Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ledeboria socialis

Ledebouria socialis is a plant I've enjoyed for many years. It started as a gift of a couple of bulbs from my friend Jan Sugerman, and as it flourished it was divided and given to other plant lovers among my friends.
A few years ago I tried to winter over my original plant in my cool greenhouse,only to find it one morning completely frozen and without hope of survival. Fortunately I was able to get some bulbs from one of the recipients of the earlier divisions, and so the same plant still gives me great pleasure but now wintered over in a warmer part of my house.
Although my plant has a lengthy personal history, it is only recently that I've taken the trouble to research its origins. I was interested to find that the genus Ledebouria is found mostly in South Africa (that I should have guessed) and that there are many other species and even cultivars. Now I am madly keen to acquire more, I've found mention of ten species and one cultivar, if anyone knows of a ( legal) source of these plants in Canada please let me know.

Ledebouria socialis makes an attractive container plant with its patterned leaves and delicate flowers.

Ledebouria flowers showing its similarity to Scilla and other Hyacinthaceae relatives.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter Green

The days are getting longer, it's true, but we are still in the throes of a chilly spell typical of this time of year. So I was surprised to see this morning in a white and grey landscape this cheerful spot of green. This virtual garden, a survivor of last years Spring, Summer and Fall and a reminder of things to come in 2011.

A utility pole decorated with the images of the growing season.

A sunflower waiting for the return of the Sun.

I'm glad to see that the insects have not been ignored in this depiction of the natural world.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Agave Hedgehogs

We tend to think of Agave as the broad leaf beauties with multiple spikes that attain almost architectural presence in our garden landscape and containers. But there are many species with slightly different structures that are made up of long tubular leaves ending in a single spike.
I am fond of this group (perhaps to make up for the pet hedgehog denied me in my childhood), they are charming as single specimens in pots , but also I think would be very attractive grown in small groups. Certainly this little group of three different species look most harmonious on my kitchen windowsill.

Agave stricta 'Nana'. I've just read that the common name for this species is actually the Hedgehog Agave. This is the diminutive form of Agave stricta, I'm particularly proud of this as I grew it from seed.

Agave geminiflora. In some pictures I've seen of this species, the leaves have filaments, but this seems to only appear on older plants. I also noticed that plants produce a trunk as they mature, and since I've just replanted this specimen lower in the pot to cover this up, I wonder if I've made a mistake?

Agave X leopoldii is a garden hybrid of A. filifera and A. schidigera, which explains the abundance of filaments that it inherits from both parents. This is a rescue plant from the horticultural killing fields of Home Depot. I was lucky enough to get it before it was allowed to decay along with the rest of "the product" on the shelves of the Houseplant Dept.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Garden

Last Summer I built some shelves to stage my collection of Agave, I was very pleased with the results and the plants thrived in the bright light on the third floor deck where they got maximum light, unobstructed by the shade of trees and other buildings.
Looking out now it's hard to remember those long warm days, as the Agaves are moved indoors, under lights or in a bright window, and shelves are now covered in 20 cm of snow. Three horizontal bands of snow have replaced the Agave collection and in their own way have a stark, if somewhat minimalist beauty, however I'm glad to be indoors in this weather and happy to observe this from the warmth of the house.

Inside, looking out at the third floor deck.

The same view in the Summer, with the doors wide open

The Agave in their Winter resting place.

The larger Agaves sit in the window, while the smaller plants are wintered over under lights.

The same point of view in the Summer, when the doors are permanentlt left open.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happiness ( in January) is a Cool Greenhouse

Forget the warm gun, in January, happiness is a cool greenhouse. At around 5C the climate in my greenhouse is pleasant and perfect for many plants that like the short days and cool spring-like weather. Right now I have Narcissus romieuxii in bloom as well as Amaryllis 'Evergreen'. In the warmth of the house the life of these flowers can be so fleeting, but in this cool environment, both last for weeks.
The weather outside is frightful but the greenhouse is so delightful.... let it snow!

A single flower of Narcissus romieuxii.

A pot of Narcissus romieuxii, I'm happy to see that these bulbs have bulked up from last year and have produced twice as many flowers.

Amaryllis 'Evergreen'.