Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Crocus from seed.


Crocus from seed is so rewarding, I have found it is better to plant the corms into the garden in their second year from their seed pots, otherwise you can forget to water or water too much and loose the babies. They will probably not flower for another year after that, but the following year they will if they are in the right position. I did not grow this first Crocus from seed above and below but Otto did and he gave me a couple of bulbs 4 years ago. It is a very special Autumn flowering Crocus caspius collected by Paul Furse and his wife collection number 5035 while travelling in 1965 in northern Iran, they wrote in their notes "common, dug by pigs" I was looking at Janis Ruksans book of Crocus of the World and he said he went to the same area and hunted for this Crocus caspius and could not find it. I immediately thought the pigs ate the lot, having come from a farm I can quite believe this, but you think a few would have survived. This Crocus comes from a moist position 1,300m above sea level, mine is shaded during the summer months by a Bletilla striata, it grows easily in a semi shaded position.





Crocus gilanicus from AGS seed above and below only one seed has germinated but hopefully this will multiply not sure if it is correctly named, but I need to wait and get some one to look at it, it should have white filaments and mine are yellow.




Crocus hadriaticus from Marcus Harvey's collected seed on Greece, I have included this Crocus in an earlier blog but there is such variation in seed, the other photo of Crocus hadriaticus had no stripping on the lower part of the flower and this one does. Sunny position Autumn flowering.





Crocus banaticus top photo is AGS seed 2015 a very large, deep dark flower, and below is from SRGC  seed 2015 just the regular C. banaticus flowers, it comes from moist meadows 130-700 m from Romania, SE Slovakia, E Hungary, NE Serbia and NW Ukraine. Autumn Flowering needs semi shade in Australia, dig a little course grit through your soil before you plant it, it will grow better if it is in a loose soil, if your soil is heavy like mine.                                                      


Much excitement when I found Fermi's Narcissus obsoletus below not quite out, the slugs always get the flowers before I ever get to see them. I did dig these up in the summer as they had become congested and needed more sun, there are more flowers to come I may get a better photo in the next lot.












Saturday, April 22, 2017

What a wonderful surprise we all had at our meeting last night with Susan, Marcus Harvey's partner sending seed back with Jacqui from Tasmania. It was so much fun, with seed packets going up and down the table, just like a dog's breakfast, but very polite. Such a lot of Cyclamen seed and plenty of Crocus and Fritillaria seed packets. The Dracunculus seed that Susan and Marcus had gathered in Crete, heading off with Stephens instructions which valleys to go to, to gather some of the seed. Lots of fun was had by all, and still some seed left for people who could not attend last nights meeting.
Thank you Susan.
The Alpine Garden Soc. Victorian Group.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Helen and Fermi will be speaking on Plants of North America, plants that Helen discovered on her recent visit there and Fermi from a trip there a few years ago.
 Saturday night at 8.00pm at the Olinda community Hall in Olinda next to the swimming pool.You are welcome to come and join us for a cup of tea or coffee and join in the fun of actually talking to people about plants and look at the plants we bring to the display tables.
Dicentra. Bleeding Hearts

Dicentras a lot of new names have been given to the Dicentra's and we will include their new names as well as their old names. They are interesting plants with bulbils, rhizome roots and horizontal rhizome root systems. A relatively easy group of plants to grow that you will have to hunt around to find, but they are available.


Dicentra cucullaria common name Dutchman's breeches, it is found in the northeastern and western United States. The rice sized pink bulbils all cluster together making the size of a Au.10cent piece and are easily removed when repotting, coming up in every other plant potted up at the same time. They are fine growing in the rock garden in a semi shaded position, I also grow them in terracotta pots. Finely pinnate grey leaves. My bulbs came from Marcus Harvey.


One of my favourite Dicentra's, Dicentra 'King of Hearts' imported by Devon Tubestock as Tissue culture approx. 12 years ago. My plant has since gone to heaven as it did not like our warm hot weather, but an absolutely beautiful plant, if I could ever get it again I would plant in more peat. Bluish, grey-green leaves with large pink locket flowers, a complex hybrid of Dicentra peregrina x Dicentra formosa subsp. oregana and Dicentra eximia created by Marion Ownbey of Washington State.



