Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Helpful Hint from Edward C. Smith

In his book, "The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible", Mr. Smith says

"There is something about a withered, pale yellow leaf that urges me to cut it off, to remove what I think of as a blemish.  It looks ugly, but the plant is better off if I let that leaf fall in its own good time.  Though pale and lacking in chlorophyll, and no longer able to help with photosynthesis and growth, it still contains stored nutrients that the plant can recycle and reuse.  If a disused leaf or branch is obviously diseased, you can prune it off; otherwise, let it be until the plant is finished with it."
"Hey, don't touch that leaf, I'm not done with it yet!"
photo by Ron Leishman

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gardener's Spring Planting Calendar March 23rd

Offered with compliments of Master Gardeners Association of BC

March 23rd
3 to 4 Weeks Before Last Frost

INDOORS:
*     Sow:
  • Veggies:  cucumbers, summer squash, pumpkins, melons, more broccoli, cabbage, annual herbs (basil, summer savory, marjoram, dill)
  • Flowers:  poppies, black-eyed Susan, and large-seeded annuals like ageratum
OUTDOORS:
*     Begin hardening off your cole crop (broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc)
*     Begin hardening off your snapdragons, violas, and parsley 
*     Direct seed peas (snap and shelling) in a warm location

Basil

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

PRGC Calendar

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lovely Spring Day...

What do Powell River's Garden Club members do on lovely spring day?...

Photo by Janet May
Yesterday, some members of the Powell River Garden Club bundled up, loaded up their gardening gear, and headed over to the Cranberry Seniors' Centre to transplant, weed, and fertilize the plants that call the patio garden home.  Following the direction of President, Margaret Cooper, the team - - Diane Lackey, Diana Watson, Claudia Cote, Marcie Mehaffey, and Tommy Illes - - rejuvenated the patio garden planted  last year.   

Photo by Janet May


The team rewarded themselves by flying over to Magpie's Diner in the Rodmay Hotel...lunch, anyone? 

Gardener's Spring Planting Calendar Friday, March 9th

Offered with compliments of Master Gardeners Association of BC

March 9th
4 to 5 Weeks Before Last Frost

INDOORS:
*     Sow
  • Veggies:  main tomato crop, more lettuces, and oriental greens, beets.  Pot up your tomatoes, planting them deep.  The buried stalks will grow roots and they develop a good root system early.
  • Flowers:  snapdragons, hollyhocks, wall flowers, and small-seeded annuals like marigolds, nasturtiums, lavatera and others suitable for hanging baskets. 
  • Thin your crowded flats, keeping only the strongest plants.  Keeping weak plants only robs the stronger of food and light.  If your crop in smaller than you had hoped, sow again for a late-season harvest. 
OUTDOORS: 
*     Direct seed mesclun (arugula, corn salad, cress, etc.), transplant kale and collards, more radish (under cover).  If you plant parsnips or other late root crops, try interspersing them among the radish so you get the fast crop and save space while keeping the top soil loose, while these slow germinating roots get going. 

Nasturtium tower

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another Treasure Found at the Powell River Public Library

Below is an excerpt from "The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible", written by Edward C. Smith.  This informative book is a recent addition to the gardening section of our wonderful Powell River Library



Why Do Plants Need Water?

Although most people realize that plants need water, not all of them are clear about why.  Until you understand this, you won't be clear about how much water plants need, how often they need it, and which kind of container will keep plants as hydrated as they need to be. 

Plants Are Mostly Water
Like other living things, plants are made up almost totally of water, at least 80 to 90 percent.  Water provides the firmness we observe in healthy plant tissue.  Conversely, the sign that a plant has too little water is wilting:  drooping leaves and stems.  Plants that are starved for water produce fewer, smaller, and less juicy and tasty fruits. 

Plants Need Water For Photosynthesis
Hydrogen, one of the basic plant nutrients, comes from the H in H2O.  During photosynthesis, photons (energy from the sun) break apart water molecules, freeing hydrogen atoms.  The hydrogen then combines with carbon (from carbon dioxide in the air) to form carbohydrates - the building blocks of plant tissue. 

Plant Nutrients Pass Through Water
There must be a film of water around each root hair in order for nutrients to pass from the soil to the plant.  Whenever there is not enough water around the roots of a plant, nutrients fail to move into the plant, and growth slows.  If the soil dries even more, root hairs dry out and die.  At this point, the plant is severely stressed and growth is interrupted.  Even if the plant survives the ordeal, the quality, size, and taste of the harvest have been compromised, and that plant is not likely to become the plant it could have been. 

