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Posts Tagged ‘September flowers’

I was listening to the local radio yesterday as I went about my business about town, they were interviewing a local vegetable grower who said crops are 5 to 6 weeks behind where they normally are at this time of year. I knew the season was behind although it seems to me that plants catch up at different speeds and some never really seemed to have been effected by the bad weather here this year. One plant which just rolls along without a care is Erigeron karvinskianus  Latin American Fleabane. It is rarely out of flower at any time of the year.

Erigeron karvinskianus (Latin American Fleabane) is a tiny sprawling plant perfect for containers,baskets and in rock cracks.

Erigeron karvinskianus (Latin American Fleabane) is a tiny sprawling plant perfect for containers,baskets and in rock cracks.

There are many Erigeron and most come from North America and as the common name tells you E. karvinskianus comes from more southern areas. It is found growing from Mexico south into Venezuela. In its native habitat it grows in the mountains at 1200-3500m (4000-11000  ft.) where is is evenly moist throughout the year. Spanish Daisy, Latin American Daisy, Santa Barbara Daisy or Mexican Daisy and even Bony Tip Fleabane – all are referring to the same plant.

With its tiny parts Erigeron karvinskianus does not seem out of place with other small plants here.

With its tiny parts Erigeron karvinskianus does not seem out of place with other small plants here.

Erigeron isthought to be Greek eri=early and geron= old man. Karvinskianus refers to Baron Wilhelm Friedrich Karwinski von Karvin (von Karvin Karvinski) 1780-1855. He  born in Hungary and was a naturalist with interests in Geology, Botany and particularly in the study of fossils from different periods. To this end he traveled to collect samples and the areas he went to was Brasil(1821-23) and Mexico(1827-32) . During his travels he sent back over 4000 plant specimens and several have been named after him, these include cactus, grasses and several others. He collected his sample of Erigeron karvinskianus while he was in Oaxaca Mexico.

Part of the charm of South American Fleabane lies in flowers which open white and change into pink as they age. This effect is also seen in other Erigeron species.

Part of the charm of South American Fleabane lies in flowers which open white and change into pink as they age. This effect is also seen in other Erigeron species.

 Erigeron karvinskianus is a very successful plant since it has been grown at sea level and in some areas it has become somewhat of a pest. In Australia and particularly it is not welcome (in these areas it is recommended to plant Branchyscome  multifida which is similar looking). The selection ‘Profusion’ refers to the flowers but also could well refer to its ability to reproduce quickly. In Victoria it is controlled by the climate being on the very edge of it being able to exist as a perennial here, many plant will have died this winter and new seedlings will take their place.

Here native Sedum, Cotoneasters and other mixed plants blend together in the rocks with Spanish Daisy to give a pleasing contrast in textures and color throughout the year.

Here native Sedum, Cotoneasters and other mixed plants blend together in the rocks with Spanish Daisy to give a pleasing contrast in textures and color throughout the year.

I first came to know this plant as a grower at a perennial nursery and thought that this plant might be a good container plant as it has proved to be in other areas. It has mainly been grown for this purpose as it is not hardy enough for most of Canada. Here it can be grown as a short lived perennial which reseeds to refresh with new plants. Victoria and nearby areas are the only places you will see it growing in gardens as a regular plant.

The diminutive flowers on wiry stems of Erigeron karvinskianus are long lasting as they go through their metamorphosis from pure white to deep pink.

The diminutive flowers on wiry stems of Erigeron karvinskianus are long lasting as they go through their metamorphosis from pure white to deep pink.

Erigeron karvinskianus like full sun and well drained soil which can be sandy or even having clay like it is around here. It like even moisture to slightly dry especially in colder areas as excess wetness promotes rot. These plants can be used in many ways, as fillers, accent,groundcover, massed, in large rockeries as long as its not near delicate growing or extremely small plants. They are fairly drought tolerant and attract butterflies to your garden. They are rated as zone 8 -10 c. (20-30 f.) They grow 15-20 cm high and wide.There are several named varieties, ‘Profusion’ is the best known and there is ‘Snowdrift’ which has white flowers. It is also thought that the species E. moerheimerii is just a form of karvinskianus and should be listed as E.k. ‘Moerheimii’

The Baron and the Little Flower:

Description of and cultivation for: http://www.perennials.com/seeplant.html?item=1.200.230

Fine Gardening has a good description: http://www.finegardening.com/plantguide/erigeron-karvinskianus-profusion-fleabane.aspx

Baron Wilhelm Friedrich Karwinski von Karvin: http://www.botanischestaatssammlung.de/DatabaseClients/BSMvplantscoll/About.html

…..Follow my trail to more interesting plant tails……..

