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

Friday, November 25, 2011

15 year old clump of bamboo

A friend of mine helped me move a 3X3 foot clump of Phyllostachys nuda from my parents' house to this location sometime back in the mid to late 90's. Since then, it's been given free rein to expand in two directions. I keep it in check with mowing on the other two sides. As you can see by the dwarfed-looking deer in the picture, it's making a stately grove now. Its really cool to walk around inside of it. The deer must think so too because they're always either playing games in and out of it, or sleeping on the leeward side.

Reblooming Iris Volunteer

Here's that volunteer iris seedling still reblooming. The first picture is as it just opened on Thanksgiving morning (yesterday). The second picture is the next morning. The third picture has a pink Chrysanthemum with it to show how close to pink the purple actually is - my camera has a hard time accurately capturing subtleties of purple.

'Home Run' Rose

I've heard that not everyone loves this rose, but here in Maryland, 'Home Run' is a blooming machine - continuous all-season bloom - and I love the fire-engine red color!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"White Clubhouse" Strawberry (still !!!)

First time I've picked and eaten a fresh strawberry on November 20th! And this is after quite a few frosts and being buried under at least six inches of freak October snow. Impressive!

Glossy Kale and more

I took the first picture with my boot to show size. It's one of the regenerated glossy kales getting ready to go for another winter. It's got a fair bit of purple-ness in addition to being a glossy kale.

The second picture and third pictures show some plants I hope to also overwinter and breed into the genepool: a single purple ornamental cabbage, four Tuscan/Dinosaur kales and one of the 'Stonehead' cabbage seedlings I found on sale 6 for a dollar. Hoping these will contribute purple-ness, general hardiness (Tuscan) and thick meaty leaves (cabbage).

Winter grains

Wheats, rye, barley - including some small F2 populations from the F1 wheat hybrids harvested a few months ago.

F2 Rosa moschata X wichuraiana

I doubt it's gonna be a rebloomer, but this rose seedling sure is healthy. These shoots are growing inches from the soil and even so (and in late November) there isn't a spot of anything anywhere on this one. Now if only the deer and rabbits will leave it alone! It sure must be tasty.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Iris variegata X suaveolens var. rubromarginata

Looks like this F1 hybrid (between two very different bearded iris species) wants to Fall bloom but just didn't get started soon enough - see the flowerbud poking out of the fan in the first picture. The second picture shows what bloom looked like back in April. To get this hybrid I had to freeze pollen from rubromarginata for a couple of months until variegata bloom season started. I have four seedlings from the cross. It should be a lot of fun to cross these with each other and with other irises to see what kind of strange recombination might come from their unique ancestry.

Rosa laevigata

The foliage on this species rose is fantastic. It's so clean that it almost looks like plastic. I've seen mildew on the flowerstalks before but not much of anything is ever a problem on the foliage here. Unfortunately, it's not reliably cold hardy enough to keep alive for long here. And I've only ever gotten it to cross with anything else twice. Neither seedling made it to maturity. But, I haven't given up - which is why I have it again. Call me bull-headed but the thought of this rose blended with others is just too much temptation to not keep trying. Did I mention the tennis-ball size single white flowers scented like "circus peanut" marshmallow candy?

Rosa palustris fall colors

I almost missed getting a picture before the leaves all dropped, but here's a fall color picture of the local Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris). The native roses in general seem to be fairly showy in the Fall.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I don't think I ever followed up on this... we had a small harvest this season from the American hazelnut hedge (just a few years old). I posted a picture of the nuts in their shells a little while ago, but here they are shelled out. We roasted them all. They're a little on the small side and strongly-flavored probably because off the skins which don't come off very easily. Even so they're still worth the trouble. Looking forward to heavier harvests as the hedge gets more mature.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another Purple Tomato Line

