Sunday, August 31, 2014

glamis castle

My lust for white roses got the better of me when I purchased this rose during Heirloom Roses' free shipping sale. When I heard that a rose gardener nearby had one and that it performed beautifully in the heat, I was a goner. Unfortunately, there is no plant nearby that I could check out and sniff. I had heard that 'Glamis Castle' had an odd fragrance that David Austin describes as "myrrh", that some people love it and some people hate it. The only way to find out was to buy one. The plant arrived as thorny sticks that were barely foliated (which I assumed was a characteristic of the plant, not of the culture, since the other plant I ordered looked different). I repotted it from the band it had arrived in, to a 1 gallon, and today, the first flower opened. Optimistically, I took a sniff.  Mothballs. Decidedly NOT my favorite.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I've been moaning about how sad my beans look. Compared to my neighbor's lush vines, mine are rather spindly. Of course, my late planting and the intense hailstorm didn't help, either. I went out this morning to pick the few beans that I saw, and got more than I bargained for.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I do so love the flowers on 'William Shakespeare 2000'. Rich color, rich fragrance. It's too bad that this year seemed to show that this is not the best climate for this rose. Nice flush in the spring, some of which fried in the sun. Not to mention the plant that was trashed by the wind. Not another flower until now, when I Since my two bushes produced a few flowers throughout the summer last year, I'll give it another year to see if it does better.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

today's rose garden winners and losers

I expected there to be some nice growth on the roses at the ABQ rose garden since we have been getting monsoon rains. I got lucky in that a monster hail storm arrived just after I left. Who knows what it looks like now.

First, the winners. In review, I am surprised to discover that there are a lot more than I thought. Not in any particular order.

'Moonsprite' was looking quite good.

As always, 'Iceberg' has quite a few flowers, and they are bigger than they were at the peak of the heat.

'Lace Cascade' looked a lot better than this photo indicates, but it is a rather unruly climber. The flowers were very nicely fragrant. 

'Memorial Day' again. I've posted it before, one the the roses which looked good in the middle of the hot spell, which makes me think it might be something to put in the garden. It seems to take the heat, and still keep pumping out flowers. There was some sun damage, and the bushes are that lumpy awkward Hybrid Tea look, but if it always is covered in these fragrant flowers, I can forgive that.

'Madame Alfred Carriere' has some of the best fragrance in the garden today, and there were a few of them on this climber. Usually the flowers are white, but now they are pink.  'William Shakespeare 2000' was also a winner in the fragrance department, but a loser in production (2 flowers, one fried, on the bush) and bush appearance.

'French Lace' was a surprise to me. I don't usually like this one. It is short, bushy, and with rather scrappy growth habits, which is a bit incongruous with the elegant flowers.

  'Sunset Celebration' is another rose I posted before, as doing well in the heat of summer. It has some fragrance. Too bad I don't like the color.

I've also posted 'Mermaid' before. Again the single flowers are perfect and there are clusters of buds waiting to open. This is not a rose to be covered in flowers, but I suspect the flowers only last a day or two, with lots of buds, like a daylily. Only this is a vigorous climber with WICKED thorns.

'Linda Campbell' is still looking good. Another one I've posted before. What is amazing is that with this flush, each cluster has a dozen or more buds on it, and they are bursting out all over. Flowers are not very elegant and they are completely scentless, but otherwise, very impressive. I can't say that I was very impressed with any of the red Hybrid Teas. 'Oklahoma' was fried, with no fragrance, and flowers small. 'Mister Lincoln' was fried. 'Olympiad' was blooming, but flowers were very small and scentless, most with fried petal edges.

It took me a while to discover that this rose is 'Dainty Bess.' Dainty, yes, and tough.  Not much fragrance, but quite a charmer.

 'Golden Wings' is a rose that was looking well in blistering heat. Still looking good. No wonder they planted several of them, in key points of the garden.

Not a good photo of 'Walking on Sunshine', probably because I don't like yellow roses, but this rose was blooming away without any sun/heat damage.  Impressive.

Here is another rose that is colored in a way I don't like. But the vast quantities of bloom are also impressive. 'Cinco de Mayo.'

