Archive for March 2010

Plant Inventory

I already have a seed inventory, so I figured I should take an inventory of my plants, as well. I was thinking of doing an inventory of dead plants (I have killed quite a few), but that would get complicated and depressing, so I think I'll skip it.

This list includes only plants in my studio apartment, and they are listed by container (some containers include several plants). It does not include seedlings or bulbs/rhizomes/whatever that haven't made any leaves. It also doesn't include the seedling sale plants, the plants in my office, or the plants at Mr. Yogato.

I'm not going to be anal about naming conventions, for the moment, but I will likely update this later with both common names and real names. I will also link to photos of each.

Current as of 24 July. (18 October update: I have 115 plants and 11 plants-in-waiting. I will update this list in a bit!)

Existing Plant List
Philodendron bipinnatifidum
Cactus (?)
Cryptanthus, Saxifraga, and Haworthia (?)
“Spitfire” Nasturtium
Alternanthera dentata
Alternanthera dentata
Alternanthera dentata
Pandanus veitchii
Alternanthera “Party Time” and Aloe "Grassy Lassie"
Aloe “Grassy Lassie”
Polystichum acrostichoides
Hippeastrum “Red Lion”
Hippeastrum unknown
Cryptanthus, Haworthia (?)
Kohleria "Silver Feather"
Streptocarpella “Good Hope”
Chirita “Deco”
Episcia “Coco”
Bull Run hot pepper, lemon basil, Sempervivum with red tinged leaves, fingerling potato
Lemon Geranium
Two Ponytail Palms
Norfolk Island Pine
Alocasia “Polly”
Chlorophytum comosum
Dieffenbachia compacta and Dracaena marginata
Dracaena unknown
Aloe “Grassy Lassie”
Ledebouria socialis and Crassula ovata
Ledebouria socialis
Ledebouria socialis
So much Ledebouria socialis that I don't know what to do with them all
Kalanchoe unknown
Kalanchoe unknown
Sempervivum with a trailing succulent of some kind (really cute!)
Dracaena “Lemon Lime”
Cyclamen “Sterling Scarlet”
Phalaenopsis unknown (small size, purple flowers with yellow streaks)
Bulbophyllum gracillimum
Maranta leuconeura var erythroneura
Ornithogalum caudatum
Fittonia albivenis
Yucca unknown
Rex Begonia
Crassula ovata
Amorphophallus konjac
Amorphophallus konjac
Lime tree
Hippeastrum seedlings
More Hippeastrum seedlings
Saintpaulia unknown
Fuchsia with double purple flowers
Schizachyrium scoparium
Koeleria cristata
Aechmea fasciata


Tulip Mania

My "Roussillion" tulips from EcoTulips made quite a show when they bloomed a few weeks ago, even more so than the potted tulips that Jeroen provided me. I am expecting another round soon--I layered the bulbs in a large pot, so that the top ones would bloom, followed by the slightly deeper ones after that, and so on, in succession. The thought is better than the actuality, but I have hopes. These are mixed in with the "Purple Prince" tulips that I ordered--I don't remember how I layered these, but I haven't seen any "Purple Prince"s yet. At least, I don't think so. The colouring of the two are different enough that I should notice, but maybe I didn't? They both have beautiful colours, anyhow.

A few weeks after planting, the top layer of bulbs offered promise of a beautiful spring--in my own living room! Just inches away from corn growing and offering the promise of a fruitful summer. Growing indoors is truly confusing!

Days later, the flowers bloomed, cheering my mornings and evenings with their presence. My "Grassy Lassie" Aloe kept trying to butt its way in on the action, but its flowers had their time in the spotlight already. It's tulip's time to shine!

I didn't want to let the beauty of these blooms go to waste, sitting home all alone without anyone to admire them, so I clipped them off and took the bouquet in to work so I could see and smell them all day (yes, they had a distinctive aroma--pleasant, not faint, but not overpowering).

