Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rosa 'Little White Pet' and companions

fresh cuts from the CGPs
a late September bouquet

Rosa 'Little White Pet' (l) and R. 'Meidiland White' (r)

A quick walk through my CGPs this afternoon provided the flowers you see above. The silvery foliage is that of Artemisia absinthium, the asters are Aster tataricus and Aster laevis (aka Symphiotrichum laeve). The roses are 'Awakening', 'Meidiland White' and 'Little White Pet'.

'Awakening' is from the same protean seedling which gave us 'Dr W. Van Fleet' and 'New Dawn'. These three roses came from the same seedling, and thus form a clone (in the original sense).

'Little White Pet' also has an interesting history. Early in the nineteenth century, when noisette roses were being raised in numbers, a cross between a noisette rose and Rosa sempervirens  resulted in the climbing rose 'Félicité et Perpétue'. Later in the nineteenth century the dwarf form now known as 'Little White Pet' was discovered on a plant of  'Félicité et Perpétue'.  So,  'Félicité et Perpétue' and 'Little White Pet' also form a clone.

The rose 'Meidiland White' was raised almost exactly a century after 'Little White Pet' was discovered. 'Meidiland White' lacks scent, while 'Little White Pet' is well scented. 'Meidiland White'  blooms profusely throughout the growing season. 'Little White Pet' also blooms throughout the season, but not as profusely. The sweet scent guarantees it a place in this garden.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Geothlypis trichas Common yellowthroat:The urban ornithoscopist number 3

Geothlypis trichas Common Yellowthroat 

Geothlypis trichas Common Yellowthroat

Geothlypis trichas Common Yellowthroat

Geothlypis trichas Common Yellowthroat
This little charmer is not common in the way that crows, sparrows, starlings and the like are common. But if you spend time in suitable habitat, you stand a good chance of seeing them. And the striking colors of this bird make it one you are not likely to forget. The yellow really glows.  Add to that its call, one easily remembered.
Wayne took these images from inside his house. He evidently keeps his windows cleaner than some of us do.
In older books it was called the Maryland Yellow-throat, but in one form or another this species - in season - is found throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Central America.

Colchicum bivonae

Colchicum bivonae 

Colchicum bivonae 

These images show off well the rich color. shapely form and handsome tessellation of this species. All of the tessellated colchicums are favorites here. This is another plant acquired in 2006.

Colchicum 'Violet Queen'

Colchicum 'Violet Queen'

Colchicum 'Violet Queen'

Colchicum 'Violet Queen' in 2006

This is one of my favorites. I've got only one healthy plant right now, but it seems to be going in the right direction. It bloomed last year, and it's blooming again this year. I've had this particular accession since, I think, 2006. The name appears commonly in the lists, but the material being sent out now is frequently misnamed. So if you've got the real thing, hold on to it!
'Violet Queen' is well over one hundred years old. Be generous with the TLC!

Viola grypoceras v. exilis 'Sylettas' the cyclamen-leaf violet

Viola grypoceras v. exilis 'Sylettas'

Viola grypoceras v. exilis 'Sylettas'

Viola grypoceras v. exilis 'Sylettas'

It might be hard for some to believe, but this little charmer is in some gardens regarded as a little devil. It definitely lives in the fast lane. Individual plants are short-lived, and they seed about prolifically. The flowers are not much bigger than a lusty house fly, and their color is quiet.
But those leaves: I'll gladly forgive its bad habits if I can have those leaves!
We can't blame the violet for another annoyance associated with it: it's got name problems. The mouth-full which appears in the post title above is the currently accepted name among taxonomists. But nurseries are apt to sell it as "Viola koreana", a name not published formally. And the cultivar name is sometimes given as Syletta, Sylettas, Styletta and so on.
I say it's worth the bother.
One more interesting note: Viola grypoceras was named by Asa Gray, the nineteenth century Harvard botanist who was the first to call attention to the similarities of the flora of eastern North America and Eastern Asia, Japan in particular. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tattered Sunshine comes for a visit

Tattered Sunshine 1894 Nelly Kennedy
The painting here, Tattered Sunshine, is a precious memento of my mother's grandmother, Nellie Kennedy. My sister and I share him, and for a while it's my turn. He will eventually go to my niece. Nellie signed the painting and dated it, but the date is difficult to read. It might be 1894.
We know very little about Nellie Kennedy. She married a Daniel Aloysius Gillin who was appointed to the rank Cadet of the United States Military Academy 1893. I've found on-line records of a Daniel Aloysius Gillin who worked in the Government Printing Office during the 1908-1912 period. They lived on A Street NE on the fringes of Capitol Hill. Nellie had time to paint, and her brother who lived with her ( my mom called him Unc and he was a favorite) played the guitar. A picture exists of Unc sitting on the front porch of the home (walk through that neighborhood and you'll see many like it) holding a guitar. There's a family story that Unc had a girlfriend he visited every Wednesday.
Did Daniel Aloysius graduate from West Point? So far, I have not been able to discover that. He might have died about 1920 because that seems to have been  about when Nellie and the daughters moved back to Philadelphia. It's all mostly guesswork on my part.
Update, February 3, 2017: evidently Daniel did graduate from West Point - we've found a telegram addressed to him in which he is requested to return tickets to an affair sponsored by his West Point class because the president needed the tickets. POTUS or president of his class - I'm not sure yet. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Welwitschia mirabilis

Welwitschia mirabilis 
In the image above you see this year's crop of Welwitschia mirabilis. These were sown on August 21:  as you can see, they don't waste any time getting started. Eight seeds were sown, six have germinated. Last year's crop was lost to an experiment: I had read that the frost resistance of Welwitschia was untested, so I left them outside during a light overnight freeze. They didn't like it! One was dead the next morning, and the others limped along during the rest of the winter, never recovering their former strength. One by one they died: the last one to die almost made it to the time of year when I would have put it out back into the sunshine.
I was going to try to get one established in a very protected cold frame which is nestled against the house wall. But now I'm having second thoughts. 

Gloriosa superba

Gloriosa superba

Gloriosa superba
Gloriosa superba

Superb indeed, and in several respects. The brilliant color combination, the exciting form, the ease of culture in our climate all make this a very likable plant. For years it was assigned to the lily family, but more recent treatments place it in the Colchicaceae with Colchicum and Androcymbium and its near relatives Littonia modesta and Sandersonia aurantiaca. 
In the wild, it has a wide distribution in Africa and Southeast Asia. As that suggests, this plant thrives in heat. The flowers are well adapted to heat: they last and last even through periods when the daytime temperatures regularly reach up into the 90s F. That's one of the things which make these plants such great choices for our summer climate.
The rhizomatous corms (like those seen in some Colchicum) fork at the growing point yearly. For commercial purposes the two forks are split apart and sold separately. Each can be the size of a large man's finger.
These plants will survive the winter outside in the ground if sited near a house wall. I have not tried them out in the open. 

Gentiana 'True Blue"

Gentiana 'True Blue' 

This is now in full bloom, and as you can see the bloom is very abundant indeed. And it has turned out to be easily grown. It's been in full sun - or as close as this garden comes to full sun - all season, so that answers the question about its sun tolerance. But does it need full sun? When I bought it, I had it in mind for a shady late fall border with Tricyrtis. But it's not even fall yet, and both the gentian and the toad lilies have been in bloom for weeks. Will there be anything left when autumn actually arrives? It looks as if that border I imagined will be a late summer border.