I wasn't sure whether to put 'Belinda's Dream' into the "winners" or "losers" category, since the plant growth is awful, and many of the flowers are fried, but it is putting out a lot of flowers when positively irradiated by heat and sun, surrounded by concrete and reflective packed dirt. It gets a lot of praise by those in Texas, so I wonder if it is just in a bad situation. The flowers are a lot like 'Memorial Day' but 'Memorial Day' looks like a rose on steroids, and 'Belinda's Dream' looks like a real rose.

Now for the losers. Of course there were a lot of plants that weren't blooming, or were looking bad, but these were my biggest disappointments.

The entire bed of David Austin roses looked awful. This picture makes them look better than they were. Entire plants were fried.

I had to show this picture of 'Prospero'. They were almost all like this. This was particularly disappointing because 'Prospero' does so well in Southern California. 'Evelyn' also was described as doing well in heat, but no. Just fried.

'Queen of Sweden' looked the best, with a few undamaged flowers. It also was showing evidence of "Jolly Green Giant' syndrome.

'Margaret Merrill' and 'Moondance' were also big disappointments, as I had such high hopes for fragrant whites. But both were fried, not much in the way of either blooms or fragrance. 

'Souvenir de la Malmaison' is called the "Queen of Beauty and Fragrance" but to me she was neither. Flowers looked bleached out, with form like crumpled tissue. Fragrance was mostly like bread or beer, with a little rose thrown in. I'd like it in a beer, not in a rose.Then there's the floppy bush. Quite a disappointment for me since I'd read so many glowing reviews.

 So if I had to choose from these roses, I'd probably pick 'Moonsprite', 'Madame Alfred Carriere', 'Memorial Day', maybe 'French Lace' and of course the stalwart 'Iceberg'. I'm almost tempted to rip out all my David Austin roses.

potting mix

If you had any doubts about how much a potting mix affects plant growth, here is your evidence. The 'Marie Pavie' cuttings on the left were planted in Foxfire farms mix. The one on the right was planted in Promix HP. These are just 3 samples from the 8 cuttings taken on 6/15/2014, and the results are consistent. Same results with the rosemary cuttings. Hard to find the Promix HP, however.

more polly

I didn't realize how many peaches were on 'Polly' until I lifted up the leaves. I'm amazed at how many peaches were on there. Pretty good for a small second-year tree.  Although 'Polly' has not grown a lot as a tree, it sure does produce. There are still a lot left.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


'Polly' peach is finally ripening. It seemed to take forever. But I did choose 'Polly' because it is a late-midseason ripening peach, to keep the peach season as long as possible, and it is also a late bloomer, better to withstand the late frosts we often get. My records indicate that I picked the first 'Redhaven', an early season peach, about 3 weeks ago. I chose 'Redhaven' due to its supposed reliability, and being the peach that all others are compared against.

Trees of Antiquity describes 'Polly' as:
"Polly White peach is one of the most winter hardy heirloom peach varieties; withstands temperatures to -20 degrees F.  Polly White has medium to large fruit with white skin overlaid with a rich crimson blush.  Very sweet, tender, juicy, white freestone flesh of the highest quality.  Very hardy and productive." The Sunset Garden Book lists 'Polly' as best in Sunset zones 1-3, 10, which is a quite narrow range, and unusual to be specific for zone 10 and not for zones 14-16 which is where most peaches seem to thrive. It also mentions that "Tree and buds very hardy to cold," again, important for our late frosts.

As far as growing, compared to 'Redhaven', 'Polly' is much less vigorous in growth. Whereas 'Redhaven' puts out at least 3-4 feet of growth each year, 'Polly' puts out from 6 inches to 2 feet at most. Leaves are dark green, whereas 'Redhaven' is rather yellow in comparison. Flowers of 'Polly' are large and attractive whereas those on 'Redhaven' are hardly noticeable. 'Polly' is described as white, but those on my tree are decidedly greenish even when ripe, despite the red blush. 'Redhaven' has yellow blushed red fruit. Both have delicious flavor, although 'Polly' seems to have a drier texture, at least this year. Maybe I'm not watering enough. This is the third year for 'Polly' and although I thinned many fruit, there are still dozens. Last year it had none. This is the second year after planting for 'Redhaven' and it had 4 fruit. We shall see what happens next year.

