Friday, July 28, 2006

'Cecile Brunner ' Climbing Rose for Florida

One of the recommended roses from the Central Florida Rose Society, this 'Cecil Brunner' took a long time to come to bloom, but even in the heat of late July, its blooms are winning. The descriptions of this rose (apparently a climbing sport of a cross between a Tea and a Polyantha) are so varied and contradictory as to make one suspect that there are many different roses sold under the same name.

My bush, in any case, has quickly hit eight feet from a cutting I planted in December from Seminole Springs, and finally put out its first small flush of blooms, each absolutely perfect and double, though not deeply. It starts out a nice blush-pink, more intense in the center. Very quickly it picks up a yellow tint, and by the time its completely blown, is distinctly yellow. No one notes this shift in color, which likely means that its just Florida weather affecting the blooms. Many flowers here react to the intensity of the sun and heat unlike they do elsewhere. The scent is, well, a bit odd -- not at all rosey, more spicey, almost a curry. But not unpleasant.

An update: It happens. Sometimes tags get switched at the nursery. I'm convinced, after a bit of research and reflection, that the rose that I bought labeled 'Cecile Brunner' is, in fact, 'CĂ©line Forestier': The blooms are too large (this time of the year) for Cecile (which are nearly miniature), they're too yellow, and they're clearly quartered and deeply cupped. Plus, there's the spicy tea-rose fragrance.

It simply cannot by Cecile, and looking on Seminole Springs' website, the only rose that fits the profile is Celine. I'm not unhappy with the error, as today, in the doldrums, I have a dozen roses in bud, waving madly in the afternoon breezes.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Thinking about a fruit orchard...

One of the innumerable reasons I complain about living in Central Florida is that I've always wanted a large fruit orchard, and growing fruit trees here in zone 9B is fairly difficult: Most deciduous fruit trees require 800+ chilling hours a year, but here, north of Orlando, we get around 400. And we cannot grow mangos and avocados because of our once or twice yearly frosts. Of course you can grow citrus (my property is at the center of Henry DeLand's original grove from the 1870s); and, if you're lucky, you can eke out a hand of bananas every once an a while. I like an orange now and again, but our one tree usually supplies more oranges than a small family like ours could care to eat.

Coming across the outfit Just Fruits and Exotics has really got me dreaming about what I can do to the rest of the backyard. They appear to specialize in species and cultivars that thrive in our hot, humid growing conditions. I'm already planning a long row of fig trees along the back fence, fronted by several hedgerows of blueberries and pomegranates. Maybe I'll mix a dwarf jujuba and into my large, eclectic bed in the center of the backyard. Perhaps I'll fill in the partly shady side lot (where our old grapefruit grew until some fungus felled it last year) with some persimons, bananas and mayhaws.

I doubt I'll have a hard time convincing the wife and kids to rent a trailer for the MINI Cooper and head out to Just Fruit in Crawfordville, FL at the beginning of November, just in time to enjoy the Florida Seafood Festival in nearby Apalachicola.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Going Bananas!

I'm out of town, away from my garden. In place of visits to my garden, I've been surfing the 'net and finding lots of useful links...

Florida Gardening Forum
Lots of good advice here.

Just Fruits and Exotics
I just discovered this site, which contains an exciting array of Florida-friendly fruits, including olive trees, peaches, figs, pomegranates, quince, etc. I'm already planning a trip there with a borrowed pickup in October!

Going Bananas!
Our 5 acre nursery/grove is exclusively devoted to growing nearly 100 varieties of banana plants and multiple cultivars of lychee and longan trees. Because we specialize in these plants only, we can give you the very best quality of plant material at economical prices. We grow the plants ourselves and oversee every aspect of the growing, plant selection, and shipping. We are certain you will be happy with your plants once you follow the simple growing instructions. Banana plant varieties and lychees & longan trees can be purchased on location, along with banana blend fertilizer. Mail order items are limited to banana plants and corms.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Rosa laevigata

The Cherokee Rose is a particularly thorny rose with a liana (scrambling, upright) growth pattern. Even its heps, which turn russet in the fall, are covered in quite sharp prickles. I started some from cutting a couple of years ago at the base of the gazebo in our back yard (the rose is very easy to start from cuttings), and the canes have proved more vigorous than I necessarily care for. Posted by Picasa

Chickasaw Plum

Below: Plums on a Chickasaw Plum ( Prunus angustifolia)

Central Florida Gardening in July

(Above: Buds on a tuberose)
The rainy season started in earnest while I was away on a research trip from mid-June to the Fourth of July. I came back to an overgrown, weedy garden that needed a few hours of care and a sharp mower blade. Considering they were sprayed very irregularly, my roses have done superbly, particularly the OGRs, which have grown considerably. 'Mr Lincoln', a grandiflora, wins the prize for the most growth: It has four basal breaks and is now almost five feet tall. (I bought it back in November for $1.50 from a local home improvement store. It was stunted and leafless then. Clearly this plant loves growing on 'Fortuniana' and lots of water.)

Zinnias and Cosmos that I started from seed in April are blooming madly, and those I started in May and transplanted mid-June are just now coming into bud. The Crepe Myrtles I planted last spring are in full bloom and have reached about fifteen feet, though they still look a bit gangly. The 'Knock-Out' Roses (not the cherry red ones, but the light pink sports) that I planted this spring are thriving: They've grown from one foot to three feet and doubled their spread since March, when I planted them. They show absolutely no signs of black spot, despite having never been sprayed. I managed to start two cuttings, which are merrily growing in pots in partial shade. I'll plant them out in fall, when things cool down.

Many plants have flourished: Buddleia davidii, Spicy Jatropha (Jatropha integerrima) and Thryallis (Galphimia glauca). Bulbs like Gladiolus callianthus (the Peacock Orchid) are up and ready to bloom. The Dune Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) that I've planted around the property have spread broadly and are in full bloom now. Other plants that seem to thrive in the heat and rain include Alternathera 'Purple Knight', Ruellia elegans, and African Purple Basil.

However, with the hot and very wet weather, many plants are easing into dormancy in the coming weeks, to reawaken when the first cool, dry breezes begin to blow in November. I lost a camellia, a Professor Charles S. Sargent. It was growing with other camellias that I planted at the same time - these other camellias are fine. I don't know what killed this one.

It's a good time to start plants from cuttings, which is what I am heading out to do right now on this hot and sunny Saturday...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Southern Bulb Company Storefront

The Southern Bulb Company Storefront: "...RARE AND HEIRLOOM BULBS...
In many cases, our bulbs have survived naturally (unmaintained) for over 100 years! Many were brought over by the first Southern settlers and have adapted, multiplied and thrived outside the bulb trade for their entire existence. We rescued them from old homesites, construction sites and abandoned lots so the Southern gardener (Zones 6-10) can (finally) enjoy success with flower bulbs."