Paris Daisy

P90608KNo, this is not a Paris daisy. It is a common euryops daisy, Euryops pectinatus. It is obviously related, but the flowers are bright yellow rather than clear white with yellow centers, and the foliage is darker green. It is more resilient, so became more common in landscapes as quickly as mow, blow and go ‘gardeners’ replaced real gardeners who actually know something of horticulture. There is certainly nothing wrong with it. It is just cliché.

The few remaining Paris daisies are fancier cultivars of the old fashioned traditional sort anyway. Some bloom pale pink. Some bloom pale yellow. Flowers might have fluffy centers of the same color. Foliage might be pale grayish green. Plants are more compact. The cultivar that most closely resembles the old Paris daisy has more profuse, but smaller flowers. The cultivars are all quite nice, but are not quite the same as what we remember.

The original Paris daisy, Chrysanthemum frutescens, which is now known as Argyranthemum frutescens, was the sort of flower you wore in your hair if you were going to San Francisco in the late 1960s, or according to my memory, in the very early 1970s. It looked just like the three plastic daisies in the upper right (or lower left) corner of those cool AstroTurf door mats that were so popular. Perhaps they were cliché for their time too.

Cuttings rooted in half pint mason jars on kitchen windowsills to replace older plants. Our mothers grew them in the garden, supposedly to repel the bad insects, and attract the good insects to eat the bad ones who did not take the hint. In that regard, Paris daisies were how young horticulturists learned about vegetative propagation and ‘integrated pest management’ (IPM). They were so familiar back then; but then disappeared by the 1990s.

Only recently, Brent, my colleague in the Los Angeles region who I so frequently mention (typically in a disparaging manner) found just two specimens at a nursery in Southern California, and promptly procured both. One if for his garden, and one is for mine!

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Deadheading Promotes And Prolongs Bloom

90612thumbApril showers bring May flowers. May flowers make a mess. Well, some of them do. Most simply disintegrate and fall from the trees, shrubs and vines that produced them, and decompose into the soil below. Some might have needed to be swept off of pavement and decks. Regardless, most of us do not notice the very minor consequences for the majority of spectacular spring bloom.

However, there are some flowers that demand a bit more attention after they finish blooming. They linger after the show is over, and can look shabby as they deteriorate. Small ones can simply be plucked. Larger blooms might need to be pruned out. The process of removing deteriorating blooms is known as ‘deadheading’, and it is done for more reasons than just to keep plants groomed.

Plants bloom to produce seed, and the production of seed takes resources. Removal of seed structures not only diverts resources to more useful functions, but for many plants, it also stimulates subsequent bloom in response to interrupted seed production. They literally keep trying until they are able to produce viable seed, even if they must continue all season until late autumn dormancy.

Most plants that benefit from deadheading are perennials. Shasta daisy, black-eyed Susan, blanket flower, cone flower, yarrow, lavender and beard tongue (penstemon) bloom more abundantly and for a longer time with regular deadheading. The various lavenders, as well as other perennials that are comparably shrubby, are easily deadheaded by shearing after profuse bloom phases.

For bulbs and bulb like perennials that bloom only once annually, deadheading will not promote subsequent bloom during the same year, but conserves resources for the following year. Daffodil, lily, clivia, various iris and, during summer, gladiolus and dahlia, all appreciate diligent deadheading.

Petunia and marigold are two annuals that happen to bloom better with regularly deadheading. They bloom so profusely that deadheading can be quite a chore. Plants that can be invasive, such as salsify, should be deadheaded before dispersing seed.