All Creatures Living In Soil Need Water
In my experience, plants grow best in a soil that is alive, literally, teeming with mostly microscopic creatures that supply plants with food, creatures that help them to assimilate food, creatures that help protect plants from predation and disease.  Those soil-dwelling creatures all need water.  In the absence of water, they go dormant or die. 

Plants Need Water For Transpiration
All of those reasons put together amount to only two percent of the water a plant needs.  The other 98 percent of the water a plant needs passes through the plant and exits through its leaves by a process called transpiration.  What a waste!  Except, of course, that nature doesn't really waste anything; the water used in transpiration is essential to the normal growth and health of the plant. 

Water leaving a plant through transpiration doesn't just leave; it creates by its leaving a force called transpirational pull, which both draws more water into the plant through its roots and provides for water movement within plant tissues.  Plants don't have a heart the way humans and other animals do.  Transpiration is the plant's substitute for a heart; it is the way a plant moves fluids within itself.  Without transpiration, plants could not move water and nutrients rom the soil, could not make sugars through the miracle of photosynthesis, could not move those sugars about and change them into starches - could not, in short, grow, mature, fruit, and produce seeds.

Transpiration serves another important function - it dissipates heat from the sun (much like perspiration does in an animal).  That cooling is critical to a plant's survival. 

As examples, Mr. Smith states "growing in fertile soil, a tomato plant can grow more than 7 feet tall and sport a diameter of 3 feet or more...and suck up as much as 1 gallon (3.78541178 litres for us Canadians) of water every day.  A summer squash needs at least a gallon a day.  Big plants with lots of leaf surface area, like broccoli, need lots and lots of water."

The information found in this well organized, informative, wonderfully illustrated book by Edward C. Smith would be valuable to every gardener - particularly for the novice contemplating growing their own food in a limited area (containers).  Mr. Smith's other book, "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible", is also available at the Powell River Library. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gardener's Spring Planting Calendar Friday, March 2nd

Offered with compliments of Master Gardeners Association of BC

March 2nd
6 Weeks Before Last Frost

INDOORS:
*     Sow
  • Veggies:  broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, peppers, and the first group of lettuces
OUTDOORS:
*     Sow:
  • Veggies:  radishes, arugula, garlic (unless you like to sow it in autumn), corn salad, spinach, and hardy oriental greens under cover
  • Flowers:  candytuft and cornflower.  If you have a protected, south-facing wall, you can try direct planting peas
  • When weather permits, begin to prepare your outdoor beds as soon as the ground is workable, and doesn't turn to mud when you try to work it.  Now is a good time to clean out the compost bins and spread the compost and manure.  This early work also gets all the over-wintered weeds sprouting, so you can easily rake them out while young, and before you add your other, faster-working amendments at planting time. 
Mache (Corn Salad)
Candytuft (Iberis)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

News from THE BULLETIN March/April 2012

As members of the BC Council of Garden Clubs (BCCGC) the Powell River Garden Club receives The Bulletin bi-monthly throughout the year. The Bulletin contains news and information from the Council as well as informative and interesting articles submitted by Club members.

Below, please find many of the articles published in The Bulletin, March/April 2012. A printed copy of The Bulletin is available at Club meetings.

Article #1     Successful Containers by Marilyn Holt
Article #2     Tillandsia aka Air Plants
Article #3     Seed Savers...Owen Bridge
Article #4     2012 Herb of the Year:  The Rose...
Article #5     Orchids and Vanilla
Article #6     Dracaena Cinnabari aka Dragon's Blood Tree...
Article #7     Karl Theodor Hartweg by Tony Burton
Article #8     Nutrient Overload
Article #9     Haemanthus, an Amaryllis family member...
Article #10   Rosemary


Article #1     Successful Containers by Marilyn Holt
#1     Determine the type of container you need. Are you wanting to create a focal point or to block an unpleasant view? Perhaps you just want to grow tasty vegetables and beautiful flowers.  Remember that dark coloured pots in full sunlight absorbs heat and that could be detrimental to the health of your plants.

#2:     Selecting the correct soil.  Soil for containers should allow quick drainage but still retain enough moisture to encourage healthy growth. Your choice of medium also should allow for good aeration.

