Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Some Essential flowers for fall - 3. Patrinia scabiosifolia

An excellent bright yellow, great honey-like fragrance, and long-lasting in cut flower arrangements as well as in the garden. Sturdy upright stems from 3 to 5 ft tall. Patrinia scabiosifolia originates from Siberia and is an important flower for oriental cut-flower arranging.

At the beginning of its bloom period here, Patrinia is somewhat muted by Goldenrod which abounds in my wild areas and in beds that have fallen behind in maintenance, but the goldenrod fades to seed while the Patrinia is still in the vigour of early bloom.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Some Essential flowers for fall - 2. Lobelia cardinalis

Difficult to photograph as a single plant, Lobelia cardinalis is a cardinal red, showy flower borne in a tall spike. I have found that in my climate it does best in some shade, or at least sited so that the evergreen basal leaf cluster doesn't experience direct sunlight in early spring, at least until the ground is fully thawed. So this is not the easiest plant for the garden hereabouts, but it is so worth a bit of effort. My longest-lasting plants are in open woods, in a drier spot than I would have expected it to like, but right up against a small rock outcropping.

There are white forms, and it has been hybridized with other hardy perennial Lobelias to cover a range of colours between red and blue. A particularily frustrating hybrid for cold-weather gardens is the purple-leaf "cardinalis", which has the same bright red flowers as this species. A very showy hybrid, it is totally un-hardy colder than USDA zone 7 but usually some local garden center or another will bring some in each summer, seducing gardeners away from the green-leafed hardy species and creating another round of "can't grow that here" urban myth.

As with yesterday's Gentian, I have been having a pest of a time getting seedlings to survive for me the past several years. It's usually been an error of neglect in the watering department.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Some Essential flowers for fall - 1. Gentiana septemfida

Gentiana septemfida, the Crested or Summer Gentian is one of those ever so blue blues that grabs the attention of everyone close enough to catch a glimpse. Easy to grow (although I've been having trouble starting any for the last several years!) and fairly adaptable as to soil. Native to the Caucasus/ NE Turkey/ Asia Minor. The early foliage has a marvelous texture and grows in a hemispherical shape until the weight of the buds causes the stems to sprawl (a forgiveable habit, in view of the great colour.) This plant is one of what I consider the Four Essential Flowers of Fall.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

It's a hard life being a dog

Gershwin, that's him at the base of the tree, has been having a hard time getting his sleep time in (dogs have the same rules as naval aviators: entitled to 8 hours sleep per day, and "all night in" too). With the annual ripening of the beech nuts (and sugar maple seed too, for that matter) the upper stories become mildly infested with squirrels and blue jays out for a tasty (and easy) feast. Lots for all, but you'd never guess it from all the inter-species rivalry. If your basic squirrel spent as much time eating as chasing blue jays to other branches, they'd fall out of the trees from being so stuffed full.

Anyways, Gershwin has no interest in the blue jays (and for the info of baseball fans out there, neither do I), but watches the squirrels for hours (somehow without getting a stiff neck) to keep them off the ground. And the squirrels watch back, just in case he decides to go up a tree I guess (a squirrel can never be too sure). The white arrow up near the top of the pic points out the almost visible head of the little beastie staring down.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And so finally I remember the camera again.

Ripe carpels and seeds of Paeonia mlokosewitschii, the Golden Peony. My other plant has shiny black viable seed, vice the bluish ones here, but is otherwise the same.

This species was the first to wow me with the bright, two-tone autumn seed show. I've since learned about the several other equally fall-showy species but mloko continues to impress-- just not quite so stand-outish. You'd think the literature would comment on this feature of the plants...

Monday, September 11, 2006

'Tis the season to make and fill holes

For general information, I am just now in the process of digging peonies from nursery beds for replanting, which activity will (I hope) be followed by planting seedlings into the holes left in the nursery beds, or into whole new nursery beds.

This is the time of year during which, in temperate northern hemisphere areas, peonies are best transplanted if the transplant will disturb the root mass (which pretty much covers most peonies except the small and immature, or those grown in large pots with a proper soil). The reason for this timing being preferred is that the plants start to grow new feeder roots with cooler ground temperatures and autumn rains. These feeder roots will continue to develop and feed the main root during the rest of autumn, much of winter, and through spring until the ground becomes too warm. Peonies transplanted in spring thus have a much shorter period during which to develop the feeder roots, which results in a poor start for the spring planted peonies.

Most of the rest of the Peony seeds, somewhat overdue...

All these photos were taken at the end of August... I almost got them posted last week but the Blogger site got hung up. And then more good weather descended and miles and miles passed under the tires of my road bike... Anyways, here they are at last. One species has yet to open its carpels: Paeonia lactiflora, the Chinese Peony, which is predominant in the ancestry of most of our, dare I say common?, "garden peonies".

Carpels of Paeonia mlokosewitschii, the Golden Peony, had taken on an interesting and showy red tone. (These have since opened, but not until about a week ago. Photo to follow)

Paeonia obovata, the third-last of my species to show its seed display.

Paeonia macrophylla, close kin of Paeonia steveniana (some might say identical or close enough to it) but a tiny bit later to ripen seed.

Paeonia officinalis (in this case, subspecies villosa). Not so exotic and showy, but on close inspection the inside surface of the carpels are satiny reddish in tint. None of the officinalis mob here have had the bright red aborted beads; rather theirs are tiny, shrivelled, and brown. Only the viable seed has any size to it.

An interesting development during an Argentine football (soccer) match I was watching on tv today: one of the Ball Boys got red-carded and ejected from the field (well, the margins of it anyways!). The kids had been taking their time in giving the ball to the visiting team when they had won a throw-in.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A few more peony seed shows

These will all look rather similar, as the species here are all closely related within the "Paeonia mascula complex (or grouping)". Photos are all from 31 August, and the pods had mostly been open for 2 days to a week at that time.

(For more information about the species presented, you will find it in the June/July archives.)

Paeonia caucasica.

Paeonia ruprechtiana.

Paeonia mascula.

Paeonia kesrouanensis.