Montrose Garden again (Six on Saturday #35, October 13, 2018)

Most of the pictures this week are really Six on (last) Saturday, because they were taken a week ago at the autumn open-house of Montrose, Nancy Goodwin’s garden in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  See here for my pictures from last autumn.

The final picture was taken yesterday, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Michael.

1. Costus species

Costus

Costus are related to ginger but have been separated out of the Zingiberaceae into their own family, Costaceae.  I made a beeline for this plant the past couple of times I visited Montrose, because I have never seen one growing in the NC piedmont before.  This time, Nancy let me in on the secret:  She digs it up every autumn and stores the rhizome in her house, so it isn’t as hardy as I hoped.  Still, our summers are clearly long enough and the soil warm enough for it to get established and flower.  Might be worth trying one of these days.

2.  Double-flowered Colchicum

Colchicum

This might be Colchicum ‘Waterlily’, but without a tag I can’t be sure.  Montrose is famous for its bulb plantings, and two of the three plants that I picked up at the sales table were also bulbs (in the broad sense):  a huge Hymenocallis that might be H. ‘Tropical Giant’ and a seedling Cyclamen mirabile.  The third plant I bought was Primula sieboldii.

3.  Abelmoschus species

Abelmoschus1

Abelmoschus2

A beautiful Hibiscus relative with fuzzy buds.  I wish the plants in Montrose Garden were labeled.  I suspect this is Abelmoschus manihot, but don’t quote me on that.

4. Brugmansia (angel’s trumpet)

Brugmansia

South American Brugmansia are surprisingly hardy in the piedmont.  My plant of Brugmansia ‘Betty Marshall’ has survived three or four years outdoors and is currently about seven feet tall.  This yellow flowered clone, perhaps ‘Charles Grimaldi’, has been growing below a couple of large eastern red cedars at Montrose for longer than that.

5.  Salvia oxyphora (fuzzy Bolivian sage)

Salvia Oxyphora

I hesitated to post this photo, because it is another bright pink/red flower that blows out the sensor of my iPhone camera and is almost always overexposed.  But S. oxyphora is so fantastic and furry that I couldn’t resist.  My sole attempt to grow this species failed, but perhaps I haven’t found the correct spot for a plant that must surely be right at the edge of its hardiness zone in the piedmont.

6.  Fallen oak (Quercus species).

oak_down

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle like a bomb.  By the time it crossed our area, it was downgraded to a weak tropical storm, but it still did plenty of damage to trees sitting in soil saturated by the remnants of Hurricane Florence just a few weeks ago.  This beautiful oak on our neighbors’ property was uprooted and dropped across our lane, blocking access.  By the time I got home from work, the neighborhood chain saw gang was hard at work clearing the road.

For more Six on Saturday, head on over to the Propagator’s blog.  Take a look at his Six and then see the comments section for links to other blogs.

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Griffinia liboniana

Griffinia

This cute minature amaryllid comes from the sadly fragmented Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) in southern Brazil.  According to Kew, there are twenty-two Griffinia species, but G liboniana is easily distinguished by the white spots on its foliage.

The plant is on roughly the same scale as Eithea blumenavia, and half a dozen bulbs will grow comfortably in a 6″ (15 cm) pot.  I grow G. liboniana in a cool, shady spot in my greenhouse, but it would probably do just as well on a windowsill.

A genetic oddity

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Chimeric flowers of Canna ‘Yellow King Humbert’, also known as Canna ‘Cleopatra’

After a week of feverish preparation, Hurricane Florence has arrived in North Carolina.  Initial forecasts suggested that the storm would pass right over my garden, but according to the current track, it will follow a wide arc around our area, reserving its full fury for the coastal plain and North Carolina/South Carolina border.  So far, we’ve had nothing more than than some blustery wind and about 2 inches of rain, and the only damage has been a couple of stems of Canna ‘Yellow King Humbert’ that blew over.

Which gives me a segue into a post I have been meaning to complete for most of the summer…

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Canna ‘Yellow King Humbert’ is one of the more unusual plants in my garden, a genetic oddity that is widely available from commercial nurseries (often under the later synonym, Canna ‘Cleopatra’).  This heirloom Canna was first described in the late 1920s as a sport of Canna ‘Roi Humbert’, a bronze-leaved clone with large red flowers.  The sport was described as having green leaves with yellow flowers spotted with red/orange.

It’s not clear to me if the original Canna ‘Yellow King Humbert’ sport was a chimera, a plant containing cells with two distinct genotypes, but chimerism seems to be its major selling point today.  The plants are a mixture of  cells of ‘Yellow King Humbert’ and cells corresponding to the original ‘Roi Humbert.’  The foliage is split into sectors of green and bronze in varying proportions.

Canna_Cleopatra-foliage1

Each bronze leaf sector is connected to the rhizome by a strip of pigmented tissue that has grown from the chimeric meristem.  When the bronze cells extend into the inflorescence, red flowers are produced.  Green cells produce the yellow flowers.  The same inflorescence can produce both red and yellow flowers, or individual flowers can be split between the two colors.

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Red and yellow flowers on separate branches of the same inflorescence

To grow your own chimeric Canna, search for ‘Yellow King Humbert’ or ‘Cleopatra,’ but beware that Canna ‘Cleopatre’ is a completely different clone.  Also be aware that some of the ‘Yellow King Humbert’ for sale seem to be the stabilized yellow form, or a different but similar clone.  Most of the plants sold as Canna ‘Cleopatra’ do seem to be the chimera, but it is probably worth confirming before buying.  The nursery from which I obtained my plant recommends pulling up and discarding any all-green stems to retain the chimeric traits.  I’m not sure if that’s necessary, but it probably wouldn’t hurt.

Canna_Cleopatra2

Hurricane lily

Lycoris radiata radiata

While we wait to see what impact Hurricane Florence will have in our part of the piedmont, here is an appropriate flower.  Lycoris radiata var. radiata goes by various common names, including surprise lily and red spider lily, but I prefer hurricane lily.  These bulbs consistently bloom about ten days later than my other L. radiata var. radiata, suggesting that they’re a distinct clone.

Fasciated Lilium formosanum

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Fasciated Lilium formosanum with 18 flowers on a single stem

Lilium formosanum, a species from Taiwan, is one of the best lily species for piedmont gardens.  It thrives in our hot and humid summers, producing large, fragrant trumpet flowers in August, and seems immune to most of the common garden pests (though emerging stems are occasionally nibbled by rabbits in early spring). It spreads slowly by seed without becoming a pest.

Back in June, I mentioned a fasciated specimen of L. formosanum that is growing in my garden.  Fasciated plants, if they bloom, often have overcrowded inflorescences bearing dwarfed flowers, but when this L. formosanum finally bloomed, it had eighteen flowers which were normal size and nicely spread out.  The abnormally thickened stem supported them without staking, and the hundreds of miniaturized leaves looked more like fur than the usual widely spaced foliage.

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Fasciated L. formosanum, side view

The fasciated plant bloomed at 95 cm tall (150+ cm for normal plants) and had eighteen flowers (1-5, normal).  The stem was 12 cm across at the widest point (1 cm, normal) with leaves 6-12 cm long and 0.5 cm wide (15-18 cm long, 1 cm wide, normal).  Although fasciation in lilies is often temporary, reverting to normal growth in subsequent years, this plant also showed some characteristics suggestive of fasciation last year.  I have some hope that it will continue to grow in this manner in the future.

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A clump of normal L. formosanum stems