SALVIA PATENS

Salvia patens



If you are looking around for autumn flowering plants, you will quickly find out that they are in short supply. But that doesn't mean there aren't any! In fact, if you do your research well then there are plenty, but can you get hold of them? Probably not, unless you are tenacious!

Salvia patens illustration
One such plant is the gorgeous Salvia patens, a native to a wide area of central Mexico.

It was introduced into horticulture in 1838 and popularized by William Robinson - an Irish practical gardener and journalist whose ideas about wild gardening spurred the movement that evolved into the English cottage garden

Salvia patens is frequently treated as an annual by gardeners due to its sensitivity to hard frost, and is usually planted out in the spring with bedding plants once the threat of late frosts of over.

Its cultivar 'Cambridge blue' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. William Robinson praised the species in the 1933 edition of The English Flower Garden. The said that:

'...doubtless, the most brilliant in cultivation, being surpassed by and equalled by few other flowers...'

Cultivation

Salvia patens flower
In the colder areas of northern Europe Salvia patens can only be considered as a  half hardy annual, but in the warmer, southern regions it can be grown as a short lived perennial so long as they are planted in sheltered conditions.

It require a warm, sunny position, and to be on the safe side, plant out Salvia patens at the end of May, in ordinary, well-drained garden soil.

Pinch out the growing tips of young plants, once they reach 2-3 inches high, as this will encourage branching.

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AEONIUM ARBOREUM 'Zwartkop'

AEONIUM ARBOREUM 'Zwartkop'





If you are looking for plants with that exotic, tropical look then you could do a lot worse than to choose Aeonium arboreum, and in particular the stunning 'Zwartkop' cultivar. Native to the hillsides of the Canary Islands, it isn't quite hardy enough to overwinter unprotected in your typical northern European garden, but don't let that stop you enjoying it over the warmer months. This means that plenty of straw and fleece will be the order of the day come the first frosts. However, so handsome is its foliage that it will pass for a rather fine houseplant - all you need is a suitably ornamental pot.

AEONIUM ARBOREUM 'Zwartkop'
Aeonium arboreum is an evergreen succulent often of shrubby habit, with polished, fleshy leaves in terminal rosettes on the shoots. It produces panicles of small, star-shaped flowers from early summer onwards.

It has a height and spread of up to 4 feet, and while the new leaves are green in the centre of the rosette, the overall colour will turn darker, almost black, when in full sun.

When grown outside, the Aeonium arboreum will require a moderately fertile soil, but more importantly it will need to be free draining. With that in mind, add plenty of organic matter and horticultural grit to improve drainage. In heavy soils you may need to create a raised bed or mound and plant into that

It does best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. Be aware that lower light levels will reduce the depth of its colour.

Water moderately when in growth, and not at all when dormant. Apply a balanced liquid fertiliser two or three in the growing season but no more.

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Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop'
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The Mr T Cactus
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WHO IS THE WORLD'S TALLEST MAN

World's tallest man - http://en.wikipedia.org/

If you are talking about the world's biggest man then you have two contenders. The first is the world's biggest man alive today and the second is the world's biggest man of all time.

Robert Wadlow

Robert Pershing Wadlow (February 22, 1918 – July 15, 1940) hits the ground running as the tallest person in history, with irrefutable evidence to back up this fact.

Robert Wadlow is sometimes known as the Alton Giant or Giant of Illinois because he was born and grew up in Alton, Illinois.

During the end of his life he reached an incredible 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m) in height, and weighed 439 lb (199 kg) at his death at age 22. His great size and continued growth in adulthood were due to hyperplasia of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone.

On July 4, 1940, during a professional appearance at the Manistee National Forest Festival, a faulty brace irritated his ankle, causing a blister and subsequent infection. Doctors treated him with a blood transfusion and emergency surgery, but his condition worsened, and on July 15, 1940, he died in his sleep at age 22.

He showed no indication of an end to his growth even at the time of his death.

Around 5,000 people attended Wadlow's funeral on July 19. He was buried in a 10-foot-long (3.0 m), half-ton coffin that required twelve pallbearers to carry and was interred in a vault of solid concrete. It was believed that Wadlow's family members were concerned for the sanctity of his body after his death, and wanted to ensure it would not be disturbed or stolen.

He is still affectionately known as the 'Gentle Giant'.

Sultan Kösen

World's tallest man - http://www.tidbitdujour.com/
The tallest man living is Sultan Kösen who measured 251 cm (8 ft 3 in) in Ankara, Turkey, on 08 February 2011.