Rose Lily

P90601KWhat a delightful surprise! It happens sometimes here in the rose garden. It may not look like much, as a short stemmed single lily floret that is mostly overwhelmed by the English lavender that I held back with my boot for this picture. It should be three feet tall or so, with several florets. The surprise is that no one planted it. Well, at least no one planted it recently. This rose garden has more history than is obvious from what blooms here now.
Old pictures show that it was formerly an extravagant perennial bed, with an abundance of canna, dahlia, penstemon, pelargonium, Shasta daisy, Japanese anemone, various iris, and of course, various lilies. Lower annuals were cycled through the seasons at the front edge. Only a few roses bloomed against the low wall at the rear. Soil was likely regularly amended with compost and fertilizer. Someone put significant effort into maintaining it.
Nearby redwoods appreciated all the effort, and extended their roots into the fertilized, richly amended and regularly irrigated soil. Their growing canopies extended over and shaded the upper portion of the perennial bed so that all but daylilies and Japanese anemone were replaced with ferns. Perennials that got dug and stored for their dormant seasons were later installed elsewhere as it became obvious that they would not be happy here.
Because the few roses did not seem to mind the redwood roots, a few more, as well as English lavender, were added in informal rows to replace deteriorating perennials. Annuals require more effort than they did originally, but are still cycled through the seasons in a narrow row at the front edge. The rose garden now seems to have always been here, as if intentionally planned. Every once in a while, we find reminders of extravagant history.

Six on Saturday: Abbreviated Rose Parade

 

There are a few other roses that I could have gotten pictures of in order to submit a complete set of six, but I wanted to show off just these four that bloom in what is known as the ‘rose bed’. A fifth purple cultivar was not blooming when I got these pictures. What seems to be a sixth cultivar that I did not get a picture of is really suckers of ‘Doctor Huey’ understock that appeared far enough away from the original plant to not be a problem.

There are several rose shrubs and standards (trees) in the rose bed, but they are limited to these five and a half distinct and mostly unidentified cultivars. They are the most prominently located roses that I work with. The other roses are in other landscapes, or at the yard of the maintenance shops. Two of the larger groups of roses are uniform beds of carpet roses, which I am really none too keen on.

1. The few rose standards (trees) seem to be floribundas. This one looks familiar, but not familiar enough for me to guess the name of it.P90525

2. I would guess that this hybrid tea rose that grows in a shrub form is ‘Double Delight’. It does happen to be quite pleasantly fragrant.P90525+

3. This one seems to be a floribunda like the standards (trees) but grows in shrub form like #2 above. I do not believe it is notably fragrant.P90525++

4. I would guess that this one is the common floribunda ‘Iceberg’, growing as a standard. One is a double graft with a purple floribunda.P90525+++

5. Well, that was it. The fifth purple cultivar is not blooming, and ‘Doctor Huey’ bloomed only once for the year. This nearby yellow calla is irrelevant.P90525++++

6. This piece of dead madrone is just as irrelevant, but I though it was amusingly sculptural. I probably should have been more careful while cutting it apart.P90525+++++

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/

Try Some Unconventional Cut Flowers

P81214There is nothing like growing our own; whether vegetables, fruit or cut flowers. Most fruit and vegetables are grown to be eaten, so are not missed too much when harvested. Even colorful citrus fruit is better harvested than left out in the garden. No one wants to waste it. Flowers are not so simple. They are so colorful and fragrant in the garden, that it is tempting to leave them all out there.

Cosmos and many kinds of daisies are so abundant that there are plenty for both the home and garden. Gladiolus are not so fortunate. They bloom only once. Cutting the flowers to bring into the home deprives the garden of their color. What is worse is that cut gladiolus, although excellent cut flowers, do not last quite as long as they would in the garden. Roses at least continue to bloom.

Daylily can be a good cut flower, but individual flowers last only a day (obviously). This is not a problem in the garden because new flowers bloom daily to replace those that that have finished. Cutting stems not only takes flowers in bloom, but also takes the flower buds behind them that are waiting for their turn to bloom. However, not many, if any, of the unbloomed buds bloom once cut.

Many types of iris, except for Dutch iris, have the same problem. Attentive garden enthusiasts might leave iris to bloom in the garden, and might even groom fading blooms from fresh blooms on the same stems, and then cut stems to bring into the home when the last bud on each stem is just beginning to bloom. The last flowers are not as excellent as the first, but it is a fair compromise.

