Junk In The Trunk

It is exactly what it looks like; more Canna rhizomes. I am very aware that there are already too many Canna here. I grew them. I do not care. I saw these in a neighbor’s garden, and asked for a few copies. She told me that I only needed to dig them myself, as if that might be a problem. As she pointed out those that were migrating a bit too close to her home, I dug many more than I should have. Since she was so generous to share so many, I felt obligated to remove all that were superfluous. Besides, to me, they are not junk. I am very pleased with them, even if they are a bit excessive.

There are two cultivars, and perhaps seed grown rhizomes of one of the two cultivars. The shorter sort are ‘Inferno’, which is the same as ‘Tropicanna’ and ‘Durban’. Some Canna cultivars seem to develop several synonyms. Its bright orange bloom stands tall above distinctively striped and bronzed foliage. It gets about six feet tall, so is only the shorter of the two cultivars because the other is so much taller. Although it is one of the more popular cultivars, I only recently acquired a single can of it from Brent last year. I am pleased to grow much more.

The other cultivar seems to be comparable to the unidentified cultivar at work that resembles and might actually be Canna musifolia. It has similar scrawny orange bloom on top of very tall canes that I must bend over for deadheading. Because I did not notice them until after frost, I do not know how bronzed the foliage is, or if it is bronzed at all. The neighbor who gave them to me says that they are ‘lightly’ bronzed. The newly emerging buds seem to be green without any bronze. I will be pleased with any color, but simple green would be awesome! Some of these may have grown from seed, so may be slightly different from the original.

There were enough rhizomes of ‘Inferno’ for a dozen #5 cans with about four rhizomes each. There were enough rhizomes of the taller sort that might be Canna musifolia for sixteen #5 cans with about three very plump rhizomes each. That was after sharing some with others at work, and leaving some for a neighbor of the neighbor who shared them with me. I intend to take some to the Pacific Northwest before the end of winter, but canned them all because I do not yet know when I will leave. I can always remove some from their cans, or just take them in their cans.

Since they fit into the trunk more easily than a previous batch of ‘Wyoming’ and a cultivar that resembles Canna flaccida that I obtained from another neighbor, they seemed to be less numerous. However, the previous batch included foliage. These rhizomes lacked foliage, and were actually a bit more numerous. Regardless, I am very pleased with them, and intend to enjoy growing them. As I closed the tailgate after unloading them, I could see that Rhody did not share my enthusiasm.

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes bloom with tropical fruity color.

Even if never as overly indulgent in bloom as when new, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is one of the more sustainable of popular blooming florist plants. Forced bloom remains colorful for quite a while. By the time it deteriorates enough to necessitate grooming, new foliage may already be developing. Sporadic subsequent bloom is more natural in appearance.

Ultimately, Kalanchoe blossfeldiana becomes more of a succulent foliar houseplant that occasionally blooms, rather than a spectacular floral plant. Individual plants may survive for only a few years, but are likely to generate basal pups that grow as new plants during that time. Also, they are very easy to propagate by succulent stem and even leaf cuttings.

Mature Kalanchoe blossfeldiana do not get much more than a foot high and wide. Some may stay half as tall. Their lower leaves can get three inches long, with crenate margins. Minute yellow, orange, red, pink or creamy white flowers bloom for late autumn or winter. Garden plants require shelter from chill through winter and hot sunlight through summer. Most are houseplants that appreciate copious sunlight.

Mondo Grass

This simple green (unvariegated) mondo grass has been doing well.

The thick clumps of evergreen grass-like foliage of mondo grass, Ophiopogon japonicas, make a nice lumpy ground cover for small spaces. Because it is rather tolerant of shade, and actually prefers partial shade to full sun, it works nicely under Japanese maples or highly branched overgrown rhododendrons. It gets only about half a foot deep. Narrow stems with small pale purplish blue flowers that bloom in summer are not too abundant, and are generally obscured below the foliage, but can actually get taller. ‘Silver Mist’ is variegated with white.

New plants are easily produced by division of large clumps. Overgrown or tired looking clumps can be shorn down at the end of winter, before new growth begins. Slugs and snails can be problematic.

