Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Images of Succulents

Crassula species ( obiculata?)

Cedric Morris: Painting of Succulents.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Bigger Picture

I have been so enamoured with the macro lens on my camera that I'm afraid I'm losing the bigger picture. I can't help but notice that so many of my posts are close-ups or extreme close-ups of plants, flowers and foliage and I think it's about time that I looked up and point my camera at the garden world at large.
This is a picture of my garden taken from the third floor deck. It is home in the summer to my Agave collection and so I had to lean perilously over the wicked spines in order to get this shot.

By swinging my camera to the left (east) I can take in my neighbours garden and the small park ( it's actually called a parkette). Neither of these features is particularly interesting, but I hope this illustrates that this is a very urban location, gritty, you might say.

Turning 180 degrees, I can show the roof of my house and the Honey Locust (gleditsia triancanthos) looking splendid in it's vivid Fall colour.

Looking east again you can see the relentless march of the condominiums.

Looking north/west you can see my street. With a few exceptions, my block is made up of lovely brick built Victorian houses.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Post on Posts

This display on a telephone post is made up of Virginia Creeper ( Parthenociccus quinquefolia) and Bittersweet ( Celastrus scandens).

The old adage about planting vines is pretty true to the mark, "First they sleep, then they creep, then they leap". There are a few variations on this truism, as it was with my Clematis rehderiana which slept for several years in one place only to leap this year after being moved to a better location, it seemed to have missed the creeping stage altogether.
There has been a lot of leaping going on this year in the vining community, although in such slow motion that I hardly noticed it until the colouring of the leaves over the last few weeks. Suddenly there seemed to be rampant vertical displays everywhere, all the more vivid when viewed against clear blue skies.

How could I have missed the Morning Glory that had climbed up through the centre of a hollow post of a street sign, reappearing ( probably around June) at the four foot mark and then dissappearing back into the post until it reached the very top where it flowered for the rest of the late summer.

The Morning Glory reappearing from the interior of the post and then going back in to resume its climb to the top.

Virginia Creeper ( perhaps it should be renamed Virginia leaper) is a bit of a pest around the shared vegetable garden, but can be briefly forgiven when it completely covers a telephone post and puts on this display in the Fall.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Not much of a reference , but a great cover.

I always introduce myself as a "general gardener" since my interest in plants and gardens is so diverse, I grow alpine plants and desert plants, native plants and exotics, plants that need the shade in the under-story of trees and plants that need blazing sun. I also have very different ways of growing plants, some I try to grow in the most natural of habitats and others I grow in containers with a definite artifice trying to match the plant to the container.
But for all this, when reflecting on what seems an unfocused mix, I can see some connections between these disperse collection. This little group of succulents perhaps will illustrate how my various interests come together, they are three different plant families, but are all considered caudiciforms, that is, they all have swollen trunks (and maybe roots) that enable them to store water in extreme dry conditions. They are great subjects for growing in containers and (to my taste) have great and presence and an almost bonsai like character in a well chosen pot. So in this small group of plants I cover several of my interests,those being succulents, vines, euphorbias and my attempts to achieve that Japanese aesthetic of matching plant to pot.

Adenia glauca
Adenia, I was surprised to find, are in the family Passifloraceae.

My plant is still immature, but already has a spectacular caudex .

Cissus tuberosa

Jatropa multifida
Jatropa are in the family Euphorbiaceae

Monday, October 11, 2010

Clematis rehderiana

The nodding campanulate flowers of Clematis rehderiana.

In its new location my C. rehderiana has found a new lease on life.

I am finally able to enjoy Clematis rehderiana. For years it languished, in what was obviously the wrong place of the garden, it never flowered and produced only a few vines and unattractive leaves.
This Spring I decided to dig it out and throw it on the compost, but when I lifted it with a fork I discovered a very healthy looking root system. Taking pity on the plant decided to give it another chance and re-planted it on a west facing fence and from there it really took off. It obviously enjoys this cool Fall weather and has bloomed steadily for the last three weeks and shows no sign of stopping.
The weather forecast for the next two weeks ( should we believe them?) predicts night time temperatures of 5C and higher, so the frost, that would surely be the downfall of C. rehderiana, is still a while away. And I am hoping that the fabulous Fall weather that we are experiencing now continues until then.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Begonia sutherlandii

Begonia sutherlandii going into dormancy.

Bulbils forming on the leaf axils.

Bulbil complete with leaves and roots.

Begonia sutherlandii in its prime.

I've just come across a post on a gardeners chat site from someone who calls themselves 'Bigoniac'. I can sympathize with this condition as I could very easily become manic about this family of plants myself. However, I have been unusually disciplined, deciding that I just don't have the space to go whole hog on another plant collecting jag. I have allowed myself only one and that is Begonia sutherlandii. In its prime it has fresh pale green leaves with red veins and stems, it blooms most of the summer with lovely pale orange flowers.
As it approaches Autumn, as if sensing the need to survive, it produces fascinating little bulbils at the juncture of the leaves and stems. This year they seem to be particularly well developed, having formed leaves and roots on the tiny bulbs.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Tricyrtis 'Kohaku'

Tricyrtis 'White Towers'

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


This time of the year the cool weather seems to suit the Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) very well, they seem to improve as the fall progresses while other plants seem to decline in response to the cold nights and shorter days . It's sad really as this vigorous, late lease on life can only come to a sad end, a few degrees of frost and the Nasturtiums are reduced to a messy pulp.
Linnaeus took the name tropaeolum from the Greek tropaion (trophy), which originally refered to the tree on which were fixed the shields and helmets of the defeated. Seeing the plant growing on a post he thought that the leaves looked like shields and the flowers like helmets.
I'm borrowing the title from Nigel Slater, and in fact the subject of this post is edible. All parts of the Nasturtium can be eaten and it makes the most interesting pesto.