Cannas are not so functional. They are great in the garden for both flowers and foliage, but fade too soon in the home. Bougainvillea and crape myrtle stems likewise start to wilt and drop flowers immediately after getting cut, but for those who do not mind cleaning up after them, there are plenty of papery flowers to last a few days. The wilted tips of bougainvillea stems can be pruned out.

There are no rules to cut flowers. Lily-of-the-nile might seem like a silly choice, but works quite nicely for those who dare to try it. New Zealand flax flowers are not very colorful, but provide striking form. Zonal geranium and nasturtium work well with or without foliage attached. Lemon bottlebrush, photinia, New Zealand tea tree, bugle lily, various hebes, and all sorts of salvias are worth a try.

Roses Can Not Be Neglected

P80602+Roses are not for the meek. They are too demanding, too sensitive, too thorny, and without their flowers, they are not even very attractive. They have no business in a low-maintenance landscape, or in a landscape maintained by mow, blow and go gardeners. Those who want to grow rose plants for their flowers should be ready to give them what they want, and to prune them aggressively.

The most aggressive pruning gets done during winter dormancy. That process alone can be quite intimidating for those who are just getting acquainted with roses. After seeing them grow through the year, it seems counterproductive to prune big plants back to only a few short canes. Yet, by now, those canes should have produced much taller new canes that are already blooming profusely.

Now it is time to prune roses again, or will be time to do so soon. Deteriorating flowers need to be pruned away to promote continued bloom, a process known as ‘deadheading’. Otherwise, the fruiting structures that develop, known as ‘rose hips’, divert resources and inhibit bloom. Of course, blooms taken as cut flowers leave no hips, but they might leave stubs that may need grooming.

The popular technique of pruning back to the fifth leaf below a hip is not necessarily what roses want. It probably originated from the recommendation of pruning back to a low leaf with five leaflets because the buds associated with upper leaves with three or less leaflets are not as likely to develop into productive stems. However, pruning a bit too low is probably better than pruning too high.

When cutting roses to bring in, it is better to cut long stems, and then shorten them later if necessary. Each stem should be cut just above a leaf so that the bud in the leaf axil can develop into a new stem without much of a stub above it. The cut stem left behind on the plant should not be so long that it extends too far above the canes that were pruned over winter, or becomes crowded.

Crowded stems inhibit growth of vigorous blooming canes, and are more susceptible to rust, mildew and blackspot.P80602++

Six on Saturday: Rhody!!

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This is not really about Rhody, the terrier whom I work for. I just threw that extra picture in because, if you know who Rhody is, you were expecting to see his picture after reading the title. The six pictures below are really just rhododendrons that were blooming last week.

Last year was the best bloom of rhododendrons and azaleas in many years here. Those who have known them for many years can not remember a more spectacular bloom, with so many of different cultivars of the rhododendrons blooming so profusely in the same season.

The bloom this year is unusually sparse. No one can explain it. They have good years and bad years, just like anything else in the garden. Fortunately, even in their bad years, the flowers that bloom are spectacular.

1. Of the six this week, this is my least favorite. It is a vary pale pink, but not pale enough to be white. There are not many florets on the trusses.P90504

2. I refer to this one as ‘Taurus’; but I really do not know what it is. ‘Taurus’ is very susceptible to thrip. This one sustains only minor damage from thrip, while a few others nearby are are seriously damaged.P90504+

3. This one may not look much better than #1, but the color is pinker, and the trusses are impressively big with more florets when it is in full bloom. It grows as a tree nearly twenty feet tall.P90504++

4. I refer to this one as ‘Anah Kruschke’, but like for #2 above and #5 below, I am not sure about its identity. ‘Anah Kruschke’ should not be damaged by thrip as badly as this one is. I think my colleague grew this one.P90504+++

