Sunday, January 26, 2014

red lion

This amaryllis was given to me as a gift last year, as "Red Amaryllis" so I assume that it is 'Red Lion' which is the most common red amaryllis out there. We've all seen it. We've probably all grown it. So not a lot of reason to post it. But what we don't realize from all the pretty studio photos of this amaryllis, is the incredible lights in the petals, the silky shininess, or the iridescent fireworks that appear on the petals when the sunlight hits it.

That same direct sunlight makes for poor lighting for photographs, too much contrast in dark shadows and blown-out highlights. So it's no wonder that you don't see them unless you grow the plant. I think you can get a sense of the silkiness from these photos, but not the sparkles, which must be smaller than the screen pixels. By the way, I think my plant is a mutation of Red Lion, because of the weird lacination on the inner portions of the two upper petals. Maybe it's because of the mass reproduction of this plant.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

hawaiian memory

I purchased Dendrobium Love Memory 'Fizz' at Akatsuka Orchids in Hawaii last year at my niece's wedding on the Big Island. Of course I had to buy something to bring back, and was much more excited about the interesting upright form of a Neofinetia falcata there than the Dendrobium nobiles that they had. I was talked into buying D. Love Memory 'Fizz', because it was described as fragrant, a big deal in my book. But I've never really liked the nobile dendrobiums.

the display area at Akatsuka orchids, the tube I bought of the size of those in the black tray at the bottom left
They don't have the grace of the phalaenopsis dendrobiums,  with club-like pseudobulbs and flowers clinging tightly to them. They are also known for having exacting growth requirements, the temperature has to be just so at specific times of the year, and the light levels extremely high, with humidity, regular fertilizer and a distinct cool (near freezing but never below) dry rest period. Not worth the hassle for something I was not very impressed by.

But I bought one of the baby plants of this orchid, encased in a 2"x2"x8" plastic sleeve, ready to be carried on the plane back to the mainland. It looked just like the one on the right, the stubby stem looking like something from the ocean.

It's still pretty small, compared to the incredible huge plants on display, but the new growth is bigger - the original growth is on the left. And I'm impressed. One year, and it is blooming like this, compared to the cattleyas that I've had for years without a bloom. Now I know I don't have to be afraid of the nobiles. I had repotted the plant into a slightly larger container (they need what seems like absurdly small pots for the size of the plant - the pot in the photo is just the cache pot). I expect it will stay in that pot for a couple of years before needing a larger pot. When the weather warmed, I put the plant outside, where it got direct morning sunlight and afternoon shade. I knew it was enough because the leaves turned to the yellow side of green. I watered whenever the clear pot did not show moisture condensation within it. Next year, I think I should water and fertilize more. When there was threat of a freeze, I put the plant in the window of the unheated garage, and buds began to form after a few weeks. Once budding was initiated, I brought the plant indoors. It took a couple of months for the buds to turn into flowers. Easy! And yes, the flowers are fragrant. I'm still waiting for that Neofinetia to bloom again.

Friday, January 24, 2014

what's your garden style?

I've been looking at my Pinterest page on gardening and noticing the themes that run through the photos...or the lack of theme as the case may be. Sometimes the photos can be opposite ends of the spectrum. I already knew I liked Mediterranean gardens, whether French or Italian, my eye naturally goes to those and says "Hah!" (I mean, I literally hear that in my head, not in a delusional sort of way, but in an attention-getting sort of way, like when you see a color that you love and it stands out among the rest).
Like these:
Provence - ya gotta love it
mediterranean garden
Another Garden Gawker: Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture
Andrea Cochran

But that also happens when I see some very modern, even minimalist gardens.
Marmol Radziner Architecture
I honestly had no idea that I had such a fondness for water features until I started a board on Pinterest only for water. Duh.

Amazing pool! 
Then I started noticing my fondness for gardens with a strong linear axis when I started trying to find garden photos without the axis because there were just too many on my page.

love color of house and of shutters  (white iceberg roses in foreground) 


So for fun today, I started doing on-line "What's your garden style" quizzes. Here's what I came up with. 

Monrovia's quiz told me that my ideal garden is a "Zen Garden." Huh. Really? Maybe because I chose the Minicooper as the car I wanted.
 Better Homes and Gardens quiz was much more straightforward, asking directly garden questions such as "do you like straight lines." It told me that my ideal style is "Formal Style." Even after I went back and changed a bunch of my answers. 

HGTV's quiz was mostly for interiors, but concluded that my style was "Spanish Style."

The Garden Glove's quiz indicated that my garden style is "Country Garden." I have to admit that of their photos, that's the one I would choose.

