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Sunday,September 5, 2010, 12:30 PM EDT - Bits and Pieces

International Rock Gardener

The Scottish Rock Garden Club has a new, free (at least for now), on-line newsletter, the "International Rock Gardener." I recommend it to the attention of all rock garden plant lovers. The place to find out about hardy bulbs is also in the rock garden community. The August issue has a piece on Fritillaria aurea.

Issues from January 2010 through August are available on-line. Enjoy!

Bjørn Lomborg: Climate Skeptic Waffles?

Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg made himself famous, or notorious, by writing a couple books claiming that climate change was an illusion. This has gotten him speaking engagements in front of all sorts of groups of people who don't want to have to deal with the costs of global warming. According to a piece in 80beats for August 31, he may be changing his position a bit. He's written another book, one that seems to be a complete reversal -- or is it?

I haven't read any of Mr. Lomborg's books yet, so I probably won't read the new one, either. I suspect that most scientists see Lomborg as a publicity-hungry scallywag who doesn't much care about the facts in the matter. I think he is probably just another opportunist.

Go to the web site and find out where the name, "80beats," came from.

Scandals with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also may be overblown. On the other hand, I would caution against taking the IPCC simply at face value without knowning how its members were selected. Politics is probably involved there as much as science is.

The world is clearly changing in the direction of warming. The foibles of the humans involved in understanding this phenomenon notwithstanding, it surely is happening.

Growing Nerine

It's time for many Nerine species and hybrids to bloom. Not only the fabulous but hard to grow sarniensis hybrids, but many easier species as well. I have three different ways of handling Nerine, depending on the species.

1. Bowdenii and undulata: Water year-round, but less when the leaves are off. Summer outdoors (lath house/dappled shade); Winter in the greenhouse. Feed (with 0-15-35 or similar zero-nitrogen fertilizer) only when leaves are green.

2. Sarniensis hybrids and humilis: Dry in summer; in winter water and occasionally feed (with 0-15-35). Humilis grows well for me but has never bloomed, so feel free to try other approaches with it.

3. Summer growing species, including angustifolia/angulata/appendiculata, filamentosa, filifolia, frithii, gracilis, hesseoides, krigei, platypetala, rehmannii (not all of which I currently have): Dry in winter; summer outdoors in full sun with plenty of water and occasional fertilizer (20-10-20 or similar balanced fertilizer). For huttoniae and laticoma, I restrict fertilizer to 0-15-35.

Note that krigei need chilling in winter to initiate next year's flowering. I let temperatures get down to 35°F/ ca. 2 or 3 C where krigei pots are stored in winter.

I use my standard gritty mix for growing all my Nerine bulbs. See Archives for February 16, 2007, for details.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

Wednesday,September 8, 2010, 9:30 AM EDT - Naturalizing Bulbs and Finding Plant Names

Naturalized Colchicum

Fine Gardening Magazine online has a nice piece on naturalizing spring bulbs in its web site.

In my perennial beds, the Colchicum cilicicum have all popped up overnight. In the grass, Colchicum byzantinum is up and in bloom. We also have a big patch of C. speciosum naturalized in the lawn, but they always come up a bit later than these two species.

Narcissus in the Lawn

We have two large swaths of Narcissus bulb planted in the grass as well, on either side of the property. We used a mixture of 'Carlton', 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation', and 'Premier' for these plantings. They make quite an impression on the neighbors in the spring when they are in bloom. The swaths are at least 6 feet wide and run 50 to 75 feet long.

By the Colchicum speciosum, I also planted out smaller patches of Narcissus like 'February Gold' and 'Jetfire' as well.

The disadvantage is, of course, that you can't cut the grass where these bulbs grow until their leaves all have yellowed off. Otherwise, you won't have any blooms the following year.

Taxonomic Lists On-line

Looking for places to check the botanical names you encounter? Want to see the genera in a family? There are several places you can try.

IPNI is an on-line index to plant names. It may not tell you which is the currently preferred name, but any botanical name that was ever legitimately published is likely to show up there.

TROPICOS is hosted at Missouri Botanic Garden (MOBOT).

Wikipedia is also a sometimes-authoritative source for almost everything, including plant genera. See its Lists of Plants page.

Kew Gardens has a World Checklist of Selected Plant Families that is likely to give you more information than you can digest, but it will all be there.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

Sunday,September 12, 2010, 5:30 PM EDT - More Haemanthus Blooming

Haemanthus [barkerae x coccineus]

I've mentioned this cross before, but now I have over a dozen bulbs in bloom for the first time.

Haemanthis [barkerae x coccineus] (c) copyright by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Haemanthus [barkerae x coccineus] seedling bulbs blooming the first time.
Some of these are the reverse cross, [coccineus x barkerae].

