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Friday, May 25, 2012

Barberries for Wildflower Wednesday May 2012

For Wildflower Wednesday I am featuring plants I grew from seed last year, some native
Barberries and Sumacs, and a few other natives in bloom.  For more Wildflowers, join the fun at Gail's Clay and Limestone.  

I was excited to find my tiny seedlings from last year starting to grow, Berberis fendleri!  They are not only beautiful shrubs that are very tough, but also thorny to repel deer and have EDIBLE berries.

 They are part of my plan to reclaim an area where the PO dumped many large logs, which has been overrun with Himalayan blackberry vines ever since, 17 years.    Last year I waged total war on the blackberries and cut and removed them all, see the before and after photos last fall in the link.  I now have to patrol and dig any that try to come back, which may take some time but hopefully not as much as dealing with the vines every year.   Here is this area now-

I also planted some Rhus trilobata and Rhus aromatica which have berries as well.  I hope over time the whole area will be covered with shrubs which will help suppress the berry vines.  Rhus sprouting-
Thanks to my Big Leaf Maples, I will be pulling hundreds of seedlings out of the area, in addition to fighting the berry vines.
I have allies in the native plants, though, which also try to move into the vacuum, here a Spring Beauty, a lovely edible plant related to Miner's Lettuce and with an edible tuber-

Other woodland carpet plants are sprouting as well, Circaea alpina and Hydrophyllum tenuipes, Pacific Waterleaf, respectively to the lower left and upper right of another B. fendleri-
These plants can be seen in an early post of mine, in a mature state.  They will now have a chance to fill in here. Pacific Waterleaf over by my woods-

Other native plants are growing here as well, Maianthemum racemosum, Plumed Solomon's Seal, whose flowers have a wonderful, heady, restorative fragrance-
and the very abundant in some parts of my yard Berberis nervosa, what a shock to visit this website and find Mahonia has been renamed Berberis.  They have an edible berry which is good cooked mixed in with other berries and full of antioxidants.  I thicken berries with Guar Gum or gelatin and sweeten with Stevia.
One of the native roses also grows there, some Fireweed, a couple of sword ferns, and a native Red-Flowering Currant Ribes sanguineum-

 and around the corner an Oemleria  cerasiformis.    It is great to see the wild plants liberated from tyranny and able to come back.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Successful Plant Introductions

I'm always really excited when plants I grew from seed make it through the winter and bloom the next year, but they are not really successful unless they keep coming back after that.  So I am overjoyed to see Geum chiloense 'Mrs. Bradshaw' blooming in many locations around my yard for the second year.  Here they are in a bed bordered by Alpine Strawberries also blooming in their second year.  They make an excellent border plant since they fill in nicely but don't have runners, so they stay put.  They go on to produce little very tasty strawberries for the whole summer and up until frost- excellent!  Behind them is the very successful Geranium sanguineum, which seeds itself around and makes nice ground-covering clumps that keep down weeds.  I bought a couple of orange Geums this year, ''Cookie' and 'Queen of Orange', and am also starting seeds for another red one, 'Blazing Sunset', and a yellow 'Lady Stratheden', I hope I don't have to wait too long to see them bloom.
Here is the native Geum macrophyllum that grows in my yard,
And an edible Geum urbanum that I started from seed and is blooming also the second year-
This is a local lawn weed that I transplanted to my yard, the tiny Bellis perennis, which survives mowing, though the flowers might be lost, and seeds itself around gently.
A plant that spreads itself thickly by sending out stems that root easily is Saxifraga x urbium variegata 'London's Pride', I've transplanted it to an edge of a ramp, sunnier than it's lush growth beneath my deck, and it surprised me by spreading well, and blooming this year-
I already wrote in my Garden Blogger's Bloom Day post of my great success with repeating Columbines, here is the blue one I find enchanting, adorable flutted petticoats.
A native annual that makes a tiny plant studded with blooms reminiscent of eggs, and in it's natural location can cover large areas, so has the common name 'Meadow Foam', is Limnanthes douglasii.   I started some under lights last year and set them out, where they bloomed, but I've been waiting to see if they were capable of self seeding here.  They did not come back with exuberance, but they did make an appearance and even bloomed earlier than plants I started under lights and planted out again this year, these are the self-sown ones, surreally crisp-
I hope they will continue to appear and am planting them in my latest bed renovation, a long bed with a few rose plants that had become swamped with weeds and grasses.
Another perennial that is back blooming this year but has a basal rosette of leaves so does not function well to cover the ground and keep weeds down is Verbascum phoeniceum.  It blooms in a range of purples to pinks.
Other plants that have done particularly well I wrote about in earlier posts, plants in the Borage and Geranium families.  Happy gardening!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Smokin' Seedlings

As I continue my adventures attempting to start lots of different seedlings, I experimented with adding "smoke" through combustion products to some seeds that require fires or smoke to germinate.  This is a prairie and forest adaptation so life bursts forth after a fire.  I tried just finding some small woody growth or dried leaves and igniting them using some newspaper as a starter in a pie pan.  I then added water to the ashes and dribbled it on the newly planted seeds.  I tried this on  Aster tongolensis 'Wartburg Star', and got seedlings after 7-8 days.   I also started some seeds with just water, and got no germination so after a couple of weeks I tried putting the ash water on these, but still got no germination.  It seems rather convincing that it was helpful.  Here are the seedlings, transplanted into individual pots, and the pot that had no germination, lower right.