Honeybush

Bold color, texture, form and scale.

Where winter weather is cooler, honeybush, Melianthus major, is likely to be deciduous. If so, it annually sheds all growth that is above ground. It can not bloom where deciduous because only growth of a previous season can bloom. That is no problem here. Dark red floral spikes bloom boldly about two feet above jungly evergreen foliage for early spring.

This silvery gray foliage can grow taller and wider than six feet, even if deciduous during winter. Foliar texture is both luxuriant and elegant. Pinnately compound leaves are more than a foot long with serrate leaflets. Evergreen plants are tidier with grooming to remove deteriorating older foliage as new foliage replaces it. Deciduous plants are always fresh.

‘Antonow’s Blue’ is a bit bluer than the straight species. ‘Purple Haze’ is slightly purplish, with a slightly finer foliar texture. Some notice that the rich fragrance of honeybush bloom resembles that of honey. Also, some notice that the foliar aroma can be rather grungy. All parts of honeybush are toxic. Honeybush wants regular watering and abundant sunlight.

Six on Saturday: Memories

All but very few plants in my garden have history. Some have very extensive history, and a few have been with me for most of my life. Most were gifts. Some grew from pups, seed or cuttings that I collected from work, other gardens, or places that I travelled to. Almost nothing was purchased, although #1 of these six was a significant purchase for me while I was in high school. These Six are described in reverse chronology of their approximate acquisition. None are blooming now, but some get divided and planted now or a bit later through autumn. The roses will get pruned after defoliation. Only naked lady should not be disturbed until later.

1. 1983 Rosa hybrid, ‘Proud Land’ rose is the only one of these Six that I purchased, and also the only one that has not proliferated abundantly since acquisition. I got only three.

2. 1982 Montbretia masoniorum, crocosmia grew wild on a parcel in Montara where my Pa built his home. I do not know what variety it is. It is not as aggressive as most others.

3. 1980 Agapanthus orientalis, lily of the Nile has been with me since I removed it for a beloved neighbor who had brought it from a garden in Oakland about two decades prior.

4. 1979 Amaryllis belladonna, naked lady is from the homestead garden of my maternal maternal great grandparents in Hoot Owl Creek in Oklahoma, like my grape pop iris (5).

5. 1972 Iris pallida, Dalmatian iris, sweet iris or grape pop iris, came to my garden from the garden of my maternal maternal great grandparents, where it likely grew as an orris.

6. 1971 Rheum rhabarbarum, rhubarb likely grew in the garden of my paternal paternal great grandparents shortly after 1941. I got my copies of it before I got into kindergarten.

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/

Spuria Iris

Spuria iris should be less rare.

Bearded iris are famously diversely colorful. Not much lacks from their floral color range. Spuria iris, Iris spuria, are quite different. Their floral color ranges only from purplish blue to bright white, all with prominent yellow throats. The least rare of this rare species is the subspecies carthaliniae, almost all of which blooms white. Seed is generally true to type.

Seed might be abundant without timely deadheading. However, propagation is easier by division of the copiously branching rhizomes. Such rhizomes are fibrous and tough, with comparably tough and wiry roots. They migrate to develop broad colonies, which should appreciate thinning every few years. They rarely get too crowded to bloom nicely though.

Spuria iris blooms for almost two weeks during late spring or early summer. Two or three flowers bloom in succession on stems that are nearly as high as their deciduous foliage. Leaves are elegantly narrow and upright like those of cattail, but get only about three feet tall. Carthaliniae subspecies defoliate later than others, which defoliate through summer, then foliate for autumn.

Spring Bulbs Begin In Autumn

Daffodil bloom is not in season, but their dormant bulbs will be soon.

Even before winter begins, it is time to plan for it to end. Bulbs (including corms, tubers, rhizomes and tuberous roots) of many of the earliest spring flowers that bloom while the weather is still cool late in winter should begin to get planted about now. They are still dormant and not all that impressive yet, but have already stored everything they need to be ready to bloom as soon as they think it is time. Since the weather will be getting cooler through autumn before it gets warmer at the end of winter, even the earliest blooming of spring bulbs will stay dormant for a while, and have quite a bit of time to slowly disperse roots before their foliage eventually peeks through the soil.

