Six on Saturday: Friends

Brent, my colleague down south, plants street trees. He has been doing so for decades. Some of the older trees are quite mature now. Brent telephones me to tell me whenever the first trees on opposite sides of a street meet in the middle. It is like a graduation for that particular colony of trees. The various species mature at different rates, so they ‘meet’ over their particular street on their own distinct schedule. Brent watches them all, and attends all of their ‘graduations’. Anyway, that is what the first picture reminded me of.

1. Redwoods meeting friends over a road is not uncommon here. For compact street trees that got planted at the same time on opposite sides of an urban street, it is an indication of maturity.

2. Shasta daisies are not exactly friends. They are just two of many separate flowers on the same mature plant. They are composite flowers, so each one contains many tiny but distinct flowers.

3. Lily of the Nile, while piled with many friends, waiting to get groomed and moved to another garden, looks like Sigmund the Sea Monster should stay away from the Pacific Coast Highway.

4. Deodar cedar seedlings that grew where they could not live in an industrial yard were relocated to be with friends in a landscape a few years ago. Some, although not all, are now doing well.

5. Beau, the 1967 C10, has a friend also, named Bo, and he is a 1967 C20. Beau helped me bring so much of my old plant material from the Santa Clara Valley. Bo does not get around so much.

6. Rhody is man’s best friend. Like all of his colleagues, he is very committed to his career, which is, of course, his commitment to his colleagues. In this picture, he happily awaits their arrival.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Cockscomb

Plumose cockscomb blooms with pinata colors.

The flowers of the two different specie known as cockscomb do not seem to be as closely related as they are. Celosia cristata exhibits two or three inch wide, weirdly stunted and crested blooms that resemble the combs of roosters, although the most popular varieties are so densely furrowed that they look more like fuzzy little brains. Celosia plumosa, as the name implies, has plumose flowers that look more like three or four inch long pampas grass flowers than like anything associated with chickens. What they have in common is their very bright red, orange, yellow, pink or white blooms. Foliage can be bright green to rich bronze.

As short lived annuals, cockscombs blooms only for about two months from the middle of summer to autumn. As cut flowers, they can last a week or two. However, because those popularly grown as summer annuals are mostly less than a foot tall, the flower stems are rather short.

Summer Annuals Are Grateful For Deadheading

Blooming through summer is serious work.

So many of the pretty warm season annuals planted last spring are now at their best. Sweet alyssum, lobelia, verbena, moss rose and busy Lizzy never stop blooming, and only get more colorful as they grow through the season until they get replaced by cool season annuals in autumn. (It is unfortunate that busy Lizzy, which had been a standard warm season annual for so many years has become less available due to disease.) However, French marigold, petunia, floss flower, cosmos, statice, pincushion flower (scabbiosa) and zinnia need a bit of attention to perform as well that long.

These few warm season annuals can get tired of blooming if not ‘deadheaded’ (groomed of deteriorating flowers). Deadheading not only keeps plants looking a bit neater, but also prevents the diversion of resources needed for continued bloom into the generation of seed. As far as these blooming plants are concerned, seeding for the next generation is their priority anyway. As long as they are not allowed to set seed, they will continue to try, by producing more flowers to replace those that fade and get removed without setting seed.

Cosmos, statice and pincushion flower can continue to perform adequately without deadheading. The main advantage of deadheading these annuals is the removal of fading flowers. (There probably will not be much left for cosmos.) Many people actually prefer to leave fading cosmos flowers to disperse their seed for the following year.

Petunia is perhaps one of the more demanding of warm season annuals. It often needs to be clipped back in the middle of the season, right when it is expected to bloom the most. The best way to avoid serious pruning at one time it to keep plants snipped back lightly but continually as they grow, so that they can not develop the awkwardly long and weirdly jointed stems that eventually stop blooming. Short stems that stay close to the roots are the healthiest and most productive.

The various types of cockscomb are odd warm season annuals that become available halfway through summer, just in time to add color if some of the annuals planted earlier in spring are not performing adequately, or are finishing early. Of course, all of the other warm season annuals will still be available in nurseries until it is time for cool season annuals next autumn.

