Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter Garden Geek Action!

Welcome back to another episode of Lost In the Farmer’s Market, where we are completely not immune to garden geek mayhem! Today we have a slight diversion from the planning topic to talk about some horticultural delights. Some of the plants covered to day were referenced in prior articles and the first such plant was covered repeatedly as a hard to kill plant for the southern garden.

Just when you thought Rosemary was a one-trick pony, it is actually a winter-bloomer. I admit this isn't a great picture but it does demonstrate the basics.
This rosemary is now 12 years old. It was planted on 2000/2001 in its current spot the last time I lived in Fayetteville. I have no doubt it was probably a Bonnie plant but with virtually no care it has grown into an incredible hedgerow of herbal goodness. Few realize that rosemary is within the mint family Lamiacieae, and thus has square stems. The flowers are typical of the mint family and as seen here are cheery bright blue colors. Rosemary exclusively is a winter bloomer and tends to put out flowers on its oldest stems between January and February in the region. I don’t know how mature rosemary must be to bloom, but I will know eventually as the clone of this specimen is growing on the other side of the cement pad.

My rescued specimen of Mahonia in bloom.
This little guy was rescued from Cape Fear Botanical Garden as it was about to be pulled out of a bed. It was clearly a volunteer, and had picked a bad place to grow. Before it was going to be pulled and tossed out with the weeds I gently dug this one up and kept it in a 1 gallon pot for a few months before planting it in the shady rock garden. It is rare that Mahonia this small bloom, so this was quite a surprise, maybe the plant was showing gratitude for its rescue?

Blushing Philodendrons are not seen often in the trade.

In an earlier article I noted that philodendrons have the unique ability to exude excess water from their foliage. This ability seems to only present itself during periods of high humidity or when the plant is excessively watered. For those of you who missed the house plants post with this particular plant pictured above is a Blushing Philodendron. The blushing philodendron for note is a larger variety of philodendron best known for its red stems and seeming reddish blush to the undersides of its leaves. In comparison to devils Ivy or golden pothos Blushing Philodendrons are slower growing and have very visible aerial roots.  But with the first three plants covered the next plant is the cause of this very plant-geek type distraction.

So someone at bLowes seems to have been paying attention, I was in the Skibo road location lately picking up a doorbell kit as the one at the Clark Ranch is very broken. Inevitably I found myself in the green house area where they keep the house plants and was amazed at something. Lowes was carrying a line of plants, labeled “Plants of Steel” and ironically every plant there was included in last years “black thumb-proof” plants article series. It figures that finally lowes would get the point, amazingly they even had Spear sanseverias in little white ceramic pots. As some of you might remember the spear sanseveria was a featured plant from last year as I saw it in Bizarre Botanicals and spent two years trying to find one.

The waxy leaves resemble some of the tropical ficus, and care should be taken to avoid wetting them so they dont get water stains like you see in this picture.
As some of you might know I habitually cruise the plant racks at the garden centers all the time to see if the stores might be able to sell me on something I’ve not seen before. Well bLowes managed it this time. If you will recall during the holiday house plants series of articles in the article “Seasons Greetings “ posted on 12-02-2012, I covered the Heurnias and gave brief mention to a specific relative, the Adenium or Desert Rose.  The desert rose has been a favorite of mine since I was first introduced to a specimen of one back in 2004. I even had one as a house plant while I lived in New Jersey. My original specimen was about three feet tall and occupied a 3 gallon nursery pot. When I moved to North Carolina I had to give my desert rose specimen to a cactus and succulent enthusiast since it was far too large to transport. Ever since then my eyes have been peeled for a replacement specimen to no avail. That is until just a few days ago when I saw a few of them for sale in bLowes. Much to my surprise some of the succulents were in full bloom.

Not unlike a school kid let loose toy store with several weeks worth of allowance in hand I set about picking a single Desert Rose. This for me was serious business; I looked for any signs of illness, pests or other factors such as overly dry soil. I skipped over the plants in full bloom and finally found one with buds but no evidence of having actually bloomed already. Of course being the utter plant geek I am, inevitably I wound up in a conversation with another shopper who was telling me about her Desert Roses. You see it’s a funny thing, all of us plant people know when others have their vaunted trophy in hand.  Inevitably, during this conversation someone else mistook me for an employee and I wound up diagnosing a plant problem and giving plant advice. It may have to do with the green hooded sweatshirt; another mystery for another day I guess.

Skipping ahead I got this beauty home and it’s now the centerpiece of the living room along side a Swiss cheese plant and a duke of orange philodendron. I hope it will bloom soon and when it does you can expect pictures, but go ahead and google ‘Desert Rose’ if you dare, the blooms are incredible. What makes the Adenium especially appealing is its unique architectural form which resembles a miniature Baobob tree while the root structure looks as if it would be perfectly at home growing over a rock in Bonsai style.

I always liked the desert rose because it reminds me of the Baobab Tree of Africa, minus the being leafless 9 months of the year of course.
As a final note to my complete plant geek side-track here, I might add I think there were five left at the Lowes on Skibo Road the plant cost about 7.00 and came in that nice ornamental terracotta pot. So maybe I should stop calling Lowes by my nickname for the store ‘bLowes’, just on account of their taking a chance and stocking a uncommon and often hard to find succulent that was also actively blooming.

If you think I should stop being so hard on bLowes feel free to contact me or, leave a comment at the Sustainable Neighbors Meetup page in the forums section.

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