Bulbs planted later will likely bloom later, which is actually an advantage for ‘phasing’ bulbs. Like vegetables, bulbs can be planted in phases every two or three weeks, depending on the duration of the bloom cycle of the particular bulbs involved. As one group finishes blooming, the next group starts blooming. Bulbs become available when it is time for them to be planted, and generally remain available long enough for a few phases to get added later when convenient, although there is always the threat of particular varieties getting sold out later in the season.

Phasing is only effective in the first season, since bulbs get established after their first bloom cycle, and will subsequently be on the same schedule as all their friends of the same variety. Bearded iris, calla, anemone and rananculus are not conducive to phasing, but instead bloom at a particular time, regardless of when they were planted.

Narcissus, daffodil, grape hyacinth, bearded iris and classic white callas are the most reliable of spring bulbs, and the most likely to naturalize, although bearded iris and callas will probably bloom quite late in their first year. Crocus, freesia and harlequin flower are almost as easy to grow. Anemone, rananculus, hyacinth, lily, tulip and the small colorful callas are tempting, but are not as reliable after their first year because the seasons are so mild here.

African Daisy

African daisy hybrids are generally sterile.

Old fashioned trailing African daisy was becoming too common by the time it succumbed to the Big Freeze just prior to Christmas of 1990. Shrubbier and more colorful cultivars of hybrids with similar species, particularly Osteospermum ecklonis, are now more popular. Such hybrids mostly lack species designation because their lineage is very complicated.

Mature specimens do not grow much wider than two feet, so do not migrate as efficiently as old fashioned trailing African daisy. Since they are hybrids, they do not produce viable seed either. However, if pressed into damp soil, peripheral stems generate roots to grow as new plants that extend the collective width. They also replace deteriorating old plants.

Sporadic bloom may be almost continuous between a few profuse phases, with the most profuse phase between winter and spring. Only the coolest and warmest weather inhibit bloom. It can be difficult to shear overgrown plants between phases without ruining a few flowers. Floral color is pastel hues of purple, lavender, red, pink, orange, yellow or white.

Garden Phlox

Pictures can not share the fragrance.

More than a dozen species of Phlox are native to various ecosystems of California. They are generally uncommon within refined home gardens though. The more popular garden phlox, Phlox paniculata, is native east of Kansas. It naturalizes in some regions, such as the Pacific Northwest. Locally, it might self-sow only where it gets water through summer.

Garden phlox can get as high and wide as three feet. Some modern cultivars should stay a bit more compact. Individual flowers are only about an inch wide, but bloom with many others on dense panicles that are as wide as six inches. This richly fragrant bloom is red, pink, white, pastel orange or pastel purple, and continues for almost a month of summer.

As its potential for naturalization suggests, garden phlox is not particularly demanding. It appreciates good exposure, but can tolerate a bit of partial shade. It enjoys richly organic soil but can survive within soil of mediocre quality if it is not too dense. Regular watering sustains bloom, but established plants can survive with minimal watering after blooming. Propagation by division of large or overgrown plants while dormant through late winter is very easy.

Garden Phlox

Garden phlox is more popular in other regions than it is here.

In eastern North America where it grows wild as a native, garden phlox, Phlox paniculata, is modest but classic perennial that gets more than four feet tall with pinkish lavender flowers from late summer through early autumn. Modern garden varieties are mostly somewhat more compact with pink, red, light purple or white flowers. Many have fragrant flowers; and some have flowers with lighter or darker centers. Butterflies and hummingbirds dig them all.

Locally, garden phlox probably looks best with slight shade or among other lush plants, only because humidity is so minimal. Otherwise, it would be just as happy out in the open. In well watered gardens with rich soil, it sometimes self sows a bit, but rarely naturalizes continually enough to revert to a more natural (wild) state like it can in gardens on the west coast of Oregon and Washington. Garden phlox can be propagated by division of mature plants either after bloom in autumn or in spring.