I do see some variation from one bloom to the next. All are at least a bit bigger than the umbel on a barkerae and at least a bit smaller than the umbel on a coccineus. The colors look very close to coccineus to me, but perhaps with a slighty pink tint in places. In general, the conclusion still is that these primary hybrids are pretty much intermediate between the two parents.

Haemanthus crispus

This is a dwarf species from the Western Cape, where it grows in Namaqualand from the Olifants River in the south to Steinkopf in the north. It's 6-inch long leaves are narrow, canaliculate and markedly undulate. The brilliant scarlet inflorescence is small, sometimes growing only a couple inches high in my greenhouse.

Haemanthus crispus flowers (c) copyright by Shields Gardens Ltd.  All rights reserved.
Haemanthus crispus, a dwarf species
Shown growing in 5½-in. (13 cm) square pots.

I find my plants reluctant to set seed, and I have two unrelated strains to cross-pollinate. They do not seem to offset, either.

Haemanthus lanceifolius

These plants were grown from seed planted in 2004, so they are about 6 years old now. The very first one to try to bloom is showing the tip of an inflorescence in the neck of the bulb. The bud is showing some orange coloration, but the painting in Dee Snijman's book shows flowers that are white or pinkish white. The species is native to South Africa in the Western Cape.

This seems to be an extremely rare species, having been found on only one farm in Namaqualand, not far from Vanrhynsdorp. My purpose in growing it is to produce seeds for distribution.

The specific epithet (That's botanical jargon for "species name") has been variously mis-spelled, according to Dee's book, as "lanceaefolius" and as "lancifolius." This just goes to show that botanists sometimes have trouble with Botanical Latin themselves. You and I now know to spell it "lanceifolius," so we are good with the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

Sunday, September 26, 2010, 7:30 PM EDT - Virus Attack

Computer Virus Attack

About two weeks ago, my computer system, centered on a Windows Small Business Server, was hit by a devastating computer virus. We still do not know the name of this virus, but it was extraordinarily nasty. Some of the things it did:

  • Disabled the Security Center
  • Hacked the Taskmanager program
  • Changed or added lines to the Register
  • Prevented the computer from booting in Protected Mode.
  • Hacked the format program so that it did not format a disk but said it did
This virus allowed infection by several other viruses as well, including Sality.A, Sality.AH, Sality.AU, and related viruses; Exploit.LNK.CVE-2010-2568, a ColLnk type virus; and Tarantos.S. Several antivirus programs failed to completely remove the virus(es) from the infected server, but we think they got it out of the various workstations -- I hope!

My server is still in the shop. To reformat its hard drive, the technician from Alpha Star Computer, Frank Holden, had to move the drive to another computer. I have been using e-mail sparingly, and have not even thought about the blog until the last day or two.

We recommend using a free antivirus program called Malwarebytes' Anti-malware from Malwarebytes Corporation, http://www.malwarebytes.org. Use this in manual scan mode to supplement your regular antivirus program.

Weather, Seasons, and Plants

We continue in a state of drought here in central Indiana. At least the heat has broken in the last couple of days, so we are having comfortably cool autumn-like days just now. We have moved most of the potted plants back into winter quarters -- the crinums into the heated shed and the others into greenhouses. We probably have until the middle of October to get the last pots inside for the winter.

The crinums are forced into a dormant state, or at least into a leafless condition, so they can be stored in the dark in a heated and insulated equipment building. The thermostat in the shed is set at 50°F. Some of the Hymenocallis may be stored there too.

The Zantedeschia, Nerine, Scadoxus,and the rest of the Hymenocallis go into greenhouses. Zantedeschia aethiopica forms will grow through the winter; other species of Zantedeschia will lose their leaves and stay dormant until late spring, but we keep them in the greenhouses, under benches, as well.

All the Nerine species except for bowdenii and sarniensis and their hybrids are stored dry under greenhouse benches until late spring. Even those that might be evergreen in habitat stay leafless and dormant in the greenhouse in winter.

The Nerine sarniensis hybrids are blooming now. Nerine bowdenii will bloom later this autumn, perhaps as late as December. Nerine undulata will probably bloom in January. Nerine humilis has never bloomed for me at all, but it is winter-growing in the greenhouse.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

Monday, September 27, 2010, 9:30 AM EDT - E-mail Address

Address Inactive

One of my a-mail addresses, the one used for responses to this blog, <jim@shieldsgardens.com>, is off-line and has been for over a week, due to the virus infection in that server. Use the Shields Gardens telephone number (1-866-449-3344) if you need to reach me at present.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

Monday, September 27, 2010, 7:30 PM EDT - Virus Stuxnet

The Evil Stuxnet

It looks as if the nasty virus that got me two weeks ago is the notorius Stuxnet. Just Goggle 'stuxnet worm' and you'll get more than you can digest about this virus.

Good gardening, from here in central Indiana


Look up technical terms in the Glossary of Plant Biology

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Last revised on: 27 September 2010
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