Thursday, September 27, 2012

Groundbreaking date to be announced soon

Great news: PUC has approved everything, DPW ditto, and we are once again re-doing the timelines and getting the quotes revised so we can break ground in late October. FuF will help us plant trees in early November, and after that we'll install the decomposed granite sidewalk. Look out for a notice about tree planting day soon - we need YOUR help to do this. If you signed up in the past to help us, now is the time we need you. Thanks!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Plant Profile: Kniphofia

"Wayside Flame"
Latin name: Kniphofia ("niff-O-fee-ah")
Common name: Tritoma, Red hot poker, Torch lily or Poker plant
Originally from: Africa, Madagascar and Yemen.
Blooms: Red, orange, yellow, cream to lime green flowers on various hybrids.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water needed, but enjoys a little and flowers better with it.
Height x width: 3-5' wide x 2-5' tall.
USDA Zones: 6-11
Where to find in P. Garden: We have several! One in almost every bed right now.

Kniphofia uvaria "Flamenco"
The genus Kniphofia was named for Johannes Hieronymus Kniphof, 1704-1763, who was a professor of medicine at Erfurt University in Germany, and whose impossible to pronounce last name makes many gardeners queasy about the Kniphofia's too. His name was pronounced KNIP-hoff. The plant?  nye-FOE-fee-ah, knip-HOFF-ee-ah, nee-FOE-fee-ah... choose any you like!

"Dwarf Yellow"
Kniphofia belongs to the family Asphodelaceae which comprises 17 genera (10 of which occur in South Africa) and about 750 species. About 70 species of Kniphofia occur in Africa. The genus Kniphofia is very closely related to the genus Aloe. In fact, the first Kniphofia to be described, namely K. uvaria, was mistakenly thought to be an Aloe and as a result was initially named Aloe uvaria.

Brought to the UK in 1707, they were kept carefully in greenhouses until 1848, when someone had the bright idea of planting them outdoors, and their great hardiness was discovered.

Tough and drought tolerant, these are a great plant for a low water garden - some species more so than others. They all like excellent drainage, and hummingbirds are attracted to their copious nectar, and if you keep them deadheaded they'll continue flowering for many months.

We have quite a few of these, as mentioned. Here's a rundown:

Kniphofia thomsonii
(Alpine Poker)
The species:
Kniphofia northiae “Octopus Red-Hot Poker”  Well worth growing for the foliage alone! Astonishing, Aloe–like rosettes, 4-6’ across, sport extremely wide leaves – to 6” across - with vibrant orange and yellow flowers. Ours is still a tiny baby, in the middle front bed.

Kniphofia thomsonii (Alpine Poker) is among the more strikingly distinct Kniphofia. The well spaced individual flowers, each gracefully down-curved, give the plant a unique look. Ours is planted at the top of the dog area, in front of a bronze colored Phormium tenax.

Kniphofia uvaria is a mostly winter rainfall species that grows in seeps, marshes, and streams on sandstone slopes and flowers in spring. We have a group of three in the brights bed.

The hybrids:
"Pineapple Popsicle"
"Dwarf Yellow" - tough,  bright yellow and a relentless bloomer from late spring to late summer in a somewhat smaller size. The middle back bed is anchored by this cultivar.

Kniphofia uvaria "Flamenco" - an early flowering type in yellow, orange and fiery red.  

"Pineapple Popsicle" - yellow to cream flowers on this one. It's new, and lives in the left bed.

"Wayside Flame"
"Wayside Flame" - bright, yet soft orange shades for midsummer excitement. The middle of the brights bed gets a dose of color from this one.

"Yellow Cheer" - dense yellowish orange buds, infused with chartreuse open to pumpkin-yellow flowers late in the season. I can't actually remember where I put this one...

UPDATE June 2016:
Well these are some super-tough plants but there have been some ups and downs. Dwarf Yellow, Pineapple Popsicle, Wayside Flame, and whichever one I put in the middle back bed are doing great. K. thomsonii - sad face! I would plant another in a less drastic spot though. K. northiae was presumed dead, but resurrected! Still hasn't flowered yet. I gave it some compost and a drink.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cleanup day becomes week!