#3:     Watering is critical.  As there are so many variables, there are no set rules. The best way to determine when and how much to water is the good old standby, finger in the soil.  If you can feel moisture when you’re an inch down into the soil, don’t water.  After a rain, make sure you remove any standing water in saucers and trays to stop root hairs from rotting.

#4:     Fertilizing:  Frequent watering washes out nutrients.  Remember nitrogen leaches out on a monthly basis whereas phosphorous and potassium only depletes with what the plants use.  Keeping that in mind you will always need to add nitrogen.

For those preferring an organic mix, try meals. You can add it even at the time of planting because the mix takes a while before it can be assimilated by the plants. The recipe is … 10 parts Canola meal, 1 part kelp meal, 1 part bonemeal and 1 part lime. If you are using this to fertilize potatoes, omit the lime. Just remember that meals break down slowly so it will take awhile for the nutrients to be available to the plants.

Another option is liquid fertilizers that are readily available to your plants and won’t damage them if applied correctly. Remember to apply when the soil is moist and repeat applications every two weeks. Try 20-20-20 at half strength every other week. This is a balanced fertilizer and most flowers do well on it.

Don’t forget, fertilize for what you are growing.  High nitrogen for leafy, lush foliage but not many flowers. High phosphorous for flowers and fruiting, high potassium for stress which is drought, flood, cold, heat and against pests.

#5: Containers are a great place for dark coloured flowers, they show up better up close than planted in the distance.

#6: Reusable grow bags are great for small spaces and allow you to dismantle your containers at the end of the gardening season.

#7: There are vegetables specifically hybridized for container growing so look for them at your garden centers. Renee’s Seeds has even combined a few types into one package so is very cost effective.

photo by Kerry Micheals

Photo from Green Living Blog


Article #2     Tillandsia aka Air Plants . . .
There are about 500 different species of tillandsia; the best known is the Spanish moss that gracefully drapes from oak trees throughout the American South. This huge genus, the largest in the bromeliad family, is sometimes divided into the grey-leaved air plants and green-leaved terrestrial plants.  In truth, all tillandsia are naturally epiphytic air plants that grow by clinging to trees and extracting excess moisture from the air. Once rare, tillandsia are now common in garden centers, where they are frequently sold as part of hanging gardens. Only a few tillandsias can be grown in pots, the rest must be mounted.

Bright light, but not direct sunlight. A south, east or west window is perfect. They can also be grown under fluorescent tubes. Water 2 to 4 times a week with a mister. If your environment is dry, mist daily. Water until the plant is saturated. Glue tillandsias to cork, coral, stone, or driftwood. Only a few varieties can adapt to soil. Use a low-copper liquid fertilizer, diluted to 1/4 strength. Feed monthly. Tillandsias prefer to be mounted on a solid substrate that does not retain water. You can glue your tillandsia directly to the surface with a strong adhesive, or you can wire the plant to the base. Don't cover the base of the plant with moss or it may rot. 



Article #3     Seed Saving:  Owen Bridge
When I was researching heritage seed, I came across a site originating from the Maritimes, and after spending an hour on the site, I realized that the young man who owns the site is person that truly has devoted his life to teaching people how and why to save seed. 

Owen Bridge lived in British Columbia before moving to Nova Scotia. He says ".. 100% of our seeds are grown in the Maritimes by small-scale growers committed to sustainable farming methods. Like always, all of our varieties are open-pollinated and can be saved for seed, an important yet very simple skill I want to see every gardener doing! There are so many amazing varieties out there which aren’t being carried by the large seed companies, it's really up to the gardeners and small farmers of the world to keep them alive. I'm really looking forward to getting as many of these seeds out there as I can …."

Check out his website, you won’t be disappointed. He has a video on the website harvesting peanuts he grew in his Nova Scotia garden.


Owen Bridge, Annapolis Valley Seeds

Article #4     2012 Herb Of The Year: The Rose . . . 
The herb of the year for 2012 is the Rose. You will be surprised, as I was when researching, all the folklore stories that abound with regards to this common garden plant.

The rose dates back to 35 million years ago where they left their imprints in fossils. The rose in question resembled Rosa rugosa, the wild rose.

Throughout history roses were used to celebrate special occasions and it is no different today. Back in AD170 flower wreaths containing roses were found in Hawara, Egypt. It is the oldest preserved record of a rose species, believed to be Rosa sancta, that is still being grown today. Rosa sancta is also referred to as the Holy Rose.

