Thursday, May 29, 2008

Epiphyllum + Botanic Forays

Well the latest news from my garden is that my epiphyllum is blooming. I took this plant from my Great Grandmother's home after she passed away about 4 years ago. It bore three leaves, including the very long one and seemed healthy, if a bit dusty and neglected. Anyway I repotted it and the cactus responded with a flush of new green leaves. And this year it finally bloomed! Above are included some pictures.
The other plant event was a trip yesterday to both the U.C. Botanical Garden and the Regional Parks Botanical Garden. It was almost too much excitement! I sniffed the Yerba Santa flowers in bloom, saw a huge Calochortus patch, tarried amongst tropical ferns, and admired exotic orchids. But I was rather distressed to discover that the Regional Parks Garden had trimmed the bay trees in the creekside area down to the ground. The shady bench where I used to enjoy sitting is now in the sun. I dislike sitting in the sun. Why were these trees cut back so severely? Maybe there was a concern that they would fall across the trail. But that's part of walking in a forested area. I mean I think you'd notice if a bay tree started to fall. Besides, crossing the road from the parking lot to the garden entrance is much more perilous. Perhaps they had a legitimate reason, but I doubt they'll convince me of that. Despite this discovery John and I had a very enjoyable day. There's nothing like a cool day when the buckeye and elder are both in bloom. I purchased a Penstemon barbatus and a cactus from San Luis Potosi at the Garden Shop. I've also included pictures of a fascinating orchid from Oaxaca. I believe it was a species of Stanhopea. Not pictured but equally spectacular was Laelia purpurata from Brazil.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Further foliage

I've been busy since my last post - 2 trips to Annie's and one to the Watershed Nursery in the Berkeley Hills! I'd never been to the Watershed Nursery before - it turned out to be very nice: small, but well-stocked with friendly staff and a beautiful woodland setting shaded by oaks and redwoods. It's primarily restoration oriented with plants from local populations. I got native blackberries and honeysuckle for my north facing slope along with many other plants. At Annie's I filled up with native annuals and some new excitement - a red-flowered Brunfelsia! Of course there was much more - shrubs and various perennials. Green leaves spilling over the edges in all shades of verdure! I have to work for the next two days, but I'll soon be in a major planting frenzy!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Green Drought

Well EBMUD (our local water procurer) has instituted mandatory water use restrictions, seeing as how we're experiencing a drought year. Of course water is a scarce resource here and there's oodles more people than you can provide for so we should have been conserving all along (as was I). But my garden is already on a low water use schedule so I'm not too worried. My drought-tolerant plants will keep their leafiness very well, or just go summer-dormant. I bet all those lawn people now wish they'd listened to me. But the thing is that most lawns around are actually not planted with thirsty grasses, nevertheless they are watered on a daily basis. I just don't understand the whole lawn mentality to begin with. Just keep in mind that the geological record shows that California is capable of extremely severe droughts - droughts that could be more devastating than a major earthquake.
But on a cheerier note we made a whirlwind trip northward to Annie's and returned with a bevy of green-ness. Some highlights were a California native snapdragon, an apricot colored cosmos, milkweed, Salvia wagneriana and S. mellifera, Gilia capitata, and Luculia intermedia. I'm little nervous about the Luculia - it's apparently not terribly easy to grow. But I was of course tempted by the description - fragrant - so I'm giving Luculia a try! As usual Annie's was overflowing with all sorts of floral excitement - next time I should bring a camera! - and the chickens are always fun to listen to. The native wildflowers were overflowing with happy bees and butterflies were flitting about as well. It's a hot day, but we still spent quite a bit of time admiring everything. We would've stayed longer, but the longer we stayed the more plants I kept buying. We left while there was still lunch money to spare.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Pox Upon Me

It seems that I've become afflicted with chicken pox. Having a pox makes me feel very contagious. I'm just glad it's not smallpox. Anyway, I don't feel all that bad, but I don't feel great either so I haven't been able to go outside to work as much. But before the pox struck me down completely I took some cuttings for my garden, including Salvia sagittata and Penstemon azureus. I have also to report that my attempts at moonflower (Ipomoea alba) germination have not been terribly successful. Out of about 6 seeds one germinated and it's not doing too well. My problem is that the cotyledons poke out of the soil but are stuck together in what's left of the seed coat. I've tried to just leave the seed remnants on there to let the plant shed them off naturally, but that never happens, the seedling just rots away, as it does when I try to pull the remnants off myself. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions about this please let me know. This whole thing is becoming disheartening! I expected to have these vines eagerly clambering about by now, preparing to bloom! But on a positive note I have several vigorously growing Datura seedlings right now and and several little Salvias of various parentages.