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The muted colors of the autumn season will soon be upon us, the plants are beginning to look tired from the long hot summer. The end of the season brings on a slow decline. It is harvest time, the moon is big and the crops are high and full of ripeness. Certain plants remind me of this season because I would only see them now when I was growing up in the north. Dahlias are the flowers I remember being huge and have brilliant and interesting petals and color combinations.

A sumptuously colored Dahlia with a 'Ball' classification of flower.

A sumptuously colored Dahlia with a 'Ball' classification of flower.

There are about 35 species of Dahlias which all originated from central America, from Mexico through Guatemala, Hondurans Nicaragua, Costa Rica and other areas. The first Dahlias which was documented were encountered by Francisco Hernández de Toledo(1514-87, who was a naturalist and physician to the King of Spain. He was sent on the first scientific exploration of the new world in 1571 and spent 7 years gathering and classifying specimens he collected and interviewing the local people on their use. His works were published in 1615.

The first species Dahlia recorded would have been single flowered and look something like this.

The first species Dahlia recorded would have been single flowered and look something like this.

Later another botanist, French Nicolas-Joseph Thiéry de Menonville was sent to Mexico in 1776 to steal cochineal insects (the source of red dye at the time). He went unofficially succeeded in bring back the insects. In the notes of his adventure he notes Dahlias were unusually attractive flowers. Dahlias where first grown in Europe at the Madrid in the botanical gardens there in 1789. The seed had been sent from the botanical gardens of Mexico. The first plants were named  Dahlia coccinea in 1791.

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'(1924) is one of the most famous culitvars of the past and is now widely available.

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'(1924) is one of the most famous culitvars of the past and is now widely available.

Other seeds of different species where later germinated in England and roots were sent to Netherlands to grow. Crossbreeding began from these original collections of plants is where all our fancy Dahlias come from today. During the 19th century thousands of new cultivars where grown and the best were selected for their brilliant colors and unusual flower and petal forms. The name Dahlia honors Anders Dahl who was a Swedish botanist.

This brilliant bi-color Dahlia is classified as a ' Semi-Cactus' flower form.

This brilliant bi-color Dahlia is classified as a ' Semi-Cactus' flower form.

Since 1900 flower forms have been classified into groups. Dahlias are now bred for competition which is very popular here, at this time there are test gardens and competitions which are judged. Kids love the flowers which can range in size from the small cm(2in) to 30cm(1ft) or more in diameter. The overall size of the plant also have an extraordinary range from less than 60cm(2ft) to 3.5m(10ft). The range of color and petal forms and heights is due to the fact that they are homologous and have 8 sets of chromosomes compared to the normal 2 which most other plant have.

This Dahlia cultivar exhibits not only very unual petals, but, also streaks of colors in them.

This Dahlia cultivar exhibits not only very unual petals, but, also streaks of colors in them.

The popularity of Dahlias is partly do to the ease of growing them and their availability in such a range of colors and forms. You can buy them anywhere that plants are sold as roots, seeds or in packs of small plants.  Like all good plants they like rich, deep, well-drained soil with plenty of nutrients. They need full sun and plenty of water during their growing and blooming stages, this will help them avoid getting unsightly mildew(greyish powdery fungus on their leaves). The larger flowered types should be in a shelter  from strong winds.

The vivid colors of Dahlia flowers are hard to overlook in the garden at this time of the year.

The vivid colors of Dahlia flowers are hard to overlook in the garden at this time of the year.

