Odd Rain Lily Breeding

Over the last few years, we’ve made quite a few intergeneric hybrids within the Amaryllid family…one known for rather odd mating habits. Our crosses involved 2,3, and occasionally four genera together.  Today, one of our bi-generic (2 genera) crosses flowered for the first time, confirming its hybrid origin.  In this case the parents were Habranthus robustus x Zephyranthes ‘Labuffarosea’, so it’s our first xZephybranthus. The foliage tends more toward the habranthus parent, while the orientation of the flower and the petals go more toward the zephyranthes parent.  This is somewhat akin to crossing a human with a chimpanzee. 

Sporty spores

Have you ever stopped to look at fern spore patterns?  If not, take time to turn over your fern fronds.  My favorite spore pattern comes from the fern genus, Coniogramme. These produce what is known as anastamosing veins…your new word for today.  Anastamosing is the connection of separate branching patterns…in this case, veins of spores.  Free art…compliments of mother nature.

Surprise….it’s surprise lily time!

Many gardeners don't look forward to summer, but we've found a cure...plant lycoris! Known as surprise lilies and hurricane lilies, the lycoris bloom season starts in mid-July and continues into mid-September with a procession of different varieties.  Winter hardiness of lycoris ranges from Zone 4 to Zone 7, depending on when the foliage emerges. We currently grow nearly 600 different varieties of lycoris, the diversity of which is truly astonishing. Because we are the only source of most of these, once they are sold out, we may not have enough to offer again for 5-10 years, so if you see something you like, it's best not to wait.  You can plant lycoris anytime the ground isn't frozen.     Lycoris x squamigera is an old hybrid, grown throughout the midwest, often mistakenly purchased as the tender Amaryllis belladonna. Lycoris 'Caldwell's White' is a surprise lily we recently released from the late, famed lycoris breeder, Sam Caldwell. We can't say enough Read more [...]

Hardy Cactus…thoughts

We've got a thing for hardy cactus in the garden, but haven't propagated many to offer yet. One of our many favorites is Notocactus apricus.  Above is our 17 year old clump in the garden, which is 4" tall x 15" wide.  We've grown a few from seed, but are curious how many folks might consider purchasing one?  We've only been to 7F since 2000, so we don't know if it will take colder temperatures or not.   Visitors to our spring Open Nursery and Garden this year got to see the amazing Trichocereus 'Irridescent Watermelon' (bred by local cacti specialist, Mike Papay) in full flower (hardy so far to 7 degrees F).  Offsets are almost non-existent, so we decided to grow some from seed. Each plant will be different, but all should be quite nice.  So, if we offered these as a seed strain, would you purchase some, knowing each will be slightly different? Read more [...]

Rain, followed by Rain Lilies

Our nearly 2" rain, a few days ago, produced a stunning show of rain lilies in the garden.  Here are some selections from the original Yucca Do collection in Labuffa, Mexico. Between July and October, these flower 2-3 days after each rain. Winter hardiness of each is Zone 7b, although, they may possibly survive in Zone 7a.  They also make fabulous container specimens. Zephyranthes 'Early and Often' (a Yucca Do selection) Zephyranthes 'Lily Pies' (a Yucca Do selection)  Zephyranthes 'Rose Colored Glasses' (a Yucca Do selection) Zephyranthes 'Star Spangled' (a Yucca Do selection) Zephyranthes 'Viva Las Vegas' (a Plant Delights selection for 2018 release) Read more [...]

Hymen Flowers

Hymen flowers (aka Hymenocallis) are still going, as the Northern Mexican species now perfume the garden. The genus begins flowering in spring, and if you grow a wide range of species, you can have flowers until late summer/early fall. Here's a photo we recently took of Hymenocallis pimana in the garden.  While many hymenocallis prefer very moist soils, we grow this in a dry bed with agaves and cactus.  Starting in early evening, the flowers emit a honeysuckle-like fragrant to lure evening moths for reproductive activities. While we also like the more commonly sold Dutch hybrids, which are actually intergeneric crosses with the South American Ismene, we think the North American native species are far superior as garden plants, so we've always wondered why these don't sell nearly as well as they should.  Read more [...]

Hardy Orchids from seed

I was looking at our patch of Bletilla 'Brigantes'...a hardy orchid hybrid between Bletilla striata and Bletilla ochracea and wondering what its offspring would look like.  I recalled that the late plantsman Don Jacobs grew bletillas from seed in his window sill, so I figured we'd give it a try.  If you've never handled orchid seed, it's a bit like handling tiny dust particles.  We harvested the seed before the pods cracked open and sowed them like we do our fern spores, and sealed them in a ziploc bag.  Sure enough, they germinated, and two years later actually flowered.  These are a sampling of the amazing variation from the 200 seedlings we potted.  We'll select a good representative sample of the variation including any unique individuals and plant them out in trial beds and watch how they develop.  How exciting! Read more [...]

Final Summer Open Nursery and Garden Weekend

We hope you’ll be able to visit during our final open weekend for summer, Saturday July 15 (8-5) and Sunday July 16 (1-5).  The gardens are looking quite fabulous, especially our new crevice garden.  The greenhouses are also quite full of an assortment of perennial treasures!

Another possibly new elephant ear

Here’s another new elephant ear we’re thinking about introducing, but we’d love to hear your thoughts.  Mature height is 3-4′ and it does spread among other plants. We are calling it Colocasia ‘Smiley Face’. This is an unidentified species, probably from North Vietnam, that has been hardy for us for over a decade.  Thoughts?