Posts Tagged With: horticulture

End of May Flowers in My Garden

I don’t have much time this morning for details, but before May is completely gone, I wanted to post some images of what was flowering this week in the garden. We need rain! It has been very dry and there isn’t any hope of rain until perhaps the end of next week. Still, even without rain, most things are flowering on schedule. Although I’ve had to start watering from the hose a bit, which I do not enjoy. Number one, the cost to my wallet. Number two, the cost to the environment by using our natural resource. Number three, the mosquitoes and deer flies (to which I am allergic) which find you in short order when you are standing out there. Number four, time. I don’t have the time to stand out there and hand water, although it is more efficient that running sprinklers. The critters have, unfortunately, ate through my drip hoses for several years.

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The Clerodendrum bungei are flowering, much to the delite of many butterflies. Beautiful, but can be aggressive (the Clerodendrum, not the butterflies). I mow down or pull up the “volunteers”. I rather like the smell they emit when you are handling them to remove or prune. I do not fertilize or water this plant. I don’t recommend it.

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I am really excited that the blue salvia is getting very happy in a few spots in my garden. I dug up and transplanted more rooted volunteers this spring. I like the ones growing near the orange-flowering lantana for the “complimentary colors” effect.

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I nearly waited too long to share a photo of the flowering garlic and onions. In fact, one entire bed had already wilted down to the ground and I suppose I need to harvest some bulbs.IMG_20190530_071224

Batface cuphea is a new perennial addition as of last summer. I have been able to take one pot that I purchased and root stems so that I am enjoying it in several places this year.

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I am so happy that this one milkweed I grew from seed is thriving. Last fall the stem bent to the ground and I abandoned it all winter only to find that it had rooted and produced a ton of vertical stems, giving this single plant the appearance of a large area of milkweed.

IMG_20190530_071432 Below is my shrimp plant. It also reportedly roots easily along the stem. I have propagated one self-rooted stem successfully. This spring I took several more cuttings and I am trying to keep their soil moist to hopefully root them too. The original, which I ordered online, has been become very leggy, so taking cuttings should help to produce a more compact plant. The shrimp plant reminds me of of of my favorite plants to find at Disney World.

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My poor little rose has suffered with spider mites all spring. I think it will bounce back just fine, and hopefully when we start to get more rain from our “hurricane season” the population of mites will once again be under control.

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The Vitex is flowering and it one my favorites as it reminds me of my time as a summer intern at the Memphis Botanic Garden during my undergraduate years at the University of Arkansas. I love how it smells when it is pruned and I had to do a lot of pruning on a hedge of Vitex in the Sensory Garden. I also grew some at my rental house during graduate school at the UA in Fayetteville.

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Okay, yes, I agree, the image below is NOT of a flower. However, I am pleased that my native bigleaf magnolia tree is doing great this year with lots of new growth.

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I waited until the morning sun peaked through the tree canopy just right to snap this pix. I thought the soft light on the Hydrangea heads were pretty cool. Of course all of these would have been better with my Canon 60D, but given a lot of things going on with me right now, I have not been out to nurture my garden photography. Bad me. But also, snapping some with my cheap old cell phone lets me immediately edit and post on Twitter and then when I have a moment to post here on the blog pages, things go much faster. Follow me on Twitter for more frequent updates and photos, mostly horticulture related. (Plus these cell phone shots look way better on Twitter since they are usually viewed smaller…LOL)

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I am growing two colors of Gerbera daisy: yellow and red. I like them because they start flowering for me in winter when other garden plants are still waking from their winter nap. That means this plant has already been flowering for about 3.5 months!

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This begonia has been going strong for about four years. It is a little incredible because the soil is so terrible. I think it was last year that it finally took off. The flowers are a very soft pink, which you can barely tell here.

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I bought two Impatiens this spring that I put in pots of old soil. I like the candy cane look to the petals: red and white. I SHOULD be able to overwinter these easily.

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The final photo for this post is one of my Gardenia.  I have made one swipe through with the pruners to remove the yellow, fading blossoms. I planted this from a one gallon container about three years ago and have been pleased with the growth. The perfume permeates the garden and makes me very happy.

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Well, that’s all kiddos. I have other obligations to move on to and so I will bid you adieu. These photos represent perhaps 50% of what is flowering in my garden right now. This post will help me remember what was flowering and how it was flowering, in future years. It’s important to document your garden. Unless you are a robot and remember everything. Maybe you are a robot. If you are a robot and have found your way to my blog, thank you for stopping by.

Peace Lily Out!

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright The Garden Maiden, 2019

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Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , ,

The Many Beautiful Azaleas Blooming Today in My Mississippi Yard

 

This post will be brief. It is azalea season throughout the South. Even ratty, unkempt, abandoned homes, boast some gorgeous flowering azaleas right now. In the rear of the above photo is a deep burgundy-colored azalea. I forgot to get a close-up this morning.

Right now I feel I should be hosting a garden party every day. The vast array of colorful azalea flowers makes my head spin on a good day.

 

Most of the azaleas in my yard were here when we moved into the home; however, we have planted perhaps another dozen. Two dozen? Maybe.

 

Early morning and evening as the sun goes down are the most breathtaking, especially when you observe the flowers with the light coming through the petals.

I even enjoy “plain” white. It provides good contrast to all the other colors and is brilliant in its own right.

My favorite by far is my native Florida flame azalea (Rhodendron austrinum). It is a deciduous azalea and has grown quite a bit in the last five or six years. I haven’t babied it.