I didn't notice until I brought these in to work that some of the petals had lavender-coloured splotches. That made them more beautiful to me! It's not exactly the crazy variegation noted by MrBrownThumb when he went to the Chicago Flower Show, but it's still pretty.

Also? I was just on EcoTulips's website, and dude's totally having a crazy 50%-off sale right now (bulbs won't be shipped until the fall, however, but it's like a present that you'll forgot you got yourself!). If you're a fan of sourcing things organic, check it out. EcoTulips bills itself as "the only American source of organic tulip bulbs from Holland." I am debating getting some--but I'm surely going to try to somehow get to the pick-your-own days in April. I just need a vehicle or a friend with a vehicle who's willing to drive 2 hours each way for tulips. Wish me luck!


More Of Spring

Please enjoy this text-free interlude of spring flowers in no particular order.



Although I have about six posts in the works right now, this one will jump ahead all of them, because it is just that much cooler. Yes, it is that emphatic!

My "Bloody Butcher" corn that I showed you just two weeks ago is now a foot taller (it was an old-ish photo that I posted) and has a male inflorescence! When I saw it this morning, I immediately took a photo with my mobile phone and sent a picture message to my plant friends who work at the Arboretum. I showed it off to the guy sitting next to me at Master Gardener class tonight. I even showed my boss while I was at work. I'm just tickled that my corn is flowering--in March! On my windowsill!

This is why I grow things indoors. It doesn't matter what it is, when a plant does something that it's supposed to, such as make a new leaf, send out runners, or flower, it makes me so happy!

Now, the next test is to see if any female-flower inflorescences develop--that is to say, ears of corn. This variety is more for flour or cornmeal (although young ears can be eaten as corn-on-the-cob) and is supposed to make only two ears per stalk, although other sources say it can have up to six ears per stalk. Whatever--I'll be happy to get one!

I planted this probably in mid- to late December. It germinated on 21 December, according to my records--that means we're on day 96 or so. The maturity info says 110-120 days, so we're pretty close. I started this in a 4-inch pot, because I thought corn wouldn't like getting transplanted. Its roots quickly exited the pot from the holes at the bottom, so I upped it to an 8-inch black plastic container. Then, I potted it up to a 1-gallon container. It doesn't seem to mind being transplanted or washed of spider mites in the shower.

I know the plant is half the height it should be, but for a winter-grown stalk of corn on my windowsill, I think it's doing quite swell! I found a good quick-'n'-dirty resource on corn inflorescence emergence and pollination. It seems that a few days after the male inflorescence emerges and extends, the females' "silk" will start slithering out. Then a little while later, I'll have some ears of corn!


Trying Something New

After I most certainly did not win the Washington Gardener photo contest with my submissions, I talked to a photographer friend about what makes a good photograph. For now, I have my Fujifilm F60fd--it has some good automatic settings, but there's no manual focus, so taking photographs of something other than what is at the centre of the viewfinder is difficult. My friend suggested focusing on an object of interest and then moving the camera so the object is still in focus, but not in the centre. That's what I'm going for with most of these photos. It takes a little more effort to get them in focus, but it's hard not to pull back or rock forward when you're adjusting left, right, up, or down. Until I can afford a nice camera with a lens or two that can take good macro shots... Well, this is what I have!

I have previously photographed these tulips on the same block as my apartment. This time, however, it wasn't with my camera phone!

My more artistic shot. The stamens look almost as if they are legs with little anther-booties on them. Like tiny synchronized swimmers diving into a colourful black hole head-first.

This is just some yellow-flowering bush-type thing.

This Corylus avellana is a beautiful specimen near Mt. Pleasant Street and Park Road, where I catch the bus to go to Dungeons & Dragons on the weekend. It was only slightly damaged by the Snowpocalypses. I want one of these!

Walking under it while it is in bloom is like stepping into a fairytale world for just a second.

These Scilla siberica on the left seem almost to be floating, keeping an eye on the ones in the background who are doing gods know what. Something bad, probably. Rebellious Siberian squills!

