Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Post? What the Hell?

Yeah, it's been a long time. No need to go into details, but circumstances over the last year or so were not really conducive to gardening, much less blogging about it. I barely kept up with the flower garden, and as I had to be out of the country during prep/planting time last spring, there was very little in the way of vegetable gardening either. Now I've started digging out, and in addition to updates on what was there before, there are also some new developments.

I'm very glad to have chosen lots of very tough plants. Still, desert training perennials doesn't make for a stunning garden, unless they are cactus and succulents. (My cacti and succulents have done famously by the way!) But when the fall rains - skimpy as  they've been - began this year, I was pleased to see that some old friends I thought I'd lost have returned. Top on the list is the Zauschneria californica. Even in the odd mixture that passes for "soil" in the upper garden, it seems to be in for the long haul.

One pleasant surprise this winter was a nice bloom on a Helleborus x orientalis from seed sent by a friend back in Seattle. It's  no surprise that this plant should do well here; the original species is native to the area. However, you won't see any rich pinks or yellows out in the wild; they're a very unassuming shade of green. Interestingly I also got one shoot on the plant that produced pure white flowers. At least I think it's the same plant; I don't think there was a second seed in there!

Most Iris are pretty hard to kill, so not much trouble there. The Pacific Coast Iris are looking great as ever. The Epimediums...well, they've survived, but could have done with some more attention. The Cretan iris (Iris unguicularis) has just exploded, much to the delight of the tiny slugs for whom an almost-opened iris bud is a delicacy. Still, a few blooms do manage to open before they get munched.

One thing I did find time for before taking off to the US last spring was to try my hand at layering Clematis. Clematis are somewhat notorious for being picky rooters from cuttings - you have to get them at just the right time, and if you miss it, it's no dice. Some are harder than others as well. But layering is nice because you put the stem to layer underground and when it's ready to root, it's already in the ideal environment. What I did was to choose two fresh stems coming up from the rootstock last spring, and train them downward so I wouldn't accidentally break them later. Then when they were long enough, I buried a node of each one under an inch or so of soil and placed a brick on top of that. The brick serves a dual purpose: It keeps the stem from coming up (which put an abrupt end to the previous year's attempt) and also shades the stem, maintaining a cool slightly moist environment. The variety in question is "Betty Corning."

And then I forgot about them.

And then as I was cleaning out the garden ("digging out" wouldn't be too inaccurate) I remembered them. In this case, neglect proved to be a good thing. One is definitely rooted, though I'm not sure whether the pale shoot visible near it is from it or if it's a seedling of something else. Better not to disturb it finding out. But the second one is not only rooted but sending up a great, thick shoot! I'll be vigilant about snails and especially cutworms, then see if I can pot them up while they're still actively growing.

Actually, I did have one vegetable success last year as well. While in Virginia, I was at a party and got to taste several interesting kinds of peppers. One that really made an impression was an unusual one called "Lemon Drop." The peppers are  narrow and symmetrical, with a distinctive ridge down the middle, visible in the pepper at the bottom of the photo. The peppers stayed in the starter pots way too long, but when I got back I potted three of them up in a large pot. They took a bit of time to recover but then took off. The flowering came late and though they set a lot of peppers, none were ripe when I had to go back to the U.S. in the autumn. But when I got back there were lots of ripe ones, and the green ones ripened within a couple of days after picking.
The name refers to the pepper's unique citrus-like flavor. They're also very hot but one sliced up into an omelet gives a lot of flavor in proportion to the heat. The extra added bonus is that these are perennials. I brought the pot in and it's been overwintering in the kitchen with no problems except a bout of aphids, so I'm hoping for a bumper crop this summer! In Virgina, the friends had made theirs into pepper jelly, and I had just enough for a good batch, so that's what I did with them. Definitely try this pepper! (In the interest of disclosure, the habaneros are not from my garden; they're from a Safeway in Seattle!)

1 comment:

treesassociates said...

Hi Bahce…please excuse me if I have not spelt your name correctly. I liked your post about rediscovering your garden in Instanbul ! I hope all is going well. Have you visited any of the old Bostan Gardens? Would be interested to here if so.

All best tim rees

i can be contacted directly at info@treesassociates.com