Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winter Flowering Bulbs Part 2

Just pictures this week.  Late February and March is the peak time for this collection under my conditions.  Many more to come.

Androcymbium ciliolatum

Gladiolus tenellus.  Not super showy, but elegant and dainty with an almost overpowering fragrance reminiscent of Primula xpolyantha

Close-up of Cyclamen rolfsianum.  This has flowered September/October that past two years.  Endemic to Libya.

Cyclamen rolfsianum

Phaedranassa dubia.  Flowers produced only after distinct dry period.

 Tecophilea cyanocrocus.  Grows easily when planted deeply (about 1 inch above the bottom of the container) and given a long, shaded, dry period.  

Tecophilea cyanocrocus and T. cyanocorcus var. leichtlinii (or 'Leichtlinii' or Leichtlinii).  I have had these plants for 5 years and managed to make pollinations between them.  The seedlings may be large enough to bloom next year.  The fragrance of these plants is fantastic.

Romulea sabulosa.  The flower petals appear to have been cut from colored tin and have a distinct metallic sheen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Favorite Plant this Week

This is Iris (Juno) 'Sinpers'.  It was originally reported to be a hybrid between Iris sindjarensis and Iris persica, but is now considered Iris aucheri x I. persica.   This cross was made by Thomas M. Hoog of the famous Van Tubergen nursery and this clone has been circulating through the hands of discerning bulb collectors for decades.  I have had this plant a for three years; it flowered the first year, but not the second, and is now flowering again in its third season.  Juno (Iris subgenus Scorpiris) irises can be tricky to grow.  They need ample water and fertilization while growing, but almost complete dryness during the summer dormant period.  I grow mine in a very large pot (10 gallon or larger) with a medium composed of sand, limestone gravel, Turface, and pine-bark based woody plant container medium.  I fertilize early in the season with a 3-month slow release fertilizer and the occasional dose of 100ppm N liquid feed.  More than anything I think a deep root run and only occasional repotting and disturbance is the key to success.  The same applies to Oncocyclus irises.

I didn't mean to do that much writing.  But I think everyone should grow this plant, or at least get the chance to see it.  Your welcome.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A quintessential harbinger of spring

This is Eranthis pinnatifida (or Shibateranthis, depending on your taxonomic persuasion).  In my collection, this plant consistently flowers, with the protection of a moderately heated polyhouse, in February.  This thing is tiny and the plant photographed here has lived in this 4-inch pot for the last 4 years.  Despite it's diminutive size, it's quite tough, and would undoubtedly be hardy outside here in Columbus.  If not planted in a very special place in the garden, such a s trough or rock garden where it can be seen closer to eye level, it would be lost in the shuffle. 

The anthers of this species are purple-blue, a rarity among temperate angiosperms (I can only think of Stewartia malacodendron and S. ovata as others at the moment), but the pollen is white.  The yellow anther-like organs are nectaries, used to lure in pollinators.  It wouldn't be surprising to think that color of the anthers provides some signal to pollinators as well.

This Japanese native requires different conditions from the more commonly known and grown Eranthis hyemalis.  During the dormancy period (which lasts 9-10 months), the plant needs to be on the dry side, but not too dry.  I water the container about once per week.  Eranthis hyemalis is a great garden plant here, and can thrive in soils that are dry in summer.  I hope to try as many species of Eranthis as possible.

Has anyone ever been able to hybridize this species with any other Eranthis?

In Japan, this species is called Setsubun-So, and is revered by Japanese naturalists.  Here is a great link that discusses the meaning of the Japanese common name and other related interesting facts. 


A botanical remedy for short days, intense studying, and general wintertime angst

The days are short. My patience for menial tasks has withered. The days are short...did the sun even rise today? No way of knowing.  I have been sequestered away, frantically trying to review every bit of academic material touched upon during my graduate tenure.  This seems an endless task.  Time for a break.

And so, here it goes, the transient organic nature of my plant inspired ADD.  The mind rapidly returns to one of my last meaningful field days in the forests of Gallia county last early November.  In keeping with my interest in all things Liliaceae (sensu lato, some authors place this in the Melanthiaceae),  Stenanthium gramineum var. robustum is the target, but unexpected surprises started the day.

There are at least 6 species of Gentiana native to Ohio.  Gentiana andrewsii is perhaps the most common.  Despite this I have only found it one time before and only a few plants were present (in Erie County, the opposite end of the state).  This population in Gallia county consisted of many plants, some of which were quite robust and vigorous.  And loaded with mature seeds...

The beauty of this autumn-flowering gentian was enhanced by the light frost of the morning.  No doubt, the extended floral flourishes a product of the exceedingly mild Ohio autumn in 2011.  I have tried to grow this, and many other gentians from seed, with only limited success.  Often, success with Gentians is an "all or nothing affair", dependent upon obtaining fresh seed and choosing the proper germination protocol.  I was able to collect enough seeds that I was able to try a couple of different methods.  Time will tell if success is to be had.

Is this a sedge?  No, but it sure looks like it.  This is Stenanthium gramineum var. robustum the target of a expedition, and one of the most garden worthy and ornamental components of our native flora.  I had never actually seen the living plant, only herbarium specimens, and because of the plethora of sedges growing in association, I stopped to look at everyone until it became obvious that Stenanthium is like a sedge on steroids.  The inflorescence is a dead give away....

Isn't it purdy? It is always important to keep in mind the plastic nature of many plants.  By that I mean their intrinsic ability to respond to and produce fantastic displays of growth and flowering in garden settings that is rarely rivaled in natural settings.  What I mean to say is, just as you should never judge a book by it's cover, you should also never hastily judge a plant in accordance with its performance in the wild.

Coddled delicately between dwhr's fingers are the objects of desire, the trilocular capsules of Stenanthium gramineum var. robustum containing ripe and viable seeds.  We were fortunate to find these as the majority of the capsules had opened and the seeds had dehisced.  I was able to collect about 100 seeds of this, for some mysterious reason, rarely grown plant.  Seeds were sown immediately and progress will be updated.