This fallen tree may be down, but it's not out! It's still growing, and although the focal point may be the burst of leaves and flowers in the centre of the photograph, the mossy trunk provides a secondary focus, seeming to wrap around and protect the tender new growth in the picture.

I just thought this was pretty.

A magnolia bursting from hibernation, aided by the heat of the bright setting sun.

"No, don't mind me, I'm just an innocent little hellebore," says Helen as she quickly stuffs the bload-stained rag into her back pocket. The cops, however, are not fooled, and she is thrown behind bars for the premeditated slaughter of her husband's mistress, Daffy Dill. They're pretty bars, however, and her inmates enjoy her company, brief though it will be.


Cyclanthophobia: Does It Exist?

I define cyclanthophobia as a fear of Cyclamen flowers. Now, Scarlet is a truly fearsome specimen of Cyclamen, and I understand how one might fear her predatory wrath (scroll to the bottom of the post I linked to).

But I was wondering if cyclanthophobia is just a subcategory of a more general fear of small, downward-looking flowers that appear fearsome when perceived from a vantage point below the bloom. Part of the fear might have to do with seeing things commonly viewed from a more level plane, such as a window, a door, or the ceiling. I can't think of a clever word to encompass the entire idea, however, so I'm sticking with cyclanthophobia.

I will, however, test my hypothesis that such fear is evoked by more than just Cyclamen with this series of photos that I took of Galanthus flowers on Saturday. Click on the pictures to view them in their full splendor.

Okay... This seems an innocuous-enough Galanthus, right? Small, spring blooming, downward pointing, green splotches on the inner tepals, kind of nice. But as you grow complacent... It pounces!

"Grr! I will eats you!" Gally growls.

"Om nom nom nom."

Now, on a scale of one to 10, 10 being "I peed myself," how scared were you?


Mr. Yogato Blossoms

The promise of beauty that Iris reticulata merely hinted at has popped forth full-fledged.

I just spent a few hours sifting through hundreds of photographs that I took over the past couple days. I might have to stop carrying my camera around again! Expect lots of pretty pictures with very little text over the coming week.

The pictures I have here are from the past week and a half, since I took pictures of I. reticulata. The Mr. Yogato garden has changed a lot in just a short timespan!

In no particular chronological order, here's what the garden looked like this month.

The rhubarb and mint are coming back very nicely. I cannot wait to be able to bake things with this rhubarb!

My grape vine is slowly developing leaves. The ice and snow saved me from having to do the pruning myself. I have read that first year's growth should be pruned back 90%. I would not have been able to do that to my beloved plant...! Nature, however, did it for me, and the vine seems perfectly happy to have been chopped to bits.

The strawberries are coming back, too! Most of them are greener than this, now--the photograph was taken on 10 March, but it was such a cool shot that I didn't want to use any of the newer ones. I was worried that the plants would die (and some did) because of the multiple giant snow piles that packed on top of them, but a lot of them made it through and are growing!

This violet was one of the planty grabs from the woman who also gave me her seed collection. I used to have it on my windowsill, but it was a harbinger of spider mites, so I stuck it at Mr. Yogato. It did well, flowered, and dropped lots of seeds. It's coming back vigorously right now, and I'm wondering if all those little seedlings around it are its babies. We'll see in a bit, I guess...

To the left is some garlic that I planted last fall, and to the bottom left is a piece of ABC gum. I don't grow those, they just pop up like weeds and cigarette butts.

Let's take a little break from all the photographs to mention that I went to a perennial division demonstration at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens (where fabulous lives). Bill Johnson, Hillwood's horticultural volunteer coordinator, came to my Master Gardener class to teach about perennials the other week. He has training opportunities as part of his volunteer program, and he invited our class to come if they wanted. I did, especially after hearing something about "free plants." The instruction was informative (basically, grab a sharp axe and go to town on the plants). I took notes, but I have stacks of meeting notes and class notes in the same pile. I must go through them.

The next set of photographs are what I nabbed from Hillwood and planted at Mr. Yogato on 13 March. I don't remember what the varieties were (Bill didn't, either, for some of them, so I don't feel too bad).

