Thursday, September 24, 2015

Vivaldi for Gardening

The Red Priest in the Garden.

I have always enjoyed Baroque music and Antonio Vivaldi the "Red Priest" my favorite baroque composer can be frequently heard among the flora.

Here is a list of some works I enjoy in the garden.  I often lay on my back surrounded by the verge, turn vision skyward and open my mind to the music.

Chamber Concerto in G minor, (RV 107)

Concerto for Strings and Basso Continuo in D minor, (RV 128)

Trio for Violin, Lute & Cello in G minor, (RV 85)

Paris Concerto No. 5 Concerto for strings in C major, (RV 114)

Trio Sonata 'La Folia', (RV 63)

Nulla in mundo pax sincera, (RV 630)

Concerto in D major for mandolin, strings and harpsichord, (RV 93)

Concerto for 2 oboes, strings and basso continuo in C major, (RV 534)

Bassoon Concerto in E minor, (RV 484)


Friday, July 24, 2015


Small Gasteria

I have a growing passion for succulent Gasteria. Since I purchased the first in November 2014 I have a collection found in nearly every window of our home.

Gasterias are succulents from South Africa and Namibia. Commonly called Ox or Lawyer Tongue, Gasteria are part of the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, subfamily Asphodeloideae. Closely related to Aloe and Haworthia, they readily cross creating Gasteraloe (Gastrorlea) and Gasterworthia.

The genus Gasteria is comprised of highly variable species. The plant is stemless, leaves are thick, with a waxy surface often banded or dotted with color or warty. The leaves grow from the center in either a linear stack or spiral form.  The raceme of flowers are down-facing, orange and green, shaped like stomachs thus the name Gasteria. The blossoms are edible raw or cooked and a component of stews.In my north country they make excellent houseplants, tolerating indirect sunlight or little shade. Some sunlight ensures compact grow. Too much sun will turn leaves to red and then white or yellow.

Water evenly and generously in the summer, letting the soil dry out between watering. Do not let water collect in between leaves. In the winter, reduce watering to every other month, but do not stop watering. The plant is frost hardy to -1°C.

I found it difficult to properly name all plants, Some I purchased were not named, I have not assumed all named varieties are correctly labeled either.

You can see additional pictures of Gasteria on my Pinterest board.
Gasteria nitida monstrosa

Gasteria glomerata

Hybrid Little Warty

The rest of these I will edit as I identify their names.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pollen Dauber

Pollen dauber, why should the birds and bees have all the fun? This is the ultimate gardening experience, creating something new from the materials of nature.

Hybridizing requires some knowledge, there are many resources, some skill, which can be acquired through experience, patience, time and if you become dedicated some land. 

If I had the land say five to ten acres and a greenhouse I would daub many types of favorite plants: Erythroniums, Cimicifuga, Trollius, various beardless iris particularly Siberians, Laevigatas, Cristatas and then Martagon Lilies.

"Bringing Beauty to Life" is the motto of SummerChase Gardens. I have created new beauty for my own enjoyment and given this beauty for others to enjoy. The process creates living works of art. Hybridizing has refined my understanding of color, form, and texture. I have become in tune to the cycle of nature, insects, plants, soil, weather and climate. These are a few of the lessons to be learned.

Here are pictures of Siberian Iris selections lined out either last year or two years ago. Some are being grown for introduction ( one has been ) or as a further breeding source.  Some of these plants will never be registered or introduced.

    A dwarf Siberian, Summerchase Advent, two year old clump for demonstration and breeding.

Here are some dwarf Siberian Iris for final evaluation and increase prior to registration and introduction.

Flower like faded blue jeans

A nice light blue, one of a couple lined out for increase.

