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.

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Naturalizing Within Constraint Of Cultivation

90508thumbPampas grass, blue gum eucalyptus, giant reed, broom and Acacia dealbata are some of the best examples of the worst naturalized exotic species. They were imported for a variety of reasons or by accident, and now proliferate aggressively in the wild. With few of the pathogens they contend with in their respective native homelands, they have unfair advantages over locally native flora.

Such naturalization is a serious problem for native fauna as well. Monarch butterflies that swarm to the bloom of blue gum eucalyptus are amazing to observe, but are being distracted from native flora that rely on them for pollination. Both native and exotic rodents proliferate unnaturally within the protection of thickets of naturalized English ivy, and consume too many seed from other plants.

Fortunately, there is a difference between naturalization and sustainability. Many exotic yuccas can survive quite nicely in chaparral regions without irrigation or other intervention, but are unable to disperse seed and truly naturalize without the particular species of moth that are their exclusive pollinators in their respective native homelands. Cultivars of pampas grass are ‘supposedly’ sterile.

Some plants that seem to naturalize do not proliferate or migrate enough to become aggressively invasive or truly naturalized. That is why daffodil can be planted on roadsides to bloom annually, and hopefully multiply somewhat, but does not spread far from where initially planted. In fact, it is unfortunately less likely to naturalize, and more likely to slowly diminish through several years here.

Many plants that proliferate within the cultivation of our home gardens and landscapes will not migrate far from where they they get regular watering. Even after fancier and more colorful varieties revert to their most basic feral forms, they are delightful weeds that are more often left to bloom wherever they appear. Those that appear where they are not wanted are easy enough to eradicate.

These include sweet alyssum, forget-me-not, four-o’-clock, campion, cosmos and nasturtium.

Daffodil

90213Even with all the unusual breeds of daffodil and related narcissus that are available nowadays, the traditional big yellow types that resemble the classic ‘King Alfred’ daffodil are probably still the most popular, even if real ‘King Alfred’ are unavailable. Although all narcissus are daffodils, the term ‘daffodil’ typically refers to those with fewer but bigger and bolder flowers that lack fragrance.

Their dormant bulbs got planted last autumn to wait out winter and then bloom along with the earliest of spring blooming bulbs. They can be planted in later phases to prolong bloom, but once they naturalize, will bloom annually and early on a rather reliable schedule. Most types are pleased to naturalize if conditions are right for them, although some of the fancier varieties are less reliable.

Besides the familiar bright yellow, daffodils can be pale yellow, cream, white, orange or pink, although orange and pink are mostly in conjunction with other colors. Some varieties bloom with double flowers, or other varied forms. Taller types can stand a foot and a half tall, with the flowers suspended just above the narrow, mostly vertical and somewhat rubbery bluish green leaves.

Six on Saturday: Tangly Cottage Gardening Journal

 

tanglycottage.wordpress.com is where you can find it. This is a blog about gardening, gardens, life, and of course, Skooter the kitty, in and around Ilwaco, in the very southwestern corner of Washington, where the Columbia River flows into the Pacific Ocean. Like so many blogs, it shares compelling insight about a culture and a region that might be very different from what one is accustomed to. Then again, it might be compellingly similar . . . or even unexpectedly familiar. You can decide for yourself.

I have been to Ilwaco only once, about twenty years ago. I spent the night in a campground there while driving from Silverdale, west of Seattle, to Saint Helens, north of Portland. It was certainly not a direct trip. That would have been a two and a half hour drive. I was on vacation, so drove around the Olympic Peninsula. I sort of intended on returning someday, but never did.

After all these years, it has been fascinating to read about the flora of the gardens of the region. When I was there, I was more interested in the native flora outside of town. Ilwaco still looks something like I remember it to look like, although I think that there is more landscaping downtown now.

A while back, I commented on Gladiolus papillio that was blooming in a planter box in downtown Ilwaco. I was impressed that it was such a reliable perennial species of gladiolus. I had been wanting to grow a species of gladiolus that was more perennial than than the common summer blooming bulbs that I am familiar with, but had not decided on which ones to try. Anyway, in response to my comment, the author of ‘Tangly Cottage Gardening Journal’ offered to send me a few of the bulbs! How could I refuse?

These six pictures are of those Gladiolus papillio bulbs that came from Ilwaco in Washington.

1. It is so excellent to get a package in the mail from such an exotic and far away place! It got here very fast. It was in my mail only two days after being postmarked on October 25.P81110

2. The contents of the package are even more excellent than the package itself! There were nearly fifty bulbs here! I planted them on the first of November, a bit more than a week ago.P81110+

3. The bulbs were planted in three groups of about a dozen, with two groups of about half a dozen between them. The first group is partly buried here because a bit of soil fell back into the hole before I got this picture.P81110++

4. This is how the same first group of bulbs looks completely buried. Aren’t they pretty? Never mind the calla. It is not vigorous enough to bother the Gladiolus papillio.P81110+++

5. This is the planting bed where the Gladiolus papillio bulbs were planted. They are up in back, in a row that extends from the left edge of the picture to the corner of the trellis with the espaliered camellia. The pinboard and mailbox in the top right corner of the picture are at the Post Office next door. I would have preferred to plant the bulbs in front of the Post Office, but there is no place to do so over there. I am pleased that these Gladiolus papillio were planted in a public space almost in front of the Post Office because that is where they originated in Ilwaco. As the proliferate, I intend to take a few to my downtown planter box in Los Gatos, and might even share a few with the lady who tends to the planter box next door to the Los Gatos Post Office.P81110++++

6. This is the Mount Hermon Post Office is next door.P81110+++++

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/

Naturalizing Might Be An Advantage

80606thumbOf course, to the plants who do it, naturalizing is an advantage. To the rest of us, it is often a problem. The advantage to the plants who do it is that they move into new territory, make themselves at home, and probably do quite well with the new place. The disadvantage to everyone else is that naturalizing plants may not play well with others, and consequently interfere with the ecosystem.

Most of the naturalizing plants whom we are aware of are aggressively invasive exotic (non-native) specie, such as Acacia dealbata, pampas grass, blue gum, broom and reed. They move in and compete with or exclude native vegetation. Some might interfere with native fauna as well. (All those monarch butterflies who swarm blue gum are ignoring specie who rely on them for pollination.)

Locally native plants can not naturalize because they are naturally there already. Therefore, all plants who naturalize are exotic. However, not all naturalized exotic specie are aggressively invasive. Some who can not survive without irrigation in the local chaparral climate may never get farther than being a weed in landscaped areas. Some bulbs may not spread from where they are planted.

Rose campion, sweet alyssum, cosmos, forget-me-not, four-o’-clock and nasturtium can replace themselves faster than they die out, but only where they get enough water. Some of the seedlings are likely to appear in situations where they are not wanted. Some might grow into situations where they might be desirable. There is no shame in allowing the desirable ones to continue growing.

Many of the most extensively bred garden varieties eventually revert to something more similar to their ancestors. For example, most of the fancier modern varieties of nasturtium, after a few generations, will bloom with more of the basic yellow and orange than they did when they were new. Eventually, almost all flowers will be yellow or orange. Such seedlings are known as ‘feral’, because they are more similar to the wild ancestry of nasturtium, than to the genetically unstable modern variety that was originally sown.