Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What the Heck? Rhodo's in October! Rhododendron impeditum

In a departure from the recurrent theme of essential autumn flowers, today features a plant that shouldn't normally bloom in fall (and for me, it rarely blooms at all). Well, at least the wet cool June and cooler than usual summer has benefitted something...

Rhododendron impeditum is a wee gem of a subshrub from the mountains of western China near Tibet (apologies to those who find that a statement rife with politics, but my mind is kind of stuck with geography as taught in the 60's), on alpine meadows and open slopes at 9-16 thousand feet elevation. In the wild it can apparently reach a height of 3 feet, but in cultivation is more like 1 foot, which makes me feel a lot better about this plant of mine. It has been in this bed for 16 years now, and is still pretty miniscule; still, better than the others of the same batch which I sited in a few different locations-- they've all expired long since.

If one looks closely on the first photo, one can make out a few buds which never opened; winter kill of most of the buds is a problem here most years, but this year apparently there was some early bud set, and autumn conditions were right for a few to open out of season.

But, flowers or none, it has a nice foliage.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Another Seed Pod-- Glaucidium palmatum

Several moons ago I devoted a weblog entry to this near-relative of the Peonies-- near enough that some botanists include it in the same family. So I have decided to post a photo of its ripe seed pod and seeds (fortunately the squirrels or whatever had not found a couple of plants; the rest were striped clean). The view is from directly above. Not very similar to peonies now, is it?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Some Essential flowers for fall - 5. Goldenrod

Common Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis, with it's arching flower spikes, seems to be everywhere in the countryside in late summer. So why put it in the gardens? Well, it is an important food source for a number of the small beneficial native insects that would otherwise have trouble finding a decent meal-- all part of the ecological balance to ultimately keep the plant-eaters at bay. (This photo is about a month old; by now these plants have gone to seed)

One needn't actually put it in the flowerbeds, but allowing a few to grow in a small wild area in a corner of the yard can be a useful approach.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some Essential flowers for fall - 4. Japanese Anemones

With tall open panicles of large flowers in shades of pink to white, the tall autumn Anemones are great fall accent for an area with rich soil and partial shade, or even in full sun if given a bit of extra care as to moisture requirements.

As always, there are double forms, one of which is shown here. In late fall the woolly seedheads are of some interest.

The roots are somewhat rhizomatous, but I don't find them to spread particularly quickly. I have known the plants to fail to come up following a particularily wet or cold winter here, but after a one year rest they have always come back the year after disappearing, and usually in a larger patch.