5. Of the three here that I have names for, this is the one that is most certainly not what I like to think it is. ‘Helene Schiffner’, which happens to be one of my favorites, is not blushed with yellow.P90504++++

6. I believe that my esteemed colleague grew this one as well as #4. I remember delivering a significant order of rhododendrons here years ago, at about the same time this and #4 were installed.P90504+++++

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/

Clustered Bellflower

90508Do they seem to be early this year? Clustered bellflower, Campanula glomerata, typically waits until the end of spring to bloom. Once the initial and most prolific bloom phase finishes, sporadic bloom should continue almost through summer. Blue is their most popular and traditional color. White is their second most popular option. Bluish purple and purplish pink are still somewhat rare.

Vegetative growth stays relatively low and unassuming through autumn and winter, and then starts to stand up and get noticed just before spring bloom. Short varieties might bloom without getting even a foot tall, while tall varieties can get two feet tall or a bit taller in partial shade. Each blooming stem supports a dozen or so five-pointed flowers that are about thee quarters to an inch wide.

Clustered bellflower looks neater and probably blooms a bit better as the season progresses if stalks are pruned out as they finish bloom and start to deteriorate. However, a few stalks of some varieties might be retained after bloom to produce seed to scatter elsewhere. Some of the fancier or newer varieties do not produce many viable seed, and such seed may not be true to to type.

Mellow Yellow

P90427KThis picture of a yellow Pacific Coast iris probably should have been incorporated into the Six on Saturday post earlier today. I omitted it because I was not so impressed with how the color showed up. It is really more yellow than it looks. In this picture, it looks more like a discolored version of the white Pacific Coast iris. This sort of variation, that might have been normal for old fashioned photography, is not expected of digital imagery.
It sort of reminds me of how some insects and other pollinators see flowers so differently with infrared or ultraviolet. Are infrared or ultraviolet faded in digital imagery as well? It would make sense, since there is no need for normal cameras to record colors that we can not see. Nor is there need for computer monitors to display such invisible colors. Ironically, modern technology can modify color to make that which in invisible to us visible.
Modern technology is always improving the quality of stored data, and the presentation of such stored data. Perhaps there really are ways to take pictures that record infrared and ultraviolet, although I can not imagine why there would be a use for such technology. Video is good about recording and presenting motion. Audio records and presents sound. Regardless, none of it is good enough to keep us from actually enjoying our real gardens.
Pacific Coast iris blooms in all sorts of weirdly bright colors now. Modern technology has certainly had its way with them as well. The flowers are bigger and bolder than they naturally were. The foliage is greener and fluffier. Yet, to me, the best are still those that grow wild and bloom on the coast of San Mateo County, with unassuming flowers in subdued shades of greyish blue, like faded denim.

Six on Saturday: Azaleas

 

As the flowering cherry trees fade, the azaleas get their turn. Like the flowering cherry trees, the azaleas are not as spectacular as they were last year. I know it is relevant to the weather, although I do not know what the weather did to inhibit so much bloom with so many of the early spring bloomers. I know there was a lot of rain, but that should not have been a major problem. There was not much chill, but there should have been enough.

I do not know if this will be the most subdued bloom ever witnessed here, but the limited color might be more apparent because the azaleas and rhododendrons were more spectacular last year than they had ever been. According to their bud set, the rhododendrons will be even less impressive than the azaleas. The dogwoods might have had the potential to be as spectacular as last year, but some were disadvantaged by structural pruning.

These six azaleas were the best of what was blooming here this year. The pictures were taken about a week ago. I should know the names of all the cultivars, but I don’t. They do not look the same in landscape as they do on the farm where they grow. I could guess on a few. The only one that there is no mistake about is #4, which is ‘Coral Bells’. Color is a bit off in this picture. #5 looks like ‘Hino Crimson’, but without bronzed new foliage.

Rhododendrons are coming along slowly but surely. They will not be ready for next week. Fortunately, as wimpy as our bloom is this spring, there is plenty to get more pictures of for next week.

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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/