I keep it mulched and have fertilized it maybe twice since I planted it. I never water it, other than when I first planted it. A great return on the investment of a one gallon plant.

A lot of people here cut their azaleas back, I guess to renew them. It isn’t necessary, but to each their own. I’ve seen folks cut back 8′ tall plants to a foot or so. The horror! But eventually they leaf out, produce a lot of new growth, and flower again.

Maybe some of mine could use a whacking. But even my leggiest azaleas grow to their own heart’s desire.

I do have two plants that I prune back a bit every other year or so but that is because they are planted in a bed and have thinned out to the point where you can “see under their skirt”. And they are planted with other ornamentals that have suffered when they are shaded by the straggly and rapidly growing azaleas which tower above. So I give them a little chop chop, after they finish flowering in April.

I have quite an “investment” in azaleas now.

Many of them I received for free from a friend. So I do not know “varieties”. Sometimes that is a bit irksome. Indeed, I do have a few young plants with the tags still attached and I need to write those down and transfer the names to a metal sign.

Some of these larger azaleas are so commonly seen around, I figure they must be old varieties that were very popular in the 70s and 80s.

One color I am lacking is lavender. But I’m okay with that.

Well, what do you know. I found a photo of the deeper burgundy azalea from yesterday! See below.

One nice thing about the azaleas is they grow easily here. My soil is pretty terrible for trying to grow a vegetable garden. But the azaleas? Other than those I watered at planting, fuss-free. I don’t do anything and they reward us every year.

I hope you are enjoying your own azaleas, or perhaps planning to take a spring Sunday drive around the South to view others flowering azaleas. There are some real showstoppers out there.

 

Yours in Gardening,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden

@thegardenmaiden

Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Collecting Botanical Data on Blueberry for Plant Patent and Releases

Each year there is a small window of opportunity to collect certain botanical data on blueberry. Data is collected for potential releases and plant patents. I work on both muscadines and blueberries, but right now, I’m knuckle deep in blueberry analysis for my boss.

Currently, time is of the essence to collect flowers and analyze their parts for numerous parameters including color, size, number, etc. In this photo, pollinated flowers are quickly becoming young blueberries.

How did I know what to collect? Well, I printed off plant patents and release documents for other blueberries. I refreshed myself with terminology I learned in Plant Taxonomy at the University of Arkansas. (I’m the nerd who carries around flash cards from graduate school so I can study and refresh when I have down time such as waiting at the doctor’s office).

I also had to Google search and find other USDA ARS, University Extension, and text book references to analyzing plant parts.

For the past few weeks here is what I have been working on:

Flower length; flower occurrence; flowering period; corolla color, length, diameter, and aperture; stigma length and color; style length, calyx diameter and color; stamen length, stamen color, anther length; the number of flowers per cluster; immature flower color; pollen abundance and color; flower pedicel color and length; flower peduncle color and length, and whether or not flowering occurs before, during or after leaf emergence. Using a RHS colour chart, means that you should be using north light, which I don’t really have. But I will use several attempts to verify each color and maintain consistency.

Image of blueberry pollen in a petri dish with the remaining flower part of style/stigma, calyx, pedicel and somewhere in that image, the stamen:

Image of late afternoon sun shining in on the half dissection view of stamen located inside the calyx :

Image of petri dish filled with male parts (stamen: filament and anther, and in the case of blueberry, each anther has  a pair of anther tubes):

 

Another blueberry image with description:

Another image where I am measuring a single stamen. The stamen measurement does not include the anther tubes. The light green yellow part is the filament. In the middle the darker orange brown is the anther:

Blueberry stamen image with petri dish sitting on one of my botanical description pages:

Blueberry stamen image where I placed the petri dish on my RHS colour chart for contrast:

 

Image of blueberry flowers in various stages:

Late afternoon sun shining on my laboratory blueberry cuttings:

 

Blueberry pollen image. This particular selection had a lot of pollen and the flowers were dry, making it easy to extract the pollen and collect it in the center of the dish with a paint brush:

Blueberry pollen color analysis:

Blueberry flower bracteoles:

Blueberry flower dissection:

Another image of me extracting pollen by gently rubbing and working the corolla (I’m milking it for all it is worth!):

For each I randomly take cuttings from various parts of the plant and of more than one plant when at all possible.  Usually, the cuttings are long enough for me to put in beakers of water so that I can continue to have a fresh supply of tissue to work with; however, I did put some small cuttings in the refrigerator last week, which worked well, except that moisture collected inside the corolla, making it nearly impossible to extract pollen from the anthers. (Tip!)

I hope this gives you an idea of just some of the “end” data collected on potential releases and plant patent applications. It is a bit of micro work. You do need to give your eyes a break. You will get a snoot full of pollen and probably be able to feel the itchy eyes and burning throat after a days work extracting pollen grains. But I do love it! And with some groovy tunes like my Disney, Classic Out West Westerns, Hawaiian, or Jimmy Buffett/Beach playlists, I can rock all day. Tomorrow? I’ll be playing my Mardi Gras playlist all day in the lab! Next week? Its St. Patrick’s Day music and I’ll do some jigs in between samples. You gotta take joy whenever you can get joy.

 

As a Certified Professional Horticulturist, an ISA Certified Arborist, with a B.S.A. in Landscape Design and Urban Horticulture and an M.S. in Horticulture, I really do enjoy this kind of plant science work.

 

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden
@thegardenmaiden

 

 

Categories: Fruit Crops, Research, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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