Winter getaway – Caryophyllaceae part I

Follow-up to Friday’s seeds – let’s go up the mountains and then travel to the Dobrogea region (close to the Black Sea, Romania) to see a few Caryophyllaceae.

I’ll start with Arenaria; yes, usually not overly ornamental plants but easy to please and cheerful when in flower. Arenaria ciliata shown below; another Arenaria found at high altitude is A. biflora.

Arenaria ciliata at about 1100 m alt.

Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum, the alpine mouse-ear, can be found at alpine level in quite a few mountain ranges, not only in the Carpathians; it grows on rock crevices, nooks formed between boulders, also on stabilized rock screes and alpine meadows. It is quite adaptable and the woolly foliage makes a nice addition to the large, white flowers; something good to try for any ‘not that advanced’ rock gardener (myself included).

Depending on the traveling time, there are always various Dianthus species to admire from the alpine level to the foothills of the mountain, like D. petraeus, D. tenuifolius, D. carthusianorum and D. glacialis, to mention just a few. Over the years I’ve presented and offered seeds of some of them, except D. glacialis.

Dianthus glacialis

Gypsophila petraea, a cushion forming alpine baby-breath, endemic for Carpathian Mts. usually grows on conglomerate boulders and crevices on the rock walls; often in localized areas. Excellent species for rock gardens and not difficult to grow based on from my previous experience; unfortunately, most of the capsules were immature and I found very few seeds.

Gypsophila petraea; in the image below with Asperula

Moehringia is an overlooked genus in my opinion. I like Moehringia muscosa for its fine texture and although I didn’t have a shaded rock crevice to offer, it did quite well this summer in my garden in a less than favourable position (‘protected’ by Primula sieboldii). The picture in the wild was taken in Barsei Massif (also part of Carpathian Mts.).

Quite a few Minuartia species grow at alpine level and lower; among them, Minuartia verna, the spring sandwort is a rewarding, easy to grow species so don’t be shy to give it a try.

Two cushion forming species of Minuartia from the Bucegi Mts. would be worth having in a rockery: Minuartia recurva and Minuartia sedoides. Especially M. sedoides looks similar to Silene acaulis, but of course that the flowers, when present, signal the different genus. Sometimes they grow interlaced with one another and it is even harder to distinguish them.
One year I must make a special effort and collect seeds of these species.

Minuartia sedoides with yellowish flowers, Silene acaulis and rosettes of Primula minima

Minuartia recurva

I previously showed and probably everyone knows Silene acaulis (first image in the gallery). I’ve also shown with other occasion the cute Silene pusilla (now growing in my garden as well :), so please browse through the gallery to get an idea of the habitats these species are growing in (click to open full size images).

Most pictures are from the Bucegi plateau (alpine level). The ‘green’ boulders’ composed of Silene acaulis, Minuartia and other cushion species, which punctuate the barren rocky areas, are in fact small plant communities.  The cushion-type plants are colonizers of these harsh habitats on rapidly draining rocky/sandy soils, and thus very important as pioneers for the installation of other alpine species.

Here’s one more good example with Minuartia sedoides and Primula minima taking good roots in the partly decomposed cushion.

Minuartia sedoides with Primula minima

I didn’t mention Sagina, Scleranthus and probably few others but it’s time to come down the mountain. From the South-Eastern Carpathian Mts. to Dobrogea region there is about a 4 hour drive; it won’t take long to get there – stay tuned…

Friday’s Seeds – more Caryophyllaceae

A few images recently added to the Caryophyllaceae page on the Seeds Library all species collected this summer in the Carpathian Mts. and Dobrogea region, Romania.
In general, species from Caryophyllaceae family are easy to grow from seeds and some (for example,  think Dianthus, Silene) may even flower in the first year.

Pictures with various Caryophyllaceae showing the habitats they grow in, will follow this weekend. Stay tuned, I’ve prepared many pictures – the time for winter getaways has come!

 

Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum- alpine mouse-ear

Gypsophila petraea

 

Silene compacta

 

 

Easy species to grow from seeds – Edraianthus graminifolius

I’ve started to put together a list with species easy to grow from seeds as a way to provide info and encouragement to those who are at the beginning of their seeds adventures. The list will see additions as we go and every update will also include a plant portrait.