Although Dahlias are considered hardy annuals and can take a touch of frost and survive If you want to save the tubers it is best to harvest them before this happens.  Dig them up carefully as the skin is thin and can be damaged easily.Remove the leafy tops and let them dry slightly, After they have dried a bit place them in a layer of dry peat moss. Place them in a cool dark place for over winter storage.  Check them periodically for any signs of rot or decay and cut it off or throw it out. You can have flowers for many years this way. In a few months you will notice small bud which show which to plant them. Plant them when all chances of frost is over or start them in a sunny location in your house a few weeks before you plan to plant them.

There are many classes of Dahlia flower forms, this is a beautiful Semi-Double form.

There are many classes of Dahlia flower forms, this is a beautiful Semi-Double form.

Dahlias are important to Mexico. The Aztecs grew and harvest the plants for food, medicinal and decorative  purposes. The strong woody flower stems were also used for water tubes and pipes. In 1963 the Dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico.

Deconstructing Dahlias:

Classification of Dahlia flower forms: http://www.dahliaworld.co.uk/dahlia.htm

Dahlias according to WIKI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahlia

Storing Dahlia tubers: http://www.dahlias.net/dahwebpg/TuberStor/TuberStor1.htm

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I have been fortunate to have worked at some very good nurseries which have had great plants which they sold. Trees and shrubs and perennials which cover a vast swath of species, varieties and hybrids. Most of them have traveled from other continents to grow here.  One area that has been especially good to us is Asia and these plants usually grow very well. Many Asian plants we know for being splashy and showy, but I am often drawn to the more delicate and intricate in design. One species of plants are Tricyrtis (Toad Lilies)which are a quite most of the year; and then Whizzz-bang…. they go off like fireworks!

The small intricate flower of Tricyrtis formosana hybrids are commonly seen here.

The small intricate flower of Tricyrtis formosana hybrids are commonly seen here.

There are said to be 18 species of Tricyrtis which have crossed to create a group of  hybrid plants which are usually mislabeled in the trade. I know that in Japan these plants have been crossed for centuries  and then were ‘found’ and brought into the garden world in the 19th century by plant explorers who were sending plants back from Asia. Each species has lent something to the mix. Some Toad Lilies species have arching stems and have their blossoms along the axils of its leaves and others are more traditional in that the flowers are on the tops of leafy stems.

An attractive swath of Toad Lilies cutting through a shady boarder.

An attractive swath of Toad Lilies cutting through a shady boarder.

Tricyrtis grow from tropical  Philippine Island through into Nepal and then east across China and Korea into Japan. Here we generally only see the hardier varieties  such as formosana, hirta, affinis and latifolia and their many hybrids.  This means that the Toad Lilies are highly variable in their spotting and where on the plant the flowers are located.

This Trycrytis hybrid has it's flowers on the top of it's stems.

This Trycrytis hybrid has it's flowers on the top of it's stems.

Tricrytis have been so successful at hybridizing because they set  easily handled  fertile seed. Germinating it is relatively easy: sow the seeds warm under a thin coating of  moisture retentive soil and keep it there 5 to 6 weeks. Alternate the seed mixture into cold for up to 8 weeks, and then back to warm conditions until there is germination. This germination cycle is very common and basically follows nature, so it is possible to do the whole process outside as long as it does not freeze which will kill seeds. Once the plants are big enough to handle set them in seperate containers or where you want them to grow.

Toad Lily foliage is noticibly hairy along the margins and sometimes mottled.

Toad Lily foliage is noticibly hairy along the margins and sometimes mottled.

Now we know Toad Lilies are easy to germinate, it is good to know they are extremely easy to grow in the garden. Being woodland plants means Tricyrtis like  a shady position with dappled light. they require leafy nutrient rich soil which is moisture retentive which drains well.  They like their site be be well watered throughout the growing season.  These plants are stoloniferous and can easily be divided and moved around at any time as long as they are well watered after the transplanting is done.

Tricyris produce vigorous clumps which can easily be divided.

Tricyris produce vigorous clumps which can easily be divided.

Tricyris species can be used in several ways, as a specimen, in shady borders, naturalized and mass planted. Be sure to place them somewhere where the flowers are easily observed as they are small and delicately spotted and colored.   In colder areas it is advisable to plant them where they will get more sun and bloom earlier. They take -15c(-0 f) or zone 5 through 9.