The largest collection of roses were put together by Napoleon’s Josephine in 1798. Located near Paris, her garden included every variety that was available at that time, which totalled approximately two hundred and fifty varieties. 
The most painted rose in Renaissance art was the apothecary rose. The red (actually deep pink when fresh) colour of the dried petals was believed to represent the blood of Christian martyrs. There is a belief that the petals of the apothecary rose were dried and rolled into beads then strung together into a breaded chain for religious use which eventually became known as the ‘rosary’. Another story says that rose hips were strung together in a chain and this became known as the ‘rosary’.

The story of how the early Persians discovered rose oil is interesting and apparently it happened quite by accident, Mrs. Grieve in her 'A Modern Herbal' tells the tale. "It was between 1582 and 1612 that the oil or otto of roses was discovered, as recorded in two separate histories of the Grand Moguls. At the wedding feast of the princess Nour-Djihan with the Emperor Djihanguyr, son of Akbar, a canal circling the whole gardens was dug and filled with rosewater. The heat of the sun separating the water from the essential oil of the rose was observed by the bridal pair when rowing on the fragrant water. It was skimmed off and found to be an exquisite perfume. The discovery was immediately turned to account and the manufactur of Otto of Roses was commenced in Persia about 1612 and long before the end of the 17th Century the distilleries of Shiraz were working on a large scale."

Today roses are used in the perfume industry and the oil from the Bulgarian rose ‘Kazanlik’ (Rosa damascene trigintipetala) is considered the best in the world and is used by Chanel and Christian Dior in their perfumes. Four tons of roses only makes 2lbs. of rose attar, hence the high price of pure rose oil. 







Medicinal
Two rose species, Rosa gallica (the apothecary rose) and Rosa canina (the dog rose) are used for medicinal remedies. The hips of the dog rose is primarily used because they contain high levels of vitamin C and flavonoids, tannins, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and K.

Rosa canina has been used for chest complaints and the apothecary rose is used today for aromatherapy and cosmetics. In Chinese medicine, Rosa rugosa (known as Mei gui hua in China) is used as a tonic to boost the liver and as an antidote to some forms of poisoning.

In AD 77 the Roman writer Pliny recorded 32 disorders that responded to treatment with rose preparations. Medieval herbals contained many entries that tell of the restorative properties of rose preparations.

The anti-inflammatory properties of rose hips have recently been shown to be useful in the treatment of patients suffering from knee or hip osteoarthritis which is breakdown of cartilage in the joint, allowing bones to rub against each other, causing pain and loss of movement.

Scientists in Denmark reported that patients who daily consumed standardized rose hip powder (made from dog rose) experienced significantly less joint stiffness and pain, and an improved general well-being and mood after 3 to 4 months of treatment. The use of rose hip powder also enabled the patients to considerably reduce their standard pain medication. Rosehips contain high levels of antioxidant flavonoids with known anti-inflammatory properties.


Rose hips also contain carotenoid pigments, plant sterols, tocotrienols and a very high level of anthocyains, catechins and other polyphenolics, known phytochemicals to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). They also contain up to 5% by weight of pectin, a soluble fiber that protects against CVD. In clinical trials, rose hips were seen to reduce C-reactive protein levels, associated with a lower risk of CVD.

The rose hips of Dog Rose are a traditional diuretic and laxative. The rose hips are useful in the treatment of influenza-like infections, diarrhea, and various urinary tract disorders. No side effects are known when rose hips are used in the normal designated amounts.

Rosehips are also commonly used to make herbal teas, by boiling the dried or crushed rose hips for 10 minutes. About 2 tablespoons of berries are used per pint of water. A half-teaspoon of dried mint may be added to give a different flavor, or the acid-tasting tea may be sweetened. Rose hip tea may also be improved by blending with hibiscus flowers.

http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/herbs/rose-hips.php
http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_rose.htm


Article #5     Orchids and Vanilla
Have you ever wondered where the vanilla ‘bean’ comes from? It comes from an Orchid, namely, family Orchidaceae, subfamily Vanilloideae, tribe Vanilleae, subtribe Vanillinae.
The vanilla orchid is a plant genus of about 110 species in the orchid family. This plant is widely used for industrial purposes in the food and cosmetic industries. The genus occurs worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions of America, Mexico, Asia, New Guinea and West Africa.


The Mexican Aztecs discovered the plant in the early 16th century and used the pods to counteract poisons, aid digestion and used for flavouring. Around 1518, Cortex took some vanilla back to Europe and created vanilla flavoured chocolate. This soon became popular and although the plants were grown indoors, the flowers never produced pods. Charles Morren discovered why in 1836 when he determined that the pollinators were not available in Europe and that the flowers had to be individually hand pollinated, which was not an easy task.

