewhat like blueberry flowers. I believe these are Enkianthus perulatus the white enkianthus from Japan a zone 6-9 plant. I purchased some Enkianthus seed several years ago because I couldn't find the plant in the local nurseries but was not successful in growing the plant even after following the instruction to a T, including stratification. I'm glad to have the bonus of the beautiful fall colors making this a 2 season interest plant.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The falling leaves...

An unknown (un-named)green leafed japanese maple dropping leaves after the rain.

One more japanese maple - Seiryu green dissectum

One more japanese maple in fall color. This is a Seiryu a green dissectum. It is unusual because it is an upright one when all the rest are weeping. I really love this maple, beautiful spring growth and lacy summer leaves and now it turns this gorgeous color in fall.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Japanese maple Beni kawa

While we're on japanese are some photos of "Beni kawa" another red twig jm as a contrast to the previous post's "Sango kaku"...actually photos of two different Beni kawa trees. I got the Beni kawa as a 1 year graft last fall from a mail order nursery in Oregon. It's a vigorous grower and has grown to about 3 feet height in a year. This is much faster than the Sango kaku. The bark is also a much more brilliant red than the Sango kaku and the leaves have a reddish tinge as compared to the Sango kaku's yellow. A great alternative if you can't find the more ubiquitous Sango kaku. We just bought another Sango kaku at Home Depot at their 1/2 price tree sale for $30 which is a great deal for a Japanese maple. If they have them at HD it must be fairly common.

I was messing around with some photo frames for PS Elements/Photoshop and added it to these pictures. It was like pulling teeth with much swearing as there are so many steps to perform...highly unintuitive. Better to get software that will automatically frame something for you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Japanese maple Sango Kaku in fall colors

Sango Kaku (Coral tower) Syn: Senkaki (Coral bark maple, cinnabar wood maple) [Vetrees], one of the red twig japanese maples turn a bright yellow in fall. You would think with the very bright red twigs the leaves would also turn bright red but not so.

The leaves of the newer water sprout growth on the left of the full tree photo is a different color. It's not a growth below the graft so it's part of the sango kaku. I'll probably prune this off. This small tree was transplanted from the front yard where it was exposed to the winter winds and in full sun during the summer months. It's now partially shaded and in a much more sheltered location so it has thrived and doubled it's size in a year.

Japanese maples are very tough trees and don't suffer from transplant shock, at least I haven't noticed drooping or shriveled leaves at all. A very good thing because I tend to move plants a lot. I've moved a sizeable dissected leaf red jm and this sango kaku with very good results. I've dug up many one year old grafts without any dying. A great little tree.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Paperbark Maple Acer Griseum

I planted a small copse of paperbark maples about 3 years ago in two plantings. I bought one tree first and it died. There was a end of year sale so I bought 3 more, planted it in the same location as the first and they all promptly died. I read later that they don't like to have water-logged roots and they prefer a slightly akaline soil. The site where I planted the trees had neither. It was boggy when it rained, acidic soil and exposed to winter winds.

I always admired the look of the tree with its attractive exfoiliating bark and reddish, rich brown trunk. I thought of getting another tree but not having any success and the cost of the trees held me back.

We were at a nursery auction where they had gorgeous large paperbark maples but the auction was slowly wending its way toward the maples, too slowly, so I didn't get to bid on one.

Well, several weeks back, I spotted one at the local nursery we frequent and it was for sale for only $25 bucks. I had to pounce on the deal and once again we have an Acer griseum. This time I planted it in a drier spot and added a small amount of lime to the soil before planting on a raised mound. It's still not in an ideal location i.e. a sheltered spot in the yard and it will be somewhat exposed to the winter winds but I hope it will survive.

Acer griseum originally comes from China and apparently they are becoming rare there so I feel a little guilty that we have raped yet another species from other lands for our own pleasure. These trees are propagated here so I don't feel too badly but it's a sad comment on plant collecting. This is compounded by the fact that the seeds of this tree are mostly infertile so the tree is difficult to propagate.

Please excuse the jumbled format. I switched to the new Blogger and changed the template too...need to do some tweaking. Again, I'm using Firefox but it sure looks different in Microsoft IE. I wish we could have some consistency. I will slowly make the corrections.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

At last! Camellia sasanqua 'Marti' blooming

I've waited 3 years for this Camellia to bloom. It barely survived the first year when planted in a more exposed place in the yard. Unfortunately 2 other Camellias bought at the same time did not make it. I guess the cold was too much even if one was in a sheltered place. The dieback was very bad. The sasanqua Camellias are only hardy to zone 7 not the zone 9 I previously mentioned so the two that I have, a japonica and sas. are barely hanging on in the most sheltered place in the yard next to the dryer vent. The japonica being the hardier.

It's difficult to tell from the photo if the 'Marti' is a semi-double but I'll have to see when it's fully opened. Sasanquas apparently are usually single petalled so a semi would be unusual. I was hoping for a white as our japonica is also a dark pink but 'Marti' looks as if it will be beautiful so I'm quite pleased. The flower is smaller than the japonica at about "2 in diameter. I haven't seen any photos of 'Marti' doing a Google search so I don't know if it is rare there are over 3000 cultivars I guess even the web can't have pictures of them all?

The Japanese call the sasanqua 'sazanka' and don't consider it to be a true camellia, as opposed to the japonica, 'tsubaki'. Here's more information about C. sasanqua.
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Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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