Six on Saturday: Late Bloomers

Winter is brief here. There is no snow, and only occasional mild frost. Chill is insufficient for many plants that need it. Rain can be copious during storms; but storms are not as frequent as in other climates. Many flowers typically bloom slightly earlier than they do in other regions. Of course, every season is unique.

1. English holly may have bloomed on time last year, but the berries are lingering late this year. The birds who eat them must have found something else to be more appealing. This is an odd cultivar that is neither as prickly nor as dense as common English holly elsewhere in its garden. Incidentally, it resides in the Santa Clara Valley, not here. I have no idea who the pollinator is.

2. Winter daphne should bloom in . . . well, winter. What I mean is that is should have bloomed a bit earlier in winter. Surprisingly, the foliage lacks variegation. All daphne here is variegated!

3. Calla should bloom in summer. This one is so late that that it is early. I mean that it is closer to next summer than it is to last summer. Really though, it blooms whenever it wants to here.

4. Daffodil continues to bloom in some locations. There are actually a few varieties blooming in this same area, with at least one colony that is only beginning to bloom. This late bloom is nice.

5. Narcissus continue to bloom late also! I believe that this is the only colony of paperwhite narcissus here. It is my favorite though, both because it is white, and also because it is so fragrant.

6. Rhody is always the most popular topic of my Six on Saturday. I do not know why he took a momentary interest in the camera. I just quickly exploited the opportunity to take his picture.

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/

Blossoms Bloom Sooner If Forced

Stems of tiny blossoms really impress.

Pussywillow is an odd cut flower. It is neither fragrant nor very colorful. It just gets cut and brought into the home because the distinctively fuzzy catkins are so interesting. They are appealing alone or mixed with other late winter flowers. The otherwise bares stems can get cut just as soon as the fuzz is beginning to become visible within the swelling buds. Bloom accelerates once the cut stems are brought into a warm home.

There are actually several other plants that can provide bare twigs that can be ‘forced’ into bloom in the home. ‘Forcing’ is simply the acceleration of bloom of such twigs by cutting them and bringing them from cool winter weather into warm interior ‘weather’. Flowering quince, flowering cherry and flowering (purple leaf) plum have likely finished bloom; but forsythia, hawthorn, flowering crabapple and many of the various fruit trees that have colorful bloom will be ready to be forced any time. Some daring people even force redbud, dogwood, witch hazel, lilac and star and saucer magnolias.

When the deciduous fruit trees that bloom well need to be pruned in winter, some people intentionally leave a few spare branches to be cut and forced later, just before bloom. These include almond, cherry, apricot, plum, prune, nectarine, peach, pear, apple and a few others. When stems get cut for forcing, they should be pruned out from the trees according to proper dormant pruning techniques, and can be trimmed up accordingly when brought into the home. Flowering (non-fruiting) trees should likewise be treated with respect when stems for forcing get pruned out.

Twigs to be forced should be cut just as the flowers are about to bloom, and preferably, as a few flowers are already blooming. They should be put in water immediately, and if possible, cut again with the cut ends submerged. Buds that will be submerged when the stems are fitted into a vase should be removed.

Once in a warm home, the rate of bloom will be accelerated, although everything blooms at a particular rate. Apple and pear bloom later than most, and can bloom slow enough to justify cutting stems while already blooming. As forced stems bloom, they can be quite messy, but the mess is probably worth it.

Six on Saturday: Flowery Bits III

Merry Christmas! Okay, perhaps not. This posted at midnight, precisely as Christmas Day ended. These are not exactly Christmas flowers anyway. They are not even Christmas colors. The pictures are actually from the previous week. I knew then that I would not likely want to go out to get pictures last week. Until now, Christmas was the priority. There was no work to go to.

My six are very limited this week. There are only two genera and three species. There could be more if the Osteospermum have species designations. I know them only as ‘hybrids’. If there are any cultivar names, I do not know what any of them are.

1. Lantana montevidensis – grows as a ground cover. The color range of the bloom is limited. This color is common, but I thought that individual flowers more commonly have white centers.

2. Lantana camara – is the ‘other’ lantana. It is shrubbier and better foliated. Floral color is more variable and generally more brightly colored. Bloom is not as extensive, but is more prolific.

