Six on Saturday: More Late Bloomers

Redundancy was not apparent to me as I collected these pictures of flowers that are blooming somewhat later than typical. Not only is the topic the same as last week, but daffodil is featured again, and comprises half of these six! A major (but not redundant) difference this week, which will most certainly compromise the popularity of my blog, is the absence of a picture of Rhody.

Incidentally, my Six on Saturday for next week will be redundant to #1 below, and will again lack a picture of Rhody, but it is a popular topic that I never discuss.

1. Hellebore is something that I am none too keen on. Bloom just happens to be remarkable this year. This one blooms most profusely. There will be more redundancy with these next week.

2. Sweetbox is also blooming unusually well this year, even if they are still not much to look at. Fragrance is their priority. Their sneaky bloom is usually more obscured by the glossy foliage.

3. Camellia bloom is not as late as it seems to be. Others bloom sporadically even a bit later. I think that this one would be prettier if it were lower than the roof, and visible from the carport.

4. Daffodil is technically very different from those of last week. This and the two others are all feral in unlandscaped areas near our industrial shop buildings. This one looks like ‘King Alfred’.

5. Daffodil, whether truly feral or not, can be quite variable. I suspect that they came into the site with soil or debris that was removed from landscapes, and dumped here through the years.

6. Daffodil, in my opinion (which, in my opinion, is the most important opinion), should look like ‘King Alfred’! The next best option is like ‘King Alfred’, but white! Could this be ‘Mount Hood’?

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/

Flowering Fruit Trees Without Fruit

Flowers are sometimes better than fruit.

All of the popular fruit trees produce flowers. Otherwise, they could not produce fruit. The stone fruits, such as almond, apricot, cherry, peach, plum and prune, bloom very impressively this time of year. (Stone fruits have single large seeds known as stones. Almonds are the large stones of small fruits that resemble peaches.) The pomme fruits, such as apple and pear, bloom about as prolifically shortly afterward, followed lastly by related but rare quince.

The difference between these trees and their counterparts known as ‘flowering’ trees is not so much the flowers, but the fruit. ‘Flowering’ is something of a euphemism for trees that might otherwise be known as ‘fruitless’, since they produce either uselessly small fruit, or no fruit at all.

This may seem silly to those who enjoy growing fresh fruit in the garden. However, fruit trees require so much pruning in winter, and can be so messy if the fruit does not get completely harvested. The flowering trees are happy to provide the profuse bloom without so much maintenance and potential mess. Because they were developed as ornamental trees, their flowers are more impressive, with many more shades of pink, as well as white. Many types bloom with big and fluffy double flowers.

Flowering cherry and plum are probably the most popular of the flowering stone fruit trees. Most flowering plums have purplish foliage, so are more commonly known as purple-leaf plum. Flowering almond, apricot, prune and peach are relatively somewhat rare. Most flowering stone fruit trees are completely fruitless, but some purple-leaf plum can produce messy and sour plums as they mature.

Flowering pear is probably not recognized as such because it is more often known as fruitless pear. Ironically, it can produce enough tiny pear fruit to be messier than other flowering fruit trees. Flowering pear blooms only white, and is not as florific as the other flowering trees, but grows large enough to be a mid-sized shade tree, and has the advantage of remarkable foliar color in autumn. Evergreen pear is an entirely different sort of tree that only blooms well if the weather is just so, and lacks fall color (because it is semi-evergreen).

Flowering apples are known as flowering crabapples. Unlike the other flowering trees, many flowering crabapples develop a sloppy branch structure if not pruned almost like trees that produce fruit. Yet, the weirdest of the flowering trees is the flowering quince, which is not even the same genus as fruiting quince. It develops into a thicket that blooms before everything else. Fruiting quince instead matures into a rampant tree, and blooms after the other fruit trees.

Daffodil

Bright yellow daffodil is still classic.

What is the difference between narcissus and daffodil? That is very open to interpretation. Daffodil is really only a particular type of narcissus that tends to bloom with larger and more colorful flowers that lack the rich fragrance of the smaller and commonly white flowers of other narcissus. Most daffodil bloom singly. Only a few bloom with a few flowers together. Other narcissus are outfitted with more individual flowers to each stem.

When they were buried in sunny spots last autumn, bare daffodil bulbs looked like pointed onions. They rested through much of winter so that they could be among the first flowers to bloom late in winter. The rather short and narrow bluish leaves stand vertically. The flaring flowers face outward with a bit of a downward or upward tilt. After bloom, deteriorating flowers should be plucked, but foliage should remain until it yellows and gets shed naturally.

The most familiar daffodil are bright yellow. Others can be white, various shades of orange or yellow, or a combination of these colors. Six outer petals (which are actually three petals and three sepals) radiate around a central trumpet.

Six on Saturday: Do you know the way to San Jose?

Rhody and I needed to go to San Jose for the past three days, and will be going there again at least until April. We had not been there or even into the Santa Clara Valley for a very long time. I did not realize how long we had been gone until I collected my accumulation of mail on the way through town, and found Christmas cards!

1. Tecoma stans is the second most important topic of my Six for this week! The Shrub Queen sent me these seed from wild plants that are native to Southern Florida! It is so rare here that I had seen it only a few times prior. A compact cultivar became available only a few years ago. I wanted the straight species. Embarrassingly, these seed were in my mailbox since December.

2. Camellia japonica is still blooming, with buds that will continue even longer. Technically, it is not late. Some bloom as late as March. I do not remember the name of this particular cultivar.

3. Ribes sanguineum is native to the forests only a few miles from here. This one and another like it were planted here a few years ago. Two others that bloomed white did not last very long.

4. Narcissus pseudonarcissus, or simply ‘daffodil’, bloom sporadically in the oddest of situations. Their bulbs remained where they got planted years ago, as the landscape changed over them.

5. Spirea prunifolia ‘Plena’ is sparsely branched, but perhaps delightfully so. I am surely no expert in regard to aesthetics, but it seems to me that more profuse bloom would be less delicate.

6. Rhody is the most important topic of my Six for this week. This was the moment immediately prior to his realization that I was aiming the camera at him, and his spry reaction to avoid it.

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/

Statice

Statice is so popular as a cut flower that it should be more popular than it is in home gardens.

The papery flowers of annual statice, Limonium sinuatum, are so popular as seemingly synthetic dried flowers that many garden enthusiasts are surprised to find that they are happy to bloom naturally in home gardens. The clear shades of blue, purple, pink, orange, yellow and white seem to be dyed. The one or two foot tall flower stems are outfitted with odd papery ‘wings’ that make the stems seem wider than they actually are. Deeply lobed basal foliage forms shallow rosettes. Mature plants are about one or two feet tall, and a foot or so wide. Bloom begins late in summer, and continues into autumn. Good sun exposure and good drainage are preferred. Seed can be sown directly, or young plants can be added to the garden early in spring.

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.