Born in 1982, the part-time farmer was the first man over 8 ft to be measured by Guinness World Records in over 20 years. He became the world's tallest living man in 2009, when he measured 246.5 cm (8 ft 1 in) in height.

Sultan also holds the record for largest hands of a living person, each one measuring 28.5 cm (11.22 in) from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger.

He previously held the record for largest feet on a living person, with his left foot measuring 36.5 cm (1 ft 2 in) and right foot measuring 35.5 cm (1 ft 1.98 in).

Sultan's growth and massive height caused by a condition known as 'pituitary gigantism', which is the result of an overproduction of growth hormone. Growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland in the brain; if the gland is damaged by, say, a tumour, it can release too much (or too little) hormone. The effects of overproduction includes large hands, a thickening of the bones, and painful joints.

Sultan didn't start his incredible growth spurt until he was 10 years old. But he finally appears to have stopped growing. Revolutionary gamma-knife surgery on the tumour affecting his pituitary gland, provided by the University of Virginia, USA, in August 2010, has finally halted his production of growth hormone.

He took the title from Xi Shun who measured 2.361 m (7 ft 8.95 in) in height when measured in 2005.

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THE WORLD'S TALLEST MAN

THE RED JADE VINE - Mucuna bennettii

THE RED JADE VINE - Mucuna bennettii - http://fineartamerica.com/


If you want tropical climbers in your life then you will be hard pressed to find a specimen more exotic than the outrageous Red jade vine - mucuna bennettii. Native to Papua New Guinea, this species is a relative newcomer to the world of science being formally described by Victorian government botanist Ferdinand von Mueller in 1876.

THE RED JADE VINE - Mucuna bennettii
The amazing, chandelier-like clusters of brilliant red flowers chain together to form a 3' to 4' long raceme. It is a popular choice in gardens that can accommodate it, but it will require certain conditions to thrive.

While it will flourish in tropical regions, it will do well in semi tropical regions too. While it will take as much warmth and light as it can get, its roots must be in shade. You will know if it gets to cold for it as the leaves will start to yellow and drop. This normally occurs if the temperature falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is not a particularly difficult plant to grow and you can start off the Mucuna bennettii in a container, but it will need to be as large as you can cope with. Be aware that it will eventually grow to become a very large, woody climber. It can be used to climb a large tree or a very large pergola, just remember, it does need room to spread.

There are  reports of Mucuna bennettii growing to over 100 feet long, with vines covered in meter-long flower clusters.

Mucuna bennettii will flower in the autumn, which if properly pruned, will commence at or around the two-year mark.

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WHAT IS THE WORLD'S HARDIEST PASSION FLOWER?

Passionflower - http://yhsgarden.wordpress.com/


Contrary to what you may think by walking around your local plant retailer, Passiflora caerulea is not the hardiest passion flower plant that you can purchase. While it is indeed tough as old boots, the hardiest species of all is the gorgeous, but rarely seen Passiflora incarnata.

This of course means that you can impress your friends with a far fancier species of passionflower, but without the need to lift it for overwintering or to take cuttings to ensure viable stock for next year.

Passionflower illustration - http://coclo63.free.fr/
As with most species of passion flower it is a native to southern United States, but more specifically to Florida and Texas where it typically occurs in sandy soils, low moist woods and open areas.

Commonly known as the Maypop, it is a fast growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems. The fragrant flowers bloom from early June onward and are followed by fleshy, egg-shaped, edible fruits in July. These fruits will ripen to a yellowish colour in the autumn when they can either be eaten fresh off the vine or made into jam.

They are best grown in a sheltered site on a south or west facing wall. They are happy in any well drained garden soil, but in colder areas may need to some winter protection for the first year or two while the main stems thicken up.

Trellis or wires make the best support, and while Passiflora incarnata is self-supporting, young growths will appreciate being tied in, or at the very least 'directed'.

The plants were given the name Passion flower or Passion vine because the floral parts were said to represent aspects of the Christian crucifixion story, sometimes referred to as the Passion. The 10 petal-like parts represent Jesus's disciples, excluding Peter and Judas. The 5 stamens represent the wounds Jesus received, the knob-like stigmas the nails, and the fringe the crown of thorns.

The name Maypop comes from the hollow, yellow fruits that pop loudly when crushed.

