Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pinckneya bracteata....Fevertree, the bracts are spectacular, but dehiscent capsules are my favorite fruits

These are interestingly textured and curiously shaped with an intriguing bulge at the distal end as though a bladder inside was expanding. Dirr observes that the seeds germinate readily with no pre-treatment. We will have to give them a try.

This particular plant is in the Coastal Plain section of Fern Valley. I missed the flowers this year and, judging from the quantity of fruit, I missed a good year. The floral display is spectacular, no thanks to the flowers themselves, which are inconspicuous, but because of the large pink, white, and rose colored bracts.

Pinckneya is a tree of the far south, native to north Florida and South Georgia. Unlike, say Franklinia, you don't hear about wonderful specimens in the warmer parts of New England. I think we really are about as far north as it goes. We had lower temperatures last winter than we've had for a while but nothing like 2F that Dirr relates killed a plant in his garden, though ours are likely more cold acclimated than his plants in Georgia. This is the happiest I have seen our plants so there's every reason to assume a good floral display for next year.

Koelreuteria bipinnata's easy to see why people grow it

I was in Annie's Annuals this week and noticed that she lists this plant though it isn't currently available. I'm a person who likes yellow, actually all colors, so there is something appealing about the concept of a yellow-flowered tree, but I have to reiterate how much this plant seeds. Annie is careful to observe that it doesn't self sow in their wet winter conditions. Well it does self sow here!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Caryopteris on Korean Hill are beautiful this week

They are one of the joys of late summer/autumn. They're sold, sometimes as shrubs and sometimes as perennials. Better though if cut back hard every spring they're long lived and make few demands. A bit of water in the summer when it doesn't rain is all they need. There's a pink cultivar that we have in China Valley and it's attractive, but I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want blue. There is also a nice variegated selection, 'Snow Fairy'; there are some growing just up the road from this planting in the triangular island bed.

Salvia azurea, I can't help's one of my favorite plants and I don't know why

It would seem that if you loved a plant or a person or a place you ought to be able to explain what it is that drives your passion. Usually I can do this but not here. It's a pretty plant; the flowers are azure as the name suggests which is good. It flowers in the fall on tall reedy stems that often succumb to gravity by arching down until they hit something. Maybe its the sky blue flowers that occasionally are silhouetted against the even bluer skies of autumn. It's a tough plant demanding good drainage and, with the least bit of acclimation, able to resist prolonged droughts.

We saw it on a dolomite barren in Alabama last summer. A few months later Joan let me plant a few of the plants that had been bequeathed to us by the Herb Garden. I sited them on the slope above the parking area adjacent to the Capitol Columns. Its a hot, dry, exposure of sandy soil but all four lived with no supplemental watering and are flowering now. feelings for it are disproportionate to its virtues. I don't suppose it matters though.

Prunus salicina fruit before and after processing by a fox

Why do foxes always feel compelled to put their deposits on display? This is a pretty good sized rock with a nice flat surface but I've seen it done on much smaller more precarious perches!

I can't blame the fox for overeating, the plums are delicious. Betty, Eugenia, and Terri (Asian Collection Volunteers) have been monitoring their progress all summer. They're late this year and hundreds fell from the trees unripe. Three years ago there were so many plums that they broke a large branch on one tree. This year not so many.

I ate a few this afternoon but, remembering the foxes stool, was careful to spit out the pits.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Fern Valley Meadow is hard to resist!

Yellow and white composites everywhere spotted with a few pink and purple flowers for contrast. Butterflies, bees, various flies and assorted other insects are drawn in too. It's very pleasant.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rhodophiala bifida...the Oxblood Lily, I bought this at the FONA Plant Sale on April24

and it's been sitting there in the corner of the deck ever since showing no foliage. I weeded it occasionally but had forgotten about it for the last few months. Then yesterday there were the flowers. Two spikes flowering now and two more on the way. I got it to take to Florida but I'll let it go dormant, clean off the bulbs and move them next year. I'm tempted to try it here. It's listed as a zone 6a plant, but I think that is in the southwest where the soil is dry in the winter. I might stick a piece or two under the south-facing overhang of my mother's house. And try a piece or two here. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.