It wasn’t until a former slave on an island off Madagascar perfected an easier way to hand pollinate the flowers that the industry too off. Edmond Albius’s method of hand pollination is still used to this day.

The Vanilla Orchid exhibits vine-like growth, forming long thin stems with lengths of more than 35 m. The climbing vines produce bright green fleshy stems with flat leaves that grow alternately on either side of the length of the vine at regular intervals. Flowers are not produced until the vines are approximately two to three years of age.

When ready to bloom, clusters of approximately 15-20 are produced. The flowers are approximately six inches long and are a gorgeous yellowish green or, if you prefer, greenish yellow. The blooms are produced over a one month period and when pollinated produce seed pods that resemble long, thin green beans. I mention ‘when pollinated’ because the flowers only last one day and in that one day if their pollinator is not around, no seed pods are formed. The flowers are presumed to be pollinated by Melipona (a stingless bee) and certain hummingbirds, which visit the flowers primarily for its nectar.

If the pods are allowed to grow, eight to nine months later they are collected prior to completely ripening. Each pod has thousands of microscopic seeds, both of which are used to create vanilla flavouring. In the wild, the pods are a food source for various types of moth and the vines themselves are habitats for small creatures such as geckos.

One vanilla orchid vine can grow for about then years and will produce approximately 1,000 flowers.






Article #6     Dracaena Cinnabari aka Dragon's Blood Tree
Dracaena Cinnabari or dragon tree is endemic to the islands of the Socotra archipelago (Yemen). This tree is extremely unusual in shape, resembling an umbrella that got blown inside out by a strong wind. It was discovered by Lieutenant Wellsted of the East India Company in 1835. Of the 100 dracaena species, Dracaena cinnabari is one of only six species that grows as a tree and is also referred to as the Dragon Blood Tree because of the red sap it produces.

 
The Dragon blood tree is arguably the most famous and distinctive plant of the island of Socotra. It has a unique and strange appearance, described as upturned, densely packed crown. The dragon’s blood tree is a monocotyledon and as such grows from the tip of the stem and shows growth rings (like palms), but unlike most monocot plants, the Dracaenaceae displays secondary growth. Its leaves are only found at the end of its youngest branches and grow in a rosette shape. It branches at maturity to produce an umbrella shaped crown, with leaves that measure up to 60 centimeters (2’) long and 3 centimeters (1+") wide. The trunk and the branches of the Dragon blood are thick and stout and display dichotomous branching, where each of the branches repeatedly divide in two sections. They shed all their leaves every 3 or 4 years before new leaves simultaneously mature. Branching tends to occur when the growth of the terminal bud is stopped, either due to flowering or traumatic events.

The dragon's blood tree usually produces its flowers around February, though flowering does vary with location. The flowers tend to grow at the end of the branches. The flowers have inflorescences, and they bear small clusters of fragrant, white or green flowers. The fruits take five months to completely mature. The fruits are described as a fleshy berry, which changes from green to black as it gradually ripens. The fleshy berry fruit ends up being an orange-red color that contains one to three seeds. The berries are usually eaten by birds and other animals for seed dispersal.
 
The dragon's blood tree is usually described as having a bizarre shape. This shape enables the tree to have optimal survival in arid conditions, usually on mountaintop that have small amounts of soil. The huge packed crown provides sufficient shade in order to reduce evaporation. This shading also allows for the optimal survival of the seedlings that is beneath the adult tree, this explains why the trees tend to grow closer together.

The trees can be harvested for their crimson red resin, called Dragon's blood, which was highly prized in the ancient world and is still used today. Because of the belief that it is the blood of the dragon it is also used for ritual magic and alchemy. Dragon's blood red resin is used for religious purposes in American Hoodoo, African-American folk magic, and New Orleans voodoo. Widely used in mojo hands for money-drawing or love-drawing, and is used as incense to cleanse a space of negative entities or influences. It is also added to red ink to make "Dragon's Blood Ink", which is used to inscribe magical seals and talismans. Dragon's blood of Dracaena cinnabari was used as a source of varnish for 18th century Italian violin-makers. It is presently still used as varnish for violins and photoengraving. 

