Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Stapelia asterias

My little collection of Asclepiads has been summering outdoors. Some of them in the front drive and a couple on the back patio.

This year in late spring, I slowly introduced them to the outdoors and the sun as not to fry them. They normally overwinter in my south facing kitchen window. I seldom water them during winter and they start looking a little sad and shriveled by spring.

Stapelia asterias and Stapelia leendertziae are both currently in bud. I was watering the yard last night and thought it should be "Take your Stinky Plants to Work Day" again. 

Stapelia asterias
Stapelia leendertziae

I'm glad I did, because while at work, Stapelia asterias broke bud and I got to watch it slowly open. I even missed part of the process because I couldn't get my iPhone camera open in time. Darn phone!

Now my work area periodically smells like farts. I'll be sure to blame it on the dog if anybody notices. Too bad my assistant Yvette isn't here this week...

Stapelia asterias
Stapelia asterias

Monday, July 11, 2016

Let's Make a Bog! or My New Money Suck?!?

Since I recently upgraded some of my smaller horse troughs and barrel liners that I had been keeping water lilies and goldfish in, I now had some empty ones laying about.

Nothing good comes from that...

During some recent plant shopping at Xera Plants, I happened to come home with a Sarracenia 'Scarlet Belle'. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my little "carnivorous cutie", so it sat in a saucer of water in the driveway next to some of the water lilies.

Sarracenia 'Scarlet Belle
My mother and partner in plant crime came to visit for the Fourth of July and of course we did our usual plant excursions about the city, including going to Hughes Water Gardens.

While there, I was attracted to even more Sarracenias and came home with a three more ('Tarnok', 'Dana's Delight' and 'Yellow Jacket').

I won't mention the two water lilies, frogbit, and other marginal plants, she bought as a present for my upcoming birthday... Such a good mom!

Sarracenia 'Dana's Delight'

Sarracenia 'Tarnok'
Sarracenia 'Yellow Jacket'
Later in the week, mom and I were at Garden Fever, and a lovely burgundy colored Venus Flytrap - Dionaea muscipula 'Akai Ryu' made its way into my shopping basket. I have no idea how that even happened?!? One minute I was looking at petunias, the next minute there was a Venus Flytrap in my basket!

Dionaea muscipula 'Akai Ryu'

On Saturday, we went to the Portland Saturday Market, and lo and behold, there is a carnivorous plant vendor among the art. Clearly it was a sign!

Another Venus Flytrap and a Drosera (Sundew) came home with me. The Sundew was so intriguing and was full of buds which would soon open into pretty pink flowers. Hooray for sticky tentacles of buggy death!

Drosera filiformis ssp. filiformis
Venus Flytrap 'Red Dragon'
By this time, I was well on my way to having a bog garden, so I thought I better figure out how to make a bog fast!

I just happened to have an empty flat water dish (around 70 gallons) laying around that seemed like the perfect home for these new babies.  There was a trip for peat moss and sand for the soil. I got out the drill and made many holes in the side of the dish for excess water to drain out. My dish will never be a pond again.

Flytraps and Pitcher plants are a fussy about a few of their requirements.

The plants I bought are all outdoor plants. They do go winter dormant and are fine as long as the temps don't dip too low for too long. We will see how this goes, I'm sure some winter protection will be needed. I hear the Flytraps are fussier about the cold/frost/freezing and may have to be taken out for the winter.

Flytraps and Pitcher plants also want full sun, pure water (no dissolved minerals), and nutrient poor soil (50% sphagnum peat moss with 50% perlite or sand).

Although it seems like a fun idea to feed them, it's best to let them catch their own bugs. They are well equipped for this. Playing with the Flytraps is also a no no. Each trap can only be tripped a handful of times before the leaf dies and each trap only lasts about two months. 

I don't have prior experience with these plants, so it's going to be a learning experience for me.

It's exciting to try a new group of plants though and I will report back next year with how successful I am.

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

State of the Garden - June Edition

It's been a while since I have had a "State of the Garden" report - so here goes!

Boy the weather has been weird here in Portland this spring. We've had some pretty significant swings in temperature every few days, like 30-40 degree swings!

Summer begins next week, but we have already had several days around 100 F degrees.

It's 59 F degrees and overcast as I write this a week later.

The recent hot weather most impacted my goldfish out in their troughs in the full sun. In some of the smaller troughs, I sadly had "fish stew." It was really tough keeping them cool for several days.

I have figured out some "beat the heat" solutions and have upgraded to larger troughs, so the next time this happens I have a game plan. It was a bit of a surprise to be so hot, so early.

I had already planned on upgrading some of the troughs this year and removing the smaller 70 & 50 gallons. I opted for a new 300 gallon and a 180 gallon.

To place everything where I wanted it was a major pain in the rear end. I had to systematically disassemble the smaller troughs, to shift the next size up. It took a long time and I shouldn't have done it on one of the hottest days, but I had to do it. I plan on buying at least three more 180 gallons to consolidate fish and lilies and give them more space. 

My assistant Yvee checking out the new 300 gallon trough.

180 gallons of fun!
300 gallons fills up quickly with water lilies - It seems so small now!
I've done a bit of trimming (aka "whacking") on some larger shrubs that were getting way too big and smothering their neighbors. I know it's generally a losing battle with shrubs to try and contain them. It's best to just let them be, but when gardening in a smaller space, letting shrubs be their natural selves doesn't always fit in.

I figured, if I was at a point where I would just remove the shrub, I might as well start trimming it back and see what happens. 

My chop job on Osmanthus delavayi - if you use your imagination it has potential.

There were eight Juniperus chinensis 'Old Gold' outside my fence. They were originally planted to keep the neighbor's cats and children at bay. Over the years I had to turn them all into "boxes" because I wanted to keep them off the sidewalk and the plants next to them. I have removed all but three and planted much more interesting things.The plants that were there now can spread out and be the stars.

Two of the Junipers are still in this section - the center one was removed.

Arctostaphylos x 'Austin Griffiths' has a new home here.
Eryngium agavifolium and a Yucca about to bloom
I weeded the lawn recently, by hand, but don't tell anybody that or the men with the comfortable white "huggy" jacket will come pick me up. I have one weed in particular, a type of Veronica, that I can't seem to get rid of, so I sat on my butt in the grass over several days for an hour or two here and there and pulled it all out. With a glass of wine and some music of course to make it very zen.

From some research, I learned that the one chemical that might get rid of my Veronica was really toxic to everything, stayed in the soil for months and I didn't want to expose anything to that. It's just not worth it! So manual removal to the rescue. I'm sure the weed will come back, but if I keep on it next year, eventually it will be manageable.

Below are some of the plants currently in flower or looking pretty:

Caesalpinia gilliesii
Nymphaea 'Escarboucle'
Rudbeckia maxima
Echinacea pallida 'Hula Dancer'
Lobelia tupa
Iris ensata 'Royal Lines'
Salvia x jamensis 'Sierra San Antonio'
Paris Quadrifolia

Fatsia japonica 'Spider's Web' & Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair Fern)
Nerium oleander 'Hardy Red'