Monday, July 17, 2017

Bad Water Lily Daddy

It all started a year or two ago.

You notice something that needs to be done, but you just decide it can be put off longer. Then a lot LONGER goes by, much longer than you thought.

Eventually you just decide "F-it", whatever happens, happens. The lazy man's justification.

Thus the following story of  'Perry's Almost Black'.

'Perry's Almost Black'

I've had this water lily for ten years. I'm pretty confident that I have repotted it a few times since then, except, for the past few years. After the upgrade to a 300 gallon trough a couple years ago, I think I let it slip.

I knew there were three lilies in the trough and over time I thought they'd probably grow together out of their pots and across the bottom and all would be right with the world. Last year, I had more flowers than ever out of these three.

It never occurred to me that one day, a giant mass of water lily would begin floating to the surface and no amount of large rocks on top of the mass would keep it down. I can only surmise that the crowns must have a certain amount of air in them and they finally got to the point where their mass floated the entire pot to the surface. Who knew?!?

Well, poop!

I guess now I finally had to do something about it. I couldn't have exposed growing lily crowns bobbing in and out of the water in the hot 80 degree sun.

So, off to my big box store for supplies: new pots, soil and decorator rock.

In the past, I used my vegetable garden soil for repotting water lilies. This year, just looking at the project at hand, made my back ache, so I opted for a bagged "soil" that was a mix of compost and sand. I read all the labels on the various bags and this seemed like it could work. It will be an experiment to see how the plants do in this soil.

My friend James, offered to help with the hefting out of the water lily and the other menial tasks, so I could concentrate on the lily.

I plunged my arms into the pool and started feeling around. I quickly determined that the other two water lilies (Nigel & Sioux) were only slightly entangled in the mix. My floating problem was entirely a very overgrown 'Perry's Almost Black'. It had grown out of its pot considerably.

We hoisted the pot and trailing roots and leaves out of the pool and took to the shady side lawn.

Wad of 'Perry's Almost Black'
What a mess!
Removing sections of tuber carefully with shears.

James had pre-washed the gravel and laid out the pots partially filled with dirt and three PondTabs.  The pots I chose were a little more than I wanted to spend for something I will never see submerged in the water, but I liked that they were wider on top, giving lots of space for growing crowns.

Note: Remember to fertilize lilies monthly as they are exceptionally heavy feeders!  They should be fertilized monthly during spring and summer. Yellow leaves, infrequent blooms or slow growth usually indicate that the plants are not getting enough food. That being said, I usually only fertilize two or three times a season, because I forget. So do as I say, not as I do.

I got to work separating the plant into divisions, so that they could be replanted quickly and put back in the pond. You don't want them to dry out and it doesn't take long. 

I ended up with four new pots and saved what was left in the original pot.

Hopefully I have learned my lesson about neglecting my water lilies.

But I wouldn't hold my breath. I seem to recall similar blog posts in the past, so I'll probably be doing this again next year and cursing myself.

Some pics of the other water lilies this year below:

Funky Nymphaea 'Wanvisa' flower
Nymphaea 'Black Princess'
Nymphaea 'Perry's Orange Sunset'
Meal Time!
Nymphaea 'Burgundy Princess'
Nymphaea 'Mayla'
Nymphaea 'Gonnère'
Nymphaea 'Mayla' and fish in 300 gallon trough
Nymphaea 'Nigel'

Monday, June 26, 2017

Welcome Ginny Genista

Every year, on the way to work, I drive past a house on Belmont near Caesar Chavez.

In the front yard, there is a beautiful small tree that I have always lusted after, but I never knew what it was. This year I had to swerve over to the parking lane to stop and take a picture. I wish I had run across the street for a better picture, but I was running late for work!

I've since discovered that it is Genista aetensis (Mount Etna Broom).

This time of year, it's a jaw dropper, basically a ball of canary yellow flowers. On closer inspection, the little yellow flowers are pea-like and smell of jasmine.

Out of flower, the tree is almost bare branches with an elegant weeping habit. There are actual leaves but they are very small and not noticeable. The bark is a lovely green. The tree can reach 12-15' tall and likes full sun and good drainage. And who doesn't really?!?

So, having lusted after this tree for awhile, I set out to find it and I did find it at Cistus a year or two ago, but I didn't buy it!

Not sure what I was thinking back then?!?

Perhaps I thought I had been buying too many trees and there was no way I needed another.

Finally this year, the Mardi Gras Gardener and I were back at Cistus and I finally picked one out and bought it. Alan was shocked I think, that after all this time of wanting it, I finally broke down.

I now had to figure out where it was going to go? I have gotten to the point where planing new plants gets harder and harder. Accommodating new shrubs or trees now involves digging up patches of grass.

I ended up moving a Lagerstroemia x 'Piilag-IV' (Moonlight Magic Crape Myrtle) I planted in 2016 in the center floating bed in the front of my house. It shares this bed with another small tree, an Azara microphylla I planted in 2014. The intent being that both these trees are fairly open and will still allow light in.

