- Author: Susan P Croissant
Native to Italy. A food source for the adult Painted Lady Butterfly and the California Dogface Butterfly. The garden plant grown under this species name is likely a hybrid or polyploid mutation.
"True" C. gymnocarpa is rare, endangered and endemic (indigenous) to the remote island of Capraia (Isola Capraia) in the Tyrrhenian Sea near Naples, close to French Corsica, part of the Tuscan Archipelago. Under Conservation Action law guiding biodiversity conservation in the Tuscan region, it is forbidden to collect any species in this genus. On the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list of endangered species since 2006. Invasive alien plants threatening sub-populations are Carpobrotus acinaciformis (fig-marigold family) and Senecio angulatus (sunflower family), found mostly in Capraia between the cities of Paese and Porto. See photos differentiating garden plant vs. endemic at: http://gimcw.org/plants/Centaurea.gymnocarpa.cfm
For IUCN red list including birds, fish, fungi, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, etc.: http://cms.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/who_we_are/ssc_specialist_groups_and_red_list_authorities_directory/. Info on IUCN at: http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/overview#partnership.
This species belongs to the "cineraria" group. It was probably once a single species when the land masses were united. But as islands were formed, new species evolved on each island. Today, there are a number of closely related species of Centaurea in the Mediterranean growing on rocky seaward cliffs. Herbaceous, it colonizes in cracks and fissures of rock faces, growing on acid rocks. Found in association with Linaria capraia and other endemics Silene badaroi and Galium caprarium.
Of the 500 species, only 12 are cultivated. The garden variety is a perennial growing up to 13-ft high, 1-ft wide. Great for cut flowers and wildlife. White/silver felt-like leaves are more finely divided than C. cineraria. The big, fluffy 2" purple flowers bloom in late Spring or Summer, 2-3 at the ends of leafy branches. Full sun or bright shade, very drought tolerant (but can take regular irrigation/moderate water), deer resistant, hardy to 15-20°F. Fast growing in pots or ground, and flowers from seed within 2 years. For best performance, add lime to acid soils. Clay tolerant.
For garden variety, see: https://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/view/?id=2977
One of the many wonderful species that frequent Gabriel Vaturi's collective Mediterranean/Tropical garden, where I was docent at this year's Vallejo Garden Tour.
- Author: Mike Gunther
Trained, ready to help
31 new Master Gardeners
Pride in new members
- Author: Jenni Dodini
Scaevola - this one is Diamon
This plant is known for its fan shaped flowers. As you can see, the petals are all on the same side. It is named for the Roman hero Mutius Scaevola who burned off one of his hands to show his bravery. Most are native to Australia and are considered an evergreen. In mild winter climates, they will bloom year round. In cold winter climates, they are grown as annuals and bloom from late spring until the frost comes. Mine have come back from the last two winters very nicely. Some are beach plants from Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean.
This plant can be used, beautifully, in hanging baskets, window boxes and container gardens. They also can be grown as a ground cover. Some species are more upright than others and can be 6 inches to as tall as 2 1/2 feet. Each plant can spread as much as 3 to 5 feet in width, depending on the variety. Most have lavender-blue to mauve tinted flowers. I haven't seen one of that color or it surely would have found its way onto my deck! The 'Alba' variety has white flowers. It is quite striking in its simple beauty.
It can take full sun and needs moderate, regular water. Since mine are in pots, I have to be diligent in making sure they are watered routinely as they tend to shrivel up fairly quickly. The other thing that surprised me is that this spring, the white one came back and flowered purple! So you know that the moment that I saw a white one, I just HAD to buy it and bring it home to sit in the middle of the two, now purple, ones.
- Author: Cheryl A Potts
My husband and I have one dog and one thousand worms. The dog lives in the house. The worms live in a plastic bin in the garage. Our dog's name is Cleo. Our worms are yet unnamed (well, most of them).
I have always had a dog. The worms are new.
Cleo's poop is forbidden in the vegetable garden. The worms' poop will be honored in that same place.
I collect bits of vegetable scraps to feel my little darlings. Do they like cucumber skin or do they want lettuce? Would they prefer cantaloupe or a watermelon rind? I do not think garlic would be good for them, but they will love these Italian roast coffee grounds. Citrus peels? Yes, but only a few. That egg shell needs to be crushed just a bit more before added to the bin.
I buy a bag of dry food, on sale, for the dog.
I carefully spray the worm bedding to make sure it is the perfect dampness, as described in the tons of literature I have read, and read, and read.
I give Cleo a quick pat on the head, and say, “good girl, now go lay down.”
Am I some sort of nut? Do I need to be turned into PETA or reported to the SPCA? No! I am now a vermiculturist--raising worms in order to collect castings and brew compost tea. The co-workers in my office think I am a bet daft and are hoping I wash my hands frequently; but my grandchildren think I am beyond cool and can't wait to help.
Cleo is rather bored with the whole thing.
But I am so excited as I am on my way to creating the most lush veggie garden of my life as well as the lives of all my neighbors and fellow gardeners. My homemade compost tea will allow me to finally have garden that looks like the pictures in the catalogs and magazines. My beans are destined to look even better than the ones on the see packages. My tomatoes will draw oooooos and aaaahhhhs by anyone lucky enough to actually see my produce and mmmmms from those extra privileged who actually get to taste. Anyone trying to grow that perfect eggplant will be jealous of my purple jewels. My rows of chard will be the envy of Findhorn. Luther Burbank's ghost will visit my garden in the depths of night just to marvel at its wonder.
Perhaps I am exaggerating a bit. Maybe I have set my goals just a tad too high. Possibly I need to reevaluate my expectations at least a little. I think it is time I take a long, quiet walk with Cleo, leaving the worms to fend for themselves and get my feet back on the ground and head out of the clouds. I just have to make sure I get home in time to finish reading The Carrot Seed to my worms before they go to sleep.
- Author: Betty Victor
For several years my neighbors have had a fruitless plum tree (Prunus blireianae) growing in their yard, that they kept pruned, especially off of their roof.
This tree was planted close to our good neighbor fence and over the years it split in two, so I had a small part growing on my side of the fence. My yard had the benefit of some shade, even with most of the tree in their yard.
Because I had some shade I planted a ‘Red Lady' Hydrangea macpophylla shrub that has red stems with light red blossoms. I also planted a ‘Tom Knudsen' double dark red camellia (japonica x reticilata). A white climbing rose also found a home there (must have been a bird that helped that along) anyway as the rose grew it worked its way up the tree.
Today their gardeners are here starting to removing the tree, but they didn't get it all done, so eventually they will return to finish removing it. Unfortunately now I will have sun where I had planted shade plants. A climbing rose with most of it on the ground that will need a trellis for it to climb on.
Because my hydrangea and camellia are both large, I am not sure about transplanting them but will wait until fall. I will watch them and see how they do during the summer sun they probably will get. If they looked like they are stressing they will find a new home in the garden sometime in the fall when they go dormant. So for now I will try and make some sort of cover out of shade cloth for them.
It was a very pretty tree and I will miss not seeing it bloom next spring, but it was not totally fruitless and it did have a few plums in the summer that drop to the ground. I am sure the birds will miss the tree and the plums as well.