Large flowers on 10" plant.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spring Fling 2015

Transition from winter to spring 2015
My ambition soars ever higher as my health fails but I will not be deterred.
Gasteria obliqua, Curtis
Botanical Magazine
I became fascinated with gasteria in the fall and have two postings yet incomplete on what I have learned and collected. I started a board on Pinterest about lilies and gasteria.
Throughout spring I spoke on various horticultural topics, with my wife Mashell, we sold bulbs, those funds go into gardens.
Now have three geographically separate gardens; our private garden, breeding production garden and a new seed patch of material stratified over the winter.
Our private garden is broken down into various components which incorporate the entire property.  A rock garden which is being expanded.  Butterfly garden where we are adding density to eliminate weeds.  A Siberian Iris planting where we added Little Joes (see posting) and trollius. The shade garden under White Oaks next to a Siberian Iris collection. Finally a border of many lilies planted in blocks of various types.
Iris cristata "Powder Blue Giant"

In the shade garden Iris cristata, Canadian Anemone and  wild ginger, Asarum canadense, are blooming. We are adding density to this garden also.  In late April we added Yellow Ladyslippers, Cypripedium parviflorum. A number of spring ephemerals will be added. Thalictrum ‘Elin’ has been removed, way too tall at 6 feet, four large pots  will be traded for other plants. ‘Elin’ has been replaced with Thalictrum rochebruneanum, dioicum and dasycarpum.  These create a centerline along with martagon lilies creating height and backbone. I will move some hosta, add more, with Woodland Phlox and Geranium maculatum for added color.  
Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense
The back of the house is a lily garden, blocks of many types more blocks have been added there.
When Mashell and I married four years ago I sold my house and moved my gardens to our current location. Some materials were planted haphazardly. My Siberian iris collection was thrown in about the yard, the balance on a sandy western facing slope, not ideal conditions. This collection will be replanted to other spaces. The new garden will be another type of rock garden, Bearberry, blueberries, Vaccinium angustifolium and Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, will be the base of this garden area.
A lot of pleasurable work.

Thalictrum breaks out of the ground

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Norman Borlaug

The Greatest American Hero and his call to mankind.

Dr. Normal Borlaug was a hunger fighter, “The man who saved a billion lives”. After changing the emphasis of his education from forestry to plant pathology and genetics, he tasked himself to the production of new varieties and methods to feed the burgeoning population of the world. Throughout his life he worked to improve wheat and later rice crops, with new high yield, disease resistant varieties. These new varieties paired with intensive farming techniques lead to the “Green Revolution”. Dr. Borlaug sought opportunities to stave off starvation in nations with exponential population growth. He sought after alliances with governments and organizations to directly address and apply solutions to starvation.
In 1970 Dr. Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2014, the one hundred anniversary of his birth a statute was unveiled in the US Capitol. His work has had tremendous impact on mankind. When discussing his achievements many people call him the “Greatest man to have ever lived”.
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, Dr. Borlaug challenged the governments of the world to address the “Population Monster” which could outpace his and successors work.  He stated his work gave mankind a few decades to stave off hunger but it must be paired with population control.
My father was born in 1899 the world population was 1.6 billion humans.  I was born in 1952 the population was approximately 2.6 billion. I graduated from high school the same year Dr. Borlaug received his peace prize, the human population was 3.7 billion individuals. Today we have exponential growth to 7.2 billion persons. There is a finite amount of arable land. Our passions may exceed the science and technology as applied by Norman Borlaug’s peers.
 I was once told a family can receive all the yearly nutrition its needs from the milk of one cow and a couple acres of potatoes, is this my grandchildren’s future?
Responsible population control was discussed openly in the 70’s and I hear little on this “time bomb” topic today, population growth demonstrates the fact.  This issue is surrounded by hot topics: contraception, abstinence, and reduction of infant mortality, abortion, status of women, sterilization, legislation, and family planning. We need to readdress this issue again as individuals, as cultures as societies. We need to learn from what has been practiced currently in some nations and find workable solutions. Dr. Borlaug’s efforts, a hunger fighter’s efforts, should not go in vain.