Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pretty picture: assorted blooming plants from work, Part 2 of 2

My camera is frustratingly unable to capture certain shades of purple accurately. The pictures may be crystal-clear and gorgeous, but all the red always gets sucked out of the purple. It's actually kind of a problem. Adding red with Irfanview doesn't help, because the red also gets added to everything else: it's no use getting the flower the right color if the clouds are pink and the leaves are yellow. It's frustrating, but I soldier bravely onward.

Daucus carota, Queen Anne's lace

There are some plants that people seem to love to hate. Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), or perhaps kudzu (Pueraria lobata), for example. Queen Anne's lace seems to be sort of the opposite: it's the plant people kind of hate to love. It's not particularly practical -- you can't really eat it or make baskets out of it or repel insects with it -- but it is, undeniably, pretty in that Julia set kind of fractally way, and that appears to be enough.

We don't actually sell this at work, but I felt the post needed another picture, so it got in. (I'm actually a little surprised we don't; it wouldn't be our first invasive plant, see next picture.)

Eichhornia crassipes

This one actually disturbs me a little bit. We do sell water hyacinth, despite the fact that it's a known invasive and is very disruptive in the ecosystems to which it's been introduced (via blocking light from deeper water, starving the water of oxygen, displacing native plants, and so forth). Granted that it wouldn't be invasive here, since it's not able to survive freezes (though I haven't seen it definitely stated that the seeds, which are plentiful, couldn't overwinter), but it's not like a fair amount of damage couldn't be done in a single season, too, under the right circumstances. On the other hand, the flowers are quite pretty. There's a weird peacock sort of quality to the top petal that intrigues me.

Angelonia 'Serena Purple'

I actively dislike Angelonia, for unfair reasons. Our entire stock (four or five different varieties) got a bad spider mite infestation toward the end of the spring and couldn't really be snapped out of it, so we had to throw it out. Or at least we wound up throwing most of it out; I think the plant in this picture is one that we managed to salvage. It's an attractive plant when it's healthy, but it goes downhill so fast.

Salvia nemorosa 'Marcus'

This one's nice. I'm not really a fan of any of the millions of different Salvia smells, but this one is less offensive than most, and the blooms are a genuinely pretty color, and seem to last for a long time. So it's not so bad.

Delphinium 'Purple Passion'

This is the most shameful example of the camera not giving me the right color when it comes to blues and purples. The real thing is both darker and redder. I've not actually spent much time dealing with, or noticing, the Delphiniums, until the last couple weeks, so I don't have much to add to that. I suppose I could say that I like the word. Delphinium. It's nice.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pretty picture: assorted blooming plants from work, Part 1 of 2

Begonia NOID.

We have more interesting Begonias than this, but this is the one I got a picture of. People don't really seem to care for it, and I can't say as I blame them. The ones at work are only now, two months after people would maybe have bought them, starting to look presentable. Not so much fashionably late to the party as showing up to the party at the wrong location, the day after it was held. We will have to propagate earlier next year.

Rosa x 'Radrazz'

I haven't taken any pictures of the roses at work before this, mostly because the roses are the domain of the nursery lot, not the greenhouse, and so I don't normally have much of a valid, work-related excuse for being among them. (Same thing for the trees and shrubs, actually: we do have them, I'm just never around them.) Also I just kind of don't get what the big deal is (please don't hate me, Niels): as far as I can tell, they're just one more flowering plant, one that gets sick a lot. I used to like the cut flowers, too, until I read Flower Confidential (I'm still intending to do that review someday.); now I'm a little uneasy about them. I'm willing to be educated on why roses are the best plants ever, if anybody wants to: it's clear that there must be a lot of people who think this.

Lobelia cardinalis.

The color is even more eye-searingly red in person. It's hard for me to see this, which is surely among the reddest red I've ever experienced, as being related to L. erinus, which is just about the bluest blue. But apparently they are related, and there are other plants in the genus that they resemble even less than they resemble one another. Lobelia is just a varied genus, I guess.

