Friday, July 23, 2010

Successful Summer Flowers in Yard

Through time, flowers have often been grown in or next to the vegetable garden. The benefits of this relationship are unquestionable. Flowers draw bees that pollinate food plants and they attract beneficial insects that keep pests in check. Plus they look nice.

For a flower to make it in yard, it needs to be a good cut flower, have a long bloom season, hold its color in the Redding sun, help bugs and birds, be easy to start from seed and be an easy plant to save seed from. Flowers can take an amazing amount of heat. When cut, many can be enjoyed inside for a week or more. Flower lovers wanting to keep their cut flowers blossoming for longer. One of the first thing points out is that cut flowers need to be re-cut.

Successful flowers in yard are: Autumn Beauty Sunflower, Gift Zinnia, Red Crest Cosmo, Rainbow Mix Snapdragon, Harlequin Marigolds and blue bachelor’s buttons. These flowers flourish, even with neglect and little fertilizer. If you sow these seeds now, they should flower before the first frost.
  • Autumn Beauty Sunflower grows 5 to 7 feet tall and produces several flowers per plant. It draws bees all day. Sunflowers and other flowers with a big flat landing pad are good for beneficial insects, giving them a place to hang out as they look for bugs to eat. Autumn Beauty’s flowers range from bronze to orange with gradients between. Finches enjoy the shade provided by the plant and the seeds. Leave the seed heads on the stalks and you will have bird-feeders that blow in the autumn wind.
  • Rainbow Mix Snapdragons make good cutting flowers, the bees pollinate them and they can be used as toys. My two sons fight over the first flower of the year because they want to snap it. If you push on the sides of the flower, it opens and closes like a little mouth. Heads up: Not all varieties snap open. Rainbow Mix Snapdragons grow slowly and will overwinter, handling frost fairly well and emerging in the spring ready to flower.
  • Harlequin Marigolds have yellow-and-red-striped petals, are easy to grow and top out around 2 feet, providing a nice border. French marigolds (Tagetes patula) protect against nematodes. The smell of any marigold can throw off insects looking for their favorite host plant. After trying several varieties with yellow and red striping on the flowers, only to see the sun melt the colors to a bland yellow, I discovered Harlequin, a flower that doesn’t fade.
  • Bachelor’s buttons come in a variety of colors. They’re also called cornflowers. The color in my yard is blue. I save the seeds each year, so having multiple colors would allow cross-pollination. The only downside to bachelor’s buttons is the short bloom season. Start new plants a couple of times during the growing season. My biggest surprise with these flowers is the birds. The plants are no taller than 2 feet with thin branches and leaves, yet smaller birds are able to land on the dry flowers and pick out the tiny seeds.
  • Gift Zinnias are stars in the yard, growing 2 to 3 feet tall with bright red 3-inch flowers that lure hummingbirds to the yard. This is a side benefit I did not expect because the Aztec Sunset Zinnias last year did not attract hummingbirds. Zinnias draw butterflies, and the giant flower of the Gift Zinnia is no exception.
  • Red Crest Cosmos bloom for months on 3- to 5-feet-tall plants with bright orange. They are called Red Crest, but the flowers are orange flowers.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rare Goat Horn Flowering Tree Blossoms After 91 Years

A Chinese goat horn tree brought to England many summers ago finally has a flower. After 91 years in a shady grove at the National Trust’s Northern Ireland headquarters at Rowallane, Saintfield, a rare tree is flowering for the first time in its life. The unusual plant known as the Goat Horn Tree in its native China has finally started to put out buds for the first time in nearly a century.

A Goat Horn Trees, native to China is flowering its pale, aromatic blossoms for the very first time ever. Sadly though, its attempt to find another tree with which to reproduce will likely be in vain as there's only one more like it in the whole country.

After the flowers come long curved, spindle-shaped fruits which resemble the horn of the goat and give the plant its name. A sapling from the original seeds was planted in the gardens of Rowallane country estate in Saintfield in 1919.

There are only two specimens from the original Wilson seed introduction currently alive, with the other at Birr Castle, County Offal in the Irish Republic. All others appear to have died out in the middle of the 20th century.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Poisonous Globe Flowers Found Sussex County

The Globe Flower is a glorified Buttercup; its leaves and flowers resemble the Buttercup in form but are larger. Improved varieties have orange, gold, orange-red and lemon-colored flowers, often double. The commonest species is Trollius europwus, but while all the cataloged species resemble each other in form, the seasons and the colors of the flowers differ.

Globeflowers are found with the scientific name of Trollius and are seen with the common name spelled both globeflower and globe flower. All Trollius species are poisonous when fresh to cattle and other livestock, but their acrid taste means they are usually left uneaten. They are, however, used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Silver-ground Carpet.

Recently three New Jersey researchers discovered in this spring the world’s largest population of the rare and endangered "spreading globeflower." About 15,000 robust clumps of "Trollius laxus" were found across two acres of state-owned land in the central portion of Sussex County on April 22, the state Department of Environmental Protection said. Botanists believe the plant, a subspecies of the buttercup family, may have been growing there undetected for decades.

Less than 60 locations of the plant have been confirmed in the world, all in the northeastern United States, where they grow in rare and wet limestone based regions known as calcareous fens. A few locations exist in Connecticut, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but most occur in New Jersey and New York, which has the most known locations with 45 sites. Until the Sussex County find, New York had the largest known cluster, with 2,000 plants.

Globe flowers are perennial plants. Globe flowers have usually have golden yellow blooms although some cultivators have bright orange flowers. Blooms appear from late spring through mid summer.