Addendum 8/16/2014: Perhaps with a little more ripening, or the big monsoon rain, the fruit on 'Polly' has become very juicy and intensely sweet. It has a nice sweet/tart balance, less tart and less resinous than Redhaven. Not better, not worse, just different. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

lessons from the garden

Before planting a shade garden, it's best to be certain that you actually DO have shade. Sure, the trees are planted, but they are still to small to make much shade. Apparently.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

ipomopsis longiflora

One of my favorite wildflowers Ipomopsis longiflora in one of my neighbor's yards.

It's very dense in their yard, so I suspect it was originally planted.

I first saw it in the wild, scattered along the edges of a dirt road, so ethereal that it almost seemed a dream.

En masse, it is a bit of a mess.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

word of the day: apomixis

Salvia daghestanica showing apomixis. Just sayin'.

From Wikipedia: "In botany, apomixis was defined by Hans Winkler as replacement of the normal sexual reproduction by asexual reproduction, without fertilization.[1] This definition notably does not mention meiosis. Thus "normal asexual reproduction" of plants, such as propagation from cuttings or leaves, has never been considered to be apomixis, but replacement of the seed by a plantlet or replacement of the flower by bulbils are types of apomixis. Apomictically produced offspring are genetically identical to the parent plant."

Monday, August 4, 2014

the search for black dragon

When I was a kid, I wanted a Black Dragon. This was, of course, long (long) before Toothless the Night Fury dragon in How to Train Your Dragon. The dragon I wanted was Lilium 'Black Dragon'. Yes, the Black Dragon that I wanted was toothless, but it was also fragrant, and how, I ask you, can a plant-freak kid like me resist a name like Black Dragon, especially while reading The White Dragon, by Anne McCaffrey? I never did get my Black Dragon as a kid. When I was designing my front courtyard, I wanted something that would connect the white 'Iceberg' roses...

 ...with the dusky plum leaves of Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'...
I immediately thought of L. 'Black Dragon' (ignoring that the lilies would be in bloom for only a short time).
image from The Lily Garden

Since Sunset's Western Garden Book describes it as "The most common selection..." of L. luecanthum centifolium, I figured it would be easy, right? Wrong. On-line, I read one description that it is thought to be no longer in existence, and that the original strain was collected from a cottage garden in China that no longer exists (being bulldozed by "progress"). Although 'Black Dragon' was supposed to have remarkably dark exteriors (hence the "black" in the name), it was also supposed to be particularly vigorous with candelabras of up to 50 flowers. I can't believe that they don't exist in someone's garden somewhere, though. So my search for 'Black Dragon' began.

The Lily Garden didn't have 'Black Dragon' but it did have L. leucanthum, which is actually the image shown above, since I could not find an image on the web of the famous selection that I long for. I bought a few, and the one flower that it produced last year, did have a nice flower, but not really distinguished from L. regale. This year, more flowers, but also not the purple reverse, and not the dramatic flaring curly trumpets.

My other substitute for 'Black Dragon' was 'Silk Road' which bloomed well this year...until trashed by the winds.

'Silk Road' is nice, and wins popularity contests year after year. It has a purplish reverse, but also a red-purple interior, and is only loosely trumpet shaped. Not really what I was searching for, but it is a nice lily. It does need protection from the wind, as does any large flower.

I was excited to find that McClure and Zimmerman offered something called 'Black Dragon' with a nice photo (from archival?). I immediately ordered. I knew immediately that it wasn't what I hoped for, when the leaves emerged broad and thick. L. leucanthum has narrow leaves. This is what bloomed:

It looks like someone got confused, and they were selling 'Black Beauty' or something similar as 'Black Dragon' which is a totally different lily, a different class of lily, with a vaguely similar name. I notice that they are not offering 'Black Dragon' this year, and are offering 'Black Beauty' which is a nice enough lily, but not what I wanted, not what I had in mind for the garden, and not very fragrant.

I notice that The Lily Garden is not offering L. leucanthum this year, either. So the search continues.