Dicentra 'Burning Heart' a new hybrid available oversea's, I don't think this is available in Australia beautiful isn't it. (Picture from the internet)


 Dicentra formosa Alba native to western North America, a very hardy woodland plant, making large clumps by horizontal rhizome growth and green leaves. The D. formosa look fragile but are very drought resistant as long as they have shade and plenty of leaf mulch they will be fine. This plant was bought from the Friends of Tindale Gardens.


Dicentra formosa another easy species from the same area as above, needing exactly the same growing conditions, very hardy as well with green leaves. Denis Norgate's Plant farm via my mother who grew it very well. The Dicentra formosa flower over a very long period of time, almost 8 months of the year, but put on their best display in Spring.


Dicentra formosa subsp. oregana with white flowers with the slightest touch of colour to their lockets and silver foliage. Endemic from a small area southern Oregon and northern California in the Siskiyou Mountains, it grows alongside another endemic plant that we grow in Australia Vancouveria chrysantha.


Dicentra formosa subsp. oregana with pink flowers and silver leaves, it probably has a hybrid name but has been lost over the years. From Grace and Bill Maxwell's garden in Monbulk, Victoria. Dicentra formosa subsp. oregana are long lived plants both the pink and white forms.



Dicentra 'Stuart Boothman' (above) imported by one of our founding members Felice Blake, a hybrid cultivar of Dicentra formosa subsp. oregana and Dicentra eximia. The leaves are grey-green and finely cut with dark pink flowers. Well drained position with a little more sun than most Dicentra's, Craige at  Gentiana Nursery has this one.


Dicentra  formosa 'Bacchanal' another readily available Dicentra with particularly deep red flowers and bluish-green leaves.


Lamprocapnos spectabilis syn. Dicentra spectabilis alba has been grown by the Chinese and Japanese gardeners long before if was grown by Western Gardeners. Our son propagates many of the bleeding hearts from tissue culture as it seems a much easier way than from seed raising. They like to grow in a moist semi shaded position with a feed of fertiliser in the early spring, liquid fertiliser is a good way to go or chicken manure pellets spread sparingly around the plant. they reach approx. a metre when they are happy.



Lamprocapnos specabilis syn. Dicentra spectabilis


Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Valentine' syn Dicentra spectabilis 'Valentine" introduced into Australia by Antique Perennials, dark red and white hearts.



Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Gold Heart' syn. Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart' introduced into Australia by Devon Tubestock Nursery at the same time as Dicentra 'King of Hearts' a beautiful golden foliaged Dicentra that fades a little towards the end of its season, and needs protection from hot afternoon sun.
A cool moist position for all the D. spectabilis.




Ichtyoselmis macrantha syn. Dicentra macrantha native to Burma and western China. I struggle with this Dicentra I do not think I keep it moist enough. A dear friend Phyll used to grow it beautifully in Mt Dandenong along the edge of an old log and I think that protected its roots and kept them cool. You will just have to keep your eyes open for this one as it is rarely available and very different.


Dactylicapnos macrocapnos syn Dicentra macrocapnos climbing Dicentra that I grow on a wire fence, that allows the sun to shine through the flowers in the late afternoon, in my old garden I grew it over my glasshouse and it would come through the windows, a lovely plant with golden lockets. It is often confused with Dactylicapnos scandens,  Dicentra scandens which has purple bullet shaped seed pods.
Dicentra macrocapnos has green seed pods that spring open as soon as you touch them. From Asia northeastern India to Nepal. An easy one for Australian conditions, Marg grows hers in Croydon with out to much trouble in a large terracotta pot. Available from the seed exchanges.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


Crocus Book



All the early birds should be receiving their Crocuses Book by Janis Ruksans by now, the people that prepaid before printing and signed by the author. It certainly is a beautiful book with Maps and localities of the different Crocuses, photos of the the Crocus flowers and corms, with all their layers, fibrous and non fibrous coatings to help to identify our Crocus. It is a very in-depth book and will be a valuable reference to our book shelves.



