Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Crassula hystrix

Bright orange-red flowers in bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden. I could find little info about his plant; only that it is related to jade plant. Much showier than jade plant. I wonder if it grows easily around here...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Salvia mexicana limelight

I think this is Limelight. I couldn't find the sign, so I am not sure. I love the deep purple and lime green together; very impressive. Blooms August to November and in Bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Asplenium scolopendrium--Hart's Tongue Fern

This fern isn't very fern, but it has its own special beauty. It is evergreen and looks good all year long. The groups of spores, or sori, make herringbone lines on the back of the fronds, which, if you use your imagination, look like centipedes. That is why it is called "scolopendrium," which is Greek for "centipede." The common name also has an interesting derivation. "Hart" is a synonym for deer, and the fronds look like deer tongues to some people. During the Victorian fern-craze, it was a prized collectible. Sporing now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lobivia incaica

Most of the plants in this genus are found in Bolivia, and Lobivia is an anagram of Bolivia. This one, however, is from Peru. It can be difficult to get them to flower, because they need a resting phase. I guess this one has had its beauty sleep, because it is blooming in a serious way now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bouteloua gracillis--Eyebrow Grass--Poaceae

The Eyebrow Grass is blooming in the propagation area. This is one of the few native California grasses that will form anything close to turf or look anything like a lawn. It is thick and bouncey and has those unusual seedheads that look like eyebrows. This would probably be a great larval host plant for caterpillars that eat grass, like ringlets and skippers. For sale now at the UC Botanical Garden. Come to the plant sale tomorrow, Thursday. This will be the last sale before we close up shop to get ready for the big sale at the end of November. This is your chance to buy natives while avoiding the traffic and crowds at the big sale.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Diabrotica undecimpunctata--Spotted Cucumber Beetle

Cucumber beetles can damage cucumbers, melons and other crops, but I have never seen them do much damage in a home garden. I think they are almost as cute as lady bugs, but they are considered a pest.
Dune Tansy. Cute little button flowers and lovely mounds of ferny foliage, this native of coastal sand dunes needs plenty of drainage. Hardy to 15 degrees F. Spreads by rhizomes, and the leaves smell like camphor. Blooming now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eriogonum grande var Rubescens

Not many California natives reward the gardener with so many richly colored flowers. But Red Buckwheat delivers! The caterpillars of Blues feed on this plant. It likes lots of sun and little water. Also, it needs good drainage. Adding pumice to the normal Berkeley clay will help make this plant successful. Blooming now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lonciera subspicata subspicata--Bush Honeysuckle

The pale yellow flower on this California native are pretty, but it is the red berries in fall that are really special. This vining plant likes to grow up through a studier bush like manzanita or ceanothus. Like a lot of vines, it prefers its roots in the shade, and its leaves in the sun. In bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vitis Californica--Roger's Red Grape

The Roger's Red Grapevine is starting to show fall colors. Beautiful, isn't it? It was once thought to be a variety of the native, Vitis Californica, but I remember hearing more recently that it is a hybrid between the native and European grapes. If you want a (sort of) California native with fall color, this is an excellent choice. Poison oak also works well, except for the itch. Another possibility is Rhus trilobata. But Roger's Red is big and beautiful and easy to grow; highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saturday Sale at the UC Botanical Garden

Usually, we only open the propagation area for sales on Thursday, but we did a Saturday Sale last weekend. It went really well and we sold a lot of plants. That means fewer plants to truck across the street when we do the big sale at the end of September. Yay!

Alissa and Sallie washed pots. Isn't that a cute pic of them? The pots had been sitting outside too long, and were really dirty, so they really needed washing. Thank you Alissa and Sallie!

Deepa was the shero of the day. When the shop volunteer called in sick, Deepa took over. How do you have a plant sale without someone accepting money? You don't. Deepa saved the day!

Everyone else worked hard helping customers, moving plants, etc. Very successful.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Texas Butterflies

My brother is building a vacation spot/timeshare in Junction, Texas, and he is building butterfly habitat. He was happy to find chrysalides on the new structure. Anybody know what they are? How about the butterflies nectaring? I suppose I could figure out the adults, but I am feeling lazy. Thanks.

