... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


The 'York' and 'Nova' elderberry bushes had a lot of fruit this year so I picked and de-stemmed these:
I made them into a big batch of elderberry syrup. I looked over a bunch of different recipes and went with something like this... put a little bit of water to cover bottom of pan... heat and crush the berries with a potato masher until all the juice is free... put the cooked stuff into a strainer (cup by cup) and stirred/pressed the juice through. Most of the recipes were around 1 cup sugar for 1 cup juice so that's what I started with (4 cups sugar added to the 4 cups of juice). It seemed a little thin though, so I added 2 more cups for a little thicker syrup. Oh and I added quite a bit of lemon juice to give it a little zing (maybe a 1/4 cup). Finished it off with a light dusting of cinnamon and cloves. Brought to a boil and then refrigerated. I plan on freezing some of this for use during the winter, since it's reported by some researchers to shorten the duration of the flu.

"One study suggested that using a standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol, could shorten the duration of flu by about 3 days."
Source: Elderberry | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry#ixzz39LuFIMc1
University of Maryland Medical Center 

Some hardy hibiscus

A few of the named hardy hibiscus I've been trying out and using in crosses.
I didn't have a tag on this one when I got it, but I'm pretty sure that it's 'Fireball'
 Here's 'Kopper King'

A new one for me this year, 'Midnight Marvel' - sadly the sawfly larvae really like this one's foliage

'Old Yella' with it's voluptuous flowers

And another even more voluptuous one I got last summer, 'Razzberry Jam'. I like how compact of a grower this one seems to be.

Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana

Here's a good picture of the upper foliage of the F1 Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana
 But to be fair, the bottom foliage is showing some kind of spotting issues and dropping off.

Iris foliage health 2

Didn't take many pictures of the sickest looking ones but here are some that look promising as a starting point in breeding for better health...

Iris aphylla 'Transylvania Native' looks a lot healthier than the other clones of Iris aphylla I've grown. Here's a clump pf it at my in-law's house.
 My reblooming MTB, 'Cricket Song', is pretty healthy.

The old pallida type 'Floridor' is healthier than the average.

My "Pink Volunteer" is still looking decent in mid-summer.
The iris that started me thinking about foliage health in the first place was this seedling ('Rosalie Figge' X aphylla 'Wine Red'). It's always looking relatively clean while everything around it is covered with leaf spot.

This clone of Iris variegata is always looking pretty ratty by mid-summer - so it wouldn't be one I'd want to use in a foliage health breeding program.
This one I'm currently calling by a garden name ("YRFT") is another one that is only average in the foliage health department. But it's a super-vigorous grower and has excellent branching, so I've crossed it with Floridor to try to get the best of both parents combined into one line.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Iris foliage health

I've been calling this self-sown seedling "Pink Volunteer" and hadn't planned on registering it but I may have to reconsider. In addition to the Spring bloom it has also bloomed each Fall for 3 or 4 years now. This year it sent up a summer stalk and I've been noticing how crazy-healthy the foliage has remained when other irises are spotting and browning at the tips. I know that a lot of people seem to only care about the flowers but I think the foliage is reason enough to include an iris in the landscape (when it's healthy foliage that is).


Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana

No blooms this year but I'm hopeful about next year. This is F1 Rosa palustris X fedtschenkoana. And I don't have any doubt that it's an actual hybrid because the blue-gray foliage takes strongly after papa.

Hibiscus seedling

Not really all that spectacular but not too shabby... this is a seedling from Hibiscus 'Moy Grande' crossed with 'Old Yella'. This is it's maiden bloom and it's in poor soil, so it might perform even better with a little care. It seems to have gotten the size from 'Moy Grande' and the better petal width from 'Old Yella'. I did the cross hoping to see some seedlings with yellow pollen like 'Moy Grande' but so far the two that have bloomed have both had typical pale ivory colored pollen that most of the hardy Hibiscus have.