3. Lantana camara – likes this particular landscape where I got these pictures. Another solitary specimen down the road and at a lower elevation already looks shabby from cooling weather.

4. Osteospermum – within this landscape are all modern hybrids. If anyone knows who their parents are, they do not share such information anymore. I think this color might be ‘lavender’.

5. Osteospermum – looks more purplish than the previous picture. I am no good with colors. Despite the attributes of modern hybrids, I still prefer old fashioned Osteospermum fruticosum.

6. Osteospermum – colors are not easy to describe. Is this one light burgundy red or ruddy pink? There might be six or so cultivars here. This unidentifiable color happens to be my favorite.

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/

Six on Saturday: Flowery Bits II

Rhody did not make the cut this week. There are too many minor flowers blooming. Only six can be shared here. Besides, flowers are more cooperative with getting their pictures taken than Rhody is. I should get six more flower pictures for next week as well, since I am trying to avoid the sort of dreary pictures I had been sharing, and the weather has not yet gotten interesting.

The botanical names of some of these flowers have changed over the years. The names I use may be outdated or updated. I can not be sure anymore. I am not certain about the identity of the hebe.

1. Hebe buxifolia, perhaps ‘Patty’s Purple’ hebe, is now beginning to succumb to cool winter weather. I am not certain if it has a definite bloom season. It seems to bloom randomly until frost.

2. Lobularia maritima, alyssum, is a warm season annual that finishes in winter, but replaces itself with seedlings that perform as cool season annuals for winter until warmer spring weather.

3. Diosma pulchrum, pink breath of Heaven, also seems to bloom whenever it wants to, although not quite as colorfully as hebe. This cultivar has lime green foliage instead of yellowish green.

4. Morea bicolor, butterfly iris, could be dug, divided, and shared with other landscapes. However, we can not adequately maintain the mature colonies that are already out in the landscapes.

5. Salvia greggii, autumn sage, is not just for autumn. Like the others, it blooms whenever it wants to. I like this one because it is only red. The flowers are too small to be both red and white.

6. Senecio X hybrida, cineraria, is leftover from when a few bedding plants were still added seasonally to a few prominent parts of the landscape. This one happens to be potted on a pedestal.

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/

Six on Saturday: Flowery Bits

After so many pictures of fallen leaves, firewood and frost, I should probably share a few floral pictures like everyone else does. All those pictures of ash from the fire did not help much. I can expound a bit excessively on autumn and winter topics because they are not as mundane as they are in other climates. For example, I would not notice frost so much if it were common here.

Some flowers continue to bloom later than they would in other climates. Some bloom too early here. Some can not decide when they should bloom. The fifth picture is not even a bloom at all.

1. Callistemon viminalis ‘Little John’ is a bottlebrush for those who dislike bottlebrush . . . or just lack the space. I hate to say it, but I sort of prefer the formerly common Callistemon citrinus.

2. Eucalyptus pulverulenta foliage is prettier without bloom. Nonetheless, for those who get close enough to see them, these small white flowers are pretty too. Bees appreciate them as well.

3. Lonicera periclymenum ‘Peaches and Cream’ has yet to bloom profusely here. Summer bloom is adequate at best. Bigger trusses of buds develop too late into autumn to bloom completely.

4. Narcissus does not wait for spring to bloom. I do not know what cultivar it is, or if it is a cultivar. Some might know it simply as ‘paperwhite’. Daffodils will bloom later, but are not fragrant.

5. Pseudoflora seem to bloom annually here prior to Christmas. Afterward, they will return to the barn for storage for almost another year. Some people believe that they are real poinsettia.

6. Rhody simply will not cooperate for a picture if he knows I am taking one. I included this picture anyway because, no matter what, or how bad his picture is, everyone always loves Rhody.

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/

Dried Flowers Last All Year

These flowers were cut weeks ago, and will look just as fresh months later.

Statice, strawflower and globe thistle continue to bloom later than most other summer annuals, and hold their flowers longer. Even after bloom, the flowers are so stiff and ‘crispy’ that they remain intact and colorful until they succumb to exposure to weather. If cut and brought in from the weather soon enough, they will last as dried flowers at least until fresh flowers start to bloom in the garden next spring.