Horridculture – Mutants

Since this recycled article posted three years ago, almost all of the ‘Yellow Wave’ New Zealand flax in the landscape from with the pictures was taken has been replaced by reverted green growth.

Tony Tomeo

P80704Mutants are the source of many of our favorite cultivars of otherwise simpler specie. Many cultivars of plants with compact, pendulous or fastigiate (strictly vertical) growth, or variegated, bronzed, golden or otherwise abnormally colored foliage, were derived from ‘sports’, which are mutant stems that appear on otherwise normal plants. Thornless blackberries were sports of thorny cultivars. Fruitless mulberry is a sport of white mulberry. There is no shortage of mutants.

https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/cultivars-are-the-real-cloned-mutants/

https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2018/05/06/sport/

By nature, mutants are genetically unstable. A few can easily mutate back to their original and more genetically stable characteristics. Variegated plants are notorious for developing simple green unvariegated foliage. Because it has more chlorophyll, the unvariegated foliage grows faster, and has the potential to eventually overwhelm and replace the variegated foliage. That is why green sports should get pruned out of variegated plants.

‘President Roosevelt’ is the most popular of the few variegated rhododendrons. In nursery production…

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Petunia

Petunias are quintessential warm season annuals.

There are too many varieties of petunia to be familiar with nowadays. The species name is Petunia X hybrida because almost all are hybrids of two primary species, as well as a few others to complicate the situation. The color range of the bloom of these hybrids now lacks only a few colors. (GMO orange petunias are only beginning to become available.) 

Besides an impressively extensive color range, bloom can be spotted, speckled, striped, blotched, haloed or variegated by too many means to list. Flowers can be rather small or as wide as four inches. Some are surprisingly fragrant. Some have frilled double flowers. Stems of cascading types may sprawl wider than three feet while only a few inches high. 

Petunias are warm season annuals that perform from spring until frost. They can survive as perennials for a few years if cut low for winter. Cool season annuals can obscure and shelter them until they resume grown in spring. They prefer rich soil, systematic watering and sunny exposure. Although mostly sterile, some appreciate occasional deadheading. Trimming during summer may promote fluffier growth for lanky stems.

Deadhead To Promote Continued Bloom

Alyssum is too profuse for deadheading.

Deadheading is simply the removal of deteriorating bloom prior to the maturation of seed or fruiting structures. Besides diverting resources, it removes unappealingly deteriorated bloom, as well as unwanted or potentially invasive seed. Deadheading can be delayed if seed from particular flowers is desirable, (although some types are genetically variable).

It was time to deadhead spring bulbs as they finished bloom earlier last spring. Now it is time to deadhead some of the summer bulbs. It eliminates unsightly faded floral stalks of gladiolus, and diverts resources into developing bulbs. It eradicates invasive montbretia seed. For canna, it conserves resources to enhance subsequent bloom through summer. 

It is helpful to deadhead some types of annual bedding plants too. Marigold, zinnia, floss flower, pincushion flower and petunia should bloom better with systematic deadheading. Of course, all will continue to bloom without deadheading, but might be slightly subdued, with fading flowers. Modern sterile varieties that produce no viable seed are less reliant.

Fortunately, there is no need to deadhead alyssum, lobelia, nasturtium, moss rose, busy Lizzie or verbena. Their bloom is so abundant that it constantly overwhelms older bloom. Grooming tiny alyssum and lobelia flowers would otherwise be incredibly tedious. Moss rose, alyssum and nasturtium are pleased to self sow, but revert to simpler feral varieties. 

Some branched types of sunflowers produce several blooms on several separate stems. Others bloom with only a single flower on top of a tall single stem. If deadheaded prior to the maturation of their seed, the stalks of some single sunflowers generate a few smaller axillary flowers by autumn. This technique inhibits seed production, but prolongs bloom.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back To The Park –

If this were not so terrifying, it would be funny.

