- Author: Melinda Nestlerode
It was not a head-over-heals, love-at-first-sight affair between lantana (Lantana sp.) and I. In fact, I was only vaguely aware of it for years. My interest began to grow several years ago, when I saw lantana growing tenaciously out of the cooled lava rock formed after an eruption of Kilauea Volcano on the big island of Hawaii. I become more intrigued when I saw it growing in both India and South Africa. What a prolific and adaptive plant it was, to be in bloom in tropical Hawaii, yet also during the cold, dry winters of northern India and Johannesburg.
My love for lantana came into full bloom this year, however. As most of my plants began to show the effects of this summer's unending heatwave, the lantana in the area seemed impervious to the heat, and, actually appeared to be thriving. I am particularly taken with ‘Dallas Red', which blooms in a shocking burst of various hues of deep burgundies, oranges and yellows. I've snatched up as many pots of lantana from the big box stores as my yard (and credit card) can absorb while the plants are in flower, and I can verify their color.
My garden is a revolving patchwork of plants, leaning increasingly heavily toward drought tolerance and pollinator attractors. Lantana meets both criteria. The blossoms attract birds and butterflies. The plant requires little to no water, once established, and overwatering will actually decrease the abundance of blooms.
Not everyone is as enamored with lantana as I am. India, Australia, and South Africa have been attempting eradication efforts of this “invasive weed” for the last two hundred years. The countries have used fire, mechanical, chemical, biological and combination methods to control the spread of lantana, to no avail (http://www.conservationindia.org/articles/lantana-in-india-a-losing-battle).
Sunset states that Lantana camera and Lantana montevidensis are the two species used in hybridizing. While all of my plants are identified as Lantana camera, L. camera grows to 6' tall and L. montevidensis grows to 2' tall. The information accompanying my plants describe some of them as growing 3' to 5', and others growing 1 ½' to 2', so I assume my lantanas comprise a cross section of both species.
I'll be pulling out a thirsty, unhappy gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides), an annoyingly prolific jasmine (Jasminium sp.), and some just-try-to get-rid-of-me fortnight lilies (Dietes iridiodes) in order to make room for the lantana. I'm excited to plant them, now that the weather is cooler, and our (fingers crossed) winter rains will help develop their root systems. If all goes well, I'll be whispering sweet nothings over my beautiful lantana plants next summer.
- Author: Jenni Dodini
While helping to set up the entry garden at the fair, I was happy to see several pots of fringe flower shrubs emerge from the van. I have had one in my yard for years and love it when it blooms, especially when the wind blows the flowers around. I first became aware of this plant at work, year ago when I noticed the flowers on a breezy day. The landscaper was nearby so I asked her "What's this plant?" (Over time, I came to find out that the landscaper is also a Master Gardener in Contra Costa County.) Anyway, to shorten the story, I went on a mission and found them, and you know the rest already.
The Chinese Fringe Flower, the Loropetalum chinense, is a member of the witch hazel family and is native to Japan, China, and the Himalayas. It grows well in USDA zones 7 to 10 and is cold tolerant down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also drought tolerant, once established. It can grow up to 5 to 10 feet in height, depending on the variety. There is also a variety that is a dwarf that only grows to about 18 inches tall. There are 2 basic forms, the one with white to pale yellow flowers with green leaves, and the one with pink flowers with leaves that vary in color from bronze red when the leaf is new to olive green as the leaf matures. There are many varieties and cultivars on the pink flowered plant listed, but not as many of the white flowered one. They like slightly acidic, organic rich soil, but can also grow in clay. (This is good news in our area!!) They like full sun to partial shade. Mine is shaded in the afternoon by a big old walnut tree but gets full on morning sun. However, if you look around while out and about, you can see them all over, doing well in the full sun pretty much all day. They liked to be pruned in early spring. And then have a light dose on slow release fertilizer, and you can use the one you use for your azaleas and rhodies. It blooms in March and April and off and into fall. As you can see, mine is blooming right now, and is doing pretty well in a pot, that it may have rooted through the bottom of after all this time!
- Author: Lanie Keystone
There are so many vibrant and inspiring gardening books for children or the child in each of us.
One that captured my imagination is: “The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough”.
