Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ranters get some love in the WaPo

You may have already seen this on Garden Rant, but for those who have not, check out this cool article in the Washington Post about the Ranters: Susan, Michele, Amy and me. I'm suspecting Higgins is an old school journalist. Many would have grabbed a lot from the blog, but he interviewed all of us at length—Susan in person—and I can swear I heard that pen scratching on the notepad.

Thank you, Adrian!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My struggle with dahlias

For about the 5th time, I am ordering dahlias via mail order: the Elise and Night Queen varieties. Both seem to be in the decorative group—Brent and Beckys does not list them by division, for some reason—2-4 feet tall, with Elise the shorter of the 2 and NQ leaning more toward the shaggy side. Last year I bought a few tubers at the garden store with zilch results. A couple depressing, half-eaten blooms appeared toward the end of the season. Were they too crowded by other plants? Did they get enough sun (they were in the sunniest bed I have)? Did they just suck?

This is the reason I never overwinter the tubers. The first time I grew them, I had pretty good results and did try to save the tubers, but they didn’t make it. Since then, it’s been all downhill—that is, unless I buy actual blooming plants from somewhere. So it hardly seems worthwhile to save them, as I know the blooming plants were developed in greenhouse conditions or on a flower farm someplace warm.

But I love dahlias. You really can’t beat them for sheer, sexy flower power. They have so much personality, particularly the cactus-shaped type. This year, I will start them in the new plant room, with its south window and lights. When I plant them I will have the stake ready, and won’t wait until I see them lying on the ground to stake them. I will try to give them room and will keep an eye out for slugs. If they do well, I’ll save them; if not, I’m giving up and switching to zinnias.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Pretty pictures for a dreary day

It’s still winter. I don’t have much to say but I am really enjoying my bulbs this year. The differences between the various hyacinth cultivars is more dramatic than you’d think. As you can see, these City of Haarlem ones are slower to emerge, with tighter, smaller flowers. Their fragrance is very different as well, much earthier.

Then I would just point out that the Golden Rain narcissi have a longer bloom period than any I have ever grown. As they mature, you can see little orange centers (not visible here).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Once again, I show that I don’t know what I’m talking about

So after commenting on Kathy’s blog that snowdrops would not be out for a few weeks yet, I went outside to cut some cherry branches for forcing, and what did I find sticking out from one of the snow-covered beds—actually the snow is melting again—but, of course, a snowdrop. It’s still in bud but far-enough developed that many would not hesitate to call it a blooming flower. So much for that.

I have worked with the cherry branches before and had success, but often I just forget to do it. Plus, it’s not like bulb-forcing. Anything I cut off now will not be there to bloom in May, and they are much prettier en masse on the tree than inside. Nonetheless. I will soak them in water overnight and then put them in a vase with a small amount of water, after re-cutting them. That should work.

It is warmer, but what a dreary day to be sure.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February means forcing

Don't worry, there won't be any boring African violet or cyclamen images this month (though all of those plants, and more of the houseplant ilk, are still going strong; tons of flowers).

This must be the first winter I've had tazettas and hyacinths (Crystal Palace) blooming at the same time, or, in some cases hyacinths (City of Haarlem) lagging behind. However, that's the case. I will boringly go on and on again about how much I love these Golden Rain tazettas. SO MUCH cooler than the measly single-flowered white kind. Here is a case where double blooms make sense, as the tazetta has a pretty small flower to begin with, on a rather long stem. However, the Zivas, etc. are more floriferous, so there you go.

New tropicals have joined the group in the plant room; they're left over from our Secret Sex Life of Plants installation. I am still waiting for images to post from that, though you can see the video here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

What are my chances?

For the past few years, I have been fascinated by this image in the Plant Delights catalog: two guys standing under a towering clump of colocasia gigantea “Thailand Giant Strain.” I do realize that Buffalo is not Thailand and I probably don’t need or want any tender plant to achieve these proportions.

However. Now that I have a viable place to keep this type of cultivar alive and slowly growing over the winter, it might be fun to see how big it will get. Anyway, I ordered it, as well as colocasia Nancy’s Revenge (featured in a previous post), a jagged-leaved boehmeria, and a beautiful yellow-leaved clematis, all from Plant Delights.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hyacinths, already?

Ok, I looked back at my order confirmation and I’m not at all sure what it is. One thing is sure; it’s way ahead of my other hyacinths. This may be from a bag I purchased for demonstration purchases for a Garden Rant post and then gave most of to Ron. L’Innocence perhaps? Carnegie? L’Innocence is billed as a very early forcer. I don’t think it’s City of Haarlem. Nonetheless, there it is, earlier than I’ve had any forced hyacinths in the past. Heck, I still have paperwhites in progress. I notice there’s one in a forcing glass near it that’s also very far along. It may be the same cultivar. Hmm. Maybe it's one I should get in bulk next time!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Grand Soleil d’Or in the house

This is a big event for me, as it’s the first time I’ve ever kept any of these for myself; last year, I gave them as gifts. Or maybe I did keep some, but they bud blasted, which is what I thought had happened this time. As you can see, the bud tips were somewhat brown and wrinkled (more evident in an earlier image, below), but after what seemed like forever, the blooms came out. I suspect the lights and humidifier in the plant room may have helped. I have a bunch more coming up; most are the double form, though.

What do you call the tissue-y covering of these buds, the part that peels away? I can’t seem to find this info. All daffs have it, including the very uncooperative Obdams I have outside, none of which bloom anymore. I’m finding indoor daff forcing much more rewarding than growing them outside, at least in my garden.