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THE COCO de MER - Lodoicea maldivica

Coco de Mer - http://www.seychellesbookings.com/



The amazing Coco de Mer, which is French for 'Coconut of the Sea', is truly one of natures great wonders. It is in fact the seed of the rare palm - Lodoicea maldivica, a tree which incredibly holds no less than three botanical records.

Female flower - http://blog.insureandgo.com/
1. The first is for producing the largest fruit so far recorded which weighed in at 42 kg!

2. The second is for having the world's heaviest seed which can weigh up to 17.6 kg.

3.And finally, the female flowers are the largest of any palm.

It is the sole member of the genus Lodoicea, and is native to the islands of Praslin and Curieuse in the Seychelles. At one time it was also found on the small islets of St Pierre, Chauve-Souris and Ile Ronde (Round Island), but now they are extinct.

The name of the genus, Lodoicea, is derived from Lodewicus, the Latinised form of Louis, in honour of King Louis XV of France. It originated before the 18th century when the Seychelles were still uninhabited.

History of the Coco de Mer

Coco de Mer
In centuries past the coconuts that fell from the trees and ended up in the sea would be carried away eastwards by the prevailing sea currents.

The nuts can only float after the germination process when they become hollow. In this way many drifted to the Maldives where they were gathered from the beaches and valued as an important trade and medicinal item.

This association is reflected in one of the plant's older botanical names, Lodoicea callipyge, in which callipyge is from the Greek meaning 'beautiful buttocks'. Other botanical names used in the past include Lodoicea sechellarum and Lodoicea sonneratii Baill.

Until the true source of the nut was discovered in 1768 by Dufresne, it was believed by many to grow on a mythical tree at the bottom of the sea. The seeds of the Coco de Mer have been highly prized over the centuries. So much so that their rarity caused great interest and commanded high prices in royal courts. Once in possession, the tough outer seed coat has been used to make bowls and other instruments.

Conservation

Silouette island - http://natureworkshop.com/
The Seychelles has become a World Heritage Site, around which a third of the area is now protected. The main populations of Coco de Mer palms are found within the Praslin and Curieuse National Parks, and the trade in nuts is controlled by the Coco de Mer Decree of 1995.

Habitat loss is one of the major threats to the survival of remaining populations, and there have been numerous fires on the islands of Praslin and Curieuse. This has resulted in only immature trees remaining over large parts of these islands.

Firebreaks do exist at key sites in an effort to prevent devastating fires from sweeping through the last populations. There are a number of cultivated palms grown on a few of the other islands and are widely present in botanic gardens. However the collection of seeds from the ancient populations in order to promote these new, introduced populations may be a further threat to the remaining natural stands.

Unfortunately the history of exploitation continues today, and the collection of nuts has virtually stopped all natural regeneration of populations with the exception of the introduced population on Silhouette island.

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THE SNOWDROP 'GRUMPY'

Snowdrop 'Grumpy' - http://www.judyssnowdrops.co.uk/

There are 20 species of wild snowdrops in the world, with more than 2,000 cultivated varieties. However there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest, a selected form of Galanthus elwesii known as the 'Grumpy'.

Snowdrop 'Grumpy'- http://inishindiegardenmatters.blogspot.co.uk/
Recently, rare and unusual snowdrops have been experiencing something of a resurgence.

In fact, record prices are being paid for single bulbs and a lucrative industry is developing to satisfy the demand of the growing number of snowdrop fanciers, otherwise known as galanthophiles.

Such high prices are reminiscent of 'tulipmania', a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed.

Most recently, a single Scottish Elizabeth Harrison snowdrop bulb was sold for a record £725.

History of the Grumpy

Jo Sharman - image credit http://www.dissexpress.co.uk/
The Grumpy was discovered by Joe Sharman in the garden of British explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs in Cambridge 20 years ago.

Sir Vivian became a national hero when he made the first surface crossing of the Antarctic in 1957-1958.

The flower shows a face in the form of two green eyes and a mouth turned down at the corners. This naturally appears on one of its petals, making it a very sought after variety in the gardening world.

Mr Sharman grows the flowers in a secret location near the city which he will not reveal for fear of theft of the valuable plants – which can fetch up to £400 for a single bulb.

Galanthus elwesii 'Grumpy' does not multiply as quickly as other snowdrops. This is a major contributing factor as to why the price of this particular specimen has rocketed.

Unfortunately these high prices has brought some unwanted attention as there have been a number of reports of snowdrop thefts. This is taken so seriously that at certain events security guards are hired to protect them!