Tony Tomeo

P80722You would think that those who maintain the County Parks would be prepared for anything. They nearly are. They know how to deal with gophers, moles, voles, weeds, flooding, all sorts of unpleasant weather, and of course, spontaneous limb failure of massive trees. They apparently did not plan for this one.
This improvisation with a bit of dirty old plywood and a felt marker certainly does not imply that they could not handle the situation. They merely lacked a sign to warn those in the Park to avoid the area where the now exterminated yellow jackets had started to build their subterranean hive. Some brave person already attacked the hive with a can of insecticide that can be sprayed from a distance, waited for returning yellow jackets to die, and finally dug the hive up. The sign is only there because of the possibility that some yellow jackets might return…

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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day July 15 – Summer Weather Has Arrived

This old article was one of my earlier attempts at participation with a meme. Unfortunately, I could not keep up with it, although I may resume eventually. It would be nice to share more pretty pictures instead of mere utilitarian pictures. This particular meme appears on the fifteenth of every month, but since it is recycled, I do not mind being a few days (and three years) late.

Tony Tomeo

While so many of us in the Northern Hemisphere were contending with unusually warm weather, our weather here had been unusually mild. The weather only recently became warm for the past two weeks or so. It did not get unusually hot here like it did in so many other regions, but the warmth developed suddenly enough to damage many of the flowers that were blooming at the time. This included many of the new perennials that we happened to be installing at the time. Consequently, there were not nearly as many flowers to get pictures of as there had been in May, and some of the flowers in these pictures show damage from the sudden change in the weather. I am sorry that I neglected to participate in Bloom Day in June.

These pictures were taken at work, on the Santa Cruz County side of the Santa Cruz Mountains above…

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Six on Saturday: Integration





Brent, my colleague down south, scoffs at my predilection for white, as well as the exclusivity of the white garden from which I got pictures for Six on Saturday for last week. I suppose that he is entitled to that since he is a renowned landscape designer and I am not. White is my favorite color regardless; although I lack a white garden of my own, and have no intention of developing one. Exclusivity is no simple task. Some flowers that are not white are too appealing to easily dismiss. Some move in without invitation. Some are not what they should be.

1. Cestrum nocturnum – night blooming jasmine blooms pale white. After installing it, I learned that it might bloom pale yellow! Fortunately, it is next door, just barely beyond the landscape.

2. Bergenia crassifolia – pigsqueak has inhabited the space behind el Catedral de Santa Clara de Los Gatos longer than anyone can remember. It blooms pink, but is not visible from out front.

3. Bergenia crassifolia – pigsqueak should be groomed of old desiccated leaves. Incidentally, leaves blackened by frost are used as tea. I am unimpressed. These leaves are not frosted, just old.

4. Lychnis coronaria – rose campion is naturalized here, but is too pretty to pull while the landscape is still so sparse. It can bloom white, as well as red or pink, but I have not seen it do so yet.

5. Agapanthus orientalis – lily of the Nile was likely here about as long as the pigsqueak out back. Now that the first white lily of the Nile here was added at the road, the blue will be dismissed.

6. Hydrangea macrophylla – hydrangea got relocated to here from another landscape specifically because it was white. Now it is doing this. I do not know what color this is, but it is not white.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Coleus

No flowers needed with this foliage!

Out in the garden, coleus, Plectranthus scutellarioides, prefers partial shade where the foliage is less likely to get roasted during arid and warm summer weather. It is grown as a warm season annual instead of as a perennial, because it gets so tired through winter, and can be killed by even a very mild frost. Its sensitivity to exposure in the garden is probably why it is more familiar as a houseplant.

The flashy and sometimes deeply lobed foliage is variegated with any combination of green, chartreuse, yellow, orange, red, burgundy, pink, white, brown and almost black. Flower spikes should be snipped as they develop to keep foliage dense. The tiny purple flowers are not much to brag about anyway. Large plants can get to two feet tall and broad. Cuttings root easily in rich and regularly moist potting soil or just plain water. Seeds need sunlight to germinate, so should only be pressed onto the surface of damp potting soil without getting covered, and misted daily.