Six on Saturday #25, April 14, 2018

Spring has really gathered steam over the past week, and for the first time in a couple of months, I had to select from among a wide array of flowers for this Six on Saturday.

This week, I’ll start in the greenhouse and then move outside.

1.  Phalaenopsis mannii

Phal_mannii

The range of this small Phalaenopsis species extends from Assam to Vietnam and southern China.  In common with some other Phal species, you should never cut the inflorescences when the spring/summer flowering season is finished.  The old inflorescences will remain green through the winter and will produce new flower buds the next year.  At the same time, new inflorescences will sprout, so as the plant gets older you’ll have more and more flowers each year.

2.  Vireya hybrids (two for one)

Vireyas are a group of Rhododendron species from the old-world tropics, with the greatest diversity New Guinea, Borneo, Sulawesi, Sumatra, and the Philippines.  The majority of species are from high elevation, so they prefer mild temperatures and do not appreciate the warm summer nights in North Carolina.  In the USA, most vireya growers are on the west coast and Hawaii.

I have had long-term success with a few heat-tolerant vireyas whose ancestors come from lower elevations They do not tolerate frost, so in North Carolina they are definitely greenhouse plants.  I’ve been growing these two plants since 2004.

vireya2
Rhododendron jasminiflorum x (viriosum x jasminiflorum).  The pink color is a mix of the white R. jasminiflorum and red R. viriosum, but the long, tubular flower shape is all R. jasminiflorum.  This plant came from the late Bill Moyles, a well known vireya grower and hybridizer from Oakland, CA.
vireya1
This  complex hybrid with peachy flowers is another Bill Moyles cross. It is Rhododendron (Felinda x (aurigeranum x Dr. Hermann Sleumer)) x javanicum.   R. Felinda is ((phaeopeplum x viriosum) x leucogigas), and R. Dr. Hermann Sleumer is (phaeopeplum x zoelleri).

3. Ornithogalum dubium

ornithogalum-dubium

Ornithogalum dubium is commonly sold by supermarkets and hardware stores as a throw-away flowering plant in late winter.  Most people will probably treat them like cut flowers and toss the pot when the foliage starts to yellow.  To keep the plants for another year, store the dormant bulbs dry and warm (or even hot) over the summer.  Occasionally, bulbs will fail to sprout in autumn.  As long as they remain firm, give them occasional water through the winter and then another hot dry summer.  Often, they will sprout after the second dormancy.  I have maintained these for five years, so there’s definitely no need to buy a new pot full every year.

And now, outside for the remaining three plants this week…

4.  Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha

clusiana-chrysantha1

Tulipa clusiana is reputed to be the best perennial tulip for the southeast.  I first saw them blooming in Coker Arboretum at the University of North Carolina and was thrilled to find that they are very inexpensive from internet bulb vendors.

T. clusiana var. chrysantha flowers open in mid-morning and close back into tight buds in late afternoon.  Although they have been flowering all week, I have seen only the orange buds when leaving the house and returning from work.  Today was the first time I saw the bright yellow open flowers.

clusiana-chrysantha2

5.  Saruma henryi 

IMG_4929 crop

The fuzzy stems of Saruma henryi are just starting to emerge from the mulch, and the first flower is still wrinkled.  S. henryi is related to Asarum, hence its genus name.   Saruma is an anagram of Asarum.  Those crazy botanists…

6.  Scilla peruviana

Scilla-peruviana

Despite the name, Scilla peruviana is from the Mediterranean–Portugal, Spain, and southern Italy–not South America.  The large bulbs produce their leaves in autumn, remain green all winter, and flower in spring.  When I planted the bulbs last autumn, I wasn’t sure if they would survive outside, but they tolerated 3.2 F (-16 C) with only minor damage to the leaf tips.

To see what’s growing in gardens all around the world, head to The Propagator for his Six on Saturday and links to those of other garden bloggers.

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Six on Saturday #23, March 17, 2018

After a couple of weeks away, I finally have some interesting material for Six on Saturday. Or, more accurately perhaps, I have one really interesting plant and some filler material to show you.  As always, visit The Propagator for his weekly six and for links to Six on Saturday posts by other garden bloggers.

1.  Eithea blumenavia

Eithea

This lovely little flower is a miniature amaryllid, related to Hippeastrum, from southern Brazil. Unlike most Hippeastrum species, you can grow a nice little clump of E. blumenavia in a pot as small as 4″ (10 cm diameter).  My plant blooms intermittently throughout the year, but mostly in spring and early summer.  E. blumenavia can be a little difficult to find for sale but is well worth growing if you can locate some bulbs or seed.  Unfortunately, my clone does not seem to be self-fertile.

2.  Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’

Annas_red

This is a relatively recent hybrid (2013?) which has become very popular. I think it is one of the best hellebores on the market today, both for its flowers and its slightly variegated foliage

3. Grape hyacinths (Muscari)

grape_hyacinth

This pretty, dark flowered grape hyacinth started as a volunteer seedling, origin unknown.  There are probably enough bulbs now to dig up and transplant around the garden.  Trouble is, that would require me to remember them after they have gone dormant and disappeared under the summer perennials.

4. Bicolored daffodil (Narcissus)

bicolored_daffodils

I really like the orange cup and later bloom time (relative to the early yellows) of this bicolored daffodil growing among some thornless blackberry stems. I wish there were daffodils that were this same orange color all over.  Also, I wish I could remember what clone these are.