Let’s begin with Edraianthus graminifolius; yeah, I am not starting with A, just because I don’t feel like it :)

Edraianthus graminifolius – grassy bells belongs to the Campanula family and like its name suggests, has linear, grassy-looking leaves and large, blue flowers, in terminal clusters in May-June. The foliage remains tight and low at about 15 cm but the flowering stems are spreading/trailing so it needs its space ;)
An absolutely delightful and easy going plant, as long as grown in full sun/well drained locations. You don’t really need a rock garden for it; just keep in mind its growth habit and place it in a suitable spot.

Edraianthus graminifolius in June

Edraianthus graminifolius and another easy going, the silvery/pubescent – Hieracium lanatum

Growing for the first time from seeds, or just want something fast and easy? Try something from the list below. ‘Easy to grow from seeds’ means:
– easy to germinate & in large percentage
– seedlings that aren’t fussy to grow
– also, easy going plants in the garden, as long as provided with the required conditions.

I will avoid the so called two-stage germinators (although all you have to do is wait) or others that I never germinate/grow myself, species with naturally low germination rates, cases where the seedlings need special care or the ones I’m not quite sure about.

Easy species to grow from seeds from BotanyCa 2017 Seed list (list to be updated; other species not available currently  will be included)
Updates highlighted in green

Aquilegia bertolonii, A. canadensis and all others
Anemone multifida var. saxicola
Anthemis carpatica
Arisaema triphyllum
Arisaema flavum
Asarum canadense (sown fresh or moist kept seeds)
Asarum europaeum (sown fresh or moist kept seeds)
Asphodeline lutea
Berkheya purpurea
Calycanthus floridus
Centaurea triumfettii
C. orientalis, and other Centaurea spp.
Cerastium alpinum ssp. lanatum
Cirsium canum

Corydalis lutea (moist kept seeds)
Corydalis solida (when sown right away or moist kept seeds)
Clematis integrifolia

Dianthus nardiformis
Dianthus superbus ssp. sajanensis, other Dianthus spp.
Edraianthus graminifolius
Erinus alpinus

Gentiana cruciata
Gentiana dahurica
G. tibetica, other spp. from Cruciata section
Geum triflorum. other Geum spp.
Gypsophila species

Hieracium lanatum

Iris dichotoma
Jurinea mollis
Lathyrus vernus
Lilium formosanum var.pricei
Linaria
Lychnis ssp.
Lupinus bicolor

Mimulus spp.
Papaver alpinum
Paronychia cephalotes
Phyteuma orbiculare
Phyteuma scheuzeri
Podophyllum peltatum (moist kept)

Primula japonica and other Primula spp. (not all)
Plectritis congesta
Sedum ssp.

Silene ssp.
Scabiosa caucasica, other Scabiosa spp.
Stylophorum diphyllum (moist kept species)
Stylophorum lasiocarpum
Thalictrum cf. foetidum
Viola – most species

Friday’s seed and plant portrait – Hypericum kalmianum

Having too many seeds makes it hard to choose which one to show/write about.
I am going the easy way with the last species uploaded to the shop – the Kalm’s St. John’s wort, a (sub)shrub native of the Great Lakes region in Canada and US.

Hypericum kalmianum seeds – Kalm’s St. John’s wort (Fam. Hypericaceae)

Cultivated to some extent, this Hypericum has narrow bluish-green leaves and cheerful, large golden flowers with extruded stamens in late summer; the capsules mature very late.
It is a showy, adaptable plant; evergreen (or partly) and as one can guess after its wild habitat, with excellent cold hardiness. Another attractive feature is the brown/reddish bark which peels off.

Lots of qualities!

The specific epithet honors Pehr Kalm, one of Linnaeus’ disciples ; an explorer, botanist and naturalist, he traveled to and lived for a while in North America in mid-17th , discovering and writing about plants, animals, insects, Niagara Falls, and in general about the life of American colonies at the time.

Another species that can be found with H. kalmianum, bearing the same name is Lobelia kalmii  shown in the gallery.
Days are short now so you can start to read more about Pehr in the wiki stub and then follow other links: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pehr_Kalm

Friday’s seeds – Echinops crispus

Besides the seeds, a sunny image with Echinops crispus (curly Echinops) on this bitterly cold day; the red flowers of Anthyllis might warm us up.