 One of our members features with the Crocus named after him, Crocus fauseri, these are 3 photo's that Otto sent to me last year to show me what Crocus fauseri looked like, and they are certainly good. I find there is something about Crocus with long black anthers they certainly draw your eyes to the centre of the flower.



Friday, April 7, 2017

Double Colchicum's 




Colchicum Waterlily came from Otto in 1985 one bulb, I was very excited when it came into flower last week as I thought I had left it behind in my last garden, so much joy.
It always make you think as to who was the breeder of such a large flowered Colchicum, was it an accident. So you go through all your books, as I have little information, as I have mentioned before, on Colchicums. E A Bowles to the rescue again. Full of information, Colchicum Waterlily was bred by J.J.Kerbert who was a colleague of Zocher & Co from Haarlem, a Dutch firm. J.J.Kerbert used the pollen of Colchicum autumnale Alboplenum on Colchicum speciosum Album somewhere between 1900 and 1905.
They were very successful in raising a lot of very good Zocher Colchicum seedlings. They were named and distributed by several Dutch firms. Some of the best were and you will recognise some of these names Lilac Wonder, Violet Queen, Conquest, General Grant, The Giant, Danton, Princess Astrid and Waterlily.
The director of Wisley Gardens at the time purchased all of the Zocher released hybrid Colchicums and planted them in the Azalea gardens a mass of various shades of rosy lilac to purple. I don't know if they are still there, because I have not been to Wisley in Autumn, but when you do a search on Colchicums at Wisley Gardens, there are a lot of photos of Colchicums including C. Waterlily.


Colchicum autumnale Alboplenum.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Euphorbia cuttings.


 Now is a good time of the year to take Euphorbia cuttings being Australia's Autumn, and I can hear you say why not in Spring? well you can still take them in Spring, but I like to take my Euphorbia cuttings in Autumn because the Spring cuttings can go straight into flower and then the cutting can die. But if taken now you have quite a good stem and you can nip the tip out before Spring preventing the cuttings from flowering and the plant will branch and you will have some nice new plants to replace old scraggly ones in the garden.
Before you start to do Euphorbia cuttings you need to be aware that if you get the sap in your eyes it will sting for a very long time and you will be in a lot of pain, so wear glasses and rubber gloves because you can be allergic to the sap. The Euphorbia plants have some lovely new growth at the moment, if you look down towards the base of the plant you will see new shoots coming away. Take your tip cuttings from that strong new growth about 8cm in length and into a #3hormone powder and using a dibber make a hole in the perlite and peat. If you just push the cutting into the perlite, it could push the bark of the cutting away from the stem, causing rot.


Water in well and leave for about 2 months and when rooted, pot up and sprinkle with a small amount of granular fertiliser.
The cuttings I have propagated are Euphorbia martinii from Plants Hunters and a Euphorbia characias 'Tasmanian Tiger' that I purchased from Barbara in Tasmania not long after she found the variegated seedling in her garden. Dan Hinkley had seen the plant and thought Barbara & Sally should register the plant with "Plant Breeders Rights" as he thought it was very worthy, I know it can't be sold or given away without paying royalties.
My Euphorbia characias 'Tasmanian Tiger' is getting to the end of it's life so I emailed Sally from Plant Hunters to see if it was ok to do some cuttings for my self and she gave me the go ahead. Even working with plants every day, I do not know how one stands with propagating your own plants for one's own garden, and it does not say on the "Plant Breeders Rights" Web Site either. It does say you can not plead ignorance on the "Plant Breeders Rights", but it does not tell you about doing cuttings for your self either very confusing.


Euphorbia martini get to about 60cm to 80cm by about the same in width and has a soft red edge to the leaf and Euphorbia characias 'Tasmanian Tiger' is very similar in height and width and will light up a dark area with its beautiful silver foliage. The Euphorbia's all need excellent drainage and a sunny position, they will tolerate a little shade, on the whole they are a very hardy plant.