5. Hydrangea quercifolia (oakleaf hydrangea)

Hydrangea_quercifolia

The fuzzy-felted new leaves of Hydrangea quercifolia are completely unfazed by our erratic spring weather, which has been fluctuating between the uppers 20s and mid 70s (-3 to 24 C).  As someone once said, “North Carolina has two seasons:  hot and random.”

6.  Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blue Wave’

frozen_hydrangea

Hydrangea ‘Blue Wave’ is an utterly gorgeous lacecap, but unfortunately it does not deal well with our spring weather.  When dormant, it is very hardy, easily tolerating the low of 3 F (-16 C) this winter, but warm weather in late winter encourages it to start growing early.  The emerging leaves are sensitive to the slightest frost, and if they are killed the plant won’t bloom.  New growth will sprout from the base, but the stems do not bloom until their second year.  Since we almost always have a prolonged frost-free period in January or February, followed by one or more late frosts, it has been six years since I got a good bloom off this shrub.

Later this spring, I think it will probably dig it up and replace it with something better suited to our climate.

Don’t do this

Fothergilla

The landscapers groundskeepers at my workplace just finished pruning a hedge of witch alders, thus ruining their naturally elegant form and guaranteeing that they won’t bloom this year.

Witch alders (Fothergilla gardenii, Fothergilla major, Fothergilla ‘Mt. Airy’) are native shrubs that reward the gardener with licorice-scented flowers in spring, attractive foliage in summer, and bright color in autumn.  Blooming is their first act after winter dormancy, so the flowers are borne on the stems that grew the previous year.  By cutting the plants now, the groundskeepers have sheared off all of the flower buds that would have covered the plants with beautiful white flowers about two months from now.

Fothergilla also tend to branch after blooming, so the new growth emerging from these cuts will consist of straight stems with long internodes and few branches.  By the end of summer, these plants will probably have put on as much height, if not more, than they would have if left unpruned. Where they have been cut at the same level several years in a row, they are starting to develop unsightly knobby growths that are wider than the stems below.

In situations where limiting height is a requirement, try planting the dwarf F. gardenii, not the much taller F. major or their hybrid ‘Mt. Airy’.  And if you really must prune a witch alder, do it immediately after the the spring flowering.  It is probably best to carefully remove individual branches to maintain the informal appearance of the bush instead of just cutting straight across the top.  Really, apart from formal boxwood hedges, does anything look good when sheared square like the poor plants above?

Six on Saturday #20, February 3, 2018

It’s already Sunday across the Atlantic where the host of “Six on Saturday” lives, but it’s still Saturday evening here.   I guess it isn’t too late to participate.  And regardless of whether it’s Saturday or Sunday where you live, you can still head over to The Propagator’s blog to see his Six and links to those of other participants.

It’s still well below freezing most nights, but there are tentative signs of life in the garden…

1. Cyclamen coum

cyclamen_coum1

cyclamen_coum2

Cyclamen coum isn’t as vigorous and well adapted to our climate as C. hederifolium, but a couple of tiny plants are hanging on under the pines.  Every year, they bloom in the dead of winter, and every year I almost step on them.

2.  Helleborus niger (Christmas rose)

Helleborus_niger

The foliage of Helleborus niger has been flattened by the snow and cold, but at least it isn’t hiding the flowers on their very short stems.  Some people trim off the old leaves of hellebores just before they bloom.  That would certainly make the flowers of this species more visible, but I worry that removing leaves from a slow-growing evergreen species would be detrimental.

3. Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter honeysuckle)

Lonicera_fragrantissima

The flowers of Lonicera fragrantissima certainly aren’t spectacular, but the fragrance is absolutely wonderful.  I planted a row of the shrubs at the top of our driveway, at the northwestern edge of our property, so the prevailing west winds of winter spread the perfume down towards our front door.  I’d be quite proud of myself if it wasn’t completely fortuitous.  The direction of winter breezes was the furthest thing from my mind when I was deciding where to plant them.

L. fragrantissima is frequently found on lists of invasive plants, but luckily I very rarely see any fruit and have never found a volunteer seedling.  All of my plants are a single clone, and I wonder if they are not very self-compatible.

4.  Epidendrum stamfordianum

Epi_stamfordianum

In my greenhouse, this pretty little central American orchid is blooming for the first time.  It is still a fairly small seedling, so I expect to see longer inflorescence with more flowers in subsequent years.

5. Rauhia decora

rauhia_decora

This is the first year that my Rauhia decora bulb has produced two leaves instead of just one, so I am cautiously optimistic that it may be approaching blooming size.  If it doesn’t bloom this year, then maybe in 2019.

6.  Pachypodium brevicaule

pachy_brevicaule

I can see inflorescences starting on several of the spring-blooming Pachypodiums, but P. brevicaule is always the first to flower.

Six on Saturday #19, January 20, 2018: Monochrome edition

The meteorologists predicted that we would get one or two inches of snow this week.  Instead, the storm dumped  12” (30 cm), about three times the average annual snowfall for our part of North Carolina.

These are all color images, but the snow and pale sky seem to have completely desaturated the garden and woods.

1. Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar)

cedar

2. Edgeworthia chrysantha (paperbush)

edgeworthia

3.  Bird bath

bird bath

4. Young Pinus taeda (loblolly pines)

loblolly

5.  Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ (contorted trifoliate orange)

Poncirus

6.  woodland trees

hollies
Ilex opaca (American holly) at center and far right. Also, Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood) with typically sloping trunks are leaning against other trees.

Visit The Propagator’s latest post (and the comments therein) to see the more colorful Six on Saturday photos of other garden bloggers.