Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We Need You This Saturday

Everyone can help make
 the gardens look good!
It's a great time to get outside to clean up and beautify the gardens! Our monthly workday is coming up this Saturday, November 5th from 10am-12. Per usual please meet up at Pennsylvania Garden, and we’ll disperse from there. Volunteers will be on-hand to teach you everything you need to know. Gloves, tools and drinks will also be available to make it all happen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Stop, thief!

At the weekend Matt and I were transplanting Agaves when a neighbor stopped Matt to ask him why he was digging things up.

Thanks neighbor! It's great that people are looking out for the garden :)

If you see something, say something.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Plant profile: Lycianthes rantonnetii (Blue Potato Bush)

 Latin name: Lycianthes rantonnetii (pronounced "lie-see-AN-thees rat-oh-NETT-ee-eye")
Common name: Blue Potato Bush, Paraguay Nightshade
Originally from: Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay
Blooms: Absolutely covered in purple flowers that have a little yellow eye. Flowers a lot. Relentlessly? Shamelessly?
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Drought tolerant
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 4-6' x 4'-6'
USDA Zones: 8b-11
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed by the steps

Lycianthes rantonnetii is a species of flowering shrub in the family Solanaceae.  Cultivated as ornamental the world over, you might deem it boring and decide to pass it over. But you'd be wrong.

The blue potato bush is one of about 150 species in the genus Lycianthes, which are found mostly in tropical regions of the Americas, with others in the Asia-Pacific region.

The species is named after Barthélémy Victor Rantonnet, a 19th-century French horticulturalist, who thought at first that it should be lumped in with the nightshades (Solanum) - the same genus as potatoes, hence the frumpy common name: Blue Potato Bush.

Unfortunately, after that got sorted out and it was moved to the genus Lycianthes the Potato Bush name had stuck. Several other little-known Solanum species probably should be included with Lycianthes but there you go.

I got this plant as a freebie left on the street by a random Craigslister. It consisted of two twigs and a few rumpled leaves, so not much hope was given to it. However, tough as an old boot, it sprang to life and is now a handsome flower-covered shrub 6' tall. It looks ratty in the dog days of summer, but a quick sprinkle of rain and pow: loaded with flowers again.

You can train it into a little tree, or let it be shrubby. It's easy to prune an doesn't care much when you do it. The flowers don't have a scent but aside from that it's a great little plant that handles all sorts of abuse cheerfully.

Oh, and boring? More like dangerous. Like most nightshades all parts of this plant are poisonous so keep your kids and dogs out of the flower beds people. A source of psychoactive alkaloids, they will cause a nasty upset stomach and worse.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Volunteer Workday

Here's Matt and Chris moving a lovely big Agave attenuata from the front where it was blocking the path to the left bed's bottom path area. Just before this Matt had cut back all the Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) down to 6" in prep for winter.  I am sure they will spring right back up and fill in that whole area - they are a bit brutal.

I weeded all over, and planted some Rock Purslane (Calandrinia spectabilis) in the new border of the top area with Matt, and also moved some Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina) to fill gaps.

Emily, Nathan, Bill and his dog Coco and John weeded at PRG and picked trash - it's time for a bit workday though as the weeds are gathering strength and taking over!

Chris also repaired the broken composter lid that had been hanging loose for a while.... it's time to move that composter back against the fence so we have more space to work there.

In order to do that we are gradually emptying it and placing weeds we've removed in piles in the middle of beds where they can rot down out of sight in their own time.

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