My little baby Genista (now named "Ginny") is going to take some time to grow, she was a tiny shrubby baby when bought, but my hope is to get her trained right to be a nice multi-trunk tree. She's now even putting on her own little flower show.

I can't wait to watch her grow! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Peonies 2017

To buy peonies, or not to buy peonies, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to just say no?!?  Can I even say no? 

I wasn't, I swear, going to buy any more peonies this year. 

I can debate WANT versus NEED in my head, until my head explodes, but when it comes to peonies, I clearly can't help myself, and why should I anyway?

But as far as addictions go, peonies are a pretty safe one. They don't lock you up for it at least.
Paeonia ostii 'Feng Dan Bai' (Phoenix White) from 2011
Paeonia 'Yachiyo Tsubaki 八千代椿' (Eternal Camellias Tree Peony) in bud from 2015
Paeonia 'Kokuryu Nishiki 黑竜錦' (Black Dragon Brocade Tree Peony) from 2015
Paeonia 'Black Panther 黑豹' (Black Panther Tree Peony) from 2011 with nearly 30 flowers
Much like "45", what comes out of my mouth, is clearly NOT what I will end up doing. So when I babble alternative facts about not getting any more peonies, just nod your head and say "Yeah, right", under your breath. You can't believe a word I say!

As is annually prescribed, Alan and Anita and I went to Adleman Peony Gardens opening weekend this year April 29th. It was interesting in that almost none of the plants were blooming, even in the display garden, so we had to pick plants in bud. Our cold, wet spring had all the plants on a delay. The bonus, however, was getting to see all the buds open at home and be able to enjoy the first year of flowers.

I said I wouldn't get any new babies. I came home with seven. Two or three might have been what a "normal" person would have come home with. Oops!

I've always wanted one of the really dark chocolate red peonies and finally came home with 'Buckeye Belle'.  Also coming home with me this year were more lactiflora type peonies: 'Belleville', 'Fairy Princess', 'Paula Fay', 'Pink Teacup', 'Salmon Dream', and 'Stellar Charm'. I tried to mix up the colors a bit.

In order to incorporate these new plants, and after some debate, an extension on an existing flower bed had to be made. The little flower bed with Cercis canadensis 'Merlot' was too small anyway, so the enlarged bed turned out great.

I was lucky enough to "persuade" (con) Alan of the Mardi Gras Gardener into grabbing a shovel and helping dig grass, while I bashed clumps of sod to get the dirt off. 

The new extension looks a much more appropriate size with the tree now as the focal point and it balances the yard out and gives that side of the garden more paths of grass. See how easily I can justify this in my brain?

Some of the existing plants that were cramscaped into the original bed got moved out into the new space. I did need to buy a few plants that bloom all summer to fill in the spaces after the peonies are no longer showy.

The before - The tiny bed with Cercis canadensis 'Merlot'
The "help" resting.
The after.

This post has pics of some new and some old peonies. There are still so many to open.

New for 2017 - 'Stellar Charm'
New for 2017 - 'Paula Fay'
New for 2017 - 'Salmon Dream' opening

'Rivida' from 2012
Noid peony - I call it 'Fried Eggs' from 2006
Itoh 'Lemon Dream' from 2016

Itoh 'First Arrival' from 2016
Paeonia 'Chojuraku 长寿乐' (Pleasure of Longevity Tree Peony) and Spider friend.

Happy peony-ing! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Olbrich Gardens

I went home to Madison, Wisconsin this past week. It was a family visit that turned into a funeral, but I don't want to dwell on the sad part of the visit too much.

My father and grandparents lived on the east side of Madison (Monona actually), very near Olbrich Gardens. It was a favorite place of my Grandfather Orlan. It's also a place my father, Jim, loved and a place I love too.

The Olbrich Gardens began in the 1950's and has increased in size and scope ever since to include the Bolz Conservatory and wide variety of gardens. There is even a beautiful Thai Pavilion.  

Thai Pavilion
We held my father's "Remembrance" party in the Atrium at the garden and it was perfect. Just a small gathering of friends to remember someone special.

Before the gathering started, I managed to step away and have a private moment for myself in the Bolz Conservatory.

I wandered into the Bolz Conservatory ($2 entrance fee), which is a hot house pyramid full of plants native to tropical and sub-tropical regions. It's a little tropical oasis in the snowy winter. The dome is packed with over 650 different plants. It's like walking around in the jungle.

Upon entering, I was immediately greeted by the fragrance of a beautiful Stanhopea in bloom.

I didn't have a lot of other time to wander the rest of the garden, so I'll have to save that for another time. 

Below is a little visual tour of the inside of the Bolz Conservatory.


Bolz Conservatory
Inside Bolz Conservatory

Etlingera elatior (Torch Ginger)
Chenille plant?

Overlooking the bird feeders

Gongora (Scaphephorus x tricolor)
Goldfish Pond
Kohleria 'Napolean V'

Juanulloa aurantiaca (Goldfinger Plant)