Cyclamen hederifolum

Gardener’s Log – September 2021

The first signs of fall are here. I am sure every gardener has a few tell-tail signs that they use, but one of the plants for me has always been the cyclamens, and in particular Cyclamen hederifolum. The bright little pink flowers push through the surface, just as leafless as any of the naked ladies.

A new one of those this year is Lycoris radiata, the spider or hurricane Lily. Its bloom spikes are 10″ to 12″ and much larger. The blossoms are quite a striking red.

Lycoris radiata
Lycoris radiata

As for trees, the first to start turning are always the dogwoods – Cornus ‘Venus’. They start to color up by the beginning of September, putting on their orange, then red and finally burgundy cloak. The only thing that stops their display being magical is that every leaf turns on its own schedule, meaning that the tree is a combination of all colors and not a single bold display.

Start of the Rainy Season

We have still to have the first rain of the wet season and much of the garden is looking totally parched. That rain is expected later this week and they say it could be 1″ to 3″, so quite a soaker. Let us hope that it starts gently so that it can properly wet the soil, because sand resists water.

  • Update – the rains came and we had 2.5″ – and at least some of it soaked in, but the soil still remains quite dry.

Lots of work over the weekend got the area between the Garden of the Giants / Whimsey Way and the next-door forest area cleared and planted. Some Woodwardias have gone in along with an Enkianthus, candelabra primulas (Primula beesiana), and other plants that should provide some interest throughout the year. They were selected to provide a transition to the more natural area, rather than a last hurrah. Everything was selected as being deer resistant, but our local deer aren’t very smart and cannot read labels. Over time, their aching tummies will tell them, assuming the plants survive.

  • Update – the deer have decided that they like Onoclea sensibilis – the Sensitive Fern

La Nina is supposedly forming in the tropical Pacific this year and that traditionally means a cooler and wetter winter. Given the dryness this year, that will certainly be a change, and most of the Gondwanan plants will probably appreciate it. It does mean that I will have to take special care to bring sensitive plants in for some protection because it may mean some arctic blasts.

Looking Back

Talking about Gondwana, my Facebook account reminded me about a photo I posted a year ago. The rock walls were still going in. I decided it would be nice to do a side-by-side to show the plant progress in a year.

Building Gondwana
Building Gondwana
Gondwana after 1 year
Gondwana after 1 year

It looks as if the Banksia specioca, that I grew from seed and was doing so well in Gondwana, has very rapidly croaked. The tips of the new growth curled and then the whole plant has yellowed. I am not sure it will re-shoot from the base when moisture becomes abundant, or if that is the end of story. It will be a shame if that is the case.

The rains did indeed come, and all the plants are much happier. It takes a lot of rain to completely re-wet our soil. After 2 1/2″, one of the outdoor moisture sensors is saying that the soil is at 76% saturation and the other one remains at 12%. My guess is that most of the water ran off in that area rather than soaking in.

Seed Starting

The latest batch of seeds arrived from South Africa this week and so there has been lots of activity getting those started. Most of the seeds are for somewhat diminutive bulbs and will take 3 years before they get to a blooming size. The others are seeds of Protea cynaroides, Protea lepidocararpodendron, and a yellow hybrid Leucospermum.

These need a little more pre-treatment before sowing. Some like a hydrogen peroxide treatment to loosen the other coating and then soaking in smoke water. I am trying to germinate them in a sterile condition by having them against a damp paper towel. That way I can immediately see if they germinate or if there are any fungal problems. That can be a significant issue because they may well take 3 or 4 months to germinate.

Gondwana Extension

Gondwana got a small extension. On the extreme left side, when looking up the hill, the juniper was pushing into the Grevillea and the retaining wall behind that had never been finished. That was corrected and then the nest tier above that was partially put in and the soil dug. Getting rid of all of the Salal root is important because that has a habit of sprouting for many years to come and I don’t want to be pulling out those roots after Protea family plants are in place. Three new plants were added – Protea eximia, which I grew from seed, Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’, and Leucadendron ‘Jester’. The variegated leaves of Jester should provide a good tie into the red flowers of Robyn Gordon and the bright yellow of the foliage across the stepping stone path into the conifer forest.

Leucadendron 'Jester'
Leucadendron ‘Jester’

Aloe Plicatilis

What a difference a year makes. I was going through plants looking to see what needed potting up and realized how much the Aloe plicatilis has growth since I got it earlier this year. The first picture was taken in February and the second in September.

Aloe plicatilis
Aloe plicatilis As received in February
Aloe plicatilis
Aloe plicatilis in September the same year

This is exciting because I thought its growth was going to be a lot slower. I am not sure if that is its first branch developing in the center.

Weather Summary

This has been the end of a long dry spell and over the last few days of September we picked up about 4″ of rain to give us a total of 5.13″ for the month. However, that still left us with a deficit as compared to last year when we had 6.90″ and 8.99″ the year before. Temperatures were cooler by 3.2 degrees and along with that, winds were considerably higher accounting and more westerly – which explains being cooler.

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