So, I planted this on 13 March, but this photograph was taken today. This is gooseneck loosestrife, Lysimachia clethroides. It's less vigorous than the oh-so-hated purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), but it is aggressive. It sends out runners once in the spring; Bill says that if you don't want it to spread, chop off the runners and it's done. I planted a few of them where the Datura was last year, where the strawberries still are. We'll see how large it gets!

This Heuchera "Caramel," which will have yellowish leaves. I put it next to the grapes (which were not really placed well), because it gets a bit more shade in that location. It is not the colour I would have chosen, but hey, it's free, and will be an interesting focus in the garden. Just like the bright blue chalk to the left.

Here's an Iris. I think Bill said it was a rebloomer. That's about all I remember about it.

Those of us at the Master Gardener class got a hint that Bill had a little crush on this shasta daisy, Leucanthemum superbum "Becky." At the perennial division demonstration, we upgraded that to full-blown love. I hope Bill doesn't have anyone to cheat on, because they really ought to be jealous about the way he talks about "Becky." I have, for some reason, avoided liking daisies, but I'll try it and see.

This is a Sedum. I don't know what it'll look like, but the itty bitty form looks like a common one that is in yards all over DC. Sedum spectabile? I placed it in this location because people are apt to step on it--it was a difficult-to-grow-in spot last year. I figure, with Sedum, it doesn't matter if branches break off or leaves drop--I'll just get more plant that way!

This is a Siberian Iris, I believe. I don't really remember. But I think that's what it is.

Here is Ajuga reptans. Bill says it flowers beautifully--I'm more in love with the dark purplish foliage and the spreading action it does! I want it to be a cover for the bulb garden, which has a purple colour scheme already. Why not extend that colour into other seasons?

That's a good segue to the next section: the bulb garden!

This is how the Crocus looked on 13 March. It was gloomy, wet, cold, and generally miserable. The garden looked fantastic with droplets of water all over it, but the flowers weren't opening at all, despite having been above ground for days. My horticulturalist friend told me that's just the way Crocus flowers handle cold, wet, dreary springs; they remain closed until pretty days, when their pollinators will be out and about.

Be forewarned--I took so many pictures of these and couldn't decide which were the more beautiful. So I stuck a few select ones up instead of just one or two as I would usually do.

Here's the spread of Crocus vernus "Negro Boy" and Crocus sieberi mixed colours. The mixed ones are native to Crete, which is why I got them. I love Crete so much! Their in-your-face tourism marketing tactics, the drive-off-the-road vehicular skills, the beautiful water and mountains... The description claims shades of lilac, violet, and purple--that's not quite "mixed" in my mind. And I don't really notice much of a colour difference.

"Negro Boy," on the other hand--whoa. He's a keeper! I picked on for the manager of Mr. Yogato and put it behind her ear. It looked like she should have been on the beach in Hawaii.

No words necessary. Just pure beauty.

On 18 March, this tulip was thinking of sending up its flower. I am not sure which variety this is: "Blue Heron" fringed or mixed parrot varieties. I hope one of the mixed parrots turns out to be the "Black Parrot" tulip!

I am a bit ambivalent toward this fellow. I thought I was buying saffron crocus (Crocus sativus); instead, it turns out I purchased Bulbocodium vernum, "Spring Meadow Saffron." Not only is it not a true Crocus, but it's poisonous. Sigh. I ordered from the catalog and must have put the wrong number down? I don't even remember. It is beautiful, sure, but I wanted to eat it.

I think (I hope, I pray) that this is my Fritillaria camschatcensis "Black Lily." It's in about the right location...

My Scilla siberica had a rough go of flowering. They just poked up above the ground--and then we had a thunderstorm.

This is what the garden looked like after the flash-flood today. The Crocus are decimated, there are Scilla petals scattered everywhere, and I think someone sat on one of my tulips. Not photographed individually were the "Hello Darkness" bearded Iris, the "Wild Ruby" dwarf Iris, and the "Dominic" daylily. Those will make appearances soon, I'm sure!



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