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VERBENA BONARIENSIS

Verbena bonariensis - http://mistlefield.blogspot.co.uk/





The Verbena bonariensis is an autumnal Godsend, and I mean that for two specific reasons. It comes into full flower when most other plants are busy producing seeds, and it is an excellent source of nectar for those pollinating insects brave enough to venture into the cold and blustery autumn weather.

Verbena bonariensis - http://en.wikipedia.org/
As ideally suitable as it appears to be in our northern European gardens, Verbena bonariensis is a long way from home. This tall and slender-stemmed perennial is in fact a native of tropical South America where it grows throughout most of the warm regions, from Colombia and Brazil to Argentina and Chile.

It can grow to an impressive 6 foot tall, and can spread up to 3 foot wide.

The stem is unusual in shape in so far that it is square with very long internodes, and at maturity, they will develop a surprisingly woody base.

The fragrant lavender to rose-purple flowers are produced in tight clusters located on terminal and axillary stems, and will bloom from midsummer until the first of the autumn frosts.

The flowers are not only attractive to gardeners, they are very attractive to butterflies, and provide nectar for native bees and many beneficial garden insects.

The leaves are ovate to ovate-lanceolate with a toothed margin and grow up to 4 inches long.

How to grow Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis - http://www.summerhillgardencentre.co.uk/
Verbena bonariensis will grows best in a well-drained soil, in fact once it has established it root system it can be considered to be is positively drought tolerant! However newly planted and pot grown specimens have a habit of drying out so generous water will be required in these circumstances.

It can be grown in any fertile soil, adding manure or peat into the soil before planting. Verbena bonariensis prefers full sun to partial shade and an open position. It has a reputation of rarely being attacked by insect pests, but may be susceptible to powdery mildew.

Protect the root system over winter with bracken, ashes or coarse sand. In colder regions the root-ball can be lifted and stored on boxes of soil in a frost-free environment. Just make sure that the roots do not dry out.

It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

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Why has my Lavender turned Woody?

HOW TO GROW CROCUS

Crocus 'Ornange Monarch' - http://highergroundgardens.com/





One of the undeniable jewels of early spring are the plants of the crocus family. And it is a miracle that they do so well in our northern European gardens as they are in fact a native to central and southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. They can also be found on the islands of the Aegean, and across Central Asia to western China.

Crocus illustration
The crocus first made their way to Europe when corms were brought back from Constantinople in the 1560's by the Holy Roman Emperor's ambassador, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq.

By 1620, new garden varieties had been developed, such as the cream-colored crocus feathered with bronze at the base of the petals. Varieties similar to this are still available to buy today!

Crocus are surprisingly tough, and they do so well in our cooler, European climates because they have evolved to survive a range of environments from woodland, scrub, and meadows from sea level to alpine tundra.

After the ever-popular snowdrop, crocuses are one of the first flowers to show their happy little faces in the new year. And after several months of cold, wet, and thoroughly miserable winter weather, their bright and cheerful blooms can't help but bring a smile to your frozen head.

Now, crocuses are grown from corms and not bulbs and as such do not do so well when left in pre-packed bags, exposed to the air. Therefore if you want to get the best out of buying pre-packed crocus you will need to get them in the ground as soon as possible.

Cultivation

Crocus corms -  http://www.srgc.org.uk/
Crocus are usually purchased a corms in the autumn and can be planted in almost any soil, provided that it is well drained. they are best grown in rock gardens, but can be used as edgings to flower or shrub borders.

They are at their best planted in groups beneath deciduous shrubs or trees, or entirely in the open so that they can benefit from any available warmth and protection from the wind. This will help to encourage the flowers to open as soon and as often as possible

Crocuses are best planted as soon as possible approximately 2-3 inches deep. In lighter soils they can be planted deeper to 6 inches where summer cultivation may disturb dormant corms. Space the corms 3-4 inches apart.

Resist removing the flowers as they die back and do not knot the leaves into bunches as some gardeners do for daffodils. Leave the leaves where they are until they turn yellow at which point they should easily pull away from the base.

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CROCUS 'ORANGE MONARCH'

Crocus 'Orange Monarch' - http://highergroundgardens.com/





The Crocus 'Orange Monarch' is lauded as the world's only truly orange crocus. But how orange is it? Well that remains to be seen as there are few images available and I have yet to see them in anyone's garden. This is because it a brand new cultivar which only became available on the market in the autumn of 2012.