Although most of its ecological habitats are still intact, there is an increasing population with industrial and tourism development. This is putting more pressure on the vegetation through the process of logging, overgrazing, woodcutting and infrastructure of development plans. Though the dragon’s blood tree is highly widespread, it has become fragmented due to the development that has occurred in its habitats. Many of its populations are suffering due to poor regeneration.

Human activities have greatly reduced the dragon’s blood population through overgrazing, and feeding the flowers and fruits to the livestock of the island. One of the species' greatest threats is the gradual drying out of the Socotra Archipelago, which has been an ongoing process for the last few hundred years. This has resulted in non-flourishing trees, and the duration of the mist and cloud around the area seems to also be decreasing. Increasing arid environments is predicted to cause a 45 percent reduction in the available habitat for Dracaena cinnabari by the year 2080.
 
The unique flora and fauna of the Socotra Archipelago is considered a World Heritage Site a Global 200 Ecoregion. It is a Center of Plant Diversity and an Endemic Bird Area. It also lies within the Horn of Africa biodiversity hotspot. There is a variety of efforts that is being developed to help create and support a sustainable habitat and biodiversity management programs on Socotra.
The dragon's blood tree is given some protection from international commercial trade under the listing of all ''Dracaena'' species, but if its populations are to be effectively preserved, a variety of measures will need to be taken. These include urgent monitoring of the species' natural regeneration and the expansion of Skund Nature Sanctuary to cover important areas of the habitats. Also, efforts to avoid road construction in the dragon blood’s habitat, and limit grazing need to be brought to attention. Additional conservation efforts for the tree involve fencing against livestock, watering of seedlings in open areas, and involving local communities in planting seedlings.

Article #7     Karl Theodor Hartweg by Tony Burton
The geography of garden flowers, many of which originated in Mexico.  Many common garden flowers were developed from samples collected in Mexico by a German botanist financed by Britain’s Horticultural Society.
 
Karl Theodor Hartweg (1812-1871) came from a long line of gardeners and had gardening in his genes. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, he worked in Paris, at the Jardin des Plantes, before moving to England to work in the U.K. Horticultural Society’s Chiswick gardens in London. Keen to travel even further afield, he was appointed an official plant hunter and sent to the Americas for the first time in 1836. What was originally intended to be a three-year project eventually became an expedition lasting seven years.
 
By Hartweg’s time, Europeans already knew that Mexico was a veritable botanical treasure trove, full of exciting new plants. For example, the humble dahlia, a Mexican native since elevated to the status of the nation’s official flower, had already become very prominent in Europe. Mexican cacti were also beginning to acquire popularity in Europe at this time.
 
The Horticultural Society saw both academic and financial potential in sponsoring Hartweg to explore remote areas of Mexico, and collect plants that might flourish in temperature climes such as north-west Europe.
 
Hartweg proved to be an especially determined traveler, who covered a vast territory in search of new plants. He collected representative samples and seeds of hundreds and hundreds of species, many of which had not previously been scientifically named or described. Orchids from the Americas were par-ticularly popular in Hartweg’s day. According to Merle Reinkka, the author of A History of the Orchid, Hartweg amassed "the most variable and comprehensive collection of New World Orchids made by a single individual in the first half of the [19th] century". 
 
Shortly after arriving in Veracruz in 1836, Hartweg met a fel-low botanist, Carl Sartorius (1796-1872), of German extraction, who had acquired the nearby hacienda of El Mirador a decade earlier. Sartorius collected plants for the Berlin Botanical Gardens. His hacienda, producing sugarcane, set in the coastal, tropical lowlands, became the mecca of nineteenth century botanists visiting Mexico.
From 1836 to 1839, Hartweg explored Mexico, crisscrossing the country from Veracruz to León, Lagos de Moreno and Aguascalientes before entering the rugged landscapes around the mining town of Bolaños in early October 1837. In his own words, reaching Bolaños had involved "travelling over a mountain path of which I never saw the like before", one "which became daily work by the continual heavy rains." From Bolaños, Hartweg visited Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí (in February 1838) and Guadalajara, where he did not omit to include a detailed description of tequila making. From Guadalajara, he moved on to Morelia, Angangueo [then an important mining town, now the closest town of any size to the Monarch butterfly reserves], Real del Monte, and Mexico City, from where he sent a large consignment of plant material back to England. Hartweg then headed south to Oaxaca and Chiapas en route to Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru and Jamaica. He arrived back in Europe in 1843.
 