My garden helper for most of the week was my grumpy cocker spaniel Bentley (pic) who was often not content to be at the bench by himself. Fortunately he doesn't mind lounging on burlap, so I set him up by me while I deadheaded and generally cleaned out the front left bed.

Echinacea purpurea
There is lots to do around the garden any time of the year, but at the end of Summer as it starts to transition to Fall, well, things can start to look a little ratty. The shaggy Agapanthus starts to loose its color, Alstroemerias flop, and corn marigolds turn crisp...this list goes on and on! While many plants are finishing their summer show right now many others are gearing up - be sure to check out some of the Agastaches, Salvias and Aster that are all Fall bloomers.

One picture shows our grouping of three Echinacea in the brights bed on the way to the dog area, they should flower throughout the Fall.
The Linaria purpurea (pic) by the bench is even giving a second go of it, and with a little cutting back, may continue to flower. That plant has been an unexpected winner for us at the garden - I highly recommend it for a partial shade spot in your backyard.

Linaria purpurea

Monday, September 3, 2012

A quick 3 hours in the garden

It's amazing how time flies when you're in the garden. This morning Matt and I went up to potter around a bit and before we know it, 2pm had arrived.

Matt worked on potting up more cuttings, and I set sprinklers around all the new plants. I also realized I'll be out of town soon and some plants need to go from pot to ground and get settled in before then. So I pulled out a few plants and forced myself to pick spots for them.

Kniphofia northiae - this massive Kniph was one Emily picked up recently and it's going to be a stunner. Where better to put it than in the middle front bed?

The area under the first cherry plum tree has been a source of annoyance for quite some time. Various Oenotheras seed there and in the summer I think "well, they're flowering - better than nothing!  Then they start to look awful and I rip them out. Bare spot! The Achilleas I put there needed more sun and almost died out, and the Amaryllis belladonna (Naked Lady) bulbs are almost done flowering. I'll move them next month when they're dormant to a place where they won't flop over the path.

I ripped out all the Oenotheras and decided it was a great spot for 2 plants we had waiting: Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) is a trusty xeric plant, with silvery leaves and yellow flowers. We had potted up a cutting ages ago and it went in under one of the cherry plum trees. Next to it went a Choisya ternata "Sundance" (Mexican orange blossom) that I got at the Flowercraft scratch'n'dent section a while back. These two ought to fill the area with evergreen silver or chartreuse foliage respectively, and will both manage a part shade spot fine.

 3 Lithodora diffusa went in along the front of the brights bed, a Coreposis gigantea in the middle front bed, everything got a good soaking, and the day was done.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Volunteer day: potting up

Patrick plants Aptenia
Today's volunteer workday started a little overcast and gloomy, but ended up sunny and fine as usual.

Things that got done:

John came over and traded me loads of Aptenia cordifolia cuttings for loads of Calandrinia spectabilis cuttings. A win for everyone!

Patrick then planted all the Aptenia cuttings into 4 flats as ground cover for the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden). He and Matt potted up all the Euphobia lambiis we have waiting for that project into 2 gallon or larger pots, as well as a load of Salvia "Anthony Parker."

Doryanthes palmeri
Patrick also swept the pathways into the garden neatly, which may seem like a pointless job with so much mulch floating around but it really makes a difference in my opinion. I like a neat path - so sue me!

Matt moved the Doryanthes palmeri (Spear Lily) from it's spot in the brights bed, completely hidden from view, to a much more prominent area as it deserves.

Eddy pruned back the naughty Dipogon lignosus vine on the arch at the entrance and stopped it's rampant spread into the next door bed. That was a task I was sort of hoping never to have to do, and Eddy made it so. The vine has had a severe haircut and should behave itself for a while now, fingers crossed!

Lavandula, Tibouchina
and Plectranthus
Bill and Jeanie cut back spent Chasmanthes, Cannas and Achilleas in the left and brights bed, and I moved the water sprinkler around and gave everything a nice drink. I also tidies the pots behind the shed and pruned several  branches from the cherry plum trees by the bench to let in more light and prevent heads hitting them when you go to sit down.

I potted up a flat of 4" pots of succulents and had a nice chat with Janet about how frustrating certain granting bodies who shall remain nameless can be, and the day was done.

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