Crocus 'Orange Monarch' - http://www.notcutts.co.uk/
Be that as it may, I have put my money where my mouth is, purchased some and planted them in the garden.

Unfortunately, like everyone else I will have to wait until the early spring before I find out for sure.

That aside, the richness of colour shown for crocus 'Orange Monarch' is utterly gorgeous and definitely worth a risk when a packet of ten corms retails at only a few pounds.

But there is a problem. Other than the main photograph shown above, all other images look distinctly yellowish!

This will be due to two things. Either the main photograph has been colour adjusted (the most likely explanation) to make it look more orange than it really is, or the strength of orange pigment is affected by the acidity and/or nutrient mix of the soil.

UPDATE

One year on and my first season of Crocus 'Orange Monarch' were not particularly successful. the colours were correct but there were few flowers and the plants themselves were a little weedy. Be that as it may the foliage grew stronger as the year progressed and so I am hoping for a better display this coming season. We shall see.

Two years on and the foliage has grown back far stronger however the flowers are few and short lived. Still disappointing!

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RAFFLESIA ARNOLDII

Rafflesia arnoldii flower


The Titan Arum is considered by many to be the plant that produces the world's largest flower. Unfortunately looks are deceiving as this particular 'flower' is technically a flowering organ which acts as a sheath. This sheath surrounds a spike which produces clusters of many smaller flowers at its base. So if you want to be pedantic about things, and you should in this case, the largest 'true' flower is not the Titan arum, but is in fact the incredible Rafflesia arnoldii.

Inside the Rafflesia arnoldii flower -  http://bunyipco.blogspot.co.uk/
Like the Titan arum, it is noted for producing the largest individual flower on earth, and for producing a strong odour of decaying flesh, hence its common name of 'corpse flower'.

It only occurs only in the rainforests of Bengkulu, Sumatra Island, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and is already near extinction due to loss of habitat.

The Rafflesia arnoldii plant is rare and difficult to locate. This is compounded because the buds take many months to develop and then flower lasts for just a few days.

The flowers are unisexual and therefore the close proximity of male and female flowers is vital for successful pollination. Combined, these factors make successful pollination a rare event.

When Rafflesia is ready to reproduce, a tiny bud forms on the outside of the root or stem and will develop to maturity over a period of a year. The cabbage like head that develops will eventually opens to reveal the flower. The stigma or stamen are attached to a spiked disk inside the flower.

Rafflesia fruit - Image credit http://bunyipco.blogspot.co.uk/
A foul smell of rotting meat attracts flies and beetles which the Rafflesia needs for pollination. However, to pollinate successfully, the flies and/or beetles must visit both the male and female plants.

The fruit produced are rounded, and filled with smooth flesh including many thousands of hard coated seeds that are eaten and spread by tree shrews.

It lives as a parasite on the Tetrastigma vine, which grows only in undisturbed rainforests. Rafflesia lacks any observable leaves, stems or even roots, yet is still considered a vascular plant.

Similar to fungi, individuals grow as thread-like strands of tissue completely embedded within and in intimate contact with surrounding host cells from which nutrients and water are obtained.

Conservation

Rafflesia arnoldii - http://myjourneytothedragons.blogspot.co.uk/
How many of these plants still survive is unknown, but as the remaining primary forests of Borneo and Sumatra disappear it can be assumed that their numbers are dwindling.

Many individuals are known to be nearing extinction, so environmentalists are attempting to develop ways to recreate the species environment in an effort to stimulate their recovery. This has proved unsuccessful so far.

Steps are also being taken to conserve the forests of Sumatra and Borneo. To help counter the over-collection of this rare plant residents that have Rafflesia on their private property are encouraged to save the flowers and charge a small fee to see them.

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RAFFLESIA ARNOLDII
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HOW TO GROW THE JADE VINE

The Jade vine - http://drawnassociation.net/




The jade vine - Strongylodon macrobotrys originates from the tropical rainforests of the Philippines, a scattered group of 7100 islands in tropical Asia. As such it is not frost-tolerant, and will need a minimum temperature of 15°C (59°F). they do not have a rest period over winter.

Jade vine - http://www.fairchildgarden.org/
Because of its potentially large size it needs to be grown over a substantial support such as a sturdy pergola, this also helps to display the spectacular cascading flower trusses which are produced generously once the vine is mature. This can be 2 years or more, depending on pruning regime.