Country garden
 ProProfs Quiz Maker promised "You want to know which kind of garden is perfectly adapted to your personality and to your garden....Just do this test and you will know everything!!!" (Yes, three exclamation marks).
My first run through told me that my garden style was "Modern Garden. Modern gardens have a clear, straight structure and are very suitable for people who like simplicity or people who don't like to do much about their garden." My second run through I intentionally changed my answers to secondary choices, and it gave me "Lounge garden.  The squares and straight lines in which the garden is build-up create a very clear structure. This ‘square structure’ gives the garden a calm atmosphere. Use wooden objects to create a natural look. Don’t use too much colors! The secret of this garden: ‘keep it simple, just relax’!" I wish it gave some images of what a "Lounge garden" is. 

So my garden style is Zen, Formal, Spanish, Country and Modern Lounge. I'll have to find a way to make that work. And now you know what I do when I'm at home from work with a cold and can barely sit upright in my chair. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ascocentrum miniatum begins

Just when I was wondering if my Ascocentrum miniatum was going to bloom this year, out pops some spikes.

According to my photojournal, the last time it bloomed was March, 2012. No wonder I was wondering. I usually get at least one or two flushes a year. This is what it looked like then. Looks like four spikes this year as well.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

'Ruby Star'

The second stem of H. papilio has come and gone, and now 'Ruby Star' has opened.

Only one stem this year, again this is probably due to the harsh spring conditions last year that tore the leaves off twice. But this is quite a vigorous plant, since it was able to produce this flower stem with just the two leaves that you see below.

Something I noticed when growing Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) from year to year is that newly purchased and potted plants can perform differently the next year (and beyond). 'Ruby Star' was tall last year, but this year is twice as tall. The same thing occurred with 'La Paz'. I'm short, but the stem there is about 36" tall. The flowers are 7" in diameter, natural spread. It's not the lack of sunlight, since as you can see it's the leaves that need staking, not the stem, and if there was lack of sunlight, the stem would be floppy. It also gets full blazing sun from a south window. I think that it may be because a purchased bulb has had its leaves lopped off for shipping, and the roots are dried. This trauma may make the stem shorter. I also notice that some plants such as H. papilio and 'La Paz' keep their leaves until the flowers are in bloom, at which time a bunch of leaves turn yellow and shrivel. I'm thinking that those leaves provide the energy and moisture for the extra push on the stalk height. I'm not going to test it by cutting off the leaves before bloom next year though, even though the leaves turn yellow just at peak bloom. I want my plants to be happy.

Funny how different it looked last year.

On my counter top then, it is too big for for the counter top now. It was half the height, with two stems, and the flowers were much more curly and heavy looking. It was a new bulb then. I wonder what the growers did that made it do that?

Not much going on outside, even though it is going to be close to 60F.

Monday, January 13, 2014

i think it's working

So far with my new system, I've gotten 4/4 of my rose cuttings to root. 100%! Sounds much more impressive. To be honest, the first two roses I tried are known to be roses easy to grow from cuttings.

Remember Annemarie's rose? Here it was in November, growing its first roots. This is an heirloom rose from Louisiana, and Annemarie tells me that people hack a stem and stick in in the ground and soon it is taking over the yard. So not too much of a challenge I suppose, except that neither of us were able to grow it in pots over the winter.
Here it is today, two months later:
Kinda floppy, growing in the windowsill, but it will perk up once the weather is warmer and it is planted out, and hey, this is practically a houseplant in the rose world where it's tough to keep a rose alive and blooming indoors. This one's practically a dracaena, once you know the trick: plant it in a peat free medium.

I took a cutting of Mrs. BR Cant at about the same time. I guess I forgot to take photos of its first roots, about a week or two later than Annemarie's rose. Here it is today, with a strong new basal growth.

Again, this is a rose that is known to be easy to root, so not much to brag about, except that I'm a proud papa.

The one at the top of this post is 'Iceberg' and I didn't expect much, since I took the cuttings after the weather turned cold in November. I have no idea whether or not 'Iceberg' is easy to root or not, but 6 weeks later, and it is busting out all over, new growth on top and everything. I'm pretty stoked.

Before you ask what I'm doing with such a common rose, let me say that I love 'Iceberg'. It has always been my second favorite rose, since I was a kid, and if you plant a garden filled with 'Iceberg', you can't go wrong in my eyes. So if it is my second favorite, you might ask, what is my #1 favorite rose? Well, I can't really tell you that, because I haven't found it yet. The only thing that is keeping 'Iceberg' from being in the top spot, is that it is not a heavily fragrant rose. It blooms almost continuously, even through the summer heat, is tough, with nice flower size and shape, has crisp white flowers (even though they turn pink in cold weather). I've never had a problem with disease. It has a very nice bush shape, even though it is more of a "bedding" shape than sculptural as some roses can be. At certain times of the day it has a delicious and moderate fragrance. But a lot of times, the scent is barely discernible. I'm hoping one day to find a rose that has all of that, plus intense fragrance (like 'Mister Lincoln' but without that awful plant appearance) and maybe sculptural bush form (like 'Madame Isaac Pereire' or 'Abraham Darby'). Until then, although 'Iceberg' is second, it is second to none in overall performance.