I also tried it on Achillea siberica var. camtschatica 'Love Parade', lower left, with good success, and tiny seedlings are also coming up on my Primula florindae seeds, upper left.    Some other seeds require chilling-  Berberis fendleri, lower right, required 60 days at 40* F, and Scutellaria resinosa, upper right, required 21 days at 40* F.  One pot was actually germinating in the refrigerator since I left it a little longer.  I put the pots in sandwich bags and stick them in the back of the fridge.
Another technique I learned is to nick the seed coat of some seeds, here I used a pin to make a hole, then poured boiling water over the seeds 3 times in 24 hours, and soaked them, to germinate Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa, whose flowers are used for Hibiscus tea.  The seed leaves have holes but the true leaves are fine, center row.
These tall seedlings are of a tree, Moringa oleifera, center 2 pots, a legume which has edible leaves and pods, and health benefits.   I am hesitant to transplant them since I think they are not supposed to like it, and don't know whether I should move them up in pot size slowly or put them directly in a big planter to minimize shock.  They are pleasingly tree-like in form.
I hope you are finding satisfaction as well in growing seedlings indoors.  It is fun especially in the winter.   I am experimenting with sowing at this time of year to hopefully put the plants out in fall when the rainy season begins, with them hopefully of sufficient size to make it through the winter and bloom next year.  Happy growing,   Hannah

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day May 2012

Welcome to my GBBD post, to see lots more go to May Dreams Gardens, graciously hosted by Carol.  The spring bulbs are winding down here, and the geraniums are beginning.  One of my favorites, G. sanguineum, makes lovely mounds of deeply incised petals, studded with magenta or pink flowers.  They also self-sow themselves around in a pleasing fashion.  There are a few Ajuga there too.
Another Geranium, macrorrhizum, is stronger in the foliage department and does amazingly well in dry shade.
Another reliable bloomer and spreader  is G. x oxonianum 'Claridge Druce'.
But the main flowers blooming now that give the garden an exquisite dreamlike quality are the Columbines.  Mine are all grown from seed, and like to self-sow,  very frilly doubles in one or more colors, like little fluted pinafores, lifted up high above the Forget-Me-Nots and Ajuga,
or dwarf singles, who can resist them with their delightful foliage as well?
I started some Aquilegia formosa from seed, but may have to wait a year or so for blooms, so couldn't resist the other native yellow and red Columbine, A. canadensis-
More of  the frilly double Columbines, which also are present in dark purple, blue, and white-
On a larger scale, the Rhododendrons are starting to bloom, entire 10' shrubs like a giant bouquet, a lilac blooming behind it and perfuming the air-
And to finish off, a small tree peony in yellow-

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Irresistible Collectible Delights

As the gardening season rolls on by, I find some plants irresistible for various reasons, and here are a few more I couldn't resist.

A Genus I seem to be collecting this year, Primula, yielded P. japonica, below.  The attraction of Primula came when I realized some of them follow a pattern of rapid growth during the PNW rainy season, blooming, then eventually going dormant for part of the hot dry summer weather, which makes them just about perfect for the climate here.  In fact, they proved so hard to resist I even bought seeds for 3 more, P. x elatior 'Victoriana Laced Mixed', P. florindae, and P. veris mixed colors, from the agreeable J.L. Hudson Seedsman, one of my favorite suppliers of unusual seeds, since they have cheap shipping charges and fast service.  Behind the Primula is a Maidenhair fern.
I am also currently collecting Geums since they are tough and tend to repeat reliably.    In fact, I have one Geum, macrophyllum, which is a native "weed" in my garden.  Geum coccinium 'Queen of Orange', below,  has nice low clumping foliage like 'Cookie' in a former post, and seems to be more floriferous and more double.  Cute.  Geum 'Mrs. Bradshaw that I started from seed is sending up buds so it shouldn't be too long to be able to enjoy the bright red blooms.  I'm also starting 'Lady Stratheden' and 'Blazing Sunset', I hope to get flowers this year but I'll have to wait and see.

I am not usually a fan of ferns, but I find myself intrigued by the Japanese Painted Ferns, and succumbed to Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum Applecourt'.  These ferns are supposed to develope more colors after a year of two of growth.  For once I am hoping these ferns will spread around.
Another plant I couldn't resist and am sowing seeds for is Achillea sibirica camtschatica Love Parade.  Hopefully it will be as tough as Achillea millefolium but has delightful pink flowers and unusual foliage, and flowers lower, at 2'.

I hope these and your latest acquistions will prove to be delightful.