Friday, January 29, 2010

Plugging Away towards Spring!

It is always a thrill to peek into Powell Gardens' greenhouses at this time of year and see all the new life germinating for the new season. A look at all the seed plug trays, seed flats and pots is like a trip to your local hospital's maternity ward.


Here, baby 'Flying Dragon' Hardy Oranges (Poncirus trifoliata) germinate and already show their 3 (tri) parted foliage (foliata) of their botanical name. This is the hardiest of citrus often used as understock for other varieties and the ONLY citrus hardy here. It has wonderful white, nectar-rich and fragrant flowers in spring followed by little sour oranges in fall that decorate the spiny green twigs that are so ornamental in winter. This variety 'Flying Dragon' will also start to grow in a corkscrew fashion adding to its ornamental appeal. If you are interested in one of these plants grown from our little tree on the south side of the Visitor Center, then visit Powell Gardens during our Earth Day Celebration on April 24 as we are giving them out on a first come, first serve basis while supplies last.


This bold seedling is our first Dove Tree (Davidia involucrata) we've ever been able to germinate. If you've ever seen a Dove Tree in full bloom it is a sight to behold but we reside in a place where they are borderline adaptable. Many thanks to volunteer Mary Biber for bringing back some seeds from New York so we could try again. Our gardener Barbara Fetchenhier has a small tree in her garden that has finally established itself. I have heard it can take 7-8 years for this tree to establish in gardens and that is exactly how old Barbara's little tree (purchased from Fairweather Gardens http://www.fairweathergardens.com/) is. Our only attempt at the tree put it in too hot of place: against a south wall of the Visitor Center where it went dormant in our summer heat then when fall came it leafed out as if it were spring -- a lethal move going into our winters. This seedling will be planted in a sheltered, cooler place.


The greenhouses are also full of plug trays of seedlings that are gradually being transplanted into larger containers to grow on into blooming size. About half of these pansy seedlings in a 288 plug tray (yes there are 288 little squares, each with a plant) have moved on to larger pots.


Since plants can't transplant themselves; volunteer Wilma Fletcher stands back for me to take a photograph while her husband Stan Fletcher uses a dibble to place the tiny plugs into larger flats. Volunteers are highly valued for this labor intensive transplanting.


Here seedling Dianthus are in their new larger flats called 606's (there are 6, 6-packs of plants per flat). They will be grown up into blooming size then transplanted out into the gardens in late March. Dianthus are one of our hardiest annuals, surviving frost and usually doing well in gardens the following season as well.


We do have a few flats of flowers (Viola 'Antique Gem Lavender' shown) in full bloom that would be ready for planting out but these are destined for the Home Show at Bartle Hall February 19-21. We have an activity (for a nominal fee) called Paint-A-Pot where you buy a pot, paint it to your own taste, and pick a viola or pansy to plant in it and take it home with you.


Since we are all "hungry" for flowers right now, I thought I'd share a few others with you. I only wish I could send their sweet fragrance along with the pictures. Pansies are my favorite scent in the greenhouses right now. Sorry I cannot give you the exact variety on the next couple pictures.


This pansy has a more classic "face" and reminds me of the more "old fashioned" varieties. These are some of my mother's favorites and my late grandmother's too.


Whiskers Light Blue Pansy can't help but put a smile on your face!


The cyclamen continue to flower brightly and provide some cheer; all destined for the conservatory display here and at the Kauffman Memorial Garden.


We'll keep plugging away in the greenhouses to provide you with some gorgeous flower displays. Come March, the outside gardens will be planted with these violas, pansies, Dianthus and other hardy flowers. A few flowers were already budded and blooming outdoors in the gardens last weekend and are ready to open as soon as milder weather returns. Look for witchhazels, snowdrops and the earliest daffodil 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' in the Rock and Waterfall Garden.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

This is great, Alan - thanks so much for doing it. I'm sitting in a snowstorm and looking at your photos, particularly the pansies, made me realize spring isn't ALL that far away.
Also, the bird hike sounds terrific - wish I was going to be there and I'd join you.
Wendy