Today’s look around the Garden features photos taken by student employee Adam Dubuc.
Echeveria is a large genus of succulents in the Crassulaceae family, which has about 1,400 species in 33 genera worldwide. Echeveria, with approximately 180 species, are native to mid to higher elevations in the Americas, with the main distribution in Mexico and central America. They are easy to grow in the greenhouse, or at home with enough light. They like very well- drained soil, and can handle neglectful watering better than overwatering. Echeverias produce offsets which can be divided from the main plant and potted up. They will root readily.
There are two amazingly beautiful Echeverias blooming in the greenhouse right now. One is the Blue Echeveria, Echeveria runyonii. It has the most incredible sunset colors. My middle son, who is not particularly interested in plants, loved this one. It’s always been one of my favorites too.
Echeveria was named for the Mexican botanical artist Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy in 1828 by the French botanist de Candolle, who was very impressed with Echeverría’s drawings. Echeverría had accompanied an expedition exploring Mexico and northern Central America and had produced thousands of botanical illustrations.
The other Echeveria blooming now is called ‘Black Prince’. It was left here by a former (graduated) student and we are happy to have it. The look and feel of this one is very different than the Blue. The bright green center leaves become darker and darker toward the outer edges of the rosette, and the flowers are red.
Recently I was flipping through a seed catalog (a favorite activity) and something caught my eye. It was in a description of a pastel-colored flower: “offers a hint of relief from the bold colors of summer.” Hmmm. I can’t imagine wanting relief from the bold colors of summer! They bring me joy, they make me smile every time (even orange!:-) ). The bold colors of summer are only here for a little while, really. I enjoy autumn colors but there is always that feeling of an end approaching in the fall. Winter has it’s evergreen and red, with black and white accents. Spring begins with pastel-colored ephemerals, which I also enjoy….the anticipation and the newness. But what are we anticipating? Summer, of course! So bring on the bold colors of summer, I will revel in them for as long as they are here.
Of course, as soon as I say “Hazy, Hot and Humid”, the weather changes again…It’s cold (mid-fifties) and raining. So, here’s a bit of color from inside the greenhouses.
Saturday evening, despite clouds and mist, a good time was had by all. The tent in the Botanical Gardens was quite festive and the event went off without a hitch –at least, not a hitch I know about !
Spring is flying by with “hazy hot and humid” summer weather. Some flowers went by so quickly I feel like I didn’t see them…where’d the azaleas go? And the rhododendrons, usually glorious for early June… some are already gone. The peonies are in full to overfull bloom, so catch them while you can (here’s last year’s peony blog: https://uribotanicalgardens.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/the-queen-of-flowers/ ) They will always be the Queens of the Garden to me!
As flowers come and go there are some color combinations I didn’t plan around the Gardens which look great. I know, many gardeners don’t like orange flowers and especially not with cooler colors, but these are making me smile:
(Sumer is icumen in) Summer has arrived,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow
And the wood springs anew,
Butterfly Amaryllis: This beautiful plant, Hippeastrum papilio, is not as well known as the amaryllis plant that many people enjoy giving and receiving as gifts during the holidays. Those amaryllis (common name) are actually Hippeastrum too! There is a bit of taxonomical confusion going on here, as the Hippeastrum were previously in the genus Amaryllis, but now are separate. Hippeastrum are the bulbs which originate from South America, and Amaryllis are those which originate from Africa. The amaryllis we enjoy during the holidays as well as the subject here, Butterfly Amaryllis, are all Hippeastrum….from the Greek words for “horse star”, in reference to the large star shaped flowers.
In any event, the Butterfly Amaryllis is an unusual flower, with maroon markings on greenish white petals. Grey anthers stand out from the flower. The foliage is bright green, smooth, and satiny. The name “Butterfly” comes from the shape of the two upper petals which stand out to the sides, resembling the wings of a butterfly. Papilio is from the Latin word for butterfly.
Although it flowered a few weeks ago, the Butterfly Amaryllis in the greenhouse is flowering again. These plants do not need the dry dormant period that the Holiday Hippeastrum (new name?!) do, and so they are easier to care for. Keep them “crowded” in the pot, with one- to two-thirds of the bulb above the soil. Water the soil and keep it moist, without getting water on the actual bulb (This is true for the other amaryllis as well). Usually they will flower in late winter/early spring. During the rest of the year, they will remain a pleasing foliage plant, photosynthesizing and building up the bulb for next year’s flowering. After a few years side bulbs may develop, which can be left with the mother plant for a fuller flowering display. Or, separate them into their own pots to eventually flower on their own.
The better known “Florist’s Amaryllis”/Hippeastrum can be challenging to keep through the year for re-flowering during the holidays. This article from the United States National Arboretum explains what they need in order to bloom again. http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/AmaryllisBloom.html