Sunday, December 10, 2017

december blooms

These photos are from last week. I've been too busy to post. Temperatures have finally dropped, with lows in the 20's and highs in the 40-50's.

Helleborus 'Jacob' off to a roaring start.

Iris unguicularis 'Logan Calhoun' opens its first flower. It's another one of those plants whose flowers seem to appear like magic. Even looking carefully for them, I didn't see any sign of a flower the day before, and then the next day, suddenly there it was fully opened.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

new blooms, and old

 Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Champion' is starting to put out new flowers.

 Helleborus niger 'Jacob' is further along. The buds were popping out before Thanksgiving, and that's pretty much his routine. I hope the weather cools down before the flowers open, or they will fade to green quickly.

How can aster 'Monch' still be blooming?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

garden wandering

Fall is perhaps the best time of the year in Albuquerque, which is a bit ironic for me, because it is probably the season where I get most depressed. I know winter's coming. The garden does its best to cheer me up by giving a blazing last hurrah, but sometimes it only emphasizes for me that the garden will be entering the winter doldrums. Strangely, when winter is in full swing and the garden is all black and brown, with a few grey or dark greens, I find it peaceful and worry-free. It's funny seeing how my mind works.

I would like to claim responsibility for the color combination of lavender and Prunus bessyi 'Pawnee Buttes' above, but I didn't know that the lavender would be blooming to this degree at this time of year. But it is a fantastic combination isn't it?

The seed heads of Clematis scottii having been hanging on for the last 2 months, and I've finally gotten a change to photograph them. They make me think of Dr. Seuss.

The purple smokebush is turning its full color. The parent plant is a rich purple in the summer, and is now mostly yellow. Maybe mine gets too much shade, because the other ones in the neighborhood add an orange tone to the summer purple as their fall color. I think that nurseries sell purple smokebush as seedlings rather than cuttings, since as I look around the neighborhood, there is quite a bit of variation in plant form and color.

A seedling of it in my garden, grows in more shade than the parent, and turned this mottled orange and red color. It's funny how different it is from the parent.

I've been too busy to take care of things in the Orchidarium. The bromeliads need dividing. The rose cuttings are in dire need of repotting.

This cutting was repotted a few weeks ago, and produced this flower. I'm still debating if I should replace 'Iceberg' with this one since it does better in the summer. But then 'Iceberg' is doing better that this one in the cooler weather of the fall. Time to get back to work!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fall color

'Monch' is still going. The other asters (even the late blooming 'Raydon's Favorite') have been done for weeks. We haven't had a hard frost yet, and when it comes I'm sure it will do in even 'Monch', but this aster is just amazing. No it doesn't have that "covered with blooms" effect that many asters have, but it has been blooming continuously since July. 5 months. Really? Really!

 Forming a nice counterpoint in color is Crocus cartwrightianus. Such a lovely color. It is very similar to Crocus speciosus in color, but the petals are a bit pointier, and the blooms are less goblet shaped. It also blooms a bit later.

Crocus speciosus is just finishing up. They are in such a different growing situation, that I really shouldn't be comparing them at all. 

The lavenders are blooming again, adding more purple, just about as much as in the spring. I'm not sure if these are 'Vicenza Blue' or 'Ellagance Purple' but they all look very similar. Similar size and color as 'Hidcote' but much more floriferous.

Behind the lavenders, Prunus bessyi 'Pawnee Buttes' is coloring up for fall. The ones in the shade colored up earlier.

They form a nice contrast growing under the mystery maple, which in this unusually warm fall, wasn't certain whether to color up or not. So the north side turned yellow before the south side.

I'm always surprised that I don't see more people growing Origanum dictamnus (Dittany of Crete).  It is so easy and has such impressive bracts and color. Maybe I'm just weird. When my friend was impressed with 'Kent Beauty', I showed her my dittany and she just shrugged her shoulders. Personally, I think O. dictamnus is much more interesting than 'Kent Beauty' and has the benefit of fuzzy grey evergreen leaves in contrast to 'Kent Beauty' which goes dormant in September. Dittany also has these long chains of bracts, which I find to be impressive and eye catching.

The roses have a few flowers hanging on. The warm weather has prompted a flush of growth, which I'm sure will be damaged in the frost that's bound to come.
'Abraham Darby' has a couple of flowers. 

My  'Bolero' bushes have a half dozen blossoms open. They are lasting longer in this cool weather, and are significantly bigger also.

The flowers of 'Fabulous' are like 'Iceberg' in that they blush pink in the cooler weather. 

'Marie Pavie' still has a great fragrance. It was tough to photograph all these flowers in today's wind.
'Iceberg' with a pink flush.