They prefer to be grown in full sun and and in a slightly acidic soil. A rich, peat-based potting soil with excellent drainage is will give the best results.

The drainage is very important as the jade vine requires copious amounts of water all year round. Lack of water will cause leaf-browning and slow and stunted growth.

The vines quickly mature if you prune them every three months or so. The flowers can be encouraged to form by pruning. Choose a new shoot of purple leaves on a mature vine no less than 1/2 inch thick.

If you are growing you jade vine in a pot, you should ideally grown in the largest container possible, to minimize the need to repot further. Once the vine is established, instead of re-potting, change the surface soil once a year or so by scrapping out old soil and replacing the top few inches of soil. Smaller plants, before they become climbers, can be repotted annually.

Jade vine - http://www.naturepicoftheday.com/
Jade vines are not particularly susceptible to pests, but can be affected by mealybugs, aphids, and mites.

Signs of infestation include tiny webs on plants, clumps of a white, powdery residue, or visible insects on the plant.

Treat infestations as soon as possible to prevent them from spreading to the rest of your collection.

In colder climates the plant must be grown in a large glasshouse or conservatory, and if you want the flowers to fruit they will need to be pollinated by hand.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HELICONIA ROSTRATA - The Lobster Claw Plant
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HOW TO GROW THUNBERGIA MYSORENSIS - The Indian Clock vine
THE JADE VINE
THUNBERGIA MYSORENSIS - The Indian Clock vine

HOW TO GROW PROTEA

Protea flower - michelle-armstrong http://fineartamerica.com/




Proteas are often seen as temperamental and difficult plants to grow, but the truth is that they are relatively easy as long as you follow a few simple rules. Perhaps the biggest mistake made is to plant and forget, because to ensure success you need to adapt your local environment to match its native conditions.

Protea - https://www.theantiquarium.com/
To start with, it is important to ensure your Protea has adequate drainage. They prefer a free-draining sandy loam although some of the hardier specimens are less fussy and will tolerate a heavier soil. Be that as it may, Proteas will not survive in heavy clay soils.

NOTE. Do not plant any proteas deeper than the surface level in the pot.

If you do have a heavy soil they it will need to improved by digging it plenty of organic matter gypsum to break up any residual clay.

In extreme cases you may need to plant your Proteas into a raised bed or at the very least a large, raised mound of soil to ensure a minimum level of drainage.

Most Protea varieties require an acidic soil with a pH below 6, although some will tolerate neutral to alkaline soils with a pH above 7. This can be confusing so research your Protea before planting.

No this part is important, in their native habitat most Proteas grow in soils that are low in nutrients, so they can be harmed by fertilisers which contain normal levels of phosphorus. With this in mind, it is best not to use any fertiliser when planting out Proteas.

To cope in this low nutrient environment they have a specially adapted system of fine roots which will develop naturally to seek out available nutrients in the soil

Protea flower - http://www.asi.at/
They will do best in full sun, and not closed in by other plants. The fact of the matter is that the more sun your Proteas can get the more flowers they will produce.

Of course there are always exceptions as some Proteas are able to tolerate being grown in semi-shaded areas.

Proteas are fairly frost tolerant once established. In winter they can usually handle frosts around minus 2° Celsius, but surprisingly, some of the hardy species can tolerated frosts of minus 6° Celsius - for a short period time!

The roots are susceptible to cold damage so over winter, it is prudent to protect them using a natural mulch such as bark, straw or leaves.

Protea blooms - http://www.netcore.ca/
Do not use mushroom compost as this can contain levels of phosphates high enough to damage the sensitive root system. When applying mulch, leave a gap around the main stem/trunk otherwise fungal rots can set in.

Once established, Proteas are pretty tough, but in the first year they will need watering at least twice a week in the first summer. This may need to be increased to daily if it gets very hot.

After the first year, species considered drought resistant can be left to their own devises while the rest should be watered weekly during dry periods. If you are growing in tubs and containers then they will probably need watering every day during hot weather.

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CARDINAL FLOWER - Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria'
HOW TO GROW NANDINA DOMESTICA - The Sacred Bamboo
HOW TO GROW PROTEA
How to Grow the Sago Palm from Seed

WHEN DO YOU HARVEST BROCCOLI?

When to harvest broccoli?

Broccoli isn't everyone's favourite vegetable but there is no denying that it's packed with health promoting nutrients. And besides, if you are bored eating the standard green varieties consider trying the Purple Sprouting Broccoli or the even more exotic Romanesco natalino.