Strawflower and larger globe thistle tend to wilt and droop from the weight of the bulky flowers, so should be tied in small bunches and hung upside down to dry. Perennial statice (which has larger blooms than annual statice) tends to flop to the ground, but the stems often bend only at the base so that the rest of the stem length stays somewhat straight. Smaller globe thistle and annual statice often dry standing up while still out in the garden.

Yarrow and English lavender can be dried as well, but lose most of their color. Lavender dries naturally in the garden. Yarrow can likewise be allowed to dry in the garden, but probably keeps a bit more color if cut while still fresh and hung upside down. Because yarrow blooms are so wide, they should be hung individually or in small bundles. Queen Anne’s lace has even wider blooms that curl inward as they dry, so they really should be hung individually.

Old hydrangea flowers that are only beginning to fade can dry surprisingly well if cut and hung individually before they deteriorate too much or start to rot. Some varieties retain color better than others. Some fade almost completely to an appealing brown paper bag.

There are not many roses this time of year, but when they do bloom, even they can be cut and dried while beginning to unfurl. Only a few small and tightly budded roses can be dried when completely open. Because they droop right below the blooms, roses should be hung upside down to dry. Dark colored roses get very dark as they dry. White roses turn tan. Pink and yellow are probably the better colors.

Cat-tails and pampas grass flowers are big, bold and dated cut flowers. Yet, for situations where big flowers fit, they are just as practical now as they were in the 1970s. Because pampas grass flowers shed, and cat-tails can explode (to disperse their seed), they should be sprayed with hair spray or another fixative to keep them contained. Pampas grass foliage has dangerously serrate edges that can give nasty paper cuts, so should be handled carefully, and displayed out of the way.

Six on Saturday: A Bit More Color

Since the Fire, my Six on Saturday posts have been rather gloomy. Titles such as ‘Pompeii‘, ‘Revelation‘ and ‘Revelation II‘ are appropriately descriptive. More color is in order.

1. Silvery bark of a silver maple is sort of colorful. Hey, the next five really are more colorful. I planted this tree as a young twigling in the Santa Clara Valley when I was in high school. It had a second trunk, which I layered as another tree for the front garden. This tree is in back. I would like to get a copy for my own garden. This is now an old picture that I got during evacuation.

2. Orangish red bloom is that of ‘Pollack’ zonal geranium, which is grown more for its very variegated foliage. However, this bonus bloom is on a specimen that reverted to be less variegated.

3. Peachy Peruvian lily looks pink to me, but is not quite as pink as the pink sort. There is a yellow sort here too. They certainly are prolific. In 1986, I worked with these as a cut flower crop.

4. White phlox self sowed here last year or earlier, and have performed splendidly. There are more this year than there were last year. It would be excellent to get a few more for next year.

5. Blue annual morning glory grew up with my tomatoes. Oddly, they did not do so well where their seed were actually sown intentionally, in pots on the deck up above the vegetable garden.

6. This is my favorite picture this week. I can not read what, if anything, is written in paint on this rock. It looks like someone enjoyed painting it, and placing it to be found out in the garden.

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/

Schedule Bloom For Every Season

00916thumb
There is bloom for every season.

Early spring bloom is best. That is simply how the schedule of the majority of flowers works. The priority of flowers is pollination. Pollination is necessary for the production of seed. The production of seed and any associated fruit takes time. Seed, whether contained within fruit or not, then disperses before winter. After soaking and chilling through winter, seed germinates for the next spring.

For a variety of reasons, some flowers prefer to bloom earlier, later, or randomly through the year. Some are from climates in which they want to avoid harsh weather of a particular season. Some rely on pollinators who are active for a limited time. Regardless of the reasons for their bloom schedule, early, late and randomly blooming flowers add color to the garden before and after spring.

Many flowers that bloom randomly through the year tend to bloom better and later with a bit of persuasion. Cutting roses regularly seems innocent enough, but actually deprives rose plants of their efforts to produce seed. So does deadheading to remove their developing fruit structures that contain seed. Plants respond by trying to bloom again or more prolifically than they would otherwise.

Lily of the Nile reliably provided much of the color through the middle of summer. Many gardens have some. Some gardens have many. Their color range is limited, but effective. Now that they are done, canna, dahlia and delphinium should continue to bloom until frost. Mexican blue sage that took a break after spring bloom should bloom even better as summer ends, and into early autumn.

