Monday, April 25, 2016

The seed game

Zinnia 'Sombrero' from seed purchased in 1996!

I acquire a lot of seeds, and most of them end up in the refrigerator. The seeds of many plants seem to retain their viability indefinitely if they are stored cold. I used to think "cold" meant frozen - some seeds stored in the freezer do remain viable for decades - and that's from my own experience. But seeds stored in the refrigerator at temperatures above freezing also last and last.
In the image above you see germinating seeds of Zinnia 'Sombrero' : those seeds were purchased in March 1996. That makes them over twenty years old (and they were probably a year old when packaged).  As you can see in the image, they are giving good germination. And they germinated quickly: it took only four days for them to show signs of life.
Some of you might be horrified by the potting medium. I use unsterilized soil mixed from whatever is available. The pots stand outside in the fresh air and sunshine, exposed to whatever weather occurs. Fresh air and sunshine keep the bad guys in check.
Update, September 4, 2016: when these plants matured and bloomed they proved to be misnamed. They are zinnias, but they do not have the 'Sombrero' color pattern. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Like a pansy in the velvet of its medium scale...

"Like a pansy in the velvet of its medium scale..." is the way early twentieth-century soprano Geraldine Farrar described the voice of Amelita Galli-Curci.
Other flowers with this velvety quality are the roses 'Tuscany' and 'Tuscany Superb'; if you like this quality in flowers, look for the Latin word "velutinus" in old lists.

This posting marks a milestone: this is the seven-hundredth post I've published since I began blogging in July 2007. 

a favorite pansy

Pansy Frizzle Sizzle Yellow/Blue Swirl

Pansies which combine blue/purple with yellow/bronze are my favorites - they remind me of some of the old breeder tulips and especially of some of the broken tulips in this color combination.  A similar strain of pansies  which does this color combination very well (and without the ruffled petals)  is Karma Blue Butterfly - in fact, I think I like the color balance in the Karma type even better. 
These are the sorts of pansies I like to have in a cold frame during the winter.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lilium 'Muscadet'

Lilium 'Muscadet'
This one is here because of the story behind it. The bulbs were purchased in the fall of 2014 and then put in the refrigerator. I ignored them until sometime late in 2015. When I checked them in the refrigerator, they had grown a 30 inch pale green sprout. I brought them out and placed them outside in a very shady place to give the foliage a chance to green up. And then a sort of waiting game began: what would they do next? What they did was to get back to the business of producing an inflorescence as if nothing unusual had happened. By the time the first frosts arrived, they were showing signs of flower buds. I brought them in for the winter and watched the slow development of those buds. It took a long time but they finally began to open last week. The scent is great!