Harvesting broccoli

Broccoli
Cut when the flower shoots (spears) are well formed but before the individual flowers begin to open. Cut the central spear first. This is followed by a series of side shoots, which can be picked regularly over four to six weeks.

TIP. Avoid growing broccoli on the same piece of ground more often than one year in three, as this will help to avoid the buildup of soil pests and diseases.

TIP. Broccoli are a particular favourite of birds so use an appropriate and safe deterrent to stop them from picking off your seedlings. Broccoli are also susceptible to attack by the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly. Try covering crops with a crop protection mesh. It keeps the butterflies out, so they can't lay their eggs on the plants.

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HOW DO YOU HARVEST SUNFLOWER SEEDS?
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THE BLACK DRAGON ROSE



If you love roses, or if like me you don't particularly like them but have been around them enough to know one end from the other, then you may have come across this absolutely stunning cultivar known as the Black Dragon Rose.

It is undeniably beautiful. In fact, it is in my opinion perhaps the most beautiful flowering rose that I have ever seen! So of course, the garden centers will be selling them by the million which means that everyone will have at least three in their front garden.

Rosa mundi -  http://mimmapallavicini.wordpress.com/
But they don't do they, and if you do your research you will find that only one image exists. That image is the one that you can see above.

Suspicious yet?

Until any arrival of any further evidence the it appears that the Black Dragon Rose is a fake. It doesn't exist. In my opinion it looks like a colour adjusted image of a far more common rose cultivar, either the historic Rosa mundi or Rosa 'Purple Tiger'.

Of course, I am not saying that out there in the world they there are no impressive variegated rose cultivars similar in colouration to the Black Dragon rose. However, my problem is this. Rogue traders are selling Black Dragon Rose seeds, and this should throw up an enormous red flag to anyone in the know.

Rule 1. Only species roses grow true to the parent plant from seed. Rose cultivars are vegetatively propagated only. THEY ARE NEVER GROWN FROM SEED BECAUSE THEY DO NOT GROW TRUE FROM SEED!

So if you ever feel the urge to buy fake Black Dragon Rose seed, or any other seed that seems too good to be true, then stop and do your research first. You can end up saving yourself both money, and heartache. and it will also make you feel slightly more superior.

PS. For those readers who have taken the time to list suppliers that are selling Black Dragon Rose seeds in the comments section as proof that Black Dragon rose seeds exist I have this to say. They may have a black Dragon Rose. They may have collected seed from their Black Dragon rose. They may even be selling the seed collected from their Black Dragon rose. But will the roses grown from the Black Dragon Rose seed look like the Black Dragon rose seen in the picture? 

Answer: No!!!! Go back to rule 1.

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Agave
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Gardenofeaden.com
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ROSE 'PURPLE TIGER'
THE AFRICAN TULIP TREE - Spathodea campanulata
THE BLACK DRAGON ROSE
THE BLACK ROSE
The Monkey Vine - Entada gigas
THE ORCHID PRIMULA - Primula vialii
THE SEA HOLLY - Eryngium × Oliverianum
The Snapdragon - Antirrhinum majus
The Swaddled Babies orchid - Anguloa uniflora 
The Turk's Cap Lily - Lilium martagon
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TURK'S CAP LILY - Lilium martagon
WHAT IS A RAINBOW ROSE?
WHEN DO YOU PRUNE ROSES?

THE PERSIAN LILY - Fritillaria persica

Fritillaria persica - http://www.suttons.co.uk/


The Fritillaria family has some of the world's most gorgeous looking flowering plants and Fritillaria persica is no exception. The trouble is that the bulbs need to be grown to a seriously large size before they are mature enough to flower. This means that if you do want to purchase one, numbers are always limited and that makes them expensive!

Wild Persian Lilies - http://commons.wikimedia.org/
Commonly known as the Persian lily, it a native to the rocky slopes in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Jordan and Israel, west Asia and southern Turkey.

Unfortunately, due to over collection and loss of habitat this stunning plant is under threat in the wild.

If you do get to see the Persian lily for sale, a rarity in itself, then you shouldn't need to worry about damaging wild stocks as the reputable bulb companies shouldn't sell them.

What you are more likely to be purchasing is the cultivar 'Adiyaman', which is taller and more free-flowering than the true species. If you are concerned about the origin of your plant stock then make inquiries at the point of origin, or do not purchase!