Hartweg visited Mexico again in 1845-46. After arriving in Veracruz in November 1845, he traversed the country via Mexico City (early December) to Tepic, where he arrived on New Year’s Day 1846, to wait for news of a suitable vessel arriving in the nearby port of San Blas which could take him north to California. In the event he had to wait until May, so he occupied himself in the meantime with numerous botanical explorations in the vicinity, including trips to Ceboruco Volcano. From California, he sent further boxes of specimens back to England, including numerous plants which would subsequently become much prized garden ornamentals. During this trip, he also added several new conifers to the growing list found in Mexico. It is now known that Mexico has more of the world’s 90+ species of pine (Pinus) than any other country on earth. This has led botanists to suppose that it is the original birthplace of the entire genus.
 
It took several years for the boxes and boxes of material sent back to England by Hartweg to be properly examined, cataloged and described. Many of the samples from his early trip were first described formally by George Bentham in Plantae Hartwegianae, which appeared as a series of publications from 1839 to 1842. Among the exciting discoveries were new species of conifers, such as Pinus hartwegii, Pinus ayacahuite, P. moctezumae, P. patula, Cupressus macrocarpa, and Sequoia sempervirens. Hartweg’s collecting prowess is remembered today in the name given to a spectacular purple-flowering orchid, Hartwegia purpurea, which is native to southern Mexico.
 
Numerous garden plants derive directly from plants Hartweg sent back to Europe. These included Salvia patens (a blue flowering member of the mint family), which became the ancestor of modern bedding salvias, the red-flowering Fuchsia fulgens, ancestor of a very large number of Fuchsia cultivars, and the red-flowering Zauschneria californica, commonly known as California fuchsia.
 
This article was written by Tony Burton, who also co-authored a book entitled "Geo-Mexico, the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico, with Richard Rhoda (2010), "a comprehensive analysis of what is going on in Mexico today", available via amazon.com and http://geo-mexico.com.
fuchsia fulgrens

Sources:
* Elliot, Brent. "The adventures of Hartweg", The Garden, November 2004, 868. London: Horticultural Society.
* Hartweg, Karl Theodor. "Journal of a mission to California".   Journal of the Horticultural Society. London, England. In several parts: 1846, 180-185, 1847, 121-125, 187-191, and 1848 217-228.
* Hartweg, Karl Theodor. "Notes of a visit to Mexico, Guatemala and Equatorial America, 1836 to 1843, in search of plants and seeds for the Horticultural Society of London. London, England":  Transactions of the Horticultural Society, vol. 3, 1848, 115-162.
* Reinikka, Merle A.  A History of the Orchid. Timber Press. 1995
 
 

Article #8  Nutrient Overload 

Nutrient overload is one of the most serious water quality problems facing rivers and its tributaries. Nitrogen and phosphorus are necessary elements for all ecosystems however, too much of these nutrients in natural systems are harmful.

Urban waterways have usually exceeded its assimilative capacity for nitrogen and phosphorus. In other words, the river contains more nutrients than it can "dilute." Excessive nutrients feed uncontrolled algal blooms that deplete oxygen in the water needed by fish, reduce light that is essential to submerged vegetation, and threaten the health of both humans and aquatic life.
Rivers suffer from an excess of nutrients from wastewater treatment plants, industrial discharges, storm water runoff, and fertilizers that regularly wash into the river from gardens.
Preventing water pollution is difficult because water is dynamic -- it flows freely from property to property, from locality to locality, even from the surface to underground. How water is used upstream can and does affect its quality downstream.





Article #9 Haemanthus, an Amaryllis family member...  
In the November/December issue of The Bulletin I wrote about the two types of Amaryllis and now I am including a lesser known member of the same family, ‘Haemanthus’, pronounced hemanthus. 
Haemanthyus is a South African genus of the Amaryllidaceae family with 22 known species endemic to South Africa, Namibia, the kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland. About 15 species occur in the winter rainfall region of Namaqualand and the Western Cape. The remainder are found in the summer rainfall region with one species, Haemanthus albiflos which occurs in both regions.

Most of the species have brush-like blooms, enclosed in four or more spathe bracts which usually match the flower colour. Like sepals, these bracts protect the flowerheads from damage. The flowers produce abundant nectar and pollen but unfortunately they have a faint smell that is unattractive to humans.

Fruits are globe shaped when ripe and the colour range covers bright red, to pink, to orange and white. Three species, H. albiflos, H. deformis and H. pauculifolius are evergreen. These three species have bulbs that are only partially buried, the exposed section often turning bright green. The winter rainfall region’s bulbs are mostly from arid habitats and are found fairly deep below the surface, usually flowering before producing leaves.

