Scrub Palm

104 seeds for the price of 10!

Of all the strange seed I brought back from Oklahoma, none were from the scrub palm, Sabal minor, that is endemic to McCurtain County in the very southeaster corner of Oklahoma. I did not get to that region.

Sabal minor is nothing special to those who are acquainted with it. However, a variety that was selected from those in McCurtain County, which is known simply as Sabal minor ‘McCurtain’, is becoming increasingly popular in climates where winter weather is too cold for other palms. It is sufficiently resilient to frost to survive in New England and Canada.

I just wanted it because it is from Oklahoma.

Since I did not collect any wild seed, I had considered purchasing a seedling of the ‘McCurtain’ variety online. It would have been rather expensive for a single seedling. I was pleased to find seed of the same variety that were significantly less expensive for several seed. I know they grow slowly, but I am in no hurry. I gain bragging rights as soon as the seed germinate.

Unexpectedly, I was even more pleased to find seed on eBay that were collected from trees that were collected from the wild in McCurtain County, but were not of the ‘McCurtain’ variety! I know that seems trivial, and maybe even less desirable to those who want a garden variety, but for me, such seed are more closely related to those I would have collected if I had been there.

For $6.00, I expected delivery of a packet of ten seed of Sabal minor from McCurtain County. I could not pass on a deal like that. Instead, I got the 104 seed in the picture above! That is ten times what I was expecting. They will grow into more scrub palms than my garden can accommodate. RAD!


Unidentified Cyclamen

What species is this naturalized Cyclamen? hederifoliumcoum – feral persicum – or something else?

Could this be Cyclamen hederifolium? Perhaps it is some sort of Cyclamen coum, or possibly feral Cyclamen persicum. I really do not know. Common florists’ cyclamen is the only cyclamen that I have any experience with. I grew it as a perennial when I was in high school, but never saw any feral colonies growing from self sown seed. I have never met the other species before.

Several colonies of this naturalized species of Cyclamen grow wild in the garden of a colleague. No one knows how they got there. I noticed them while procuring specimens of what might be other species that I have been wanting to grow, even though I am not certain of their identities either. I suspect that one could be Sorbus americana, and that another could be Rhus glabra.

I have been wanting to try growing Cyclamen hederifolium or Cyclamen coum since I saw it in pictures of home gardens in other regions. It looks something like common florists’ cyclamen that I enjoyed growing so many years ago, but more natural and relaxed. As much as I like florists’ cyclamen, the brightly colored flowers look a bit too synthetic for naturalistic landscapes.

Even though interesting species of Cyclamen have been available online and from mail order catalogs for at least the past several years, I have been hesitant to try any. I just do not know if they would be happy in forested landscapes where I want to grow them. Not many perennials perform well with so much overwhelming and mildly toxic debris from redwoods and live oaks.

Now I can see that they perform well enough here to naturalize, even under big and messy coast live oaks. In fact, I am now concerned that they have potential to become invasively naturalized in surrounding forests.

Horridculture – Rose Colored Glasses


This article reminded me of a sore subject from back in about 1986 that continues today: You should probably take a look at it before you continue.

Back when my colleague and I were roommates in the dorms at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, we noticed how badly the photographs in bare root catalogs had been modified to enhance color. Years before modern digital editing, colored film was cut out to any desired shape and placed over a photograph to produce a new photograph with enhanced color. We looked at pictures of flowering crabapples with canopies that were entirely bright pink, including the stems, leaves and everything associated with the canopy of the tree. We could easily see the outline of the bright pink film that had been placed over the original photograph. It was done with blue fescue, hydrangeas, azaleas, callas and really just about anything that could benefit from a bit of enhanced color.

It certainly did not dissuade us from our interest in the plants that had been photographically enhanced. We liked them anyway. The poor quality of the enhancements that would be laughable by modern standards seemed to be more acceptable back then; like the idealistic pictures of the food available from popular fast food establishments. I mean, we all know that the food does not look like ‘that’ but it probably tastes like ‘that’ looks.

Three decades later, modern technology of digital editing of photographs (if they are still known as ‘photographs’) has improved the technique of color enhancement significantly. Most pictures in catalogs are now enhanced to some degree, not to be deceptive, but to eliminate minor glitches that might distract from the rest of the image, and perhaps to enhance color that is slightly compromised by the exposure at the time the picture was taken.

But of course, there are some images that are blatantly inaccurate and deceptive.

My colleague down south tells me that pink pampas grass can be about as peachy pink as cantaloupe is. It could possibly be more pink in other regions. I have never seen it more than simple pinkish tan here. I know of no one who has confirmed that it can be as bright cotton-candy pink as it is in the picture above. Is it inaccurate and deceptive? I do not know. I do not really care. If I wanted pink pampas grass, I would purchase it anyway, and just try to not be too disappointed when it blooms tan.P80711+This picture above is certainly interesting as well. It is such an appealing color. What is more interesting it that it is the exact same picture as the picture on top, but is merely a different color. I have never heard of a pampas grass doing that! It must be quite common though. Online, there are a few pictures of other pampas grass doing the exact same thing. These two below, for example, are the exact same picture in two different colors, and with slightly different proportional modification.P80711++P80711+++As amusing as these pictures are, they are not as downright KRAZY as the rainbow rose in the article that I posted a link to above is. It is certainly worth taking a look at.

Catalog Shopping Has Certain Limits

70621thumbThe temptation is unbearable. The catalog of Adelman Peony Gardens, either in print or at, shows how spectacular peony blossoms can be. There are one hundred and seventy-eight exquisite pictures of the cultivars available for mail order on online purchase. The only problem, and it is a big one, is that peonies are recommended for USDA Zones 2 through 8.

So maybe some of us in Zone 9 might conveniently neglect to read that part of the catalog. Maybe some of us believe that since peonies can not read that part of the catalog, they might not mind getting cheated out of the winter chill they need for good dormancy. Somehow, many of us are able to grow peonies where they have no business growing. Perhaps we should keep that a secret.

So many more plants are available online and by mail order than can be found in nurseries. Most of them are appropriate to local climates. Some are not. Catalogs from the best nurseries are careful to make that distinction obvious by describing what zones their plants are recommended for. That can be a lot of information for nurseries that have many different types of plants available.

Plants that have potential to transmit disease or become invasive might be banned from certain states. Nurseries can send plants to inappropriate climate zones for clients who really want them, but can not send plants to states where they are banned. Black elderberry plants can not be imported into California. Only black elderberry plants that were grown in California can be sold here.

Unfortunately, many plants are sold online without any regulation whatsoever. Anyone can sell any extra seeds, seedlings or cuttings online, whether or not they actually know what the seeds or plants are. Some plants are not really what they were described as when sold. Many others get sent to climates where they will not be happy, and might not even survive. Worst of all, there is serious potential for plants to be vectors of disease and insect pathogens, or to become invasive in formerly uninfested regions.