13 April 2007


Purple is the only color I really dislike, so it's unfortunate that the previous owners were so PATHOLOGICALLY obsessed with it. This Bougainvillea is so massive and happy that I can't really get rid of it. And now that is trained on the south-facing wall, it flowers constantly and abundantly. God I wish it were red. Still I have to admire its floriferousness. The frost slowed it down for about a week. And the hummingbird will actually visit it periodically.

Speaking of Skippy (as we've named him), I've recently observed him sampling some flowers he'd been ignoring to punish me for destroying his favorite salvia, including Echevaria and "Sacred flower of the Incas," my current favorite common name (= Cantua buxifolia). I'm still on the fence about this plant, but it was quite amusing to watch him trying to figure out the flower. It's definitely designed for hummingbird pollination, but Skippy's southern cousins appear to be... better endowed (cf. Ensifera ensifera and Calypte anna).

It seems odd to see hummingbirds in the nondescript white flowers of the bougainvillea (the hideous purple showy parts are bracts not flowers), but I saw one the other day checking out Pittosporum tobira, which is obviously designed for moths.

I was hanging up some coats in the hallway the other night when I was suddenly surrounded by an almost-too-sweet hyacinthish scent. "But there aren't even any plants in here," I thought before seeing the lowly Sansevieria. Pretty amazing (obvs. moth-pollinated) flowers, which I'd never seen before. Not bad for a houseplant. They only lasted a day or two.

Anyone know what possum shit looks like? Pardon the abrupt transition, but it appears the evidence for my war on cats may not in fact have been a "slam dunk." I was out killing slugs by flashlight a few nights ago when I observed said marsupial rustling around behind the compost. What do possums eat? Worse, said slugs were observed munching some poppies and ratibia (of all things) in a pattern suspiciously similar to what befell the tulip.

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09 April 2007

Gardening and debauchery

Washington Post obit of Lord Lambton (1/2/07):

Lord Lambton, 84, a former British junior defense minister who resigned after he was photographed smoking cannabis in bed with two prostitutes, died Dec. 30 at his Italian home.

His death was announced in a notice placed in the Tuscan regional newspaper La Nazione on Sunday. The cause of his death was not immediately clear.

Anthony Lambton served as undersecretary for defense for the Royal Air Force from 1970 until 1973.

He was one of two ministers who resigned from Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath's government because of scandals involving prostitutes. The other was Lord Jellicoe, leader of the House of Lords.

Lord Lambton's sex-and-drugs scandal in 1973 shocked the government. He was brought down after photos of him in bed with the call girls were passed to the Sunday tabloid newspaper News of the World.

After an investigation, he was denied access to secret material out of fear that he could be blackmailed.

He resigned and moved to Tuscany, where he bought Villa Cetinale, a 400-year-old estate.

After he was exposed, Lambton told an intelligence officer that he had thrown himself into a "frenzied" round of "gardening and debauchery" to get over the fact that he had lost a three-year battle over the use of his father's title.

He inherited the Earldom of Durham after his father died in 1970, but Lord Lambton renounced it so he could continue as a member of Parliament. However, he continued to insist on being addressed as Lord Lambton.

Five years after he left the House of Commons, Lord Lambton published a novel in which various real political figures were recognizable in some of the characters.

He was married to Belinda Blew Jones, who died three years ago, and they had five children.

[Choice bits were quoted in the New Yorker a few weeks ago, but I just got around to tracking the whole thing down.]

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06 April 2007


It was so nice yesterday I decided to walk home from work and see what's flowering now. My tour has less ambiance than Chuck's, but I did get a few interesting plants. When I got home it was still light out, so I repaired to the patio with the new Pacific Horticulture, a cocktail, and the baseball game on the radio. Yay spring! Actually, I just said that to torment everyone who lives in the (re-) frozen wastes of the rest of the country -- by the time the game started it was too chilly to sit outside in shortsleeves.

I'm going to spare you another list until the month of plant sales is over, but I did want to mention my latest folly, allegedly a Furcraea roezlii, although that name is invalid, I'm hoping it will turn out to be this. Of course, I have nowhere to put such a thing...

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03 April 2007

Patience again

So much of learning to garden consists of learning patience. For various reasons, I had a certain level of anxiety about the return of two winter-dormant plants: the "oriental" lilies and the stream orchid, Epipactis gigantea. This weekend the latter finally poked up through the camellia flower carpet-bombing campaign, as seen to the right, and the first lily was spotted as well (not as picturesque as this L. regale).

Just as last year, though, seeds generate the most anxiety. So for (my own, I know you couldn't care less) future reference, the germination update:

(All seeds stratified in ziplocs of moist peat in the vegetable crisper the penultimate weekend of January, except the Alliums, which went in a week later. Bulb seeds in 4" plastic, everything else in flats. Timing info came mostly from Alplains.)

Aquilegia eximiaTwo seedlings in the same cell immediately after germination, 3rd just appeared (in same cell).
Allium amplectensSown after one month, without sign of germination, back into fridge after about a month to try to get something started.
Allium bisceptrum var. bisceptrumSown after c. 2 months, without sign of germination, no action yet.
Calochortus catalinaegerminated quickly and thoroughly, looking good.
Calochortus kennedyi var. kennedyiSame as above, a week or two later.
Erythronium helenaeSame as Allium amplectens.
Erythronium tuolumnenseRecommended stratification not finished.
Fritillaria recurva (4 populations)All germinated, planted out 10 days ago, sending up cotyledons now.
Lilium bolanderiNothing yet.
Lilium pardalinum ssp. pardalinumGerminated after c. two months, planted out, presumably getting hypogeal.
Penstemon eatonii var. eatoniiGerminated, sending up cotyledons now.
Penstemon grahamiiNothing yet.
Silene californica Secondary leaves going up now.
Triteleia hyacinthaA single cotyledon appeared after planting out, up to 5 now (maybe I let it dry out too much?)

Overall, I'm pretty happy about these results, assuming that the Alliums and Erythroniums will work out eventually.

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02 April 2007

Miscellaneous madness

1. I actually managed some restraint at the year's first plant sale, but I could not resist Boophone distichta. It will probably take decades to flower, but the leaves are very cool.

2. The new Fatsia leaves are crazy looking.


3. Eat steel, cat.


Or perhaps you'd like to nibble on the Boophone instead?

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