The bloom schedule of many flowers of the Compositae (or Asteraceae) family also coincide with late summer. Some have been blooming since spring. Some just started recently. These include but are not limited to cone flower, blanket flower, zinnia, cosmos, coreopsis, sunflower and Japanese anemone. African daisy and euryops daisy often bloom well after the earliest rains of autumn.

Eucalypti that bloom colorfully, such as red flowering gum, Eucalyptus ficifolia, bloom after the warmth of summer, but before cooling autumn weather.

Summer Flowers Make The Cut

50819thumb
Try something new for cut flowers.

It would seem obvious that there would be more flowers to cut to bring into the home during summer than there would be in winter. A quick tour through the garden might prove otherwise. Much of the color in the garden this late in summer is provided by flowers that fade quickly, or small flowers of shrubby plants that lack good stems for cutting.

Lilies, gladiolus and most of the lily of the Nile that bloomed earlier in summer are finished. Bearded iris (reblooming types) that will soon be blooming again, as well as cannas, wilt too much to last long as cut flowers. Dahlias happen to be at their prime, and are excellent cut flowers if their water gets changed regularly. Otherwise, they rot and smell badly.

Realistically, anything that blooms is fair game. Of course, this does not mean that everything tried will work. It does means that some flowers that are not often thought of as good cut flowers might be worth considering as such. Not all of us are equipped with roses, zinnias, dahlias, sunflowers, delphiniums, blanket flowers or the many other favorite summer bloomers.

All sorts of sages, which are also known by their Latin name of ‘salvia’, are delightful cut flowers. However, some types are not very showy. Others wilt right after getting cut. Mexican blue sage may or may not wilt, but is colorful enough to be appealing even if it can not stand up like it should. Sometimes it is best to try something new to see if it works.

Sea foam statice and annual statice are nice cut flowers both fresh and dried. Fresh flowers are probably more colorful, but of course, do not last as long as dried flowers. Annual statice is lightweight enough to stand upright as it dries in a vase. Sea foam statice has bulkier flowers that should probably be hung up-side-down to dry straight.

Oleander certainly is reliably colorful, but is not worth cutting. It wilts almost immediately, and drips toxic sap. However, the stigmatized and common lemon bottlebrush is a surprisingly tasteful cut flower with rustically aromatic foliage. Speaking of foliage, some types of eucalyptus, particularly the red flowering gum (Eucalyptus ficifolia), have handsome flowers as well.

Fragrant Flowers Have Ulterior Motives

00311
Demure daphne bloom is richly fragrant.

Many who enjoy gardening appreciate fragrant flowers. Many grow particular flowers specifically for their fragrance. Yet, not many consider why so many flowers are fragrant. Plants can not enjoy their own alluring floral fragrances any more than they can enjoy their own delightful floral colors and forms. They do not expect people to enjoy their bloom either. Human appreciation is incidental.

Floral fragrance is merely intended to attract pollinators. Flowers are inanimate, so rely on either wind or animate pollinators to exchange their pollen among other flowers. Animate pollinators are mostly insects, but may be birds, bats or other animals. Flowers do what they must to attract their preferred pollinators. Many use color and floral form. Many use fragrance. Some use both tactics.

Flowers that use both color and fragrance to attract pollinators are mostly endemic to densely forested ecosystems. There is more competition for pollinators within such ecosystems than there is within ecosystems of sparser vegetation. Otherwise, fragrant flowers are generally not as colorful as those that are not as fragrant. Likewise, the most colorful flowers are generally not so fragrant.

Angel’s trumpet is striking in bloom because the flowers are so large. Wisteria and lilac that bloomed last spring were spectacular because they were so profuse. The pastel hues of their blooms are no problem that their fragrance does not compensate for. Pink jasmine and mock orange are about as fragrant, even if their color range is more limited. Star jasmine is not always so profuse.

Pittosporum tobira and Pittosporum undulatum are even less visually impressive in bloom, but can be surprisingly fragrant. The tiny but richly fragrant flowers of sweet osmanthus, sweet box and night blooming jasmine are so obscure that other bloom is often credited with their fragrance. As the name implies, night blooming jasmine is powerfully fragrant after sunset during warm weather.

Freesia, hyacinth, narcissus, lily and some bearded iris are both colorful and very fragrant.