I harvested a bunch of green tomatoes before the frosts and found these two. Now that they've ripened, I see that they have a beautiful lilac-purple upper half over a pale yellowish background color. They're from a line I've been calling "lotion" because of the odd lotion/floral scent the tiny, cream-colored fruits give off. These were another selection that I've saved from among the advanced generations of that old cross of 'Brandywine' X Lycopersion hirsutum (Solanum habrochaites). Last year, I grew some of "lotion" and tried pollinating them with 'Mortgage Lifter' to bump up the size. "Lotion" fruits are only about the size of an average blueberry. Well, these two are larger than their siblings, but I'm doubting if 'Mortgage Lifter' was really their daddy. The siblings mostly had some shade of red-orange background fruit color and were still pretty small. Most of them were lacking in the purple pigment too. These are cherry-tomato sized and have a very pale background fruit color. They also strongly express purple. So I'm puzzled... who really was this one's daddy? Luckily, they still have the odd scent which was something I thought might be fun to play around with.

Iris Rebloom

Here's my only rebloom for 2011. It's a volunteer seedling that bloomed for the first time in Spring 2011. I had figured (from its location and appearance) that it must be from a fallen seed of 'Cricket Song' and this rebloom gives more weight to that guess. The picture doesn't capture the color very well - it's actually very close to the pinkish pallidas (like 'Dogrose' and 'Thais'). It almost matches some nearby pink chrysanthemums. The first picture is of the first rebloom flower (taken on Wednesday Nov 9). The second picture shows that same bloom this morning (Veteran's Day - Friday Nov 11). Keep in mind we've already had a freak October snow with at least 6 inches of snow accumulated on the ground, and plenty of frosts that have killed all of the tomatoes, peppers, etc. So this little flower is a much appreciated surprise. The last picture shows how it looked when it bloomed for the first time back in May.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Maryland Grown Peanuts

After curing (drying) for a little while, cracked some open to show what they look like inside. Again these are 'Black' and 'Bramling Pink' peanuts; both of which are normal color under the papery skin. I think they still need to cure a little longer. We roasted some fresh from the ground and because they were still spongy soft they ended up with a different texture after roasting - kind of a little crumbly. I'll let you know how the fully dried ones turn out when we roast 'em.

Glossy Kales

From intercrosses of 'Green Glaze' collard greens, 'Blue Scotch' kale and purple ornamental cabbage... working toward a super-hardy, glossy, purple-tinted kale.
I had a batch of these (planted summer 2010) go to seed this summer and then regenerate again from the stumps so that they're tending towards perenniality. The first two pictures show two of those persistent ones gearing up to try making it through another winter. The harlequin bugs have been attacking the biggest one pretty severely. Maybe some of the smaller ones might be better to keep for seed for that reason. I also have some new plants coming along from a Spring sowing. They survived the summer drought while still just small seedlings. The third fourth and fifth pictures show some of these new seedlings. The third picture has a non-glossy (normal) seedling on the right so you can see the difference - glossy seedling is on the left with a few small non-glossy seedlings underneath. The deer have been munching the leaftips off. And you can see how the cabbageworms prefer the normal type. They'll crawl over and eat the glossy seedlings too, but I think the butterfly prefers laying eggs on normal type, so those will typically have much more damage. [I don't even spray Bt so these are completely unprotected] The last picture has an arrow pointing to an especially nicely purple-tinted seedling. The picture doesn't do it justice.
I'm hoping that the 'Stonehead' cabbage, 'Tuscan' kale and purple ornamental cabbage we just planted will make it through the winter so we can get these stirred into the genetic melting pot too!

Amazing Daisy Mums

An unusual October snow came through here over the weekend. It broke trees and wreaked havoc with the power grid (we had no power for about 24 hours). But in spite of at least 6 inches of snow trying to crush and freeze them, the daisy-type mums still look great. I'm sure their hardiness is being appreciated by the assorted life that's buzzing all around them today. The ample pollen and nectar is feeding an assortment of flies and even a handful of honeybees. But most of all, there are dozens of hoverflies/bee-flies/syrphid-flies. I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure these are beneficials - I seem to recall that their larvae are major consumers of aphids. So, it makes me happy to see that these mums are pulling double duty - they're not only pretty but providing some meals to honeybees and other beneficial insects when other food is kind of scarce.

1 - The snow on Sunday morning
2 - Fly on apricot-colored mum
3 - Honeybee on yellow
4 - Bee-fly on white