Aster subspicatus

Aster subspicatus is a dependable California native with lavender flowers. In flower now at the UC Botanical Garden. I have been having trouble with the seeds this year, but I hope to have it for sale in the spring.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Epilobium densiflorum--Fireweed

This is fireweed. It looks nothing like Zauschneria, and I think it is awful that taxonomists have put them in the same genus. What are they thinking? This plant is a wimpy annual that colonizes after fires. The other is a graceful perennial. No comparison! In bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden. I caught it early, before it had bloomed, with morning dew. Actually kind of pretty!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yucca filamentosa--Adam's Needle

I posted awhile back about a similar plant that is a native to California: Our Lord's Candle. Apparently have influenced the names of this group. This one is a bit shorter, and needs more water, but looks very similar. Indians used it to stun fish and make baskets. Creamy flowers blooming now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Epilobium canum cv. Solidarity Pink

Epilobium???? NO!!!!!! It will always be Zauschneria to me. Epilobium is fireweed, a wimpy little annual that no one would want to plant in the garden. Zauschneria, on the other hand, is perennial, graceful, and has lovely blooms in the late summer and fall. It is loved by humming birds and humans alike. Although this one, Solidarity Pink, is a little too washed out for me. I like the deeper more orange ones. But all of them are easy to grow and drought tolerant. We are selling several kinds of Epilobium at the UC Botanical Garden Native Plant Sale on Saturday. Many other plants are available, too. Check out the list, here: http://ucbgcn.blogspot.com/

See you there!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Calluna vulgaris--Heather

I had never heard of Calluna before I saw this plant. No wonder! This is the only plant in the genus! When you read about the heath, heather or moorland of Europe, this is the plant that predominates. It almost everywhere in Britain and Ireland. This specimen at the UC Botanical Garden, Mrs Ronad Gray, is very low-growing. Other varieties are taller. Heather was once used for making brooms, but I think it must have been one that grows more than one foot tall. Anybody try Bach Flower Remedies? The Calluna vulgaris tincture is for people who are obsessed with themselves, but don't like to be alone. Interesting...It is also supposed to cure coughs and sleeplessness. Carry this plant with you to avoid violent crime. Burn with fern to start rain. I don't really believe it, but I don't have any data, so I withhold judgment.

More than half of all ornamental plants are on someone's weed list, and this includes Calluna. In Australia, it can threaten biodiversity and cause environmental damage. In fact, in New Zealand, they imported a Calluna eating beetle, Lochmaea suturalis, to use as a biocontrol. Meanwhile, in
the Netherlands, people are concerned that this same beetle will destroy the Calluna. So, this insect can be your friend or your enemy, depending on your location.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lavendula Augustifolia--English Lavender

I knew there were many different kinds of lavender, but I didn't know that there were almost 40 different species; plus hybrids, cultivars, varieties. My, my! The plant has been known and loved since Roman times. Both the word "lavender" and "lavatory" come from the same root, having something to do with washing, so lavender has been perfuming soaps for a very long time. However, as I mentioned in the tea tree post, it can be bad for you. One of the major chemicals found in lavender is linalool, which is toxic and can cause cancer. The plant can be very pretty. But it is best to avoid using fragrances in personal care products, even natural ones.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cynara cardunculus--Cardoon

Such a beautiful flower; seems a shame to cut it down and eat the stems. Closely related to artichokes, and the but can be eaten, but probably not as much flesh on the cardoon. This plant was eaten hundreds of years before Christ in Greece and Rome, but now it is a California favorite. These plants love the cool summers and frost-free winters of the west coast. That is why Castroville is the "Artichoke Capital of the World." If you go through, don't forget to stop and get the artichoke bread: like zucchini bread but different.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Yesterday, Andy and I were at Strybing, teaching people about caterpillars and butterflies. It was very well attended, in spite of the cold wind. The umbrella blew over and broke before the end of the day. Next year I am wearing long underwear and a winter coat!

Today was the butterfly class at the UC Botanical Garden. The kids and their grandmother seemed to really enjoy the class. The grandmother found a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar, and you can see her pointing it out to the kids in the photo. The students got to see lots of beautiful live specimens up close. Then they watched a fabulous video on life cycle. After learning about rearing, they were ready to get out in the Garden and see some insects in their habitat. It was too cold for the butterflies to be flying, but the bees were out, and we found an egg, and of course, the caterpillar.

It was a busy weekend, but we all had a great time.