Zinnia 'Profusion Fire'

All the Zinnias were sold a long time ago; this is from a planter that the nursery lot put together to decorate the lot with. (It's probably technically for sale: pretty much everything is for sale. The boss would sell the floor if someone made a good enough offer. There is, however, no marked price on the planter, so if someone were to ask we'd have to make up a number on the spot.)

Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'

My way of renouncing the comment I made earlier about not liking black-eyed susans. They're okay. I'm a little confused about what the difference is between 'Goldsturm' and the plants I see growing along the sides of the road here. There's nothing that jumps out at me to say this plant is clearly better than those plants, yet it's a cultivar and those are not. Why?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Random plant event: Cereus peruvianus flower bud

These Cereus peruvianus are from work.1 When they arrived, at the beginning of June, one of them had a flower bud on it, but it dropped the bud within a few days and I figured that was probably the end of that story.

Maybe not, as it turns out. Though I'm not likely to get a good picture of the bloom, even if it does reach maturity, because I'm not there at night when it would open. We've had a large Epiphyllum bloom recently (last week) too, and because it's a night-bloomer, I didn't get to see that one either.

Still, props to the cactus for making the attempt. Especially if it's the same plant that dropped the previous bud. And who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and catch the tail end of it some morning when I get to work.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The picture above was taken last Saturday, and I wrote the post on Sunday. Since then, as of yesterday (Wednesday), the bud did actually develop into a flower, which was awesome. However -- the majority of pictures I took of it are crap, which is disappointing. Below are the best ones I got.

I should probably acknowledge that this is an improvement on not getting to see the flower at all, like I expected.

It had closed up by about 1 PM, but at least everybody got to see it. I'd moved it up to the front counter for the day, figuring that if ever it was going to catch the eye of a customer, today -- and by today I mean Wednesday, which is when I'm writing this -- would be the day. But no.


1 (My own large Cereus peruvianus are officially deceased, in that I've taken them off the spreadsheets, but in actuality they're alive and sitting outside on the little sliver of space between our door and the neighbor's door. I gave up hope with the mealybugs some time ago, but the husband wouldn't permit me to throw the plants away, so I still fight mealybugs during infrequent fits of optimism. The plants themselves are having a ball out there: after holding steady at about 5 feet tall for a couple years, they've suddenly started to grow again, both of them, and the more ambitious of the two has put on five and a half inches in about a month, and is now taller than I am. Which of course just makes me more conflicted, because I want them to grow and be happy and all that, but I don't want to bring them back in and reinstate them on the spreadsheets and everything if they're going to die a slow lingering mealybug death and take other plants down with them.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

LOLCactus / The Great Dampening

It's been a very wet year. I had kind of expected that after the Snowiest Winter Ever (actually, I think the winter only came in second-wettest, but that's still a lot of snow1), and the Five-Hundred-Year Flood, we were probably due for a Worst Drought in Recorded History to finish out the summer. This didn't happen; instead, we've continued to be wet, though not in a record-setting way. Just lots of thunderstorms, lots of wind and rain, lots of mornings where I arrive at work to find all the perennials, shrubs and trees laying on the ground and have to stand them back up.

Why does this pertain to our deflated cactus? Well, because: the roof of the greenhouse has a pair of vents running the length of the greenhouse along the ridge, which can be opened. And during days in the summer, they always are. All the way. At night, these are generally lowered part-way, so that if it should rain, the water will roll off the vent flaps, land on the roof, and roll off harmlessly into the alley. And that would totally work, if rain fell straight down, at a moderate pace.

Perhaps you see where I'm going with this.

But instead there are wind and torrential downpours of rain. So even when the plants are inside, we sometimes wind up overwatering. I'm actually a little surprised that this is the only cactus we've lost.

