Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mild Success: Black Cotton

Earlier on in the season my coworker gave me some Gossypium herbaceum 'Nigra' seeds. The seedlings started off well in plugs. I then brought them over to my fathers where one of three were crushed. They recovered fairly well... and something gnawed the tips off a few days later. 

They never made it much taller than six inches. Two survived and to my knowledge neither of them flowered. I'm pretty disappointed about it either way. I planted them behind some golden Spireas so I was looking forward to the contrast. The flowers are supposed to be pretty nice and I certainly wouldn't mind having some cotton.

(I have no idea if this is a bud or seed..or hat...or..)

Honestly, I have no idea how cold hardy these are supposed to be. No one has really posted too much information on them. I would love it if they happened to be perennial, but based on standard cotton varieties, I'm not going to hold my breath. I mulched the hell out of them just in case. Who knows, with all the green trees here in New York, I don't even know if we're really having winter anymore.

I think I'll try them again next year if I have somewhere to keep it in a pot. I imagine the differences in soil and just the general neglect of things at my fathers house might have been difficult for it. Maybe it will do better if someone paid more attention to it. It does seem to be an attractive plant once it gets going.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lecture Time: Fundamentals of tissue culture

Check out this weeks New York Cactus and Succulent Society meeting for my lecture on  the fundamentals of tissue culture.

6pm Thursday 11/17/11 
331 Madison Avenue (near 43rd St), 7th Floor

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Longwood Gardens Mum Show

Longwood gardens was spectacular as always. Having been a gardener for this long, parts of their operation has sort of lost their charms. I've done enough plant forcing, design work and public displays to be familiar enough with how everything works behind the scenes. Still, I'm always impressed with the amount of planning and attention to detail that they are able to give their displays. I guess having 90 gardeners on staff doesn't hurt any either.

Longwood still remains as my favorite so far. The place is so elegant and classic in its design. I love how they incorporate research into formal designs and still have rooms filled with vegetables. They blend their seasonal material seamlessly with their standards. There is such attention to detail that I even find myself loving rooms that are filled with plants that I don't particularly like.

Still, many of their displays can be rather educational, even parts of their seasonal show.

Dozens of varieties of mum were grafted onto this single plant.

Good thing the varieties are well labeled.

 In general I'm fairly indifferent to mums. They put on a good fall display. I like the way they smell. I don't like how fragile they are. Mums will flower reliably in the park and they're easy enough to source but its also fairly reliable that some idiot will come through the park and use one as as an armrest.

Though, I imagine if I had a mum like this, I'd be more concerned about someone using it as a bed.

I've touched on Ozukuri before so I'm not going to bore you again. Everything looks amazing, just as expected. I honestly don't think the mums were my favorite part. Most of their supporting plants held more of my attention. The Hamelia, Solenostemon, and Codiaeum were probably my favorite display elements.

I think I'll also award Longwood for best use of Cycads.

 Hamelia as a standard. 

Look at that Coleus!

 I'm still not too sure on the golden winterberry...

 Even the bonsai were in on it.
 I think that's enough eye candy for now. Expect a part 2.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Science of Autumn

So the following article was written to help new yorkers understand the process by which fall color works. Unfortunately I didn't save the original and its been edited significantly. I will take this time to apologize for the lack of posts. Between bulb plantings, volunteer outings, and preparing for my first burn at my poi class, I've been running around like a crazy person and falling asleep as soon as I sit down. I guess things will be winding down for the season soon anyway.

As the days get shorter and the nights grow longer, people start dreading the coming of winter and the possibility of not experiencing much daylight during the work week.  Deciduous plants are also affected by the length of darkness each day. When nights are long enough, an added layer of cells form between the leaves and branches of a plant. This layer begins to block the transport of carbohydrates from the leaf and essentially starts the color change process. Since this process is initiated by day length, the window for fall color roughly starts at the same time every year. How bright and showy the change is determined by a variety of other environmental factors.
Chlorophyll is a green pigment that synthesizes carbohydrates in leaves, but also breaks down in sunlight. It is replaced constantly throughout the growing season in order to keep photosynthesis active. Once the extra cell layer between the branches and leaves is formed, chlorophyll can no longer be replaced within the leaves. Once Chlorophyll is no longer produced, the yellow pigments and orange pigments that are hidden by chlorophyll become visible.
While yellow and orange pigments are present because they are important in capturing light energy, scientists have yet to determine the reason behind why red and purple pigments are found in autumn leaves. These pigments aren’t usually found in leaves during the growing season and they require a lot of energy to produce. There are currently two popular theories behind why the energy draining red and purple pigments are present; one theory states that the pigments act to protect leaves against water loss and frost injury, while another theory believes that the red color warns off pests.
As time goes on, the cell layer between the leaves and the branches become dry and the connections weaken causing the leaves to break off. Since secondary pigments such as yellow, orange and red pigments are also sensitive to light, they too eventually break down leaving brown tannins that stay until the leaf decomposes.
While the biological process for color change is the same for every plant, environmental factors can mean the difference between lasting color and a quick change to brown. Abundant sunlight and low temperatures destroy chlorophyll, but if cool night temperatures are present, the production of secondary pigments is promoted. These two conditions allow for the best fall color production.
So what does this all mean for Mad. Sq. Park?
Due to warm nights and cloudy skies, you shouldn’t expect too many brilliant reds and purples this fall. So even if the colors aren’t as brilliant as can be, sit back, relax, and enjoy one of nature’s finest shows.

Well, I hope you all enjoy. I'm off to Longwood gardens this afternoon to see the mum show.