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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hawk feeding in the garden

I was watching this hawk near the garden a few days ago and wondered what it was chowing down on. It would land in the garden repeatedly and come back out to eat something that didn't look like a mouse. I couldn't imagine what it would be, so later when I was out dumping the kitchen compost I checked the barrel in that last picture. There was a pile of praying mantis legs. Aha!
It looks like most of the mantis egg cases have already been laid. And I guess since the cold will soon get them anyway, they might as well be food for the hawk.

Another try for some red in a perennial sunflower

These are the seeds I'm hoping will grow into red-eyed perennial sunflowers. They're from pollen of a red-eyed annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus) that I put on nine flowers of Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus). Since there were almost eight seeds per flowerhead (and open-pollinated Jerusalem Artichoke usually has relatively few seeds here) I'm thinking I've got a good chance this time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hybrid Gladiolus

The first picture is from August 2009. It shows the seed I harvested from 'Boone' that resulted from using pollen (from the freezer) from Gladiolus tristis that had bloomed indoors over the preceding winter.
The first of the F1 seedlings to bloom opened a couple weeks ago, and I'm just getting around to posting the picture. Looks pretty much intermediate between the two parents. Sadly no fragrance at all [unlike tristis] - maybe in the next generation some of that powerful scent will come back. 

Volunteer mums

These are all volunteer seedlings that I liked enough to spare them from being sent to the compost pile. As time goes by I'm sure some of them will get replaced by new ones I like better, but for now they're making a nice show of color.

These last two pictures show a few honeybees that I saw working them on this brisk October day. I don't know if it was pollen or nectar that they were after, but I'm glad these mums are providing something to them. I usually see lots of flies and hoverflies but the cold must have been keeping them away today.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Reblooming F2 Viola striata X walteri

Please excuse the fingerprints on the camera lens blurring the picture - I've never claimed to be anything even remotely close to professional at photography. ;0)
This particular self-sown F2 seedling from Viola striata X walteri has relatively reliably bloomed again each Fall, much earlier than any of the other F2 seedlings. It has a strong resemblance to striata itself in having green foliage and white flowers. Note the purple-tinted foliage of the rest all around this shoot. The growth habit is a little more floppy than striata and making it NOT the most attractive of the bunch. So... if I'm going to pursue the Fall rebloom using this one it's going to take some outcrossing or backcrossing to improve the appearance.

Last bloom on BH3 Rosa bracteata hybrid

I was going to take a picture of it on the bush but found out the batteries in the camera were dead when I got down the hill. So, laziness prevailed and I pulled it off to photograph back at the house.
It only has a faint fragrance and not a whole lot of pollen either, but it's becoming my favorite of the four siblings that I kept [from Rosa bracteata X (rugosa x palustris)]

Saturday, October 5, 2013

wheat seedlings - "chock full of hope"

It's been very dry since planting but this year's small grains are still doing alright in spite of that.
Below is one of the crosses I'm most excited about. I've started them in containers because all but five of the kernels were shriveled and underdeveloped, which is a good sign that my cross worked, because it's a cross between a hexaploid and a tetraploid. The hybrid kernels (in this kind of cross) usually don't develop fully. The five sprouts in the milk jug on the left were the five normal looking seeds. They'll most likely be accidental selfings. It's really hard for me to catch the wheat florets before any pollen has released and still have them be in good shape for a cross. The others will likely be the intended hybrids of my own club-type, hexaploid bread wheat ("Smooth Awnless Club") and a tetraploid durum type ('Polish'). If they follow the pattern of my previous cross of "Smooth Awnless Club" with 'Black Emmer', they'll be about 50% fertile but very robust once they get past the weak start the shriveled seeds provide. And hopefully, unlike the 'Black Emmer' cross, there shouldn't be SO MANY hulled types among the F2.

Hips ripening on Rosa palustris

These hips on Rosa palustris are from pollen of 'Winner's Circle'. I also have a couple from pollen of 'Old Blush' and Rosa xanthina. I sure hope that I'll be able to germinate (and mature) some actual hybrids from these crosses.

2013 hazelnut harvest (Corylus americana)

The 2013 harvest from the hazelnuts we got from the Maryland forestry service.
 Here's a close-up of a cluster still in the husks.
 Here's a nut in the shell popped out of the husk.
Here are the 12 pounds after hand-dehusking.
They'll still need shelling, roasting and removal of the bitter skins. A lot of hand-labor to process them but almost no work to grow after they've been planted.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

BH3 - Rosa bracteata hybrid again

"BH3" - Rosa bracteata X (rugosa x palustris) with a bloom one evening last week.
This morning I looked closer at the two buds that still haven't opened and noticed that this shoot seems to have had a regular season bloom cluster followed by another blooming cluster that originated from a bud directly below the first cluster of flowers. And the current cluster seems to have originated from a bud that sprouted from below that secondary cluster. I wasn't able to tell if any of the other recent blooms had the same growth pattern. I always pay extra attention to stray late blooms on any once-blooming rose hybrids - hoping that some day I'll find a sport branch - something analogous to 'New Dawn' that sported from a once-blooming Van Fleet wichuraiana hybrid. I'll have to tag this branch to see how it behaves next season. The red arrows in the picture show (from left to right) the primary secondary and tertiary flower clusters.