There have also been a few issues with mildew, particularly on the Gerbera daisies, for the same reason. And a lot of the outdoor plants have plain old root rot, though some of our rot issues could have been avoided had certain people refrained from telling me over and over that I needed to be staying on top of the watering, and ohmigod the plants can dry out like [snaps] that if it gets hot and windy out, and oh noes! I think I see wilting! so be sure and water water water.2

Gerbera with mildew. We have about twenty that look like this, and about twenty that look a lot better than this but still have some mildew here and there.

And then the slugs will speak for generations to come about The Great Dampening of 2008, which is a whole other issue. I want to like the slugs; I sorta think they're cute, how they're all formless and blobby and slimy and stuff. But I've found them on everything. In the greenhouse, out of the greenhouse, everywhere. And they're less adorable in large numbers, I gotta say.

Gather around, children, and let me tell you about how wonderful things used to be, back in aught-eight. The world was full of delicious damp leaves, and we had respect for our elders. . . .


1 and it was awesome!
2 (Not that I'm bitter.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pretty picture: NOID weed/wildflower, and an alley

You know how when you're thinking about buying a dog, all of a sudden you start noticing dogs all over the place? Or if you're thinking about redoing your kitchen, all of a sudden the infinite diversity of backsplashes suddenly reveals itself? Well, I'm going through that kind of thing now with roadside weeds. Or wildflowers. Whichever they are. Holy crap, guys, they're everywhere. And there are so many different kinds of them.

This is from the 24th. We had perfect weather: windy, overcast, high of sixty-nine degrees (21ºC). If it'd been a little cooler and drizzling, I would have been in heaven. (I have weird tastes in weather.) So the husband and I went out driving around for something or another, and wound up on muddy dirt roads south of town, and I saw this.

It may or may not be particularly special, but it was certainly new. And then eventually we went down to Washington, where there appeared to be a fiddling contest of some kind in the town square (which we did not investigate, but there was some awfully vigorous high-volume fiddling going on. We didn't ask. Also some road construction on every street in the square simultaneously, which neither of us had ever seen a city do a whole downtown at once before. Never heard an explanation for that either.). Then we ate at a Mexican restaurant and saw an alley:

I don't know why a person would bother trying to grow plants in here. A three-foot-wide, dead-ended gap between two two-story buildings doesn't really seem like a promising spot to be gardening. But there it was. Impatiens and Hostas, mostly. And they were doing fine. Not that you could really see them.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Random plant event: Anthurium scherzerianum berries

I think I called this type of Anthurium Anthurium andraeanum previously, but I'm pretty sure that the larger-flowered types, with the nearly-circular spathes, are in fact scherzerianum cultivars. (UPDATE: Have decided that there's no point to trying to figure out what species are involved, since they're likely all hybrids of multiple species, so never mind.) I can't remember the name for this particular cultivar, which had pink flowers -- we got it in with some called 'Dakota' (red) and 'Florida' (orange), but it wasn't named for a state, and that's as much as I can remember about it.

Doesn't really matter, since this isn't how the flowers normally look anyway.

I know the picture's not that great, but it was the best I could manage.

This had happened last summer as well; I tried to do something with the berries then, but it didn't work out. This summer, I don't expect much better: Anthuriums aren't supposed to be easy to sprout from seed, partly because the seeds have a very narrow window of viability, but as long as the plants are still there and the seeds can be collected, I see no harm in attempting it again. Sooner or later it should work, right? The question is, how do I know when the seeds are ready to try to sprout? Anybody with any experience out there? (SECOND UPDATE: I have managed to collect and sprout Anthurium seeds since this post was written; see here.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pretty picture: Echinacea 'Virgin'

I'm not all that impressed by Echinacea in general. Unlike certain people, I think the weird cultivars have more going for them, just by virtue of not being just another in a long line of vaguely daisy-like plants. Nothing against daisies, but, you know, I've seen them before: I'm not impressed.

("It is not modern enough, the sound the wind makes stirring a meadow of daisies: the mind cannot shine following it." -Louise Glück, "Daisies," in The Wild Iris)

Also I'm not nuts about Echinacea because I don't like how they poke me when I'm trying to move them around or groom them or whatever. But I suppose they're better than some things.