Monday, October 30, 2017

The Church of Gesneriads

Last Saturday, Alan, Assistant Yvette and I, all piled into the car to go see Gesneriads.

Having told Alan I wanted to go see a Gesneriad Show, his response was "what the bejeesus are Gesneriads?!?" 

Gesneriads are another family of plants consisting of over 3,000 species and 133 genera. Yet another group of plants to occupy my time, energy and pocket book. As if I didn't have enough plant interests already, with the changing of the seasons, I needed more houseplants for indoor "gardening."

Most likely, you may already have a Gesneriad in your home and not know it!

The most common well-known plants in this group are African Violets (Saintpaulia), Gloxinias (Sinningia) and Cape Primrose (Stretocarpus). There are many other plants in this group, most tropical, and many making good houseplants. 

We've all had an African Violet at some point in our lives or one of those florist Gloxinia with the gaudy bright red or purple cupped flowers you get at the grocery store. That type of Gloxinia is on my "death list" of plants too easy to kill with love.

This summer, I bought several Cape Primrose (Stretocarpus) in the annual section of my local nursery. I had never seen them for sale as a garden annual before. Of course I bought three (red, purple and pink) and had them sitting in my kitchen window. They bloomed all summer and were a cheery pick-me-up to look at every time I stood at the kitchen sink. I recently divided them as they were getting too big and needed prettier pots to reside in than the black square nursery pots.

When I received notification that the Mt. Hood Gesneriad Society and Portland African Violet Society were having a Fall Show & Sale at the Tabor Heights Methodist Church, how could we not go to check it out?!?  

We did joke a little that we might get "smoted" walking into a church, but I was pretty sure the show would be in a meeting room and not at the alter.

The flyer said that the sale was "a great opportunity to buy from a huge selection of African Violets and other unusual Gesneriads..." and I was itching for a wider variety of Cape Primrose and hopefully a few other interesting new plants.

That's exactly what I got too! New plants I have not experienced before!

I enjoyed chatting with the folks at the show and saw a few "orchid people" from days gone by.

The plants were very reasonably priced and there was a nice selection to choose from.

Poor Alan waited patiently in a chair for me to make my plant selections. Assistant Yvee even had a nice Society member feed her tri-tip steak nibbles while waiting. Such service! 

Some of the plants I bought are featured in the next section of pictures:


Some of my bounty! Forgot to photograph the OTHER box...
Petrocosmea 'Whirlpool'
Episcia 'Pink Panther'
Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose)
'Jolly Sun Chaser' African Violet
Primulina 'Loki'
A Sinningia hybrid
Deinostigma tamiana
The familiar thing about many of my selections is that they generally grow in the same conditions as African Violets and like the same soil, moisture, don't appreciate water on their leaves, and enjoy filtered light. Many of them also propagate new plants with leaf cuttings. 

Sounds easy right?

Below are views of part of the sale area and some of the plants from the show. 

One of the several Show tables
Some of the "For Sale" round pink tables.
'Irish Ruffles' African Violet
'Boo Man' African Violet
'Jolly Frills' African Violet

'Cupid's Jewel' African Violet
Sinningia richii 'Robeson Lopees'

Episcia?
Petrocosmea forrestii

That ribbon is bigger than Assistant Yvette!
'Treasure Chest' African Violet
'A Call to Heart' African Violet
'Little Inca"








Friday, October 13, 2017

Persimmon Dreams

2017 has been the year of getting everything I always wanted. Well, not everything...But plant-wise, I did really good.

There were a few plants I had on my mental list of "Plants I Have to Have".

When out and about, I would always look for them and then not buy them if I saw them. I was pretty good about talking myself out of them for whatever reason. 

I finally bought Cypripediums at the HPSO sale in the spring. I always thought these hardy orchids were too expensive and that I might kill them. This year I bought two varieties at the Spring HPSO sale (now dubbed The James Lee Hubbard Memorial Plant Buying Spree) and they grew well this summer and bloomed beautifully. The real test will be next spring when I will wait with baited breath to see if they come back.

Midsummer, I finally brought home Genista aetnensis (Mount Etna Broom). It's a tiny little fluffy thing at the moment. Hopefully one day it will be a tree. Even in it's tiny form, it still was a check mark off my have to have plant list. I look forward to helping it grow into tree-dom.


The last plant I have always wanted was a Fuyu Persimmon tree.

At the apartment complex kitty-corner from my office, there are several very nice Persimmon trees. I always thought they were not only beautiful trees, but I looked forward to late fall when our gardener would pop over there and pilfer a few before the apartment maintenance crew would hack them all off.

Fuyu fruit are crisp, delicious and not astringent. I prefer to eat them when they are firm but they can also be left to soften and get sweeter. To me, they taste a bit like a cross between an apple and a squash. Perfectly yummy to just slice and eat.

On a recent outing with Mardigras Gardener Alan and Assistant Yvette, we were at the Stark Street Portland Nursery. They were having a sale on trees, including fruit trees. I happened to see a small table with baby Persimmon trees. There were several varieties to choose from. With the sale, the tree was around $20. How could I say no?!? So, I came home with Diospyros kaki 'Early Fuyu'.


And more importantly, Alan would have beaten me over the head had I not bought it. He's heard me talk about getting one now for at least 3 years.

The thing about buying a tree, was that now that I had it, and could cross it off my plant list, where the hell was it going to go in the yard? 

My two mantras are "At least its not snowing!" during Portland winter and "No more trees!" for plant shopping.

I wondered around the garden holding my baby tree for a bit. I didn't want to "cramscape" it into the garden.

I finally decided to do the unspeakable. I dug up a peony on a corner of the back patio! (clutch pearls!). Those that know me and my peony addiction, would know this was a difficult decision. 

It was an unnamed herbaceous peony that has been given to me, so I felt I could let it go.  In this spot a new tree would have the ability to spread out a little.

Cute baby Diospyros kaki 'Early Fuyu'
In a moment of brilliance, I gave the peony to a neighbor for his front yard. So although I gave it away, it didn't go far and I can still visit it and take care of it for him. Such a good compromise! 

It will be several years before I have my own Persimmons to eat.

Until then, persimmon dreams!