It is easy to see why people are facinated by the spotted Toad Lily flowers.

It is easy to see why people are facinated by the spotted Toad Lily flowers.

More about Tricyrtis plants:

Tricyrtis formosana: http://www.mobot.org/gardinghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=A780

National Collection of Tricyrtis: http://www.nccpg.com/gloucestershire/tricyrtis.html

Until we meet again later…..

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When I was small I always looked forward to certain plants blooming in special places that I knew of. One such plant grew along Connaught Hill near where our house was. I spent many hours during the spring all the way into the fall visiting sites looking for those tell-tale plants and being excited to find them still there year after year. On such group of plants were an unusual mauve for native plants there. They of course were what I knew as Asters. In B.C. we have 26 species, some in shades of purple and some are white. All Aster species have undergone a careful scientific evaluation recently and most have been renamed. In B.C. all the 26 Asters have been re-classed as Symphyotrichum, Eurybia, Eucephalus, Ionactis and Canadanthus speices in the Aster(Asteraceae) family. Here on  Vancouver Island  the commonest species is the Common California Aster(Aster chilensis) is now should be known as Symphyotrichum chilense, and no it is not found in Chile.

The common mauve of the California Aster seen along roads here.

The common mauve of the California Aster seen along roads here.

California Aster is primarily a coastal plant which grows from southern Oregon through all of Vancouver Island and southern parts of the mainland of British Columbia. It ranges inland to the Coastal Mountains. The first place I found it was when I was picking Blackberries at a park near where I live. I happened to be along the edge of the park searching for berries and found what looked like a single plant struggling against the grass in the overgrown ditch. This of course alerted me to be on the lookout for more of these plants. I think one reason I might have missed them in the past was that their color is very similar to the wild Chicory which is blooming at the same time.

This wonderful display of California Asters was found along Widgeon Rd. in North Saanich in 2007.

This wonderful display of California Asters was found along Widgeon Rd. in North Saanich in 2007, they are no longer there now.

I soon found the best place to view California Asters was along the side of busy roads here. Roads here have large gravel shoulders which often become overgrown with plant material which is periodically cut down.  This year there  are two or three great patches growing along East Saanich Road  in an very open place and hopefully they will live on there. Another place I see them is along West Saanich Road where they have survived several years and bloom.

The only color of Symphylotrichum chilense(California Aster) I have seen here.

The only color of Symphylotrichum chilense(California Aster) I have seen here.

We naturally are dazzled by the deep and sometimes startling colors of non-native Asters, these are the common ones which we see in nurseries at this time of the year. Many do not thrive here and are susceptible to unsightly disease such as mildew, rusts and black rots.  I think we should look close to home to choose and highlight our natural bounty of plants and California Asters would fit the bill perfectly.  Symphyotrichum chilense a dense plant which grows 50cm(20in) to 100 cm(40in) tall and forms a 30cm(12in) wide clump.  If it is happy it will vigorously spread, therefore care must be taken in placement not to put it near slower and weaker growing plants. Asters are often placed near the back of the border in gardens or in more loosely designed area.

The soft flower color and attractive foliage make California Asters an attractive addition to the garden.

The soft flower color and attractive foliage make California Asters an attractive addition to the garden.

All Asters need full sun and good air circulation to keep them at their best. California Asters like to grow in areas with sufficient water that they can bloom at this late summer season.  They tolerate a wide range of soils as long as it has good drainage during the wet winter months. The can be pruned down in early summer to keep them short if you desire. These plants feed the Bees and Butterflies at this time of the year.

California Asters in amoungst the grass.

California Asters in amoungst the grass.

Look along the roadsides in your area to see the asters which are native to your area. There are many throughout the world, especially across North America and Europe.

Learn more about Symphyotrichum chilense:

a brief description of the California Aster: http://www.pnwflowers.com/flower/aster-chilensis

A list of Aster synonyms from Wiki which is very extensive:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Aster_synonyms

CalPhots page on California Aster with more technical links: http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?query_src=&seq_num=130489&one=T

Until We Meet Again soon….

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