Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Hopeful Gardener

Ornithogalum arabicum buds, star of bethlehem
Anticipation plays an enormous part in gardening.  And now it is springtime: of all times in the gardening calender, the season which brings our anticipatory efforts in autumn and winter to fruition.

I have never been much of a hand at growing plants from seed.  But starting last winter and continuing through recent weeks, I've tried again; and this time I have some promising plants to show for it. If you read this blog regularly, you have seen Helipterum roseum several times so I won't go on about it just now except to say it has been a very successful project.  Annual Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) was started back in December (I think) and grown outdoors through the mild winter.  More was sprouted indoors later.  Some of the young plants are in the garden now and filling in lushly.  The first set to be planted out took a good deal of shading and watering, while the second batch settled in more easily.  I attribute this variously to the weather at the time (we had some fairly warm, sunny days for awhile) or possibly the fact that the second batch were still very small.  Both sets are doing well now.  I am waiting for buds...
matricaria recutita, chamomile
More recently, a couple of seedlings of Mirabilis jalapa, the old classic Four o-Clocks, with their fragrant, sometimes multi-coloured trumpet flowers, found their way from my starter plugs into the garden.  As it was very windy at planting time, I protected them with broken shingles.  I grew these at one time in my Midwest garden where, to my surprise, they survived several winters.  I look forward to having them around again, especially since they are expected to be fairly drought-tolerant.
mirabilis jalapa seedling, four o'clocks, marvel of peru
And I am rather proud of this one...
oenothera pallida "innocence"
Oenothera pallida "Innocence" started life in the front patio over the winter, then was planted out, with several specimens going into the central bed, and two into the south bed.  They have been astonishingly casual about it all, never so much as winking from transplanting stress or 82 degree (27.8 C) heat or wind or... anything.  Unlike the rest of my starts, these are perennials.  My previous experience with Oenothera was limited to O. speciosa, which I removed as it was smothering my lavenders!  I expect milder behavior from this variety.  It looks like the first open blooms may not be too far off.
Oenothera pallida "Innocence"
Other seedlings include some tomatoes (growing well and beginning to bloom in their pots) as well as peppers and bronze fennel, both of which succumbed to two missed waterings and some rowdy sparrows!  I have started a new batch from the seeds I had left but am not sure whether they will grow fast enough to beat the hot weather.

As well as seeds, there are the autumn-planted bulbs.  Results are mixed.  Iris reticulata "Harmony" has been the great disappointment, sending up one perfect flower and refusing to give any more.  One more bud has appeared and withered, though there are a number of leaves above ground now.  I have conflicting information on whether I. reticulata requires a cold period; but undoubtedly it might object to blooming during 80 degree heat, so perhaps I had better look elsewhere for bright blue in the desert garden.  Dutch Iris "Blue Magic" appears to be much more easy-going about the temperatures, with one flower open and others on the way.
Dutch Iris "Blue Magic"
Right in with I. reticulata, I planted Narcissus canaliculatus.  Now this is supposed to be a good choice for a hot, dry summer and, being a species tazetta, should not require a cold period for blooming.  But so far I only have some leaves up; they are taking forever to do more.  I have not given up yet though!
A somewhat similar situation exists with Iris bukharica: one green nose...  This is supposed to be a late-bloomer, however, so we shall see.
Iris bukharica leaves
On the other hand, Ornithogalum arabicum is thriving, almost in bloom, with clusters of buds inside curiously curled sepals.
ornithogalum arabicum buds
My summer bulbs are expected in the mail any day now, so they will help to fill out the bulb presence in the garden.

In the meantime, having managed to grow on some promising young plants from seed, it's tempting to collect what the garden offers, isn't it?  Obviously, I haven't been deadheading the violas too carefully!
viola seedhead


  1. You've done well getting seeds and bulbs going, Amy. I wasn't lucky with my seeds this year - the raccoons and skunks "redistributed" them and, although some of the calendula sprouted, I think I've been too stingy with water as the seedlings are still tiny. My California poppies, dependent on rain, are largely no shows. It's interesting that you got Ornithogalum to grow - I'll have to try that in the future.

    1. I was pleasantly impressed with the results from starting them outdoors in pots in the patio. Once the birds started getting in and pushing things around!! it was a bit harder, but I hope to find a way to protect them better. I intend to focus on fall for seed-starting next time. My poppies (not CA poppies but the regular annual type) didn't do much either... The Ornithogalum has done well enough that I'm thinking about trying O. dubium at some point...

  2. πολυ ομορφη αποδοση!!!!!!!
    καλημερα!!! και παλιγγελικη

    1. Good morning and have a lovely weekend, Angela - thank you so much :)

  3. my 6 Clivia seeds have been victims of moving chaos. Gorn.

    1. Nuts! Better luck in future, Diana!

  4. Great photo of the dehisced viola capsule! btw I responded to your aggregate question by replying to your comment on the unicorn post.

    1. I was fascinated when I saw that first capsule open, Hollis! I've never really grown violas before and hadn't observed their seeds so this discovery was a lot of fun... Thanks so much for the thoughtful answer about the rocks; I'll take another look at the ones in the yard, but none of the chunks I've found are very big. Probably just building debris, but we have such a wide range of surface rock here that I've been left wondering just what I was looking at...

  5. like you, I have never really got into raising plants from seeds, but it is something I am getting quite involved in now. Our tomato seedings are also growing well and we are also trying tomatillo this year too. I am looking forward to seeing which summer bulbs you have chosen ....have a lovely week!

    1. I love fresh tomatoes so am very much looking forward to harvest time... I remember trying tomatillos one year, but they never got to the fruiting stage - I realize now I've not known much about growing young plants on. I'll be interested to know how your tomatillos taste :) I've received my bulbs order - Galtonia (summer hyacinth), Ixia, and Crocosmia "Lucifer" - just need to plant them... Happy Monday :)