Friday, November 28, 2014

Awesome Plants from Northern Vietnam

Two of the tallest mountains in Vietnam - Fansipan and Y Tý - host some of the most amazing plants capable of being grown in temperate zones.  Plant explorers Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones from Crûg Farm Plants in Wales, U.K. regularly visit these two mountains in order to hunt for seed and introduce them into cultivation.  The bad news is they cannot ship to the U.S. so some of these plants are several years away from being even remotely obtainable.

During their visit to Seattle last month, they shared with us some of their seed collections.  Each plant listed below is either linked to a post about it on their website or a Google search if no post exists.  Many of their collections are new to science which means they aren't going to have much of an Internet presence, but that is all the more reason to find them and grow them!

Dendropanax cf. trifidus
Chirita speciosa 'Crûg Cornetto'
Illicium merrillianum
Daphniphyllum longeracemosum
Schizophragma cf. intergrifolia
Magnolia crassifolia
Magnolia sapaensis
Arisaema petelotii
Aesculus wangii
Zanthoxylum planispinum
Clematis fasciculiflora
Hedychium aff. tengchongense
Hedychium urophyllum
Hedychium forrestii
Magnolia insignis
Exbucklandia tonkinensis
Edgeworthia gardneri
Betula insignis subsp. fansipanensis
Lindera angustifolia
Hydrangea davidii (Hydrangea indochinensis)
Holboellia brachyandra
Daphne bholua
Sarcococca bleddynii
Stauntonia aff. libera
Dichroa versicolor
Disporum trabeculatum
Schefflera brevipedicellata
Schefflera macrophylla
Caulokaempferia petelotii
Viburnum fansipanense
Viburnum hoanglienense
Polygonatum mengtzense f. fonkinensis
Ypsilandra yunnanensis var. fansipanensis
Disporopsis fansipanensis
Schefflera aff. pauciflora
Schefflera alpina
Rhodoleia championii

Y Tý
Acer heptaphlebium
Daphniphyllum aff. chartaceum
Shortia sinensis
Oreocharis atrocuneata (not on the Internet)
Magnolia foveolata
Amomum aromaticum
Illicium majus
Rehderodendron indochinensis
Lindera tonkinensis
Rhododendron aff. sinofalconeri
Rhodoleia parcipetala (not on the Internet)
Lilium primulinum
Lilium eupetes
Uocoderodendron whartonii (not on the Internet)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Far Reaches Farm...Finally!

Last week I finally made it to Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, WA for the very first time.  I was completely determined to go this year before they closed for the season.  Their selection of plants is mind-boggling.  Like Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina or Cistus Nursery in Oregon, this is a horticultural hotspot.  And being the horticultural hotspot that it is, I did manage to pick up a few plants:

Top row (from left):
Eucryphia moorei - It's only hardy to Zone 9 but that's why pots exist.  I couldn't resist the pinnate evergreen foliage.
Iris japonica CR038 - This iris gets tall and forms purple "trunks".  Supposedly evergreen.
Sarcococca hookeriana ex G-W&P# - Interested to see how this differs from S. confusa.
Magnolia macrophylla subsp. ashei - A dwarf version of the big leaf magnolia.

Middle row:
Eucomis 'Rhode Island Red' - This gets huge and completely exudes the tropical look.
Woodwardia unigemmata - Giant, evergeen fern with the new growth a brilliant coppery-bronze.
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Edge of Night' - Black mondo grass with a thin white strip along the edges.
Dryopteris championii - It was simply an evergreen fern that I didn't have.
Asarum maximum 'Shell Shocked' - Ridiculously huge leaves for a wild ginger.

Ozothamnus 'Sussex Silver' - Another silver plant to add to the collection.
Eucomis pole-evansii 'Purpurea' - I'm hoping it will be darker than 'Sparkling Burgundy'.

Clematis finetiana CDHM 14683 - Rare, evergreen, hardy clematis.

Clematis finetiana CDHM 14683
Cautleya spicata 'Robusta'

Cautleya spicata 'Robusta'
This post exists solely to label plants that couldn't fit in this post.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Clone Me!

I admit and accept that I am addicted to plants.  No, not smoking them, just buying and growing them.  In order to not go bankrupt, I have resorted to propagation.  It's not a get-rich-quick scheme by any means (it's not even a get-rich-slow scheme) but I did manage to make a nice chunk of change this summer out of just a few plant sales.

There are many ways to propagate plants.  One of the easiest and most rewarding methods is called air-layering.  Air-layering is simply getting a branch to grow roots from some place on the branch.  This is done by scraping off a section of the cambium layer (the green layer under the bark) all the way around the branch, brushing the exposed white sapwood with root tone, surrounding the entire scraped off part with a handful of moist peat moss (or other rooting medium) and then enclosing it in a waterproof barrier such as plastic wrap.  The bad news is it's likely too late in the season to try this outside now.  It will work on just about any woody houseplant any time of the year.

Here is a Lion's Head Maple (Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira') which was successfully rooted using the air-layering method.  I severed it from the mother plant and potted up into a one-gallon pot.  The roots are still young so I'm keeping it in a cool, shady spot until it's more established.

Here is another awesome plant, Crinodendron hookerianum, aka Chilean Lantern Tree, which was more than ready to be potted up.  Now the dilemma is to decide whether to sell it or to keep it and plant it somewhere else!

Finally, here is the first ever Schefflera taiwaniana that I've propagated.

Everything I needed to know about air-layering I learned online.  Here are two videos I'd recommend watching if you're interested in trying this out for yourself:

Dan Hinkley - Air Layering

Mikes Backyard - Air Layering

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flower Power

As I was walking around the garden this week there were a few flowers that just struck me as ridiculously perfect.  Notice the structural similarities of the first three which are all more or less lilies (this family is always changing).

Hymenocallis 'Tropical Giant Sister' aka Spider Lily
Lilium duchartrei
Gloriosa vine is reportedly hard to grow here in Seattle because of its tropical origins, but for me it has been well worth the effort.  The flowers on this climbing lily are green when they open up, then slowly evolve to red and yellow before flattening out and becoming a deeper, richer red as the grand finale.  They are long-lasting and take about two weeks to complete their entire display. 

Gloriosa rothschildiana
I put some bromeliads & orchids from the clearance rack at Lowes in this hanging basket (No names unfortunately - I need to smack their garden supplier in the head and tell them "Assorted tropical foliage" is not good enough for me).  They have literally been blooming all summer and are still going strong.

Bromeliads & orchids in a basket
Abutilon or flowering maple is not completely hardy but here's what I do to keep it alive: I buy one in the spring and plant it in the ground, let it grow and flower like crazy, then in September or October, I take cuttings (5 or 6 inches long from the growing tip) and stick them in a glass of water with a clear plastic bag loosely covering it to help retain moisture.  They will be sprouting roots in no time, and then I can pot those up and place them next to a window for next year.  If we're lucky and get a mild winter, the one in the ground will survive.  'Tiger Eye' is my favorite cultivar.

Abutilon 'Tiger Eye'
Lobelia tupa is right in the middle of its almost endless stretch of flowering.

Lobelia tupa
Another plant that slowly changes the color of its flower is this Opuntia which I'm 99% sure is Opuntia engelmannii.  It starts out bright yellow, is orange by the next day, and then turns red on the third day.  A flower that lasts for three days isn't bad for a cactus!

Opuntia engelmannii
Same Opuntia engelmannii a day later
And finally, here's one of the Plumeria cuttings I "collected" from my trip to Hawaii this past winter.  This is the only one out of the four I brought back that has flowered so far: