Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cipolline finally! Someone gets it mostly right.

cipolline, not cippolini

cipolline, not cippolini

For years these little flat onions have been marketed as "cipollini". If you know Italian, you're probably not going to like that name. The Italian word for onion is cipolla and it's feminine.  The diminutive form is cipollina, and its plural is cipolline, not "cipollini" or "cipollinis".Remember, the initial "c" is pronounced like "ch" in church: so cipolline is pronounced "chee-po-LEE-nay". The label on this sack also gives the "double plural"  "cipollines".
Oh well, finally, someone has gotten it mostly right! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

× Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’

× Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’

I was reading an article about houseplants recently, and among the plants recommended were agaves.

No, no, no: agaves are armed with potentially dangerous spines at the tip of their leaves: if a child or pet walks into one, it might take out an eye or make a serious puncture wound.

Yet there is a way to get the agave look without the rigid leaves tipped in sabers. In the image above, you see × Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’; it’s a cross between plants which are nominally members of the genera Agave and Manfreda. It definitely has the agave look, but the leaves are oddly rubbery, and what look like spines at their tips are relatively soft and flexible.

Once the weather moderates in the spring it goes back outside. This plant can take freezes without harm, but I bring it in for the winter. While inside it gets no water – it remains turgid and attractive, and the lack of water prevents the production of soft, new growth in the poor interior light. It’s about as care-free as a houseplant can get.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The flowers of New Year's Day 2016

With a bit of help from the cold frames, the garden had a lot to offer on New Year's Day 2016. In addition to these photos from my garden, a friend reports the beginning of bloom on Edgeworthia chrysantha (one of the red forms) and Loropetalum chinense, Crocus imperati and tommies in full bloom.
Iris cretensis

Iris unguicularis 

Jasminum nudiflorum and plum yew 

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' 

Helleborus foetidus

Helleborus niger 'Josef Lemper' (or is it 'Jacob'?)' 

a garden hellebore home-raised from seed

another garden hellebore

Mahonia bealei 

Magnolia stellata almost in bloom -  sorry for the poor quality of this one! 

Camellia sasanqua home grown from seed planted on October 16, 1973

Galanthus elwesii elwesii  in the lawn: the monostictus sorts bloomed weeks earlier. 

The next five are favorite plants for winter foliage:

Arum italicium 

Rohdea japonica 

Smilax smallii

Smilax pumila 

Smilax laurifolia 
A corner of one of the cold frames with primulas and Cyclamen persicum from the grocery store: these will probably hold up well for months! The primulas sell for $2.50 each, so how could I resist?
Here's a Christmas cactus doing its thing right on schedule; that's winter jasmine behind it.