“The Good Garden” is written by Katie Smith Milway with illustrations by Sylvie Daugneault. Interestly, Ms. Smith first wrote a biography of Honduran farmer and trainer, Don Elias Sanchez. Then, to hear her describe it, she “transplanted” his story into the wonderful children's book, “The Good Garden”. Based on real-life happenings, Smith's inspiring book tells of a poor Honduran farm family and their young daughter, Maria. The family is barely subsisting until one day a new teacher comes to Maria's school. He shows her class how to develop sustainable farming practices that can give them good crop yields which can change their lives. Maria and her family employ these techniques and Maria even begins growing a cash crop, radishes—bringing in money for the family.
This is a wonderfully written book with sumptuous illustrations. It' s more than a children's book about gardening. It's a book about showing children, (and all of us!), how we can take local action in our own communities to make a positive change while solving a universal problem. It also is a powerful but gentle window on the world of world hunger and food scarcity that presents these realities without preaching to or alarming the elementary aged reader.
Another plus about this terrific volume is that it's published by “Kids Can Press” which is part of the CitizenKid Series. This is an impressive series which simplifies global issues for elementary aged kids--giving concrete ideas for how to help and change big problems into viable, manageable solutions. This is a must read for all of us.
- Author: Erin Mahaney
“If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair”– John Phillips (sung by Scott McKenzie)
“A lovely spring night
suddenly vanished while we
viewed cherry blossoms” - Basho Matsuo
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum is presenting “Flower Power,” an “original exhibition of pan-Asian artworks that reveals the powerful language of flowers across times and cultures.” The exhibition runs through October 1, 2017, so hurry!
The Asian Art Museum describes “Flower Power” as an exhibition that “features historic and contemporary works of art from across Asia that explore the symbolic potency of botanical imagery to express universal human values. From large-scale installations representing climate change concerns to interactive works of art promoting peace to sensory-igniting multimedia, Flower Power offers a sanctuary for contemplation and reflection.”
This all sounds so serious! While the exhibition does indeed provide thought-provoking material and works for contemplation, the description above doesn't capture the whimsy, creativity, and beauty displayed by these works. Creativity abounds in the contemporary installations before one even enters the main portion of the exhibition. A visitor is invited into the museum by stepping along giant 1960's-style, Gerbera daisy-like flowers that trail along the sidewalk and inside the museum to the beginning of the exhibit. An artist inspired by the book, “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde, focused on art as a gift by encouraging visitors to take fresh-cut Gerbera daisies to give to strangers upon departing the museum. A fourth -generation printmaker worked with a team of volunteers to install thousands of woodblock-printed cherry blossoms on two-dimensional images of tree branches that inspires a visitor to contemplate what climate change may mean for these trees. All this can be found in the main common areas of the museum.
Once entering into the exhibition rooms, one finds flowers gloriously depicted in all sorts of forms. The exhibition delves in the symbolism of six significant blooms: the lotus, plum blossom, cherry blossom, chrysanthemum, tulip, and rose. The flowers are depicted through paintings, gilded screens, porcelains, sculptures, film, and cloth, including a fantastically embroidered kimono. My companions and I had great fun trying to identify every type of flower found on rare porcelain bowls. While I confess that I could not remember today which flower symbolizes what, I can remember being astonished by the beauty, variety, and cultural relevance of the flowers depicted.
For information about the Asian Art Museum, please refer to the following website: http://www.asianart.org
- Author: Betty Victor
I was going to blog about some flowers and how they got their names, but turning the book over and looking at the back of the book cover changed my mind. I have had this book for several years and really never looked at the back book cover. Here is some of the information it has on it provided by Diana Wells.
Rose-It was introduced to England by the Normans. The spelling was Roese and Rohese. Fun fact: Napoleon's wife Empress Josephine, carried one to hide her teeth when she laughed. It is said that she had very bad teeth.
Forsythia-Scotsman William Forsyth (for whom it's named) conned the British Navy out of $1500.00 with a mysterious concoction.
Water Lily- No one dared to tell Queen Victoria that the variety named after her was also named after the legendary Amazons.
Datura-Since this plant is poisonous, Thomas Jefferson was afraid to plant it in the garden at Monticello because he had grandchildren.
Nasturtium-Monet's famous garden at Giverny relied on it. http://fondation-monet.com/en/practical-informations/giverny-flowers/nasturtiums/
Chrysanthemum-Introduced to Japan by Zen Buddhist monks. Kiku (Chrysanthemum in Japanese) represents longevity and rejuvenation.
Acanthus-Its leaves inspired ornamentation in Ancient Greek Architecture. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acanthus_(ornament)
Some of you might know this information or can look it up on the Internet for more information. I did know some of it, but other information was new to me. It was interesting and fun to learn some new things about flowers.