Monday, February 9, 2009

The Season of the Greenhouse

'Tis the season of the greenhouse! More than 1,000 varieties of plants have been ordered and sorted for sowing and growing in the Powell Gardens greenhouses. For the next 3 months the greenhouses will be rockin'! The new Heartland Harvest Garden has added more than 350 seasonal edibles and vegetables to the process.

The greenhouses look empty to begin the season, but as the seedlings get transplanted and spaced they will soon be bursting at the seams. Already trays of seedlings remind me of Midwestern fields.
Flowers produced for color and fragrance in the conservatory display are really starting to sing. This is a true red Ranunculus sometimes called Persian Buttercup. Ranunculus are one of our favorite cool season flowers for use in containers; just 5 short weeks until we begin putting cool season flowers outdoors.
This beautiful and extremely fragrant Primrose (Primula acaulis) is the new cultivar 'Pageant Salmon.'
Osteospermums (African Daisies) are another favorite cool season flower; this is the cultivar 'Lemon Symphony.'
The Primroses actually come in almost all colors from red to yellow and almost blue in this mix. The warmer colored flowers seem to be more fragrant.
Ranunculus also come in a kaleidoscope of colors including this nearly true violet seedling.
This little green "nubbin" in the greenhouse is a new fruit of a MANGO! We are carefully watching how our new dwarf, grafted mangoes fare and whether fruit will be produced and ripen through our hot summers in containers outdoors.
Our coffee plants our doing well, too. We formerly had some large specimens that outgrew our greenhouses. We were successful in flowering and fruiting our old plants. Coffee flowers are white and intensely fragrant, the ripe fruit are red and of course it is the seed "bean" inside the fruit that is dried and ground to make coffee. These plants will go on permanent display in the Heartland Harvest Garden's greenhouse.
The new growth on the purple podded variety of cacao (Theobroma cacao) has beautiful pink new leaves. If you don't know cacao, it is the plant that flowers on its trunk to produce acorn squash-shaped pods that contain the seeds from which CHOCOLATE is made. We have three varieties of cacao and all are doing better than I expected. It is a fussy plant demanding heat and high humidity.
We can't wait to share 2009's crop of plants with Powell Gardens' visitors. As long as Mother Nature cooperates, we'll start planting the outdoor beds at the Visitor Education Center on March 16. Yes, there is a whole host of plants that like it cool and can tolerate frosts. The Heartland Harvest Garden won't open to the public until June 14, when all our interesting tropical food plants will go on public display.

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