The genus produces relatively large bulbs that act as food and water that hold food and water storage organs with fleshy leaf-bases. Haemanthus have one to six leaves, ranging from broad, leathery and prostrate to narrow, crisped or succulent and erect. The leaves themselves also have different textures from smooth to extremely hairy and sometimes they are stocky. A few species such as H. unifoliatus and H. nortieri usually produce only one single, erect, broad leaf. H. coc-cineus and H. sanguineus were the first of the species to be described and because of their reddish flowers, gave rise to the generic name Haemanthus which means ‘blood flower’ In Greek, ‘Haimi’ meaning blood and ‘anthos’ meaning flower.

Haemanthus species are extremely variable in habitat requirements from coastal dunes to mountain tops, from rocky ledges to gravel plains and even to bogs. H. canaliculatus are fire dependent as they require occasional burning of their shrubland habitat to clear undergrowth in order to flower.

The genus Haemanthus was created in 1753 by Linneaus. From them until the first thorough taxonomic treatment of the genus by Baker in 1896, this species was categorized by several botanists and placed in and moved out of various widely different families and sub-families. Nothing further was done until 1976 when Friis & Nordal published a brief review, recognizing only six species and reinstat-ing the remainder into the Scadoxus genus with nine species.

Haemanthus species do best in large, well-drained containers or planted out in a rockery or scree bed. The winter rainfall species prefer full sun while the summer rainfall and evergreen species require partial shade. Most are extremely tolerant of poor soil. Be sure not to disturb the plant if they are about to bloom. Propagation is by offsets, leaf cuttings and by germination of seed. Seeds, when ripe, are generally surrounded by a sticky pulp, producing long silken threads which anchor the seed when germination begins, and in the early stage of growth.

Another website I found very informative on these beautiful and unusual plants is http://www.plantzafrica.com/planthij/haemanalbif.htm . Unfortunately at the time of writing I had not received permission to reprint some of their information.

Article #10     Rosemary
Rosmarinus officinalis, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs, and is one of two species in the genus Rosmarinus. The name "rosemary" derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, derived from "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea" because in many locations it needs no water other than the humidity carried by the sea breeze to live.

The leaves are used as a flavouring in foods like stuffings and roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean and Asia, but is reasonably hardy in cool climates. Rosemary can withstand droughts, surviving a se-vere lack of water for lengthy periods. Forms range from upright to trailing; the upright forms can reach 1.5 m (5 ft) tall, rarely 2 m (6 ft 7 in). The leaves are evergreen, 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 in) long and 2–5 mm broad, green above, and white below, with dense short woolly hair. The plant flowers in spring and summer in temperate climates but the plants can be in constant bloom in warm climates; flowers are white, pink, purple or deep blue.

Since it is attractive and drought tolerant, Rosemary is used as an ornamental plant in gardens and for xeriscape landscaping, especially in regions of Mediterranean climate. It is considered easy to grow and pest-resistant. Rosemary can grow quite large and retain attractiveness for many years, can be pruned into formal shapes and low hedges and has been used for topiary. It is easily grown in pots. The groundcover cultivars spread widely, with a dense and durable texture. 

Rosemary grows on friable loam soil with good drainage in an open sunny position. It will not withstand water-logging and some varieties are susceptible to frost. It grows best in neutral to alkaline conditions (pH 7–7.8) with average fertility. It can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a shoot 10–15 cm (4–6 in) long, stripping a few leaves from the bottom, and planting it directly into soil.



BCCGC'S SUGGESTED MARCH GARDEN ACTIVITIES:

1. Prune back ornamental grasses 4-6 inches from the ground & compost clippings.

2. Prune fruit trees and apply dormant oil to control pests.

3. Trim off old raspberry canes and shape shrubs that bloom on new growth.

4. Cut back any perennials you left standing to allow birds to access their seed during the winter months.

5. Sedums should now be cut back as well - you will notice the new growth already showing.

6. Edge your beds and lawns now & dig out any weeds while they are still small and easy to manage.

7. Sharpen your pruners, shears and hedge clippers and make sure they are free from rust.

8. Towards mid-March your pond fish will be stirring and looking for food.

9. Make up a ’to do’ list while strolling around your garden.

10. Now is a great time to plant peas and cool weather crops such as spinach, chard, cabbage and broccoli..