It is a robust bulbous perennial growing between 12 and 24 inches tall depending on maturity and environment. Each plant may bear up to 30, conical, narrow, bell-shaped flowers. these can be up to 3/4 inches long, ranging in colour from a luscious deep purple to greenish brown.

How to grow Fritillaria persica

Persian lily bulbs - image credit http://www.srgc.org.uk/
The Fritillaria persica will grow in any fertile, well drained soil in a sunny border or rock garden.

However a note of warning is needed here! Do not plant them in an area where the plant is at risk of becoming waterlogged, because if you keep them to wet and you may lose the bulb to fungal rots!

They like hot, dry sites, and so perform best in full sun in the northern European gardens, however they will also appreciate some light afternoon shade in warmer countries.

Fritillaria persica are usually purchased as bulbs, as as such will need to be handled carefully. They are composed of few fleshy scales and are intolerant to bruising or prolonged periods exposed to the air - a characteristic which I have discovered to my cost.

Image credit - http://www.srgc.org.uk/
Purchase yours as soon as they become available, normally the end of August, early September and get them in the ground at your earliest convenience.

They will need to planted  6” deep and spaced 9-12” apart. Position on their sides so that the hollow crowns do not retain water. Forget, and sit them upright, and once more your bulbs are at risk of rotting off underground. This is an expensive mistake.

Surround them with coarse sand to help drain excess water away. The Persian lily is prone to slug and snail damage on emerging growth and so will benefit from a mulch of sharp grit to deter them.

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PERSICARIA VIRGINIANA
SPIDER LILY - Hymenocallis species and cultivars
The Eyeball Plant
THE GIANT HIMALAYAN LILY - Cardiocrinum giganteum
THE GIANT HIMALAYAN LILY - Cardiocrinum giganteum
THE GLORY LILY - Gloriosa rothschildiana
The Golden Foxtail lily - Eremurus bungei
THE HIMALAYAN FOXTAIL LILY - Eremurus himalaicus
THE PERSIAN LILY - Fritillaria persica
THE SNAKE'S HEAD FRITILLARY

THE JADE VINE - Strongylodon macrobotrys

Jade vine - Strongylodon macrobotrys http://drawnassociation.net/




If you have never before come across the Jade vine - Strongylodon macrobotrys then you are in for a real treat. It is truly one of the world's most bizarrely coloured flowers.

The jade vine is a relative newcomer as it was only discovered in 1854 by botanists in the United States Wilkes Exploring Expedition. They were exploring the dipterocarp forest of Mount Makiling on Luzon, the largest and most northern island in the Philippines, when it was first encountered.

Jade vine - Strongylodon macrobotrys
It is prized in tropical and subtropical gardens for its showy flowers which are a highly unusual colour, unlike that of almost any other plant. These range in colour varying from a luminescent blue-green to mint green. In fact it gets its name from its unusual flower colour as it similar to some forms of the minerals turquoise and jade.

If the flower structure looks familiar, it is because it is from the leguminous family. This makes it a close relative to the humble bean.

In its native Philippines, the Jade Vine reach a height of more than 20 metres, and unlike most other vines that are pollinated by bats! It is thought the bats are attracted by the luminosity of the flowers in the tropical twilight, and they hang upside down on the raceme stalks to gorge themselves on the vast quantities of nectar available.

Curiously, on such a large plant, the pale-coloured blooms can be difficult to see in strong sunlight and could be overlooked if not for the fallen blooms below the vine. Fallen blooms change color as they dry out, from mint green to blue-green to purple.

Sadly, In the wild, the Jade Vine is considered vulnerable to extinction due to extensive deforestation. Originally the islands were almost completely forested, but a survey estimated that only 20 per cent of the forest remained by 1988. The speed at which the rainforest is vanishing adds a sense of urgency to protect the remaining habitat and research into the jade vine’s floral biology.

Why is the jade vine jade?

Now this gets very sciency, complicated, and involves some words that I do not completely understand, but here goes it. The unusual flower colouration displayed by the jade vine has been shown to be an example of co-pigmentation, a result of the presence of malvin (an anthocyanin) and saponarin (a flavone glucoside) at the ratio 1:9.

Under the alkaline conditions (pH 7.9) found in the sap of the epidermal cells, this combination produced a blue-green pigmentation; the pH of the colorless inner floral tissue was found to be lower, at pH 5.6. Experiments showed that saponarin produced a strong yellow colouring in slightly alkaline conditions, resulting in the greenish tone of the flower.

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Trachelospermum jasminoides