I'm less impressed with Schizachyrium scoparium 'Smoke Signals' than I was hoping. It doesn't turn that dark smoky purple that the photos show.

This seedling of Cotinus coggyria (Purple Smoke Bush), is better colored than its parent across the yard.

 No one ever shows photos of Platycodon grandiflora (Balloon flower) in the fall, but the fall color is easily as impressive as the floral show. Here it is fading, but it's looked like this for at least a week already. It always catches me by surprise since it is in an out-of-the-way part of the garden, and I don't catch the fall show until it is well underway. 

The Japanese maple 'Osakazuki' is supposed to turn glorious color in the fall, but mine didn't last year (granted, it was its first year), and this year, here it is November and it is only showing a little blush so far.

My other Japanese maple, which came with the house, is in color. I wish I knew how to keep the tips from burning. Other Japanese maples in the neighborhood in full sun seem to be fine.

The Plumbago ceratostigma turns bright colors in the fall. It's famous for it. I find that I take it for granted much more than I should. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

last asters

'Monch' is still going, while the others are just about done.



'purple dome'

'raydon's favorite'

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

more on asters

 Although 'Monch' has been blooming for more than 2 months now, it is still putting on a show. Yes, it it looking a bit messy with all the faded flowers still there, and the new flowers are blooming underneath them rather than hiding them. But 2 months of bloom and still looking like this, I find impressive.

Messy, but pretty.

Showing up late to the party, 'Raydon's Favorite' began blooming last week. It has some of the most perfectly shaped flowers, nearly perfect pinwheels of lavender. The late afternoon sun makes it look more purple than in real life.  Flowers close at night. I've got to move mine out of the shade and into the sun, so that it will grow to its full potential, but after the verticillium disaster, I'm afraid to do so.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


A few weeks ago, I was considering taking out Aster 'Purple Dome.' I have not been all that enamored by the color the last few years. But my DH has said that it is his favorite aster, and that he likes the color. So I've left them alone. Since that day, I've been paying attention to them, and they have been putting out more flowers. This is them today.

 I realized today, that they've been blooming for a month and that they are just hitting their peak. They probably have a few weeks of color left before they fade out. That's not bad.

Yes, the color is still a bit strident for me, but in combination with other colors, particularly the cooler purples, they are not bad. 

Then I realized just how easy they are. I hardly do anything with them other than make sure they get enough water so that they don't wilt. They continue to grow and then put on this show.

In contrast, my 'Professor Kippenberg' and the mystery aster, came into full bloom and then suddenly succumbed to a root rot during the monsoon rains. Because of this, I'm pretty sure that the mystery aster was a seedling of the Professor. This his highly disappointing since I do/did love the color of them. It was also very surprising since they were growing in sand, so the drainage was excellent.

At their peak, right before death:

Here showing the yellowing leaves of the plant about to collapse.
'Professor Kippenberg'

Mystery aster
A gentle tug and the entire plant came up with almost no roots. There seemed to be some living roots and shoots,  but I didn't get to them in time to save the Mystery aster since the wind pulled it out and the roots were crispy by the time I was able to get to it. I'll see if I can save a few pieces of the Professor.

Aster 'Raydon's Favorite' is starting to bloom. The first flower opened a few days ago. I didn't have time to take a photo. 

Also of note, is that Aster x frikarti 'Monch' has just been blooming away since...I just checked the dates on my photos...July?! It is still going strong, although the new flowers are below the faded ones, which makes for a bit of a messy display. No problems with root rot.  I love the color. It certainly blooms for a long time. It is easy to grow. I think this one is going to be the one I plant more of.
I've got to take a new photo. This one is from July 21.

Addendum: I've since learned that the Professor and the mystery aster probably succumbed to aster yellows, or verticillium wilt. Some web sites say fusarium wilt. There doesn't seem to be a cure or prevention, and the recommendation is to remove all parts of the plants and plant something else in the area, as the fungus is in the soil permanently. It "might" be destroyed by solarization. So I've planted irises in the area instead, as monocots are said to be resistant.


My goodness, the grubs in the compost pile are fat and happy. And ENORMOUS!
I wish I had a duck or a goose. I'm sure they would love them.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

cyclamen hederifolium alba

Even though the calendar says it's still summer, Cyclamen hederifolium alba says that fall is here.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

aster update

 The mystery aster is coming into full bloom, the older flowers fading to a paler shade. 

Professor Kippenburg is just starting:
 It might not be apparent from the photos which are slightly overexposed, but the Professor's flowers are more red-purple than the mystery aster.
 Soon to be in full bloom, maybe in a week or two.