Echinops crispus and Anthyllis vulneraria var. coccinea in the background, early June 2017

I secretly watched this globe thistle evolve from a small seedling into a beautiful clump this year; too bad I was away just when at its most glorious time. The underside of leaves and the stems are covered with a thick pubescence (shown in the featured image), a perfect adaptation for the drought; grown from seeds collected in the southern Ural Mts. (Chelyabinsk region).

Echinops crispus, July 2017

 Like in many other species from Fam. Asteraceae, some of the fruits (achenes) are empty, thus careful selecting of the seeds is necessary.

Echinops crispus fruits and seeds

Echinops name from the Greek words ‘ekhinos’ = hedgehog, sea urchin and
‘ops’ = face, head (referring to the appearance of the inflorescences)

Friday’s Seeds and plant portrait – Amsonia hubrichtii

Honestly, I had no intention to write another post so soon, but plants need to be shown at their best moments. And, Amsonia hubrichtii, the Arkansas bluestar is absolutely radiant right now.

Amsonia hubrichtii in late fall

Depending how much sun receives it may also take a russet hue (notice the capsules).

I won’t wonder again about why is not cultivated more; the images speak for themselves. It is a foliage plant by definition, the thread- like leaves will combine beautifully with almost anything else; those who want more flowery display should plant other perennials close to it and let them complement/weave through the delicate foliage.

The flowers are pale blue, not very noticeable but a nice addition.

With Delphinium likiangense; probably larkspurs (Consolida regalis) would make for a nice combination as well.

Without thinking much, one year I planted Dahlia coccinea behind it; now it has become the rule.

The seeds are quite particular, like of other Amsonias (Fam. Apocynaceae); the fruits (capsules) can be spotted in one image above.

Amsonia hubrichtii seeds

PS. It is a bit late to emerge in the spring; planting a bunch of small spring bulbs & daffodils close to the clump will do the trick ;)

 

November Newsletter

Well, nothing significantly new happened that hasn’t already been posted in the blog. Besides the seeds, this is a busy time with garden winter preparations and tucking in the young plants for their winter sleep; about this a special post later.

Seeds wise

There are still a few species waiting to be assessed (GA3, embryo cut) and eventually placed in the shop, but otherwise the seed list for this year is pretty much complete. Latest addition to the shop: Paeonia obovata var. alba.

Bad news

To get over the bad news fast, I am sorry to announce that we have decided to discontinue shipping to the USA. Maybe one day the decision will be reversed, but under the present U.S. customs regulations and conditions, the whole process had become too cumbersome to manage.
Many thanks to all past US customers!

Fall is a good time for a note about grasses and sedges.

It is unfortunate that many don’t consider growing more from seeds; they are easier to grow than many other species. Because not in high demand, I haven’t collected anything new this season except Melica transsilvanica, and this only because I want to grow it for myself. Of course there are few extra seeds to share.

Melica transsilvanica, Silky melic together with Veronica orchidea in wild habitat

The assortment available in Canada has never been too broad, leaving aside the countless cultivars of Miscanthus, Pennisetum and Panicum, plus some Carex. Yes, there is also Hahonechloa and few others, but the offering is getting scarcer from one year to another.
Helictotrichon, Deschampsia, Sporobolus have become rare; also it seems Chasmanthium latifolium has fallen into disgrace.

I have all of the above but I particularly like the evergreen (or partly) sedges which provide texture to the winter garden in the snowless periods. Alas, native Carex species have never been much in fashion.

Carex lupulina (native) and Carex oshimensis ‘Everest’ are shown in the featured image, marking the entrance to a path in my garden.

Carex muskingumensis (palm sedge) is another interesting NA sedge which adds a nice texture to any planting.

Other NA native sedges that I would like to add to the garden, pending seeds availability, are Carex plantaginea, Carex eburnea and C. grayi.

In the end, either grown from seeds or ready purchased, I would say we need more grasses; “some may realize it and some may not”… ;)

On the tips of ten thousand grasses each and every dewdrop contains the light of the moon
Since the beginning of time not a single droplet has been forgotten
Although this is so, some may realize it, and some may not.
Dogen


Chasmanthium latifolium, Northern Sea oats