Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tricyrtis formosana 'Spotted Toad' and Gentiana 'True Blue'

Tricyrtis 'Spotted Toad' and Gentiana 'True Blue' 

Tricyrtis formosana 'Spotted Toad' 
Gentiana 'True Blue'

I binged on Tricyrtis this year, ordering about a dozen and a half sorts for trial. The idea was to have a border of these combined with some of the easier gentians for autumnal interest. But here it is the eve of August, and some of the Tricyrtis and gentians are already in bloom. It's hard to believe that there will be much left for the autumn.
So I'll change the plan and enjoy them while I can. 

Sinningia speciosa

Sinningia speciosa 
Sinningia speciosa 
Sinningia speciosa 'Carangola' 

The Sinningia speciosa are starting to bloom. The white-flowered one, the cultivar 'Carangola', was the first to start, several others in the red-purple range have also started to boom. Except for 'Carangola',  these were acquired by mail order earlier in the year. They don't look anything like the pictures in the catalog, but they are still beautiful. They have been outside since the danger of night frosts passed. They are growing well, and the plants themselves are bigger than I anticipated.

These were acquired as part of my "gesneriads as rock garden plants" experiments. Gorgeous, aren't they? And maybe too much so for the rock garden, even in the dog days of summer. This species in not winter hardy here, but the corms are easily dug and stored dry. They were to have been planted in a new rock wall, but the wall has yet to be built. I've learned one important thing so far: they seem to perform well in our summer weather. The one time I tried them, African violets, given the same treatment, did not do well as summer garden plants here. Once the heat kicked in, they quit blooming.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hosta clausa

Hosta clausa 

Hosta clausa 

I'm not a big hosta enthusiast, but the genus Hosta does include a number of forms which do interest me. The hosta crowd seems to be focused on the leaves; I'm focused on the inflorescence and the individual flowers. In general, any plant which has a cluster of leaves low to the ground from which a comparatively tall inflorescence arises appeals to me.
The species shown here, Hosta clausa, fits that description well. Flower color in most hostas is their weakest point: all of those washy pinkish lavender colors do nothing for me. Some of the white-flowered ones are good: I don't think I'm off the mark when I say that Hosta plantaginea is the best flowering plant in the genus. There is a small range of species and hybrids which share an appealing color with Hosta clausa: H. ventricosa and H. venusta come to mind right away.
Some, maybe all, of the forms of Hostas clausa are stoloniferous and left to itself it will form a very natural looking clump.
It gets it name from a peculiarity of its flowers: they do not open. Latin clausa means closed.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pelargonium peltatum 'Contessa Burgundy Bicolor'

Pelargonium 'Contessa Burgundy Bicolor'

I binged on geraniums this year: I've now got a good starter collection of zonals, scented-leaf sorts and a few of the creeping/sprawling ivy-leaf sorts. That's what's in the image above. These plants have the reputation of not performing well here during the summer, and I don't see them around much at all. But I've got several square yards of window space where they will be spending the winter - and I hope putting on a good show.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Arils from the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

Seed of Iris kirkwoodiae × Iris iberica elegantissima

What you see in the image above are seeds from the hybridization of Iris kirkwoodiae and Iris iberica elegantissima. I was hoping there would be more of them, and that I would be able to offer them to the seed exchanges. But the eleven seeds you see there (and two more I found on the ground later)  are all I got.
The structure at one end of the seed which resembles a pale brown, misshapen  donut is the aril; irises of this group are often called arillate irises.